RISE OF THE DIBOR free today on Kindle

Been wanting to read RISE OF THE DIBOR but haven’t taken the leap? Then you can download it for free today on your Kindle-enabled device here.

Already have it? Please help me and re-Tweet or Facebook or Google+ or Instagram (pic?) it to your peeps:

RISE OF THE DIBOR is free today on Kindle! tinyurl.com/6r77dkm

Thanks readers!

ch:

Experimenting with KDP Select’s Free Promo Days

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Some of you on Twitter may have noticed a few tweets go out early in the morning announcing RISE OF THE DIBOR was on the Kindle for free.

It was all true.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has added a new program (“Select”), which allows ebooks to enter an exclusive 3-month minimum “borrowing library,” in which the readers get to borrow the books and the authors split a pot of funds.

It’s a great way to get titles circulating.

But KDP Select also allows you to promote each of your titles for free up five times during their 3-month stay. The catch is, you don’t make any money on sales during those particular days. So why would an author want to do that?

Perhaps a better question is, why wouldn’t an author want to do that?

After gleaning insights from numerous authors on the subject, I decided to commence a little experimenting of my own.

I pulled The White Lion Chronicles from all other retailers (part of KDP Select’s exclusivity policy), and have scheduled a few “free days” in the upcoming three months. Yesterday was merely an attempt at seeing how many downloads would be generated from being listed on Kindle’s free books page without any major marketing push on my end. Granted, in looking for a “control” in my experiment, I shouldn’t have tweeted anything; however I forget I’d previously scheduled a few tweets targeting a handful of free Kindle ebook Tweeters.

Oops.

How much traffic those tweets generated I’ll never know. Except I may or may not have another free ROTD coming up which I won’t be saying anything about (if in fact there was something to announce, which there may or may not be), in the hopes of comparing numbers.

Future free days lay ahead for all three books. And those will be accompanied with larger marketing campaigns, and yes, more Tweets.

What’s the logic behind giving books away for free when I could be making money off them?

Glad you asked.

I think it’s safe to say that by now most of my fans who wanted ATHERA’S DAWN, or any of the other books in the series, have already purchased them. They’ve been out for a few months either as a gorgeous print edition, or as a low-priced ebook available on all formats.

Yet the Kindle reading audience is in the millions.

Millions.

Yesterday ROTD went into the hands of about 1,000 people. Assuming there are a few fans of mine out there who haven’t pulled the trigger on the already low price of $2.99, most of those downloads are new people. And potentially new fans.

Two things happen:

1.) They start talking. If the book is truly good – and capitalism has a way of weeding out good from bad stories and good from bad writing – then it will spread. And so will future sales.

2.) The book’s ranking, ratings, and reviews have the potential to increase, all actions that beget more activity and get the book in more peoples’ hands.

I’m hoping the next big push gets free copies into the hands of thousands of readers – perhaps tens of thousands of readers. Because even then I have only begun to scratch the surface of just how many eyes are on the other side of a Kindle enabled reading device.

Keep your eyes peeled.

ch:

A Guide to Self-Publishing: Interior Design

Growing up I never gave a second thought to how a book looked on the inside. Wasn’t the expression about judging a book related to its cover?

While the cover certainly plays a large roll on catching someone’s eye, which we’ll discuss tomorrow, people spend all their time with the book and its interior. So how the book looks, reads and “feels” should be of immense importance to you as a creator.

Granted, a large portion of your layout construction will be for your print edition; your ebook edition is much simpler. And rightly so: by virtue of a digital book’s nature, page numbers are automatically assigned because scaling text size by the user makes them obsolete. And since e-readers at present emphasize “text only and limited pictures,” there’s no place for elaborate layouts – they just don’t translate well.

At least not yet.

We are quickly approaching the time of fully-immersive and feature-rich ebooks. Novels that could have mini-movies attached to particular paragraphs, picture galleries, bonus downloads, and music are all on the horizon; some of it is available as we speak.

But for now we’ll stick with basic novel formatting.

It’s interesting to note that I spend 10-times the amount of time formatting my print books which account for a fraction of my sales, and almost no time formatting my ebooks which account for almost all of my sales. But for those that are willing to pay the extra money for the “novelty” of having a print edition, you need to spend the time making the physical book look sharp. Happy customers will be return customers. And as print books increasingly become collectors editions and not general market commodities, the look and feel of them will likewise become more important than ever before. If there was ever any doubt that printing will become an extremely limited format (though never fully extinct I believe), this morning’s headline of Encyclopedia Britannica’s end of their 200-year-long print editions should wake you up.

