Book Printing, Embedding Fonts and Lulu

Healing StonesAs mentioned in my post on August 17th Comparing Print Times of KDP Print and Lulu, I ran into trouble with Lulu’s newly designed website and their more user friendly tools. While frustrating, once I figured out the source of the problem, I solved the problem for the print file for Healing Stones and other books I plan to upload in the future.

The problem? Embedding Fonts.

My Lulu History

To understand my problem, we have to go back to the beginning when I uploaded my first interior file to Lulu. This was about two years ago. Back then, I did as instructed and saved the file in PDF. However, Lulu rejected every PDF for the interior that I tried to upload. I tried to figure out why but couldn’t.

Reading further, I saw they also accepted .docx files, so I uploaded my formatted book in the MS Word document file I had originally created. SUCCESS. Lulu accepted the file, and I never looked back. From then on, I always uploaded a .docx instead of a PDF.

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What I learned about writing two novels at the same time.

NaNoWriMoFor NaNoWriMo 2018, I wrote two novels at the same time: Revelation Stones and Beyond the Myst. I didn’t plan it that way. My goal was to complete the first novel. The second one started as a homework assignment from my writers’ group.

I focussed on the book I wanted to complete first, writing a minimum of 2,000 words a day for it. I wrote 1,500 words a day for Beyond the Myst.

To keep the stories separated in my mind, I wrote Beyond the Myst in the morning between 5:30 am and 7:20 am. If I didn’t reach my goal, I spent a few minutes after the morning chores to complete it. I wrote Revelation Stones from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Often I finished early, so I was in bed by nine o’clock. I get up at 4:35 am, so I need to go to bed early.

Before each writing session, I’d envision the scene I was about to write. This put me in the mood to write and provided details I might not have considered. I run scenes in my head like movies, so I get a clear idea of what I want. The scene is basically written before I sit down to the computer. I just record what happened.

I’ve never tried to write two full novels at once. I have written a short story while writing a novel, but usually I’d write the short story in a few days, then return to the novel writing. This whole experience of writing two in one day was completely new to me. Here’s what I have learned listed under the benefits and the drawbacks.

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A Hard Lesson Learned

Hard Lessons LearnedAlthough it’s tough to admit it, six years ago, I made a horrible mistake in my publishing journey. After publishing the first book in my Castle Keepers fantasy series, Shadows in the Stone, I should have buckled down and completed the draft to the second book in the series, Scattered Stones.

However, feeling the pressure to get more books on my publishing shelf, I wrote a few short stories that were not in the fantasy genre. They were quick writes, quickly edited by my editor and quickly published. I soon had four books on my shelf. It looked impressive.

I was following the advice of those who believed the more books on a shelf, the more a writer gets noticed because they have a larger footprint.

However, those giving advice didn’t stress the vital fact that the books written should all be in one genre. Readers sometimes stick to one genre, so those who loved my fantasy novel might not like my contemporary stories about death, domestic abuse or a cranky neighbour.

Sigh.

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Summer is Over and Work Begins

Thought for the dayWe can all ask, “Where did it go?”, but I think most of us who live in the north know summer passed in the usual form: too quickly. What started out to be a very cool June with snow and hail in Nova Scotia, eventually evolved into hot July and August days.

With cooler nights and mild days on the horizon, school started today where I live. That means the house is empty because everyone is either in school or at work. This is the first time I’ve had the house to myself during the day for more than two months.

While I hope you enjoyed your summer and I’d like to reminisce about mine, as John Wayne said, “We’re burning daylight.” So it’s time to buckle down and get back to work full time. My batteries are recharged, new ideas are splashing around in my mind, and I’m ready to start the next phase of my self-publishing journey.

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No One is Surprised: CreateSpace Closes and KDP Print Takes Over

Amazon CreateSpace KDP PrintBetween putting the laundry in the washer and hanging it on the line and while I was making pancakes for my youngest child, washing dishes and waiting for the buzzer on the oven to go to indicate the cinnamon rolls were ready for extraction, an email popped up in my inbox.

The subject told me all I wanted to know, and if Amazon thought they’d surprise me, they couldn’t have been more mistaken: CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing to become one service

I didn’t bother opening the message; I was too busy, and I knew what it was all about.

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KDP Print Now Provides Proof and Author Copies

KDP Print ProofA welcomed message arrived in my inbox this evening. Amazon’s KDP Print will now provide self-published authors with the option of purchasing a proof of their book before it goes on sale for the public. The message also stated writers could purchase author copies.

