Arial’s Author Toolbox

I’ve been doing a LOT of reading lately, but not fiction. This year (2015), I’ve been spending a lot of time honing my craft and doing my best to be a more efficient writer. In addition to that, I’ve been focusing on how to best market myself as an author.

Self-published authors – and actually most authors these days regardless of who publishes their books – have to devote a portion of their time to marketing. More and more publishers DON’T do marketing for their authors or the marketing is very broad (e.g., specials on a genre versus pushing a certain author).

So how does an author find the time to write AND market? THAT’S the big conundrum I’ve been putting nose-to-the-grindstone effort to find out. And guess what…you all will get to benefit from my efforts! UPDATED 2/9/16: I’ve just updated this post. See changes noted below. Also, though I’ve changed some pricing and removed other, please check pricing before you buy. They change all the time. Continue reading

3 Dangerous Book Marketing Ideas which Drain Your Bank Account

Bookmarks…jewelry…spa items…promo items in general…

You can put your book cover or author name on anything nowadays and though these items do get a lot of attention (Who doesn’t like free stuff, huh?) are they a worthy investment? Are you wasting your money on these items and not seeing a large return on sales?

Here are 3 Dangerous Book Marketing Ideas which Drain Your Bank Account...followed up by suggestions on how to better invest your money, get more attention for your books and still get the write-offs. Continue reading

Ideas for Promoting a Series

ideasAs the author of the Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles, I’ve run into a few challenges with promoting the other books in my series after Book 1.

The biggest challenge has been trying to get people to review the 2nd, 3rd or [insert #] book in my series when the reviewer hasn’t read the previous books. Though the books in my series can be read as standalones, there is the over-arching storyline the reader might miss out on if they read the books out of order.

So how do you catch a reader up to the main storylines of the previous books without them having to read the books? The Synopsis!!

I know…I can hear you groaning now, but the full synopsis can be a great marketing tool! AND if you convert it to an eBook, you can send it to the reviewer with a nice cover image, your publishing and copyright information and buy links. Continue reading

Bay Area Book Festival Writers BEWARE!!!

If you’re an author and you are NOT following David Gaughran’s Blog, I HIGHLY recommend you go over there now and subscribe (free, of course) so you can get updates on when he posts. Do it now…I’ll wait.

Welcome back!
WHY should you follow David Gaughran? Here are several reasons why…
  1. David is a very successful self-published author, so you can’t go wrong by listening to his advice. He’s walking the walk and talking the talk. And the proof is in the pudding: He is a NY Times bestselling author ON HIS OWN….not through a group, boxed-set project. Yes…with his self-published books.
  2. He’s written GREAT books about self-publishing, sharing all of his methods that led to him being such a success. Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible. Go out and get them NOW! You won’t regret it.
  3. He is ON TOP OF the news about what’s happening in the self-publishing industry. If you don’t know where to look about such news or have problems finding it yourself, David’s blog is a great place to start!
  4. He is diligent about informing authors about Author Solutions and their SCAMS. This is a Penguin-Random House company that supposedly specializes in self-publishing services. Worse than a vanity press, which charges a LOT of money for self-publishing services, Author Solutions totally rapes authors for services that are not only overpriced but are nothing but fluff and useless. They even lure authors into thinking that if they self-publish their book through Author Solutions, there’s a chance their books could land a contract with the Big 5 publisher. You have the same chance of landing a contract with them if you submitted your manuscript to them for free. *shakes head*
David’s latest post on the Bay Area Book Festival highlights that not only is Author Solutions sponsoring the event, the organizers behind the festival don’t care that AS is a scam operation and that they have a class action lawsuit against them for deceptive practices.
Check out David’s post HERE.
And for your convenience, here are the books I mentioned above:
Good luck with self-publishing and if you follow David’s advice, you won’t regret it!!
That’s my two pence…

Lessons Learned from Boxed Sets

highland-shifters-3d-new_2000I’m no expert on the subject, but I did have some “lessons learned” from two boxed sets to which I recently contributed. I had certain expectations going in…

  • I’m going to make a lot of money!
  • I’ll get lots of new readers!
  • This will be easy to do!
  • I’ll get on a list!

