Don’t link to your email list provider in your books

I’m going to sound smug for a moment, because frankly, that’s how I’m feeling right about now.

From the beginning, I’ve done everything I can to make life easier on myself, and it’s paid off in several ways in the long run.

I make all my links in my books go back to my own author website, including the link for my newsletter sign up.

Link to one of my books? It goes to my website (a page just for that book).

Link to my newsletter sign up form? It goes to my website (a page just for the form for the newsletter sign up).

This is part laziness on my part and part forward thinking. I’m always imagining worst case scenarios, and the worst thing I can imagine happening with links is some service going under and me being stuck with the task of editing who knows how many books and having to upload new files to all the distributors.

So here’s my advice to you, especially if you have a lot of books or plan to write a lot of them!

Link to your own website pages, no matter what anyone else recommends you do, or how much they swear you’ll earn more or get more subscribers or whatever.

I mean, I guess if you don’t mind the work, and doing it in a hurry too when something happens that screws up three hundred links you’ve put all over the web or inside your books and promo materials, then do what you want, but I will never recommend anyone link to anything but pages under their own control.

The end.

:-)

Mailchimp changes—read Gaughran’s post

So day before yesterday, I spent an hour or so trying to find info on the Mailchimp changes I’d just been notified about by email.

I’m on the free plan, because my lists are tiny. Like, really super tiny, because I don’t promote them except in my books and on my websites, and I don’t do list building. (I can barely keep up my writing, so yeah.) My lists are 100% organic and I like it that way. I despise marketing, and dealing with that stuff ratchets up my stress levels to the point that I’d just as soon get another job in accounting as deal with it. At least I like accounting work!

Anyway, I had a feeling someone would put together a good post on the Mailchimp changes, and sure enough, yesterday, David Gaughran did.

Go read it if you use Mailchimp and you’re questioning what the heck they’re doing.

As for me, the first thing I did after reading the email was scoff and then tell my daughter it was obvious Mailchimp was looking for a way to inflate the numbers that they use to charge people for services. Gaughran’s post does a good job of laying it all out, and definitely supports my own view on that.

I can see why Mailchimp did it, but I still think the changes they’re making are kinda stupid. I mean, most people are going to see right through their blather about audiences and retargeting and blah-blah and see the move for what it is—an effort to offer less, earn more, and get out of the “forever free” promises they made in the past.

In all honesty, I think what it shows me is that Mailchimp can’t be trusted.

I went last night and finished up the profile I’d started with Mailerlite and got my account approved. I haven’t decided to bail just yet, but I guess I’ll have to. I have two lists, one of which has 6 subscribers (not joking!) and I’m not going to a paid plan to service that list.

I deleted my unsubscribed and cleaned emails from my main list at Mailchimp and exported it as a csv file, as I do every so often for backup, and over the next week or two I’ll figure out what I’m going to do.

Gaughran and several people in the comments of his post talk about archiving these unsubscribes, but from my reading of the Mailchimp help pages, delete works best for me. I want to be sure people’s info is scrubbed if I’m not using it, and I’m not using unsubscribed emails for any reason.

It’s pretty clear from my reading that people have the right to ask for their info to be deleted at any time, so I chose to be proactive and delete now. If I’m reading all that stuff wrong, I’ll deal with it. This is what I’d want done with my info, so I’m doing that for others.

So… Blasty

A lot of authors will know what I’m talking about: Blasty, that company that claims to send DMCA notices to copyright infringers on the internet, mostly pirates.

What it actually does is send notices to Google to get the sites that infringe out of the Google search engine. Or at least that’s been my experience with it.

It also screws up and sends notices about sites that are not infringing and causes them to lose search engine rankings and (possibly) income.

Ask me how I know.

I have some book promo sites. Or review sites. Or whatever you want to call them, I don’t care. :D I used to talk about books I love and I used affiliate links on those websites to make money before I turned to self-publishing my fiction. There are several old posts on this site from early 2012 and before that talk about it.

Yeah, there’s a reason I haven’t included a link to Blasty here, and that’s because I’m holding a grudge. I also think they’re pretty much a useless service that’s making someone a lot of money from uninformed authors who just want to feel proactive and protect their content.

