Saturday, March 29, 2014

#D2D #News - You gotta read this letter!!





As promised, here is the letter I received from Draft2Digital during my venture in  publishing my book with them last week. Yes, the book that was still attached to Amazon Select and I had to cancel once I realized my error. That blasted book!! …………grrrr!!!

But… that’s not what I wanted to discuss now. The message I have for you today is just how wonderful it is be treated as I experienced here. Tara is obviously a person who understands that many of us authors are flying by the seat of our pants when it comes to doing all this publishing stuff. Sure we can create a story from nothing, design conflicts, work in a villain or two and even instigate a romance. But all this techno-garble is beyond a lot of us - and that’s the truth!


Not a problem! We can hire a VA to take on this responsibility. Don’t laugh. Many Indies are forced to take this road. But what if we can’t afford to pay someone else to do this work? What if our budgets won’t stretch that far? I mean, after all, we have so many expenses to cover already. Between the book covers, the editors (2 maybe 3) the formatters to make the work look professional and, and…

It gets to be a pretty expensive hobby, right?

We all know that to take it from being a diversion to a paying proposition, folks have to know about our books and so there is the cost of promotion. Of course, an advertisement on one book might hike up the ranking for a few days, draw a few more sales but then it slides back, levels out and we’re forced to pay for another promotion. It’s the way the game is played today. At least, for a lot of us.

Then there’s the idea that we should have our work available to as many digital outlets as possible: Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Apple, D2D, Smashwords, and on and on…



My own thought is that the best promo is a new book. Sure! That’s great. Except when does one get the time to write when we're constantly spinning so many balls in the air?

So… I decided I needed to take a break from my busy schedule and slay the dragon of ignorance. I would read everything I could find that would help me with my goal. Learn the steps I needed to share my work on as many of the other channels that I could conquer. Trust me; it wasn’t easy to leave my comfort zone. I had a zillion questions to ask.

And very few places willing to answer!

When I received this letter, I have to confess to feeling a huge sense of relief. Tara accepted and understood that I had to make inquiries. She realised that it was all new to me. And she treated me with dignity and kindness. Therefore, I would never hesitate to recommend Draft2Digital to any of my colleagues. From my own experience, I’m assured they will be well received and respected.


24.03/2014
Hi Mimi,

Never worry about asking questions! We are here to help you in any way that we possibly can! So ask away!!!

Yes, I believe you've got it. If you were to upload a book with your links to your other books for sale, you can submit this to Kobo and B&N (because they do not care about competitor links). When you get to the publishing tab, just click the boxes next to Kobo and B&N (but do not click Apple). This will submit this version to B&N and Kobo.

You can then upload a version (My Books ---> +Add New Book) without links to send to Apple. On the publishing tab, ONLY click Apple as a distributor.

You will be able to tell the two versions apart on your dashboard by the icons to the right of your book title (on the My Books page).

The version going to Apple will only have the iBookstore icon to the far right of the title. The version going to B&N and Kobo will have the Nook and Kobo icons to the far right of your title.

Again, PLEASE let me know if you have any questions or need any help with any of this.

Seriously, never hesitate to write or call when you have questions. I would rather you ask then struggle trying to find out the answer, or trying different things on our site that might waste your time.  Every system is a little different, so I understand there is a learning curve.

Best Regards,
Tara


***If any of you have wondered how to upload your books to the iBookstore without a Mac, here is your answer. :-)))



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Warning!!! Don't make the same mistake I did!! #amazon #KDP


 
 
I promised a follow up on Ryan Casey’s blog and I always, usually, well… mostly try and keep my promises.  Thank goodness I didn’t put a time limit on it!! Because, I admit, it’s taken me a few days longer than normal to get back to you.

I do have a very good reason, I promise. And one I want to share with you. I hope that by explaining my activities over these last few days, I’ll save you from making the same dumb mistakes as I did.