There are two primary ways – and subsequently, applications – to format your book’s interior design: Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign. Yes, any text editor capable of generating a print-ready PDF can be used, but these are the two formats that are most widely available and supported.

Obviously Word is cheaper (probably already on your computer), has a small learning curve, and gives you limited control while still producing a solid finished product. InDesign is far more expensive but is a professional layout application giving you limitless control. If you’re not familiar with it, you’ll need to watch some tutorials, take a class, or ask your graphic design friends for help. But it produces the highest quality product.

While I use InDesign, I’ll demonstrate both for this tutorial.

My writing workflow starts in Scrivener, a fabulous text-editor-meets-epic-layout generator. It’s a writer’s best friend, and for Mac users you should just buy it today.

Once my book is complete, I assemble the chapters in Word and send to my editor with Track Changes enable as discussed yesterday. Once Sue has signed off on it, I dive into InDesign. If you’re staying in Word, your life just got a little easier as you’re very close to generating a finalized PDF from there.

The core decisions you need to make as an interior layout designer are:

1.) Deciding your book’s final dimensions and meeting the printer’s tolerances (or guidelines for how they accept print-ready files).

2.) What typeface and font size to use.

3.) The order of content (front matter, story, post-matter).

4.) Any branding or bells and whistles that set the book apart.

I’m going to recommend you use CreateSpace.com as your printer. Interestingly enough, they will also act as your order fulfillment processor (including returns), your ecommerce creator and manager, and your distributor. They will also help promote your titles in a foundational way. This all makes sense when you understand that CreateSpace is a subsidiary of Amazon. It’s in their best interest to make things as easy as possible for you; the more titles they can sell, the more money they make. And you make.

If you haven’t signed up for a CreateSpace account, do so now. It’s free, and it will make this tutorial much easier.

When you add a title (a book that you’re working and and want to get printed), you’ll be prompted to select a format size. Each has their own pros and cons, but one of the standard formats is 6×9″. This is what I use for my fiction works. Beefy, robust, striking and easy to hold, allowing for ample font size.

CreateSpace has free templates of all their formats as downloadable Word files. Here’s a sample you can download from me. They even have suggestions on step two, which is your content order. Again, they’re trying to help you get your books out there as it’s a mutually beneficial endeavor.

If you’re using a professional layout application like InDesign, they clearly tell you what bleeds you need to use. You can also add multiple layers of graphical content, specific page headers and footers, page numbering formats and positions, and virtually any other facet you want. This would also include my 4th point as listed above, which are branding emblems, icons and intricate details, codes, or riddles that you can lace throughout the manuscript. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s a screen shot of chapter 1 in Rise of the Dibor as seen in InDesign:

A huge note on bleeds for designers: CreateSpace suggests a 0.125″ bleed around outside edges. This is fairly standard in the print world. However, despite my multiple dialogues with them, it’s not a true 0.125″ bleed. With the grunge background on every page of The White Lion Chronicles, I was getting unprinted bars on the tops and bottoms of pages. While they refuse to change their values, you need to use a 0.250″ bleed, especially if you’re using images or backgrounds that go off the page.

Once your dimensions are set, you’re ready to start importing text and laying your books out.

For typefaces, I suggest experimenting. To the common eye, all typefaces are created equal. This is a gross error. Typefaces have a lot of power to communicate emotion and intensity (or lack thereof). Typefaces are picked deliberately and intentionally. Don’t make yours an accident. Here’s a great piece on the top 10 most beloved novel typefaces. I used Garamond for The White Lion Chronicles because it was contemporary enough that it wouldn’t be a distraction, but still had an old-world feel to it that fit with a fantasy theme. Too fancy and your reader will get annoyed without even knowing why; too plain and you might miss a great chance to add credibility to the essence of your story.

While you can lay your manuscript out any way you want – we’re self-publishing here – there are some standard rules of thumb that you should take into consideration. They’re proven, and the average reader is very used to them. Roughly, the most common order for interior layout is: book titles, author name, copyright page (including credits and the ISBN number), dedication, table of contents, forward (if any), main body, afterward, acknowledgements, author bio, advertising.

I’ve taken the liberty of showing you exactly what the first part of Rise of the Dibor looks like as a print ready PDF both as a Word.doc using CreateSpaces offset page setup (to account for left and right pages set in a glue binding), and as an InDesign file. While both are clean, print-ready versions of the same exact content, right away you’ll see a dramatic difference in InDesign’s ability to customize everything about the layout (which inherently demands a higher learning curve). Picking the right application will depend on your budget, time availability and capacity.

