Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ten Thousand Ebooks Sold and Counting!!!

My Adventures in Self-Publishing

On Saturday, I hit another milestone in my self-publishing career. I pushed past the 10k units sold since I went "live" last August.

Can I just say:  Wow!!!

As I've sold more books, I've had many more writerly moments; some bad, but mostly good. It seems like every day, I experience a new writerly moment. It's a great time to be a writer!!!

Here are a few examples of some of my more memorable writerly moments:

*  It seems for every 1000 books sold, I get one review, maybe two. I don't know if this is normal, but it is normal for me. I'm very lucky to receive mostly four and five-star reviews. But two weeks ago, I received my first one-star review and I can tell you truthfully, it SUCKED!!!

I was pretty devastated. I know I'm supposed to have a thick skin, but it still hurt. Everyone's entitled to their opinion and you can't please everyone, but it still was not a pleasant experience especially since she said she hated it. Ugh!!!

And it happened the same night when both my Regencies hit the Top Ten Regency Bestseller List. Talk about flying on an emotional high one minute and crashing the next!!!

Luckily, a fellow writer (whom I did not know) noticed it. She bought my book and read it and liked it and offered to write a good review. Thank God!!!  This was my first experience with a Random Act of Kindness (or a Random Act of Kindleness as we Indies like to say). One of my finer writerly moments rising out of one of my worst. As Calvin's dad says: It builds character.

*   I've also been fortunate to have my books making the Top 100 Bestseller Lists in various genres on Amazon. My two Regencies are hovering around the Top Ten and two of my Westerns are in the Top Twenty and Fifty. This has helped sales immensely.  A few times, all six of my books have been on the lists at the same time!!! I'm sorry to say I don't know the secret formula or handshake to get on the lists. It's really up to the readers. They are the gatekeepers in this new paradigm.

*  During Read an Ebook Week in March, I gave away almost 500 free ebooks.  I also sold over 4000 ebooks that same month. Great writerly moment.

*  As I've sold more books, I've also experienced more returns. Not a good writerly moment, but it's part of the business. I just don't look at that column in the sales reports. *grin*

*  My sales are slowly growing across the pond. I sold 50 books last month on AmazonUK. This month so far, it's 100. Good growth. I can only hope it continues.

*  I haven't received any fan mail yet, but I do have my very own Customer Discussion Forum on Amazon where I can talk directly to readers.

*  And speaking of readers. My sister was right. There are readers out there anxiously waiting for the last two books in my Diamondback Ranch Series!!! Is that great or what?

Every day, it just keeps getting better and better. Writerly moments abound. I am living my dream:  Write books and publish. The readers are what count in this business. The money's nice, too.

Happy Writing!!!


Anne Marie   :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to Format Ebooks (Updated)

Techno-Tips for the Techno-Challenged


I don't believe in reinventing the wheel. I'll tell you right now, if you're serious about self-publishing in ebook format, go to Smashwords and read Mark Coker's Style Guide. It's free and it explains the steps to format Word documents in detail. Read it, study it, then read my easy step-by-step instructions. I've simplified the steps required to un-format and reformat a Word document so it will be streamlined and acceptable on the Smashwords', Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing and B&N's Nook Press Direct Publishing programs.

Now remember, I'm basically a techno-klutz. I do not mess with HTML coding and when I say simplified and streamlined, I mean simplified and streamlined. We're moving from a print medium to digital. Your formatted document is not going to look like a manuscript document or a printed book. The sooner you accept this, the better.

Today's readers are used to reading on computers and smartphones, netbooks, iPods and iPads. They are used to reading digital. Digital is different from print. It looks different, feels different, but it delivers stories to readers just the same. Readers want good stories that grab their attention and keep it. They are eager to be entertained. One of the most important jobs a writer must do is NEVER stop the reader. You never want to pull him out of the story world you've created. You don't want to interrupt or disrupt his suspension of disbelief--not only in the structure of the story, but the formatting of the story as well.

Formatting doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be pretty. The text needs to flow, just as a story flows. Most readers don't care whether you use smart quotes or curly, block paragraphs or indented. All they want is to be able to read your story with ease, comfort and pleasure.

I format as efficiently as possible. I use indented paragraphs, straight quotation marks and two hyphens instead of em dashes. These three simplified elements help make uploading Word documents to the various ePub platforms seamless and trouble-free.

When preparing to upload your properly formatted Word document to Smashwords, Kindle and Nook Press there are a few things you need to do in order to make the process run smoothly. You'll need a catchy title, an attractive cover, a well-written blurb (like back cover copy) and a description, both short and long. I always include an excerpt in the long description as a matter of preference.

You also need to choose your keywords and metadata carefully. Google keywords and metadata and study how it's done. 

So now, without further ado, here are my twenty-five steps showing how to format ebooks. Please note that these instructions are written for MS Word: Mac 2008. If you are using other MS Word editions, you will have to modify and adjust accordingly.