Here’s my story. Recently, I decided that I needed to test one of my books She's Not You on the other platforms like Smashwords, Draft 2 Digital and even Google Play. The reason for doing so was because I will be releasing Special Agent Francesca on April 5th, and, for the first time, I wanted to make this book available to all channels and not just on Amazon.

Previously, I had cancelled She's Not You from the KDP Select program so I was free to do with it as I wanted. I spent one very short afternoon researching D2D and then uploaded the book there. Love that site! (following blog will be on the wonders of human contact).

Next, I made up my stubborn, Polish mind to try and forget the nightmare I’d experienced years ago putting a book on Smashwords. I decided they must have updated their system by now.  So, I pulled up my big-girl bloomers and spent the next three days agonizing my way through their meatgrinder and styleguide until finally, I broke down and watched the video on setting up the correct table of contents, took out all mentions of Amazon and live links to my books anywhere else and set up the copywrite page in the way they suggested. My perfectly good manuscript for D2D was now acceptable to Smashwords or so I learned when the response to probably my 20th upload said:

Congratulations! There were no AutoVetter errors! Your book is now in the queue for review by our vetting team.

Were there ever prettier words written to a woman on the edge of a killing her computer??

Strutting around the house, feeling damn satisfied, I decided to go to Google Play and figure out their system also. First, I needed to go to the Amazon KDP site and unpublish two box collections that had She’s Not You as one of the books.  I hit the button and up popped my worst nightmare – even if the book is unpublished you cannot – CANNOT!!! publish any of those books anywhere else until the Select time on this collection runs out.
 
I would have to wait until May 30th. EEECCCKKK!!!

Then I got the bright idea to just kill the collection – cancel the set, terminate the blasted thing. Turns out – no can do! Nope! No such thing. You can only unpublish.

CUSSSIINNGGGG!!!

So… I went back to Smashwords, whining, snivelling, calling myself an idiot but in much more severe terms and… I unpublished the book. Then I went to D2D and did the same thing. Now in hindsight (a bit late) (you think??) I checked carefully and realized that with all my box collections, I had no other book unfettered that I could set up on the other sites at this time.

BIGGGGG sigh!!

Then I started to laugh. When I thought about it, I’d actually succeeded in my goal. Now I knew just how to publish the new book on the different sites, didn’t I?

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Some imformative research on Draft2Digital with the help of Ryan Casey!

Draft2Digital: Why I’m Leaving Smashwords by Ryan Casey

draft2digital

Note: since the publication of this post, a lot has changed in the publishing landscape. I still use Draft2Digital to get my books into Apple and Barnes & Noble, but I also use Smashwords for the other channels. So yes — Smashwords has improved. Lots.
*
I love Smashwords and I’ve got nothing but respect for the service. Enabling authors to upload our books to the likes of Apple’s iBookstore and Barnes & Noble all from the comfort of one portal is very handy, particularly to those of us based in the UK who can’t upload directly through those stores.
However, Smashwords is also a bit of a nightmare.
The user interface isn’t the most attractive, the epub creator leaves much to be desired, and although the best of intentions are in place with the ‘meatgrinder’, it often causes more headaches than it’s worth.
And after the majority of those headaches, it can still take weeks before your book is distributed to another store.
Enter Draft2Digital: a new platform for creating and publishing eBooks.

What is Draft2Digital?
Draft2Digital acts in a very similar way to Smashwords: it enables you to upload your books for publication in four of the biggest eRetailers (Amazon, Apple, Kobo and B&N). It’s designed by self-published authors for self-published authors, and it’s my new favourite publishing website, to the point that I’m pulling my short stories from Smashwords and going all in with Draft2Digital.
Why is it so different to Smashwords?

1. Better user interface
The user interface is gorgeous and easy to use. The uploading process was an absolute breeze and I was all up and ready to publish in a matter of moments. After publication, you can easily keep tabs on your books and which platforms they’ve sold any copies via. There’s plenty of white-space and the place simply looks pretty professional.
Part of the professionalism is probably down to the fact that Draft2Digital is not a ‘store’ like Smashwords but a tool for conversion and uploading. That said, I don’t see much of a problem (personally) there — I barely sell any copies on Smashwords, so I’m hardly missing out.