DOWNLOAD: Word – Rise of the Dibor FORMATTED 6 x 9 pgs1-2.pdf

DOWNLOAD: InDesign – Rise of the Dibor FORMATTED 6 x 9 pgs1-29.pdf

By the way, once everything is laid out – a process that usually takes me a few weeks – I send this PDF to my Proofies. It’s important that I make the manuscript as complete as I can possibly make it before it goes to them as I don’t want a lot happening to the book after their eyes have seen it. A lack of discipline here to follow a strict no-touch policy can lead to either a sloppy end product or an indefinite passing of PDFs to your Proofies; eventually they’ll get mad and stop reading. The point is, make sure you only send them something once.

From here you upload your PDF to CreateSpace into your respective project title. You still need to upload your finished cover design and fill out admin information, but you’re essentially halfway to seeing your first book in print.

The main reason I haven’t covered layout for ebooks is because formatting your Word or InDesign files for all the various e-formatting is merely repurposing your original files. We call it converting. And while there are whole mess of tutorials on how to format for ebooks, you won’t find it here. I spent the better part of a month researching it and finally decided I didn’t have the time or capacity. That’s when Wayne Thomas Batson found StreetlightGraphics.com and I fell in love with Gelndon and Tabatha Haddix. They were able to take my InDesign files and convert them to all the various e-formats that support Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony eReaders, iBooks, and PDFs. For less than $60/title (a fraction of the cost that Kindle Direct Publishing wanted for just Kindle conversion), I was able to publish to every format currently available. You want my advice? Don’t mess with it. Email Streetlight.

We’ll talk about the legalities and nuances of publishing through CreateSpace in two days, followed by publishing your digital books; tomorrow I’ll go over cover design. ch:

Thanksgiving Day Surprise

UPDATE 11.25: I’m letting my followers read every chapter of Athera’s Dawn right here on my blog.

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The White Lion Chronicles

2004-2011

I can hardly believe I’m writing this. Athera’s Dawn is finished, and available. For the first time since the books were conceived, the Chronicles are now as a complete trilogy.

And what better day than Thanksgiving to announce this on. I woke up at 6am this morning to the email saying the books were ready to order.

I am so incredibly thankful to God for granting me the opportunity to pen these manuscripts, planting the ideas and the creativity deep with in my spirit to such an extent that they would not let go, even in the darkest of times.

I’m thankful to my wife and children for allowing giving me the freedom to write, even when it meant I had to spend long hours disconnected from them. Even now, Luik is sitting beside me on the couch, the first one up in the house.

I’m thankful for you, my faithful readers, many of whom have been waiting for this end as long as I have. I appreciate you. Long ago I decided that I was writing for your benefit, not mine, only to keep you bound in the doldrums and anticipation. For that I am sorry. But today, I have an answer:

Yes, book three is available!

So please enjoy it. Savor it. Buy copies for family, your friends, and help me spread the word. (If tweeting about it, please use the hashtag #TWLC). My hope is it’s the conclusion the story was asking for, and that brings you, my readers, a much needed end.

Lastly, I’m thankful to the people who helped me assembled, clean-up, and preset these books in the way they deserve to be. They are thanked at length in the completed editions, so you can read their names for yourself.

Without further ado, SpearheadBooks is pleased to present The White Lion Chronicles in their completion: Rise of the Dibor, The Lion Vrie, and Athera’s Dawn.

It is done. ch:

CLICK ON THE COVERS TO READ MORE AND BUY:


Self-Publishing Update & CreateSpace eStore

Whatever time I lost working on my books in August, I’m making up for now. I spent a number of hours on a binge-formatting streak last night, knocking out 481 pages and 41 chapters of The Lion Vrie; my Proofies should be receiving it in less than 14 hours as I finish up my “From the Author” segment.

I wanted to share some of my self-publishing experiences with you in those hopes that other would-be authors will be inspired at publishing their own books.

As most of my readers know, I have cordially parted ways with my legacy (or traditional) publishers for the frontier of self-publishing. Reasons being: maintain 100% creative control, faster turn-around time of books, higher royalties on both print and ebooks, ease and feasibility of restriction-free social marketing, and the fact that it’s the author who generates and maintains a fan base – not the publisher (ie marketing).

In prepping Rise of the Dibor, Book 1 of The White Lion Chronicles, I made a list of most of the major tasks I encountered along the way:

1.) Resurrected the original Word.doc manuscript, made sure it was as clean and presentable as I could make it.

2.) Scouted and secured a freelance editor, Sue Kenney, negotiating a contract for all three books based upon my satisfaction of a sample editing of 5 chapters. (She’s fantastic).

