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Amazon Is So Yesterday!

 

Despite the fact that author Megan Lisa Jones’ new novel, Captive, is available on Amazon for $9.99, the tech savvy author has decided to tap into BitTorrent’s 100 million users. She is running a 2 week promotion where you can download the book for free.

Click here to get the scoop.

 

 

Rooting Out Malware

This isn’t the kind of post I normally do, but I figured if you have a computer, you’ll most likely have computer problems too. Stop Badware (recommended by mozilla.org) looks like a good website to go to when you’re having malware (malicious sofware) problems.

Another site I’ve used for years is Cnet. Safe, reliable. Whenever I need free anti-spyware or anti-virus, I head here. I recently download a free version of Norton’s Anti-virus software from here.

Categories: Resources for Writers

Stephanie Meyer’s Advice For Writers

From the author of the Twilight Series:

Categories: Resources for Writers

GUEST BLOG: Gargi Mehra on Short fiction Markets

January 31, 2011 1 comment

Where do I put my shorts?

If you’re anything like me, the first time you finished up a piece of short fiction, you asked yourself, ‘Where can I send this stuff?’

The answer to that question is: plenty of places. The internet will throw up a slew of markets where you can submit your fiction, but how do you dig up the places best suited to your story? Here are a few of the resources you should use to locate the best home for your piece:

Duotrope.com: This is the one-stop shop for all things fiction. It serves as the ultimate resource for writers who want to search a market for their fiction. You can specify the genre, sub-genre, literary style, word count, and even whether you are looking for high-paying or low-paying markets.

One of the highlights of Duotrope is that response times are detailed out for each magazine, as also their acceptance and rejection rates. Duotrope has risen to such high levels of popularity as a referral source that most magazines encourage their contributors to refer their response times to Duotrope.

Ralan.com: Targeted specifically towards humorous and speculative fiction, Ralan.com has proved an invaluable resource over the years. This site too lists response times for each magazine.

NewPages.com: In addition to market listings it also provides reviews of literary magazines.

When you finally do zero in on a list of markets that suit your work, do take a moment to read the current and past issues which are almost always available online. Reading a few pieces might give you an idea of where best your work will fit.

Gargi Mehra is a software engineer by profession, but a writer at heart. Despite the best efforts of her family and friends, she writes humor pieces in a determined effort to unite the two sides of the brain in cerebral harmony. Her fiction has appeared in Everyday Fiction  and Six Sentences. She blogs at http://gargimehra.wordpress.com/

GUEST BLOG: Terry Hayman

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Guest blog: Terry Hayman

Avoid or fix the most common e-book formatting problems

If you’re just getting into the e-book game, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered some problems with getting your work to appear the way you want it to in e-book form. And while there are a bunch of “How to” guides out there that go into great detail, unless you’re doing something really tricky like forcing a particular font, or inserting columns, pictures, etc. into your text, getting a cleanly-formatted e-book is easier than you think.

Biggest rule is keep it simple. Use Microsoft Word as your creation/preparation tool. If you’re a Microsoft hater (I personally prefer WordPerfect to Word), use it anyway. The e-publishing tools of Smashwords, Amazon, and Pubit! (Barnes & Noble) are all designed to work with Word documents. Yes, they’ll take other stuff too, but unless you’re a tech-head who’s into HTML and such, stick with Word.

Now, take that manuscript that has been created or ported into Word and strip out anything but the basic text done in Times New Roman 12-point. (You could instead choose another standard font like Arial. Doesn’t matter. When you put it through the Amazon or other uploaders, they’ll switch it to their own preferred font.) You can include italics, forced page breaks, and paragraph first line indenting and 1.5 line spacing selected via the Paragraph’s Indents and Spacing setup.

Take out all tabs, headers or footers, page numbers, underlines, section breaks. Oh, and don’t use more than four paragraph returns at one time because it can end up giving you an entire blank screen on an e-reader.

All these rules and a few less common ones (like how to insert pictures, chapter points, hyperlinks, etc.) can be found in the free Smashwords style guide if you want to pick your way through the process point by point, but if you’ve done the basics listed above, when you upload your book the formatting should be fine 90% of the time.

