I’m so excited! I’ve been waiting for years to write a book I thought was worthy of being entered in the RITA Awards (kind of the Oscars for romance novels), and on November 1, I entered for the first time. Yay!
One of the requirements for all entrants is that you must judge the first round. Okay, no problem, that seems fair. What I didn’t expect was the warning that you’d be judging five to nine books just for entering one book!
Now I haven’t done this before, so maybe (hopefully!) I’ll get some of the books in the next month. But entrants don’t have to get their books in until early January, and your judging materials are due back by early March. So I have to read a book a week!
If this is your normal reading habit, I’m sure it doesn’t sound too bad to you. But I feel lucky if I can finish two novels a month! And the only time I hit that level is if a) I have some really interesting, great books, and b) if I steal time away from other things I should be doing in order to read.
It’s not that I don’t want to read more – I have four delicious books I’m just dying to gorge myself on as soon as I can take the time. (Truly excellent books can’t be read a few pages at a time at night when you’re trying to turn off your brain and fall asleep. They need planned play dates.) But, like so many people, I have responsibilities I can’t ignore.
Additionally, this is the first year that the contest is going completely digital. Yay for entering the 21st century! But the books are required to be entered as PDFs only. Boo for staying in the 20th century! The last time I read a PDF on a Kindle as a judge for a contest was the last time I offered to judge a contest. It’s so difficult to read, it detracts from the enjoyment of the story. Not something you want in a book contest!
I was chatting with some other RITA entrants, talking about the best way to read all these books on an ereader or other device, and I decided to share what I learned with you.
As I mentioned, you can send PDFs and Word documents and other files to your Kindle. It used to be that you had to send them via a special email address connected to your Kindle. An address I never could remember. 😉 But Amazon created Send to Kindle to make the transfer process so much simpler!
(And here is the Help page with more information on it:)
On my Mac, the process is a simple drag-and-drop. I’m guessing it’s fairly easy on the other platforms as well. One thing to keep in mind – Send to Kindle for Mac will figure out the book’s title based on the file name. If the file name is funky, you’ll need to manually fix the title in the title box. Also, it always pulls the last author name I’d typed in. I think that means it just doesn’t pull the author name at all and you have to manually type it in (which is why I have to change it from the last book every time). The only reason these things matter is when you’re searching for a book by title or author on your Kindle or Kindle app.
Now since the RWA is requiring books entered in the contest to be in PDF format, I had to decide how I would create my PDF. I use Vellum to create my ebooks, and it doesn’t create PDFs. But Vellum requires a Word .docx file to start, so one option is to create a PDF from the Word file. But then each page would be quite wide. You’d have to manually move the page back and forth on every line. And it might also be just too small to read. (The problems I had the last time I did this several years ago.)
If your book is in Scrivener, you can save to a PDF, but I suspect you’ll have the same wide-format problem.
You ever think, “Maybe this will work, I’ll Google it but I’m sure you can’t actually do it this way”? Well, I wondered if there was any way to turn a PDF into a .mobi and fix the problem right there. Turns out – you can!
And once you turn the file into a .mobi (the format required on a Kindle or in the Kindle app), the file will be flow-able again. So you don’t have to worry about the page being wider than your screen. Yay!
I’ve added some screen shots here from the Kindle app on my iPhone so you can see the difference between the two files. (Read the captions to see which file is which.)
First, I did some searching and then read some reviews to find a site that looked as safe as possible. (No one wants to upload their book or other intellectual property to a website that is going to send it out all over the web.) I chose this site, PDF Convert Online.
I followed the directions, uploaded my PDF (as I would if I just got nine books I have to read and judge!), and hit the convert button. (I didn’t click the green buttons to download the software. I clicked on Choose File in the middle, found my PDF file, then clicked the red “Convert Now!” button.) Fairly quickly, I got this message.
Not only was my PDF file converted to a mobi that I could then use Send to Kindle to read on my device or app, but the message assured me the file would be deleted shortly.
Second, I sent the new PDF-turned-mobi file as well as the original PDF file to my Kindle app using Send to Kindle, and I made screen shots to compare them. As you can see, the PDF document is only readable when I turn my phone sideways and zoom in a little. If I zoom in more, I’ll have to move back and forth, left to right, along each line as I read. Painful. On the plus side, all the pages appear as they should, as if it were a print book.
But the PDF-turned-mobi file is completely flow-able. I can read it like any other Kindle file, I don’t have to turn my phone sideways for it to be big enough to read, and, in fact, I can use the Kindle controls to increase (or decrease) the font size. Yay! On the downside, the pages all flow into each other now as you can see from this screenshot.
