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E-Book ABC’s at SleuthFest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 6, 2014

SleuthFest 2014, Orlando

Third Degree Thursday opened the SleuthFest 2014 festivities at the beautiful Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort. I gave a presentation on “Writing is Revising” first thing in the morning, and then I listened to Neil S. Plakcy’s workshop on e-books. Workshops and panels follow. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Go there, Like my page if you haven’t already done so, then click on Photos. Next click on Albums and then SleuthFest 2014.

Revising Panel

E-book ABC’s with Neil S. Plakcy

Neil said to learn your Word basics in terms of styles, formatting and headers. Understand the difference between a hard return and a soft return (shift-enter). In e-books, don’t use tabs or headings. “Write the best book you can if you intend to self-publish.” Take classes and workshops; join a critique group; get a manuscript critique; employ beta readers; do multiple revisions; join the Sinc Guppies; hire a professional editor.

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To prepare your manuscript, proofread thoroughly. Check for page breaks and section breaks. A print version will need page numbers and headers. Don’t forget your copyright, acknowledgments, and dedication. The cover should be professional and eye-catching. Use royalty-free photos, and make sure the cover is readable at a small size. Hire an artist if you can’t do it yourself.

The jacket copy is the sales copy for online retailers. It is similar to the back cover copy on paperbacks. Marketing copy is to attract buyers. This may include endorsements. What is the hook for this book to get someone to want to buy it?

Metadata are keywords that readers use to search for your book. It may include terms relevant to the subgenre, location, subject matter, or theme. Go to Amazon and start typing in a keyword to see what pops up. This will tell you the most popular keywords.

Regarding file conversion, you could use the free Calibre software to save a Word doc as HTML. You want to use an Epub validator online to test before posting. Again, if you can’t do it for yourself, hire someone. Once your book is set, you upload it to the various sites. You may have to provide direct deposit information for your bank account. Often your book will be on sale within 24 hours. There is no cost to upload.

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Amazon has several programs available, such as their KDP Select, Matchbook, Createspace, ACX, and Countdown. Royalties are often paid monthly after a 90 day delay. You can check your dashboard for up-to-date sales figures. Neil discussed royalties for the various e-book distributors. To determine the price for your book, see how much other books like yours are selling for. Determine your purpose. Is it to make money, to promote your work, or to provide information? What are the prevalent rates on the market today?

Promotion is important. You want to get reviews from other bloggers, Amazon customers, and Goodreads members. “Bloggers are the new reviewers these days.” Keep up with social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. Utilize photo sites like Pinterest and Tumblr. Promote your work at conferences, festivals, bookstores, and libraries when possible.

If you’re with an e-book publisher, they will likely have a list of reviewers, and this gives them an edge over self-published authors.

If you can, promote your work on sites like Book Bub and The Fussy Librarian. You need a minimum number of Amazon reviews for these sites.

Why give away free books? It helps gain readers. Use the sites above or run contests.

Neil uses Untreed Reads for distribution to various sites like Overdrive. You can opt out of the sites you don’t want them to do. They also sell through overseas vendors.

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Neil is the author of several mystery series including his latest title, Genie for Hire–a fun, magical mystery with a genie detective.

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Tomorrow, check out my post on “Writing the Cozy Mystery” at the How To Write Shop. Then stay tuned for a recap of Joanna Campbell Slan’s talk on “Seriously Series.”

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4 Responses to “E-Book ABC’s at SleuthFest”

  1. neilplakcy said

    Thanks, Nancy! Glad you enjoyed the presentation.

  2. As a hybrid publisher (some traditionally published books, some self-pubbed), I wholeheartedly agree with what Neil says (via Nancy, LOL). Make sure your book is ready to be published. Just because you think it’s finished doesn’t necessarily mean that the book is polished enough. Rushing to publication with a book which isn’t market ready is a surefire way to alienate readers forever.

    Nice post, Nancy!

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