All the news that's fit to print--or not.  Check in here for our latest articles and updates about anything in the ePublishing world.


Why Typography Matters

Who Says Typography Matters?

The Stanford Persuasive Technologies Lab did a study, and found that despite the naysayers, typography matters.  Not merely in terms of persuasiveness--in terms of credibility. What did their study find out?

The study found out that "participants made credibility based decisions...based upon...overall visual appeal."  And what elements went into determining "overall visual appeal?"  The very first element was typography, followed by layout, font size, and color scheme.  Why does this matter to you, as an author? 

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How To Write An eBook

Getting Started:

One of the questions that I am frequently asked is about how to write an ebook. The great answer to this is: it's not hard, and it's not different than any other kind of book, pamphlet, or document. You simply sit down and write. Is it actual, real work? You betcha. I can tell you simply from writing all the web and FAQ articles that I have to create that writing isn't magical; it's not easy-peasy, and it's not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it does work. Like anything else, you simply have to put in the effort.

Is there an eBook on How To Write an eBook?

I don't think that there are any specific books on "how to write an ebook," particularly. And if there are, I probably wouldn't recommend them--that would sound like one of those "get rich quick" type things. To write a great eBook, you simply have to write something that's great to begin with. One of the best "how to" books on writing that is still around and taking names is the "Writing Fiction for Dummies" book by The Snowflake Guy, Randy Ingermanson. It's in ebook format, so in addition to being a how-to book, it's an ebook itself. You can buy it in Kindle Format from Amazon.  Another book that is hugely popular and, I've been told, the "right stuff" is Barb Asselin's book,  Write a Kindle Bestseller: How to Write, Format, Publish, and Market a Kindle Bestseller (Writing Non-Fiction and Fiction Books).

Is writing a How-To Book different than Other books?

We convert a lot of "how-to" books. Another question I hear fairly often is, "how to write a how-to ebook," to be sold on Amazon's Kindle platform. Again, this isn't any different than writing any other type of book. Marketing that type of book, though, might be a completely different task than, say, marketing a fiction book. One of the best marketing books out there, for non-fiction books, is Mike Alear's "How To Make a Killing on Kindle," (although Mike disagrees with me about blogging--but that's his prerogative as a successful author!) which gives you pretty good advice on strategizing a) what types of books to write, b) how to find the best keywords on Amazon, and c) how to market your efforts, using those precious ebook keywords and keyword strings.

How To Get Started Writing How-To Books:

One of the things that many authors don't think about is "how to" blogging, as a platform. A place to start. A way to start thinking about, experimenting with, and creating valuable interaction with your market base. What's a better place to use, from which to sell your "how To" book? An author page on Amazon, one of millions, or an active blogsite, that already has thousands of folks that come by, to see what you--a self-help guru who has established herself--has to say?

Not only does blogging give you writing experience--it helps you find out what people want to KNOW. And how they want to know it. Do they need long, detailed blog posts? Detailed instructions, or short, less-demanding pieces of the instructions?

Consider blogging, to find out what your audience wants, if you don't already know. And if you haven't established yourself as a guru, now is a good time to start. It will help drive book sales, in numerous ways.

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Jackie Collins' "Chances" out now on Kindle!

Jackie Collins' "Chances" available now

Get it Now on Kindle!

...And we're thrilled to have her IN THE HOUSE!  "Chances," her runaway smash hit, is coming out in less than 3 days available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple...all the usual places.  We're thrilled, of course, that her team chose to be the eBook producers for "Chances," and we hope to continue this relationship with her as she keeps breaking ground as a self-publishing big-time bestselling author.  You can find "Chances" at: on Amazon. 

If you're not familiar with Chances, the book marks the first appearance of Jackie's incredibly popular character, Lucky Santangelo. 

The book that made Jackie Collins one of America’s favorite authors sweeps you from the sophisticated playgrounds of Europe to the glittering gambling palaces of Las Vegas. It plunges you into the reckless, dangerous world of the Santangelo crime family. It introduces you to Gino Santangelo, the street kid who makes it all the way to the top. And then brings you Lucky—his sensual, stunningly beautiful, and passionate daughter; a woman who dares to win her father’s empire for herself; a woman unafraid of taking…CHANCES.


