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Friday, June 29, 2012

Warm review of TUPAIA

Great review in LANDFALL

Nicholas Reid, a very experienced and highly regarded reviewer, has produced a thorough and thoughtful review of Tupaia, the Remarkable Story of Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator for this iconic literary magazine.

"Our post-colonial age acknowledges that Europeans have often taken credit for things that were none of their doing," he begins, going on to say, "Thus the aims of Joan Druett's handsome book will not surprise us."

However, "The most remarkable thing about this solidly researched book, even as it wears its learning lightly, is its even-handed anthropology ... her speculation is intelligent, honest, credible, and drawn from good sources ...

"As I read and enjoyed sympathetic and vivid descriptions of pre-European life and customs in Tupaia: the Remarkable Story of Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator, I understood how much intelligent and responsible inference these involved too."

He also warmly commends the design of the book, saying,  "This is a nicely presented, solid, square-set piece of hardback book production, well-illustrated with maps, charts, portraits and a generous selection of Tupaia's own artworks ... With its wide margins surrounding blocks of text, it is a pleasure to hold it open."

Ladies' Litera-Tea in Ponsonby

Are you ready to self-publish?

How can you tell if your book is finished and ready to go?

This is a question posed by blogger and Guardian writer Damien G. Walter, who has produced (or postulated) a checklist, called "7 signs you are ready to self-publish."

In essence, this is how I read these tips, along with the pitfalls that I see in some of them:

1. Do you have a great High Concept?

His example for this is the mega-seller The Da Vinci Code, which might not have been well-written, but had a High Concept.  Dan Brown didn't need to write well, Damien argues, because his concept was ready and waiting for an ad-style presentation.  It was the Idea that sold the Book to willing millions.  But surely the aim of book writing is to entertain and inform?  There are thousands of worthy books published that don't rely on the wow factor.

2. Have you practised your writing skills for at least ten thousand hours?

This, it seems, is the empirical figure reached by a guru who believes that practice makes perfect. Personally, I believe that natural talent plays a large part, too, and that there are people out there who will never be able to write well, no matter how hard they try.  However, I do agree that hundreds of hours have to be devoted to polishing to make a decent book.

3. Have you subjected your book to serious criticism?

And this does not mean showing your effort to friends and family.

In my view, this is a major advantage that traditional publishing has over Indie publishing -- that an experienced editor has worked with your book.  A developmental editor is a particularly valuable asset -- a man or woman who loves your book, but who says at the same time that it needs a lot of work, and who is willing and eager to go over the rewriting process with you.

So it is probably a very good idea to send your manuscript to an assessor, who will tell you if it is worth hiring a freelance editor.  But all assessors and editors are human, and humans make mistakes ... And we've all heard stories of books that have been turned down by dozens, to go on to bestselling status.

4. Are you well-read in your genre?

Knowing your subject is definitely a necessity.  The hidden hazard of obsessively reading a genre, though, is that you can finish up emulating, instead of writing in your own voice.  Harlequin and Mills & Boon editors, for instance, get very tired of reading manuscripts that are just imitations of their most popular authors.

5. Do you have promotional tools ready?

Or, as Damien phrases it, do you have a platform?  Facebook pages, blogs, and lots of activity on twitter help to let the world know that you have made the plunge and self-published.  So it is a good idea to have that all set up and swinging along well before that book comes out.

An excellent tip, in my opinion.

6. Are you ready to spend money?

This is really an extension of tip # 3. Damien recommends saving the capital to pay an assessor and then hire a professional editor.  And then, of course, there is the expense involved in promoting your book on various sites, such as those that will review your book, for a fee.

7. Are you ready?

This is what is known in debating circles as a "peroration" -- not so much a tip as a repeat of his original premise.

Which is thought-provoking, definitely, and valuable, too.  But is it too depressing?  Is it likely to discourage prospective Indie writers to the extent that they spend the rest of their lives tinkering with their books, instead of diving into publication?

Amazon to acquire defunct Dorchester

Unless, of course, you outbid them first

Richard Curtis, on Digital Book World, comments that Amazon's bid for the bankrupt publisher is good news for writers and agents.

After a long illness -- he says -- Dorchester Books has finally succumbed, a victim of the digital revolution to which the mass market paperback publisher could not adapt.

But if authors and agents read the fine print in today’s “Notice of Public Disposition” they will find the following phrase: “Secured Party will foreclose its security interest in and sell at public auction as a single unit through Garfunkel Wild, P.C., to Amazon Publishing, or such other higher and/or better bidder as may prevail at auction…”

And a little further down is the good news that authors and agents who had despaired of recovering royalties from the sinking publisher will be made whole by Amazon: ” All publication contacts regarding certain literary works (collectively, the “Works”) and related outbound license agreements of DP (collectively, the “Contracts”), subject to the purchaser negotiating certain amendments with the authors of the Works in exchange for payment by Amazon Publishing of the full amount of back royalties that DP indicates is owed to those authors as of May 31, 2012…”

Read the press release

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

Beware of men who cry.

It's true that men who cry are sensitive to and in touch with their feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be sensitive to and in touch with are their own.

-- Writer and film-maker Nora Ephron, who has recently passed away.

The cat with the magnetic collar

I was told a highly amusing cat story today

The tale-spinner told me that his cat has a magnetic collar which works the cat flap, theoretically stopping alien cats from invading the house.  The trouble, he said, is that the magnet picks up other things. Such as paper clips.

