Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Clarissa Draper: The Future of Publishing: Make Your Own Audiobook...

 Like me, have you been wondering about how to go about turning your ebook into an audiobook?

And are you also like me and hesitant about reading your own work to turn it into an audiobook?

Well, we're not alone.

Author Clarissa Draper has been wondering about making audiobooks, too. And just like you and me, she's hesitant about recording them herself. Her post today (and another to follow later) deal with using text-to-speech programs to accomplish the recording aspect.

She has her recommendations for free text-to-speech programs today at Clarissa Draper: The Future of Publishing: Make Your Own Audiobook...:.

She also begins to discuss hiring an agency to do the recording in this post and will continue in Part 2 later.

So, are you ready to do that audiobook?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Where Sheep May Safely Graze

Okay, Panzer picked out this week's ebook, so of course we have cats!

Where Sheep May Safely Graze by Roger Parkinson is a collection of fourteen short stories and poems.

The short story Cat Flap had Panzer going, "I told you so!"

Admission had him giggling, "All CATS do go to heaven!"

And, finally, Missing Sura had him sniffling, "That is so sad!"

There are plenty more stories in here for all tastes: slice of life, mystery, or love.

Truthfully, the ebook (Kindle version) could have used one more edit. But ... we enjoyed the stories and poems enough that, while the typos and font changes were a little annoying, they weren't bad enough to make us stop reading.

Panzer gives the ebook four paws up (with one tissue).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Microsoft Reader Discontinued

According to the Microsoft Reader  site, Microsoft is discontinuing the Reader .lit application effective August 30, 2012. They have no plans for an alternative application for the Reader.

What does this mean for you the indie author/publisher?

Well, ... if you were providing your ebook in the .lit format, it means fewer purchasers.

If you weren't using the .lit format, it doesn't mean anything to you.

I think Microsoft realized the Microsoft Reader never really made any significant inroads into the ereader market ... and ... it's a smart move on their part to pull the plug and take the Reader off life support.

So, what's your opinion?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer Ebook Sales Slump? Now What?

When would be the best time to publish your new ebook?

Summer when everybody has all that free time to read? Well, if that's what you think, you would be wrong. Ebook sales go into a slump during the Summer.


It's Summer. Vacation time. Time to catch up on reading.  You know, all those ebooks your prospective  readers already bought.

Hmmm. What's a writer to do?

Indie author Jason Matthews' blog has a post Indie Authors Sell Fewer Ebooks in Summer to help with alternatives to be ready when sales pick up this Fall.

Fall is almost here. What are you doing to be ready?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

SM Reine: Marketing Ideas for Indies part 2: Adding Your Boo...

I've been looking around for marketing ideas for our soon to be available ebook short story collection.

A search at the Writer's Knowledge Base for "ebook marketing" lead me to fantasy author S.M. Reine's blog. Reine has a great post explaining how to put your ebook cover up at Blogspot (here) for marketing and increased Google search optimization. The results of my efforts using Reine's instructions are at the top of the right-hand sidebar.

You'll find the instructions at SM Reine: Marketing Ideas for Indies part 2: Adding Your Boo...:

This looks like a great way to let readers know the ebook is coming and after it's available to give a direct link to the e-store. Remember: sales is all about marketing.

Now, I just need to get that cover finished. Suggestions?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Table of Contents in the digital age

As you probably already know, when Amazon gives the 20 percent free sample read of your ebook to potential buyers, that 20 percent comes from the beginning of your ebook.

And what's at the front of your ebook? Your cover, your title page, your legal statement about the copyright, and your table of contents (TOC). All that stuff eats up a lot of the free 20 percent reading experience.

What can you do to give your reader and potential buyer an opportunity to see your writing, instead of all that other stuff?

Guido Henkel has the answer to that question at The Table of Contents in the digital age. It's to  put the TOC at the back of the ebook.

It's an interesting idea.  Given the increased potential for engaging the reader's interest without the TOC's length interfering, it's worth trying out.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aaron Patterson's Blog: Guest Post by CJ Lyons: Jack be Kindle, Jack be No...

Bestselling author CJ Lyons posts at Aaron Patterson's blog about how she went from National Bestseller to Amazon Bestseller.

This is not a rant against the Big 6. This is not a rant against traditional publishing. Instead it's about a straight-forward road to bestsellerdom using the momentum from one ebook to the next to the next. CJ recommends having 5-6 ebooks on your sales shelf.

