Tag Archives: Amazon

Step by Step and — Published!

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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Love Is … 2015 Blog Hop for Christian Indie authors

cia hop

We are sharing in a blog hop for fellow Christian Indie authors in honor of Valentine’s Day. Coming Valentines Day Feb 13-15.  Click the images at the top or bottom of this post to visit the main hop page.

My book is Carrie’s Hired Hand, a Civil War novella with a mystery and a romance., priced at only 99 cents.

25

There were times, however, when Robbie “asked” for permission to go away from the farm. He went off for a part of a day, or a whole day once or twice. Carrie wondered greatly where he went but knew it was none of her business.
Robbie had been gone overnight this time. Carrie tried not to be worried, but she missed Robbie and his cheerful “dumb show” of eating breakfast with the family and going out to work in the morning. She was teaching Bethany to roll piecrust in the kitchen when she heard a commotion out in the yard.
“Mama!” Matthew’s voice screamed. He had gone out to get water. “Some men are comin’, an’ they’re chasin’ Robbie!”
She looked out and was horrified to find a group of confederate soldiers riding into the barnyard, and Robbie running madly ahead of them like a rabbit from a dog pack. Before she could get out to them they had caught him by the chicken yard and torn his shirt from his back. They lashed him to the fence and began to beat him with a horsewhip. Matthew stood by, crying and begging them to stop. Bethany, who had followed Carrie out, burst into tears also.
“Stop that! What are you doing?” Carrie screamed at the men.
“This fellow’s a spy, ma’am,” snarled one of the soldiers.
“You’re crazy! That’s my hired man,” Carrie stormed. “He’s just a poor deaf and dumb boy. How could he be a spy?”
“Deaf an’ dumb?” another man, in a sergeant’s uniform, repeated. “You sure about that?”
“Of course I’m sure. Look what you’ve done to him.” Carrie put herself between Robbie and the soldiers. Robbie hung there, shuddering but not making a sound.
“We – we’ve been hearin’ rumors of a spy in this area,” one of the men said uncertainly. “Information’s gettin’ out to the Yankees, that’s for sure. An’ we saw this fellah hangin’ around our camp over the hill, an’ we thought when he headed back here – ”
“You mean to a northern woman’s farm?” Carrie demanded. “I suppose you think I and my two children are spies too. My husband fought and died in the Confederate army! You should be ashamed. Get out of here.”
“We’re sorry, ma’am,” the sergeant said. “Can we do anything to help?”
Carrie glanced at Robbie and saw the terror in his face. “Just go,” she ordered, and bent down to free Robbie as they rode off. Robbie could barely walk and she had a terrible time getting him onto his feet and into the house. The children’s attempts to help only made it worse. She made him lie down on her bed and sent Matthew and Bethany to heat water and get clean rags.
When she removed what was left of Robbie’s shirt she found a small, thin book tucked into the back waistband of his trousers. Curious, she opened it, and found it crammed with tiny, close writing. She couldn’t begin to read it. Putting the book aside, she returned to caring for Robbie. It was eerie how he never made a sound, though he must have been in terrible pain. What a dreadful, silent world he lived in. Did he know how to cry, or laugh, ever show what he felt? His eyes were tightly shut and he scarcely moved, just flinched once or twice, while she washed the whip cuts. She left his back uncovered when she had finished, putting some soothing salve on but knowing bandages would only rub and irritate.
Are you going to be all right?” she asked loudly, seeing that his eyes were open now. Robbie nodded his head jerkily and tried to get up. Carrie shook her head.
“Stay there and rest,” she ordered. She checked on him later and found him asleep, but noticed that the little book had disappeared. His face was lined with pain and weariness, and scratched and bruised too, as were his hands. Carrie assumed the soldiers must have chased Robbie through the woods, maybe hunted him all night. He couldn’t seem to eat anything at lunchtime, and was wakeful and obviously in distress in the afternoon. Carrie gave him a dose of willow bark powder and that seemed to ease the pain and let him sleep another hour or two. At supper Carrie was surprised to see him come into the kitchen and join the family.
“What’s a spy, mama?” Matthew asked timidly, while Robbie sat gingerly on the edge of his chair and nibbled on a biscuit and some ham. Carrie glanced at Robbie and saw that he was absorbed in his own thoughts.
“A spy is a bad person who tells bad soldiers about secret things that good soldiers are doing,” Carrie said.
“Why did the soldiers think that about Robbie?” Bethany asked. “He can’t even talk! He don’t even know what nobody’s sayin’.”
“It was right fool-headed of them, wasn’t it?” Carrie said. It would have seemed almost funny, if it hadn’t been for the way Robbie had suffered. She glanced at him and was startled to see the haunted, deeply troubled expression on his face.

