Wednesday is a Good Day for a Freebie

Happy Wednesday to you and I hope your day is going great. We’ve got lots of blue sky and sunshine out here in California and my tomato plants are loving it.

Just wanted to write a quick post to announce that the Scotti Fitzgerald books are all now available in print. I know, it took a while but I finally made it happen. You’ve no idea how complex setting up a print book can be. At least, I had no idea. Lots of trial and error because you know…math…

Anyway…to celebrate Scotti’s premiere in print I am giving the eBook versions of all THREE books in the series away for FREE today and today and Thursday (May 9th & May 10th).

On Friday all the books will go to 99 cents each and remain at that price through the weekend.

Then Monday, we’re back to business as usual.

If you haven’t read the books, now is your chance to grab the whole series for free. Or if you’ve only read Coffee & Crime, you can pick up the next two books for free.

If you do and you like them – I’d be Thrilled if you’d write a review on Amazon or Good Reads. But no pressure. I know you’re busy.

To pick up your free copy of Coffee & Crime click here

To pick up your free copy of Murder Ready 2 Eat click here

To pick up your free copy of Death of the Family Recipe click here

If you live outside the U.S. you can go to my BOOK PAGE and find the appropriate link for your area.

Otay announcement over, you may now return to your day – hope it’s a great one!

Cheers,

Annie

PS: If you don’t own a Kindle but would still like eBook copies of the books, just CONTACT ME and I will send you the ePub versions personally.

 

 

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What’s the story with the eBook cover design?

Some of you may have noticed there is a new page called eBook Cover Design on this blog. Perhaps you scratched your head, wondering what on earth I’m up to this time. Let me explain…

About halfway through my new series ah…er…trilogy I realized that due to budgetary restraints I would not be able to hire a book cover designer. I know, I know, you must NEVER design your own book covers. All the experts say so.

Still, authors do all the time and granted many of those covers are not so great, but some of them are pretty good. And let’s be honest, some of the so-called professional covers leave much to be desired. And top of that I figured if it was good enough for Hugh Howey, then it was good enough for me.

The Learning Experience

Realizing I’d have to do my own covers I set out to learn myself something about book covers and design. What I thought would be a relatively short learning curve turned out to be a months long self edu-ma-cation. And man did I make some pretty awful ugly covers for a while. But I kept at it.

I practiced. I learned Canva and then Pxlr. Then I discovered you can’t get high resolution covers from those platforms, which was why even the covers that started to look pretty good still had that grainy amateur look about them. Finally, I faced facts and taught myself GIMP. Also a free shareware but with many similar capabilities as Photo Shop.

I read Derek Murphy’s book “Book Cover Design Secrets” (highly recommend by the way if you want to learn about book cover design). And I just kept at it.

Somewhere along the way, things gelled and I realized I’d learned how to design book covers. (Soon, I’ll show you the covers for the new series but not today.) Anyway, after all the time, study, and practice I also realized that I really enjoyed designing covers. I find it relaxing and it feeds a creative urge I’ve always had to create ‘art.’ Not art as in the written word but you know art art.

Paying it Forward

While all this was happening, I’d also gotten to know a lot of indie authors and have made some great friends in that regard. Who have helped me in so many ways. And like me, many of them are operating on limited budgets and resources are stretched thin.

In case you were unaware, there is a real cottage industry out there selling stuff to writers (especially indies) – from magic formulas that will make you a best seller to how to format eBooks, to marketing, to email lists, and so on. Some of these services are great, some of them are exploitative, and some are quite expensive for an indie author struggling along.

So, long story short, I decided to offer pre-made covers at the nominal fee of $25. Along with the cover you get some customization, your title, your name and tagline, we could change font colors and things like that. Mostly, I just wanted to offer indie authors a decent cover that they could afford and would be somewhat unique (that didn’t look like all the other pre-mades) to them and their story.

So that’s the story. If any of these covers ring your bell, feel free to drop me a line and we’ll make it happen. If not, I may be able to do a custom cover for you for just a bit more. And even if you don’t need or want a book cover they might be fun to look at.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Have a great weekend.

Annie ❤

Think you can’t read a Kindle Book because you don’t have a Kindle? Think again

kindle readerIn the last few years, the popularity of digital books and novels has continued to grow and based on the numbers, it looks like they will continue to do so. 

Kindle and digital books have been a great alternate avenue for writers, especially indie writers who have not had  luck in following traditional routes in being published.  However, it’s a double-edged sword because while Amazon and other digital book retailers have offered an alternate path for publication, consumers who don’t own a Kindle or other digital reader may feel left out in the cold.

Amazon has taken care of all that.  You don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle book because you can download any of several free apps  (applications) to read your Kindle book on the device of your choice.  Kindle has reading apps for:

Amazon also provides apps for Androids, Blackberries, Windows Phone and other tablets. And even if you don’t have any of the devices mentioned above, you can still read a Kindle book in the cloud – from your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.)

