Thursday, January 12, 2012

Indie Author Newbies Part 1 - the Best Resources I’ve Found to Help Get You Started

When I first started trolling the internet for those gems of wisdom that would help me figure out what to do with my self published novels, I encountered a lot of repetitive information.. It was good information to be sure - positive and encouraging - but a lot of it just re-iterated the same steps  to success I'd read of everywhere else.

Well, I’m still a newbie. So it’s not like I can give you original or insightful advice on indie self publishing - or even share my journey with you. Instead of regurgitating all that helpful information, I’ve decided just to post some links to the best and most useful resources I’ve come across so far.

The list below is a starter. It begins with formatting your book, because I'm assuming you've already written your book.[There will be a writing and editing post later on here - probably part 3. (You may scratch your head now but you'll realize why it's later on when you read it). There will also be posts on editing, reviewing (reviews) and the best one stop shopping resources for informayion (author colectives).]

The list here is short because - as I said before - these are the best sites I've used for publishing. And they're free to publish*. I will update this list with some regularity - possibly once a month or so as I find more information.

1. Formatting Your Book - these are the most helpful sites if you haven’t published yet. Most people already know about them but the links are here just in case you’re so new you haven’t found them yet:

Smashwords Style Guide - the best guide to e-book formatting anywhere (almost everyone knows this)
Smashwords Forum - help for sticky problems
Amazon Kindle (KDP)- you’ll need to download programs to make your ebook. Follow the instructions on this page and use their links.
Calibre - convert ebook files of one type to another. Incredibly useful for sharing your books with others - something you’ll need to do along the way.(It’s free).

 If you get discouraged and find you absolutely can't continue... you can hire someone to do it for you. You can get a list of authors that will do it for you for a fee from Smashwords, or you can go cheap here:


If you want to sell your book from your own site (or other sites) at your price, make sure you have these formats to sell:

plain text (use any word processor - Word, Open Office...)
.pdf (use a free conversion tool, see, I use dopdf because it works but there are other free programs that have higher ratings here)
.mobi (use the free download for mobipocket creator. Save your file as .html - web page filtered option on Word - upload the .html file into the creator, change your metadata and click build. There are other file conversion tools here - they give mixed results.)
.epub (epub conversion software here; or free online convert here; use Sigil to edit for your converted .epub, and here's a list of open source epub tools.)

Above are some of the free creation and editing tools downloadable from CNET (I use their links because you can compare their reviews or see warnigs of addware you have to choose not to install with the programs. These warnings/reviews often are not on the software suppliers' sites). If you really want to pay - CNET lists those links too example - epub creation software Namo -about $30). This, again, is assuming you want to do it yourself. If you want someone else to do the formatting - check the link above.

**** tip#1 - if you’re formatting an ebook in an older version of Word - before you even start -: open a new blank document and re-set the document default settings (Go to File>Page Setup, on the margins tab (or the paper l/layout tabs) then click on  the ‘default’ button near the bottom. It will open a message box  telling you that your document is based on the Normal template and asking you if you want to change the setting. Click ‘yes’. Make your normal font Times New Roman and make sure it’s not bold or italic. Then get rid of kerning, remove any complex font formatting,  make paper size.8.5x11. You’re making-make it the most simple default document that you can. Then close Word and open it again. Trust me - this step will help you more than you know - in all formats.
****tip#2 - E-books and file formats. Some of us don’t have the super fancy shmancy iPads, Kindles or Nooks. Some of us bought e-readers that fall under the heading of ‘other,’ and can read multiple file formats. On some of these - particularly the Asian ones - some of the best looking  ebooks  are in plain text. Well formatted .mobi and .epub files can look terrible - smashing words together and messing up page breaks.

>paperbacks/hard covers (* these aren't exactly free - you have to buy at least one copy of your book):
Amazon Create Space
Blurb - photo books (faster and simpler to use than other PODs - but it can get pricey. Really good quality though) *****NEW - They publish ebooks now as well. Photo/graphics heavy work.I will have to check it out soon and post info. There are differences with Blurb. You're not making a royalty. You have to buy 1 copy of your book (whether print or ebook), sell it for a set minimum price and then add your 'markup' if you want to make any money. There are catches as well - you have to make a certain amount from your sales before getting paid (similar to all others like Amazon, Lulu); if they send you a check for your profits they charge a handling fee (it used to be a flat $5 - I don't know now), and the minimum prices you can sell a print or ebook for are higher.

*****tip - use dopdf-7 to convert your .pdf files. If you don’t have Acrobat, download any free pdf creator. Adobe’s pay by month pdf creator no longer allows for resolution customization nor does it embed fonts. You might not get the publishing quality you need. I still pay for the Adobe creator because I make a lot of pdf files and I want to make everything legal. However, some of the free programs out there work better.

Next Post: Formatting Continued. New Format - Enhanced Ebooks.

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