Please have a look at our offerings and see what tickles your fancy, whether you are a romantic or just have a heart for God-honoring books.  Click the images at the top or bottom of this post to visit the main hop page.

from our heart to yours

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Will You Lose Your Job Because of Facebook?

This is not about your indiscretions which might show up in human resources. Yes, those are important, but this is about the very existence of the company you work for.

“But I work for a huge, stable company.” If you believe that you are safe then you do not understand how the stock market works.

Several years ago when politicians attempted to buy stock with social security funds, liberal cried, “risky scheme.” The current Social Security has no risk factor at all. Politicians spend the money as fast as it is collected. It guarantees that the money will not be there when it is needed.

The United States is in a desperate financial condition. If you do not understand that, the rest of this blog will make little sense to you. The federal government has borrowed more money than it can possibly repay. Private funds have nothing valuable to invest in. Unemployment is far higher than the government will admit. The government has to cook the books to hide the reality of the situation. The same is true for inflation.

Desperate to make a profit, large Wall Street investment firms are taking immoral risks and getting caught. With the failures of the Federal Government and traditional Wall Street investment firms, investors turned to a non-traditional source of income to seek profits in Facebook.

Investing means taking some of your money and saving it. You can do one of two things with your savings; hide it (put it in a mattress, safe deposit box, buy gold, etc.) or attempt to make more money. This attempt to make more money is known as investing. You can put your money in a traditional savings account with lower returns but relatively safe investments. You can also buy bonds, another traditionally safe investment with low rates of return.

But the largest and most common long-term investment instrument is a stock certificate. Both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking were told by their publishers that they would lose half their audience every time they used a formula. Following that sound advice, there will be no accounting here.

A stock certificate is legal ownership of a company. While there is a lot of hoopla surrounding an IPO (Initial Public Offering), you must realize that an IPO is selling the company. Most people understand selling a car or house. When the deed or title is transferred, they have the money but not the car or house. A stock certificate, however, is only part ownership. Since stocks can be structured so many different ways, something simple might help us understand.

A man gets married. He has lived at home and worked on a farm his entire life. He wants to move out of the house and start his own farm. He convinces ten people with money to invest in a very small, completely equipped farm. They are not just giving him money. They are lending him their retirement funds. They need the money back but not for a few years. Each of these ten people gets a single stock certificate. To make the illustration very simple, whatever profits the farm makes when it harvests and sells it crops will be split 50/50. The farmer will keep 50% and the ten investors will each get 5%. So in this example, if the farm made $200,000 the first year, the farmer would keep $100,000 and each investor would get $10,000. This is similar to the way the real world works. The capital equipment, such as the land and tractors, would be purchased with original investment funds. Ongoing expenses, such as tractor repairs and diesel fuel, would be paid for out of the farmer’s share of the profits. As long as the investors keep their stock, they will continue to get 5% of the profits.

The risk is that if the farm does not make money the investors do not get paid. Every day companies fail and the investors lose their investment. Most people invest in some type of mutual fund where they buy shares in a lot of different companies. If most of the companies you invest in are profitable, it does not matter if one or even a hundred companies fail. If those profits more than offset the failing companies, you still come out ahead.

This is where Facebook comes in. We have a failing economy, a failing federal government, and failures on Wall Street. Facebook was the largest IPO ever. Though the IPO took place 5 days ago, there is still disagreement as to exactly how many billion dollars Facebook raised. The price per share was based on the number of shares issued and the amount of income Facebook is expected to generate. Unlike a farm, which harvests and sells a tangible product, the only income Facebook has is advertising revenue. It makes estimating income very difficult.

