Tag Archives: amazon

#KDP Cover Creator – in words and pictures

After reviewing the Amazon KDP print-on-demand process, and finding it wanting, I thought I’d better provide a guide to the Cover Creator do’s and don’ts.

To begin…

If you have already published an ebook with KDP:

  1. Log in to KDP
  2. Go to your Bookshelf
  3. Find the ebook for which you want to create a paperback version and click ‘+ Create Paperback’

If you have not published with KDP before but have an ordinary Amazon account, go to the website:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

And sign in with your Amazon ID and Password. If you don’t have an Amazon account, click the big, yellow ‘Sign Up’ button and follow the registration instructions.

Once you’ve logged in to KDP, click the ‘+ Paperback’ button as shown below:

To work…

You should now be looking at the first page of the paperback setup screen. New authors will need to fill in the required details before they click ‘Save and Continue’ at the bottom of the screen. Existing authors will find the details already filled in using the details from the ebook.

Page 2 of the setup contains more questions, and down near the bottom half of the page you’ll find the Cover Creator option:

Click the yellow, ‘Launch Cover Creator’ button if you want to use the app to create a cover for your book.

[Note: if you already have a cover, you can upload it by clicking the ‘Upload a cover you already have…’ radio button instead. Covers must be in PDF format and they must be the appropriate size for whichever trim size you have chosen – i.e. for the physical dimensions of your book, including the spine]

You should now be looking at the ‘How to Use Cover Creator’ window:

This is essentially just an overview of the process. Click the ‘Continue’ button.

Next, you will be asked to choose a background picture for your cover. You have three options – use a free, KDP image, use your own image or skip this step:

Point at the options to see a description of that option. If you want to use your own image, click ‘From My Computer’ and select the appropriate file to use in the templates. If you’re not ready to select an image yet, click ‘Skip This Step’. You will be prompted later to select an image for the cover. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be using the free images from the KDP gallery.

From Image Gallery…

The images in the KDP gallery are organised in categories. When you select one of the main categories listed on the left hand side of the window, the sub-categories will display on the right hand side. In the example shown below, the main category selected is ‘Backgrounds’:

Clicking one of the sub-categories will take you to the actual images. In the example shown below, I clicked on one of the images from the ‘Abstract’ sub-category:

Alternatively, I could have typed a keyword into the search box to narrow down my search.

Once you find the image you want, click the orange ‘Use this Image’ button.

Cover Creator inserts the chosen image into all of the available templates and displays them for you to choose the one you like the best:

Click the left and right direction arrows to see all the available templates [11]. When you find one you like, click it.

You should now be looking at the ‘Quick Tutorial’:

This is just a simple overlay that explains the purpose of the buttons, icons and guidelines. Click the ‘Dismiss’ button to get rid of the overlay.

While the overlay is helpful, it completely ignores the most basic elements of the screen – i.e. how to enter your own blurb on the back cover!

When you dismiss the tutorial overlay, this is what you will see:

The triangular orange alerts are there to tell you how to replace the nonsense text with real text. Point to an alert to see a description of what it’s about. Generally, to replace the nonsense text, simply click in the relevant paragraph. This will clear all text and allow you to type, or copy/paste, the correct text onto the cover.

Easy, right? Not quite. For reasons I can’t fathom, the default font size for the paragraphs is not the same as the text shown. For example, the font for the author bio is huge, so before you type in the blurb, you have to set the font style and size via the editing bar as shown below:

Click the small down arrow to display the list of available fonts. Click a font to select it.

Next, click the small down arrow next to ‘Auto Fit’ and select a font size because…auto fit doesn’t work and the font is still huge. As far as I could tell, selecting the size of the font is a case of trial and error. The alignment options seem to work, as do the font colour and drop shadow options, but no matter what I tried, the Bold and Italic options remained greyed out.

Once you have all the back cover text entered properly, click on the ‘Author Photo’ icon. You will see two options – ‘From My Computer’ and ‘Skip This Step’:

Down the very bottom, in tiny blue letters, you should also see a link to the ‘KDP image guidelines’. -grinds teeth- Clearly this screen has been re-used without adjusting for context. Clicking this link does provide some very important information about cover images – i.e. if you choose to use your own image – but it provides absolutely nothing about the Author Photo. Luckily, Cover Creator resizes the Author Photo to fit automatically.

But… All photos are not equal. First I tried a photo of 527 x 532 pixels, and it worked perfectly. Then I tried a much smaller one – 157 x 202 pixels. Cover Creator inserted it into the available space but came back with a problem. It thought the photo was less than 300 DPI. Actually, both photos were 300 DPI so the size had clearly triggered some glitch.