The cat is a menace when he is typing, as it roams about his desk, gathering a daisy chain of paper clips as it weaves back and forth.  Worse still is when it gets into his wife's dressmaking materials, and picks up an armory of pins.  The pins, it seems, stick to the collar by the head, so the cat ends up with a necklace of protruding prickles hidden in its fur.

I guess that is credible enough.  There are a couple of funny YouTube postings out there, one with a cat stuck to a tuna tin, and another fighting to detach itself from its metal food bowl.

But the tale-spinner was enjoying himself too much, I think -- because the next story was about hearing a lot of cat noise while driving off down the road.  He stopped, he said, and investigated.  And there was his cat stuck by his collar to his metal trailer.

But it was worth a good laugh, even if I didn't believe it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Those stylish grandmothers

It started with a blog 

"My name is Ari Seth Cohen," says the writer, a photographer.

Ari roams the streets of New York looking for stylish and creatively dressed grandmothers.  Capturing women as old as 100 – who, in the words of one model, "challenge stereotypical views on age and ageing'" – is obviously a labor of love.  And now the images have now been brought together in a book.

Launched as a lavish hardback at the end of May, Advanced Style is now roaring up the Amazon ratings, and reaping huge interest from fashion magazines.  This even includes the sedate upper-class UK mag, The Lady, which raves that the "remarkable images" prove that "beauty really DOES improve with age." 

Tired of looking at fashion photographs of skinny teenagers in ridiculous frills?  You will adore these images of "gorgeous grandmothers" who refuse to take the advancing years seriously. As Ari says himself, "Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age."

Featured: one of the most adorable pix from his blog.  And Ari Seth Cohen himself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Prisoners reduce sentences by reading books

Brazil offers inmates in its crowded federal penitentiary system a novel way to shorten their sentences:

They will serve four days less for every book they read.

As an ex-English teacher, I think this idea is wildly optimistic, but it would be lovely if it worked.

Reuters reports that inmates in four federal prisons holding some of Brazil's most notorious criminals will be able to read up to 12 works of literature, philosophy, science or classics to trim a maximum 48 days off their sentence each year, the government announced.

Prisoners will have up to four weeks to read each book and write an essay which must "make correct use of paragraphs, be free of corrections, use margins and legible joined-up writing," said the notice published on Monday in the official gazette.

A special panel will decide which inmates are eligible to participate in the program dubbed "Redemption through Reading".

"A person can leave prison more enlightened and with a enlarged vision of the world," said Sao Paulo lawyer Andre Kehdi, who heads a book donation project for prisons.

"Without doubt they will leave a better person," he said.

(Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Curtseying rules updated

Royal Etiquette has been Rewritten

According to the Daily Telegraph (UK), the Queen has updated the Order of Precedence in the Royal Household to take into account the Duke of Cambridge’s wife.

The new rules of Court make it clear that the former Kate Middleton, when she is not accompanied by Prince William, must curtsy to the “blood princesses”, the Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, and the daughters of the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

When William is with her, Kate does not need to bend the knee to either of them, but she must curtsy to the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

A document is said to have been circulated privately in the Royal Household, clarifying Kate’s status. When the Order was last updated, after Prince Charles’s second marriage, in 2005, the Countess of Wessex was reported to be upset that she now had to curtsy to Camilla. “She didn’t like it one bit,” a senior courtier was quoted as saying.

The etiquette of curtseying (and bowing, no doubt) is taken very seriously by the Royal family, whose members bow and curtsy to each other in public and in private. A vivid illustration came after the Trooping the Colour ceremony last weekend, when Kate could be seen curtsying to Prince Philip on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

The Order of Precedence affects other aspects of royal protocol, such as who arrives first at an event. For example, Camilla was forced to wait in the drizzle outside the Guards Chapel, Windsor, for the arrival of Princess Anne at a memorial service in 2006, because Charles had not accompanied her.

Read the full story
It reminds me of a cute story told by Rose de Freycinet, the vivacious wife of a French discoverer, who sneaked on board in male attire so she could accompany her beloved Louis about the world.  On a remote tropical island, she recorded that the natives shrieked with laughter every time the ship's officers bowed and raised their hats as they encountered each other on the beach.

No doubt the French elegants found the natives' manners and customs equally amusing...

The Road to Panem

The Hunger Games -- a guest post from America

If you have not read The Hunger Games, do yourself a favor and give it a go (note: I’ve yet to see the movie so I can’t comment on how well it tracks the book). You may not like the fantasy genre, you may think YA (“Young Adult”, ages 13 + up, for those who don’t know the parlance of the book business) fiction is too unsophisticated for your tastes. Or maybe you don’t like to read. Whatever. Read it anyway, because whether you like it or not you’ll find yourself wondering how the hell did these fictional people end up in that level of misery. And that, my dears, is one of the points of the story.

