So, here's the thing! My new book is out. I know, call me an anorak! All I do is write. I churn out a book every two months, or so like a conveyor belt. There's no respite. People are out there - a bit like the truth - they read my current offering in a day and then say, "Yeah great! When's the next one out?" All I can say is, "It's a good job I like writing!" I'm on a writing rollercoaster, and I
'Well Toady, what do you think?'
'Yeah you. You invariably have an opinion.'
'I certainly do. I think your new book's fab. As a matter of interest, will your next book be out by Christmas?'
On a more serious note - I know, it's not like me to be serious - but I was walking the dogs this morning, and saw two ugly sights. One was a truck driver reading a piece of paper while he was driving, and the other was a woman texting as she went round a corner in the opposite direction - Will these people never learn? If it was up to me, I'd line them up against the wall and... It's against the law, but how do you enforce it? I'm always wary of me and the dogs getting mown down by a careless driver.
Right, serious bit over. In 1972 - I know, that was a long time ago - I became familiar with Bill Cosby when I was propping up the Junior Ranks Bar at Iserlohn British Military Hospital. When I got married, I introduced the wife to him. She's having one those senior retrospective moments and hunting for him on YouTube. So, I thought I'd introduce you lot to him - funny! You'll wet yourself. So, here's two to sample 'Go Karts' and 'Tonsils', but there's millions of others - Noah, Medic, 49, Cake for Breakfast, Playground - don't say I didn't warn you that you'll laugh until you fall over and die!
On a medium serious note, my wife has started pottery classes! I know, on Monday nights I'm a pottery widower! Me and the dogs call her 'Potter Pam'. Well, we sing 'Potter Pam' to the 'Postman Pat' tune as she's going out of the door - Hey, anything to help! And on Friday morning she goes to painting classes, so we call her 'Painter Pam' then - yeah, same song only with one word changed - little things amuse little minds!
She's the teacher's pet after her first attempt (see photograph on the left)! Oh, and I haven't told you about her little yellow apron - it's got 'Potter Pam' on the front! Well, I suppose I'd better let you lot get on with your lives. Have a good one!
So, here's the thing! Smashwords! I don't recall saying anything about Smashords, Toady! But, if you said I did, then I'll give you the benefit of the mushroom. So, you've writ your book, it's going to make you the next EL Rowling, or JK James, you have your blurb, your cover, and you've decided to charge a small fortune for the sweat of your brow. You've uploaded it to KDP overnight, and it's sitting there on Amazon like a little goldmine.
Okay, let's contemplate our navel for one moment. If you chose KDP Select when you uploaded your book, you can't put it anywhere else because you agreed to have it exclusively on Amazon. If you didn't, then it means you can put it anywhere. Now, that anywhere would be Smashwords because they distrubte your book to Apple, Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Page Foundry, etc. It's free to join, they take a share of your royalties, but then so does Amazon, and they pay you every quarter via Paypal - simples. You also have to make sure that the cost of your book is the same for all distributors - Amazon take this very seriously!
A couple of other things you might find useful: Join Bookbuzzr to market your books. Now, there's free bit, and a premium bit. Being a mega skinflint, I'm with the free bit. It has these little widgets, and you can automate tweets. What more do you want? Well quite a lot really, because there are millions of books out there- How does a reader find yours? A couple of suggestions: 1) Use Twitter, but be careful not to spam your followers; create a Facebook FanPage - Now, remember the waffle at the end of your book? Put a couple of links in there - one to your fan page, the other to your website. What! You haven't got a website? Try weebly - like most things there's a free bit and a premium bit, I use the free bit. Yeah, I don't care if it shows!
You also need to go to Author Central and create your author page by writing a biography, claiming your books, and linking to Twitter. You can also put a trailer up there and some photographs - be careful about the photos because the authorities in authority regularly check the author photos for drunken obscene ones. Another place you might like to display your books as an author is Goodreads. There's also FeedARead where you can get your book printed for a small outlay, and YouWriteOn, which is a very helpful peer review site.