To find out how to get the momentum rolling on your own bestseller ride read Aaron Patterson's Blog: Guest Post by CJ Lyons: Jack be Kindle, Jack be No...: Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have seen the name CJ Lyons in the eBook and publishing new feeds all over the internet. She ...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Free Resources for Writers and Readers

On Sunday I posted about my investigation of Distribution to iTunes for a podcast of one of the stories from Panzer's ebook.

As Panzer and I continued our search for information on what others were doing with podcasts, we found three free podcast sites for your enjoyment.

1) The Creative Penn. There are over 100 free podcasts at Joanna Penn's respository. Here you'll find interviews with such writers as Zoe Winters, LJ Sellers, Scott Nicholson, and many more.

2) Free Library of Philadelphia. Here you'll find podcasts for Joyce Carol Oates, Cokie Roberts, Garrison Keillor and others who have participated in author events at the library.

3) Fluctu8 Podcasts. Here you'll find music, audiobooks, arts, cooking, just pick your subject.


Disclaimer (you know the drill): whenever visiting unknown sites, read the instructions carefully, have your virus scanner on, and your firewall up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: Completing the Cycle

In case you haven't noticed, Panzer and my reading habits aren't always inside the mystery genre. Sometimes we just read something because we like the title or the cover or the description or just because of how the planets are aligned that day.

Today's review of Completing the Cycle by Mike Lewis is a return to Panzer and my mystery roots (sort of). This is a science fiction short story set in 2172. The planetary explorers are trying to solve the mystery of what happened to the whole Cataran civilization. (No it's not what you think. That's the same thing I thought, but there are no cats in this ebook.)

The plot is laid out in parallel stories. One is the explorers' story and the other is the Catarans' story and then the two dovetail together at the end. The story is strongly reminiscent of The Martian Chronicles, but has enough twists and turns to stand on its own as a good mystery.

While there are no cats, dragons or unicorns in this ebook, Panzer gives it four paws up for the handling of the mystery plotline and today's planetary alignment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Your Facebook Fan Page

Okay, I keep hearing the popular wisdom that to be a successful indie writer you need to have a Facebook page to connect with your readers.

Well, I admit it. I don't have a Facebook page. From what I hear from my friends, I think it's a huge time suck.

But ... I've just heard about the Facebook Fan Page. I understand it's easier to set up, doesn't need as much upkeep as a personal page, and from what I've seen it's fun.

Indie fantasy author Lindsay Buroker has a great beginner's level post for Creating a Facebook Fan Page for Authors . After you read her post, go check out her Fan Page. It's nice, simple and clean. I think it looks great. Just what a fan would like. (Hint. Hint.)

Writer's Digest contributing editor Jane Friedman has a slightly different opinion on the Fan Page at 3 Principles for Facebook Fan Pages . Ms. Friedman doesn't believe a writer should have a Fan Page until you have fans looking for you.

Uhmmm. Looks kind of like which came first the chicken (Fan Page)  or the egg (fan) to me. It seems like this would be an excellent way to get fans by including the Fan Page contact information at the end of a Kindle ebook.

I have to admit, I like the idea of the Fan Page. What do you think?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Distribution to iTunes

I've been doing a feasibility study of creating a podcast of one of the short stories from my ebook collection. I want to giveaway the podcast to use as a marketing tool for the launch of the collection.

I've been looking into using distribution to iTunes of the podcast as part of the marketing.

If you're interested in looking into using iTunes for distribution, Carsten Cumbrowski's  The Ultimate Guide to Podcasting is an excellent starting point. This really is an ultimate guide. He covers the software you'll need, the professional quality requirements you'll need to meet, and links to other material you don't even know you need to read. He includes just about everything you'll need.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why I Do Book Reviews

After reading an article about people being paid for doing online five-star ebook reviews, one of my e-friends asked me if I get paid for the book reviews I do here.

The answer is a big NO.

I do not get paid for the book reviews. Nor do I get free copies from the authors or publishers to do the reviews here.

The reviews here are strictly for ebooks I have read for my own personal enjoyment. If I start an ebook and realize I'm not going to enjoy it, I don't finish it. Reading it would be a waste of my time. And that's why you don't see any bad reviews here. If I don't like it, I don't read it. So, I can't write a bad review if I didn't finish reading it! It's as simple as that.

Now ... back to brushing Panzer. This weather has him shedding all over the furniture. There's nothing worse than a fur ball in your shoe. (Well, except maybe a rat in your shoe ... but that's another story for My Life Is A Joke.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Use Smashwords For Your Ebook Distribution - Part 2

Earlier this month we discussed science fiction writer J.A. Marlow's post about using Smashwords for your ebook distribution. (If you missed it, read my post and Marlow's at your ebook distribution channel.)