In other words, Amazon has gone to great lengths to make reading a Kindle book as easy as possible for you.

So, if there is a book out there that you are really dying to read that is only available in digital format, don’t despair.  Just go to Amazon and download the free app of your choice and enjoy your new book.  You may find that you like the digital read so much that a Kindle reader might find its way onto your wish list.

Writer Chick

copyright 2013

 

 

eBooks – Trends in Reading

ebooks

Hey Everybody,
I thought it might be interesting to give you the scoop on ebooks/enovels and that whole electronic world coming to a bookstore near you. Michelle Halket at ireadiwrite (the company that published my novel, False Witness) has graciously agreed to do a post that gives you a great overview of the whole electronic book universe. So, sit back and read and see what you think. Thanks, Michelle!
WC

The eBook Primer

For those who love eBooks, like myself, it’s easy to tout their benefits – portable, customizable, instantly attainable, no paper to throw away and my entire library is always with me, (I read on my iPhone).  For those who haven’t taken the leap – by far the biggest complaint I hear is that one will lose that tangible feeling of holding the book, of seeing the words in their typeset as the publisher intended, of the smell and feel of the paper. It’s hard to argue with that.  I don’t see paper books going anywhere; heck, there are people who still swear by their vinyl or photographic film.  But for me, the experience of reading comes not from the paper and ink, but from the words that flow from the author’s mind, creating a time and space in which I don’t reside, carrying me away from myself and my surroundings to the one they created.  And once I was there, in that surreal place, even years later, I remember those words, that feeling the author invoked.  And I simply can’t remember the paper.

So this blog entry is for the naysayers and the non-believers or those who just know very little about them.  I’m not here to convert you, we all have choices in reading and I’d personally like to keep it that way.  But if you happen to be e-curious – read on…

What is an eBook?

File Types: An eBook is the digital file version of a book, much like an mp3 is a digital file version of a song on a CD or vinyl album.  Like music, there are many types of files which can hold eBooks the most widely known is the pdf.  This is a static version of the book, a “picture” of the way the text was laid out in it’s chapters, typesetting, spacing etc.  Other and increasingly popular file types are re-flowable, or allow the user to determine the font, sizing, spacing and paper/background on which the book will be read.  More and more we are seeing an adoption of the epub format as the preferred file format for eBooks.

Protection: To protect against piracy, publishers or stores can impose Digital Rights Management (DRM).  This is a form of encoding or locking the file so that it cannot be copied to other machines or to other readers.  For most large publishers and bookstores, DRM is necessary to protect themselves and their authors.  For those who truly love reading, it is a bane since it limits what the reader can do with a book once it has been purchased and can even limit being able to transfer the file to other machines. We are against DRM since imposing it doesn’t necessarily protect the book from being copied (e.g. I’ve heard recent rumors that a pirated version of Dan Brown’s most recent book appeared online not 14 minutes after it was released with DRM in large online bookstores.)

Methods of Reading: Readers can read eBooks on a variety of machines.  One’s computer is the most obvious choice. A smartphone, like a Blackberry or iPhone, is another.  But increasingly, electronics manufacturers are releasing dedicated eBook reading devices which can have a variety of functions, like wireless network access, single or dual screens, color display, large or small displays.  The Amazon Kindle is a very popular device and was devised to instantly gain access to Amazon’s Kindle store where New York Times bestsellers reside alongside self published titles. That said, there is a bevy of non-store specific readers that aptly and well serve their owners.  For everything you’d want to know about readers, here is a great matrix over at MobileRead.

Where to buy eBooks: Every major bookstore now carries electronic books and this is apparently the only segment of the book publishing industry that is in current growth.  Whether you choose to shop from the majors like Barnes & Noble or Amazon or the great independent bookstores like Books on Board or Powells, they all offer major titles and books by indie authors.  In addition, there is a multitude of self-pub sites out there, like Smashwords or Lulu.  The benefit of buying from smaller stores is that you may have a choice of formats and whether or not they impose DRM.

Overcoming Public Perception

One of the biggest challenges of overcoming the stigma attached to eBooks is that people often have a stereotypical idea of what ebooks are – many think they fall into one of the three categories:

  • A self-help, ‘make-money-quick-on-the-internet’ scheme
  • A technical or how-to manual
  • A way for untalented authors to get published
  • These misconceptions exist because originally this is what most eBooks were.  They were cheap and easy ways for people to get the word out on their book or themselves.  To compound and reinforce this image, there is a lot crap out there. The worst among them is ‘private label book’ – which is a generic piece written to sell to others who can put their own name on it.  Usually, these books fall in the “how-to” category from gardening to MLM marketing. Additionally,  a lot of document sharing tries to tout itself as self-published work.  Neither of these genres does anything to promote eBooks as a viable, credible publishing medium.

    However, if you can put those stereotypes aside I  believe you can see that eBooks have many advantages over paper books from the writer’s  and the reader’s perspective.