    Collins gives some hints of the back story throughout all three books of the trilogy, but she does not necessarily draw a bright line. She shows us the end result, hints at the conflicts that gave rise to Panem, but in the end leaves it to the reader to infer the connection between real life and the fiction.
As well she should have in the tradition of dystopian fiction in both written and visual media. The dramatic tension is in the unveiling of the fictional world and the struggles of the characters to overcome the burdens of dystopian life. The final resolution of the trilogy in Mockingjay is the thing we live for as readers; like the destruction of Parliament in V for Vendetta, we find satisfaction when we see the characters we care about tear the dystopia down. But it’s the realization that a society can more easily fall down a rat hole than it can preserve democratic and social justice principles that drives writers to imagine dystopia, and both fascinates and horrifies readers (or listeners/viewers in non-text media).

We are very much on the road to Panem right now. Leaving aside for the moment the most obvious contemporary parallel to the Games – reality TV and its occasional flirtation with snuff genre (ever watched Deadliest Catch?) – many aspects of our social fabric as showing signs of devolving in something we never intended.

Re-published by permission of the author, who writes under the name of Sagebrush Grouse

This opinion piece has appeared in Daily Kos, and been reprinted in JTown and Community Spotlight.

In the 24 hours since publication, it has attracted 20+ comments.

Ladies' Litera-Tea

TUPAIA Featured in Literary Event Sponsored by Women's Bookstore, Auckland

Sunday 19 August 1PM to 5PM

Participating authors in the 19 August event:

Emily Perkins, acclaimed author of The Forrests; Kim Evans from the famous cafe & book Little & Friday; Tina Grenville with her autobiography A Life in Three Acts; Joanne Drayton with The Search for Anne Perry (the international crime writer who is Juliet Hulme of Christchurch matricide fame); Mary Edmond-Paul on Robin Hyde; Joan Druett with the brilliant story of Tupaia, Cook’s Polynesian navigator; Hannah McQueen on finance; Tina Grenville with A Life in Three Acts; and three authors from Victoria University Press in Wellington – poets Helen Heath and Lynn Davidson, and novelist Gigi Fenster with her brilliant debut The Intentions Book.

New Zealand's food-focus criticized in Germany

All literary New Zealand was abuzz at the news that our country was to be the guest of honor at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair, and the Germans seemed pleased, too.

Has disillusionment set in?

The focus is on cookbooks, a major German newspaper complains.

The presence at the world’s most important festival appears to “all revolve around food and drink”, writes Andreas Platthaus in the highbrow Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

Platthaus, a comics expert whose works include a biography of Walt Disney, writes:

Scores of the 100 expected new translations will be travel books and cookbooks. This is just what the New Zealand government has in mind. The speech of the deputy ambassador to Germany, Lisa Futschek, gave us a taste of this: not a word about literature, it all revolved around food and drink in New Zealand.

There could be a point in this: celebrity chefs and cookbook authors Al Brown, Robert Oliver, Charles Royal, Peter Gordon and Annabel Langbein are all prominently featured.

Platthaus goes on to complain that Futschek did not speak as much of a word of Maori in unveiling the New Zealand contingent for the October event.

We’ll learn a smattering of Maori at the book fair this autumn, that’s for sure. But will the host country’s program succeed in conveying to visitors the seriousness of its cultural message, beyond just the allure of the exotic?

We’ve certainly become more open to new forms of storytelling in recent years. But at a book fair it’s books that count.

But at least the visitors might learn the Maori word for "food" -- kai.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More records broken by erotic bestseller

Erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has continued its success in the UK, after breaking the weekly paperback sales record.

EL James' book sold 205,130 copies last week, some 64,000 copies more than the previous record set by Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol in July 2010.

The author has also become the first to have two or more books sell in excess of 100,000 copies in the same week.

The trilogy has so far sold some 2.75m digital and print copies in the UK.

Figures show that James' debut, already cited as the fastest-selling book of the year, has now sold 765,000 copies in two months.

As a comparison, Brown's The Da Vinci Code, previously the biggest-selling paperback of all time, took six months to achieve the same sales figure.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Publishing Your Novel on Kindle

ePublishing posts now on a separate blog

Those who have been following my posts of hints of how to publish your novel on Kindle don't need to bookmark anymore.

I have transferred all the posts, in descending order (so they make more sense) on a newly built blog:

Kindle Publishing Hints

Hope this proves helpful. 

Kia ora (good luck)

So you think you can write a romance?

You now have a chance to work at it under the eye of an expert

Harlequin And Mills & Boon have launched a Global Writing Contest with a Publishing Contract as the Prize

A free 24/7 online conference, So You Think You Can Write will take place September 17–21, 2012 and will be the first event to combine the strength of the publisher's two iconic brands—Harlequin (North America) and Mills & Boon (Europe, Australia and Africa), taking advantage of an international presence and audience.
Last week, Harlequin, a leading publisher of books for women, and Mills & Boon, their international romance imprint, announced the inauguration of a global English-language writing contest that offers aspiring authors the chance to win a publishing contract.

It's a huge opportunity, which allows aspiring writers to spend a week with over 50 Harlequin and Mills & Boon editors from around the world.  And don't think you're ineligible because you don't live in North America, Europe, or Australia -- it's a worldwide contest, completely international.

But you will need a completed manuscript to enter the contest.

So boot up your computer and get going.

And hit the website (link embedded in the first paragraph).  Harlequin/Mills & Boon is ramping up for the big event by providing the ambitious romance writer with the tools needed to write a story that will get the author noticed by the largest publisher of romance fiction in the world.

In advance of the September event there will be a constant flow of writing tips, insider information, and inspiration to help you whip that manuscript into fabulous shape!  And here are a couple of links to get that creative blood flowing:

And good luck from me.

