I recently had a bad experience and I want to share it with you so you don’t have the problems I had. My old computer which used Windows XP was dying, so I bought a new one that has Windows 7. Once I got it up and running, I went to put together an e-book with the latest edits of my book of short stories The Sun Zebra. For this I used the program I have always used, the Mobipocket Book Creator free shareware version 4.2. To my horror, when I gave the instruction to create a table of contents I got an error message. No matter what I did, I could not put together an e-book the way I had done it several times before. So I went on to waste 6 hours of my precious time trying to fix this problem, and I want to post the solution here so that you won’t have to waste your time if you find yourself in my situation.
The long and the short of it is that if you get a new computer with Windows 7, it comes with the Internet Explorer Version-9 (IE-9). The problem is the Mobipocket 4.2 version does not work with IE-9. Short of modifying the HTML script of your document’s headings (which I don’t know how to do), what you need to do to fix this problem is uninstall IE-9 from your computer. When you do this and reboot it, the system will downgrade automatically to the earlier version of Explorer (IE-8) and the Mobipocket Creator will work just fine again.
To do this, go to the start menu of your Windows 7. Perform a search for “Programs and Features.” When you click on that link, a window appears with a list of programs. In the upper left hand corner of the window there is the option “View Installed Updates.” Clicking on this option will take you to a list of updates that you can uninstall. Look for an update that reads “Windows Internet Explorer 9” and right click on it to uninstall it. Once you restart your computer your system will revert to IE-8, your Mobipocket Creator program will work OK, and you will be able to continue creating your wonderful e-books.
Hope this is useful to you or a friend in need.
Jonny Geller (Twitter handle: @jonnygeller) the literary agent & MD of Curtis Brown books decided he would share a few of what he calls "publishing euphemisms" which he tweeted recently under the #publishingeuphemisms hashtag. Very soon other people piled on, and what emerged is a glimpse of what goes on behind the doors of publishing houses. What is said is in quotes, and what it really means or what they think it means is after the "=" sign:
"This is too British for the American market" = I have no idea what this is about
"There is such excitement in-house" = my assistant loved it.
"All our focus is on the paperback"= the hardback tanked.
"Multi-layered" = too many characters.
"Extraordinary breadth" = too many scenes.
"Epic" = too long.
"Desperate to buy it but marketing/sales just couldn't see it"= why did you send me this?
"Well-researched" (for fiction) = maybe try writing nonfiction
"Sadly we are publishing a similar book to this next spring"= it too has a beginning, middle and end.
"I enjoyed the book so much, i finished it, even though I shan't be making an offer"= I read the first & last chapter.
"This novel is too commercial for our list"= I could have written it.
"This is too literary for our list" = it's boring.
"Though, at times, an exhilarating read, I found the tone of the novel to be uneven" = hysterical nonsense.
"The novel never quite reached the huge potential of its promise" = your pitch letter was better than the book.
"The manuscript is nearly finished" = I'm up to chapter 3.
"I don't quite love it enough" = I fell asleep reading it!
"A compulsive read" = I've got insomnia.
"I just don't love the book ENOUGH" = I hate it.
"Genre-busting" = Unmarketable but another editor pissed me off recently so I'll recommend it to them.
"My muse" = the poor sod I plagiarized.
"You should hear back from us in January" = of 2015.
"I didn't feel enough empathy w/ characters." = I suspect author may be nut job.
"Laugh-out-loud funny" = it might just make you smile, once.
"You might consider reworking the opening section" = you spelt your name wrong.
"You have a unique world view" = you are totally bonkers and probably the next Unabomber.
"It's not one for us.'" = I'm glad to get this pile of old tosh off my desk.
"The author is highly promotable" = the author is smoking hot.
"Just a couple of tiny changes needed." = I'm about to send you 27 pages of edits.
"It's a new classic." = same as an old classic but the names are changed and it probably has vampires.
"I couldn't put it down!" = the printer used cheap glue on the spine.
"We're expecting the trade paperback to do better" = uh oh start thinking about writing the next under a pseudonym.
"We have a very strong online campaign for your title" = we're using all the inhouse blogs/newsletters but not spending $.
"Complex thriller" = even the editor had trouble following the plot but you love the author don’t you?
"Literary-commercial cross-over" = has a plot but not too many adverbs.
