Category Archives: Self-Publishing

Comments about my journey through the uncertain waters of self-publishing

Fixing Unwanted Indentations in Kindle Files

I write my novels in Microsoft WORD. There is dialogue, of course. Sometimes I write a half a page of one and two-line paragraphs. When I upload my file through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), I invariably find that the resulting Kindle file has indented the second line of the two-line paragraphs.

Here’s what I mean. The following passage is how I intended it to look.


When KDP’s software was done with it, it looked like this:


Notice the second lines of all the two-line paragraphs were indented.

Here’s what I did to solve the problem. I saved my WORD document as an html document and uploaded that version to KDP. The resulting manuscript was perfect. NOTE: This works if your document doesn’t have any external content, such as images. If it does, you will need to use Mobipocket Creator.

I hope this helps you avoid a long night of bashing your head against your monitor.

Moore later…

Adding Kindle eBooks with Your Computer

If you get an ebook in an email, or CDRom, it’s easy to transfer it directly to your Kindle. I have successfully transferred .mobi files (native Kindle e-books), .prc files (readable on Kindles), and .pdf files (Acrobat files) to my Kindle. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Attach your Kindle to your computer via the USB power cable supplied with the Kindle.
  2. Turn on the Kindle
  3. A new window should open on your computer. Notice the “documents” folder on the Kindle.
  4. Drag the ebook file (mobi, prc, pdf) into the “documents” folder.
  5. Disconnect your Kindle.
  6. Press the “Home” button on the Kindle.
  7. The ebook should be visible with “new” to the left of the title. You are ready to read the ebook!

I hope this helps.

Moore later…

Recording Your Novel

I spent a lot of time recording my science fiction novel, Meridian’s Shadow. The finished recording is about fifteen hours and forty minutes in length. In case some of you are thinking of doing the same thing, here are a few tips.

First of all, I have been doing professional sound recording since the 1970′s. I have done much of it for television, although I have produced a number of demos for musicians and have mastered CDs for a number of concerts.

THE MICROPHONE
When you record your stories, use as good a microphone as you can afford. I use a Shure KSM-27. It’s a studio quality microphone that picks up every nuance of my voice. It is a large diaphragm condenser microphone, meaning that it is very sensitive and reproduces low frequencies (sounds) very well.

THE CABLE
It may sound crazy, but not all microphone cables are created equal. A professional microphone will have a three prong connector called an XLR connector. Don’t settled for a microphone that uses a mini-plug (like the plug on your iPod earbuds). Make sure you get a good quality microphone cable. I use what is called “Star-Quad” cable. It uses extra wires in the cable to reduce interference. This is especially helpful if you record near flourescent lighting.


THE RECORDING ENVIRONMENT
You will want to either sit at a table, or stand in front of a music stand. Be sure to pad the surface with a blanket or thick table cloth to eliminate sounds which bounce off the hard surface. Find the quietest room in your house. If you have air conditioning, or you record in the winter, listen for fan noise. Traffic, birds, dogs, etc. will ruin your recording. Make sure the microphone is isolated from vibrations. If you can, get a pop filter (one of those round, screen-like discs you see in American Idol studio shots). This will eliminate any “plosives” as you read. These are the blasts of air from “p’s” “b’s” and sibbilant “s’s.”


THE RECORDER
I used to record into my laptop. You can get a USB microphone preamp, like the M-Audio MobilePre. Make sure you get one that will accommodate XLR connectors. Beware of automatic features on your laptop. I have had recordings interrupted by software updates that restart the computer and sudden computing demands that have caused dropouts in my recordings.


THE SOFTWARE
There are a lot of different software packages that will work fine. I use Adobe Audition 2.0. It not only does a great job of recording the raw tracks, it has a ton of tools for editing as well. This is only one of many audio recording packages you can use. Some of them are shareware.