Don't miss the eBook launch of Chances--coming June 7th.

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What Are the Main eBook Formats?

There are really only two remaining eBook formats, of the numerous types that were floating around some years ago.


MOBI:  The first and foremost, in terms of commercial sales, are the Kindle format(s) for Amazon.  Those are :mobi, prc, azw and now (updated 7-12-2014) azk.  Colloquially, these are called "mobi" by most people in the business.

ePUB is used by Apple, Adobe Digital Editions, Nook, Google Editions, Diesel, Kobo, and most Droid-based readers is ePUB.  ePUB allows greater design flexibility than mobi, because it uses a more advanced level of html.

Two other formats, Palm and .LIT, (which was Microsoft's attempt to gain entry into the eBook marketplace), are really not supported any longer in any significant numbers, and so we do not normally include conversion to those formats as part of our conversion quotes. Palm used a lot of formats that appear as PRC or PDB files on regular computers.

You might find this page from Bookbees really useful in determining which formats go with which books:  Bookbees Beginner's Guide Chart.

Don't be fooled by those companies offering "conversion to all 6 formats!" or that type of talk. In today's marketplace, you need two formats, and two only. That's MOBI and ePUB.  The first one covers Amazon.  The second covers literally every ebook retailer still standing, in 2014.  Companies offering that type of "too many format" options are likely auto-converting their ebooks with a free program that you can download yourself on the Internet.  The "all those formats" approach should warn you OFF using any formatter that promotes this!

What Boneheaded Mistake Will Longmire Make This Week?

UPDATE: If you don't know, #Netflix has picked up Longmire, for 10 episodes for 2015!

We're all lovers of A&E's "Longmire" series, based on Craig Johnson's novels.  But: what the heck is up with the show's writers?

If you're a fan of A&E's Longmire, then you probably already know what I'm about to say, but why on earth are Longmire's writers so poorly-informed about the world in which we live?  Is it that they are cavalier about the intelligence of their audience? Do they simply not care?  Or are they themselves simply too lazy to do five minutes worth of research?  Here's a shortlist of some of the most boneheaded errors so far (and in this, I am repeatedly and deliberately ignoring the fact that they constantly get the law wrong with regard to lawkeeping on the reservations, adjoining towns/cities, and law enforcement officers, generally):