3.) Researched the present field of POD (Print On Demand) and ebook formatting businesses; settled on Amazon’s CreateSpace as offering the most consistent and professional services, as well as being the giant in print and ebook distribution. Setting up an account is free, and there are no upfront costs. Aside from electing a few of their services (2 of which I describe below), you could easily upload your interior and exterior PDFs and publish a book completely free.

4.) Began work on cover design. Developed numerous covers myself, and asked a few friends to submit ideas, too. Finally settled on a design submitted by Christopher & Allan Miller. Gave them permission to go ahead and do the full spreads of all three books. It’s been a fun collaborative process. The stellar series logo was done by Jason Clement.

5.) Once the corrected manuscript was returned (using Track Changes feature in Word), I forwarded a PDF version to my Proofies. I sent them a fun introductory email, and gave them 7 days to send me edits via email.

6.) Realizing that having 10+ people send you corrections and suggestions – a large portion overlapping – is a lot of data to process, my friend Nathan Reimer suggested I set up a GoogleDoc spreadsheet for Proofies to submit changes to in real-time, not bothering to post duplicates, and allowing me to post questions if need be. It’s worked like a charm and saved many hours of work for me.

7.) Midway through this process, it became apparent that Adobe’s InDesign would be a better application to format a novel in. The control is far greater, but as a result, so is the learning curve. Allan and Jason both helped a great deal with tutoring me.

8.) I used CreateSpace’s handy “help” features to get the exact specs for my book (I chose a fairly standard 6″x9″), which included template generators for the cover (takes into account the estimated number of pages for the width of the spine), and a sample interior Word template (which I obviously did without once we went with creating an InDesign template).

9.) The brand new (and super cool) interior PDF was then resubmitted to my Proofies for a read through, mostly focusing on formatting issues. Again, the GoogleDoc spreadsheet helped facilitate this very smoothly.

10.) I made finishing touches to the final cover spread, and uploaded a CMYK jpeg to CreateSpace’s step-by-step processing path.

11.) A number of final improvements were made to the general formatting of the manuscript, including a quick phone call to CreateSpace’s outstanding customer support line, and it was officially submitted earlier today.

12.) I set up the “marketing channel” selections in CreateSpace, which included creating your own eStore for your books. I was able to design and upload a custom header and background with some trial and error (shown above). You easily set the price of the print book (based on figures they calculate on how much your book will be to produce), and then select what venues you want the book published to, from Amazon.com to retail stores to schools and non-profits. I’ll be rolling out the eStore announcement as soon as the print version of ROTD is proofed and put into production by CreateSpace.

13.) The two services I’ve decide pay for are CreateSpace’s Pro Plan (one time $39/title, $5/per year) which gives you a higher percentage, lower book cost when ordering your own copies, and gets it into more retail stores. I’m also paying $69 to have CreateSpace do all the Kindle formatting for me (as that’s another learning curve I just don’t have the time for; plus, they are Kindle, so they’re going to get it right the first time). I anticipate the ebook version to come about 2 weeks after the print version is ready.

Feel free to ask me any specific questions below; I’ll be sure to answer you as best I can.

Last but not least, the formation of Spearhead Books transpired somewhere in this creative mess. Lots of phone calls, Skyping, emails, and tweets were exchanged by who are now the founding members of Spearhead: Christopher & Allan Miller, Wayne Thomas Batson, and yours truly. We prefer to think of ourselves as a post-publisher.

Now off to write that section from the author. ch:

TWLC Update

Here’s an excerpt of an email I sent to my Proofies yesterday:

Out of courtesy to you, I feel I should explain that my lack of communication, the impetus of which stemmed from three primary issues:

1.) A global switch from Microsoft Word to Adobe InDeisgn as primary layout application. Because InDesign is so much more elaborate, and I’ve never used it before, the learning curve alone set me back a few weeks. I must have gone over nearly every page of [ROTD] no less than 20 times. Working with the Miller brothers also meant that I had to cater to certain time limitations on their part.

2.) Three weeks ago I suffered a herniated disc (an old injury revisited) which literally knocked me off my feet, unable to sit in one position for more than a few minutes. The prescribed medication made me fuzzy, and far from able to keep track of the details needed for a 300+ page manuscript. (Please keep me in prayer as I’m not out of the woods yet).

3.) Summer kicked in. Frankly, many mornings and nights I did not want to even touch my computer to work on much of anything. As most of you know who follow my blog, my pace is pretty intense. So I allowed myself days off.

Needless to say, I’m back at it, feeling stronger physically, mentally, and with a better handle on InDesign.