I want to state first of all I am not a sour puss. I like humor, and I like dark humor even better. I can understand that people under stress make up their own inside jokes. In fact I was surprised the following old standby was not included: "You manuscript is both good and original" = the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good. But I want to say the following: From my perspective these people hold the hopes and dreams of thousands of authors in their hands. I recognize they are burdened with the impossible job of judging whether the many manuscripts that pass through their hands are good enough for publishing, and I sympathize with them; really. However, whether they think about it this way or not, their job is to squash the majority of these hopes and dreams. We will never know how many talented authors who deserved to be published were denied entrance through these gates and whatever became of them. So if you think about it this way it's not funny anymore. But I understand. It's a business; only a few make the grade. And it's a tough job; somebody's got to do it. Fine, I get it. And until recently if you wanted to publish you had to go through this gauntlet and your book would have probably provided more fodder for some of these inside jokes.However, now all that has changed. With self-publishing and the e-book revolution we can bypass these gates, these gatekeepers, and these jokes. We can take our work directly to the readers and let them decide whether our work meets their expectations. Finally: Why did the self-published book cross the road? Because it was too original and subtle for the side of the road it was on. Now, that's funny! : ^ D ***If you like this blog you can have links to each week's posts delivered to your e-mail address. Please click here.
You have probably heard that Penguin Books announced that it was ceasing to distribute e-books to libraries. As a result of this decision Random House now remains the only major publisher that offers libraries unrestricted access to its e-books although it has announced it will raise their prices. So what is the problem here? Why do most big publishers not want to allow libraries to carry their e-books? The answer is: because it's too easy for people to read them.
You heard that right. The major publishers are concerned that the ease of downloading e-books from libraries will turn potential readers into book borrowers rather than book buyers thus eating into their profits. They argue that borrowing a print book from a library involves a hassle. You have to drive to the library to get the book and then to return it. However, with e-books you can download them from your home. So all these publishers are currently in talks with the libraries to figure out how they can make e-book borrowing more difficult.
On the other hand Amazon makes Kindle books available to 11,000 local libraries in the United States and the pace of e-book borrowing from libraries is currently exploding.
Jeez, why are traditional publishers having so many problems?
If they can't answer that question they deserve to go the way of the dodo!
As many of you know I recently published my book, The Sun Zebra. One day after publication I checked my book's Amazon Ranking and was stunned to find out that my book was ranked 36,519 in the Kindle store. This amazed me because the Kindle store has more than 1 million books. This meant that my book had climbed to the top 4% in less than a day! So I logged in to my Amazon account to check how many hundreds of books I had sold. I found out that I had sold a womping three books (and one was a copy I bought to make sure the book was OK)! How could this be? How could selling 3 books propel me to the top 4%?Amazon uses a secret algorithm to rank books based on sales (and presumably other parameters), and compares them to other books. We don't know how this algorithm works but there is enough evidence out there that points to one simple truth. The vast majority of books do not sell much. As a result of that, if you plot books sold against number of authors, what you get is what is called a "power curve" (see figure).The sharp spike to the left represent the few authors that sell many books. In this small area you will find people like Amanda Hocking, John Locke, Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath. There is then a small transition zone that has authors that have decent but not spectacular sales. And then comes the very long tail that extends to the right. This is where you find the thousands of other writers that have almost no sales on their books. When you are in this tail it is common to find that even the sale of one copy can improve your book's Amazon ranking by hundreds of thousands of points. Despite realizing this I was tempted to tweet something like "My book reached the top 4% of the Amazon Kindle store!" However, this, although not a false claim, would have been dishonest because it would not tell the whole story. I, and many others, are in that long tail to the right struggling to sell our books and make our way to the left. How will we make it? I don't know yet, but that is the challenge!
Amazon will make e-books available for lending by libraries in the United States, which means that Kindle users will be able to borrow e-books from libraries. Currently owners of Sony Readers, Nooks, iPads, and smartphones are able to borrow e-books from libraries. In fact from 2009 to 2010 e-book loans increased 200% (15 million digital checkouts of 400,000 e-books). Since the Kindle is the most popular e-book platform, this move is expected to increase demand and it will be one more way to give authors visibility.This is good news for writers that are seeking to expand their readership. I have mentioned before that many authors seek to give away some of their e-books and they employ several strategies like posting them for free on B&N via Smashwords so that Amazon will match the price, or even posting their work on book pirating websites.Therefore making available Kindle e-books for lending by libraries is a plus. However there is one caveat. Libraries are likely to favor the e-books of authors with some name recognition. So you see, there is no free lunch here. The road to the top is still steep and slippery but as we get closer initiatives like these will make it easier.
In case you have not heard about it, million-book-selling author John Locke signed a book deal with a traditional publisher (Simon & Schuster). However, this deal is remarkable because it only covers the print books. It used to be that the book deals of self-published authors with traditional publishers covered both print books and e-books, but in this deal Mr. Locke will keep control of his e-books (he will be able to sell them at whatever price he pleases). Simon & Schuster will only sell the print versions, which are more expensive, but this caters to the important market of book readers who still buy print books.
This is a development that bodes well for self-published authors. Traditional publishers are beginning to understand that they can't continue defending their print book market by locking self-published authors to deals that will result in e-books being sold at the same price and within the same timeline as print books.
