RWA17 Workshop Recap – iBooks

Amy Atwell from Author E.M.S. gave this workshop at #RWA17. Note that iBooks is in 51 countries and it’s the number two online book retailer in the U.S. Keep in mind that iBooks is the default reading app on all Apple devices. How can you get your book there if you are indie publishing? You could go through a third-party aggregate such as Pronoun, D2D, or Smashwords. Or you can set up your own publisher dashboard with iTunes Connect. Customers buy your book via the iTunes or iBooks app. For uploading books, you need iTunes Producer and a Mac computer. You can hire a formatter who does these uploads or go through one of the aggregates if you don’t own an Apple computer. Once your book is uploaded directly, you can go into your dashboard from any device. If you are doing the upload (or your formatter is doing it for you), you will need an ISBN number for your ebook. If you move a book later from an aggregator to direct upload, you’ll lose rankings and reviews.
Ereader Device
Disclaimer: These notes are subject to my interpretation. Any errors are mine.
Reasons for failure to Upload may be because your epub file isn’t properly validated. Your coding may not match Apple’s requirements. If you’re using epub3 format, it may need versioning info. For Versioning, you add data on what’s new, such as an excerpt or a bonus scene. Readers who have bought your book will be alerted that a new version is available.
Other reasons for error messages might be that your image is too big; you’ve added links to other retailers; you have improper use of iBooks branding; you’ve mentioned a sale or discount in the book’s description; or you haven’t filled in the right primary category.
You can put a sale start and end date. You can do preorders up to a year in advance.
To attract readers, try offering a sneak preview for iBooks fans only. Make use of the free download codes per title. Ask readers if they want to be notified of new releases or sales of your iBooks titles.
Send a request for your series to be linked once you have at least 3 consecutive titles available.
Useful tools include iTunes Link Maker, the Affiliate program, banners and widgets with links to your affiliate code.
Also note that when you do tweets about your books, use #iBooks instead of #iTunes.
For more tips on iBooks, see my previous blog on iBooks Tips for Writers.
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Getting a New Computer

Are you struck with terror at the thought of getting a new computer along with upgrading your operating system? If you’re like me, you’ll put off this transition and expense as long as possible. When you start getting the blue screen of doom, however, it’s no longer avoidable. You have to upgrade or risk losing your files along with functionality.

My computer guru tried to fix the errors popping up. When he said the system was too screwed up to repair, my heart sank. I knew what that meant. Even though he’d given me a new hard drive two years ago when the original failed, this Dell desktop was five years old. Time for a new model.

I hate changing computers as much as I hate getting my teeth drilled. It’s a painful process. Yet over the years, I’ve developed a methodology. I’ll share it with you in case this information is useful to others.

woman computer

Back Up Your Material

You can never have enough backups. Use online backup services, thumb drives, external drives, or whatever other means you have at your disposal. Put one of your backup drives in another location or carry it around in your purse in case your house burns down while you are out. Plan for disaster by keeping multiple copies of your files in different locations. Print out your passwords as well so you have a guide handy when you go to sign into your sites anew.

Back up your data files, your music, your photos, and your videos. Don’t forget to back up your email inbox and contacts, and your browser favorites/bookmarks. Unless you have a mirror image service, you can’t back up your programs. These you’ll have to reinstall one-by-one.

Prepare Your Programs

Make note of which programs you use and write them down on a list. See if you have a disk and a key code, or if they’re downloadable from the Internet. Gather your original disks in one place. Also make sure you have your Internet connection info handy, like your modem and router settings and wireless password. Things will go faster if you don’t have to hunt for this information.

Hire a Geek

If you can’t do it yourself, hire a pro who can copy the data off your machine and transfer it to the new one. Do not disconnect your old computer until he has copied the material he needs.

Write Down the New Specs

Note all the specs of your new machine, including model and serial number, as listed on the box. Write these down on a piece of paper. You’ll need them when registering the new device.

Name Your Computer

Make note of the name of your old computer. You might want to name the new one the same thing for networking purposes if you have a home network.

Disconnect Dropbox

If you use Dropbox, the day of installation, sign into your account online and disconnect your old machine from the program. This is to ensure that Dropbox doesn’t read your suddenly missing files as deleted.

Here’s a tip. Periodically, I’ll “send” my dropbox files to my hard drive for a duplicate backup. Carbonite will then back up these files. That’s probably why I have so many copies of the same folders on my new machine. Better many than none. I’ll clean them up when I have time.

Reinstall Your Programs

Once your new machine is up and running, reinstall your programs. Here are some of the ones I’ve had to reinstall: Microsoft Office, Dropbox, Firefox, Adobe Reader, APC Power Chute, Norton Security Suite, Carbonite, iTunes, Dragon, Windows Live Essentials (I use Photo Gallery for photo management, Movie Maker for my book trailers, and Live Writer to upload my blogs), Skype. You don’t realize how many programs are installed on your computer until suddenly they’re no longer present. Then you have to reconfigure each one. Oh, joy. How easy it was when you could just use your computer without having to think about it. Establish the path for your new backups. Are Outlook, Dropbox, and Carbonite backing up what they should? Where are the data files in Explorer?