Some of those expectations were satisfied…and some were not. And if you’re not familiar with a boxed set or what’s involved–like I wasn’t–the following information are things I wish I’d known going into such a project.
Continue reading

Twitter Hashtags and How To Use Them

Twitter Expert? Hardly!

twitter-128(This is a republication of the article I posted on my reader blog.)

I’m going to state right up front…I am no Twitter expert. I will say, however, having just recently come to finally understand the concept of how Twitter works AND how other people use Twitter, I’m able to grasp the concept of how it can help me communicate with readers. With that said, if anyone else has anything they can add or correct me on, please leave comments. We can all be better at using this amazing social networking venue if we all pitch in.

Since I’m a fiction author, I’ll be sharing this information from the perspective of novels and that portion of the publishing industry, so this article is probably more geared toward the fiction author who wants to learn how to use Twitter to get the word out about their novels, but the concepts covered here can be applied to almost anything, so read on. This article is long, but covers the following topics (click topic to go straight to it, BUT click the MORE button below if you’re not in the actual article.):

  • The Purpose of Twitter
  • How to Use Twitter – The #Hashtag
  • Hashtags for Author, Readers, Writing and Publishing
  • Leveraging Mentions and Twitter Names
  • How to Run a Twitter Campaign (which mentions some Twitter Clients that make using Twitter easier) Continue reading

Self-Publishing Earns Authors More Money

Author Earnings
My friend and fellow author, Genella deGrey, shared a wonderful article called The 7k Report, written by Hugh Howey of Author Earnings. It’s a long read, but WELL worth it. Go ahead. Go read the report. I’ll wait. *Arial gets up and grabs a cup of coffee, peruses her e-mail and does a little marketing while she waits*

There! See? Very informative and pretty thorough = wonderful. There are two reasons I’m sharing this article, and I will thereby summarize the article for those who aren’t ready to spend the time to read the entire entry:

  1. Actual Data – Finally, we authors can see a fairly reliable source of information that lets us know whether or not writing for ourselves is worth the plunge.
  2. Prove a Point – I have always touted to my author friends that traditional publishing is not worth anyone’s time or effort unless the publisher is willing to do the work to sell your books for you. My explanation to follow.

Admittedly, today is a bit of a rant. Many representatives of the Big Five1 have been quoted as saying eBooks and self-publishing are killing the publishing industry2. At a minimum, many articles in general have been waving that colored banner rather vehemently. I will say such chatter has died down as of late, especially from the Big Five…but that’s because everyone has definitely called, “Bullshit” on their claims. Wasn’t it just last year that Amazon announced eBooks outsold print?? I’m just sayin’.

The article above illustrates just how much money publishers are making on the backs of authors. What has always burned me is how those publishers have complained like a whiny kids at a lemonade stand that their sales have dramatically declined and they blame eBooks and self-publishing. What specifically ticks me off is it’s completely UNTRUE!!! Well…in all fairness, it was a twisted truth. Their PRINT sales dramatically declined. But while they were whining and wailing to the world about their woes, tons of money was coming in through the back door of their digital sales. Self-publishing didn’t invent eBooks. It just made it more lucrative and accessible for the author. Publishers were already putting out their own eBooks. Self-publishing just made it a popular purchase.

Summary of Article

Like I said, the article is long but well worth the read. However, a quick summary of the post is the co-author of the article created an application that combs the internet (specifically for rankings and sales figures. The article then goes in depth with charts and information generated from a sample of book data – the top 1000 or so bestselling books – then breaks it down into which of those books are ,”Indie Published, Small/Medium Publisher, Amazon Published (from imprints like 47North), Big Five published, and Uncategorized Single-Author.” Honestly, I’m not sure how they are defining “Indie Published” versus “Uncategorized Single-Author.” I’ve sent them a message to get clarification.

As it turns out, even though the Big Five publishers are getting the lion’s share of the sales, the amount of money the traditionally published authors actually pull in from the haul pales in comparison to the royalties gained from self-published/indie authors.