The billions of dollars invested and lost in Facebook were taken from other companies. Where did the money go? On a farm, money is spent on tractors, land and seeds. In a tech company, the buildings and equipment often have little value to anyone else. The capital investments are often in salaries of tech savvy employees and highly specialized equipment. However, in Facebook’s case, the money the original investors lost is not gone until the investors sell their stock. Facebook as a company has spent some of the initial investment. If Facebook uses that money wisely and eventually pays large dividends, then everyone who invested in Facebook will be paid back. The only people who lose money are the ones who sell while the stock price is low.

Facebook is pointing out Amazon.com as an example. Amazon’s IPO opened at $18 per share and fell to around $1.50 per share. Amazon went public in 1997 and failed make a profit until 2001. It is now up to $217 per share. However, Amazon sells stuff. It is easier to evaluate how well Amazon is doing by looking at what and how much Amazon sells. Facebook has a huge audience, but how much of that audience buys products Facebook advertises?

Our little business advertised on Facebook. Our tracking showed zero results from our Facebook advertising. GMC just canceled Facebook advertising last week for similar reasons. Facebook advertising does not work. Of course, Facebook can turn things around. But at this time, Facebook stock is worth less than half of its IPO opening price.

Most people are realizing that Facebook was oversold. The IPO price was inflated. No one can explain how the price came to be what it was. This is still being analyzed, but whispers of impropriety, dishonesty, and serious misconduct are becoming shouts.

At this time, Facebook is looking more like Netscape. The browser with more than a 90% market share in the mid 1990s now has less than a 1% market share. Netscape was sold and investors lost almost everything.

The difference between Facebook and Netscape is that Netscape failed in a strong economy. The money invested in Facebook was pulled from other businesses. If Facebook fails, or even just loses a lot of money, other companies will not have the money to meet their payrolls.

Combined with the other problems the US has, it just might be the perfect storm to bring down the US economy.

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Filed under Current Issues, Politics, Travel, Humor, Everyday observations

Pinterest Is My New Interest

 

I have only “discovered” Pinterest within about the last month. Previously, I knew that non-writing friends, especially females, gushed about it. Sometimes I ignore what females gush about because it usually has to do with shopping and I dislike shopping. One friend said she couldn’t believe I would be on Pinterest. But several author friends poked me (Sorry, can’t help it) with urges to check it out, and see if it could be used as a marketing tool. We had a contest there for a book giveaway for another author and had lots of fun trying to add related items to the board along with her website, artwork and book pins. Not sure how she made out in term of sales results, but I did discover one really odd thng about Pinterest. I discovered this about Twitter, too, and it still puzzles me. If you follow people, like their stuff, and repin, people come see your stuff, and sometimes like and follow it as well.

I make two applications from this discovery. One is physical, and one is spiritual. The physical one is that I have expanded my Pinterest boards to include pictures from our website, our blog, and one board devoted to all our book covers with straight to Amazon links. Amazon has added the feature of Pinterest links to its products so that was easy to do, even with 24 titles now available. I hope people will come and look, and maybe repin or link to our stuff. I also have some interesting stuff related to my writing. I have a Steampunk page because I am working on a steampunk graphic novel. I have gorgeous places and clothing, Victorian mostly, because the Steampunk book will be set in that era. I also have boards for other authors’ books, to showcase them.

Transitioning to the spiritual application, I have an author friend who has had trouble making Pinterest work. He got pretty bitter about it. When the subject came up, he would poke his nose in and complain about how it didn’t work for him. So here’s my spiritual application. Sometimes God pokes you with an idea. You might say, “I’m not really interested in sticking a bunch of pictures up, spending time on this, when I have more important things to do. And besides, some of this stuff doesn’t work right.” You see, there’s a new feature where you can add book prices and Pinterest will put your books in a storefront-giftshop area. I’m having trouble getting that to work. My author friend mentioned earlier is gloating. In poetry, no less. Also, I do like pictures, and cool stuff, and it can become habitual to just pin cool pictures and get carried away with Pinterest. It’s been called “digital crack for women” by the New York Times.