2. Effective epub creator
One of the major downsides with Smashwords is its reliance on the .doc format. I know, I know — they accept epub now — but it’s still a frustrating process that results in hundreds of rejections even though you’re absolutely certain your epub file is as perfect as it can be.
Draft2Digital is .doc uploading done right.
I was a little underwhelmed initially when I saw that the recommended format was .doc. However, I decided to go down that route, and the options and ease-of-upload is fantastic.
Firstly, there’s no style guide. You simply put your chapter headings in bold, make sure everything is as you want it, and upload.
Even more impressively, there’s no need whatsoever to format the table of contents of your book. If you put your chapter headings in bold, Draft2Digital does the hard work for you.
You don’t even need to create your own copyright page, title page or ‘about’ page if you don’t want to. I prefer to format my own ‘about’ pages, but with a simple click of a button, Draft2Digital does all that for you too if you want it to. Afterwards, they send you a nice, well-formatted ePub/mobi copy of the book (which you can use elsewhere). Not only a great, easy publishing process but a great book formatting tool all in one.
Smashwords: I love you, but it’s time to up your game on the ease-of-use front.

3. Faster publication
Little anecdote: I withdrew my short stories from KDP Select back in February.
Through Smashwords, Silhouette became available on Apple’s iBookstore a few weeks later. Something in the Cellar, on the other hand, was never shipped.
The formatting was fine. In fact, everything was fine, but for some reason it was just never sent out to Apple. I waited for months and resubmitted several times but to no avail.
Ten hours after uploading Something in the Cellar via Draft2Digital, the book is now available in Apple’s notoriously difficult to break iBookstore.
Frankly, I’m stunned. I don’t know why this is the case, and I’m well aware that Apple can vary the length of time it takes to publish, but the fact is, the book’s there now. I can finally, FINALLY forget about having to publish it and just let it do its thing (hopefully sell!) whilst focusing on future projects.

4. Real-time reports
I’ve obviously not seen this first hand but apparently, Draft2Digital offer close-to-real-time sales reporting, which is something Smashwords also lack.
Any fellow obsessive indie author will be well aware of what a big deal this is. We don’t want to have to wait for weeks to see if we’ve sold any — we want it now! Draft2Digital offers this through its sleek, clean interface.

5. CreateSpace options
Finally, I should mention a lesser-noticed feature in the form of a CreateSpace option. That’s right: Draft2Digital will take your book and turn it into a paperback without any of the formatting hassle (I can vouch for it being a real hassle) found if you do it yourself.
I’ve yet to experiment but I’m sorely tempted to do so with my next novel. I know it means slightly reduced royalties, but if it’s that vs. paying hundreds for professional print formatting, then it’s worth it, right?

Competition is healthy
On a whole, I can’t see the rise of Draft2Digital being anything but good news for Smashwords. Ideally, Barnes & Noble and Apple would enable easy distribution from the UK, but until that point, it’s nice to have a stress-free way to get our books out to the remaining major stores.
And for US-based citizens, sometimes it’s nice to just have everything under one dashboard. Right now, I believe that Draft2Digital offer the best dashboard, and I’m certainly not alone in that sentiment.

What do you make of Draft2Digital? Do you use Smashwords? How is it for you? Direct upload vs. one dashboard?
PS: I know I promised a summary of my writing diary today but I’ve been kinda busy (read: eating) so I’ll be sure to post one either tomorrow or Friday. I also need to do part 2 of my eBook marketing summary. Ah, blogging — I wait weeks for inspiration to creep along and before I know it…



***I highly recommend that you visit Ryan Casey's website http://ryancaseybooks.com/draft2digital/ and read the follow-up comments. They were very interesting. Also, check out some of his other posts. Very informative!!!

I've been looking at spreading my wings lately - sharing the wealth so to speak...