Amazon gives 70% of the sale price for self-published books priced at $2.99 – $9.99, and 35% outside of those price ranges. Whereas the average royalty an author gets from the Big Five is 25%. Howey says what I say…it’s worth it to self publish! And he even goes into three scenarios of the self-published author who…

  1. doesn’t make anything and their book(s) get lost in the plethora of books in Amazon’s catalogue.
  2. sells enough to at least pay their bills.
  3. is hugely successful.

All three scenarios – even #1 – sound better than a contract with the Big Five.

My Two Pence

To Traditionally Publish or Indie/Self-Publish? No Question for Me

I use indie and self-publishing as interchangeable terms, for the record.

So why I am all down on the Big Five? Would I ever turn down a contract from them? It depends on the situation, which I’ll ‘splain in a sec. Would I actively seek a contract with them? No. There’s no reason for me to do so…and many authors are in my boat. In all honesty, no publisher would approach me right now because my novels don’t have the kind of sales they’re looking for. So the only kind of contract I could hope to get from the Big Five is the no-money-down, 25% royalty rate AND I do all the marketing. As such, why would I want the contract?

I have many author friends I know personally who have Big Five contracts and they’re getting little-to-no advertising or marketing through their publisher – especially from the new digital imprints. For clarification: These are contracts where the author receives NO book advance and a 25% royalty rate. As mentioned above, any publicity for such contracts are usually through genre-related ads or blog posts on the publisher’s website.

Sheldon Butternut

That’s nice.

When was the last time any of you went to Random House’s blog – or the blog for Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan or Penguin – and checked out their latest releases. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Sorry, authors…you can’t count the times you went there to see if your own or your best friend’s announcement was posted. This is specifically if you went there because you find the blog entertaining and want to know the latest releases so you can run out and buy them, being an avid reader. TOR might qualify, though…it definitely has such an appeal.

I also have friends who have Big Five contracts, which included a cash advance and a sometimes better than 25% royalty rate. And each of them are definitely successful. Why? Because the publisher pushed their books.

Please note: Of those author friends of mine who are EXTREMELY successful, every one of them were successfully self-published first. Now, that’s just in my world, but it says a lot to me. The only advantage of a traditional contract these days is the book advance. If the advance was enough to cover my expenses for at least long enough to write the next book, then I would go for it! Otherwise, it’s not worth my time. I give the same advice to other authors. It’s not that we should reject the Big Five…we just need to be smart with our choices. Being an author is, after all, running a business.

Catherine Bybee (left) &      HP Mallory (right) – Successfully Self-Published FIRST, then publishers offered a decent contract

My Publisher of Choice: ME

Self-publishing is a great testing ground for publishers and agents. If a self-published book is hugely successful, then the publisher has less to gamble in giving away a book advance with no guarantee they’re going to make that money back. And I get it…it’s business. They don’t want to fork over four to seven figures and not have some confidence they’ll get an ROI. IF a publisher gives an author an advance, they’d be stupid not create specific or focused ads for that book. They want to make their money back, so if an author is going to get a Big Five contract, my recommendation is, “Show me da money!” Their investment in an advance proves they’re going to push the sales of your book. And today, publishers are only going to give a large advance if they have a guarantee.

As such, there is absolutely no reason NOT to self-publish…period. If I’m the one who has to bust my tukass to get my books out there on blogs, go to conferences and peddle my POD (Print On Demand) books and throw ads all over the place – all at my expense and time, which takes away from my writing time – I’m going to want 70% of the cut because I’m doing 70% or more of the work. If the same efforts are going to get me the same sales, I’m going to want to make sure the money is coming to me. Make sense?

Let’s do the math and let the numbers speak for themselves:

Author A – Traditionally Published

This author has a Big Five contract with no advance and 25% royalties. As described above, the author has to do most, if not all, of the promoting. They have three books under their belt with said publisher and sell 25 copies each of their books – a total of 75 books by the end of the month. The sale price of each book is $3.99 (Big Five publishers usually price their books more than this – as noted in the aforementioned article – but let’s compare apples to apples for the sake of argument).