But God will work it all out, just like some of the other things I believe He’s prompted us to do but which we don’t fully understand right now. There’s no point in letting it make me bitter and frustrated, or letting it control me and prevent me from doing other stuff. God wants us to have balance in our lives, and He also wants us to find places where we can let our lights shine. Our primary purpose in our writing is to glorify God, to teach about Him, to guide others to His Word and His truth. So here is our Pinterest light. Hope it directs you God’s Way.

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Part Three: Your Book, Where It Should Go, How It Will Look

Our e-publishing journey now comes to the formats and how your book will look in each one. Smashwords has great information on this topic from a mechanics standpoint. As a previous post we made on the subject said, https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/the-hows-and-whys-of-e-books/ , although almost all devices can read the pdf format, consider that people might get your books on anything from a full-screen laptop to a pretty small smart phone. A pdf will look wonderful on that laptop screen. It’ll seem a lot like a real book, except for not being able to turn the pages. But if you try to cram that pdf image into your iPhone, the latest model brags about having a 3.5″ diagonal display, and it seems unlikely that it will look just right. Even in a traditional Kindle, pdfs do not really work all that well.

It is possible to convert a pdf into a format that the smaller machines can display. Calibre is one progam that makes file conversions. It is even free. If you have an HTML version of your document, the conversion is even easier. The question is, will a reader go to the trouble of doing that? Some will, but most will want a document that they can just open up and begin reading. So it is a good idea to make your document available in multiple formats, so that all the trouble your prospective customer has to go to is to get the right one off the internet and into his device.

This is what makes Smashwords such a great e-book creation site. You upload a simple Microsoft Word document. Smashwords runs it through the Meatgrinder and produces HTML (good for computer reading), JavaScript, mobi (Kindle format) EPub, which as Smashwords says on its site, works on “Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others.” The Meatgrinder also churns out RTF, PDF, LRF for older Sony readers, PDB (Palm Document files), and two versions of plain text.

Please bear in mind that although you as the author can download any format of your book for free, you cannot redistribute these files on other sites where you can upload and sell your works. Smashwords creates them, doesn’t charge you anything, puts you into premium distribution, and asks in return only that you don’t re-use the files the Meatgrinder creates. You might say, “But it’s my book.” That’s kind of like an architect making plans to build one house and someone stealing and using those plans to build a bunch more houses. And you didn’t even pay Smashwords like you paid the architect. Nope. Can’t do it. Sorry.

Smashwords also gives you coupon codes so you can give copies away for free. This is useful for reviewers and for contests or promotionals. Instead of just pricing your book at free, which you can do on Smashwords, just offer a coupon, so that you know who’s getting your book. Amazon makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to get your book priced “free,” and they don’t give any copies away otherwise. You have to buy your own book yourself if you want to be sure it was formatted correctly.

Smashwords premium distribution gets you into Barnes and Noble and the iBookstore, among others. Customers can buy the mobi format from them to read on a Kindle. Even so, Amazon clearly has the largest and most successful marketing apparatus, and your best chance to be noticed and purchased is on Amazon. Many authors have chosen to pull their books from general distribution and make them exclusive under Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select plan. Indie authors in all the forums and discussion sites I belong to are extremely polarized about this. It is a personal decision, but the author must be sure to read and understand the agreement thoroughly. It’s not a boilerplate terms of use like we all unthinkingly agree to get on many sites to promote our books.

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?ie=UTF8&topicId=APILE934L348N#Select

Please read the entire agreement carefully, and especially pay attention to these two points.

1 Exclusivity. When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.

 

5 Your Commitment. Your commitment to these terms and conditions is important, and the benefits we provide to you as part of this option are conditioned on your following through on your commitments. If you un-publish your Digital Book, we will remove it from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but you must continue to comply with these commitments, including exclusivity, through the remainder of the Digital Book’s then-current 90-day period of participation in KDP Select. If you don’t comply with these KDP Select terms and conditions, we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book earned through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program, and we may offset any of those Royalties that were previously paid against future Royalties, or require you to remit them to us. We may also withhold your Royalty payments on all your Digital Books for a period of up to 90 days while we investigate. This doesn’t limit other remedies we have, such as prohibiting your future participation in KDP Select or KDP generally.

