Tag Archives: Indie

Yes! New music for writing

Nano took a back seat this morning as I’ve been searching for the ‘right’, writing music. I listened to new music by old favourites, but nothing really matched how I feel about this new story. So in desperation I went to SoundCloud and there, thanks to SoundClouds great recommendation engine, I found…

Jon Altino

This is the playlist I just put together. It’s a bit rough as I just grabbed songs as I heard them, but the very first one – A World Asleep – is glorious and should give you some idea of the kind of music I need this year.

Jon Altino? If you’re reading this, I wanted to buy the album, but iTunes only offered Superhero. Please, please put a new album up there!

Well, time to put this lovely music to the test and fire up StoryBox.  I have this feeling P7698 is going to flow a whole lot better today than yesterday.

cheers

Meeks


How-to guide is now free!

Good morning all. 🙂 It’s 6:57am here in lovely Melbourne, and I just realised I forgot to post about the freebie here on WordPress. So….

‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ is now free on Amazon:

https://preview.tinyurl.com/y8fl4bks

The promotion ends at midnight US time and about 5pm-ish Australian time.

For those who have never tried any of my how-to’s, all my guides are pitched at the true beginner and include step-by-step instructions, with examples for the ‘why?’ and pictures for the ‘how?’.

If this appeals to you, please download the ebook version while it’s free. This ebook can be read on Kindle Fire tablets or on the free Kindle reading app for tablets, pc, mac and phone.

cheers

Meeks


Barcodes for Indie Authors – updated June 6, 2018

I’m assuming that any Indies reading this post will have gone through the same frustrations that I did, so I’ll jump straight into the how-to part of the post. Once that’s done, I’ll talk about barcodes in general and discuss why you might want one. Let’s do it!

There are only TWO things you need to create your own, free barcode:

  1. an ISBN for your book
  2. a free online barcode generator

In Canada you can get an ISBN for free. In the US and Australia, you can buy an ISBN from a company called Bowker. The web address for the Australian company is:

https://www.myidentifiers.com.au/

If you want to know where to buy an ISBN for your own country, go to the website of the International ISBN Agency:

https://www.isbn-international.org/agencies

You should be looking at a screen like this:

Click the small down arrow [circled in red] to display a drop down list of countries. Scroll down to your country and click it. You should now see a detailed contact screen for the ISBN agency in your country. In the example shown below, I clicked on ‘United Kingdom and Ireland’:

Once you have your ISBN, you can go to the following website to use the free, barcode generator [you do not have to register first]:

https://www.bookow.com/index.php

On the Home page, select ‘Free ISBN-13 Bookland Barcode Generator’ as shown below:

You should now be looking at a page like this:

  1. From the top of the page, type in your 13 digit ISBN, including the hyphens [or cut and paste it in].
  2. Next, type 90000 in the Price textbox. This ensures that the scanner checks the bookshop’s own database for pricing.
  3. Type your email address, twice.
  4. Click inside the ‘Consent to email’ checkbox.
  5. Leave the DPI at the default [300].
  6. Now you have a choice of getting the barcode as a PDF file or as a PNG file. I find the PNG file easier to work with but the choice is yours. Either way you’ll end up with a picture of the barcode that’s been generated from your ISBN.
  7. Save the barcode to your computer.
  8. Insert the barcode into the back page of your book cover graphic.

Done. 🙂

Now for some of the explanatory stuff. Firstly, there are basically two kinds of barcodes [gross over simplification but work with me]. The first is for ‘things’ such as soap, toothpaste, butter etc. To get barcodes for these products, you have to register with GS1. This process is quite involved, but luckily it does not apply to books. 🙂

Books are covered by a completely different barcode that requires only an ISBN and a second, smaller code that simply tells the bookshop scanner where to look for the pricing information. If you want to get technical about it, this is a Bookland EAN-13 + 5-digit add-on type barcode. The one I created for my print book of Vokhtah looks like this:

The ISBN is displayed [in writing] twice, once at the top and once at the bottom. The 90000 barcode is added to the right of the main barcode.

Now, why would you need a barcode?

If you are using Print-On-Demand [POD] via CreateSpace or Amazon KDP, you will not have to worry about a barcode at all. If you get a free ISBN from either company, they will automatically generate a barcode from that ISBN and insert it into the cover for you. If you use your own, private ISBN, CreateSpace and Amazon KDP will also generate a barcode and insert it into the cover for you. But. Not all POD printers provide free ISBNs or barcodes, so if your chosen printer says you have to provide your own barcode, you now know how to do it…for FREE! Well, except for the ISBN but you have to pay for that anyway.  🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Intellectual Property – an Indie minefield

I am in no danger of having my intellectual property [IP] diddled away by some corporation waving a contract, but Kristine Kathryn Rusch* is, and her latest post was scary to say the least. Here’s a short quote:

‘Those companies can all acquire IP from stupid writers for less than $10,000 per property forever. Just say the word “movie” or “TV” and most stupid writers give away their IP for free, in the hopes of having a movie or TV show made from their property. The property they no longer own, by the way.’