Now Marlow has posted part 2 of his look at how to use Smashwords for your ebook distribution.  Marlow addresses more of the most common reasons authors give for not wanting to use Smashwords as a distribution channel for their ebooks.

Read part 2 of Marlow's look at using Smashwords for ebook distribution.

No more excuses.  Upload that ebook to Smashwords!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Free Kindle Ebook Download Site

There was no Wednesday Resource post yesterday so we could let you know about the new Kindle Indie Store.

Today Panzer has a free Kindle ebook download site.

1) Pauper's Book Club. This site collects information from the Amazon site, puts the covers on a bookshelf (at a nice readable size) and gives a good description of each book. The books are arranged by category and then sub-category. When accessing each category and sub-category, you have to remember to click the Free button on the top left side. When you click the Amazon purchase button, you'll be taken to the Amazon store. Yes, you will need an account at Amazon to purchase the book.

The other free sites links we've discussed here can be found at last week's Wednesday Resources post.


Disclaimer: remember, whenever visiting unknown sites, read the instructions carefully, have your virus scanner on and your firewall up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kindle Indie Bookstore

Have you heard about the new Kindle Indie Bookstore?

Today's post at the Writer's Guide to ePublishing is about Amazon's newest endeavor. Amazon isn't letting authors submit their own ebooks for the new bookstore yet. They're deciding which ebooks are listed in the new store based on sales rankings and reader tastes.

If you're an indie author or publisher, you'll definitely want to read the post and check out the new Kindle Indie Bookstore.  


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: The Dragon Of The Dolomites

It must be Tuesday. Panzer and I are doing our weekly book review.

This week we read The Dragon of the Dolomites by Scott William Carter. This ebook includes one short story and a chapter from the author's novel Drawing a Dark Way. I'm sorry to say, there are no cats included in this ebook.

This is the story of Fanzini an aspiring portrait painter. Looking for work, Fanzini goes to the king's castle. The king sends Fanzini to paint the portrait of the local dragon. Fanzini does more than paint his portrait though. A lot more.

Poor dragon. You know how much I love dragons. And Fanzini is not very nice to him.  In fact he's really mean to him! That's all I'm going to say about it. You'll have to read the ebook to find out more.

I'd rate this a YA novel. Panzer gives it four paws up, but then he doesn't love firebreathing dragons like I do.

This ebook is available from Amazon for Kindle.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Do You Need Ebook Formatting Or Conversion?

Do you know the difference between ebook formatting and ebook conversion?

I've posted here about ebook formatting and converting. Most recently I've given you a link to do the formatting and converting yourself for Kindle at Word To Mobi = Amazon Kindle.  I've also given you a link to a free converter when I posted about Selling Ebooks From Your Site Or Blog.  So, yes, you do know the difference, because you used those link (and the others I've posted here) to do your own formatting and converting.

However, it appears not everybody reads my blog and knows you can do formatting and converting yourself ... and with free software.

April Hamilton did a guest post The difference between ebook conversion and ebook formatting (at Taleist) for those who don't know the difference. She says they even pay other people to do it for them.

Read April's post and see what you think.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Your Perfect Ebook Cover

What's the first thing an ebook buyer sees? Your cover. That makes your cover the number one draw to get that buyer interested in your ebook.

Clarissa Draper has posted a series at her blog to help you put together a dynamite cover. She has sections on background colors, background pictures, fonts, layout and the series covers.

Read the Ebook Cover Series at Clarissa's blog. The series is broken into sections. Click on the sections and learn how to put together your cover.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Using Goodreads For Ebook Marketing

Have you checked out Goodreads yet? Do you have an Author's Page  there? Is it linked to your blog?

Uhmm, why not?

Goodreads is a great place to start your marketing and begin building your fanbase. You can let readers know about your ebook even before you publish it.

First you'll want to learn about Goodreads, so you don't inadvertently alienate your readers. Indie writer Karen Johnson has a post Why Use Goodreads?  at the Indie Book Collective blog.

Read Karen's post, then head over to Goodreads and get started on that Author's Page.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Word To Mobi = Amazon Kindle

Fantasy writer Joseph Robert Lewis has a great blog for writer's and readers. You'll want to bookmark it for sure.

In the writer's section he has a super simple tutorial at his blog for anybody who wants to get an ebook up at Amazon.

Don't let the tutorial title scare you off. It's called Bare Bones Guide How To Turn A Word File Into A Mobi/PRC File For Amazon Kindle In 10 Easy Steps. But the most important word in the title is Easy. It really is laid out in 10 easy steps and you'll be ready to upload.