How to Format Ebooks for the

 Techno-Challenged:

Before you begin, remove headers, footers and page numbers from manuscript. Adjust Margins: Top 1 in; Bottom 1 in; Left 1.25 in; Right 1.25 in; Gutter 0; Header .5 in; Footer .5 in.
***
1.   Save original document.
2.   Select All.  Copy and paste into NotePad or Text Edit and save.
3.   Quit Word. Reopen Word.
4.   Copy and paste document from NotePad/Text Edit into new Word document.
5.   Save new document as a .doc file under new name. Ex: CowboySurrenderEbook.doc.
6.   Activate Show/Hide. (The little paragraph icon on Toolbar.)
7.   Go to Tools: Auto Correct: Check the little box: Automatically Correct Spelling and formatting as you Type. Click on Auto Format as You Type. Uncheck all boxes.  Do NOT hit Okay!!! UNCHECK the Automatically Correct Spelling and Formatting as you Type BOX. Hit Okay.  Box closes.
8.   Go to Format: Auto Format:  Options. Uncheck all boxes under Apply and Replace. Hit okay. Box closes. Hit Cancel. Box closes.
9.   Select All. Go to Format: Style: Click Normal. Make sure it reads: Times New Roman, 12 point, flush left, single space. Hit Apply.
10.  Select All. Go to Format: Paragraph: Alignment: Left, Outline Level: Body Text. Indentations: Left 0; Right 0.  Line Spacing: Single.
FOR INDENTED PARAGRAPHS: Left: 0, Right: 0, Special: First Line, By: .33, Spacing: Before: 0, After: 0, At: LEAVE BLANK. Hit okay. Save.
 11.  Replace two spaces after sentences with one space: Find: 2 spaces (hit space bar twice), Replace: 1 space (hit space bar once). Replace All. Repeat. Save.  (Remember to clear spaces from Find box and Replace box to avoid later misery).
12.  Delete tabs. Find and Replace: Find: ^t, Replace: blank, Replace All. Save.
13.  Paragraph returns should only be at the end of paragraphs. No more than 3 returns in a row.
14.  Replace curly quotes with straight quotes. Find: ", Replace: ", Replace All. Save.
15. Replace curly apostrophes with straight apostrophes. Find: ', Replace: ', Replace All. Save.
16.  Replace em dashes with hyphens. Find:  ^+, Replace: --, Replace All. Save. 
17.  Remove all section breaks from document.
18.  Remove all page breaks.
19.  Make Chapter Headings 14 point, bold, centered, two paragraph returns from last sentence (enter enter ), one paragraph return (enter) to first sentence.
20.  Make ****: one enter above and one enter below, then center.

For the last five steps, after you type the information on the pages, highlight the text and center it.

21.  At the top of first page: TITLE (Font 14pt), enter,  by, enter, author, enter, ****, enter, SMASHWORDS EDITION, enter  ****,  enter. See examples below.
22.  Copyright page: (copy and paste from samples) center it:
23.  Dedication (Font 14pt), enter, (who you're dedicating it to), enter, ****, enter enter , Prologue/Chapter One. See examples below.
24.  At the end of the story: ### About the Author (Font 14pt). See examples.
25.  Other Books by Your Name  (Font 14pt). See examples.

###

After you've reformatted the document, save it. I always skim over the text for "hanging chads:" formatting errors like dangling elipses, sentences with no space between them, no more than three paragraph returns in a row, etc. You need to make sure the text runs smoothly with no glitches. You want it to look as good as you can possibly make it.

Then I save the document under three different names/versions: Smashwords, Kindle and Nook. For example:
   Adam'sTemptationSmashwords.doc
 Adam'sTemptationKindle.doc
 Adam'sTemptationNook.doc.

No doubt about it, the first time you do this, the learning curve is very steep. Hang tough! Believe me, it gets easier with every book you format.

Below, I've shown examples of title pages (front matter) and last pages (back matter) to include in your documents. Note: a Table of Contents is becoming more common for fiction. I'll be doing a How to post on that soon. Google it to find out more.


***
EXAMPLE OF TITLE PAGE: (SMASHWORDS)
You must include the Smashwords Licensing Agreement in order to be considered for inclusion in their Premium Catalog.

Adam's Temptation
by
Anne Marie Novark
***
SMASHWORDS EDITION
***

***
Millionaire professor, Adam Brant is hiding from life. When his broken engagement is plastered all over the papers and tabloids, he retreats to the only place he's ever felt he belonged—his late grandmother's lighthouse in Briny Cove, Florida. He vows to live in seclusion away from nosy reporters, money-hungry women and people who can't accept him for who he is.