As I said in a comment on The Digital Reader:

Someone set up a Blasty campaign last year and Blasty sent a DMCA notice to Google about it, and because I had my site set up in Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console), they kindly sent me a notice about it which I immediately disputed. Then I emailed the author whose books Blasty claimed I was infringing. The author told me they couldn’t figure out how to tell Blasty that my site wasn’t infringing.

Then the reported page was out of Google for 10 days while Google processed my dispute.

My personal opinion is that Blasty is run by bots, with no oversight at all. It would have taken one hasty glance at my site’s page to see that all it does is link to Amazon (or some other retailer) where people can buy books and I can earn a little to help pay for the site’s hosting and domain.

What Blasty is really doing is harming some authors’ reputations. If you set up anything automated at Blasty you’re risking auto notices being sent about sites that are not infringing—Blasty clearly does not do any oversight for this. That’s on you and if you screw it up, you could be like the author whose books triggered the DMCA notice to Google for my websites’s page: forever off the list and in some book blogger or promo manager’s never-again black book.

There are authors and books that I will never mention on any site I run ever again. And it’s not even personal. Blasty is a problem I just don’t have to deal with.

There are oodles of books and authors out there that I can promote who aren’t going to make my sites a target.

The problem of publishers pretending to be authors

The fact of the matter is, if it weren’t for the stolen content, the plagiarism, the stealing of rights from (some) people (ghostwriters) too inexperienced to realize what’s actually happening and how many rights they actually have under copyright law, those publishers putting out frequent releases and burying everybody else’s books under their deluge of releases wouldn’t be news.

Well, except for the fact that they’re also unethical enough—or so ignorant of accepted publishing industry practice—to think that pretending to be an individual author instead of being the publisher they really are is a good idea.

I’ve made it clear in the past what I think about author personas. They’re not pen names and they are an outgrowth of get-rich-quick schemers entering the indie publishing industry as the barriers to entry fell away. They’re often unethical attempts to have it both ways: keep everything about oneself private while connecting and commiserating with others about things that matter in their lives by lying about what’s real in one’s own.

It has been a thing in the industry for longer than I’ve been alive to have a publishing house put out books that are written by various people under the pen name of one author. But in almost all cases it is a very easy thing to find actual evidence that this “author” is a house name and not a real person. Publishers haven’t generally tried to convince readers that these house names are authors in the sense we’re all used to.

The new breed of publishers that’ve grown up out of the indie author self-publishing industry spends a lot of time trying to convince us that they’re not publishers—but are in fact individual authors just trying to get by.

Yeah. I don’t think so.

They’re going to great lengths to keep the fact that they’re publishing instead of authoring a secret.

They are lying. They are deceiving. And they are jerks.

And the darkest part of the underbelly of this is that some of them aren’t even depending on real readers to make them money. They’re paying for reads at a cheaper rate than they’re being paid for them in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited system.

What a crock.

It’s not that I haven’t known about this for a very long time, because I have. But a long time ago, I realized there was nothing much I can do about it at all, except write my own books, refuse to compromise because of what other people are doing, and be my own person.

I’m an author, a writer, and a publisher. And when I publish a book with my name on it, you can bet your ass that I wrote every damn word of it. I don’t publish books for other people and can’t imagine that I ever will. I don’t want to be a publisher. I’m my own publisher because it’s necessary if I want to sell books.

Honestly, I couldn’t care less about what publishers publish. But publishers faking it as authors and lying to people is the one subject that just really pisses me off. And those committing plagiarism to get ahead aren’t even publishers; they’re scammers.

Copyright infringement is against the damn law. People doing that are criminals and no sob story changes that. It is wrong, and our society has codified that in the law.

(I toyed with the idea of linking to bunches of articles and blog posts but the fact is I have a book to write and this stuff takes me way too much time to put together. I’m not a speedy blogger, that’s for sure. If you want more info on all this stuff, just do a few internet searches and you’ll find more than you ever wanted to know about all this garbage.)

The following are just a few of the things I’ve read, to get you started down that rabbit hole.

http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2019/02/18/cristiane-serruya-is-a-copyright-infringer-a-plagiarist-and-an-idiot/

https://kriswrites.com/2019/02/20/business-musings-ghostwriting-plagiarism-and-the-latest-scandal/

https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2019/02/20/the-cristiane-serruya-plagiarism-scandal/

http://fallintothestory.com/plagiarism-then-and-now/

https://www.shilohwalker.com/website/2019/02/hot-takes-part-oh-honey-you-went-and-pissed-me-off/

https://jamigold.com/2019/02/what-can-authors-and-readers-learn-from-copypastecris/

Good news for the pre-order averse from Barnes & Noble Press

From the latest Barnes & Noble Press email I received:

eBook Pre-Order no longer requires a placeholder interior file, so you’ll never have to worry that readers will receive anything less than your finished project once it’s ready for release.