I’ve finished my editor’s changes to TLV, and I’m beginning work on formatting it in InDesign; yes, hopefully it will be much faster now that I have a stronger handle on the application. I’m anticipating this to take about 2 weeks, [before it’s ready for the Proofies’ review]. While you’re busy going through TLV and searching for changes, I’ll be editing and formatting the long awaited AD.

In an effort to offer my loyal readers at least something date-wise, I’d say ROTD will be for sale in early September, TLV in late September, and AD in late October, though this is not concrete. Your sincere patience means the world to me. ch:

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ROTD Update: InDesign

Rise of the Dibor has had a week-long delay, but for good reason.

While I was using MS Word to lay out the interior design, it’s a fairly limited program (even 2011). Having experienced many of the same frustrations I was, Chris & Allan Miller of Spearhead suggested I try using InDesign instead, and Allan took the lead in creating a template we could use for all our future books, not just mine. Then Jason Clement further tweaked it and gave me a crash-course on InDesign last night during a summer gathering at our place. The tutorial was challenging, and stretched my brain a little, but super fun once I learned how powerful of a tool it is.

All of their labors will allow for a much better product, and at this point I want to make sure it’s done right. Looking for the final product to hit presses by week’s end. ch:

What’s a skill you recently picked up? Who taught you, and how did it make you feel?

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Rise of the Dibor Cover Art

So as you probably read from yesterday’s news about Spearhead Books, things are getting exciting for our tribe in the post-publishing world.

But you also probably saw a glimpse of Rise of the Dibor’s cover. So I thought I’d give you a little clearer look today.

There are a few more tweaks to be made, but this will at least give you a solid idea of what’s to come.

While I originally thought a warrior (a Dibor) should be on the cover, the whole reason the Dibor were formed was to confront the Dairne-Reih. The Miller Bros took this to a other level by suggesting that a statue-like figurine, eluding to legendary history, be center stage. And so a stone Dairneag was decided upon as the best fit for Book I.

I like the change-up from the first edition in 2006, which was more classically romantic, and think it brings a fierceness and intensity to the cover that it lacked perviously.

I owe a big thanks to Chris & Allen Miller for the concept design, and Jason Clement for the TWLC logo branding.

With the interior design getting wrapped up today, and the cover tomorrow, I’m hoping Amazon’s CreateSpace gives me a ship date by late next week.

Again, thanks for your patience gang. Enjoy the torture a little more; it’s almost done. ch:

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The White Lion Chronicles: eBook Editions

2007. That is the year I left readers on the edge of a precipice. And I’m only surprised they don’t loathe me more.

So you can only imagine how good I feel saying this (almost as good as my readers must feel!):

I’m personally re-releasing The White Lion Chronicles Books I & II as second edition ebooks, and Book III as a first edition ebook.

When my contract with Tsaba House expired, the publishing rights reverted back to me. And just as I’ve replied to hundreds of emails and FaceBook message and tweets, I’ve been looking for a mutually beneficial traditional print contract. But over the course of the last year, the publishing market has changed so dramatically that self-publishing – once an insult – has become the smartest option, by far. In fact, I can’t imagine looking for a legacy publishing deal ever again.

Editing and proof reading are just about to start on all three books, and cover designs are already in the mock-up phase. My plan right now is to release Rise of the Dibor first, followed a few weeks later by The Lion Vrie, and ending with the long-awaited Athera’s Dawn. All three ebooks will be available via digital retailers with an anticipated price point of just $2.99. If I can lower the price even more, I will.

So to all my fans who have stayed so loyal over the years, c’symia. ch:

Book News

Just wanted to give everyone some quick book related news.

First off, if you’ve been following my Book III Word Counter to the right, you’ll notice I’m officially over my set goal of 100,000 words! Yeah–feels pretty good. That’s a lot of hours. This comes after a long break of not writing followed by a massive push inspired by numerous friends and many fans. I’m about two chapters away from completing the book at which point it will go off for cleaning to my Bookies and then to the publisher for final editing and internal design.

Secondly, I was just informed that The Lion Vrie has been nominated for the Pluto Award over at Yellow30scifi. I feel very fortunate to be one of the nominations as the Pluto Award is unlike any of the regular awards out there. The publisher or author cannot nominate it. Only the reviewers from Yellow30scifi submit the nominations so, it’s a real big honor that both Rise of The Dibor (last year) was nominated and Lion Vrie this year!

Lastly, for those of you wishing to meet some of the new authors on this fall’s Fantasy Fiction Tour, make sure to head on over to the website and read up on our new cast of characters. Everyone is taking turns posting bios, interviews, and answering peoples’ comments.

CH