But wait! You’re not done yet. You need to check your work.

With Smashwords and Pubit!, you can download an epub file into your e-reader or a program on your computer which can read epub and check for errors. For Amazon, before you go to the second screen on Amazon’s publish site, click on Preview Your Work. Go through at least five or six pages and you’ll catch the most common errors that show up, namely weird symbols for smartquotes and weird indents when you have multiple short paragraphs for things like dialogue.

When I get weird symbols, I usually fix them in Word itself by copying and pasting the offending quotation mark or whatever into the “find” of Find and Replace, where it will show its true form. Then I put the proper symbol into “replace” and do the switches. (But be careful about doing an indiscriminate “replace all” if the symbol is something common like a capital A!)

For weird indents I’ve found I have to, from Amazon’s “preview” screen, download the HTML.  Take note of what the to-be-downloaded file is called so you can find it later. It downloads as a zip file, though it may not be identified as such. You need to unzip it, then put it into an HTML editor that lets you see the actual HTML (there are some free ones available online, but I use Microsoft’s ExpressionWeb), find the offending code that shows up just before the bad indents, and do a search and replace, changing that bad indent code to one of the good indents code strings you’ll find before a properly indented paragraph. Then save your corrected file, re-zip it, and re-upload it to Amazon. Again check the preview and everything should be fine.

(Note: Some friends of mine have recommended instead that you convert the file to .mobi format via a plugin Amazon offers for InDesign if you happen to have that program. Others say run your work through Smashwords, which tends to fix some of the problems and then download the .mobi version of your work and upload it to Amazon. The latter technique, Smashwords notes on its site, may bring about bad karma since you’re essentially using their formatting work to upload to a competing distributor.)

If all the HTML and .mobi stuff sounds too difficult to deal with, remember that the formatting problems should only happen on a few of your e-books and, as long as you tell a great story, most e-readers will forgive a few formatting errors.

Don’t let fear of formatting stop you from getting into this game.

You can learn as you go. You can go back and fix errors if you discover them later. Remember that, unlike traditional print publishing, this is a long-term play you’re making. Your books will not go out onto shelves for only one month to a year and sink or swim. You have decades for your book to find its audience.  Decades for it to earn its keep and communicate your great story to the world.

So do the best you can. Get help if you need it. Keep learning and growing. But get your stuff up there!

About the Author

Terry Hayman is a former lawyer, actor, and professional speaker who now writes full time in North Vancouver, BC. He’s actively working with Fiero Publishing to make his novel Chasing the Minotaur, his backlist of published stories, and some exciting new fiction available as e-books. You can visit his blog for some regular story ideas as well as other thoughts on the writing life.

HYPERLINKS (in case you need to add them in manually)

Terry Hayman http://www.terryhayman.com

Fiero Publishing http://www.fieropublishing.com

Chasing the Minotaur http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-the-Minotaur-ebook/dp/B004D4ZPL8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&m=AZC9TZ4UC9CFC&s=digital-text&qid=1295400988&sr=8-3

stories http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=terry+hayman&x=0&y=0

blog http://www.terryhayman.com/blog

Writing related free newsletter

December 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Shelf Awareness has is a free e-mail newsletter dedicated to helping people in the book industry make decisions about buying, selling and lending books. I find it useful to sign up to a few newsletters to keep track of what’s going on.

Categories: Resources for Writers

Resources for Writers

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment
  • Publishers Weekly has a  lot of free, useful information on writing and publishing.
  • Manuscript Formatting by John Gregory Betancourt. Guide to formatting short stories and novels from the wonderful Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website.
  • Resource Central Educational Directory This site provides extensive links to reference sites from Rheumatoid Arthritis to Hobbies to Home Improvement. Good reference site.
  • The Author’s Guild. From their blurb: the published writer’s advocate for effective copyright, fair contracts, and free expression. They help build customizable websites for authors, help with book contracts and so on. The paid membership gets you more, of course, but there is free stuff on their site too.
Categories: Resources for Writers