Category Archives: Publishing

Review of Lumen5 by Mary C. Findley

Lumen5 is an online video creation package we are currently subscribing to. For many years we hoped that we could quickly and easily create videos based on our blog and our books. We have purchased equipment and programs and tried free and paid services to do our video work. People often pay more attention to videos than the printed word. We wanted to reach as broad an audience as possible.

The problem was that “quickly and easily” part. We tried voice recordings. We tried live capture “talking head” videos. We tried greenscreening. (Yes, one wall of our garage is painted green.) We tried just capturing cooking adventures, backyard hummingbirds, and learning 3D programs. Every step of the way we hit snags and things took longer and longer while the message still wasn’t getting out.

That’s what we have always wanted, you see. To get the message of the truth of God’s Word out to as many people as possible. We have blog views from all over the world. People in maybe 20 countries have bought our books. But we want to get the message to more people, always.

Enter Lumen5. It’s a website where you can plug in the URL of a blog post or a few paragraphs of text, and the program will attempt to sort them into a maximum of about 40 screens of about 140 characters (roughly a 5 minute limit) each and pick out appropriate video and images. Its choices are sometimes downright weird but doing your own searches among their hefty collection of images and footage is easy and modifying the text position and style is also simple.

You can’t really create a video of substance in 5 minutes but you sure can in about an hour. All the visuals are public domain or Creative Commons licensed. You can add in your own visuals as long as they meet the specs.

Videos:
– filetypes: mp4, mov, gif
– maximum duration: 20 seconds
– maximum filesize: 50 MB
– minimum resolution: 480px by 480px
– framerate: 24-30fps (we don’t currently support 60fps)
– preferred MP4 video codec: H.264
– preferred MP4 audio codec: AAC

Our system may support other codecs, but we recommend H.264 and AAC. H.264 supports 8bit color depth. We don’t support alpha channels, green screens/chromakey, or masks.

Images:
1920 x 1080px.
– filetypes: jpg, png, bmp, webp
– maximum filesize: 50 MB
– minimum resolution: 480px by 480px

Right now there are limits, like only about 5 fonts. But they have a facebook community page where they are very responsive to questions, complaints, and kudos. They are working to add more options.

The free version has reduced size videos but everything else seems to work. There is a $50 monthly subscription option for larger video dimensions that can be put up into subscription services.

I see this as a way to teach all kinds of skills, to create book trailers, to advertise pretty much anything. At this point we are happily seeing what we can do with the program. It looks good. Many people are already selling promos, including major companies. Others create cat advice videos, corporate training, and a little of everything. And people are paying for these videos. It’s exciting to think that soon they might be paying for ours.

 

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Filed under Bible Teaching, Excerpts from our Fiction Books, Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Publishing, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Eight Christmas Romances for Your Reading Pleasure — Post by Mary C. Findley

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Thanksgiving is just a sweet memory. Black Friday has slid past also. But before you panic about shopping unfinished and garlands not hung, settle down with this anthology of eight romances and so much more. Meet real couples with real lives, not just smarmy smooches, and especially not steamy bed-hopping. Enjoy some sweet, clean, and meaningful reading time. Forget the heat meter. Crank up the faith, hope, and love meters in these stories without sacrificing real romance.

Christmas is the time when families get together and love abounds. Eight inspirational authors have teamed up to bring you eight wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring you joy this holiday season.

Enjoy two historical and six contemporary romance stories sure to warm your heart.

The Christmas Bride by Jenna Brandt

Once Upon a Star by Lorana Hoopes

The Gift of Peace by Judith Robl

Fall on Your Knees by Mary C. Findley

Christmas Conundrum by Carol E. Keen

Holly’s Noel by Elle E. Kay

Love’s Sacrifice by Evangeline Kelly

Christmas in Trace Hallow by C.J. Samuels

For just a taste, come see our YouTube video trailer

And find the book here on Amazon

You can get the book in print or ebook (still only 99 cents!) at all major online retailers.

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Pronoun, Smashwords, and Draft 2 Digital — The “Other” ebook sales sites

where to sell your ebooks

Many authors have uploaded their ebooks onto Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site to reach readers. Amazon is a great place, and some authors even choose to be exclusive there, in the Kindle Unlimited program, through KDP Select. However, if you choose to distribute your books widely, here are three options for getting them into many sales avenues at once. Each one has a slightly different distribution range, and the requirements and procedures vary somewhat too, so here we go.

Pronoun is the site I most recently began to work with. It is one of few (or maybe no others do yet) that distributes to Amazon. It also gets you into Apple iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and Google Play, as well as library distributors Overdrive and Bibliotheca. It does not allow you to use their distribution for sites your books already appears on (unlike Smashwords and D2D) so I am just using it for Google Play, Overdrive, and Bibliotheca. The last two are means of getting your books into libraries, so that is a good thing. I was a little conflicted about Google Play, since I have heard Google doesn’t always respect author copyrights, but since I just began putting our books there in June and already have three sales, I am hoping it is worth the risk.