For your information, the following photo size seems to work well:

500 x 500 pixels or

1.667 x 1.667 inches or

42.33 x 42.33 millimeters

With the blurb and Author Photo taken care of, it’s time to edit the rest of the template. First up are the template colours. Click the paintbrush tab beneath your cover:

This will display an editing bar:

The options on the left allow you to select each colour individually from a pallet of colours. The options on the right are colour sets that work well together. If you are choosing your colours individually, be very careful that the background and font colour are a good contrast to each other. If they are too similar, the text will be very hard to read.

The next tab is the layout tab:

Clicking this tab displays a selection of preset layouts:

And finally, there’s the font tab:

This option is for Title, Sub-title [if you want one] and Author Name. It provides a series of font ‘sets’:

Click the left and right arrows to see all the sets, and try them out. Click one to select it.

[Note: I’m not sure if the fonts were all very similar or I’m just going blind, but they all looked the same the me. Of course, this might be a display glitch…]

If you want to insert a sub-title, you have to click around the cover until the sub-title text box suddenly appears. Kind of lame. Type in your sub-title.

Although finding the sub-title is not intuitive at all, one nice feature is that you can select any piece of text – e.g. Title, Sub-title, Blurb, Spine etc – and change its colour using the Text Colour option on the editing bar:

 

You can also change the font and font size, which makes me wonder why you’d bother with a Text tab in the first place. -shrug-

When you’ve finished tweaking the cover, click the ‘Preview’ button and sit back while the system puts the finished preview together. Depending on how big the cover files are, this can take a while.

If you’re satisfied with the appearance of the cover, click the ‘Save and Submit’ button at the bottom of the preview screen:

The cover file will be saved automatically, and you can continue with the rest of the setup for your print book.

I hope this helps,

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


Free ebook promotion on Amazon

How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace

A step-by-step guide for absolute beginners

 

“An absolute beginner is someone who has yet to learn all the little things everyone else takes for granted.”

Unfortunately, it’s always the little things that trip people up. That’s why ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ takes nothing for granted. Examples, screenshots and step-by-step instructions guide absolute beginners through the entire printing process, from start to finish.

The only pre-requisites are a basic knowledge of Microsoft Word, the ability to save and retrieve files, and an internet connection.

With patience, nothing is impossible.

‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ is available as a paperback or as an ebook. The ebook is available on the following devices and apps:

You can find ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ on:

Amazon

The ebook is free from May 1 to 5, 2018.

 


Free and Permafree

As an Indie, I’ve often used Amazon KDP’s ‘free days’ to promote my books, but 5 free days out of 90 has never felt like enough. And being forced to sell the book exclusively on Amazon for those 90 days rankled. That’s why I’ve always yearned to make at least some of my books ‘permafree’ – i.e. permanently free.

In marketing terms, this is called a ‘loss leader’, meaning that revenue is lost from one book in order to lead potential customers to other books that are not free. Given how hard it is for Indies to be ‘discovered’ in the first place, permafree can be a very powerful marketing tool, but only if you have one or more series. Make the first book in the series free and hope like hell that people like it enough to buy the rest.

Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t support permafree. Or should I say, it only supports permafree as part of its price matching policy. This is where going wide comes in. You put the first book of the series up for free on a number of retail platforms and then request that Amazon match ‘the price’. If all goes according to plan, the book will eventually become permafree on Amazon as well.

So that’s the theory. Here comes the reality check. Up the top of this blog you’ll now see a page called ‘Books by acflory’. If you click on it, you’ll see every book I’ve ever published, along with a link direct to the named retailer [sorry, the links in the sidebar lead only to the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature].

There are five links to five retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Angus & Robertson and Indigo. And guess what? Miira and The Vintage Egg are now permafree on all of them except Amazon.