Ambitious wanna-be journalist, Megan O'Conner is stuck in Briny Cove, living with her family, struggling to finish her degree and working odd jobs. When she finds out the new tenant in the old lighthouse is Adam Brant, Megan believes she's found her ticket out. But as she becomes better acquainted with the sexy professor, everything changes. Will she choose the exclusive story or the man who has stolen her heart?
***
Adam's Temptation
Copyright © 2011 by Anne Marie Novark
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author or publisher except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.
***
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events or locales is purely coincidental.
***
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
***
Dedication
To my brother John.
Thanks for the crash course in scuba diving.
***

CHAPTER ONE
(Start the story.)

***
EXAMPLE OF TITLE PAGE: 
(KINDLE AND NOOK)


Adam's Temptation
by
Anne Marie Novark

***

***
Millionaire professor, Adam Brant is hiding from life. When his broken engagement is plastered all over the papers and tabloids, he retreats to the only place he's ever felt he belonged—his late grandmother's lighthouse in Briny Cove, Florida. He vows to live in seclusion away from nosy reporters, money-hungry women and people who can't accept him for who he is.

Ambitious wanna-be journalist, Megan O'Conner is stuck in Briny Cove, living with her family, struggling to finish her degree and working odd jobs. When she finds out the new tenant in the old lighthouse is Adam Brant, Megan believes she's found her ticket out. But as she becomes better acquainted with the sexy professor, everything changes. Will she choose the exclusive story or the man who has stolen her heart?
***

Adam's Temptation
Copyright © 2011 by Anne Marie Novark
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author or publisher except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
***
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events or locales is purely coincidental.
***

Dedication
To my brother John.
Thanks for the crash course in scuba diving.
***
ADAM'S TEMPTATION
by Anne Marie Novark

CHAPTER ONE
(Start the story.)
***
BACK MATTER

EXAMPLE OF INFORMATION AT THE END:


###
 (You must use these three marks after the final story sentence in the Smashwords edition. I use it in every edition.)

For more eBooks by Anne Marie Novark
Go to Amazon.com
***
For email alerts about upcoming releases:


and Facebook.
 
***
About the Author . . .
(Optional)
Anne Marie is a Texas girl, born and raised. Romance is her passion. She loves to read and write about men and women falling in love, overcoming life's obstacles, and living happily ever after. She writes spicy contemporary novels, usually involving a cowboy or two, as well as Regency historicals.
Anne Marie lives just outside of Houston with her husband who is her best friend and her own special hero. They have two grown children, two mischievous cats and one sweet puppy dog. Besides reading and writing, Anne Marie enjoys puttering around in her flowerbeds, going to garage sales, collecting antiques and watching old movies. Visit her at www.annemarienovark.com.
***
Other books by Anne Marie Novark:
Her Reluctant Rancher
Chasing the Moonlight
Midnight My Love
The Doctor Wears A Stetson
The Cowboy's Surrender
A Match Made in Texas
To His Lady's Rescue
Adam's Temptation

***

Marketing Tips: 

1.  In both the front and the back of your ebook, include links to your website, mailing list (you do have one, right?), and Facebook Author Page.


2.  Include links to your other works in the back matter of each book. Naturally, make sure the links are consistent to each edition. I don't use links in the Smashwords edition because it gets distributed to Sony, Apple, Kobo and Diesel. 


This makes a little extra work, but it's one of the easiest and most profitable forms of advertising/promotion/marketing you can utilize.



FOR EXAMPLE:
 (After the links to website, mailing list, etc. say something like:)
 


You might also enjoy:
Return to Stone Creek Series
Living with his stern grandfather taught Trevor Callahan one important lesson: Caring makes a man weak. Now the old man is dead and Trev returns to Stone Creek for one reason and one reason only--to sell the Rocking C Ranch. Maybe then he can put his past behind him and move on.
Beth Evans once confused lust for love and vows never to let it happen again. The bookmobile driver is trying to raise funds to build a new library. The late Hank Callahan bequeathed a million dollars for the project, but he attached one stipulation: Do not let his grandson sell the ranch.
***
Return to Stone Creek Series
Former bad boy Mitch Defalco roars into Stone Creek, Texas, on the back of a Harley with his newly discovered daughter riding behind him. Single mom Sarah Cooper cannot believe he's moved in next door. She had a secret crush on him years ago when he dated her older sister back in high school.
As Mitch tackles the responsibilities of fatherhood, Sarah admires the way he's turned his life around. She asks him to help her with a personal problem: Her fear of men. Mitch knows he's bad news for sexy Sarah, but how can he refuse her dangerous request, when she's determined to move forward with or without his help?
***
A Regency Romance Novel
For years, Damien Avenall loved Alexandra Turlington like a little sister; or so he thought until she grew into a lovely and desirable young lady. In a moment of madness, he kisses her and everything changes between them.


Alex often wonders why the dangerous viscount betrayed their special friendship. His kiss awakened her to passion, but she knows better than to give her heart to a libertine. Or does she?
***
HAPPY READING!!!

*** 

The publishing world is changing as we speak. New opportunities abound for writers. You can now put your work directly before the readers. Take control of your writing career. Come on over to the Dark Side!!!


Happy Writing!!!


Anne Marie   :)