Book promotion update

I spent most of the day submitting Where Memories Meet to websites that promote ebooks. I want to promote the book during its Amazon countdown deal scheduled for February 1 – 7. Apparently some sites have to approve the submission (due to time, space, or quality reputation considerations I imagine). Other sites seem to be willing to take my money and go with it. That might give you an indication about the desirability of promoting on the various sites. Overall, it seems like the business of promoting self-published books online is much better established than it was when I first published Dancing in Heaven in 2011.

Here are some useful things I’ve learned:

TCK Publishing has generated two lists of sites that promote ebooks, one for  free ebooks, and one for paid Kindle books that I used since my Amazon countdown deal starts at $0.99 and not $0.00. The list is ordered by rank according to the amount of traffic the site gets. The top six are:

Book Bub 27,224
Ereader News Today 28,681
Buck Books 34,248
Many Books 35,754
Kindle Nation Daily 43,172
The Kindle Book Review 45,812

  • As I mentioned in my Marketing Self-Published Books post on January 6, I was turned down by Book Bub.
  • I submitted my book to, but have not heard back from, Ereader News Today.
  • I did not submit to Buck Books. By the time I got around to it, I couldn’t easily find the way to submit, and I was too tired to deal with it.
  • I submitted to Many Books but have not heard back.
  • I looked at Kindle Nation Daily, but the slots for the dates of my countdown deal were already taken. Next time I will have to apply earlier. (Alternately, BookBub requires that you apply no earlier than one month before your promotion date. It all gets rather jumbled up and confusing after a while.)
  • I submitted to the Kindle Book Review. They accepted my money ($25), but I have not received any confirmation.
  • Previously I paid $90 for a promotion at Just Kindle Books (ranked 365,139). I’m assuming that’s a go.
  • And earlier I paid $20 for a promotion at Goodkindles (ranked 594,646). The rankings go to 5,628,580. So although these sites are not at the top, neither are they at the bottom of the list.
  • I plan to apply at BookGoodies (ranked 231,471) tomorrow. Their application is complex with required author interview questions to fill out. I’m going to start fresh in the morning. (I stand corrected. Please see the comment BookGoodies added below.)

These are just some of the options. They vary in what promotional services they provide from tweets, Facebook posts and emails to featuring books on websites. Many promotions run for only one day, although it varies depending on the site and the price you are willing to pay. It’s rather complicated. I have started an Excel spread sheet that I am using to keep track of site URLs and the status of my submissions. I don’t have any first hand experience with paid promotions. I chose not to spend money on promoting my first book. If all goes well with this experience, I may decide to splurge and promote Dancing in Heaven later.

Wish me well.

 

 

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The book is published, now the hard work begins

I’ve entered the marketing stage of self-publishing project, although I really don’t like to use the word marketing. The whole point is that I have to somehow, in this noisy, crazy, over-stimulating, cyberworld, let readers, who might be interested in my book about Alzheimer’s, know that it exists. It’s not all that easy to get a book on someone’s radar screen.

That said, I want to thank Beth Ann Chiles at It’s Just Life, for posting about Where Memories Meet today. I met Beth Ann early in my blogging experience in 2011 and she has been a friend ever since. She writes an assortment of interesting posts on a frequent basis. I always enjoy her Teapot Tuesday where she shares a teapot from her extensive collection. She has been doing this for a while. I have no idea how or where she keeps all these beautiful items. But what I think makes Beth most special, is that every month she picks a worthy cause to feature in her Comments for a Cause. At the end of the month, she donates money to the cause based on how many comments she received throughout the month. It’s a double-win for the cause: money and exposure. Well done, Beth Ann.

Now, it would be great if you could go visit It’s Just Life and read all the wonderful things Beth Ann said about Where Memories Meet. The results of a short interview with me are posted there as well. Here’s a sample question:

1. What is your favorite thing about sharing such personal stories about your family? Or maybe a better question is what was your motivation?
For the answer to this and other questions visit It’s Just Life.

Things I learned with my second book

As many of you know, I published my first book, Dancing In Heaven four years ago and just recently released my second book, Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s. Some things were easier the second time around and some things have been trickier. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

With my first book, everything was new. I had to learn about traditional and self-publishing to make an informed decision. I researched and read a lot of opinions and decided on self-publishing at that time. You can read about my thought process here in my series on my experience with self-publishing. It’s a little dated, but I think many things still hold true.

I had to understand what an online “platform” was and how to build one.

I needed to start a website.

I had to learn my way around CreateSpace print-on-demand, and ebook publication through Amazon and Smashwords. This is all in addition to writing, editing, and formatting my manuscript. I learned about the Goodreads author program. I had to create author pages at various online sites. There were a lot of things to learn, decide on, and execute the first time around.