You can either click on the book page or click on the links below. Oh, and while you’re at it, please scroll down to the end of the post for details on the 5 free days coming up for ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace‘. Even if you never print your novel, you may as well have the book handy, right? 🙂

 

Miira, book 1 of the Innerscape cycle

Click one of the links below to be taken to the permafree version of Miira at that retailer:

Barnes & Noble [Nook format]

Kobo [Kobo format]

Angus & Robertson [provides the Kobo format]

Indigo [provides the Kobo format]

 

 

 

 

The Vintage Egg, book 1 of Postcards from Tomorrow

Click one of the links below to be taken to the permafree version of The Vintage Egg at that retailer:

Barnes & Noble [Nook format]

Kobo [Kobo format]

Angus & Robertson [provides the Kobo format]

Indigo [provides the Kobo format]

 

 

 

And now an apology to Apple users. I would love to be able to add Apple to my list of retailers, but when Draft2Digital requested that my books be included, this is what came back:

Current Apple formatting guidelines require standard author name spelling (First Last name format). Single author names cause customer confusion and nonspecific search results when using online search engines. The exceptions are first names and last names consisting of only one character each. Those names should include a half-width (single-byte) space between them. Please supply author name in First Last name format in the metadata Contributor field, within book manuscript file, and on cover image to proceed with publication at Apple. Author name listed on the cover image, interior manuscript file, and metadata contributor field must match.

Apart from the fact that calling myself ‘acflory’ was a branding decision, the required changes would mean creating and maintaining a whole new cover, interior and ISBN, just for Apple. If I were a mega selling author, I might consider it. Maybe. As things stand, I’ve decided to live without Apple.

And finally, that free book on Amazon.

The book is ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace‘, and unfortunately, I’ll never be able to make it permafree, at least not in its present format. The reason is that the ebook was created using the KDP Textbook Creator app. Not only can the ebook only be viewed on the Kindle, it can only be viewed on some of the Kindles. The following list details which ones:

If you have any of the listed devices, or use any of the listed apps, you’ll be able to download ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ from Amazon between May 1 and May 5, 2018. Don’t worry, I’ll provide a link to the book as soon as the freebie goes live. Oh, and I’ll remind you every day before then too….mwahahaha!

-cough-

So, there you go. Two permafrees and one short term freebie. Please don’t be shy about downloading the free books. If I can show Amazon that there’s a demand, they may allow me to make both Miira and The Vintage Egg free on Amazon as well.

Thanks,

Meeks


Sam Dastyari – one rotten apple or just the tip of the iceberg?

I’ve been having a conversation over on The Passive Voice that has disturbed me greatly. Not because it was unpleasant or rude, but because it has made me feel terribly naive at the ripe old age of 65.

To backtrack a little, the conversation began as a discussion about Amazon. We’re all pretty much Indie writers on TPV so Amazon features rather often in our conversations. Anyway, these are the relevant bits of a recent conversation between myself and Felix J Torres:

FJT: ..They [Amazon] are definitely being demonized like Microsoft ca 1995.
Hopefully, unlike MS in those days, they have more than one part time lobbyist in DC and have a few bought and paid for politicians in their pocket.

Me: ..So cynical! I most sincerely hope Bezos is smart enough not to have to do business like that.

FJT: ..If he doesn’t Amazon will get the same treatment Microsoft got for not contributing enough corporate funds to the politicians….

All that is a matter of record.

As is the fact that MS now has one of the larger contingents in DC and regularly provide PCs and free software to Congress people…

Me: ..I’m not denying it happens under the label of ‘lobbying’, but Amazon succeeded despite not doing what all the other companies were doing. If Bezos caves to the soft-corruption game of ‘gifting’ politicians, the ones to suffer long term will be /us/.
Apologies but Amazon is the /only/ large company that I admire. [I am so cringing now]

FJT: ..Well, of course consumers suffer.
The cost added by the politicians and bureaucrats gets added to the sale price….

Once one player alerts the politicians there is money to be had in a market they don’t back off. Rather they descend en masse…

Bezos would have to be an idiot to hear all the baying dogs calling for a lynching of Amazon and do nothing despite of what happened to Microsoft.

And he isn’t.
Amazon’s publicly reported lobbying has been growing steadily. Even faster than their online sales are growing…

Me: ..So there is open corruption that everybody knows about and accepts as normal?
In certain much maligned countries that might be known as ‘baksheesh’.

FJT: ..

Oh, just because it’s common knowledge doesn’t mean it’s accepted.

But every once in a while a congressman gets caught and arrested with a brown bag with $30K. (Seems to be the going rate in the House. Senators are a lot more expensive.)

Most politicians aren’t that blatant and merely call it “serving their constituents”. And many wrap themselves in principle like “protecting competition” or “looking out for the little people”.

Me: ..A member of the Labor party here in Australia – Sam Dastyari – was caught getting cosy with some Chinese business man, twice. He was finally kicked out but now I wonder whether he wasn’t just the tip of the iceberg, the one blatant idiot who got caught.
Could I get any more disillusioned?
I will never understand why so many Americans picked a certain person to be their ‘champion’ against the swamp, but I’m starting to understand why they need a champion in the first place.