    1. eBooks are cheaper to produce:  This refers only to books that are only distributed electronically, (books that are both in paper and electronic versions don’t necessarily follow the same manufacturing P/L).  Therefore, the savings can and should be passed along to the Reader.  The lower production costs results in more authors being published.  Although, I don’t believe that works should be priced at free or next to free – writing is a profession and writers should be fairly compensated, thereby recognizing their contribution to society.  In addition, because of the lower costs of manufacturing, writers can and should receive a larger portion of sales as royalties.
    2. eBooks are portable: I am a big fan of multi-purpose devices and I like reading on my iPhone, a wonderful multi-tasking device.  I have my movies, music, email along with dozens of books – at all times.  Whether I’m flying somewhere or at the beach, I always have a nice selection of reading material with me.
    3. eBooks are environmentally friendly? Some tout the eco-friendly aspect of eBooks, however, I’ve found that most studies are still inconclusive on that topic.  Sure we save the trees that paper books are printed on and the disposal costs of the books.  But the manufacture of dedicated reading devices and their toxic innards might just negate the tree-savings.  That being said, I still feel good knowing that my previously read tomes aren’t moldering away in a landfill somewhere.
    4. eBooks are less exclusionary: Due to low production costs, more authors can get their books distributed without a huge investment.  More authors being published means more choices for readers and the fulfillment of the long tail of the industry.
    5. eBooks appeal to younger readers: Those of us 40 and over may be slow to adopt new technology, but younger readers are in tune and at ease with it.  As one YA author said to me, “This is how kids will read”.  And for her, being in a digital format might be necessary, not just a bonus.
    6. eBooks are here: Just as the book industry migrated from hardcovers to paperbacks, so too will it migrate eBooks.  Paper books won’t disappear, but they are another consumer option.

    Whether you consider yourself a fan of eBooks or not, you are an electronic reader – if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post. The idea of reading articles at our computers was completely foreign 20 years ago – not so much today.  Fast forward that trend, coupled with the light speed release of new reading hardware, and you’ll soon start seeing more people adopting the eBook as the ‘normal’ mode of reading.

    michelle halkert logo ireadiwrite
    Michelle Halket is the Creative Director for ireadiwrite Publishing, a digital small press that features writers of literary fiction, poetry and selected non-fiction across a variety of genres.  Their books are distributed to eBookstores worldwide and are available for purchase from their own site at ireadiwrite. If you would like to visit Michelle, click on the company logo above.

Ebook Schmeebook

Okay, so I got this brilliant idea that I should write a couple of ebooks. I thought, ‘How hard could it be?’ There are hundreds of books, ads, software applications, articles, etc. that tout the awesomeness and easiness of the ebook and I’m no slouch, so really how hard could it be? Every writer’s site I’ve ever visited and all the writer newsletters I get also hawk the ebook as a legitimate and easy format to sell your writer wares. Most of these sites even sell ebooks. And how convenient are they that they take up no space on your bookshelves, are completely transportable and have true nuggets of golden information. Again, how hard could it be?

Apparently, too hard for moi. First of all there is the issue of the software. There appear to be hundreds of different software applications used to create ebooks. I, being the naive writer I apparently am, thought it was simply a matter of converting a file to pdf format and off you went. Oh no, my friends, there are mysterious things called ebook compilers and html compilers and then there are covers and tables of contents, formatting for the various readers out there – Kindle (Amazon.com’s answer to the ebook reader) so lots of choices.

Although, being the broke writer that I am, trying at this point to conserve on every penny I have I went looking for the freeware compilers, thinking, again, ‘how hard could it be?’ And again, my pea-sized brain or maybe it’s just a 20th century brain and I’m not thinking sufficiently outside the box – could not get its wits wrapped around those either. Because then there are editing issues and protection issues and watermark issues and jeez louise I felt myself just spinning slowly off into space.

I have at this writing, downloaded three different free applications as well as a freeware office suite which is reportedly awesome (although I still can’t figure out how to paginate my document and after two hours gave up and took a nap) and had the function of writing ebooks. Well, I will grant that it does allow you to save a document in pdf format, however it doesn’t give you the function of going in and editing that document. So whatever formatting you need to do you need to do it before you convert it. And too, there is the matter of whether or not the formatting will translate in the conversion or if you’ll just end up with a mess of non-sensical characters in the middle of the manuscript… “Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhhhhh!” she said as she pulled out the remaining hair on her head.

I know life would be easier if I could just get the Adobe software, or something comparable but no can afford the $300-$500 pricetag – not anytime soon at least. I will just have to find a way to muddle through all the freeware out there and hope against hope I can actually produce something that resembles a book, eh?

Anybody out there have any suggestions (aside from quick acting poisons) on where to begin on the labyrinth of the Ebook universe? Even a little advice would be better than driving with my eyes closed, which is pretty much how it feels now. In others, help!!!!

No, seriously, any idea, suggestions or actual knowledge? Please share!!!