Also for sake of argument, we’re going to say the author gets 25% of the $3.99 shown here. They actually get it off the wholesale price which is less, but since publishers charge higher AND that elusive “wholesale” price is hard to nail down, the solid 25% should not only make up the difference, but even put the traditionally published author in a more favorable bracket of figures.25% of $3.99 = $0.99 ($0.9975 to be exact – ouch) x 75 books = $74.81

Author B – Self-Published

This author has created her own cover, has a reliable editor friend and the author knows how to do her own formatting (we’ll get into expenses in a minute). She also knows how to publish her books in the various formats and posts them on the various venues – Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc. (which means she has a more limited retail outreach than trad. publishers). She has 3 books under her belt priced at $3.99 each and has also sold 75 books at the end of the month.70% of $3.99 = $2.79 ($2.793 to be exact) x 75 books = $209.47

Wow! Quite the difference, no? That right there should have authors clamoring to get their books self-published. At least that’s how I felt once I saw this explained to me. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and my own income from my books has definitely been an enjoyable bowl of succulent pudding…comparatively speaking. And I look forward to enjoying more than just dessert as I continue to write and promote.

Self-Publishing Expenses

The biggest argument people have against self-publishing is the author doesn’t have to put any money into their books when they go through a traditional publisher, and self-publishing has expenses. Granted, those expenses are up-front, but authors most certainly pay for the editing, cover art and the publisher’s contacts with retail stores through the huge royalty cut they take, so don’t think traditional publishing doesn’t cost you anything. You do pay. It just comes out of your back end on the sales…uh…I mean your sales through the back end. (Heh…even that sounded bad.)

The more you can do on your own, the less expensive it is to publish your own book. All-in-all, I will say you can easily spend anywhere from $100 to $2000 per book if you pay people to edit, format, publish and design the cover for your book. Definitely shop around and if you have skill to offer inside or outside of publishing, you might be able to exchange services. Example: An author friend of mine needed some editing and we needed some construction work done on our house. He helped my husband and I tear down and put up drywall and I edited his short story collection. We both saved each other a lot of money and accomplished our goals.

Now, I will never be the one to advocate a book going out there without any editing. I’m a firm believer in getting your book edited before the public sees it. But don’t let that expense stop you. Fifty Shades of Grey was HORRIBLE in structure, grammar, storyline and character development and collectively the series has sold over 15 million copies. I’m just sayin’. I’ve seen plenty of grammar, spelling and typing mistakes in Big Five books, so they aren’t perfect either. If you can’t afford an editor now, afford one later. Get your stuff out there!  BUT a good cover is crucial! Spare no expense into a getting professional-looking, quality cover. THAT will be your primary point of sale. If your cover looks bad, you won’t sell books.

Read my article on To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish for more information on what it takes to self-publish.


I don’t know about you, but I can pay my car insurance and gas bill from that income mentioned above…and I do! Not only does self-publishing offer greater returns, the self-published author has more flexibility. The author can experiment with pricing, can give away as many copies of their books as their little heart desires and can even do the “loss leader” where at least one title is perma-free or at a discounted price (I’ll have to do another post on that one and other marketing strategies). Though some digital imprints are letting authors give away as many copies as they want, most publishers (even small presses) limit how much you can give away. And some do experiment with pricing, but you have to ask them. Call me a control freak, I want to price my book my way. It’s working for me so far.