Remember, all you’re getting is inclusion in the lending program for Amazon Prime Members. In return, it seems to me that you’re giving up a lot, and taking a big risk that Amazon can deny you royalties and revenue if you don’t do exactly what they say.

But there’s nothing wrong with having your books in the KDP program generally. In fact, the Kindle is a great reader, and your books will look fantastic on it. We have both the Kindle Keyboard model and the Kindle Fire. Both are great readers and both are easy to use and look wonderful. I prefer the Kindle Fire display because it allows the full screen illustrations we have created for our two illustrated books to show in full color and full size. And the ease of buying (or getting free) the bunches and bunches of books Amazon has for Kindle is hard to beat.

http://reviews.cnet.com/2300-3126_7-10010211.html

Here is a link to CNET’s Kindle Fire review and the screenshots they show. It really does look that good. Fun to read in bed, and, though the battery only lasts about 4 hours, compared to the keyboard model’s lifespan of a month or more, it’s the perfect in-bed reader.

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Filed under Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

The Hows (And Whys) of E-Books

Screenshot from Kindle of a page from The Illuminated Hope and the Black Lion

Do you really understand the spiritual warfare taking place in publishing? Christian publishers and bookstores are, to put it mildly, not very Christian anymore. There is a desperate need to make writers aware that secularism is a real and powerful enemy determined to prevent the dissemination of any works with a truly godly and scriptural basis.

Conventional publishing, Christian and non-Christian, seems to be completely lost as an avenue of getting the truth out. Christians have allowed so much of the world in, praised such small bits of semi-religious content, scrabbled for any crumbs of good that could be found in a work, that the leaven has leavened the whole lump and there seems nothing left that is pure, good, lovely, or of good report.

Independent publishing disseminates truth when truth is stifled. Writers don’t have to see their message suppressed by indifferent or hostile publishers and literary agents. They don’t have to watch the mangling or destruction of truth, if they are “accepted,” by an editor who “knows what will sell” but doesn’t care what must be preserved because it is right.

E-readers come in many formats. Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader Store, and Kobo are only a few. Smart phones can display e-books. Many e-readers are grayscale. Nook has a color version. Amazon’s Kindle Fire, coming soon, will also support color. People can, of course, read books on their computers.

An e-author should still make his work as “perfect” as he can. Grammar, spelling and punctuation matter to most readers. The work must be original. The author must own the rights. After that, there are two basic ways to translate the book into e-format.

First, an e-author can produce a .pdf document and distribute it online. It can be formatted much like a conventional print book, with specific margins, numbered pages, spacing and fonts like a “real” book. It can have illustrations, in full color if the author wishes, and emulate the size and shape of a print book. Open Office Writer, and the newer versions of Microsoft Word, can convert the document to a .pdf which will look just like the author lays it out. Many e-readers can read a .pdf document. There are limits to how well it can display if the author formats his document rigorously like a conventional book.

The second method produces an e-book formatted very differently from a print book. The author is creating a type of HTML document, similar to a webpage on the internet, that will change its size, shape, font size and type, and  almost everything else from e-reader to e-reader. There are no “pages” as such. The person reading the book can make more changes as he reads the book on his reader. He can in most readers make the font larger or smaller, rotate from portrait to landscape mode, and in some even change the color of the font and background.

If the author has formatted his work like a conventional book, or even with inconsistent styles, and converts it to this second form, it will likely have large blank areas, lines that end in strange places, varying fonts the author can’t even see in the original, and other problems that will make a reader think the book is defective. For most e-readers, it is better to use the second method of formatting, especially to allow the book to be read on as many format readers as possible.