This is good news. One reason I’ve personally avoided pre-orders has been the need to provide an interior file. I haven’t felt that the risk of a distributor sending out a file not meant for distribution is offset by the benefits of having a pre-order available. But I also haven’t wanted to tie up a ready-to-publish book in a pre-order, so I haven’t used pre-orders at all.

Smashwords has allowed an asset-less pre-order for a while (as of 2015, in fact), but I just haven’t felt it was worth putting up a pre-order in only one venue. Now here’s another.

This might be the year I finally do some experimenting with pre-orders.

The decline of The Passive Voice website

Well, it was a good run. I used to enjoy reading The Passive Voice blog for the publishing news and stuff, even the random bits that didn’t really have a lot to do with publishing or self-publishing. I have been visiting and reading the site for more than six years.

But The Passive Voice has been in decline for a while now. Of late, the blog has been awash in political wrangling and the comments a chore to read. A few frequent commenters have taken over the comments section in the last several years and their diatribes and viewpoints are just not to my taste.

It’s a chore to talk to people about things that can be divisive and come away from those conversations still friends, or at least friendly. But it’s a hell of a lot more likely to happen in a real world conversation than in an online one. Discussion of divisive topics online has become a no-go for me as I’ve realized how much of a waste of time it is. Even people who are nice, easy to talk to people in real life often act like total assholes online.

I am now saving all these types of conversations for people in the real world whom I respect or who can at least treat another human being with a bit of decency. Anyone else can stuff it.

I’ve successfully cut out the writer forums I used to visit and my enjoyment of writing and self-publishing has improved dramatically. I think it’s time to cut out The Passive Voice too.

I’m kind of thrilled by that decision. Stopping my visits to the forums has been a surprisingly effective mood booster. Even if this is just a blip compared to that, it can only help.

Well, there you go. Bye-bye KBoards

My love/hate relationship with KBoards is pretty much over. VerticalScope bought the site from the former owner and snuck in terms of use changes that I noticed and brought to the attention of the other members, and boom, explosions happened.

When all was said and done (not all has been said and done, but it’s getting there), many of the members agreed that the terms were onerous, ugly, possibly illegal (laying claim to rights VS can’t have just because you’ve posted something on the board, and then stating there’s no recourse if they misappropriate or infringe them, and other weird, overreaching, and unconscionable shit like that), and made it not worth the risk to stick around and keep posting.

I agreed, but since I’ve been mostly anonymous as a user on KB for all the years I’ve been posting there, I wasn’t worried for me. I wasn’t even worried about what VerticalScope might do with the content I still had up because most of it is very much just random comments. There’s not much there to be honest, because I delete most of my posts every year or two to keep things fresh. But then the community manager for VerticalScope, Helene, came on and acted like an asshole with no respect at all for the valid concerns of the non-anonymous members.

So I decided nope not sticking around with assholes like that in charge. Then I went in and cleaned out the 700-ish posts I did still have there.

Permission denied, VerticalScope, I do not choose to agree to your Terms of Use.

I left a few posts, ones that were relevant to the topic of the terms of use, and some in a thread I’d started recently, and that’s it. I decided not to abandon the thread I started but I won’t be posting much in it and will let it die if no one else posts. At that point, I will clear out those posts too, because I don’t like leaving loose threads behind.

Whether or not I post anything else there in the future depends entirely on what VerticalScope does or does not change. As of right now, the plan is to truly abandon KB and not go back once my own thread has died out.

In the meantime, I’ve found a different forum to use to keep up with the news I usually get from KB.

I am sad about this, despite the fact that I’ve been pretty hard on Kboards here. I really had hoped when I posted about the new Terms of Use that someone would come onto the thread and make a good case for why the changes weren’t anything to worry over. I’m disappointed it turned out to be just as ugly as my gut was telling me.

But now that this has all happened, what I really want is to take this opportunity to cut back how much reading/participating/posting I do on any publishing forum. Until I get to the point where I can reliably write my words every day and have plenty of time left over, all this other stuff is just getting in my way. :D

On that note, Leechblock is back.