That's it, I'm exhausted. I've probably missed a million things, but my brain's turned to chop suey. If you've got questions, Toady, please ask and I'll try to answer them without incriminating myself.
So, here's the thing! I said I'd do a Part Deux of my Millenium Trilogy, Toady, and it's getting late! Strictly Dancing is on already on, and then there's the X-Factor until midnight, or some God-forsaken time, so I'd better get on with it.
Where was I? Well, in fact, I wasn't anywhere, but I do believe you were trying to make a pre-emptive strike on KDP without a blurb, a cover, and a clue as to how much you were going to charge those lovely readers for your magnus opium. So, slow down, Toady!
Okay, let's talk about a blurb. I've seen some long ones, some short ones, and some in the middle ones - what's right? Shrugs - who knows! All I can tell you, is that I have the attention span of gnat. My policy - generally - is to keep it short and simple. Ya gotta ask yourself what the reader needs to know, and take a look at the blurb on the back of some books - you'll get the idea.
Now, I shouldn't really do this, but it'll save me time in a couple of weeks. I'm three-quarters through my next Parish & Richards novel No.8: 'Be Not Afraid', so I'll write a draft blurb, and I'm sure there's some people out there who will say it's rubbish - whatever!
This next book in the series is packed with story: Parish and Richards travel to Quantica, Virginia to give a presentation at an FBI conference on serial killers in different cultures, but they stumble over an American serial Killer called "The Painter". Chief Kowalski and his wife Jerry are accused of Satanic Ritual Abuse of their children, who are taken away by Social Services - Kowalski has another heart attack and ends up in hospital, which leaves Jerry in a fight to get her children back. Much to Xena's disgust, her and Stick are given two cases to investigate due to Parish & Richards' absence. One, in which a group called Mothers Against Paedophiles (MAPs) are abducting paedophiles from their own homes, torturing confessions out of them, killing them, and then publishing the video-confessions on a website. The second case concerns a man called John Smith who is discovered in a house that resembles a necropolis because it has so many female bodies inside. The trouble is, he's not John Smith, he's not talking, and they don't know who he is. And I haven't told you about the hacker called Cookie, Charlie Baxter the solicitor, Alicia Mae's past, the undercover operative from the DGIFC following Parish... Oh yes, and there's an addition to Parish's family!
Now, that's slightly longer than I normally do, but there's a lot of book between the covers, so there you are, Toady. Oh yes, that's a good lead-in to the cover. Well, you'll be relieved to hear that you don't need a back cover! Here's what I do - like it or lump it. I take a photo (see above for the before and after. The original photograph was taken by my wife on a recent holiday to Crete), I re-size it to what Smashwords wants (I'll get to Smashwords - I promise), but actually it's not Smashwords that wants it a particular size - it's that tiny company called Apple, so it'll fit their iPad - it has to be 1,600 x 2,400 pixels, but here's the gumf - read it yourself. I right-click a photo and upload it to Paint, which everyone's got as part of Windows, and I crop and re-size it. Now, if you haven't already done so, you want to download Google's free software 'Picassa', because you can do loads of wicked stuff in there, like put text on the photo just like a real bok - and there we are.
Next is the price! A touchy subject with loads of argument for and against cheap or expensive. People want free books, but then - because they're free - they think they're probably rubbish. If you make them expensive, other people won't buy them because there's loads of cheap books out there. If you make them 99c, people won't touch them because they're bound to be rubbish... Need I go on? My older books are 99p ($1.51 or thereabouts), my shorts or novellas are 77p, and my new books were £1.99, but now I make them £2.99, which I don't think is excessive for two months of solid writing and a reasonable attempt at a story. Some people will say, "It's too expensive", others will say, "Charge us more - your books are just great", but I've told my wife she can't say that in public... And so it goes on. In the end, it's trial and error, and you can change your prices on KDP fairly easily. Now, it's nearly nine o'clock at night, and my eyes are getting gritty, so I'm gonna have a Part Three tomorrow, and I will talk about Smashwords... Goodnight cobbers.