But the most terrifying part was this:

It doesn’t matter if your copyright is registered, the expert said. They’ll register anyway, even before they’ve started production on anything. The strategy is to create confusion over who owns the copyright, and it’ll take litigation to straighten that confusion out.

The bold emphasis is mine but the meaning is clear – one small Indie hasn’t a hope of fighting a company with millions of dollars in its war chest. Can you afford to take a production company to court to get your intellectual property back?

“Oh but if I’m being paid for it then it doesn’t matter.”

Yeah, that’s the big ‘if’, but sadly those contracts make sure you get little if anything in return.

I really, truly, strongly suggest you read the Rusch article, just in case….

http://kriswrites.com/2017/10/25/business-musings-stealing-intellectual-property/

I’ll confess, part of my outrage stems from the fact that I have day dreams too. I would love to see the Innerscape story turned into a movie or a big, beautiful game. I understand the desperation to have that kind of validation, because I share it. If someone came knocking, waving a contract in my face, I know I’d have stars in my eyes and the k-ching of cash registers in my ears too. But after this warning, I hope I remember that the one thing worse than never finding fame and fortune is being cheated out of it…by a corporate with lots of money and no scruples.

Seriously, if you’re an Indie author, please read the Rusch article.

Meeks

*Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a Hugo award winning writer with her own wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristine_Kathryn_Rusch


They. Have. Arrived….

Not ten minutes ago, the doorbell rang, the animals scarpered, and I took possession of a small cardboard box with my name on it. I knew what it must be, but…it was almost a week early!

And there they were, the print proofs of the Innerscape books. Real at last:

Sorry for the poor quality of the pics. I took them with my mobile phone so you can’t see the rich deep colour or the way the light reflects off the gloss covers. What you can see, however, is that the Godsend cover didn’t work. This is a close-up:

The bit inside the red rectangle is the background image that’s meant to represent the Innerscape containment units. Instead of being a subtle hint, the image is as good as invisible. 😦

I know I’m not a professional cover designer, so I have to learn from my mistakes, but I feel as if I should have expected this one. You see in the print preview of the Godsend cover, the image did appear much darker than the image I was working on. But…I assumed it was just something to do with the print preview function. Wrong.

The Godsend cover won’t be hard to fix, but I’ll have to ‘guess’ at the finished product because I won’t be able to request a second proof [not because CreateSpace won’t allow it, but because the postage is so ridiculously expensive].

Another thing I’m going to have to guess at is the width of the Miira spine. For some reason, the actual spine is wider that the dimension I was working with in Corel. But this is both an annoying thing and a very, very good thing because I was worried ‘Miira’ would end up being ridiculously ‘thin’. Instead, it looks and feels like a normal, albeit ‘slim’ book so I’m thrilled by that. I’m also thrilled by the back covers. They look great, they’re very readable and they are beautifully consistent throughout the three books. I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that. 🙂

The Offspring and I are going to celebrate tonight with a tender Rack of Lamb, roast potatoes and a salad of homegrown lettuce, followed by a movie. I hope your weekend starts as well as mine. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


State Zero – short, sci-fi movie – brilliant and Indie

I don’t like zombie movies, or horror movies in general, but I loved Alien when I first saw it at the movies.

Okay, stop sniggering, I was a lot younger then. Anyway, this Indie short reminded me of the very first Alien movie with a hint of Silent Hill because of the intelligent use of fear. Plus the graphics blend seamlessly with the live action. See for yourselves:

State Zero is top quality movie making at an Indie price.

Apparently DUST is a channel on youtube created to showcase short, Indie movies and I, for one, intend to see more of what’s available.

Happy Sunday,

Meeks


My review of The Remnant and #Amazon’s new review format

Click to go to the Amazon page

Click on the cover to go to the Amazon page

I’ve just discovered a new, fresh, wonderful voice in sci-fi! The author is Paul B. Spence and the book is The Remnant, book 1 of The Awakening series. Better still, books 2 and 3 have already been published so I have reading material for a couple of weeks at least. 🙂

This is the review I just left on Amazon:

I don’t normally enjoy so-called ‘military’ sci-fi because it often reads like a boys own fantasy with impossible Star Wars type space battles that are completely unrealistic, and woefully unscientific. But /this/, this story seems to be built on real science and real possibilities, no matter how remote. It is also a finely balanced blend of politics, archaeology and psychology where all the elements work together to create a very compelling story. From my point of view, the most compelling part is that the main character is both heroic and damaged. I like him as a hero, but I care for him as a person. This is how all sci-fi should be.

The only negative thing I will say is that the editing could have been better, not in terms of the prose – the prose is crisp, clean and at times almost lyrical – but in terms of the odd missing word, the odd typo. I noted them as I read them, but immediately dismissed them as the story drew me on.

Paul B Spence is a new voice in sci-fi [at least to me] but not for long. This is a storyteller who deserves recognition. Very highly recommended.