GO SOLIDSTATE
I finally invested in a TASCAM DR-100 solidstate recorder. It wasn’t too expensive and does an amazing job. It records directly to a memory card and has a USB port so I can download the raw files onto my computer for editing. The DR-100 also has XLR connectors and phantom power (a scheme for powering professional microphones) built in. This is a must, in my opinion.


FORMATS AND LEVELS
You will probably plan to release your book as an mp3 file, but beware. Most audiobook distributors will want your book as a .wav file recorded at a 44.1 MHz sampling rate. They prefer creating their own mp3 files and this is good, because they will make sure your audiobook sounds as good as possible. I record everything as a 44.1 MHz .wav file. It is CD quality which is great for voice and very nice for any music you might use as bumpers between chapters, etc.


In the old analog days, we tried to record everything as loud as possible in order to decrease the noise in the recording. This is not necessary with modern digital recordings. Be sure to set your recording levels so the loudest portions of the recording are at -12db or so. If you record too high a level, the recording will be ruined. Digital is unforgiving.


There are a lot more things to think about when you record your novel, but this is a good starting place. I will add more thoughts in future posts.

Moore later…

Three Hits to Make a Sale

A number of moons ago, I took some marketing classes at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University. One of the concepts that has stuck with me, and has offered some solace in my present incarnation as a self-published author, is the number of hits necessary to make a sale. For the sake of simplicity, I will assume my potential buyer (PB) is generally interested in my genre and is conversant in English (the language of my storytelling).


THE FIRST HIT

The first hit, or impression, that I make on a potential buyer will probably not result in a sale. It’s purpose is to make the PB aware that my book exists. That’s it. It may take many attempts on my part to make this first contact, but I need to keep my expectations in check. Success is measured in breaking through the awareness of my future customer, NOT making a sale.


THE SECOND HIT

The second hit plays a significant part in the sales process, but it is unlikely to result in a purchase. When (and if) I succeed in breaking through to my potential buyer a second time, the purpose of the impression is for the PB to remember my book. The act of remembering locks the book into their psyche. Once again, the measure of success is not a sale. It’s their realization that they have seen my book before.


THE THIRD HIT

The third hit is the hard part of the sale because it occurs on the potential buyer’s terms. The third encounter must coincide with the PB’s felt need for my book. I have to keep my message out there, hoping to be at the right place at the right time. When the PB is in the mood to buy a book, I must be there for the third hit. If their need and my message line up in that moment, I get a sale. The third hit can take hundreds of misses as I pitch my message in the interim between their remembering the book and when they are ready to make a purchase. This is not easy when there is no advertizing budget. The less money there is to advertise, the longer it takes to score the third hit (but don’t underestimate the power of social media for us micro-advertisers!).


Every day you and I are bombarded with advertising messages hurled at us in the hopes the product in question will be in front of us when we are ready to buy. Selling my self-published book is no different. It helps me to remember that not all hits will result in a sale. It reminds me that the process I have embarked upon is not for short-term gratifiers.


Moore later…


Here’s a hit for you – check out my new book MERIDIAN’S SHADOW!

On Pushing Rocks Up Hills…

     I remember the first time I heard the myth of Sisyphus. You probably know the story: Sisyphus was the son of Aeolus. He was very cagey and outwitted Death. As punishment, Zeus condemned him to rolling a great rock up a steep hill. Each time he did so, the rock would slip from his grasp and roll back down the hill. Thus the cycle repeated itself into eternity.

     This is a guy I can related to. I’m not that cunning, but I know a thing or two about rolling big rocks up steep hills. The thing they don’t tell you in the legend is that the rock probably rolled over Sisyphus on its way down the hill. That’s been my experience.

     My latest rock is self-publishing. I supply all of the manpower. I write the book. I get a cover. I figure out where to get it printed. I learn about eBooks and all the different formats. I fight with software to get my manuscript formatted correctly. I wait forever for the distributor to approve my upload. I get involved in Facebook and Twitter and blogging, all of which run against my generally private demeanor. I do most of the right things only to discover the rock is only at shoulder height on a journey up a very long slope.