Now here’s the irony. I almost posted this article by telling you the happy news – you can turn PDFs into mobi files and upload them to your device using Send to Kindle – without realizing Send to Kindle has an option to convert PDF files right in the app! (See me rolling on the floor laughing at my enthusiastic ignorance! LOL!) I was looking for something else I wanted to tell you about the app (I forget what now) and just now found that handy little check box! Haha!
Yay! <still laughing>
I decided to leave in the paragraph about the PDF-to-mobi converter sites in case you have need of it for something else. (They convert all sorts of files one way and the other.) But your big take-away here – and mine! – is that when you have a document or book in PDF format (or if you have nine of them!), you can check the box in the Options area of the Send to Kindle app and automatically convert the PDF to a mobi file as it’s sent.
So go sign up to judge a book contest. The reading is now going to be easy as pie. And hopefully as good!
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. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. WRITE NOW! Workshop, her website where she teaches and offers advice on self-publishing and time management, is under renovation. Look for the new website near the end of 2017!
RWA National was fun this year, as always. I found myself quite busy and didn’t get to attend as many workshops as I’d have liked. I did attend one in particular, though, since I was its moderator! It was called Multiplicity Rocks: Writing Concurrently in Multiple Genres or Subgenres.
Even Sleeping Beauty wouldn’t have gotten a wink of sleep at the RWA 2012 Conference in Anaheim near Disneyland. I didn’t. I was as busy as the Mad Hatter running from workshop to workshop and shooting video. Lots of video. 12 GB worth. That’s 12 billion bytes as in billion.
This week I’m going to spotlight three of my favorite RITA award winners, beginning with OCC’s own TESSA DARE!! Super congrats, Tessa, well deserved.
Tessa Dare, winner of the RITA for “A Night to Surrender” — her thank you to her hubby is beautiful.
Joanna Bourne’s wonderful tribute to teachers everywhere in her RITA speech for “The Black Hawk”
And here is the video everyone is talking about…
Ann Aguirreâ€™s RITA speech for YA “Enclave” including her now infamous “interpretive dance.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, like Snow White’s dwarf, Sleepy, I’m…going to…take a nap…zzzzzzzzzzz
Monica Stoner, Member at Large
My Killer, My Love was released in an e-book format on May 22, culminating decades of work and wishes. Even now, two whole long months later, writing those words give me a quick thrill of accomplishment. Then last week while I was immersed in hospital visits, long time commitments, and work, I received a proof hard copy of the book.
I have always maintained that a digital book is a book. Period. My Kindle is loaded with other writerâ€™s stories and I have absolutely as much respect for their words on the screen as for their words on paper. Still Iâ€™m old enough and have been around books enough to feel an extra jolt of â€œwowâ€ to hold my words bound together behind their beautiful cover.
All positive. And as Iâ€™m basking in the glow of loving my publisher, my cover, my characters who have become such an integral part of my life I suddenly realize: I can enter the RITA. Now how cool is THAT? Just to be sure, I pull up the RITA rules. Yep, weâ€™re eligible, according to the RWA website:
â€œEligible Novelâ€ means a work of Romance Fiction of at least 40,000 words (as determined by computer word count) that is offered for sale in a readable or audio format to the general public by a publisher for which the author receives payment as stipulated in a written contract from a publisher, and for which the author does not participate in the costs of production in any manner, including but not limited to publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing, preparation, and/or distribution. A novel does not qualify if the publisher withholds or seeks full or partial payment or reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs. The work must not be exclusively promoted and/or sold by the author or have distribution that is primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and/or associates. The work must not be self-published.â€
Now, I understand rules and the necessity of having certain guidelines for a contest. But I have to admit to being just a bit confused about the ban on self published work. If weâ€™re supposed to be judging the story as written, why the restriction on how the book is produced? Is there some fear a self published novel will be better than one produced by a major publisher? I can somewhat understand blocking the self published from membership in PRO or PAN status, but weâ€™re talking here about a contest to choose the best romance books published during the previous year. Wouldnâ€™t we want that to be the absolute best, no matter what the origin?
Taking this to a comparison with my â€œother lifeâ€â€”showing and judging purebred dogsâ€”in theory shows are judged â€œblind.â€ In other words when you enter the show ring, the judgeâ€™s job is to evaluate the dog only. Not the owner or handler, not the pedigree, not the record. The dog. Being human, that doesnâ€™t always happen, but the principle is why someone who works fifty hours a week to pay the bills and support their canine hobby, then cuts corners just to exhibit is willing to pit themselves against the deep pocket books of other breeders and owners. They know if their dog is a good example of the breed and is presented as well as the other dogs in the ring, they have at least a fighting chance to walk out of there with a win.
Do you feel restricting the contest to only those books from the â€œrightâ€ source is in the best interest of writing?