In my post, dated April 17, 2017 (read Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users), one of the major drawbacks of KDP Print over CreateSpace was the inability to order proofs and author copies.

CreateSpace marked its proofs with a large “PROOF” across the last page. KDP Print will take this one step further and “have a ‘Not for Resale’ watermark on the cover and a unique barcode but no ISBN”.

I’m not sure why the extra security is needed since proof copies were the same price as author copies and if a proof was good enough, more copies could be purchased. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Review of Lulu’s Printing Service

With this ever-changing publishing world, it’s good to explore other options before the need arises. I feel this way about paperback printing services now that CreateSpace seems to be going the way of the megafauna. Before Amazon Print scuttles the boat (read Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users), I want my books settled on solid ground at another printer, so I can still get copies with short notice.

At a friend’s recommendation, I tried the printing services of Lulu. She had printed several of her books using their service. She showed me samples, and the quality was good. I uploaded a book and ordered a copy to see how easy it was and to compare it with the quality from CreateSpace.

Lulu accepted interior files created with CreateSpace’s template, so I didn’t have to redo the book to order the sample. I later learned they accept InDesign files, too, as I assumed they would.

Since this was a new program for me, there were a few stumbles, but overall the process wasn’t too difficult. Ordering copies was easy. The benefit of Lulu is they accept PayPal. This is excellent for everyone who doesn’t have a credit card.

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Saturday Morning Briefs

One Self-publishing Success Story

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” “After I clicked “publish” on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program, I sat back and waited for my life to change.

“It was as if I thought self-publishing my teen vampire novel, What Kills Me, would be transformative: kind of like when Prince Adam raises his sword and becomes He-Man. Following six months of writing and spending about $2,000 preparing my ebook for publication, by the power of Amazon, I was now an author.

“Except that putting your book for sale on Amazon feels like dropping a single grain into a bag of rice — you need to paint it green or point it out, or else how will anyone distinguish it from the rest? So nothing happened. And I felt no different.”

Many of us have held the He-Man sword, hoping for instant transformation. We learn quickly it doesn’t happen like that. This article was published in The National Post on December 14, 2012, but I feel it still provides inspiration to those thinking about self-publishing or those who are already on the path. To read the rest of the article, go here Self-publishers Can’t Afford Humility: How my self-published book became a Canadian bestseller in six months.

Eleven Reasons to Love Outlines

I write free style. I tried to be a writer who outlines stories, but I failed miserably even though I know there are many benefits to outlining. My brain is simply not wired that way.

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Saturday Morning Briefs

Keywords Are the Key to Amazon Success

“As marketers, it’s a big part of our job to get more readers, but as you probably have discovered, that’s often a challenge. With so many books and so many titles competing for the same attention, setting yours apart from the pack can be hard.

“On the flip side, what if you have a book with limited attention, because your topic isn’t wildly known? How do you drive attention to a book about something that doesn’t have top of mind awareness? The good news is, it’s totally possible. And I’m going to tell you how!”

To continue, read Amazon Keywords: The Secret to Doubling Your Sales and Pulling in New Readers! by Penny Sansevieri.

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Saturday Morning News Briefs

Shadows in the Stone Permanently Free at Amazon

FREE eBook Read Everywhere

Many years ago, before self-publishing really took, the goal for many writers was to get a book permanently free at Amazon. It was relatively easy back then but for the past six years, Amazon has been reluctant to set books at permanently free. I was told the only way to do it was to set it for free at other vendors and hope (or scheme) customers would tell on you and Amazon would price match it. However, I’ve tried this several times over the years without luck. Until now.

I checked my sales record this week and discovered the book was being sold for free starting on May 9th. Yet, the book still showed a price of $0.99. Confused, I let it play out, watching my books be purchased for an invisible free price sticker. Last night, I checked again, and the Amazon sites finally revealed the true price: FREE.

Why do authors want a book permanently free? In my case, it’s because I want the first book in the series free in hopes the second book will be bought. Next spring, I hope to publish book 3 in the series, and with this boost in ‘sales’, it should do well. At least that is the hoped for outcome.

You can download Shadows in the Stone at Amazon Canada and Amazon US.

Who’s Pointing at Your Book at Amazon

Last week I shared David Gaughran’s experience with Also Boughts at Amazon. Since then, he’s written a post to share more information on this subject from a different angle. Gaughran’s experience in analysing data such as this helps explain some of the mysteries behind how Amazon works. Read more about this in David Gaughran’s post Who’s Pointing at You.