The Unpopular Librarian

Whoops, the wrong distributor ...

Nancy Pearl, the author of the bestseller "Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Reason," may be America's most beloved librarian. There is even an action figure of her, pictured above.

She is now in strife, however.  Indeed, she is a walking example of the best intentions being the path to hell. Pearl, a lifelong book recommender, thought that developing a book imprint of her own was an excellent idea. That imprint is titled Book Lust Rediscoveries, and it brings the books that Nancy Pearl loves back into print.

The only catch is that it's with Amazon.

Booksellers, both Indie and chains like Barnes & Noble, are refusing to stock the books.  Why should they put money in the pockets of the mega-online seller, they ask.

"I don’t want to stock a book and have Amazon get the money,” Mark LaFramboise, chief buyer at the well-known Politics and Prose bookstore, told the Washington Post. Amazon, he says, wants "nothing other than our total annihilation."

Best poster of the year

So great I can't resist posting

Friday, June 22, 2012

Publishing your novel on Kindle:7

Money, money, money

If your novel still hasn't appeared a day after you trimphantly hit "Save and Publish," the chances are that you are new to Amazon, and were not asked for your address and account details when you signed up for Kindle Direct Publishing.

To remedy that ... and make sure that your royalties get to you ... go back to your Kindle Publishing page.  Up at the top right in the ribbon menu, you will see a label for your account.  (Mine says "Joan's Account.") Hit this, and a screen that you have to fill in arrives.

Put your name in the first box -- your real name, not your penname, if you used one.  Then scroll down the "country" menu until you come to where you live, and click that.  In Address line one, put your house number and your street, and your suburb in line two. (Don't use a post office box number, and don't abbreviate.)  Then your city and your zip code.  And after that, insert your phone number, with country and area code.

At this stage, US residents can  fill in their tax information.  (Foreign residents have a more daunting task ahead.)

Then go down to Your Royalty Payments.  This is where you register your bank account details if you have a US bank account.  Royalties from other Amazon marketplaces will be converted into US dollars and deposited at the same time. 

If you don't have a US bank acount, leave this part blank, and you will be paid by check.  It is a slower process than an electronic deposit, but you will eventually get your money.

Hit Save.

Taxes, taxes, taxes ....

It's a tricky business for foreign writers.

Amazon/Kindle automatically withholds 30% of your royalties for tax purposes unless you have a tax number, and your country has a tax treaty with the United States.  For details of this complicated situation, go to this very helpful page 

You can find out if your country does have a tax arrangement with the IRS by going to page 36 of this IRS document   (In the page-number box at the top, replace the number 1 with 36, and hit enter.)  Don't worry about the letters and numbers; the important part is whether your country is there or not.  If not, you will have to pay the 30% tax, and live with it.

If your country is listed as having a tax treaty with the United States, get going right now on getting a tax number, as it takes ages ... and your home country tax number isn't any kind of substitute.  The IRS simply does not recognize foreign tax numbers.

There are three kinds of tax numbers they do recognize: a TIN (temporary tax number), an EIN (empoyer identification number), or an ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number).  As you are an individual author, and not an employer or a business, the one that you need is an ITIN.

To apply for one of these, you have to fill in a Form W-7Download and print this.

The instructions for filling it out can be found HERE 

Then you have to prove that you are who you are . . .


The Quest for an Apostille

I didn't have this problem, because a university in Indiana obtained an ITIN on my behalf many years ago, but New Zealand Indie author Desiree Jury was kind enough to share her quest with me. While what she has to tell us applies to New Zealand, the process should be very similar in whatever tax treaty country is yours.

Attached to your W-7 you will require duly authorized copies of identification documents such as passport and driver’s licence. In most cases this requires you to obtain an Apostille. This is an internationally-recognised certificate under the Hague Convention, which “provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the Convention.” (I quote from IRS instructions for form W-7).

To obtain an Apostille you need to take your passport, driver’s licence or similar to a Notary Public. I had to ask my lawyer, who found me a pleasant gentleman, who charged $50 for a splendid two-page certificate on cartridge paper, in English and French, with red seals and blue ribbon. Talleyrand would have loved it.

The completed Apostille must then be taken to the [New Zealand] Department of Internal Affairs to be duly authorized and entered on their website. This is done at the DIA Authenitication Unit, level 13, DIA 86-90 Lambton Quay, Wellington (another $32).

At this point you assemble your completed W-7 (ALL of it, not just the top page. Remember to fill in Exception #1, Third Party Withholding on Passive Income, on page 6; exception 1(d)). Attach your publisher’s form letter, your cover letter, and the apostille. Send it to the address given in the form. (Note: You can’t send this Express Courier unless it is addressed to a specific individual with a nominated phone number. You will have to settle for Economy Courier).

 Sit back and wait. Once you receive your ITIN you can complete the W8-BEN.

The address where you send all this material -- including the required letter from Amazon, which can be downloaded HERE, is:

Internal Revenue Service
ITIN operation
PO Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342, USA

Then, as Desiree says, you sit back and wait, for about two months.  But finally, with luck, you will have your ITIN, and you will be able to fill in a form W-8BEN and send it to Amazon.

