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>Happy Read an Ebook Week

>Check-in:  Worked on outlines for Tempt and STS.  Added to a short story.  Visit the rest of the crew here.

When I say outline, I basically mean I’ve written what amounts to a synopsis.  Sometimes I’ll get an idea and expand upon it but usually, my outlines are pretty high-level and detail-sparse.  I have a rough outline for both Tempt and STS (aka the fae novel, couldn’t keep calling it that :/) but that’s the easy part and both are very bare.

I think I’ve settled into a POV in STS now.  I read the part I wrote last April and it was really bad.  Awful.  Embarrassing.  I would have ditched the whole idea except I then found the stuff I wrote last October and it was much better, plus I really like the voice.  I don’t remember writing it, I don’t remember where I was going with it but I like it so I’ll let it stay.  There’s a reason why I haven’t finished that particular story (aside from snowflaking it until it bored me to tears) but I’ll save that for another post.

I’m very excited about Tempt (Ava Delaney #3).  I already knew the major plotline for this one while I was still writing the first book, but the end of Taunt (#2) led me to an even bigger one.  I have a feeling the ending will differ greatly from the outline – I can’t wait!  As a sequel to Thirst (#1), Taunt was unexpected and a good chunk of it runs very differently to Thirst but Tempt kind of goes back to where Thirst was headed.  Originally, it was supposed to be a trilogy, (Thirst, Tempt and Taste) but when I first tried to write Tempt, I realised it wasn’t the next part of the story.  I’ll be taking a step back when this one is done, to figure out the exact order of the other books, there’s at least three more.  ‘Tis all very confusing.  😀

Last night we celebrated my indieversary.  LOL.  I felt like it was a big enough deal to warrant a min-celebration.  And now it’s time for Read an Ebook Week.  Go.  Run.  There’s a lot of freebies and good deals on ebooks for a week so go find them!  I’m participating on Smashwords and so are many others.

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>Free Paranormal Novella

>Quick post.  I’ve uploaded my paranormal / urban fantasy novella to Amazon and Smashwords.  *So nervous right now*  While it’s still going through the publishing process for Kindle, I thought I would generate a code for a free Smashwords copy. 

If you would like a free copy of Thirst then click on the link, add to cart and use the code: CT22B.

Reviews are not required but, of course, honest ones are always appreciated.  This particular code is valid until the 7th of December and anyone can use it, pass it around if you like.

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>NaNoWriMo – Day One

>It’s just midnight here, marking the end of day one of NaNoWriMo.  I started late but managed to hit the daily target and then some.  I had hoped to hit at least 4k but I slacked off.  I got some editing done though.  I’ve already started spending less time online which is good because I’ve been wasting so much time lately.  But that’s what NaNo is great for, getting you focused and into a writing routine – something I’ve been seriously lacking.

In Other News:

My two eldest kids went trick or treating last night and brought home two full bags of goodies each.  Pink Witch is not sharing with anyone.  Darth Vader lost a tooth while making the rounds (Awwww) – it’s only the second tooth loss in our little family so still a big deal.

Lots of people are having success on PubIt (what were they thinking with that name!) but they still aren’t allowing us poor peoples with no US bank account and credit card.  >:(

I’ve applied for a letter on headed paper from Smashwords which will allow me to take the first step on the long arse road towards getting a US tax number.  It might not be worth it, the process is actually longer and more costly than I previously thought.  Still doing it though.  :/

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>Smashwords Sale Promotion – Freebies!

>Smashwords are having a promotional sale during July so I opted to put mine as 100% off.  To get either book for free, use the code SW100 when checking out. 

A Little Girl In My Room & Other Stories

One Night With The Fae

I’m sure most Smashwords authors will be giving out coupons for their books so have a look, get some downloads, read some freebies and leave some reviews.  Have fun!

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>Hyperlinking TOC – Smashwords

>Hopefully this will be easy to follow, I’ve been holding out on writing it until I get a decent sleep but it’s never going to happen so I’ll dive in.  Smashwords have a particular method of hyperlinking the table of contents.  You can use this one for Kindle.  Basically, you’re linking from your chapter/story titles in your index to the chapter/story titles throughout the book.  You’re also linking from the chapter/story titles throughout the book back to the index.  It makes it easier for the reader to move around the book.  I used this method of linking back to the index on my kindle version too.  Both ways seem to work quite well on the Kindle.  On Smashwords, it is supposed to work in certain formats only, once your book is converted.  EPUB, MOBI and PDF.  As far as I am aware, a linkable table of contents is required to submit your ebook to Sony.

I followed the Smashwords Style Guide, the information on hyperlinking is a little over half way through the book.  Of course, if you use an EPUB, MOBI or PDF version, you can easily click on the link in the table of contents to go directly to the right section.  First of all, make sure you have a full table of contents listing all of your story titles/chapter headings.  Don’t add page numbers because they don’t matter in ebook form. 