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5 Words that Weaken Your Sentences

Used when needed, these words can be powerful, but when they are used unnecessarily, they can weaken a sentence and undermine the impact the writer wants to deliver.

Identifying these words and testing to see if they are truly necessary is one of the keys to writing powerful sentences.

Some

In general, this determiner means an unspecified amount of something: an object, of people or anything that can be measured or not measured. It’s also used as a pronoun: Some of us left early. The unspecific nature of this word makes it detrimental to sentences when used unnecessarily.

Compare these sentences…

  1. “I want some candy,” said Becky.
  2. “I want candy,” said Becky.
  3. “I want one candy,” said Becky.
  4. “I want your bag of candy,” said Becky.
  5. “I want all the candy in the world,” said Becky.

In this instance, sentences two through five indicate how Becky is feeling and may hint at her personality. Is she indecisive, watching her sugar intake, greedy or unrealistic? By choosing another word or leaving out some altogether, the sentence becomes stronger and reveals more about Becky.

A few more examples of when you can eliminate some

  • Without some additional funding, the idea would never fly.
  • Without additional funding, the idea would never fly.
  • I enjoy my day when some family come to visit.
  • I enjoy my day when family comes to visit.

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First 5000 Words Evaluation

Over the years, many writers have asked me to provide an evaluation on a piece of their writing, not a complete manuscript, only a section of it. I knew this was a great idea because I’ve done it myself with my beta readers. I’ve sent a chapter, a scene or a passage and asked, “Does this work?”

The feedback provided by my wonderful, honest and no-holding-back beta readers has helped me grow as a writer. Because of them, I am a better writer today than I was ten years ago. But it’s not a one-way street. I read their material and provide an equally honest evaluation.

This relationship is what every writer should have, but I know they don’t. I didn’t until about 15 years ago. Although I knew my beta readers since the late 1990s, we didn’t get around to reading each other’s work until the mid-2000s.

I understand the difficulty in connecting with a beta reader, so that’s why I’m offering to be that person, to provide an honest, unbiased evaluation of the first 5,000 words of your story.

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Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users

The first news I heard about KDP Print was in an email from Amazon on February 15th. Since then, I’ve read articles, blog posts and comments about it and watched the praise given by Amazon for this service dwindle quickly.

In the email, Amazon announced they were making print book publishing easier for writers. They stated, “KDP prints your book on demand and subtracts your printing costs from your royalties, so you don’t have to pay any costs upfront or carry any inventory.”

That’s what CreateSpace does. Sort of. I believe CreateSpace takes the cost of the printing of the book from the sale price, then takes a cut of the royalties. Until I see the numbers and do the math, I am unsure which service will offer a better financial deal for authors.

The message also stated, “It also enables you to receive consolidated royalty payments for paperback and eBook sales. You can view combined reports and manage your print and eBook publishing from one website.”

Except, I’m okay with visiting two sites to get my sales reports. In fact, I prefer CreateSpace’s sales report much more than I do Kindle’s. Kindle’s is not straightforward and too clunky to find answers quickly.

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A New Formatting Tool for eBooks

The world is always changing, and nowhere is that more prevalent than the publishing world. What was once great last year, no longer works this year, and the tools we use are constantly upgraded and changed to accommodate this rapid evolution.

When I first began publishing eBooks, I formatted them myself in MS Word. But I could not format ePubs. I’ve tried Scrivener to format the file, but I was unhappy with the results. Then I tried Calibre for ePubs, and that worked great for a few years. Last spring during my six-month review, I found formatting issues with eBooks available at a few online retailers. There were no issues with the files I had manually formatted, but the ePubs were a mess.

So I took the leap and rented InDesign. There’s a large learning curve, but once I conquer it, I’ll be able to create eBooks and print books professionally.

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Scattered Stones Cover Release and Proof Order

The novel I conceived in the second half of 2009 is now in the birthing canal.

Yesterday I placed an order for a proof copy of Scattered Stones. After I hit the CONFIRM button, I sat back and thought about the journey to give me a better perspective of what I had done.

In May 2010, I had written the last 60,000 words in a rush to reach the end. Then the manuscript went through multiple edits, being read and sporadically edited by beta readers. I edited and revised when I found time, often between stints of working outside the home. For six months in 2014, I barely had a chance to look at it because I worked six to seven days a week, putting in ten-hour days at a garden centre. This sort of schedule doesn’t leave much time to eat, sleep and say hello to the kids, let alone hours bellied-up to a computer to edit a novel.

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