Category Archives: Musings

Free for all: giving your ebook away on Amazon

"Selling" for free

I had a client ask me recently why you can't price an ebook as free on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform. The author wanted to promote her first book by giving it away — she'd been told that was the best way to make a splash.

I told her that you CAN “sell” your ebook for free on Kindle Direct Publishing — they just don’t make it easy. And it often isn't a good idea.

Why don’t Amazon make it simple to set the price of a KDP ebook to $0.00? Continue reading Free for all: giving your ebook away on Amazon

Jump in the Convertible: Ebook Conversion Tools

This is the fifth installment in my series of posts about ebook creation. Like the others, it was originally posted on Joel Friedlander’s wonderful resource for indie publishers,TheBookDesigner.com

Over the last few months I’ve discussed preparing your manuscript and your images for conversion into ebook form. This month, I’m going to look more closely at a subject that I’ve touched on: choosing an ebook conversion tool. Just to review, I suggested that there were four basic ways to convert your manuscript into ebook format:

  1. From scratch
  2. Saving from a word-processing or page-layout application into ePub format
  3. Using a conversion app or online service
  4. Hiring a designer

We’re going to ignore option #1 — if you’re the kind of person who wants to dig that deep into the guts of ebook creation, I don’t think that you’re going to be patient with this process. I’m not going to dwell on option #4 (or the second half of option #3), since the emphasis of this series is how to create your own ebooks. Using a conversion service or ebook designer is always an option, and I’ll discuss later how to choose one. But for now, we’re going to look at choosing the software that you can use to create a book yourself. Here’s the list of software that I will look through with you: .[1] Continue reading Jump in the Convertible: Ebook Conversion Tools

In the Picture: Prepping Images for Your Ebook

Last month I discussed how to clean up your manuscript to prepare it for ebook conversion. This time I’m going to be looking at how to do the same thing with images.[1]

There’s one big difference, however: where the advice that I gave you about getting your text squeaky clean was equally valid for preparing to convert your words to either print or ebook format, these suggestions are ebook-only.

What’s the difference?

Well, in either case, you’re going to start by finding the perfect picture to go with your words. You’re going to crop the picture (cutting out any extraneous bits) and enhance it (or get someone who knows how to do so) so that it looks beautiful.

However, there are two enormous differences between the image files you want to use in an ebook and ones you’re going to get printed on paper:

  1. In a print book, color is expensive, while in an ebook beautiful color costs (essentially) the same as black and white.
  2. On the other hand, in print, you want the image file that goes off to the printer to be as high quality (that is to say, large) as possible, while in an ebook, every kilobyte costs you (I’ll explain how below).

 

Continue reading In the Picture: Prepping Images for Your Ebook

MS to Ebook: A Cleaning Guide

This is the third installment in my series of posts about ebook creation. Like the others, it was originally posted on Joel Friedlander's wonderful resource for indie publishers, TheBookDesigner.com

Over the last couple of months, I've been talking about just what an ebook is, and four basic methods for creating them.

This month, I'm going to get a bit more into the nitty-gritty — how best to prepare your manuscript for conversion.

Whichever of the methods you use to create your ebook, it’s essential to have the original file be as clean as possible.[*]

What do I mean by that?

Basically, it comes down to one thing: Continue reading MS to Ebook: A Cleaning Guide

Get your Joseph Campbell here, and keep it coming!

Myths to Live By coverAs you may know, I've had the pleasure and privilege of serving as the managing editor of the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell since 1999. It's been hard work, but it's also been very satisfying — in the years that I've been at the JCF, we've produced fifteen books (closing in on thirty if you include the ebooks), over forty audio recordings and a really wonderful fifteen-hour video series. Of those books I was talking about, seven were brand new, posthumous titles — on three of which I was the titular editor. (You know. The guy on the title with the author.)

Now, the JCF is a not-for-profit, but it hasn't been run the most such groups are. We've tried to the best of our ability to have the work pay our way. We don't have an office, nor are there any employees — all of the work is done by a handful of independent contractors (like me) and volunteers. We've always taken donations, and sometimes we've had to be a little more forceful in our appeals due to a cash crunch, but there haven't been any major donor campaigns, no chasing after grants, no bake sales.  The idea was not to let the tail wag the dog.