Do you have a publishing success story you’d like to share? Traditionally published or self-published. Do you agree or disagree with self-published authors making more money? I’d love to hear your comments.
That’s my two pence…

Arial 😉

1 For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “Big Five”, be advised it used to be the “Big Six”. These terms refer to the largest players of the publishing industry. See Valerie Peterson’s article on for a more extensive explanation.
2 Visit the article eBooks are Killing Publishers, and Other Post Facto Nonsense at the Digital Reader Blog

How to Convert Your Novel into Multiple eBook Formats – Part 4

This is part 4 in a series where I give step-by-step instructions on how to convert your novel into multiple eBook formats. Here are the other parts to the series:

Step 4: Using Calibre

Calibre (pronounced cal-eh-ber) is a FREE eBook management program, which allows you to import eBook files, convert them to a different eBook format, and then transfer them to your eReader. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re looking to convert the PRC file you created in the previous post into the various formats you may need to promote your books. See the end of this tutorial for ideas on how to use these files for promotion.
If you don’t already have the software installed on your computer, please visit their website and download the program suitable for your computer’s operating system (e.g., Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.):
Once you’ve installed the software, follow these steps:
  1. Open Calibre
  2. In the top-left corner, click on the red book icon “Add books” (see Figure 1)
    Figure 1
  3. Navigate to the folder where you’re new PRC file is located and select that PRC file.
  4. Once you’ve added the PRC, it should now show up on the list of books and will probably either be at the top or at least highlighted. Of course, if this is your first book you’re adding to your new Calibre library…it will be the only one. PLEASE NOTE: In Figure 2, I’ve underlined in red some of the information regarding my book Midnight Hunt, which I used in the previous tutorial screenshots. All those fields I instructed you to complete when you entered the metadata on your PRC file. Now you can see those fields at work!
    Figure 2
  5. Click the “Convert Books” button (circled above in Figure 2).
  6. In the window that appears, there are a number of settings to become familiar with and may need changing or updating:
    • Input Format: (top-left of window) This should already have PRC selected. This is the original file format you imported when you selected Add Books. No need to change this, just be aware of it.
    • Output Format: (top-right) Use this drop-down box to select the file format you want to convert the PRC file to. The most common file formats are EPUB (used on Nook and iTunes’ iBooks), MOBI (Kindle and MobiPocket Reader app) & PDF. However, I do not recommend you create a PDF from here. The formatting gets all wonky. So for this first time converting, go ahead and keep the default of MOBI.
    • Tags: (2nd check mark on right) This was taken from the “Main Subject” field entered in the metadata when you created the PRC. Remember when I said you don’t really have many options? Well HERE you can add more. So for my example, I would also add “vampires” and “paranormal”, with commas in between.
    • Series: (3rd check mark on right) If your novel is part of a series, you can enter the series name here.
    • Book Number: (4th check mark on right) This will default to “Book 1.00” so just leave it if it is a stand-alone or the first book in your series. Change it by clicking on the arrows. Also some people have started using decimals for those in-between novellas and short stories in a series. So a short story that takes place between Books 1 & 2 of a series might be numbered 1.1, for example.
  7. Once you’ve made the changes or additions to the fields mentioned above, click the OK button. The window will close and you should see, in the bottom-right corner, a grey arrow pointing at the jobs it’s processing (right now 1). Once the eBook has been converted, you should now see that file version listed under “Formats” below the book cover (see Figure 3)
    Figure 3
  8. Rinse & Repeat! To convert your eBook to other formats, just follow 5-7, but instead of selecting “MOBI” from the drop-down menu on the right, select EPUB or whatever format you want to convert to. Each version will appear under “Formats” below the cover as pictured in Figure 3.
CONGRATULATIONS!! You’ve just now converted your PRC to one or more other eBook formats, which you can use for marketing purposes.

Now…where are those files??

It’s great you’ve converted the PRC file, but where the heck are they now? They’re located in the Calibre eBook Library folder, which can be found by doing the following:
  1. At the top of your Calibre window, click on the Calibre Library button (see Figure 4).
    Figure 4
  2. A small dialogue box will appear (also Figure 4). Click on the small computer-like icon next to the “New Location” text box. This will open another dialogue box. At the top of this box, you should see the path to where your eBook files are located. Make note of that location. Then cancel this dialogue box and the one pictured in Figure 4.
  3. Now go to your “My Computer” folder, or the window that will allow you to access your computer files, and navigate to that folder you took note of in the previous step.
  4. Calibre automatically creates an author folder every time you add a book. Within that folder, it also creates a folder of the book title. THIS is the folder where your eBook files are located. You can keep those files in your Calibre Library, but you might also want to COPY those files and then PASTE them into the folder where you created your PRC file (which is also where you put your MS Word Document and book cover image).
There you have it! Whew!