But more about that on my next blog.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#Free Book "Vegas Series" if you help solve a mystery!


 
 
On my last blog I had a wonderful guest, Toby Neal, and her friends had some problems leaving comments for her on the blog. Previously, I wasn’t aware that anyone had trouble but if it's true, I’m so sorry.

 

Therefore, I have a favor to ask. Can you try and leave me a note here today?  I will be glad to choose one of the commenters to give away a free copy of the Vega Series in order to make it a bit more fun and so your time isn’t wasted. Make sure and leave your e-mail address so I can contact the winner.   

 

If you tried and had difficulties, please e-mail me at mimibarbour@hotmail.com with the subject line "Blog problems" and that way I’ll know for sure that others are having trouble also. They’ll be a free book given to one of these people also.

 

One question I guess that’s come up with some of the folks is whether they have a Google+ account or not? Can you let me know if you do or don’t? That way I can rule it out as the reason. **If you do, I'll be sure and follow you there :-)

 

You guys rock!! Thanks from a frustrated non-techie L

Saturday, March 15, 2014

#Hawaii - Life as an Island Girl... by author Toby Neal


 
 

Today I have the pleasure of hosting an island girl, a wonderful author and a supportive friend to my blog. Toby Neal is multi-published as you can see by her Page on Amazon. Her new release is called Shattered Palms.
Below are some photos that Toby is sharing with us of her home. Makes me want to book a trip!!!


Hanalei View



 
Toby(left) and a fan.

 
Kee Beach

 
Hawaiian Night Sky
 
Hawaii: when you grow up in a place like this, it does something to you.

It kind of ruins everywhere else.And that can be difficult, because even after you try to find a way to live in a place people visit on vacation, and few but millionaires own homes, life is challenging.

I grew up on Kaua`i and started life as a young married, I worked in hotels and restaurants, and cleaned houses for Charo, Bette Midler, Billie Jean King and Guns’ n Roses. (Yeah, they really did throw some crazy parties, as least back in the eighties. It wasn’t fun being the maid.) My husband and I  had to leave Hawaii for college, to scrape our way into middle class by education—only to find there aren’t jobs here on Kaua`i when we tried to return.

So we settled on Maui. What a hardship, right? But many people have to work multiple jobs to afford the cost of living here, and that is still the case with me—even though my books are selling well, I still work at my practice as a therapist and my husband has two jobs!

We love Hawaii, though, and I write about it because it’s a place with a lot of unique history, a gorgeous setting, and a multicultural people from all over the world who have made Hawaii one of the most diverse states in the US. I plan to write about it forever!

Have you lived in an “exotic” location or gone somewhere on vacation and discovered you fell in love with it? What were the joys and challenges of that decision? Add a comment and enter to win a free ebook of my newest title, Shattered Palms!
 
 

Blurb:
Maui is lush mountains, cloud forest and exquisite birdsong—but for Detective Lei Texeira, arrows break that peace.
Someone is stalking poachers that are capturing Maui’s rarest birds, and Lei pursues the case with her usual leap-first, look-later style—but will she be able to catch a killer, save the birds, and still make it to her own wedding? Shattered Palms is a roller coaster ride from the top of Haleakala to the beach and back again, with extinction at stake.
 
“Toby Neal creates a captivating balance of the beauty of the islands contrasted with the ugliness of murder, and complicated by the trials of Lei’s personal life. A must-read for Neal fans.” Thomas K. Matthews, author of Rejection.

Twitter: @tobywneal
 
 
 
 



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Yippeee!!! Announcing another new series called UNDERCOVER FBI by author Mimi Barbour!!

 
 
The 1st book – Special Agent Francesca – will be available next month.
If you don't want to miss the release, go here and sign on
where it says "Stay up to Date" on the right hand side
and Amazon will inform you of the next release of one of my books.
 
 
 
 
I’ve decided to call each book by the name of the agent that’s featured in the story. Therefore, all the books will be a standalone novel. I felt it would be a helpful for readers not to be tied to any special order. Plus, I can start and end every tale about the new characters without having to bring in facts about past plots or conflicts.