And for those still belittling the self-published crowd, I refer you to a stanza from that great Bob Dylan song.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.
As many of you know, the Borders bookstore chain is closing for the simple reason that it failed to adapt to the digital age. It's competitor, Barnes & Noble, developed its own digital book business and put out an e-reader (the Nook), but now is losing money and was reported last year to be holding discussions about a possible sale. The problem is that hardcover books are the most lucrative business for these stores and their sales have taken a hit from readers who are increasingly unwilling to buy these books. Will the remaining brick and mortar stores like Barnes and Noble disappear or will they streamline and transition into the 21st century? At the moment no one knows for sure but there are many enthusiastic voices out there calling for their demise and that of print books. However, I am not one of those voices.
Don't get me wrong, I think we are gaining a great deal with the advent of e-books and online publishing. But there are things about the experience of a printed book that we cannot reproduce digitally. For example the feeling of the texture of the paper in your fingertips, the sound it makes when you turn the pages, and that smell that emanates from very old books. It is also said that e-books are forever. I am not sure this is true, but even if it is, I think there is something unique about the ephemeral. The fact that print books are fragile and "mortal" makes us have a certain disposition towards them that we will never have for e-books if they indeed last forever. After all, doesn't our respect for life come from the fact that we can die?
Another thing about print books is that they can record history. These books can be thrown and dropped, they can get damaged by moisture and mold growing on them, they can get stained, and they can be marked. Many people have old books with certain marks or damage in them which they treasure because of the significance of those marks or damage. It is sometimes observed that "a face without wrinkles is like a book in which nothing has been written". Well, e-books are just such a face. If e-books can last forever, then they will look the same 100 years from now. Can you imagine a father pointing at the screen of a futuristic version of an e-reader and telling his son, "This file here was downloaded by your great-grandfather one hundred years ago." Where is the wear and tear? Where is the proof that you have traversed the ocean of time? Where are the wrinkles?
But then again, I am someone who enjoyed the vinyl smell that records released when they were opened for the first time, and also liked the fact that by looking at the grooves of the record I could tell whether the song was a ballad or not. These and other sensory experiences were lost when CD's came along. Of course, this is just me having nostalgia for some things we lost and for others we will maybe lose with ongoing modernization. In any case, the odds are that the new generations will never miss them. So go ahead and look to the future, I am doing that too, but I can't help keeping an eye on the past.
Just thought I would share with you this tip that I read in cyberland.
Many Kindle authors want to give away some of their material for free on Amazon as a promotional strategy. The problem is that Amazon does not allow books to be given away for free. Digital books between 3 and 10 megabytes must be priced at a minimum of $0.99. And in case you are wondering, yes, selling your book at $0.99 is vastly different from giving it away for free. But there is a trick you can use.
Amazon also has the policy of price matching. That is, if a competitor like Barnes and Noble offers your book for a lower price then Amazon will match that price, at least for a while. So what many authors do when they want to give away their Kindle books is that they publish them for free on sites like Smashwords. Smashwords then distributes to Barnes and Noble and other book outlets. Amazon notices that their competitors have listed your book for free and lowers the price to zero for about a week or so at a time.
This has dramatic effects. Some authors report that their free books were downloaded at a rate of hundreds of downloads per hour with some reaching into the tens of thousands during the "free" period. Of course, these authors were not making money, but this is a very effective way to advertise yourself drawing attention to your other books and to your website.
According to a recent study released by Bowker's Pub Track Consumer Service based on 40,000 book-buying men, women, and teens, from 2010 to 2011 the leading category in e-books was fiction. This class of books accounted for 61% of unit sales, and 51% of revenue. The next few categories in terms of unit sales where: Children's Books (12%), Non-Fiction (10%), Academic/Professional (8%), Religion (5%), and Scientific/Technical/Medical (4%). In terms of revenue they were: Non-Fiction (14%), Academic/Professional (13%), Scientific/Technical/Medical (10%), Children's Books (9%), and Religion (3%).
If you look at total unit sales of books, both print and electronic, of the top 9 categories where e-books scored a significant percentage of sales, 8 were fiction. The percentages were: Science Fiction 19%, Christian Fiction 16%, General Romance and Mystery/Detective both 14%, General Fiction 12%, Espionage/Thriller and Juvenile Fiction both 9%, and Young Adult 8%. However, the non-fiction category, Literary/Classic, did nab the top spot with 20% of total book sales, but this is mostly because many works of literature that are not covered by copyright anymore are being sold electronically.
So there you have it, time to write some fiction?
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project of the Pew Research Center, the number of American adults who own an e-reader doubled in six months. From November 2010 to May 2011 e-reader ownership went from 6% to 12%. Despite this remarkable growth, the e-reader ownership is well below that of other devices like Laptops (56%), desktops (57%), and cell phones (83%). Hopefully this means there is still a lot of room for improvement!