Download the W-8BEN

An example of how an individual author should fill it in

Once filled in and signed according to instructions, send it to:

Amazon Digital Services
Attn.: Vendor Maintenance
PO Box 80683
Seattle, WA 98108-0683, USA

And whew! ... that's it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Publishing your novel on Kindle:6

Downloading and checking your novel

Go back to

And sign in on the screen that comes up. You will be back at "bookshelf" and your unfinished publication process.

Click the box next to the name of your novel. Then hit the arrow by the box that says "Actions"
In the menu that comes up select the top option, "Edit Book Details" and lo, you are back where you were before. Scan down, checking that you got everything right, and then you will be at the "Upload Your Book File" screen.

Click the box by "Enable Rights Management." This means that no one will be able to pirate your work.

Then hit "Browse for Book." This leads you into your computer. Because you have saved the HTML file of your novel on your desktop, it should be easy to find. Click "Open" or hit enter, and then click on "Upload Your Book." You will have to wait a minute or two, as Kindle will be busy converting your file, but then the message "Upload and Conversion Successful" will appear.

You haven't finished, though -- you have to check it before you are ready to publish.

Go to Preview Your Book

Don't use the Simple Previewer -- it doesn't give you a good idea at all. Go the Enhanced Previewer and hit Download Book Preview File. This will put the .mobi version of your novel into your download file. When this is done, go to Download Previewer, and click on either Windows or Mac, according to what suits your computer.

Then, in the ribbon that pops up at the bottom of your screen, click "Run." Then click "View downloads." Not only can you watch its progress, but you can check at the same time that your novel has been downloaded in "mobi" format by the Kindle machine.

At the end, a box will come up confirming that you want the previewer's language to be English: check this, and then check the box for rights and agreement that comes up next.

Now, it is all set up for reviewing your book as it will appear on all current Kindle devices, plus iPad and iPhone.

Go back to your computer. There should be a shortcut icon on your desktop called "Kindle Previewer" you can click next. If not, search your computer by going to Start and viewing "All Programs." The previewer may be called "Kindle Previewer," as it is on my computer, or you may find it under "Amazon."

Whatever the method, clicking will find a screen like this:

Double-click on the highlighted name, and you will get the previewing tool:

Click on "Open Book to preview."

This should take you to your list of downloads, where you will find your book in .mobi format. Click on the name, and start previewing your book.

It will appear in an abbreviated screen:


By clicking on the icons in the top ribbon, you can use the previewer much as you would use a proper Kindle -- you can go back and forth, view the cover, if there (don't worry if it is not there, as Kindle will add it automatically when you publish), and change the font. It is important to hit the word Devices above the icon ribbon, to run your view through the various forms of Kindle and tablet.

Check that your title, the copyright claim, and the dedication (if you have one) are all on separate pages. The book itself should start on a new page.

Now, proof the book

Keep lots of paper and a pen or pencil beside you as you read through the whole book. Don't miss a single page, and make sure that you check both top and bottom of each page. The conversion process may have deleted spaces between words, so look for that: and make sure, too, that the space between one sentence and the next is still there, particularly if quotation marks are involved.

Some characters may have been corrupted, though this is uncommon. Inevitably, you will see typos that you missed in all your previous searches. Write all these down on your paper, numbering your pages and including enough of each sentence for you to find the places easily when you correct them later.

When you have finished, close the previewer.

Go to the HTML file of your novel that you saved on your desktop before you started the publishing process. Right click, and find the command "open with." Choose Microsoft word.

Your document will look spread out when you see it, and in this form it is very hard to correct. Go up to "view" in your top ribbon, and choose "print layout." If the text is still very small, go into zoom (still in the "view" screen) and adjust to suit your eyesight. Now, make all your corrections.

Once done, you go through the old process of saving to your desktop in "web page, filtered" mode, but change the title by putting "v2" in front of the name of the book so it reads, "v2YourBook." This is to help you tell it apart from your original, uncorrected version.

Go back to your KDP page at Sign in again, if necessary, and check the box next to your book's title. Then click the box marked "Actions" and this menu will come up:


At this stage it is a good idea to explore the possibilities of enrolling your book in KDP Select. While it means that you cannot publish your novel in any other platform than Kindle, it has all kinds of promotional possibilities. Accordingly, at this stage I enrolled my book in the scheme. Whether you want to do this or not is up to you.

To carry on with the publishing process, click "edit book details"

This will bring up your bookshelf. Run through the items you have filled in until you get to the command "Browse for book" Find your v2 title, and upload your book, just as you did before. Kindle will automatically overwrite the earlier, faulty version, so don't worry about that: just wait for the Upload and Conversion Successful message. Then go to "Download Book Preview File."

When that is done, it is time to recheck. You don't need to reload your Kindle previewer. Just go to your desktop, hit the icon (if there), double-click on the KindlePreviewer name, and then "Open Book." Look for the v2 version in your downloads screen, and bring it up into the viewer. Check again for typos, missed spaces, and generally make sure that all your corrections have been made. If they haven't, go through the word document yet again, calling the new version v3, and repeat the upload process.

Finally, when you are happy with the way your novel looks, hit "Save and Continue." That will take you to the Rights and Pricing Screen.


First, Verify Your Territories. It is easiest, of course, to give Amazon full rights, and click "Worldwide rights, all territories." You may, however, wish to select individual territories, reserving some for other eBook platforms.