Promotional Ideas

So now you have your files. What do you do with them? Reproducing your eBooks (as long as you own the rights) costs NOTHING and it’s a great way to get your books into the hands of readers. I know many authors balk at giving their books away, but when you’re first starting out, your main focus should be to gain a following of readers who will talk about your books and get your name out there. If they enjoyed your book, they’ll recommend it to a friend. The more people who know about you, the more chance you have of increasing your sales. So don’t let giving your books away for free scare you when you’re just starting out.

Here are some suggestions on how to promote yourself by free eBook copies:

  • Guest Blog Giveaways – If you’re guesting on someone’s blog, you can offer to give away a few copies of your eBooks to those who comment on the post. This is a GREAT way to engage with readers. And if readers leave comments, please be sure to visit that blog and respond to every one of their comments (if you’re just starting out). Readers love to engage with authors.
  • Blog Tour Prizes – Team up with a bunch of author friends and have a huge giveaway of your books as an eBook bundle.
  • Book Clubs – Contact some book clubs and let them know you’ll give them free eBook copies of your novel.
  • Libraries – Contact your local libraries to see if they have an eBook loaning program and donate copies of your eBooks.
  • Charity Causes – Many charitable organizations are looking for prizes to auction off or reward people for giving of their time and money. Offer to give some copies of your eBooks to help out!
I hope these tutorials and suggestions were helpful. If you have any questions on any of the steps, do not hesitate to contact me! You can send me a message at the following locations:
That’s my two pence…

How to Convert Your Novel into Multiple eBook Formats – Part 3

This is part 3 in a series where I give step-by-step instructions on how to convert your novel into multiple eBook formats. Here are the other parts to the series:

In the previous post, we covered how to prepare your novel to be converted into a PRC file. Below are the step-by-steps instructions on how to use Mobipocket eBook Creator. If you don’t have this FREE program, be sure to visit the previous post for a link on where you can download it. On to the tutorial!

Step 3: Using Mobipocket eBook Creator

Be sure you’ve done the prep work in the previous post and installed Mobipocket eBook Creator before executing the following steps:

  1. Open Mobipocket Creator
  2. In the window that appears, go to the “Import From Existing File” section and click on “MS Word document
    Figure 2
  3. Click the “Browse…” button for “Choose a file:” and navigate to the folder where you placed your final MS Word document for your novel (mentioned in Step 2: #1)
  4. Then click the “Browse…” button for “Create publication in folder:“. This is where you want to save your final eBook files, which should be in the same folder as pictured above in Figure 1.
  5. Just leave the defaults for “Language” and “Encoding” (unless you have your own preferences to change this) and then click “Import” (see Figure 3).
    Figure 3
  6. In the left-hand navigation that appears in the new window, it should already be selected on “Publication Files” and you’ll notice in the right-hand area of the window, the MS Word document you’ve imported has been converted to an HTML file (Figure 4).
    Figure 4
  7. Now we’ll add your cover art. Click on “Cover Image” in the left-hand navigation area, and then click on the “Add a cover image” button and navigate to your cover image. If you did the prep work above, it should be in the same folder where your MS Word document was located. It should import your book cover once you’ve selected it. (Figure 5) At this point, you may need to maximize the program window since the “Update” button we’re looking for won’t be visible. (Remember, if your book cover image is too small, you will receive an error when you finally build your eBook. See Step 2: #2 above for details).
    Figure 5
  8. Now click “Update” (Figure 5) and it should take you back to the Publication Files view.
  9. Tagging your file is important for proper indexing on eReaders, so click on “Metadata” in the left-hand navigation area to do this tagging.
  10. Remember that optional information I mentioned above? This is where you’ll be using it. The fields are explained below. Mandatory fields are marked with a red asterisk, but like they are in the program. Though some fields are optional (like the author name) you’ll probably want to complete as much as you can (see Figures 6 & 7).
    Figure 6
    • eBook Title*: Type in the title how you want it to appear in an eReader. If you have a series, you might want to include the number of the book in the series (e.g., MIDNIGHT HUNT: Book 3 of the Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles).
    • Author: Your pen name or whatever name you’re using for writing.
    • Publisher: I personally have created my own publishing cover for my self-published novels. Doing so prevents your book from screaming “I’m self-published!” Or you could leave it blank.
    • ISBN: For the eBook version of your book. Do not use the print ISBN. There is a difference.
    • Language*: The default is Enlgish (United States), so change as applicable for your novel.
    • Main subject*: Pretty self-explanatory, but keep in mind this list is pretty limited. I cannot, for instance, specify that my novel is a paranormal romance. Choose the genre that BEST represents your book. Technically, my novel is fantasy fiction, so I could choose “Fantasy”. But Midnight Hunt (and my series) has very strong romantic elements and romance novels sell more than fantasy novels do…so I choose “Romance” as my main subject. Think about how you want readers to find you.
    • Description: This is your back of the book blurb.
    • Review: This is where you’ll paste those snippets of reviews you’re proud of (if you have any at this point).
    • Publishing Date: Must be in the mm/dd/yyyy format
    • Adult Only checkbox: Be sure to check this if you have content that isn’t suitable for readers under age 18.
      Figure 7
    • Demo PRC file: Scroll down past your book cover and you’ll see this and the rest of the fields to complete (Figure 7). This isn’t really necessary since most websites already provide a way to give readers a sneak peak or sample of your book, so just leave this blank.
    • Suggested Retail Price*: You only have two currencies available – US Dollars and Euros. Just enter the number of your book price (e.g., 5.99) in the text box and select the appropriate currency (US Dollars is the default).
    • Territory Restriction: Complete this field only if you cannot distribute your book worldwide. You’ll type in the country/countries your book is restricted. I usually leave this blank.
  11. Click the “Update button and you should return to the Publication Files view.
  12. Woot!! You’ve prepped your file. Now to create your PRC. Click the “Build” button at the top of the screen (Figure 8).
    Figure 8
  13. You will come to the Build Publication page. Choose your “Compression Options” (I usually select “No Compression“) and I recommend “No encryption” under “Encryption options” (Figure 9). Please keep in mind that any encryption you do limits your readers. I, personally, have several eReaders on various devices. If I want to switch from one reader to another, encryption prevents that from happening. Just food for thought.
    Figure 9
  14. Click the “Build” button. (See Figure 9). This should take you to a screen that says, “Your eBook is now ready. What do you want to do with it?” I usually like to “Open folder containing eBook” by clicking the OK button. It will do exactly what it indicates and you’ll get to see your eBook files you’ve just created. CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Whew! Now that we have an eBook file we can work with, we’ll need to use Calibre to convert it. If you already have Calibre, then you probably already know how to convert an eBook and can take it from here. However, for those who have no idea what Calibre is, go on to the next article – How to Convert Your Novel into Multiple eBook Formats – Part 4. (Sorry this is so long, but as you can see…it’s not easy to self-publish.)

Thanks for your patience as I walked you through all the steps! One day I’ll do a video (*sighs*).
CLICK HERE to read the next post.
That’s my two pence…

How to Convert Your Novel into Multiple eBook Formats – Part 2

This is part 2 in a series where I give step-by-step instructions on how to convert your novel into multiple eBook formats. Here are the other parts to the series:

In the previous article, I gave an overview of formatting your eBook, then step-by-step instructions on how to convert your formatted MS Word document into a PRC file (used by the Kindle) with Mobipocket Creator.

As promised, I’ll go over how to take that PRC file (or just about any unprotected/non-DRM file) into multiple eBook formats with the assistance of Calibre.

