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Self-Publishing Online Class – Info From Sample Lectures

January 9, 2015 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,
I thought you might want to know more about the self-publishing class that I’ll be teaching starting Monday. So here are some samples from some of my class lectures.

From Lecture 1

Welcome to my class on self-publishing your book! I’m glad you’re here. There are a lot of ways to get your book out into the world, and I’m going to present only a few. Then you’ll be able to take what you learn here, continue to research and learn more about your other options, and make changes (if you choose) in the future with more confidence.
The first things you’ll need to decide are:
  • do you want to publish in ebook only, print only, or both?
  • what software will you use?
  • what distributors will you use?
Starting today, if you haven’t already started a notebook or computer file to save all the information you collect on self-publishing, do it now.
I use an ARC notebook from Staples to save everything that is already printed, or that I print out.
I prefer these because I like how easy it is to pull a piece of paper from one section and press it into another without having to open and close a 3-ring binder all the time. But whatever you like and will find easy to organize is what you should use.
I save different information – my house style guide, some how-to blogs that I’ve saved, a list of passwords and links to the distributors I use, and much more – in a Scrivener file.
Screen shot - Style guide
From that Scrivener file, I can cut and paste links I need easier than if they were in a printed file, and I can continually update my style guide, add new books or formats (like audiobooks), and organize other information that I don’t feel the need to print.

From Lecture 2

In addition to the big choices – will I publish in ebook, print, or both formats? what software will I use? – you have a lot of detailed choices as well. This lesson will help familiarize you with some of those choices, and provide web sites where you can look up more information and/or sign up for the service.
Business Type
When you sign up for an account to publish your book with a distributor (KDP, Smashwords, etc.), you will need to provide your legal name (if you write with a pen name) and/or your business name. I chose to register a DBA (Doing Business As, also known as a Fictitious Business Name) so I could have a company name without the expense of setting up a corporation or LLC. You will have to do your own research on this, ask your accountant and/or attorney what is best for you because I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice.
If you live in California, here is a link to the state web site explaining the minimum tax if you set up a corporation or LLC. Google “[my state] minimum tax” to find out more about the tax consequences of setting up a corporation/LLC in your state.
CHOICE: How will I set up my distributor accounts, and what do I need to do before I can sign up for those accounts?
Tax Identification Numbers
When you sign up with a distributor, you need to provide banking information and a tax ID number so you can get paid and so your earnings can be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
If you run your business as a sole proprietor, with or without a DBA, you can use your social security number or you can apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). While I can’t give you legal or financial advice, here are some articles that may help you decide.
Depending on your bank and your business type, you may be able to set up a business checking account. (Your bank can tell you if they require an EIN for a sole proprietorship with or without a DBA, or if they will allow you to use your social security number.) Your royalties/earnings can be deposited there instead of your personal account to make accounting and taxes easier. Or your bank may only let you set up a separate personal checking account. Either way, you need to decide where you want your money deposited.
If you use PayPal, you may want to research how you can set up a separate PayPal account connected to your business checking so you can keep your business and personal finances separate.
CHOICE: How will I set up my banking for receiving payments and paying expenses?
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATION: How will changing from one business type now (sole prop/DBA) to another later (corporation/LLC) affect my business? How will it affect my sales, sales rank, tax reporting, sales reporting, etc. from the vendors and distributors I’ve signed up with?