Then, Choose Your Royalty. If your book is priced between $2.99 -- a very popular price for Indie eBooks, and one that seems to help sales -- and $9.99, you will get a 70% royalty, less a small transmission cost for each sale. The other option is to ask for a 35% royalty, which means that you can charge a higher price.

Your choice is up to you. This exercise cost me nothing, and was undertaken out of sheer curiosity, so I opted for a price of $2.99, which gives me a very attractive 70% royalty -- about two dollars per sale. Then I checked all the boxes by the other Amazon outlets, automatically converting $2.99 US into the other currencies.

Moving down, you will see a box by "Kindle Book Lending." If you have opted for Kindle Select, this will be faded out, because Kindle Select books are automatically registered in this scheme. This is like the Public Lending Rights scheme that already exists in countries like New Zealand and the USA, where authors are compensated for the loss of royalties when books are borrowed from libraries. Amazon puts aside a significant sum of money each month ($600,000 at the moment) and this is shared out on a unit basis with participating authors.

Now, check the box that says you have every right to publish your book. Then hit Save and Publish.


Hearty congratulations.

The book might take a few minutes, a few hours, or a couple of days to materialize on the Amazon site, but the process is underway.

The tutorial isn't finished, though. You want to receive those royalties, right? So you have to tell Kindle how to send them to you. And there is the little problem of tax ... And then the important matter of letting the world know that your book is there.

I'll tackle all that in the next couple of posts.





Who buys eBooks?

A fascinating study by market researcher Bowker reveals much

A headline in that useful but frustratingly difficult-to-use network Linked-In prompted me to head for the Bowker website (link in the header of this), to find out intriguing facts and figures about eBook buying.

If you have bought an eBook recently, you are most likely to live in Australia, India, the UK or the US.  If you didn't buy one, the chances are that you are French or Japanese.

Earlier this year, ten countries were surveyed (NZ not one of them): Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea (marked as S ... in all the graphs), Spain, the UK and the US. This was done by Bowker on behalf of ProQuest, and was intended to find out buying attitudes to the burgeoning eBook market. 

Interestingly, while the figures for the two countries were currently low, there is every indication that the eBook market is going to surge in Brazil and India.  Over 50% of respondents indicated that they were likely to buy an eBook in the next few months.

If you look at the graph above, you will see that unless an eBook buyer is British or Yankee, he is more likely to be male, with Germany showing the great divergence between men and women.  The eBook buyer is also likely to be young: interest in the book revolution lessened with age.  And, Brits and Aussies are most likely to buy fiction, while in India and South Korea academic and professional textbooks are the ones that win out.

If you are interested in the background of this study:  The Global eBook Monitor (GeM) tracks consumer purchases of e-books, and attitudes about e-books, in ten major world markets and aims to inform the publishing industry during a critical period of change. An annual study, over time it will create a unique view of market shifts in response to new digital formats. GeM currently operates in partnership with Pearson, Tata Consultancy Services, AT Kearney, and Book Industry Study Group (BISG). It employs online surveys hosted by Lightspeed Research or their affiliates in 9 countries, and by MTi in the US¹. The minimum number of respondents in each country was 1000; samples were designed and weighted to be representative of the adult (18+) population in terms of age, sex and region, but were by definition drawn from the online population only.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Publishing your novel on Kindle:5

You have your book, your cover, and your blurb

And now is the time to go back to the word document of your novel, and prepare it for publishing.

Make sure that you have no headers or footers, and no page numbers.  Kindle cannot cope with any of those, because the reader is in charge of font size, which also means page size, and hence the number of pages in the book.  This also means that it is pointless having a different font size for emphasis.  Italics are fine, though. Avoid underlining -- it is too easily confused with the underlining in URLs.

There is a manual called "Building Your Book for Kindle" that you can download for free from the Amazon site.  Contrary to the advice given in "Tips for Formatting," I have recommended single spacing throughout the main text of your novel. To repeat, do not insert an empty space between paragraphs: believe me, it makes pages of dialogue look awful.

I have also recommended formatting with style sheets rather than fiddling with the "paragraph" tab in the main ribbon to create indents, because I found the style-sheet method works very well indeed, with a professional-looking result. And you don't need to insert page breaks between chapters, because the style sheet has done it for you.

The manual also describes the procedure for including images in your book. I haven't done this, because this series is about publishing your novel on Kindle, not your illustrated nonfiction book. Likewise, I haven't bothered with a table of contents, which is almost as complicated as inserting images, because of the back-buttons. And obviously there is no index.

If you want a dedication, insert a page after the copyright page, type the dedication, and center it. Treat a prologue (if you have one) just like a chapter, highlighting the word "prologue" or "foreword" and applying the stylesheet you used for your chapter headings.

Remember not to include your cover image or your blurb with your book file.  They are separate files.

And, at this stage (sigh) you just might want to proof-read again.  As the manual says, typos can make the differentce between two-star and four-star reviews.

All done? Happy? Now is the time to convert your word document to HTML.


With your document open, go to "Save As" and bring up the menu.  At this stage it is a good idea to save under another name, so that your original file isn't lost.  Save in the desktop, and in the menu, select "Web Page, Filtered."

Hit "Save."

If a message comes up about removing office tags, hit "yes."  I also got a message warning me that small caps would be saved as all caps.  I hit "yes."

