Second E-book published

2nd E-bookAfter editing through the original material on God, Sin, and Salvation, the second of six E-books is up on Amazon Kindle. The process was easier than the first time, with a grasp of the need to erase all font names and font sizes in points…change to ems. The final fix was to clear up the footnote reference numbers to be the same font and size in the text, which showed how much duplicate ‘junk’ WORD keeps in the file when it converts to html. The final product is behaving well on the Paperwhite preview and I hope to have a look at it on the actual reader soon. 

I upgraded the Kindle Previewer with no noticeable change in performance…I assume Kindlegen has not changed much. I have run across some advice on how to utilize the free-download to better effect by notifying several sites that list free downloads. I have held off for fear the 5-day-maximum free period (per 90 days) would expire before anyone found it. So far my first book downloads have totaled 5! ): 

First sales!!!!!

About 3 AM I decided to post on my Facebook page an announcement of my first E-book. In the past 1 1/2 weeks the ‘reports‘ page has listed ‘no sales’. There must be a lot of folks who are on-line in the middle of the night or very early in the morning because now 5 hours later have 3 comments and one share as well as 2…TWO… E-book sales. It is just as well I took the time to get the file really cleaned up before anyone downloaded it.

It feels weird to be selling to ‘Facebook friends’…kind of like charging your grandmother for shoveling her walk…but I am learning what works and what doesn’t work in this marketing world. The funny thing is that, while I allegedly will get $2 out of the $2.99 spent for each buy, it REALLY isn’t about the money. Once I am more confident it will make a difference, I will use some of my 5 free-to-buy-today/3 months days on Kindle, but I didn’t want to have it like my one book signing where no one came to see me and the few casual passers-by chatted for a few minutes.

I will continue to maintain this blog even though the evidence suggests that almost no one is reading it…to use the famous movie line, “Build it and they will come.”

Progress with E-books

Since I’ve decided to ‘test the waters’ with E-books before finishing the print versions of my sailing and scripture books, I have been digging into ways to get to a suitable format. Unfortunately I have not tagged everything I’ve read so I can’t give you many links, but here are some discoveries:

  1. The best E-book candidates are ones with lots of text that can re-flow when the reader chooses a different font size, orientation, or even a different device. Books with lots of pictures, tables, and diagrams are not the best candidates fro E-book formats. 
  2. Microsoft WORD is the word processor of choice in preparing documents. Smashwords takes the .doc file directly while kindle takes the HTML conversion that WORD can make. I am gratified to read that my usage of WORD based on styles is the preferred way to go…no extra lines between paragraphs, no multiple spaces or tabs for the paragraph indents, and so on. Aside from inserted italics or bolding, the text should let the style determining everything.
  3. The table of contents is important for jumping to a specific place in the book…especially for non-fiction books where the reader can click to get right to the section of interest. WORD can easily create a multi-level table of contents in the document if the section heads use heading1, heading2, and heading3 styles. The only difference from doing it for print is to click the box to omit page numbers…the HTML version then inserts links to the specific places.
  4. The cover is still uncertain…there must be one. I can easily prepare a cover with Photoshop Elements (I often do that for the print books I publish with Lightning Source) and I have tried to put it at the front of the text file. It then appears there just fine but the goto for it…and the table of contents…are grayed out. Recent reading of Building Your Book for Kindle (a free E-book) seems to suggest that the key is to add bookmarks…a previously unused WORD feature…before converting to HTML.
  5. I am fighting against having to work in HTML. There MUST be a seamless way to get from WORD to the finished files…be they MOBI or EPUB. As long as you ‘go with the flow’ in terms of what you require of your E-book, I think the technology is there.
  6. There is presently a sharp split between Amazon (Kindle) and the rest of the world…especially EPUB (Kobe, Apple, and various others). I am leaning toward Amazon at the moment despite…or because of…their market dominance being in the USA.
  7. Proofing tools are important for testing your files before releasing them to the world. Kindle has a free previewer which (I think) includes (or at least automatically makes use of their file converter, kindlegen. The previewer lets you compile your HTML output from WORD and immediately test the way your E-book will look on the various supported devices…and then repeat the process until the final result is satisfactory.
  8. Money: all the tools, including the competing Smashwords, are free to use or download. The financial terms are typically around 70% to the author with the typical price to buy a download of an E-book being $2.99. High prices are about $9.99 and low prices are $0.99…although free is used for a short time to build interest and obtain reviews.

So there you have my present state of knowledge. The process, once you have a well-formatted WORD document, is quite simple…not the fearful HTML cutting and pasting I thought might be required. Now I have to get busy and finish the books.