From Lecture 5

This lecture is not going to be an exhaustive how-to on using InDesign. You’ve either decided to learn it and you plan to use additional resources to do so, or you are already familiar with it to some degree. This will also help you get your book set up in InDesign if you have used Quark Xpress or Pagemaker or another desktop publishing program. There are enough similarities among the programs that knowing how to do this or that in one program gives you an idea of how to do it in another.
I’ll tell you what I do, and you can follow my directions, or just use them as a jumping off point to decide how you want to design your book’s interior. (You can also read along and ask yourself if this seems easy enough to learn. I think you’ll find it is.)
What I Do
Following are directions for creating a new file, making it into a template so you have all your settings saved for future books, and then adding your current manuscript to the template to create a new document.
Open InDesign
Go to File, New, Document
Under Intent on the popup screen, leave it as Print (the default)
Under Pages, make it a few more pages than you think it needs to be
Example: My superhero story is 100,000 words and came in at about 325 pages with the manuscript, the front and back matter, and the short excerpt of the next book at the end; my 8,000-word short story is about 36 pages with front and back matter and short excerpt
Under Page Size, choose Custom, then you’ll create a custom preset for all of your books
Adjust the width and height to the sizes you want for your print book (this won’t affect your EPUB if you create one from InDesign), and type in a name for the Custom Page Size.
Example: You could create one that is 4 1/8” x 6 7/8” and call it “Mass Market,” and create one that is 5” x 8” and call it “Trade Size.” Then you only need to choose which Custom Page Size you want to use this time.
Screen shot InD New Doc 1
Click on the Add button to save the name of the Custom Page Size. If you created more than one, click on the one you want and hit OK.
Screen shot InD New Doc 2
Leave the columns section as is if you are creating a novel template. Adjust your margins according to the CreateSpace guidelines. (You may have to click on the “chain” icon next to the top and bottom margins in order for your changes to save.)
Example: I use 0.75” for the top, bottom, and inside margins, and 0.5” on the outside margin

Sign Up Today!

These are just a few examples of what you’ll learn in my 4-week online class, Your How-to Guide to Self-Publishing. You will receive 8 lectures with 92 pages of information, including screen shots, to help you get your book up for sale as an ebook and/or in print by the end of the class. Everyone will be encouraged to ask questions and offer suggestions to each other so that everyone can avoid or solve problems, and gain the newest information in an ever-changing industry.
Manuscript not ready? No problem. You can go through the lectures and practice with a dummy manuscript. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions about anything you don’t understand so you can be ready when your manuscript is complete.
Check out my Classes page and sign up for the class. It starts Monday, January 12, 2015.
Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick and Unexpected Superhero, and the free short story, “Superhero in Disguise,” are now available at most online retail sites. Her newest book is A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, a Christmas wedding precursor to Unexpected Superhero.
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Listen Up….

February 25, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , , ,

I’m not a techno maven, so please forgive my self-congratulation and delight at having figured out how to download digital audio titles (and eBooks) to my iPhone…from the Public Library.