When I take all that into consideration, publishing this second book has been like a cakewalk. But there were a couple of things I didn’t consider initially or learned about the hard way.

The biggest thing I missed was to include a reference to Dancing in Heaven in Where Memories Meet and to update Dancing with a reference to Memories. Once I realized that omission in my marketing strategy, it was easy enough to correct ebooks because I just added the information to my doc file and re-uploaded it to Amazon and Smashwords. It’s a pretty quick process. The print books are a little more complicated and  I really haven’t dealt with it effectively there. But the truth of the matter is that after the initial push of paperbacks, the vast majority of the books I’ve sold have been ebooks. So I’m not too worried about it.

The other thing that proved tricky for me was making sure both of my books, in both of their formats, showed up on my author page at Amazon. You would think that would be a no-brainer, but I had my name as Christine Grote sans the “M” for my middle name as the author of my first book on Amazon. I included the “M” on my second book. So for a brief period of time I was two different people at Amazon. The help at Author Central proved to be quite helpful in straightening out that snafu. I had a similar, different but related, problem at Goodreads and I think I got that fixed by asking someone at the Librarian Group there. Again, very helpful.

Now the challenge becomes how best to publicize these two books. The learning curve never ends.

Making an ebook —what I did

Although I bragged about being an ebook wizard the last time, I have since been humbled, particularly after spending 2 or 3 full days revising my ebook (primarily because of photos, but more on that next time).

As I mentioned in my last post about this, I decided to use Smashwords to be able to provide multiple ebook formats in addition to publishing on Kindle.

One of the problems I found was that the ebook field is changing all the time. A lot of people have posted helpful advice on the web, but much of it is dated. If you start Googling for help, it can become very confusing, very rapidly. Trust me on this. You  don’t need to know html. You just need to know how to format a document.

My advice is, start at Smashwords. The site is way more helpful than Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in providing detailed information; the turnaround time is almost immediate so you are able to check your ebook right away and re-cycle if the changes you made didn’t work; and it is not a popular site (I’ve sold very few books there), so I can try things out and not jeopardize my Amazon Kindle product. Then, once you have a good document for your ebook, you can upload it to Kindle yourself.

At Smashwords, under the “publish” tab (the link above takes you there), you will find important, and helpful information. Start with the Style Guide by Mark Coker. It is free and will help you format your document. I downloaded a pdf of it.

The steps I took, as advised by Mark Coker, in a nutshell are:

  1. I made a backup of my Word document and saved it as a doc (not docx). I had been keeping my book in Scrivener, so I first had to generate a Word document there.
  2. I copied the document and pasted it into a text editing program. On pcs I think that is Notepad, since I have a mac I used TextEdit. This strips out all your formatting styles that you inserted intentionally or not .
  3. I opened a new Word document, making sure Word’s auto formatting, auto correcting, tracking changes were all turned off. Then I turned on the show/hide feature on Word. Mark Coker explains how to do all this in the Style Guide.
  4. I copied the TextEdit file and pasted it into the new Word document I had created.
  5. Everything in your document should now be under the “normal” formatting style. From here I defined styles for headings, the front matter paragraphs, the book’s body, and picture captions. Mark Coker gives you very specific advice on how to do this. I used many of his suggestions, and made up a few styles of my own.
  6. Then I scrolled through my document and applied the styles to the headings and picture captions. It’s a simple matter of highlighting the text involved, going to the style drop-down menu in the upper left corner, and clicking on the style you want. Again, it’s very well explained in the Style Guide.
  7. If you have an isolated word that is italicized or bolded, you can just format that manually. I kept a printed copy beside me as I worked to make sure I made all the formatting changes I originally intended.

Once you are happy with your document’s formatting, it is a simple matter to upload it to Smashwords where it will be made into a mobi, epub, etc. I downloaded the mobi and epub (free from Smashwords if you are the author), and checked the books on my computer screen and other devices. If I wasn’t satisfied, I recycled through the process. When I was satisfied, I published it on Amazon’s KDP as well.

The biggest challenge in this whole process is formatting the text. I have never adhered to using “styles” when I am writing. I’ve learned a lot about using styles through this process, and intend to use them in the future from the get-go. If you don’t already know, learn how to use and modify styles. You won’t regret it.