For those not in the know, that’s 10 minutes total for all those sites combined, in a four hour period. You would be astounded (or maybe not) how quickly 10 minutes goes when you’re trying to read a busy thread. Yesterday I started out with a 4 minute limit and boy was that frustrating in the extreme! :D I had to ease up so that I didn’t become so frustrated that I abandoned this effort. I quite like it.

In the past, I usually turned off access to certain sites during certain times, which works not at all when you’re not tied to a writing schedule. :) I also had tried limiting myself to so much total time per day on some sites, but my personality is such that I would use all the time, then get annoyed that I couldn’t go back for the entire day. So that didn’t work, because I constantly cheated myself by pausing or resetting Leechblock.

This particular set up seems to work well with my brain. I get to look at the clock and know it’s only a few hours until I can go back if I get locked out, and that is soon enough to trick me into getting on with other things instead of dwelling on it and then ultimately cheating. :D

The news tab is even more restricted. I allow 2 minutes every 4 hours, with the intent to save anything I really want to read to Pocket. :) I do my Pocket reading when I’m really desperate for something to occupy my mind. Half the time, I delete a whole bunch of stuff unread because I’ve let it get stale and lost interest. That right there, my friends, is half the battle won. :D

Well, I’ve wasted enough of my morning writing this up, so I’m moving on to the next post about my upcoming writing sessions. See you there. :)

 

My turn to move paperbacks from CreateSpace to KDP

CreateSpace has been rolling out the migration from CreateSpace to KDP Print since sometime last week. I finally got the popup notice (although no email notifications) that I should consider moving my books.

I didn’t delay, just went ahead and clicked the “Get Started” button, because—

  1. I don’t sell oodles of paperbacks anyway, so if it messed something up I’m not losing much.
  2. I’ve heard that once the popup goes away, it’s gone for a long time.
  3. I’m impatient and I wanted it over and done with.

The migration actually seems to have gone off without a hitch. On the other hand, I haven’t examined any of the books in detail since moving them from CreateSpace to KDP.

I had to link two drafts to the ebooks, but all the other paperback books linked up on their own, matching to the correct ebooks without any trouble.

We’ll see later today or tomorrow if it actually went well, when I log in and check out the details.

I’m hesitant to do anything that’ll require me to approve a book at the moment, because if it leads me to needing to make cover or interior file adjustments, I’m not ready. I’m trying really hard to get this next book finished and don’t want to split my focus if I don’t absolutely have to.

Amazon has a help article up about the switch, and David Gaughran posted about the closing on his blog. And of course, it’s a big topic on Kboards.

Just an FYI, if you haven’t been paying attention, Kboards is under new ownership. I’m still considering how I feel about that and might use this as the push I need to cut Kboards out of my daily routine. I just need to find a replacement so I don’t feel especially cut off from news about big happenings in the SP world. Suggestions are welcome (but I don’t—and won’t—do Facebook). :D

(Facebook has rules about pseudonyms. I use pseudonyms for pretty much all my online activities. Furthermore, I have a unique name that makes it ridiculously easy to track my online activity when I don’t use a pseudonym, I hate being followed around online by Facebook, and I care about following the rules when it’s not something that’s going to hurt me. Enough said.) :-)

Corrections abound

It was late last night when I wrote all those posts about the writing of my current book, what to call a book, and the day’s progress, and I made some errors. :D

The big one, of course, is that this is not book 21 I’m working on!

This is book 19.

I’ve gone back and edited those posts to take out the wrong information. It just seemed easier that way than trying to note the corrections. :D

I messed up because I used the table I have in my spreadsheet to tell me how many books I have in each category of length: novel, novella, novelette, and short story. That table gave me 18+2=20 for the novel and novella length books.

Or so I thought.

This morning, I remembered something important about that table. It’s pulling data from my “Publish List” which includes every title I’ve published. The table is counting anything over 40,000 words as a novel and is counting a novel that I wrote well before 2012 and that’s no longer published.

I don’t want those two books to count.

The one, I didn’t write but compiled it from stories I’d already written; and the other, well, let me just say it’s old, I’m not sure it’s any good, and I was happy to unpublish it even though it did sell a copy and was one of the things that made me sure I could do this publishing thing for money. :D

Me and late nights do not agree.