I have only quoted what I thought were the relevant parts of the conversation, but if you’re interested, you can find the whole thing here:

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2018/01/why-amazon-is-the-new-microsoft/#comment-408446

Just scroll down a bit.

So, is this something everyone else already knew except me?

I would like to think that Australia is less caught up in this nudge-nudge-wink-wink epidemic of greed, but I’m not a complete fool. How many more Sam Dastyari’s are there amongst our politicians? Do they all take bribes of one sort or another? Is that why, once the politics dies down, nothing is ever done to change this bloody situation?

I’ve long thought the  concept of lobbying was wrong: in a democracy, the only people influencing politicians should be the voters. And yes, I know lobbyists are voters too, as are CEO’s of huge corporations blah blah, but if this bribery is as rampant as it appears, then our democracy is just a great big off-colour joke. 😦

Not happy Jan.

Meeks


Achievements, failures and RESOLUTIONS!

In a fond farewell to 2017 I thought I’d list my achievements:

I worked out how to use CreateSpace [after years of thinking it was too hard] and created print versions of 4/5 of my sci-fi novels, including all four covers for:

  • Miira
  • The Godsend
  • Nabatea
  • The Vintage Egg

I used the CreateSpace experience to write, produce the cover and print a non-fiction book called How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace.

Then I got all ambitious and decided to do one for more complicated books. I am enormously proud to annouce that How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace was uploaded to the CreateSpace website at 9:50pm December 31, 2017. Yep, I just scraped it in. The Non-Fiction book is not available yet as I want to road-test it a bit first, but at least it’s up there. 🙂

As for the failures, most were small – like trying to replace the bulb in my rangehood and failing miserably – and some were just plain enfuriating. I mean, I’m a grown woman, right? I eat well, stay fairly healthy, I even do a bit of physical exercise out in the garden…so why can’t I lose weight? I don’t want to lose a lot, just 5 or 6 kilos…grrrrr.

Anyway, let’s not talk about the past. 2017 is DONE. It is over, finished, consigned to the trash heap of history. 2018 is going to be a lot better and for me it’s already started…Ta Dah

You are looking at the ebook version of How To Print Your Novel with CreateSpace!

Remember that poll I ran a short while ago? The one where I asked you which screenshots were easier to see? Well the results were overwhelmingly in favour of the coloured screenshots, but that left me with a terrible problem as I knew the print version would be seriously expensive [around about $25 USD for the longer how-to].

And then I stumbled across a new-ish Kindle app called the Kindle Textbook Creator. Could this be the answer to my problems?

Before I continue I have to send Chris McMullin a huge thank you. Chris is a publishing guru who writes textbooks and wonderful, clear blog posts about all sorts of technical things. One of his posts became my ‘bible’ as I researched the Textbook Creator:

Optimizing Amazon’s Free Kindle Textbook Creator Publishing Tool

If any of you have thought about writing say, a cookbook, but were put off by the tech, I strongly recommend that you read Chris’ post and get to work.

Anyway, I took Chris’ advice, optimised a copy of How to Print Your Novel for the Kindle [Fire only] and went to work. I finished turning it into an e-textbook just about 2 hours ago and uploaded it straight to KDP. It was a breeze!

The Textbook Creator uses PDF files just like CreateSpace, and basically makes each PDF ‘page’ one page for the Kindle. But the thing that really makes it standout is the clean, efficient interface that makes everything intuitive and easy. Amazon definitely got it right with this one.

So there we go, two days into 2018 and I have an e-textbook to my name. 🙂

And finally to those resolutions. First up, I’m going to convert the How to Print Non-Fiction book into an e-textbook too. Then I’m going to take the Offspring’s advice and re-visit the cookbook I started a few years back. But mostly, I’m going to focus on the Vokhtah saga. Because I’m turning 65 in 10 days and I can feel my creative clock ticking. I’m a slow writer, and there are still a lot of stories I want to tell.

Oh…and that diet thing? I’m determined to win that battle too!

So, what about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you manage to keep any of them? Should I just shut up now? -giggles-

Happy 2018 my friends,

Meeks


CAPTCHA nightmare

This is an example of a captcha verification screen:

I HATE CAPTCHA!

According to the official captcha website, ‘…humans can read distorted text as the one shown [above], but current computer programs can’t.’

Well, I’ve got news for you, older humans have trouble with distorted text as well. Very few of the ones I’ve had to ‘read’ were as clean and easy to read as the example shown. I guess the bots must have become smarter.