Here are some of the styles I used in Where Memories Meet:

Normal: For the body of the book. I modified whatever Word had assigned to “normal” so that the font was Times New Roman font at 12 pt, the first line of the paragraph indented at  0.3″, and the lines spaced at 1.5 lines.
Center: I used this for anything I wanted centered. The copyright page uses this style. I created a new style using normal as the base and modifying it to no indent on first line and centered text.
Front Matter: This makes the front matter, and end matter in my case, have a block paragraph look. I learned this directly from Mark Coker’s Style Guide. I used normal formatting to create a new style and modified it to no indent on first line, single line spacing, space after the paragraph at 6 pt.
Name: I used this name to define the headings of the chapters, which happen to be names, and used it for all similar headings like Preface, About the Author, etc. Defining the page break and the spacing before and after the name of the chapter ensures the chapters all start on a new page, a little down from the top. I used normal style to create a new style with arial font, 14 pt, bold. Indent 0″, Space before paragraph is 30 pt, space after is 18 pt, Page break before paragraph.

It’s really not difficult to format the text, it just takes a little time to assign the headings and special paragraphs their style. It’s rewarding work when the document ends up looking professional.

 

I’m an ebook wizard

Well, maybe I’m not quite a wizard, but I’m certainly more proficient than I was three days ago.

Smashwords, an online multi-format ebook publisher, uses a “meat-grinder” to process book files. The author submits a word document; it goes through the meat-grinder and out comes a variety of ebooks that can be read on many types of platforms. You’re probably familiar with pdfs. Other formats Smashwords can produce, and then publish, include but are not limited to mobi for the Kindle, and epub for Nook.

This whole ebook business can be pretty complicated. But it’s all about what file types a particular software can open.

For the past two days I feel like I’ve been in a meat-grinder.

I used Scrivener, a terrific writing program and file system, when I wrote Where Memories Meet. Files in Scrivener have to be exported into a particular file type to be used in some way: as a printable document, as a shareable word document, as a pdf, etc. Scrivener is able to produce some ebook formats this way, epub (Nook) and mobi (Kindle) included. And that’s what I did.

I compiled my book in Scrivener and saved it as a mobi file. Then I uploaded it to Amazon for publication as a Kindle ebook. But if I do nothing more, I am limited to only making my book available for Kindle users. Nor can I give away free copies for review, which is a nice feature Smashwords allows.

Smashwords requires a “clean” Word doc (not to be confused with Word docx, which I learned the hard way). I spent nearly every waking moment in the past two days producing the “clean” Word doc.

I think it was worth it. Hopefully WMM will look better across most if not all platforms this way. I think it will.

I ended up having a lot more control of where my page-breaks are, which is important to me because of all the images I have in my book. And I believe I had more control of fonts and overall paragraph styles. The Scrivener software made a lot of those decisions for me when it produced the mobi file. For example, the first file I published on Amazon had a nightmare Table of Contents running about three pages on my Kindle. Who needs that?

So, although it took time, required some reading, and was tedious to do, I think producing a clean Word doc, and then uploading it to both Amazon and Smashwords is the way to go.

I’ll tell you what I did next time. You could do it too.

Where Memories Meet cover

Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s
Now available for Kindle at Amazon, and other ebook formats at Smashwords.

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I have a cover

I just wanted to let you know to check over at my blog at christinemgrote.com. I’ve posted a picture of the cover for my book. I hope to get back to blogging here soon. I have photos I’d like to share of the Lincoln Funeral Train, but I am focusing all my effort right now on getting Where Memories Meet published. So many details.

Last night I thought I lost my InDesign book file. You can imagine my distress. I still don’t know what happened. It wasn’t in the folder I had been keeping it in, and then later on it was. Computer magic.

I will tell you just a short little story about publishing details. I have photos in my book, primarily of my dad. A few have other family members in them, but one photo had one of Dad’s classmates named Jim in it. I was just going to try to let it slide by and hope no one complained, even though I know you’re supposed to have signed waivers when you use a photo with someone in it. I didn’t even know if Jim was still alive.

But today I had a guilt attack and decided I needed to at least try to contact Jim. I got out the copy of my mom’s phone and address book, which was actually a rolodex file, and looked up Jim’s name. I dialed the number and got some crazy recording that said I needed to enter a password if I wanted to leave a message. I’d never encountered anything like that. I thought maybe Jim was in a nursing home or something.

So I called another one of Dad’s classmates, Norma, whose name also was in Mom’s rolodex file. Norma answered and was able to give me Jim’s updated phone number. I had a pleasant conversation with Norma, and right before we hung up she said, “I miss your Dad.”

“I miss him too,” I managed to say. Then I needed to spend about a half an hour regaining my composure before I called Jim.

Sometimes it feels just as hard as ever.

But Jim was happy to allow me to use the photo, and all’s well. Jim and Norma both will be getting complimentary copies of Where Memories Meet.