So here is the correction:

I have 18 books and 12 short stories. (Between three pen names.)

The book I’m working on now is book 19.

 

Kindle Unlimited: a pirate’s treasure

Here’s a screenshot of a post on a forum. Maybe you can guess the forum, but I’m going to do the sane thing here and not mention it by name, because I’m not interested in sending goons after the bad guys and becoming a bad guy myself.

But ain’t that grand?

Personally, it’s just one of many reasons I stay far, far away from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.*

(Also known as: Customers ripping off authors by downloading loads of books while signed up to a three-month trial of KU costing 99¢, stripping DRM from those books, reading those books in a way that won’t register for the author’s benefit (AKA authors not getting paid for pages read, because Amazon can’t stop this or account for it because payment is based on page reads instead of something reliably easy to track like, you know, borrows…), and then keeping those books indefinitely after canceling the KU membership.)

Pirating happens, and so does stealing, if one defines this kind of thing as theft. (I do, and although there are technicalities about why this might not be actual theft, I don’t care. Thievery is as good a name for it as any as far as I’m concerned.) There’s not much an author can do about this that won’t cost more in time and effort than is lost to the pirating (and theft), so I don’t worry about it much. Just nothing to be done.

Amazon has proven they’re unwilling to do anything. They switched from a system that worked around this kind of thievery to make sure authors got paid at least for the download to a system that pays literally as little as possible and makes authors eat any losses because of badly behaving Amazon customers.

In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t let this stop me from participating in KU if there were other benefits that I was interested in, but there aren’t, so I don’t. It’s an ugly system, and I choose to stay as far away from it as I can.

As for the pirating and thievery, well, people are either willing to pay or they aren’t. The money gets too slim, they’ll have to read someone else’s books because I won’t be writing, so tough on them if they really liked what they stole. And if they didn’t like it, well, too bad so sad for them. That’s a sweet revenge of a different sort. Reading that stolen book wasted their time, and that’s something they ain’t never getting back. :D

*I did have one book in KU way back when. I won’t bore you with details here but there’s a link if you want to know more.

Amazon.co.uk is having a sale on print books that’s causing KDP to price match my ebook

I don’t know exactly what’s going on this morning with Amazon.co.uk and KDP, but I came across an odd value in my sales report from KDP for one of my books. I double checked the book on Amazon.co.uk, where the odd “royalty” came from, and realized Amazon.co.uk is price matching one of my books. The problem is, there’s no lower price anywhere for that ebook.

After a few clicks around the page, I found what I think is the root issue.

Amazon.co.uk appears to be having a sale on the paperback for this book, offering it at a significant discount—but only with orders of at least £10.00 of books.

Screenshot from the Amazon.co.uk web page for one of my books. Notice the price? Yeah, that’s a price match to the paperback.

Yay for them for having a sale.

Not so much yay for me.

I’m the one taking the hit on royalties earned for every sale of this book well in excess of what I’d make up for in volume because of the lower price, for a price match that isn’t even a real price match, because (1) they’re matching a paperback price and (2) the only way to get the low price is to buy £10.00 worth of books.

I have to say, I become less enamored by Amazon every year. Of course, I was part of the Amazon affiliate program well before I started publishing my books through KDP, so I never had a lot of the warm fuzzies for them as a business associate to begin with.

Still, every little blow just hardens my heart against them that much more.

Because this? Is not cool.

Pen name ethics

There’s been some grumbling on Kboards about pen names and personas that has struck a chord with me. I use pen names and I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I don’t have a problem with anyone choosing to use them, for whatever reason they want to use them.

But I do have qualms about the use of personas. They ring of sock puppets and scam tactics to me, and although maybe that’s not how the authors who use them think of them, I can’t help but find it distasteful and deceptive.

On the one hand, making up a name doesn’t seem so different than making up a dog you don’t have. But to me, I do think of those things differently. When I interact with people, that fake name doesn’t really mean anything. I still interact with people as myself, even if it’s only using select attributes of myself.

Say I’m shy in real life (I’m not that shy, mostly standoffish, which is actually quite different). But say I am. I might dig deep and pull from the part of me that isn’t as shy and give myself permission to be more outgoing and brave with other people while interacting under the name of my pen name.