Although there are many sites that accept e-books for free distribution or for sale, and many are free to upload, some charge, some reserve the right to reject what is submitted, and all take a percentage if the book is to be sold.  Some sites (such as Booklocker) ask that an entire work be submitted for review. The author is notified if the site declines to publish it. Marketability is one factor in this decision. Content criteria, like rejecting “hate speech,” discrimination, or objectionable content can also be a factor. All sites require an author to be able to list “tags” and search keys to make his work “visible” on the Internet so that people can find it in search engines. Most upload sites have easy places to enter these words reflecting content, identifying and describing the work.

This article will only deal with three sites as examples, all of which have no expressed criteria by which they “accept or reject” books as long as format guidelines are met and content is not rejected as objectionable. They are representative of many others and exemplify probably the easiest (Scribd.com), the “one in the middle,” Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, which is time-consuming but has the most methods of self-promotion, and the most demanding (Smashwords) in e-book upload sites. Detailed submission guidelines and step-by-step instructions can be found on the sites. Only some of the basic requirements will be included here. Any site that allows e-book uploads requires an “account,” free to set up, giving the site email contact information and usually very little personal information. If works are offered for sale, an author will be required to give information so that percentage payments can be made, SSN number for IRS accounting, and an address for checks to be sent to or a bank account for electronic transfers. Many require electronic transfer.

Scribd.com accepts a number of formats and creates pdf documents. Authors’ submissions do not have to be complete books. Many authors submit essays, books in progress, even single poems or photo collections. Many works on Scribd are offered free. Scribd has a rotating display of featured works. It has category listings for searching the site, and the site shows multi-page previews of books for sale. People can become “followers” of authors’ works and links can be made to a facebook or twitter account to announce what the author has “readcast” on Scribd, his own works or those of others.

Smashwords.com is a site that specializes in producing e-books for multiple formats. The site has a detailed style guide which can be downloaded from there or at Amazon.com for the Kindle reader at no cost. This style guide can be used to create the second type of e-book described above, even if the author is not using Smashwords as his publisher. An author can, if desired, upload a book to the Smashwords site and, if accepted, it will be converted for free to most of the formats listed above. (They do not format for Amazon Kindle). The submitted work must rigorously follow their style guide, however, because they use an automated system they call the “Meatgrinder” to convert to the multiple formats. They give very clear instructions in the style guide but it does require considerable simplifying to format correctly.

Books that do not format correctly may be rejected, and Smashwords has a “premium catalog” for perfectly-formatted books that includes distribution in more outlets than ordinary uploads, which are only featured on their site. The style guide is quite detailed. It explains that there are a limited number of fonts that reliably convert correctly into e-documents. It cautions authors to remove most complicated formatting and gives guidance on how to include graphics, though it recommends they be small and few. The philosophy of Smashwords is to focus on the words and message of the book and not to be concerned about the loss of certain conventional features. Smashwords only publishes complete works for sale and file size cannot exceed 5 megs.

Amazon.com allows writers to upload e-books through Kindle Direct Publishing, or kdp. The system is very easy and even cover art is optional but extremely simple to upload with the book or at any time afterward. It takes a day or two for a book to become live, and authors must charge at least $.99 for original works. There are no length limits and books can be illustrated, though the e-book will probably have space gaps above or below the illustrations depending on the page display size and the size of the graphic. Instructions for uploads are very easy to follow. The book cover, information and “look inside” features display like any other book on Amazon. Amazon has sold more e-books than print books for more than a year now. Authors can easily check sales, which are updated very frequently.

Authors can add as much information about themselves and their books as they like. Amazon has Author Central, where a writer can add blog and Twitter feeds, images, videos, and biographical information which can be changed and updated very easily. Amazon has Kindle stores in the UK, Germany and France, and even English language books can appear in Europe. Amazon Shelfari is a reader/writer community where the author can place his books on his “shelf” along with those he reads. He can write reviews and detailed character, plot and book info. The author can also have followers here and send messages back and forth to them. Amazon recently started a facebook page for Kindle Direct Publishing where they pose questions to writers and allow for book promotion and exchange of advice and encouragement.