Verify Your Data

Make sure everything is there that should be there. If it’s not, copy from your backup drives. Check for duplicates or missing files. Between my computer guru’s transfer of my data and my own, I’ve ended up with three different folders labeled “My Documents.” I have yet to sort these out and remove duplicates. Then my latest video trailer and some of my music files were missing. I found them on my backups, but it’s possible other items might have disappeared that I won’t notice until I need them.

Reset Your Automatic Backups

If you have an online backup service like Carbonite, it freezes the program after you install it and connect to the new machine. This is so you can restore any missing files before Carbonite starts all over again. It erases your old data 30 days from restart.

Fine Tune Your Machine

Configure your screen saver, monitor brightness level, background desktop image, and icons to make the display comfortable. These little things can be unsettling until they’re resolved. Adjust the sounds. Do you want to hear a noise every time you get an email?

So far I like Windows 10. I’ve upgraded from Windows 7, and I don’t find it difficult to locate things. I’m ignoring the tiles and just have icons on my desktop. This upgrade wasn’t such a big deal. And the new machine is faster with much more memory, so that part is good. It’s reconfiguring everything and sorting out the files that confuse me. But I’m up and running, and that’s what counts. The world will settle into place once things function smoothly and I no longer have to think about the mechanics. So give your reliable machine a pat and tell it you’re grateful for its continuing operation.

What tips have you found helpful when changing computers?

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Social Media Tips

Humanizing the Web with Marc Ensign

Marc Ensign

At a recent meeting of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, nationally acclaimed social media expert Marc Ensign advised us to be a Dick and follow the Ten Virtues when it comes to social media. He described his neighbor named Dick who welcomed him into the neighborhood and was always looking after Marc’s interests, sharing his resources and time very generously. From studying Dick’s manner, Marc decided this approach could work on social media as well. His philosophy is akin to Do Unto Others as you would have them Do Unto You. Be kind, generous, and giving, and you’ll help to save the Internet. Here are his Ten Virtues, subject to my interpretation and the accuracy of my notes:

Be Engaged with other people. Listen intently to your connections. Build relationships. Market the people around you. Listen to them and comment on their sites. Like aspiring authors’ posts and websites. Help others get their message out. Connect and give people what they want.

Be Valuable by helping other authors who want to get published. Mentor them, tell them how you did it, and offer tips. Add value to your relationships. Make it about “let me help you” and not about selling.

Be First to offer help before you’re asked. “Let me give something to you first.”

Be Welcoming by putting people at ease, sharing ideas, introducing new options. Welcome everyone even if they disagree with you. Talk about it with them. Make it a conversation. Be open to hearing what people have to say.

Be Humble. Your purpose should be bigger than yourself as an author, than being on the bestseller list or having a high Amazon rating.

Be Authentic. Be true to yourself in all that you do.

Be Generous by helping people and giving information away. People will see you as a resource. On your website, offer free articles and other resources. Your philosophy should be “Let me give to you” rather than “Let me give to you and see what I’ll get from it.”

Be Transparent to appear more human. Talk about what problems you’re having in your writing. Like, “Here’s what I’m doing with this character. Why isn’t it working?” or, “Why isn’t this book selling?” Let people into your life and into the scary stuff of your career.

Be Perceptive by being aware of what’s going on in other people’s lives. Follow up on people’s blog posts by returning later and inquiring about an earlier issue.

Be Awesome. Reach out through your blogs, comments, and sharing. How can you be awesome for someone else?

It’s all about caring, giving, and sharing yourself without being concerned about what you’ll get in return.

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Marc Ensign has been featured in/on CNN, the Huffington Post, Inc 500, Forbes, New York Post, PR Daily, Jezebel, and ProBlogger.

Website: http://www.marcensign.com
Twitter: @MarcEnsign
http://Googleplus.marcensign.com
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http://Linkedin.marcensign.com

 

ACX and Kobo

Audio Books on ACX with Terry Odell and Neil Plakcy and moderated by Julie Compton

ACX Panel with Terry Odell and Neil Plackcy

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Note: Terry has many of the steps for creating an audiobook on her blog at Terry’s Place

Nowhere to Hide, an audiobook romantic suspense by Terry Odell

Why Audio?

Sales of audio books are growing in double digits. There’s extra money involved. You can reach another audience. And it’s not hard to do.

Why ACX?

ACX stands for the Audiobook Creation Exchange. It’s owned by Amazon, and it connects narrators, producers, authors, and the marketplace. It’s not hard to learn and has good customer service. They have a lot of narrators, and you don’t need a cash outlay. http://www.acx.com/

Getting Started

Enter your book in the blank box to find it on Amazon, who will fill in the description. Categorize your book. You’ll be presented with three choices. You have an audio book and you want to sell it. You wish to narrate your own story. Or you want to hire a narrator. For a producer, keep in mind the quality of equipment and if they fix glitches.