  1. In Episode 2 , Season 3, "Of Children and Travelers," which aired June 9th, Walt and Vic drive to Arizona from Wyoming.  There's no indication that they stop on the way, or spend a night before getting to Arizona.  They seem to drive to Arizona in a few hours, meet the woman at the orphanage, drive around some more, go to a hotel, and eat dinner.  Vic and Walt then retire to their (respective) hotel rooms.  When Vic speaks to one of the other deputies back in Wyoming on the phone,she says that she and Walt are "driving back in the morning, and we're going to see the foster parents."  The foster parents in Wyoming?   That morning?  Listen, Longmire writers, I have news for you:  I have a house in central Arizona and one in Western Wyoming (far closer to Arizona than eastern Wyoming, mind you).  They are 859 miles apart.  The fastest we have ever driven it--and this is on Western highways, where 70-80 mph (and, when nobody's around, even faster) is common--is 15 hours.  Hell, to drive from the northern edge of Phoenix, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon (still in Arizona, mind you) is not a minute less than 3 hours.  To Page, to the Utah border?  Add another hour and 15 minutes.  This is THE WEST, folks.  This isn't the Eastern Seaboard where you roll through 4 states in as many hours.  
  2. In season 1, "The Dog Soldier":  The writers completely get the adoption/fostering scam wrong.  Just ask attorney Bonnie Riley, who blogged about it on May 6th.  Bonnie said "On the A&E show, a villainous social worker and a group home director schemed to take children from the nearby Indian reservation, fabricating allegations of parental abuse or neglect, then skimming the premium paid to the foster parents. This made for a tension-filled story, but the show’s writers were apparently ignorant of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) in exercising their poetic license."  Now, in fairness, as this is a complicated issue, I'm prepared to cut the show's writers some slack, but this type of mistake continues, after nearly 3 seasons, to plague the show.
  3. Season 2, Episode 1:  In "Unquiet Mind," Walt tracks an escaped convict through a blizzard.  Now, as anyone who has ever lived in Wyoming, or Montana, etc., can tell you, taking off to track anyone in a blizard is, to put it mildly, incredibly stupid.  Moreover, Walt does this a) without proper clothing, barely wearing a jacket, much less snow gear, and b) manages to have a raging fight with the escapee, during which, Walt falls into a frozen stream, drenching himself--and survives.  Having lived both in Western Wyoming and Alaska, lemme tell you: that's total bullpucky.  Nobody survives being soaked in a Wyoming winter, hero or not.  This mistake was so bad that I wondered if author Craig Johnson actually lived in Key West, FL, but devotees of the series (written) tell me that this boneheaded mistake was yet another creation by Hollywood.  
  4. "Miss Cheyenne," which aired last week on the 16th, had this doozy:  Walt and Vic ask a doctor to "waive doctor-patient privilege" for his patient's privacy.  Hello? No such thing.  A doctor can violate his patient's privacy, and the patient's privilege--but he can't "waive" it.  The USA is a country of laws.  When you have laws, you have what are, for all intents and purposes, contracts.  Just as I can't sign a contract (for example, a car purchase and loan) for you, and bind you to that contract, a doctor can't waive his patient's privilege.  That belongs solely to the patient to waive--not the Doctor.  (Another Longmire boo-boo; last season , a doctor claimed "patient privilege" for a dead person--for whom privilege no longer exists.)  If the doctor gave Walt the information, he didn't waive the privilege--he violated it.  In the real world, doctors lose their licenses for that, and are oftentimes sued for the same thing.  I'm pretty sure that every 6th-Grader in the US, who has ever seen a television show, knows that the writers on Longmire got this one wrong.  

I don't mind a little "poetic license" in a storyline.  I don't.  But I do object to the constant errors that are so egregious that they yank me out of the story.  I really like Longmire.  The characters are great, and they are near-perfectly cast.  The storylines, generally, are pretty good.  So, why, then, is each episode ruined with some line of dialogue, or plot, that could be fixed with five minutes' worth of research?  It's a shame, and it consistently prevents Longmire from becoming a great show.

So, Longmire fans:  what will this week's boneheaded mistake be?  I'm assuming that as we see Henry in an electronic monitoring device, the mistake will be about that.  Either the tracking ankle bracelet will magically stop working, or will work too well--something.  I can't speak for other Longmire fans, but I for one would really like to see the show live up to its potential:  stop wasting all that on-screen talent by giving them crappy erroneous lines to read, or plotlines that are fatally flawed.  


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Phone Call Alert! 

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Due to the COVID-19 onslaught, we currently cannot take incoming phone calls.  


A notification about phone calls:  due to the COVID-19 plague, we've significantly increased our incoming inquiries--nearly double our usual volume--and the number of incoming inquiries by phone has been literally overwhelming.  Although most writers will say that their call "will only take 15 minutes," the truth is, that after 10 years of doing this, most author inquiry calls take an hour.  45 minutes at best. I'm currently receiving 7-10 calls/day, and due to that, I've had to stop accepting incoming phone calls, which my voicemail will tell you. You can leave a message--I can't call you back without one--and if a call is needed, I will of course call you.  But we have very complete and extensive email replies, handouts and our website is very informative. Almost all the questions that I receive during a call are actually already answered on our site, or are, in fact, publishing questions, not questions about our services, what we do, what we offer, or the like.  I already handle between 90-130 emails/day, as it is. I can't handle that many emails and take 7-10 hours of calls each day. I can't. So, in order to be able to answer this huge email volume, to help the greatest number of people, with my time, I've had to stop accepting calls.  I'm sorry, but that's just how it is. I'm in the process of setting up a call-appointment function, for free 15-minute calls to answer questions from new prospective customers and longer paid sessions for folks who generally want consulting on "publishing," generally (and for prospective kids' book publishers, as a special category of paid consulting).  But that functionality isn't yet set up. I hope to get that working the 3rd week of July, sometime.  

Thank you for your understanding.