Is that great, or what?
I don’t have a tablet at the moment (lost my Kindle & am obsessing about alternatives.  Thinking Galaxy Notebook? Mostly an Apple family, so wanted to try something else). So I am mostly focused on audio right now. Love the idea of downloading from the library for several reasons:
1.     Very inexpensive (free).  You do have to get a library card, though. (also free)
2.     You aren’t stuck with a physical product that sits around, cluttering things up–as if you’re going to listen to it again, which is unlikely.  And if you want to, why just take it out of the library again!
3.    OK, yes, I worked for publishers, who often had an uneasy relationship with libraries due to their free-ness when you’re trying to make a living selling books. But libraries have always been magical and wonderful places for me.  They are an amazing repository for information, help, knowledge and access.  Via their remarkable “free sampling” program, they introduce people to new things–like digital content–that often create new consumers and enrich our lives. So I believe in & support libraries–by using them as well as giving.
4.     OMG when you download digital content, it is never late! It just disappears when your time is up.  No need to keep track or be nearby to hand it in.  Poof.
5.    With a WiFi connection, you can download a book from anywhere, anytime.  Finish something in the middle of the night on a business trip or vacation?  Just browse the shelves and download something new at 1:00am.
Audio is an interesting format, with incredible advantages and some challenges.  It is a genuinely different vehicle for “consuming” content, and it can take a bit of personal exploration and experimentation to find your sweet spot. What are this issues? you may well ask…
A.  Sound.  It’s pretty basic.  You have to have earphones (comfy earphones) if you’re in company (unless it’s a shared experience), and the environment has to be quiet enough so you can hear.  For example, New York is a really loud city.  It’s hard to hear as you walk on the street, ride the subway or sit in a cab.  Not impossible, but I find myself turning the volume up & down a lot.
B.  Someone is reading to you–often a delightful asset, but sometimes a liability.  If good, the voice can significantly enhance the experience.  I’ve been listening to several P.G. Wodehouse Bertie & Jeeves titles & they’re a delight.  All the upper crust characters, ridiculous expressions, outrageous situations come alive with the accents & tones of voice.  
James Joyce’s reader is a Joyce expert, delivering wonderful Irish accents, even singing when the story required. And it’s a comfort to feel the stream of consciousness is flowing by with an approved cadence and pace.  
Life of Pi’s Indian accented reader turns out not to even be Indian, but really enhanced and enriched the story for me.  
But if the reader is bad, it can make the listening experience unbearable.
C.  Also, with audio, they read every word.  I skim when I get bored reading, or if there are long lists, or it feel repetitive. You don’t really have that option with audio.  
You can skip forward, but it’s not the same as glancing down a page to confirm they’re still yammering about battle details or lush descriptions.  
This can be a good thing if the writing is good–forcing you to slow down and savor the words and images. But if you’re listening to some little known Victorian novel, you may discover why it is not well known when you find yourself subjected to what seems like hours of exquisitely described detail of an emotional or physical landscape.
D.  Some people just lose traction listening & feel they have to keep going back to remember who said what to whom & when & thus find audio frustrating, as it doesn’t offer the visual cues of flipping back a page, or looking in the middle of that long paragraph.  
In this case, they need to listen to stuff they don’t care about so much (avoid ‘How To’ or non-fiction or complex fiction). Consider plays, or poetry, where listing & responding is perhaps more important than keeping track of everything.
E.   Why bother? Well, I love storytelling, and audio can slip in through the cracks and deliver a great reading experience when actual reading is impossible.  I can listen and look out the window of the train or plane or bus.  I can listen and knit or sew or mend. I can sit with the gang as they watch TV and listen to my story.  Grocery shop.  Walk the dog.  If I’m alone, I can be read to sleep, with a built in timer that will shut off after 15, 30, 60 minutes. Though if being read to makes you fall asleep, perhaps listen to the radio when you’re driving!
Downloading audio books from your public library:
Load the app onto your iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.  
Locate your library (hopefully) on their very long Add A Library list.  
Put in your library card number & password.  Search.  Browse.  Create a Wish List & fill it with titles you’re interested in.  Ask for a eHold on a title that isn’t available right now–you’ll get an email when it becomes available & you can download it.  If you finish before your book is due, return and delete it.
Select and download titles–you’ll get a sense for how long they are by the number of packages of data.
Plug yourself in…and listen up!
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Short Recap of RWA National 2012

August 6, 2012 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , ,

Last month I blogged about how it was almost time for the Romance Writers of America National Conference. This month, at PAW, we’re all going to discuss what we learned there.

Unfortunately, I was too busy with meetings to attend many workshops, so I’ll have to try to listen to the recorded ones on CD that I particularly wanted to hear. My own panel on Writing a Series You’re Passionate About went great!

But of the workshops, the Published Author Network (PAN) retreat programs, and other events I was able to attend, one thing was made abundantly clear: all of us, even major publishers, are accepting the wave of the future. E-books, and e-versions of print books, are only going to get bigger.

I get it. I still like to hold a real book in my hands and be able to turn the pages. But I also have a Kindle and enjoy its convenience and portability, too. I recognize reality, so I’ll try to adapt as much as I need to both in my writing and reading.

How about you–were you there? What were you particularly interested to learn?

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eReaders–Isabel Swift wonders: what’s with the “But I love BOOKS” response?

October 24, 2011 by in category From Isabel Swift tagged as , , , , ,

I’m sure you’ve had the same experience–or have been one of the players in this conversation.

But first, a bit of background….