Microsoft Word is the preferred format for Scribd, Smashwords and Amazon. The 2000 version can be purchased for $30 or less. Covers or illustrations can be created by hand and scanned, or by using simple photo editing or paint programs. Photo Impact from Corel includes impressive faux 3-D titling and object creation and great texturing and effects for under $50.

                                                       Screenshot from Kindle of a page from The Illustrated Antidisestablsihmentarianism

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Book Review of The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr

Men’s minds and thinking are getting shallower all the time, but it’s wrong to blame that on the Internet. Many things are just as powerful as the Internet in changing our lives and our thought patterns. Rock music, television, video games and addiction (alcoholism) still play a greater role in “shallowing” the mind than the Internet. The human brain works the same way it has since Adam. The Internet is a minor cultural change compared to the Civil War in the American South, Concentration Camps for Jews, the ten plagues in Egypt and the decimation of Native American culture by Europeans.

(Note that all quotes below are from Carr’s book unless otherwise stated.)

Sabrina’s “workaholic” Linus Larrabee shouts, “My life makes your life possible!” “And I resent that!” playboy younger brother David shouts back. “So do I!” Linus retorts. This popped into my head as I read the repeated descriptions of the deep readers and contemplative thinkers. Nathaniel Hawthorne lay back and experienced nature for hours. Trains and busy working people disturbed him. The “shallow thinkers” Carr brings up are productive people, people with jobs. They have always paid for the lives of these deep thinkers.

Deep thinkers may not be playboys. They still need to be supported to lie in the grass listening to the breeze. Artists and writers from ancient times had patrons or they starved to death. Today their support still comes from those who can handle the world’s distractions. I say this as an artist and writer forced into the distraction of working or helping my husband work to pay bills and buy books like The Shallows.

Carr’s concept of “deep reading” sounds like Eastern Mysticism, opening the mind to everything, rather than reading as the Scriptures teach, “to know wisdom and understanding,” “comparing Scripture with Scripture.” If you can’t lose yourself in a long book you don’t learn properly? Then why does he reduce the Nathaniel Hawthorne tale of his Sleepy Hollow reverie to “snippets?”

Carr quotes wicked men as praiseworthy examples. Emerson, Freud, Nietszche and Marx are just a few of his favorite secularists. Studies are automatically authoritative. In our book Antidisestablishmentarianism we include this: “Dennis Prager, anthropologist and historian, laments the unthinking reliance on pseudo-science in today’s society. ‘In much of the West, the well-educated have been taught to believe they can know nothing and they can draw no independent conclusions about truth, unless they cite a study and “experts” have affirmed it. “Studies show” is to the modern secular college graduate what “Scripture says” is to the religious fundamentalist.'” (Prager quote from “Breastfeeding as a Religion,” World Net Daily, wnd.com, posted November 11, 2003 1:00 am Eastern.)

Carr’s “facts” are lies or skewed into lies. Plato’s Phaedrus strongly supports oral tradition. Theuth and Thamus illustrate oral versus written traditions. “Unlike the orator Socrates, Plato was a writer, and while we can assume that he shared Socrates’ worry that reading might substitute for remembering, leading to a loss of inner depth, it’s also clear that he recognized the advantages that the written word had over the spoken one.” Carr twists it to say Plato is supporting writing over oral tradition.

Plato knew of the honored Spartan tradition that their laws had to be memorized. “Plutarch, in his discourse on the life of Lycurgus and his rule in ancient Greece, expresses the belief that oral tradition is a way of making the law more firmly fixed in the mind.

“None of his laws were put into writing by Lycurgus, indeed, one of the so-called ‘rhetras’ forbids it. For he thought that if the most important and binding principles which conduce to the prosperity and virtue of a city were implanted in the habits and training of its citizens, they would remain unchanged and secure, having a stronger bond than compulsion in the fixed purposes imparted to the young by education, which performs the office of a law-giver for every one of them.”