That kind of thing just doesn’t feel deceptive to me. That’s me behaving differently because of who I’m interacting with. I could choose to interact that way as me or as my pen name and no one would think much of it.

But if I give myself a fake dog, when I interact with others, if I choose to use my real name, then the people that know me are going to know I’m lying. Just because I choose to interact under a different name, a pen name, doesn’t mean I’m not lying any less.

So, no, I’m not supportive of authors who create entire personas that are fake. I just don’t think it’s right to do that kind of thing and present it as fact. It’s lying. It’s deception. It’s lying and deception meant for personal gain.

The thing about author bios is that it’s not generally accepted that they’re going to be fake. People, in general, expect bios to be genuine. When they’re not, it breaks a trust with the reader. I care about that. I don’t want any readers of mine to ever be able to come to me and say I lied to them or deceived them about who I am.

I hold back a lot in my bios. That’s because I’m not willing to lie about who I am, but I’m also not willing to give everything about myself away to people I don’t know. Personas are a way of trying to have it both ways.

There are authors I’ve read and loved in the past that I don’t read anymore because of this kind of thing. I have no interest in supporting people who enjoy deceiving others or who are willing to deceive others because they think it gives them an edge in whatever market they’re in. The thing about those kind of people is that they don’t care. They’ll probably never care. But I don’t have to like or support them.

Marketing has a bad reputation because of people who’ll do anything to make a sale. In my mind, I have no doubt that authors who adopt actual personas with made up details about their lives are some of those people.

Not so bad? WTF

I was reading this blog post on book stuffing this morning (and it’s a good one) and came to the screenshots that included comments someone had made in the Chance Carter Diamond Group.

Mind blown.

Why? Because I don’t understand who would look at that list of instructions on how to do the KU Flip and actually think anyone is worth that kind of time investment.

I understand there are people out in the world who feel entitled to steal other people’s time while providing nothing of real value in return, just so they can make a few extra dollars off each one. I do.

But I don’t understand why people value themselves so little that they would actually let it happen. It’s worth it for a free book? A chance at a prize? You’ve got to be kidding me.

And then to think that this character—this person—is already making thousands every month and these readers are giving up time—something that you never, ever get back—to give this person another $12-15 for a KU read? Ugh. Fuck that.

Inherently selfish people have no trouble taking advantage of givers. These poor givers are giving and giving, and this dude is just taking and taking and taking.

The only way this makes sense to me is if it’s all just a big pyramid scheme and the used are hoping to become the users at some point and recoup their investment. But that’s not what I’m hearing. These are readers, who’ve been drawn in by this person’s persona, and who choose to let themselves be used in this way.

I’m sad that I don’t really believe in karma in this life. Maybe in the next.

Less work, more fun with paperback formatting

I’m working on a paperback today. I plan to get back to writing today (was supposed to do that days and days ago, but you know how that goes!) but first I want to finish up the interior formatting for the last release I did.

It’s a little tricky because it’s the longest book I’ve done to date, and I chose a 5 x 8 size for this series a long time ago and don’t want to change that. I also don’t want to go too small on the fonts, so I suffer with higher prices for the books and don’t worry about it. :-)

The paperbacks are more for me anyway just because I like having them.

On that note, I’m playing around with some stuff and have finally figured something out that’s been hindering me from having a basic template file that I can paste my manuscript into for an even easier paperback creation.

If you use section breaks in your manuscript (I do), you must delete them before you copy and paste the text into the template.

If you don’t delete the section breaks, your page layout formatting carries over into the template, messing everything up. I’ve tried this many times over the years and never could understand why it happened. I should have tried searching a little more diligently for the answer but I had fallen into the habit of formatting my paperback from scratch every time instead. I mean, I always tried at least once to copy and paste the text, but I had always given up after that and got on with the formatting.

That’s no longer necessary, because once I deleted the section breaks, the formatting didn’t carry over and my template held onto its page layout formatting for the whole document. Excellent news for me! :-)

Also excellent news is that I don’t actually need those section breaks since I gave up uploading Word docs to vendors (except for Smashwords) a long time ago. I make an EPUB in Jutoh, which testing shows puts page breaks where I want them anyway.

So one less step in my formatting process for the next book/story.

I’m going to test Smashwords on this too, with my next book. I do not yet know for certain that my page breaks will appear where I want them even without me putting them in manually, but I’ll find out. (Apparently the TOC is supposed to tell Smashwords where to insert page breaks but I don’t know for certain it’ll happen for all the formats Smashwords generates.)