Seriously, I wasn’t exaggerating. This man knows how to write. 🙂

Now, to the second part of this post, Amazon’s new review format. It’s quite a departure from the past and has some good points, but also some strange ones. The following is a pic of the review screen as I was writing the review for The Remnant:

amazon new review format The Remnant

You can click on the pic to see an enlarged version, but the main features should be readable even in this one. The main innovation is the multiple choice meta reviewing now available. You can select options in four major categories – plot, mood, pace and character – to give a kind of snapshot of the book, presumably for people who don’t want to wade through reams of prose.

As an attempt to make the reviewing process less prone to abuse*, I have no issue with the multiple choice categories because they:

  • require at least some thought on the part of the reviewer, and
  • are not all polarized options ranging from ‘good’ to ‘bad’.

To illustrate the second point, let’s say I have some axe to grind with Amazon, or sci-fi in general, or Paul B. Spence in particular. To make my displeasure felt, I can still give The Remnant a one star ranking, but now I also have to provide a less black and white response via the multiple choice questions.

Under plot I could probably select ‘predictable’ as the most negative option, but some readers look for predictability in their reading material. Similarly, selecting ‘slow’ for the pace and ‘one dimensional’ for the character would be construed as negative by some readers but not all. Finally, under mood, I have no ‘bad’ choices at all.

So, all in all, I see the new format as a fairer way of leaving a review, however the lack of real choice in the answers kind of defeats the purpose of a real review. For example, I found the mood of The Remnant to be both ‘suspenseful’ and ‘thoughtful’, but I could only choose one option so therefore that element of the review is already inaccurate.

To be fair, the designers of the new format would have sweated blood getting the multiple choice questions to be as effective as they are. Nevertheless, I would love to have multiple choices per category rather than just one – e.g. ‘select the words that most closely reflect how you feel about…’

All in all, however, I give Amazon a big 3/5 [see the *update below] for the new review format, and Paul B. Spence gets a glowing 5/5.

Man, I love discovering great new authors, especially when they’re Indies**. Please give this man some love. My review brought his total up to just 10. He is obviously as good at marketing as I am. 😦

cheers

Meeks

  • * Carrie Rubin just let me know that you can leave a review without selecting any of the multiple choice options, which kind of ruins the idea that this will help reduce review-abuse. Ah well…:(
  • ** -sigh- I really should do my research before I hit the Publish button. The paperback of the Remnant was actually published by Asura. The Kindle edition, however, may be Indie published as it sells for $2.99. I read the Kindle version so… 😦

New from the #PianoGuys – brilliant!

If memory serves, a blogger friend called Metan first introduced me to The Piano Guys – a serious-looking man with a grand piano and a cheeky faced musician with a cello. But behind the fun video clips was, and is, a team of fearless, indie video production people with a vision. They wanted to create video clips of classical music that all music lovers would enjoy, from young children to the fussiest classical music afficionado. And they succeeded.

This is their latest video clip set in the wilds of Scotland and featuring their version of the Fight Song and Amazing Grace.

And for a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun, here is their version of the Pachelbel Canon:

See if you can spot the piano player. 😉

cheers

Meeks


#PublishingFoul – Scammy Publishers beware!

Back when I first stuck a toe into the stormy waters of Indie publishing, Indies Unlimited saved me from the ‘sharks’ just waiting below the surface. Now, Indies Unlimited is mounting a month long campaign to warn newbie authors of the dangers, and to provide options to those who have already been bitten.

Indie heavy-weights David Gaughran and the Passive Voice are lending their not inconsiderable support to get the message out as far and as fast as they can. The following is an excerpt from the first shot of the campaign:

“Help us spread the word! Vanity presses have slick websites that feature reassuring words and soft-focus photos. They have tons of cash for online ads and preferential placement in search results. All we have is word of mouth. But we have a lot of mouths, and we’re pretty darned loud. Please share our posts far and wide with the hashtag #PublishingFoul.”

#PublishingFoul is where you will find all tweets relating to the campaign.

This post is me doing my little bit. You can do your bit by visiting Indies Unlimited here. You can also come join the debate on the Passive Voice here.

cheers

Meeks


List of book promotion sites

Apologies to all my non writer friends. Today’s post is to share info. about this very handy list, and save it somewhere safe for my own use.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually gone back to some of my own posts in order to check a how-to, or some other piece of information. Having it all here saves me trying [and failing] to remember where the hell I put it.

Now, to the list. It’s been created to allow Indie writers to find, use and keep track of promotional sites. In other words, collecting all your important information in one place. Again, saves on the memory doesn’t it?

I’ve only just discovered this list so I haven’t had a chance to try out the interactive part of it, but just having all this information in one place makes me happy. If I can actually track who I’ve sent what to, and when, then I’ll be ecstatic!

http://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promo-sites

If any of you use the interactive part of the list please let me know how well it worked [or didn’t].

On a more mundane note, the weather continues to stay most un-summer-like. I’m loving it, of course, because this is the most peace of mind I’ve had in January for years. Now I just have my fingers crossed for February. I’m supposed to start teaching again in February so I may get a little stressed out over leaving the house, and the Daughter, on hot days. Meh…I’d better not jinx myself!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Meeks

 


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