Go over to Joe's Blog  and get that ebook ready for Amazon. You've go no excuse now.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Use Smashwords For Your Ebook Distribution

Smashwords is one of those Love 'Em or Hate 'Em ebook distribution sites.

Smashwords gives ebook writers the ability to upload their ebook for distribution to Nook, Kobo ... and, yes, even Kindle (directly from Smashwords' own site through a mobi download). One upload, chomp, chomp by Meatgrinder, pass into the Premium Catalog, and out into the ereader world. (Okay, pun intended. Hehe.)

Or ...

It's too hard to prepare the ebook for upload. Meatgrinder -- yeah, right: chomp, chomp spit out an unreadable ebook. It's too hard to get into the Premium Catalog. It takes too long to get my money.

Like I said, Love 'Em or Hate 'Em.

Science fiction writer J. A. Marlow posted Part 1 of his two part post on why ebook authors need to use the Smashwords Distribution Channel . He addresses the most common writer arguments against using Smashwords for distribution.

Part 1 gives you some things to think about and he promises Part 2 will follow.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2 More Places To Get Free Ebooks

It's time for the Wednesday Free Resources. Today I've got 2 More Places To Get Free Ebooks.

1. Inkmesh This is a site that lists free ebooks available at Amazon, B&N, Sony, Kobo, Baen Books, and Smashwords. You don't need to register to use this site, but you need to be registered with the respective e-store site to download the ebooks. I used the site and found you need to read carefully before you download. Although, the ebook may be free at one e-store, you might have to pay at another.

2. Hooks Progress Free Ebooks. Here you'll find audio books, author sites where they're giving away their work, sites giving away single ebooks, and organizations such as Project Gutenberg. I used this site to download a pdf ebook and didn't need to register.

My previous free ebook posts can be found at Five Places To Get Free Ebooks  and  Two Places To Get Free Ebooks .

If you know of any other free ebook sites, post it to the comments section.

Disclaimer: remember, whenever visiting unknown sites, read the instructions carefully, have your virus scanner on and your firewall up.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review: Horror and Crap: 11 Short Works

It's Tuesday again. That means it's time to tell you what I've been reading this week.

This is another ebook I let Panzer pick out for me to read to him.

For some reason he's been picking out short story collections lately. This week it's Horror and Crap: 11 Short Works by Joshua Scribner. The ebook is comprised of eleven (no surprise there) previously published short stories.

There are gremblins, cheating husbands, magic, cats and -- ta da -- cat crap. You read that right: cat crap. I am not making this up. One of the stories is called, Cat Crap and Cologne. I'm not saying another word about it, except there are no cats mentioned in this story.

Panzer's favorite story in the collection was, Feeling It. It's a flash story about two cats and two dogs and is so purr-fectly cats.  You'll discover why cats really, really don't like water.

Horror -- Smorror. Panzer was on his back on the floor laughing so hard, it had to be a four paws up ebook.

This book is available from Amazon for the Kindle.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tracking Your Sales And Where They Come From

I missed this post a couple of days ago, when Dean Wesley Smith posted about ebook sales at his blog.

Smith delves into the issue of ebook sales to the different ereaders: Nook, Kobo, Diesel, etc. Yes, there are more ereaders out there than the Kindle. You are limiting your sales potential by not seeking out these other formats.

Smith also addresses using Smashwords to get distribution of your ebooks into the other eretailers besides Amazon. If you invest the time to format your ebook to get it accepted into Smashwords Premium Catalog,  it will be available to the other eretailers.

Increase your ebook sales with increased distribution using Dean Wesley Smith's tips.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lee Goldberg's CreateSpace Bestseller?

Those of you looking for self-publishing success at CreateSpace need to read Lee Goldberg's blog. (Lee writes Monk and other tie-in novels, as well as stand-alones.)

This is a real eye opener from Lee's  A Writer's Life  blog on what it takes to be CreateSpace's #4 fiction bestseller, which he is right now.

It's enough to make a writer cry. I couldn't even buy kitty treats on this money!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Selling Ebooks from Your Site or Blog

Want to be your own ebook publisher? Ready to set up your own bookstore? Looking to sell your ebooks and keep all the money for yourself?

It'll take some work on your part to get it all set up. You'll need to publish your own ebooks. You'll need a Merchant's Paypal account for your sales.  You'll also need an online file storage site for your ebooks, if you don't already have one with your website or, if you're using your blog. Sounds like more trouble than it's worth, huh?

Well, I've got two sites to walk you through the set up step-by-step for all these processes.