Formatting Your Book: Overview

In the self-publishing process, converting my novel into various eBook formats is usually one of the last steps I take. Prior to reaching this point, I’ve done the following:

  1. Formatted my MS Word document so it’s ready to become an eBook and I usually create three versions: One for Amazon with Amazon hyperlinks; one for Smashwords with no hyperlinks (it will be rejected by their meat-grinder otherwise); and one to sell on my own website AND use for my personal marketing purposes.
  2. Created my eBook cover.
  3. Uploaded my formatted MS Word document and cover directly to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and it’s sitting in the queue waiting to be approved by Amazon.
  4. Uploaded my formatted MS Word document and cover directly to Smashwords and it’s ready to be downloaded by readers, but probably still waiting to be approved for their Premium Catalogue so it can be distributed to the other vendors (i.e., B&N, iTunes, Sony Reader, Diesel, Kobo, etc.).

Although Smashwords does create the various eBook format and I do have the option of downloading their versions, I like to create my own files for my personal marketing efforts because I can put whatever links I want to inside my eBook and I don’t have a vendor balking that I’m linking to a competitor. The Smashwords file versions (if you read item #1 above) doesn’t have any buy links, although it might tell users how to get to my website (e.g., “Go to” versus “Go to“).

Step 2: Convert the MS Word Document to a PRC file

Getting Ready to Convert to PRC

To make this process easier on yourself, I recommend you do the following:

Create or designate a folder on your computer where you have your novel. This will also be the folder where you’ll save your eBook files. Like most authors, I have a folder specifically for each of my novels, as I go through several revisions and I save many documents along the way. When I create my final file ready to publish to eBook, I will create a folder titled “eBooks”. Within that folder, I’ll put the two following files (see Figure 1):

  1. My formatted MS Word Document – this is the final version I’m going to convert to an eBook
  2. My eBook cover – you should use the largest resolution you have. As Amazon says in their image guidelines: “For best quality, your image would be 1563 pixels on the shortest side and 2500 pixels on the longest.” These are  minimum requirements. My covers are a standard size of 1700 x 2550 (used by Lightning Source).
Figure 1 (click to enlarge)
You should also have the following optional information handy:
  • ISBN – If you’ve already published to Smashwords, you should have an ISBN assigned, so go ahead and grab that. From your Smashwords Dashboard, click on ISBN Manager in the left-hand navigation area, and scroll down until you see your book(s) listed in a table. Your ISBN should be there. (NOTE: The ISBN for your eBook will always be different for your print book, so do not use the ISBN from your Print On Demand book.)
  • Back of the Book Blurb – Again, if you’ve already published to Smashwords and/or Amazon/KDP, you should have this written. You’ll be using this in the “Description” field when we create your PRC.
  • Reviews – If you’ve already farmed your book out to some reviewers and have the text from their reviews, you will have the opportunity to put it into the “Review” field.

About Mobipocket Creator

Here’s the funny thing…the Mobipocket eBook Creator doesn’t actually create a MOBI file, as the title of the software seems to indicate. It actually creates a PRC file. Don’t ask me why…talk to the developers.
The Mobipocket eBook Creator is a FREE program you can download to create the PRC file and then that can be converted to whatever format you need with the help of Calibre. Since I had a dickens of a time finding a YouTube tutorial or even a comprehensible guide by Mobipocket on how to do this, I decided to create my own. (Sheesh! You want something done right…) It’s simple…you just need to know what to do.
Please Note: the following instructions DO NOT include an automatically generated Table of Contest (TOC). This will produce an eBook without one. If you’d like to generate an eBook that DOES have a TOC, you’ll need to do that in MS Word. Here’s the link that shows you how to do that: (E-mail me if you have questions or problems creating your TOC.)
For some reason, many people think you need to have the HTML version of your file in order to use Mobipocket eBook Creator. Mobipocket eBook Creator automatically converts your document into HTML. I NEVER start with an HTML version. I always convert directly from an MS Word file.
Be sure to download and install the program by following the Mobipocket eBook Creator link above. Once you’ve installed it, you can follow these steps outlined in the tutorial, which is in the next blog post – How to Convert Your Novel into Multiple eBook Formats – Part 3.
That’s my two pence…