Here is the link to the Pronoun site https://books.pronoun.com. Take a look at the author agreement, which seems very simple and straightforward. If you allow Pronoun to post your titles that are already for sale on Amazon, it will send you rankings and other information that you may find useful. It will email you when you get sales or let you know about any distribution problems you may encounter. When you are choosing the categories and keywords it makes suggestions and gives rankings for past use in searches, so you know better, perhaps, if you have chosen good ones.

An image inside a file can’t be over a certain total pixel count, so don’t put your full size cover into the file, and you must have a TOC in the front, linked or not, and a working ebook NCX (the digital table of contents that automatically displays in an ebook reader), even if your chapters aren’t named, and even if it’s a short story. Yes, if you have just Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc., you still have to list them in the front. I make my own epubs to upload, and if you do that, be sure the title in that metadata file matches your book title.

It is my understanding that they take less revenue than some other sites. They take you through everything step by step and the process is pretty easy. If you are just starting to publish this may be a good site, since it does get you on Amazon along with other well-known retailers, and potentially into libraries.

Draft 2 Digital is a very easy site to upload to, and distributes to

  • iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo (including Kobo Plus)
  • Inktera (formally Page Foundry)
  • Scribd
  • 24Symbols
  • Tolino
  • Playster

There is no style guide or special requirements. You can just upload a Word document and they say it will become a beautifully formatted ebook. I have not done it this way, but may authors are happy with their results and love how easy it is. You can also get a book formatted for print in PDF format from this site. Here is the link to the site: https://www.draft2digital.com. It does not matter if you already have your books on sites they distribute to. They don’t demand exclusivity.

Smashwords is a more difficult site to upload books to. You can give them Word docs but they have strict requirements for formatting and if you don’t follow them the book will be rejected. Many authors have given up trying to submit to them. I persevered and got our books on there. They do have file size limits — 10 megs for a Word doc and 20 for an epub. Here is a post I wrote simplifying formatting requirements for your book.

https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/smashwords-formatting-its-not-no-sweat-but-its-also-can-do/

It’s a little harder to pin down where your books are actually distributed by Smashwords, since they list sites they don’t yet distribute to, even on the author dashboard for tracking sales. Some I am fairly sure about are Baker & Taylor’s Blio.com, Library Direct, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Kobo, /Inkterra, and txtr. Tracking your sales is much more difficult, also.

Both D2D and Smashwords recently changed their policies so they now pay each month instead of quarterly, no matter the balance owed. Pronoun also pays through Paypal. That goes into the Paypal account you set up with them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Step by Step and — Published!

send a white rose 9 6 2015 ebook 25

I recently made a list of the steps involved for publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site. This was for a new author whose cover I designed and whose book I edited. I thought it might be helpful to others who don’t know it’s actually not that hard to publish your own book.

Pictured above is Send a White Rose, the one I think is my first book published. (It’s a tossup between this and Benny and the Bank Robber.) Helping this new author made me think back to my first time setting up our KDP account. If we can do it, you can too!

Remember, this author had her book professionally edited and formatted, and a professionally-designed cover. So don’t skip the outsourcing to make your baby the best, if you’re not a very good do-it-yourselfer. But to keep track of your sales and make updates to your book, you need your own Amazon KDP account. So here’s how to do that.

List of steps to upload your book to Kindle Direct Publishing

1. Copy and paste this link into your internet browser window and hit enter to go to the site:
https://kdp.amazon.com/
2. If you already have an account at Amazon, you use the same user name and password to set up your author account. If not, set up an account by choosing a user name and a password. Be sure to write them down somewhere so you don’t lose access.
3. Once you are in the KDP account, you will see your “dashboard.” This is a screenshot of what the top looks like. Yours may be slightly different, since it will be a first-time publishing, and we have over 50 titles.
kdp dashboard screenshot 1
4. Click on the box that says, “Create New Title.”
5. Look at the screenshot below to see the beginning steps for uploading your book.

kdp select screenshot 2
The blue shaded box describes the KDP Select program. There are also lots of helps every step of the way and answers to most questions. If you wish, click the little box that says, “Enroll this Book in KDP Select.” There’s lots of information to be found about using KDP select during the 90 days a book is in the program so take advantage of as many of the features as you can!

6. Now you can start entering your book information and getting ready to upload it.
The first section tells you how to enter your title, author, and so on. If something does not apply, just skip it. (like the “series” part). If the publisher is the same as the author – just put in your name. The description is just that – about 300 words that will make people want to read your book, sort of a sales pitch that doesn’t give away too much but helps “sell” the book. If your book is a short work or novella, be sure to include that fact. People are sometimes disappointed by shorter works and you want to make it as clear as you can if it is not a full-length novel.