How do you pick a narrator?

Gender: Male, female, or either
Age: Child, Tween, Teen, YA, Adult, Middle Aged, or Elderly
Language: English, French, German, Spanish
Accents: Choose from a list
Narrative styles: Upbeat, sexy, frightened, etc. This should reflect the tone of the book.

Pitch your book

Market to the producer by mentioning your mailing list numbers, awards, reviews, and other accolades.

Let the narrator know what type of book it is (i.e. humorous mystery) and what types of characters are involved including special accents (i.e. Yiddish words or Spanish phrases).

The sample script is 5000 characters limit, but it does not have to be consecutive text.

Ask the narrator what kind of promotion they’ll do for your book.

Can you tell the difference with this narrator between the character speaking and thinking?

How about dialogue with “he said” and “she said?” If there are two female characters, can you tell which one is speaking? Are puns pronounced correctly?

Royalties

You can pay the narrator up front and keep all the royalties, or do a 40% split. If you do the split royalties, the audiobook will be sold on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes only. But there’s no cash outlay and the narrator is more likely to help in the marketing. That is, if you can find a narrator willing to invest their time in your project. Paying up front is more expensive, but you can sell your audio elsewhere and you have control over it.

Stipends

ACX may pay narrators a stipend to do your narration. This attracts more narrators, but you have to sell yourself when applying for this option. So consider the application form a “pitch” session and mention your readership and marketing basis.

Covers

These must be 2400 x 2400 square. You cannot resize your ebook, so ask your cover designer to provide a cover in this size.

What's in a Name by Terry Odell

Full Narration

Don’t have the narrator read your front or back material. They’ll upload the first 15 minutes to your dashboard for you to check the pacing, accuracy, etc. Have them upload chapters as they go so you can listen to the file. You may want to tell them to drop the “he said” or “she said” if they feel it isn’t necessary.

If you want a copy on CD, consider that the book takes about 10 hours or so to narrate, and so you’ll need a number of CDs for one work.

The file comes as a download. People listen to it on their mobile devices or on their cell phone.

Reviews

Reviews will show up on the audiobook’s Amazon page.

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Kobo Writing Life with Christine Munroe and moderated by Christine Kling

Kobo SleuthFest

Kobo has a blog, podcast, and social media sites. Check out Kobo Writing Life . They have a bestseller list on the blog with 30 titles. Kobo also has author collectives like the “Jewel” historical romances. They have a daily deal on the main page which may include boxed sets. Kobo Next is indie picks for new releases. You can also ask to be included in the First Free in Series.

If a book is to $2.99 here, then it’s $2.88 in Canada/Europe. Books priced at $1.99 are doing poorly. Customers like $.99 or $2.99. You can raise the price for full-length books up to $8.99.

You should link to Kobo on your website and other places online. Marketing opportunities include Book Bub, Story Finds, and Indie Bound.

For metadata, you’ll want to add the imprint or publisher name and the series title.

Indie bookstores earn a percentage of sales selling Kobo e-book readers and titles.

 

Technology and Obsolescence

Do you still have stationery, greeting cards, and letterhead paper in your drawers? I just found a whole pile of stationery for the era in which I used Nancy Cane as my pseudonym. It’s a pack of lovely designed letterhead stationery to fit into a printer back in the day when I answered fan letters via snail mail. I could try to use it now to answer the few handwritten letters that still come my way (and I love those!), but it might confuse readers who have no idea I’m Nancy Cane.

So what to do with these relics of a bygone era? Turn them over and recycle them? That would be a shame, considering that I likely spent a lot of money on this personalized supply. I don’t see an alternative, however. Even if I crossed out Cane and wrote in Cohen, I rarely send letters via snail mail to fans stationeryanymore.

I still have boxes of lovely stationery, too. Don’t you miss the thrill of getting a handwritten letter from a friend or relative? Of course, I don’t miss the thrill of writing one. Typing is faster. I use this stationery now for note paper. Even when I have to jot a message to someone, I have personalized notepads that serve that purpose.

Greeting cards can still be useful. It’s good to keep a supply of birthday, get well, and sympathy cards handy. Friends still really appreciate it when you take the time to write a note and mail it. If we’re neglectful, the greeting card companies will be sure to remind us of upcoming holidays.

My cousin mentioned an idea for recycling cards. Cut out the picture part and slap it between two laminated sheets, then use it as a coaster. As for Christmas cards, I save them each year. After a few years have passed, I cut out the picture half and donate a batch of them along with other goods to a local charity. I figure someone there might have the talent to turn these into a craft project.

So do you have any old-fashioned stationery lying around your house? Or any ideas for using letterhead imprinted paper with an outdated name or address?

writing letter