As per the instructions, I went through my entire document, highlighting all of the story titles (chapter headings) and inserting bookmarks.  In my Word program, I went to the Insert tab, looked for the links section and added a bookmark for each title.  When you click on bookmarks, a dialogue box appears.  You type in the name of the bookmark (no spaces), then click add.  You’ll be using these bookmark titles later so it is very useful if you use the exact title of your header.  It makes it easier to find and harder to make a mistake.  In my case, the first one was SkeletonInTheCloset but if it was a novel of mine it would have been ChapterOne, for example.  Add these bookmarks to all of the story titles/chapter headings and don’t forget to add a bookmark to the heading on the table of contents page itself.

Next you create hyperlinks to all of the bookmarks you made.  Go to the Table of Contents page.  Select the first story title/chapter heading to highlight it.  In the same place as before, (the Insert tab and then the Links section) click on hyperlink.  A dialogue box appears.  To the left, it is automatically selected to “Existing file or web page.”  Right under this is a box called “Place in this document” – click on this.  All of the bookmarks you previously created should show up in alphabetical order.  Click on the relevant bookmark (for example my first one was SkeletonInTheCloset) then click okay.  Your first story title/chapter heading in your contents section is now linked to your first story/chapter.

Follow this step for each title/heading in your Table of Contents.  Next, go through the document and highlight the story titles/chapter headings and link all of these back to the bookmark you created for the table of contents itself.  Linking both ways makes it easier to flip through the book.  Finally, test all of the links by clicking on each title in the Table of Contents which should bring you to the relevant stories/chapters.  Click on all of the story titles/chapter headings throughout the book to test the links you made back to the Table of Contents. 

That’s it.  All done.  This should upload to Smashwords without any problems.  It takes a bit longer than the other version I talked about but it is still relatively simple once you follow the steps.
 

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>Linked Table of Contents

>Every single time somebody brings up hyperlinking their table of contents in their ebook, my eyes glaze over and I move on to something more interesting.  I have no clue about html, no clue about much really!  I’m a total coward when I see people rattle on about something that makes no sense to me but I decided to finally bite the bullet and at least try to do it.  I followed two completely different sets of intructions, one intended for Kindle, one for Smashwords.  Both were pretty simple once I stopped staring blankly at the screen and attempted to follow the tips.  I’ve reuploaded books to both Kindle and Smashwords.  Smashwords have approved them for the Premium Catalog so I assume I’ve done something right but I’ve no idea how to check it for sure.  I don’t have a Kindle but I’m hoping the pc version of the sample will let me know whether or not the linked table of contents works as it is supposed to.  I figure someone will complain if I messed it up completely.  If anyone knows how to test it out accurately then please let me know.

The reason why a working linked table of contents is important is mainly down to the reader’s convenience.  On a book of short stories, they can simply click on the name of the story in the index and hey presto, it appears.  It’s pretty useful in non-fiction, particularly when looking for specific information but it’s handy for fiction too.  Anything that improves an ebook is fine with me.  A lot of people (like me) are too intimidated to try it because it sounds complicated but it really isn’t if you follow some clear direct instructions.  I’m going to find links to the sources I followed and try and simplify it further.  Hopefully it will help give somebody the courage to try it. 

Warning:  the instructions I followed for hyperlinking the index for Kindle (slightly outdated) involves html in a very slight way, it is not complicated but that method does not work for Smashwords.  Smashwords will reject it.  I’ll write up the Smashwords one in a separate post so it doesn’t get too confusing.

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>IRS Complications

>Smashwords have updated their information on withholding tax from non U.S. resident writers.  It seems aimed  at making things as complicated as possible.  Smashwords have said they were told you need a signed letter on Smashwords letterheaded paper to attach to a W-7 form.  (You tick options a and h and say that you are selling books with a U.S. distributor.)  This coincides with one IRS “help” documentation I’ve read but not another.  According to Amazon, all you need to attach is a copy of their terms & conditions, the date you registered your dtp account and links to your books on Amazon.  Although the Smashwords method sounds time consuming, it also sounds more legit.  I’m not 100% certain but I think you have to accumulate enough payments on Smashwords to cash out before you can apply for the headed letter for free.

Also worth noting that the IRS busy period is coming to an end at the end of April.  They have stated they won’t look at W-7 forms until May but we’re just there.  Don’t forget the notarised copy of your identification.  It can take 8-10 weeks to receive a reply from the IRS assigning you an ITIN.  Once you receive this, you can fill out a W8-BEN form with the ITIN and then send this off to Smashwords and Amazon so they are in a position to end withholding.  If you don’t do any of us then you’ll be paying a withholding tax of 30%.  Lots of countries have tax treaties with the U.S. – Ireland’s treaty provides a 0% tax rate on these earnings.  Although Smashwords seem to be making out that it isn’t worth your while, it all depends on what you’re earning and how much you’ll stand to lose.

It is quite a bit of hassle and there is a small chance that Smashwords will work some magic on the IRS and work out some sort of deal but I wouldn’t pin my hopes on it.  Thankfully, Smashwords are willing to defer payments in order to give people time to sort out the tax issues.  I don’t think Amazon do this but their payout limit is at a much higher amount than Smashwords because they will only pay overseas authors by cheque. 