If the page breaks don’t appear, I can add the “page break before” option to the heading 1 style in Word and manually insert the one other page break I need (between the title page and the copyright page, which I do not put at the end of the book because I don’t like it there).

Finally, I’m also playing around with Libre Writer for this paperback. Already I’ve discovered one thing it does that Word does not that I like very much. Libre Writer has a book layout view, much like Adobe Reader does. Word does not.

What makes this so awesome is that I can see the spreads (left and right pages side by side) as they’ll appear in the book. Word doesn’t give me that view and it can be a pain sometimes to notice where the blank pages are supposed to be but maybe aren’t.

Anyway, back to the fun stuff. :-) I’ll have an interior for this paperback before lunch if all goes well. :-) (I might still be tweaking it at that point, for margins and then hyphenation issues, but that’s just because I’m picky.)

So that three hours? More like twenty

It feels like Saturday. No idea why.

I’m still feeling a little under the weather here, and I’ve had so much coffee and tea today that I’m also wired up like a piano. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve drank too much too close together, because when I add up the volume, I realize I’ve actually had less than yesterday or the day before.

I did finish the book cover. Or the multiple book covers, I should say. Instead of taking three hours, it took about twenty. If I trim out the time for breaks and stuff once I stopped using the timer, I’d still say it took fifteen or more. I did not take breaks yesterday or this morning until I was so desperate for one I couldn’t have made it another minute without one.

This is one of the hazards of hyperfocus. I don’t enjoy it and it wears me out in a way flow (or being “in the zone”) doesn’t. Don’t ask me if it’s real; all I know is it feels real to me. I almost never feel good about it once I realize what I’m doing, because in the end I give up feeling like I’m in control of myself and my actions.

Maybe continuing with the timers would have helped—I don’t really know—but by the last three sessions I was just clicking OK + Restart Timer and going again the minute it dinged.

I wrote cover copy today, and spent almost four hours on it. It’s like I’m going for records for everything with this book, but in all the wrong ways. Cover copy is usually something I’m pretty quick with. Not today. I still don’t have it right. I can feel it.

But, on to other things for a little while. I have a book to read and edit that I should get started on, and I haven’t written 500 words a day in a couple of days, either. Ugh. Not feeling up to it tonight at all. I might just go to bed early.

Designing a book cover and fighting perfectionism

I’m working on a cover design today. I’m really not good at managing my time when I do this so I’m experimenting today in the hopes of keeping the time down to something reasonable.

Usually I just dig in and start playing with backgrounds, trying to come up with a composite I like. Today, I’m setting my timers up to work for me.

I’m going to design in half hour blocks. I’ve picked that length for the blocks because six of them make three hours, and each one is short enough that if I’ve let myself fall into a black hole of perfectionism, I can stop it before it consumes my entire day.

I really don’t want this cover to take all day. I have a headache, I’m tired and maybe a little sick, and I want to feel productive today.

I don’t feel productive when I get stuck in a loop of tweaks that almost invariably takes me back to where I started. :-)

I’m going record what I did during each half hour block so I can see if there’s something I can learn from this experiment.

Now, to be frank, my last few covers have taken significantly longer than three hours to create, so I’m not cutting myself off at three hours, just seeing how close I can get to done in that amount of time.

It’s not a lie that constraints and boundaries can boost creativity. I’ve experienced it firsthand many times. I’m hoping it will help today. ;-)

I’ll be using GIMP today. Version 2.8.22. It’s open source and free. I generally use stock photography, which I’ll most definitely be using today, and most of it comes from Dreamstime, all properly licensed. (I keep the license information, and if you use stock, you should too, because sometimes the stock disappears from the site and it can be challenging to find the license information after that—speaking from experience!)

First, I’m starting from the base of my last cover, which already has the fonts I need and the alignments for the typography in it.

Second, I’m going to start looking for a background I like.

Third, I’ll do whatever I have to do to blend some stuff together and make it unique and pretty and (hopefully) pop off the screen without being garish.

Fourth, I’ll try to get the type to look nice.

Fifth, I’ll crop and save the sizes I need.

I’m not allotting any of these tasks to any particular time slot, just laying them out so I can see what I need to do. :-)

Now. Time for that first timer.