Having said that – the first book is actually tied to the Vegas Series with a few threads. The heroine, Francesca Donovan, turns out to be the daughter of Detective John Hampton. A daughter he knew nothing about until she turns up at his office to make the announcement. Let me tell you, sparks fly during this scene and a few tears are shed also. Let’s face it – it’s not every day a man learns he has a grown up daughter who’s also an FBI agent. I’ve added an excerpt so you can see for yourself.

 Excerpt:

She knocked and waited for only a few seconds. A beautiful woman, tall and slender with masses of curls flying everywhere around a stunning face, opened the door and stared. “You must be a relative of John’s. The similarities are quite extraordinary. Are you his niece?”

Without thinking, Francesca took the hand the stranger held out and felt the vibrations coming from her side. She spoke before she could change her mind.

 “No. Not his niece. I’m his daughter.” Her Irish heritage had never sounded so pronounced. Bravado formed those words, false bravado, since she shook from the bottom of her toes to a brain screaming for her to run and hide. The warnings to save herself from being hurt rang through a head full of tenacious audacity. Not being a coward, too stupid to know better, she stepped forward to take the first look at the father she’d yearned to meet all her life.

“Jumped-up Joseph!” The whispered words shot straight to her spine where it worked like a stiffening agent. Unsteady but determined, the tall man took forever to rise. His expressive face mirrored utmost confusion. Disbelief filled his features, followed by anger, trailed by hope and finally tears.  Unknown to her, the man, whose handsome face emphasized his deep blue eyes, was probably for the very first time in his life speechless.

Instantly, Francesca knew why Mattie had asked her to have this meeting at home. Her father didn’t do shock well. Blubbering like a baby, he reached out and hauled her into his arms, then rocked her back and forth. “Tis an angel you are.” His voice wobbled with emotion and he took no heed of the fact that her feet dangled three inches from the floor, or that her back throbbed from the overzealous hug. 

Thankfully, his partner pulled at his arm to get his attention. “Let her down, Ham. You’re squeezing her to death. Her face is swelling already.”

 
*****************
 
 
Because I want to give this series the best chance to reach as many people as possible, I’ve been looking into doing a book tour and have researched various possibilities. Then I thought to ask if any of you have had great success with this form of advertising and maybe you could help me out with some hints.
 
 
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Friday, March 7, 2014

The Elvis "Make a Song a Book" contest is offically over & we have a WINNER!!!


 
  
Congratulations Anne Pichette!!

Love Me Tender was an extremely heartrending song that Elvis recorded and made into his first movie in 1956. Many young females, myself included, felt our first crush while listening to this voice singing the wonderful words and then seeing the movie.

I'm excited to announce that this will be the title for Book #2 in my Elvis Series. I'm so grateful that it's a wonderfully romantic song and I should be able to plot a lovely book. I will be keeping you updated on my blog as the creative juices flow.

I have a question that’s been eating away at me ever since I found out the title.

Should we keep to the tradition of a western-style story like the first Love Me Tender? Maybe set in 2014 in Texas? After all, I am planning a trip to San Antonio for the Romance Writers of America’s yearly convention. What better than to plot a book while enjoying their city. Hmmm? 

On the other hand, with the name of the winner sounding so French and having visited the beautiful city of Paris in the past, maybe the setting would work there also? I can visualize a fantastic love scene along the River Seine.

Or could I incorporate both these elements into one story?

As you can see, it's all in the plotting stage right now and therefore I’m up for suggestions. Let me know where you’d like the book to be set and I promise to take all your ideas into consideration.
 
p.s. just so you know how supportive you all were - we had 426 entries and Fresh Fiction only had 571 over the whole month. So yeah!!! We rocked !!!

***

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I’m an Introvert but I’m not shy!


 
I read this after my last post and it got me thinking. There really can be a difference.