     I am grateful for the other brave souls who are out here trying to crest the mountain with their rocks. I cling to their advice: be patient, keep believing in yourself, remember your unique voice, trust the process. Yeah, I get all that, but the rock still gets pretty heavy and hurts when it rolls over you.

     I figure I’ve got at least three or four years before I can expect some kind of tipping point. That is, if it ever comes. I will keep writing and believing and hoping.

     I guess I really need to learn how to dodge big rocks!

Moore later—

Check out my new novel, “Meridian’s Shadow.”

My Self-Publishing Saga, Part 1

I recently told someone that I grew tired of rejections from potential agents. I chose to jump into the uncertain waters of self-publishing because I wanted each day to be a step toward my bliss, not another rejection letter. I ran to the end of the diving board and tucked my knees into my chest, performing my best (but not eligant) cannon ball into the water.

Here’s the deal: I am in my late 50s and I don’t want to die before I get some of my stories out there. The characters not only came to me, they ganged up on me and insisted that I be their voice. And so I am on this journey. I’m in it for the creativity. It makes me feel alive. And, my wife needs a new kitchen… That’s another story.

The biggest challenge for me is myself. I know I am a good writer, but I am afraid of all of you who are actually reading this. I wasn’t great in English in highschool. I went to engineering school, which in the early 70s was not known for training up writers. I get caught between the telling of the story and the grammatical excellence of the text. I really believe the story is king, but I still worry about sentence fragments, split infinitives, mixed metaphors, etc. I fear the critiques I expect from real writers who will tell me I have no excuses: mastering writing is necessary for good storytelling.

Bull. Good writing helps, but the story is king.

I have a character who came to me a couple of years ago. Her name is Nixie Drake. She ran away from some kind of orphanage at Copernicus Base on the moon when she was seven years old. She spent almost a year fending for herself in the underbelly of a tough, company outpost. She was taken in by a kindly bartender and by the age of fourteen was flying a transfer freighter and running a crew of smugglers. Nixie is one helluva girl. BUT, she has no social graces. She wouldn’t know good grammar if it hit her in the face. That’s why I like writing her so much. I don’t feel self conscious when I let her out of my fingertips. I think that’s why she’s one of my strongest characters.

So I finished this book. It’s got a tightly woven plot. It’s got characters I care about. It operates on a lot of different levels. It sets forces in motion that will fuel a whole series of novels. And I put it out there (yes, I am a whimp) and it got rejected. And rejected. This was not my idea of bliss. I once heard of a company whose mission statement was, “Find out what sucks and don’t do that.” Rejection really sucks.

I decided to self publish my novel. Initially, I intended it to be an audiobook, so I voiced the manuscript. By reading every sentence out loud, I was able to edit my words one last time. (An aside: a video producer once told me that projects are never finished. They are abandoned. You just run out of will to rewrite/edit/etc.) So, I produced “Meridian’s Shadow” as an audiobook. Then I conformed the finished manuscript for print via Lulu.

It was a nightmare getting everything formatted correctly. I began to appreciate what real publishers have to do. I jumped through all of the hoops and after countless rounds of tech support, I held my new book in my hand. My son did the cover, which is fantastic! My name was on it. It was shiny and new. I felt a measure of satisfaction after two and half years of work, but I couldn’t get excited about it. I felt like I had copped out. Self publishing seemed the only good option for a guy my age in an environment where getting published is akin to winning the lottery. But, I still felt like I was a failure.

I’m working on that.

My salvation is my story. I really, really believe in that. Nobody can take that away from me.

If you are a reader who might be open to a science fiction story that is set in the future, but deals with everyday issues like scars, regret, shame, love of family and honor, give Meridian’s Shadow a try. Being the good engineer, I have scoped out the other nine novels in the series which will tell the stories of many of the characters. All I can say is that this story really touches me in some deep places. I think it will do the same for you.

Check it out at http://www.meridiansshadow.com

Moore later…