So, here's the thing! I often get jokes, pictures, and videos sent to me as email attachments, and I just delete them, but sometimes one pops out and bites me in the ass, and the one below is just such a video. I've shared it on FB, but I thought I'd put it here as well. It's already been seen by 119M people, so you've probably already seen it, but it's so funny it's worth watching a dozen or more times.
Anyway, I got asked the other day about putting books up on Amazon for the Kindle. Okay, so I have a few books up there, but it doesn't make me an expert - a drip under pressure! I've made a ton of mistakes in terms of formatting, pricing, covers, images... Well, you name it, I've naffed it up. So, I'm probably an expert on how not to do it!
Just so there's nobody out there calling me a snob, or mean, or other such endearing names, I'm gonna tell ya what I know... but, here's the caveat - don't blame me if it all goes pear-shaped! 1) Write a book - yeah, people often forget that bit! Now, I write my books in Word - I prefer the old Word, but I'm using the 2010 version because you can save in PDF - but when you save your book, save as a Word 93 - 2003 Document (.doc) because that's what Smashwords want. Don't worry, I'll get to Smashwords later.
So, you've finished your magnus opium. Now, I have different folders on my memory stick for different formats, and in a sense, they also act as backups of your book - Well, they would do if they weren't all on the same memory stick, so make sure you have a back-up memory stick as I do. Anyway, as I was saying, I have a Kindle Folder, and in that folder I have two sub-folders entitled 'Word' and 'HTML'. Save your book in the 'Word' folder - you now have two copies, but you're going to modify the book you've just saved.
You need to read the Smashwords Style Guide, and follow it religiously. As a basic guide, I highlight the whole document, and give it a 'Normal' style - usually Times New Roman, Point 10 - which is as much use as a chocolate fireguard (except that it gets rid of eroneous formatting like headings and body text and other such rubbish, which don't work on the Kindle! Keep it highlighted, and then make it all Point 12, and put a .5cm indent at the start of all paragraphs (I'm not going to tell you how to do that in Word because the different versions do it differently - find out!). I then go through the whole book and manually format using only the things that Kindle will recognise - Centre/Bold Chapter Headings, two hard spaces between everything that needs a space between two things such as chapters, headings, etc., I don't use italic because sometimes Kindle doesn't know when to stop, so you end up with a chapter of italic instead of one word! Hey, the trick is to keep it simples!
At the beginning of the book I use the copyright information from the Smashwords Style Guide, provide a caveat about names, say how much I love my wife - well, you have to, don't you?, say thanks to the proofreader, the dogwalker, the windowcleaner... you know the thing, but make sure it's not too long, people don't want to skip through a load of rubbish when they download your sample - Keep it short and sweet then you're into Chapter One: The meat hook had been pushed through the woman's neck, and she swung in the breeze like a... At the end of the book you can put stuff like: About the Author, here's all my other books, this is where you can find me on the Internet, and please don't be harsh when you write a review - I have a weak disposition! Whatever you like, but again - keep it short because the Kindle reader won't skip through the pages like a dead tree book - they go off the percentage of the book read and what's left displayed on the Kindle. If you've put you're autobiography at the end as padding, the reader will be most aggreived because the percentage left won't be what they've got left of the book!
So, save it. Now, save it again as a 'Web-Filtered' or 'HTML' document in your second folder 'HTML' - You can call the folders anything you want, you know! Now, you could go direct to KDP and upload your book - I am, of course, assuming you've already signed up, but if not, join here: KDP. So, you've got an account, you're in the 'BookShelf', but... there are no books there! Wait... you need a blurb, you need a cover, you need to decide on pricing... Oh dear! Log out of KDP, you're not ready to upload your book just yet.
Here's the thing! 'Pointless' is on now, and then I have to have my tea (dinner to posh people), do a bit more writing, watch Corrie and... Well, I think you get the idea. So, we'll call this Part One, and I'll write Part Two tomorrow, if that's all right with you, Toady?
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.