 

And that answers that question about my paperback covers at CreateSpace

Got this just a short while ago:

Congratulations!

Your interior and cover files for xxxxxxxxxxxxx, #xxxxxxxx meet our technical requirements for printing.

The next step in the publishing process is to proof your book:

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO GET STARTED:

Which I assume means the embedded fonts in the paperback cover are A-okay.  There was no additional message about corrections made for me, on my behalf, or anything like that, so this answers the question of whether or not the PDF cover files would be accepted by CreateSpace with fonts embedded instead of being flattened into the image. Should’ve guessed, really, but I just wasn’t sure.

I’ll be ordering a proof to check this out and compare the quality of print to the covers I didn’t embed fonts for (sending only a flattened image PDF to CreateSpace), and scouring over the digital proof from CreateSpace. If the quality of the text appears better, I’ll definitely be doing this extra step from now on. If it isn’t any better, then I’ll just use GIMP, and only add Elements into the mix when I need to use a font that brings out that unfortunate GIMP text rendering (?) bug.

Also, I discovered something with this round of paperback creation. I’ve consistently had a problem with my PDF cover as exported from GIMP having a transparency that CreateSpace fixes for me. I’ve not had that problem this time. The difference? This time when GIMP popped up the little message during the PDF export, I unchecked all the little boxes for things GIMP was offering to do for me during the export. And now, no transparency warnings from CreateSpace for the three covers I exported directly to PDF from GIMP. Pretty happy to have figured that out. I was exporting a completely flattened image to PDF so there shouldn’t have ever been any transparency anyway, but obviously something GIMP was doing during the export on my behalf was creating it.

I am not going to finish those paperbacks today

Dang it. I’m not going to finish those paperbacks today. I got caught up with tweaking the look of the interior and spent too much time on the cover of one of them today (perfectionism is a trap), and here it is just about bedtime for me (oh, my tired eyes!) and I’ve submitted the files for only one paperback today.

So 2 down and 5 to go. Except I’ve realized that I still need to correct a book I found an error in a few weeks ago, so that means 6 to go. But that one doesn’t need a cover, just a few changes to the interior.

I’m very close to finishing a second tonight, and I think I’ll try to get it submitted before I call it a night. The other paperbacks are just going to have to wait. I want to do some writing tomorrow before I come back to them, maybe in the later afternoon. We’ll see.

I definitely want to wrap these up ASAP, because they’re one of the few things left that I need to do sooner rather than later, and when I’m done with them, I can truly focus for a while on just writing my books.

Paperbacks are taking longer than I had hoped

I finished one paperback today.

Meaning I have 6 to go.

:o

Here’s what went wrong. My paperback style set didn’t work. I’m not sure if I didn’t finish it, or what, but when I applied it to the document, only a few basic styles changed and the rest just kind of … broke. I don’t really know of a better way to explain it.

So instead of getting frustrated and trying to create a new style set (which was my first inclination), I just made manual adjustments to the styles, got everything the way I wanted it, and then saved over the old style set with the new ones.

It’ll either work or it won’t, but I got one paperback done today and that’s all I care about.

While I was doing all that, I used OneNote to create step-by-step list of what I need to do to make sure I don’t forget anything during the formatting.

Now, I’m calling it a night. I got up way to early again today and I’m too tired to stay up. :)

CreateSpace cover template generator at Bookow

I meant to publish this a few days ago when I was in the midst of working on my paperbacks. I tested the Bookow CreateSpace cover template generator and I really like it.

The templates are similar to the CreateSpace templates, but they’re an exact fit for CreateSpace book covers. CreateSpace itself doesn’t generate templates that are an exact fit, so I have a spreadsheet that does it for me. CreateSpace’s own templates are done in batches of 10 pages, so they’re close, but not exact.

My spreadsheet came up with 3268.5 x 2475 as the dimensions I need for my cover. Rounded, that’s 3269 x 2475 at 300 ppi.

Bookow generated a template sized 3269 x 2475 for my book.

Spot on. :D

That was for the PNG file. The PDF file when opened in GIMP came up short after setting it to 300 ppi. However, that might be a quirk I just don’t know how to deal with, and I never use the PDF anyway, only the PNG, even from the CreateSpace generated templates. So there you go.

The Bookow page also has a few other resources on that page that are useful, including the ISBN-13 hyphenator, which I had fun with.