There are quite a few Irish writers who are self publishing ebooks, not to mention those from the U.K. and beyond.  We’re all bound to go through this ITIN mess – nobody tells you about that before you start!  It would be so much easier if we could supply through a European office that could handle the IRS but until somebody comes up with a reasonably uncomplicated solution, we’re all stuck with the above methods.  Part of the problem is the relatively new process of self publishing ebooks.  There aren’t many precedents in place.  It’s changing things slowly but some things are slower than others.

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>Mash Up Blogging

>I’ve been thinking about how fun it would be to write in collaboration with another person – then I read this tandem story and am now convinced my life wouldn’t be complete without trying it.  🙂

My laptop appears to be dying a slow death which is unfortunate because it has lasted longer than any other piece of technology I have ever owned.  And it is one of the cheapest laptops I have ever bought.  I have a small netbook but I’m not fond of it.  It’s pretty but less convenient to use.  Typing is fine once you get used to the smaller sized keyboard but editing is harder on the small screen.  Plus, using the Internet forces the thing to slow down so much it belongs to 2005 rather than 2010. 

Speaking of editing, I’m doing a minor rewrite at the moment.  I can’t stop myself from nitpicking but it definitely needs to be tighter.  I’ve read a lot of comments recently about clean first drafts but I doubt that will ever happen for me.  There is always something to improve.  Or is that a sign of a bad writer?  Either way, I’m hoping I’ll know when to stop.  My OH made me take a break for a few days because he reckoned I was working too hard and stressing myself out.  (In fairness, he has seen me burn out before from writing too much.)  He put a guilt trip on me by saying it wasn’t good for the baby.  That just made me chew up everything the instant I got back to writing.  He also recommended I keep editing until I’m completely happy with something but I don’t think that’s even possible.  Is anyone out there ever truly satisfied with their work?

There is still a lot of discussion on Agency pricing.  One thing I’ve noticed is that big name authors, or well publicised books are no longer being looked at as examples to strive for.  On Amazon in particular, the reviews of books seem to be harsher than before.  It seems like everyone is tired with the lazy writing from some popular authors.  That can’t be a bad thing.  I’m thinking critical reviews are going to help sway the outcomes of the pricing changes.  One of my previously favourite authors has noticeably declined over the years yet they are still producing a book a year.  My choices are a well promoted, expensive book that contains poor writing guaranteed to disappoint but is fronted by a well known name or a variety of cheaper books by unknown authors that have the potential to be good and are low enough in price to be less of a regret if they aren’t.  I know what I’m going for.

By the way, Smashwords have distributed to Sony in the last day or two.  They are quietly yet steadily moving along.  It’s good to see.

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>First Shipment To Apple

>The first shipment from Smashwords to Apple has already gone out.  A lot of people had mistaken errors on their books so I expect there will be another shipment relatively soon.  It will be interesting to see what the sales will be like across the board.  I hope that at least a few of the really good Indies have a lot of success.  I’m wondering how the sales will compare to Amazon and if there will be an initial burst of purchasing or will people wait it out a little before splurging.  I’m curious to see which genre will come out on top.

Apparently this new distribution deal has made Smashwords seem more desirable to writers because they reported record numbers of books being published as well as an unprecedented amount of traffic.  I can only imagine the queues when trying to update or upload a book – Smashwords has been growing increasingly busy over the last month and now everyone has been trying to get on board in time for the first shipments to Apple. 

Sorry if this post is full of mistakes, I can barely keep my eyes open and it’s only 10am . . .

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>Updates at Smashwords

>I’ve been working on paper all day so only read the email from Smashwords a while ago.  First of all they have signed a new distribution agreement.  From the 1st of April, their premium catalog will be sent to Apple for inclusion in the iPad iBookstore.  On the 31st, we’ll have to select the option to opt in but no worries there.  They must have a unique ISBN attached.  Prices must end in .99 so if yours don’t, they will probably adjust them automatically to the nearest .99.  Get on it, if you want control of your own price.  Royalties are 60% of the list price.  The eBooks have to cost less than the print versions.  Crack-a-lacking as it should be.

Smashwords are providing ISBNs as of now.  Even if you live far, far away.  They are providing free ISBNs – the catch being that Smashwords are listed as the publisher.  This is not a problem for me right now but I know plenty of people have a problem with this.  Fear not, they also offer ISBNs for under a tenner and you can list yourself as the publisher and Smashwords as the distributor.  You can pay for this out of your future earnings, if any.  Freebies can’t use this option at the moment.  And if you already have an ISBN (a brand new one that has not been used) you can assign it to your eBook on the site.

I’ve been over there, the ISBN newness occurs immediately if you choose an option.  Also, note that these particular ISBNs are only intended for the e-pub versions of your manuscripts.  Different formats may require further ISBNs in the future.  For now, these ISBNs will ensure inclusion in the shipments to Sony and Apple.  I am pleasantly surprised by how quickly this has been settled in the end and we’re all included in the joy.  And don’t forget, an ISBN means your book is included in Books in Print.

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