The first is a free converter site called Zamzar. You can upload your document and pick the format you want it converted to. They offer mobi, prc, pdf, epub, and more conversions. You'll get an email when it's ready for you.

The second is  Parlez Moi Blog: Tutorial: Selling eBooks Directly from Your Site o... which instructs you in the steps to setup your website or blog so you can sell your ebook directly. This includes an illustrated step-by-step tutorial. You'll find everything here for your storefront set up.

Panzer would appreciate a kitty treat or two for finding these two sites for you.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Kristine Kathryn Rusch - The Business Rusch: Deal Breakers Continued

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a follow-up blog post to last week's Deal Breakers for Contracts post.

Her post is divided into two sections.

The first section deals with hiring an I(ntellectual) P(roperty) Attorney. It covers how to go about it and includes links to other blog posts to help you get started with the process. I admit, like Rusch, I'm a little baffled by people who are afraid of attorneys. I've used one twice and I wouldn't have made it through the process without his help.

The second section is the actual follow-up to last week's post on contract negotiations. This section points you toward her Freelancer's Survival Guide I mentioned in yesterday's Free Resources  list here. (It really is a great ebook for writers.)

So get yourself a cup of tea (or coffee) and read The Business Rusch: Deal Breakers Continued

It's a long post and you'll need that cup of tea. But it's well worth the read. It includes a lot of valuable information on how to negotiate your next publishing contract so you get what you want and don't lose any rights you shouldn't.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Free Resources For Writers and Readers

I'm posting the Wednesday Free Writer's (and Reader's) Resources today.  Our schedule got mixed up when Panzer had to go to the kitty doctor yesterday. Nothing wrong. Just his annual exam and vaccinations, but that rabies shot always makes him so cranky!  He's feeling much better today.

So, without further explanation here are your resources:

1)  Freelancer's Survival Guide  by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This ebook has 70 different sections, including advertising, motivation, agents, and everything else you need to know to join the writing life. This is such a great resource. You can read the free ebook copy online section by section or get the whole guide. Or you can purchase your own copy.

2) Free Story Spinner  by Bonnie Neubauer. This free writer's tool is the greatest little story starter. Click the spinner and it will give you a setting, the starting phrase for the story, and four words you must include in the story. You can use the free version on the site page, or purchase your own copy.

3) Free New Monthly Ebook   from the University of Chicago. Each month the U of Chicago features one new free ebook readers can download.

4) Free Mystery Podcasts  from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Free podcasts of mystery short stories which have appeared in EQMM.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

She Kills People or My Life Is A Joke

 My mother always loved to work in the outdoors. She had spent ten years working as a volunteer at the local park. She did everything from weeding and mowing to planting and watering. The park even gave her a pin with her name on it.

But after ten years she decided to retire from her volunteer position. I wasn't surprised when the park's Board of Directors wanted to have a retirement party.  My mother asked me to attend with her.

Arriving, we discovered my mother would be seated at the front table with the Board of Directors.  I found an empty seat at one of the small tables with three other guests already seated at it.
"I'm Josie's daughter," I said.

The women seated on either side of me moved hastily to the table next to us.

I looked at the remaining woman seated across the table from me. She gave me a tentative smile.

"You don't look like a killer," the woman whispered.

"A what?" I squeaked.

 "Your mother told us her daughter kills people," the woman whispered.

My mother was the sweetest woman you'd ever meet. But  - you knew there was going to be a but didn't you? - she had the wickedest sense of humor.

I'm still not sure if I convinced that poor woman that I only kill people on paper.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kindlegraph Account For Authors and Readers

Okay, you uploaded your ebook to Amazon or Smashwords. You've sold a few copies.

And now ...  you're wishing you could autograph your ebook just like a real book.

Guess what?

You can! You can send a personalized inscription/note and your signature to your readers. All you need to do is set up an account at Kinglegraph. Then, you can offer your readers this personalized service.

Go to Kindlegraph  to watch a screencast about the service.

Note: You must have a Twitter account to set up a Kindlegraph account.

A tip of the fedora to Marian Allen for pointing Panzer to this service.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kristine Kathryn Rusch Free Fiction Monday: Destiny

It's Free Fiction Monday at Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog today.  Today's story is titled Destiny.

Guess what?

It's got a Fey shapeshifter named Solanda who's a cat. The cat lives with a five-year-old girl named Esmerelda who is in need of a little cat magick.

Find the story at Free Fiction Monday: Destiny and see what a cat can really do when she puts her mind to it.

It's rated G. It's free. And best of all: Panzer gives this one four paws up.