 

7. It’s okay if you have no ISBN for a Kindle book. You don’t really need one. Just skip that.
8. Here’s a screenshot of the next part of the form:
screenshot 3 kindle publish options
9. Click “this is not a public domain work” – because you wrote it.
10. “Add categories” will give you choices about how to tell people what kind of story it is. You’ll want to choose “fiction,” or “nonfiction” and then you will see a menu of sub-choices. Then you can add a second category.  You can skip the age range and grade range parts unless it applies.
11. “Search keywords” are words that computers read and store about your book, and that people can use to look up books by subject. Separate each search keyword with a comma. These can be more than one word, and there is a limit on total number of characters, but be as detailed as you can to help your book get found.
12. Next you’ll select “I am ready to release my book now.” Pre-order is something where people can buy the book before publication, usually at a discount. If you had other books that might be a good idea but since this is your first, I’d say wait for the future to do a pre-order.
13. Upload your full-sized cover. I give quarter-sized samples for approval before the final purchase, and some new authors get confused and try the small version. Amazon won’t take anything under 1000 pixels on the smallest side. Click “browse for image” find the cover file, click “open” and the cover will appear in the box that currently says “No Cover Available.”
14. Upload the book file – it can be word doc, mobi version, or even epub.
15. I suggest you choose “Do not enable digital rights management” because DRM can make it hard for some people to open or read your book, and they can’t move it from computer to kindle to phone – they can only have it on one device.
kdp screenshot next
16. Click “Save and continue” at the bottom of the first page to go on to the second page.
17. On page 2, select “Worldwide rights.”
18. I suggest you price very short works at 99 cents. That’s the lowest price KDP allows. As a first-time author, it can help you get noticed to price low. You may also get Amazon promotion in short stories and hot new release categories. Enter the price as 0.99. If it’s full-length, $2.99 or $3.99 still seem to be the best prices. You might even entroduce it at a sale price and raise it later.
19. The royalty for 99 cents is 35%. A book has to be at least $2.99 to qualify for 70% royalties. Check the little boxes beside each country in the blue shaded box area to be sure your book goes to all countries Amazon publishes in.

screenshot KDP publishing page 2
20. “Kindle Match Book” refers to having both a print and ebook version. You only have the kindle version, so ignore that one.
21. Allow lending means once people buy your book, they can let a friend “borrow” it for free. You want to check the box to allow it. Word of mouth is good publicity and letting people share your book means more people will read it. The borrow only lasts for 2 weeks and then the person who got it for free no longer has it on his/her kindle and the owner gets it back.
22. Click the little checkbox in the “save and publish” section first, so they know you understand all the KDP info, and then click the yellow “Save and publish” box to the right, also.

23. It can take 12 to 24 hours for your book to appear but usually it’s sooner. They will send you an email to the address you gave them when you set up your KDP account. IT will have a link where you can find your book.

24. To set up your account to get paid when people buy your book, click on the top right of the screen, in the blue band, where it will say, in your case, “Joan’s Account.” You will have to log in again, and it will take you to a page like this:

account screenshot

Yours will be blank, of course. Fill out your information. There are lots of helps along the right side to answer questions all through this process.
25. Next enter your bank account information. KDP pays royalties, no matter how small, about 60 days after the month in which you earned them.

bank account snip
This may seem difficult, but take your time and follow the steps and you’ll figure it out. Wherever you are in the publishing process, you can look for other posts here on our blog for suggestions about writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and promoting to get help making your book sell.

I wish you all the best! — Post by Mary C. Findley

 

 

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Celebrate Spring — A Facebook event with new books and a virtual picnic!

vegetable-basket-349667_640

(click this picture to attend the event!)

Come join us on facebook! We are Christian Indie Authors and we have new books to share with you. Everyone’s bringing virtual picnic items like watermelon, lemonade, and lots of other lovely kinds of fruit. I’m bringing deviled eggs. one of my picnic favorites, plus you can take a peek at the Prometheus Device, a fun Steampunk way to roast hot dogs or shish-kebab.

Best of all, you’ll find a different author sharing books and special offers as the day rolls on. You don’t want to miss this! click the picture at the top of the page for the link to the event.

I’ll be up at 7 pm Eastern time, sharing about my Archaeological Mystery serials, The Great Thirst.

Great thirst 1 prepared final 25the great thirst purified 25

Click the image below to link to the series, and remember that book three will be out soon!

Cuneiform_Gold_Plate_Perspolis

Ever imagine the Bible etched on gold plates like these?

Hope you’ll join in! The ants will all be there!

ant-327641_640

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