Now, close your document, and head for the internet.  It is time to log onto the Kindle Direct Publishing machine.  The address is

Over on the far right you will see a "sign in" gadget.

If you don't have an Amazon account, sign up: it's easy and quick.

Once you have signed in, you will be brought to "Bookshelf."

Directly under "Introducing KIndle Direct" you will see two boxes.  The second, highlighted one, says "Add New Title."   Hit it.  This will bring up another screen -- the "Book Details" screen.

If you are going to publish ONLY on Kindle (and not on Kobo etc.) then click the box "Enroll this Book in KDP Select."  Then head for the boxes, making sure you fill them all, as necessary.

Book details

Insert the book's title in the box under "Book Name."  Then fill in the next box if the book is part of a series.  Otherwise, leave it blank.

Book description

Go to the documents file on your computer, find the blurb you have so carefully written and saved, open it, hit "select all" to highlight all the text, and hit CTRL + x  This will put all the text into your clipboard.  Now go back to the Kindle publishing page, and put your cursor on the box that is headed "Book Description."  Hit CTRL + v, and your blurb will be pasted into the box.  Read it carefully, checking for typos, and putting a space between paragraphs.  Italics will not be there, but (as far as I know) you can't do anything about it, so you just have to live with it.

The next box asks you for contributors. Unless you co-wrote the book with someone, you only need to put in your name, as the author.  Leave the language as English (assuming your novel is in English!) and leave the other three boxes blank: Amazon will add the current publication date, and assign your book an ASIN.

Verify your publishing rights by checking, "This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights."

Now, you are asked to target your book for the market.

Hit "Add Categories."  A long list of genres will come up; clicking on the + sign by each one will bring up even more.  The ones you opt for will help Amazon match your book to customers.  Unfortunately you are only allowed to choose two.  But you are allowed to type up to seven keywords in the box below it.

Upload your book cover

This is really easy.  Click on the box that says "Browse for image," find your saved jacket image in your pictures folder, and upload it.  You will see it as a thumbnail.  If you suddenly hate it and want to change it, go to the bottom, hit "save as draft," leave the publishing page in the meantime, and go back to work on your powerpoint image.  Then when you sign in again to KDP, you will be able to replace the hated image with the new one.  But hopefully, it will look just fine.

Now for the tricky bit: uploading your book file, and checking it will look good on the device.
That will come in the next post, because it will be quite long -- longer than this blogsite can handle.  In the meantime, go to the bottom and "save as draft." 


The cultural heritage of dinosaurs

Where's the logic?

Back in 1946, a joint Soviet-Mongonlian expedition to the Gobi Desert uncovered a dinosaur skeleton.

It is a Tyrannosaurus-type predator; its name is Tarbosaurus bataar, and it is 8 metres long -- which marks it as a small or young specimen, as T. bataar is commonly 12 metres in length.  It is also 70 million years old, far outdating the arrival of humankind on this planet.

Somehow, this skeleton made its way to the United States.  How it got there has not been revealed, but it may have happened before 1949, when the importation of dinosaur fossils was banned.  Earlier this year, this skeleton was auctioned by Heritage Auctions of Texas, and sold to an anonymous private buyer for about a million greenbacks.

Controversy, however, has intervened.  According to the Mongolian president, Tsakhia Elbegdor, his country wants the skeleton returned, stating that it is "an important piece of the cultural heritage of the Mongolian people."

An the Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara agrees with him; in fact, he vows to make sure the skeleton is returned, saying it was "looted" from Mongolian territory.

The reasoning of lawyers is often hard to distinguish; in this case I have to admit that the logic entirely escapes me.  When Tarbosaurus bataar was running around looking like the picture above, there were no Mongolians to terrorize ... and certainly no country called "Mongolia." The first men migrated out of Africa 50,000-100,000 years ago; the monoliths erected by the earliest Mongol tribes date back to the Bronze Age; and Mongols were not defined as a separate people until about the time of Tamerlane the Great.

You can read the convoluted story in a blogsite called Everything Dinosaur, which was the original whistle-blower.


They've stolen our word

And it has been lost in translation

Michelle Cooke, in the Dominion Post, reports today that the Oxford Dictionary has taken over a Downunder word, and defined it out of existence.

HEAVY METAL MAN: Dave Snell has completed a doctorate research study in bogans.

"Bogan" was included in a list of new word entries Oxford Dictionary issued this month.

For years, as far as New Zealanders and Australians are concerned, bogan has been slang for someone who is working class, listens to heavy metal music, wears jeans and black t-shirts, and could often be spotted with a beer in hand, while enjoying a barbeque with mates.

That's how PhD graduate and bogan researcher Dave Snell (pictured) defines it, but the Oxford Dictionary-people disagree.

According to them, bogan is an Australian and New Zealand informal word, meaning: "A boringly conventional or old-fashioned person."

Say what? 

They also add that it might be "an uncouth or uncultured person".

"As a bogan I'm quite offended at the idea that the definition includes an uncultured person. I think it's just a different culture," said Snell.

"Bogan culture takes a lot of New Zealand culture characteristics. It's almost like New Zealand culture in a concentrated form."

Read the full story

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Publishing your novel on Kindle:4

You now have the book, and the cover

The final item you have to get ready before publishing on Kindle is the blurb

This is the quickest and simplest task, but it is just as important as the first two -- maybe more so, because this is the advertisement for your book, the enticing description that will prompt someone to buy it.