There comes a time, however, when a major capital expenditure is bound to come up. In the case of the JCF, we've been getting by on a jury-rigged website for about eight years. It's never been perfect — but at this point, the plaster is falling off the walls. We've tried to find low- or no-cost ways to create the kind of vibrant, useful site that our associates need, but finally came to the realization that we needed to raise :gulp: $65,000 in order to make that happen.

So this is where I turn to you — I know that you're shocked — and ask that you help us continue to fulfill our mission to "preserve, protect, and perpetuate the groundbreaking work of Joseph Campbell."

Click here to go to our Fundrazr crowdfunding page.

And when you do, remember all of those books and audio and video I told you about?

Guess what! If you donate, you can choose some or all of those as our thank you!

funny little boy dressed as superhero on the coast

4 Ways to Create an Ebook

This is the second in my series of blog posts about ebook creation. It was originally posted on Joel Friedlander's wonder resource site, TheBookDesigner.com.

Last time I talked about just what an ebook is — a website in a box. Ebooks come in a number of flavors, but for the purposes of this discussion I’m going to stick with the most common and most malleable format of ebook, the ePub file that is the basis of all of the major retailers’ ebook offerings.

There are four basic ways to create an ebook (that is, an ePub file):

  1. From scratch
  2. Saving from a word-processing or page-layout application into ePub format
  3. Using a conversion app or online service
  4. Hiring a designer

The trade-off among these methods involve quality, time, and price. As the old saying goes, you can generally pick two. In order to get all three, you’re going to need to become an ebook maven yourself, which will take a fair amount of time, but which will allow you to control all of the variables yourself. Let’s look at the options, and you can see whether that’s the road you want to take. Continue reading 4 Ways to Create an Ebook

Which Ebook Format Should I Choose, ePub or PDF?

I was asked recently which file format was better, ePub or PDF. (Just as well that the Kindle-only mobi format was left out! It's easy to convert from an ePub file anyway.)

Which is better depends on what purpose the file is going to serve. Continue reading Which Ebook Format Should I Choose, ePub or PDF?

Is Big Brother watching what you read?

Earlier this year, at the Digital Book World conference, a company called JellyBooks announced what it called "Google Analytics for ebooks."

For some readers, this raised the specter of Big Brother — or his corporate brethren — reading over their shoulders. Should we be worried about what we're reading being tracked? Continue reading Is Big Brother watching what you read?

Review: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

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The Shepherd's Crown: the final Discworld novel

It is difficult to know whether the elegiac mood I felt while reading The Shepherd's Crown was due to the book itself or to the fact that the fifth Tiffany Aching novel (and forty-first Discworld novel) was in fact the late Sir Terry Pratchett's final work.

The Shepherd's Crown focuses on the young witch Tiffany Aching as she comes fully to find her place both in the non-hierarchy of the witches' world, in the land of her birth (the Chalk), and in her own life. She finds herself pulled between two steadings, the districts for which, as a witch, she is responsible for doing "what needs to be done" — whether visiting the old and sick, birthing babies, or protecting the inhabitants from supernatural invasion. And, as the book begins, a supernatural invasion does in fact loom: Nightshade, Queen of the Faeries (whom a nine-year-old Tiffany defeated in the first book in the series) finds that the boundaries between her world and Tiffany's are weak, and she is planning large-scale revenge. Discworld faeries have much more kinship to the Celtic sidhe than to the cute winged creatures of most children's books or than to Tolkien's aristocratic elves: they are  (literally) glamorous, pitiless creatures who take delight in mayhem ranging from spoiling beer and stealing sheep to kidnap, torture, and murder.

Continue reading Review: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

Everything Amazon Slides

Here are the slides from my presentation with Ruth Schwartz on Everything Amazon:

It was — as always — a great meeting! If you have any questions about any of the slides, please comment.

ETA: The URL for CreateSpace (slides 8–12) should be http://createspace.com, not createspace.amazon.com.