I remember a young teen I knew in high school. This girl was so painfully shy that it was sad really. When the teacher called on her, she’d blush and stammer and you just knew she wished the floor would swallow her whole. And more than once, I saw gathering tears and trembling lips. She never looked you in the eye but kept her gaze pointedly turned away.  I felt so sorry for her.

I’ve often wondered what happened to that poor girl.

As the years passed, I matured and started to understand that many people were introverted by choice. It didn’t mean they were shy like my earlier friend. Put them in a group situation and they didn’t curdle or slink away with their faces hidden. But they really didn’t enjoy activities where there were scads of people and where they needed to perform as an interested listener or an interesting sharer.

Instead they preferred to spend time either alone or with one or two chosen friends who didn’t tax their abilities to reveal themselves, their ideas and goals. They felt much more comfortable inside their own heads, thinking and imagining worlds of their own.

Strangely enough, I married an introvert. And I soon learned that he didn’t need to be with others to be happy. (Other than me of course!!) In his career, he worked with many people and was always well-liked and usually the centre of a group. But when it came time to relax and enjoy his days off, he didn’t require anyone else to share those hours with. Self-sufficient, he taught me that people don’t always need to be with others to feel complete.

So I guess when it comes to the introverted author, other than the demands of promotion, the lifestyle would suit them extremely well. Hidden away in their offices, spinning stories from their imagined inner worlds and building plots and conflicts would be the perfect answer as a way to make a living in a comfortable manner.

As we all know, people (like myself - extrovert and my guy - introvert) who are attracted to each other are usually opposites. As a writer of romance, I have to be able to understand both personality types in order to write realistic characters. While working on my new series Undercover FBI, I intend to look into personalities in a lot more detail.

How do you create your character’s makeup?  Do you have rituals like making Myers-Briggs tests or reading the stars?
 
***
  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Introverts – come out and face the music!!

 
 
Is the publishing world a place for introverts? Those who tend to keep to themselves? Shy people who hide away, protect themselves and are most uncomfortable in groups.

Since I know a few people who fit into this category, the question haunts me. I often wonder why they would choose this career. Driven I suppose, driven by talent.

Not long ago, this profession would have protected them from the social media frenzy we’re forced to face today. I mean the publishers were quite happy to have their writers hiding behind the scenes and producing bestsellers if that’s the way life was comfortable for them. I suppose they’d try and force them into doing book signings from time to time, but I’m sure that it was never like the daily grind of peddling your product that we face today.

I know it isn’t easy for introverts used to going it alone. Revealing their thoughts and ideas in the characters of their stories is one thing but having to plug your own talent; well that’s a completely different awfulness. I’m sure putting themselves out there in the virtual world of trolls and meanies, of bloggers with strong opinions and competitors who have no problem using someone else’s back to get to the next step must be horrifying.

It’s possible to hide behind aliases to some extent, that’s true and even maybe smart. But that’s not what I’m talking about, is it?

Revealing one’s inner self in their need to make readers buy their work is the point. Trying to come up with something to say about themselves so a reader wants to get to know them better, that’s the crux of the problem. Enticing and drawing interest is what it’s all about.


Hell, I remember the first time I wrote the book description for My Cheeky Angel. I knew what needed to be said and the only way I could seriously write the glowing advertisement was to pretend it was someone else’s book I was complimenting.

And I’m an extreme extrovert.

But even for me it was really hard, especially at the beginning. We all know the power words one uses to spark interest. Words like fascinating, spellbinding, thrilling, and phrases like fast-paced action and steamy hot romance.

Now telling a friend about someone else’s book, saying it was a fantastic read with great characters is one thing, but trying to flog one’s own creations is a completely different matter.

And according to the marketers and promoters that constantly tell us we need to ramp up descriptions to make the work seem to be a must-read means we have no choice. When we see our competition following these rules, we need to compete. I guess one either has to overcome introverted tendencies or hire someone to do the work instead. It must be so hard…
 

Is it?

Do you suffer from this problem?  

How do you overcome it?