Think of it as the inside flap of a printed book. In the same way, it should tell just enough of the story to make reading the novel enticing, with an indication of what kind of book it is -- a maritime historical adventure, in my case.

You will insert this into a special box in the publication process.  It must not be attached to the novel itself.  Therefore, open a new word document, and save it as YourBookBlurb  Then start writing, very carefully and thoughtfully, and be prepared to rewrite several times.  And proof it until you are absolutely sure that there are no typos.  Unfortunately, html tags don't work, so you won't be able to italicize anything.  However, you will be able to post it in Times New Roman font size 12, just like your novel.

Kindle is generous with length, allowing you 4,000 characters, which is about 750 words.  However, if you look at book descriptions on the Amazon book site, you will find that after about 200 words the description fades, and the reader needs to hit "read more."  So, you must put the major message into those first 150-200 words.

Accordingly, this is what I put into the first three paragraphs, or 185 words:

Born at sea and raised on shipboard, adventurous young Abigail Sherman wants nothing more than to be wedded to the ocean. Like her mother, a pioneer seafaring woman, Abigail is convinced that her destiny is to be a captain’s wife at sea.

Instead, fate conspires against her, when her father packs her off to the dour household of relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to learn proper womanly decorum. Arriving on the same day as the momentous news of the discovery of gold in California, Abigail does her best to conform, despite being involved in controversial events, including the Women’s Rights movement, and a sensational murder trial.

News of her father’s brutal murder impels her to escape to South America, where she enters into a marriage of convenience with a strongwilled young whaling captain. Her legacy is the ownership of the brig she grew up on, and a puzzling rhyme that may lead to a fortune. But, before she can return to New Zealand to collect, Abigail must outwit the grumbling seamen of her husband’s ship, a mystery murderer, and her own attractive, strangely hostile husband.

This covered the area before the text fades into "read more."  After that, I concentrated on the history of the book and something to promote it, rather than its core story.

When originally published as Abigail, this colorful seafaring saga attracted many enthusiastic reviews. “Lots of adventure, a colorful cast of characters, and enough whaling details to provide a first-rate vicarious experience,” wrote Joan Hinkemeyer for Library Journal, while Publishers Weekly applauded, “Excellent characters in full sail amid tangy salt air and creaky timbers offer prime entertainment ... engagingly captures the atmosphere of whalers and their world.”    

Updated to reflect Joan Druett’s continuing love affair with the sea and the courageous women who voyaged under sail, A Love of Adventure steers the reader through Abigail’s incident-ridden voyage to a nail-biting conclusion, with many exotic landfalls on the way.

And that was it.  I thought it was plenty.

While you are writing, you can keep track of your character count by hitting "review" in the ribbon at the top of your word page.

This brings up a ribbon where the fifth option from the left ends with the tab "Word Count."  Hit this, and a little screen will come up.

You probably won't need this, the character count allowance being so generous, but it is nice to be sure that you won't be stalled at the publication process by having a book description that's too long.

That done? Everything checked? You are now ready to start registering and publishing on Kindle.

Israeli authors fight discount deals

Discount book deals could become a thing of the past in Israel, where authors have launched a battle against two leading bookstore chains.

Israeli author Eli Tziper holds his book The Treasure of the Hebrew Rhyme
The writers claim slashed prices are eating into their royalties.

Price-slashing is common at Israel's two largest competing booksellers, Steimatzky and Tzomet.

Customers have welcomed the discounts - as low as $6 a book (£3.80) compared to catalogue prices of $15 or $20 (£10 or £13) - which have also benefited younger, unknown authors.

However, established authors, publishers, editors and others in the book industry have struggled to survive.

Parliament is expected to approve a bill enforcing tough limits on discounts, where retailers would be banned from cutting prices on new books for the first 18 months.

The bill would also see royalties set at a minimum of 8 percent of the book's marked price for the first 6,000 sold, and at least 10 percent for all books sold after that number.

A statement from the prime minister's office said: "As the People of the Book, we are committed to maintaining the income of the authors who create our cultural treasures."

Jews are known as People of the Book because their identity is rooted in the Bible, but literary books are also a big part of Israeli culture.


New tablet from Microsoft?

Microsoft is convening "a major announcement" in Los Angeles at 3:30 local time (or 6:30 Eastern) at a location that will not be unveiled to invited press until some time this morning. (Preliminary invitations went out only last Thursday.)

Publishers Lunch speculates that they will announce a Windows tablet of some kind, and in another guess, reckons that the LA-venue inidcates a strong emphasis on entertainment.

Today's post continues with more speculation based on the sharp eye Publishers Lunch keeps on the ups and downs of the stock market. Barnes & Noble's Nook--in which Microsoft now owns a minority stake--will undoubtedly have at least a presence on a Microsoft tablet, they say, going on to add that from there the extent of the involvement is currently unconfirmed, with some rumors indicating the new tablet could be built in conjunction with Nook's Palo Alto unit.

Barnes & Noble's stock rose briefly on the first news this morning and then dropped after Dow Jones wrote that reports of Barnes & Noble playing a role in the event were "not true at all" and a spokesperson for the bookseller denied they were participating in any way. But shares rose again later in the morning; Nook doesn't have to have a role in the event to gain from a presence on a Microsoft tablet.