Some of us also have trouble with verification screens that ask you to click all the pictures with cars in them, or street signs, or some other stupid thing…and then make us go through screen after screen after screen after screen….

I don’t know whether it’s just my eyesight or the fact that I take instructions too literally, or not literally enough, but I have a terrible time with captcha verification screens of all sorts. And now that Amazon has started using them as well, I’m getting seriously angry. I understand that no website wants to be invaded by bots, but do they really want to drive humans away as well?

Not happy. Not happy at all.

Meeks


The Innerscape Post Mortem

Apologies for the misleading title –  I haven’t killed off Innerscape. The post mortem is actually about the lessons I learned while publishing Innerscape last year. You thought it all went smoothly, didn’t you? -sound of maniacal laughter-

The Truth about publishing before Christmas – Guest Post by A.C. Flory


Innerscape – the last word :)

Pippi and her pillow..ahem I mean her dog

Pippi and her pillow..ahem I mean her dog

Just a quickie to say I’m going to raise the price for Innerscape, Episodes 2 – 5 this evening [Australian time].

Once the change hits – usually within 24 hours – the new pricing will be as follows:

Episode 1 – remains at 99 cents

Episode 2 – $1.99

Episode 3 – $1.99

Episode 4 – $1.99

Episode 5 – $1.99

If you started reading Innerscape but missed out on an episode or two during the Christmas madness, please nip in and grab whatever you’re missing while it’s still at 99 cents:

https://www.amazon.com/A.C.-Flory/e/B00B1M04JI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1482805543&sr=8-1

I will be compiling an Omnibus edition at some point during 2017, but I’m ready for a change so it won’t be any time soon.

Oh, and, if you were wondering about the relevance of the pic…there ain’t none; it just makes me happy. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I hope your New Year is full of joy and hope.

cheers

Meeks


‘Innerscape, Episode 5 is live’ rhymes, badly :/

Now everyone knows why I don’t do poetry. But my prose ain’t that bad, and it so happens that the very last episode of Innerscape is now available for free download from Amazon. This is where you can get it:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NAINA5W/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1481705627&sr=8-6&keywords=kindle+Innerscape

And in the spirit of giving…or is it bribery?…the very last competition is now also up and running. As always, at the end of the competition, all the correct entries will have a chance to win a $20 gift voucher from Amazon.

Entering the competition is dead easy. Start by reading the ‘Look Inside’ below [just the first few pages]. There you will find the answer to the multiple choice question for this episode:

Drum roll…and the multiple choice question is:

Where is David and Jane’s wedding to take place?

  1. Innerscape?
  2. New York?
  3. Sydney?

Once you know the answer, write it [or just the number of the correct answer] in comments and that’s it. Just one entry per person though. 🙂

The free download and the competition will both end on December 18, 2016. After that, the price for Episode 5 reverts to 0.99 cents till the end of the week. And after that, every episode, except for no. 1, will rise to $1.99. Episode 1 will stay at 0.99 forever, or until I can make it permafree.

So please, take advantage of the free dowload and the competition while you can.

cheers

Meeks

 


Allelujah! Innerscape, Episode 4 is finally free…

I’d better make this quick. Episode 4 is now available for free download from December 6, 2016 to December 10, 2016. To get your free copy, please follow the link to Amazon below:

https://www.amazon.com/Innerscape-Episode-4-C-Flory-ebook/dp/B01N0MZ35R/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481019068&sr=1-4&keywords=kindle+innerscape

The Innerscape competition is ready to go as well. Simply read the ‘Look Inside’ below [use your browser’s back button to return to this post] and answer a simple, multiple choice question in comments, and hey presto, you’ll be in with a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift voucher. 🙂

The question for Episode 4 is – what did Alex Tang die of?

  1. pneumonia?
  2. a heart attack?
  3. the common cold?

If you know the answer, please write it in comments [only one per person please] at the end of this post. When the competition finishes, I’ll write each correct entry onto a piece of paper which will then be folded and placed into a vessel of some kind, maybe a hat. Finally, the Offspring will come along to select the winning entry. Easy.

The winner of the competition will be announced on this blog, plus I’ll email or contact the winner directly. Then it’s just a case of deciding what to treat yourself to…erm, with.

If you haven’t entered the competition yet, please do because I get as much fun out of it as the winner does. 🙂

And now for a music track that I didn’t listen to while writing Innerscape. It’s a cinematic from Advent Children, an animation by Square Enix. This scene depicts the final fight between Cloud and Sephiroth, iconic characters from Final Fantasy 7. Even if you don’t like fighting, please watch the incredible cinematography and animation. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


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