Carr says Plato’s Republic opposes the oral tradition. “In a famous and revealing passage at the end of the Republic, … Plato has Socrates go out of his way to attack ‘poetry,’ declaring that he would ban poets from his perfect state.” Book Ten of Plato’s Republic starts off by saying that he wanted to banish the type of poetry that did not support his state. His goal was to rewrite the religious and imitative literature. Plato wanted absolute regulation of content, not the banishment of the oral tradition, as stated in Book II. “Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction (which includes the Poets) …and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only.”

The book relies on the shallowness of gleaning opinions from others without testing them by researching in the work itself. Carr didn’t seek out the real meaning of the discussions in the Republic and Phaedrus for himself. This would be almost comical if it weren’t for his repeated emphasis on deep thinking and reading.

Carr talks about the cool serenity of library stacks, but we went to a college where the stacks were closed and the frustrations of getting the right books were endless. Open stacks are still time consuming if the book in the card catalog isn’t on the shelf. Leisure reading and research reading are very different. Long novels like War and Peace and Bleak House and technically difficult works like Einstein and Infield’s The Evolution of Physics are worth the time to read cover to cover. But the library is confining and the Internet is liberating when there is time pressure.

Carr loses the struggle to define determinism because he is thoroughly deterministic in his approach to the studies, the experiments, and the use of what he condemns (superficial research and study) to prove his point. He mentions a couple of histories of societies making technology choices, but, “Although individuals and communities may make very different decisions about which tools they use, that doesn’t mean that as a species we’ve had much control over the path or pace of technological progress.”

How dare he say the brains of London cabbies won’t be as interesting if they start using GPS? That thinking isn’t much different from withholding medicine and clothing from jungle tribes. They’ll be “less interesting” for anthropologists to study. “Anthropologists are often faced with situations where members of the tribe they are studying die on a regular basis from easily curable diseases. But administering medicine may be the first step toward the loss of a culture. Many tribes actually express desire to become more technological. Anthropologists usually pressure them not to do so. One Brazilian indigenous tribal chief, after hearing such a recommendation, is quoted saying, ‘Do they think we like not having any clothes? It may be the way of our ancestors, but the bugs bother us…’ Should tribes like these be exposed to the modern world? There are no easy answers.” (Quoted from BBC online, updated April 10, 2002, in our book Antidisestablishmentarianism.)

E-books already outsell paper books on Amazon.com, and have for over a year. The Kindle is easy to read, keeps your place, allows written comments and highlighting. It’s a “real book.” Many small and medium conventional publishers are out of business. Only publishing giants and specialty “boutique” publishers can sustain the costs of producing paper books. The minimal costs of e-books will force this trend to continue.

Carr even quotes Psalm 115:3-8, a description of the deadness and powerlessness of idols, and warps it to fit his thesis about “technology’s numbing effect. It’s an ancient idea, one that was given perhaps its most eloquent and ominous expression by the Old Testament psalmist.” The creation of idols didn’t just “amplify and in turn numb the most intimate, the most human, of our natural capacities — those for reason, perception, memory, and emotion.” This is blasphemy. How can he equate the deadly sin of idolatry with the mere loss of “natural capacities”? He does this because he’s a secularist. (The passage is included here) “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not. They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” ( KJV)

Placing of scientific journals online does not narrow the scope of research and scholarship, which has always built on past scholarship. An article from 2005 need not cite one from 1945. That research was incorporated into, for example, a 1960 article. Further study, experimentation and research would occur by 1960, or more recently.

At one time many libraries had that 1945 issue, interlibrary loan privileges or microfilm. Libraries today rely on online research, which requires membership fees, payment by the article or both. Some of these charges are prohibitive to keep paying and paying for every article an author wishes he could study and reference. Newer articles are more readily available, often free or cheap, and easier to find.

We have been bombarded with distractions and choices and sensory overloads for centuries. It was happening before the Internet, before Gutenberg, before Plato. It’s up to us to filter.

Nicholas Carr pays tribute to the Scriptures by calling Psalm 115:3-8 a “most eloquent and ominous expression.” Hear then, more of the Scriptures and judge whether Carr has any conception of how eloquent the Word of God can be, and how little he understands about how it should shape our thinking. (The following quotes are from the King James Version)

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11: “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.”

Ecclesiastes 12:11-14: “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.  And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

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