In addition to being VP of editorial for Harlequin, over a decade ago I also chaired a digital/eBook task force charged with exploring this new business opportunity. Additionally, much later, I was part of the new business group launching a number of new digital initiatives. So I guess what I’m trying to say is: I swing both ways. And in the course of my work, I had a lot of conversations with people–readers, writers, booksellers, digital entrepreneurs. Today, I still love to find out what people are reading–and how they are reading.

Back to the present. So, I’m at a dinner party, or cocktail party, or just striking up a conversation in line or traveling–and the subject of books and reading comes up. Often one person has an eReader (frequently a Kindle, sometimes an iPad or other eReader) and is either extolling its virtues, or reluctantly (or not) going through the learning curve.

Someone else invariably chimes in (sometimes with passionate intensity) “But I love BOOKS! I could NEVER get an eReader!” Then they go on a bit about the smell, turning the pages & the multitude of pleasures, information and sensation that a physical object offers. The self-confessed eReader reader is given the hairy eyeball, or at best, a pitying look. Emotions can (and have) run high over this line in the sand, this perceived chasm.

And don’t get me wrong–I love books too. Physical books. But I am stumped as to why there is such a prevalent and passionate assumption that physical Vs digital is an either/or choice. Like once you purchase an eReader, a scarlet TTTWW (for Traitor To The Written Word) will be emblazoned on your forehead and a magnetic force field will drop down (visually similar to the Cone of Silence in Get Smart) preventing you from ever touching another physical book with your dirty digital hands. You have not remained faithful to the books that raised you–dipping your wick elsewhere is clearly felt to be a relationship ender.

Huh? I just don’t get it. My reading world is not monogamous! I believe in choice! I love stories. I love storytellers. Books have not changed my life–stories have, with their information, insights, compelling worlds, emotional challenges and eye opening truths. Stories that are shared though listening (conversation, audio, radio, lectures,…), seeing (performance, films, TV, museums,…) or reading (books, newspapers, magazines, documents, letters,…).

Yes, the story’s trasmission vehicle can make a difference in the impact of a story. Watching the Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels concert live Vs at an IMAX theatre with rabid fans Vs on a DVD alone at home delivers quite different experiences. Reading a hardcover, paperback, listening to the story on audio, reading it on an eReader all deliver a different experience.

Sure, there may be preferred formats for certain stories. Haven’t you heard people say “You don’t need to see that movie in a theater, it’ll be fine on DVD”? I assure you watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show live at midnight is a great example of the transformative impact of how you experience a story Vs sitting at home with the remote.

But everyone understands the benefits of access, choice, convenience. As a reader, I don’t like to be without something to read. And while I am usually a fairly committed reader, I must confess I’m not entirely monagamous. As a frequent traveller I have found myself lugging stacks of material: manuscripts, educational/business reading, fun reading, recommended reading, themeatically appropriate reading, books 2 and 3 in the series, just in case… You know what I’m talking about!

Now I can have everything on one slim tablet and people no longer ask me if I am carrying rocks in my suitcase. Maybe I’ll have a paperback in my purse too–cheerful in the knowledge if I tire of it or finish it, I have other options. Bedtime reading with sleeping spouse can cease to be an issue with a back-lit iPad. And another interesting aspect of the digital reading experience is product privacy. No one knows what you’re reading.

(Though for some that could be a drawback, as looking intellectual, educated, in-the-know and generally superior could be the key driver behind plowing through an improving literary tome. But surely a secondary market will spring up of sheaths for one’s tablet that will say perhaps: “Don’t bother me…Riveted by Rushdie!” or “Intellect @ Play” or “I’m improving myself. And you?”)

Alternatively, maybe you really don’t mind carrying two or three volumes around in your gigantic purse. Perhaps you are unmoved by the ability to download a recommended read instantly at the dinner table in The-Back-of-Beyond. Unlike me, perhaps you may have a house filled with empty shelves, just waiting to be filled, with your other bookshelves are stacked with easy-to-find, easy-to-search titles. But that is not my world.

So enough with this “I love BOOKS!”. Of course you do. But I love stories….

Isabel Swift

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