Friday, 12 December 2014

Self Publishing Update- Tips on Sigil, Calibre & Social Media

Releasing The Awakening was a steep learning curve & I am still learning but I have picked up some tricks & tips along the way & thought I'd share.

When I self published The Awakening I was terrified of formatting & had no idea what epub & mobi files actually meant. I paid for someone to format for me & do the conversions so I ended up with a word document, epub and mobi file. This was quick & easy but had its own problems. When I later wanted to edit the file I couldn't & I ended up very stressed.

I decided with The Reckoning I wanted to do a lot more myself and keep the control.

I've seen many posts, videos & I even bought a book on formatting but it still seemed terrifying so I used a brilliant free software called Sigil.

Sigil is an epub editor & formats the book for you.  I edited in word & the transferred each chapter over. It creates a Table of Contents for you & looks really professional. You validate your file by using the flight crew & I only encountered 1 problem.  I had the chapter headings underlined & it didn't seem to like this.  I tried to resolve the issue but I'm no IT bod & ended up removing the underlines & then got a perfectly validated file. Sigil looks like this & the green tick is the button you use to validate.  I loved this software & would definitely recommend.

You can upload your lovely shiny epub file onto Kindle Direct Publishing & release it into the world.

For giveways, reviews etc you may also need a mobi file & I used another free software called Calibre to do this.  I'm not so confident with this software but it did the job.  It looks like this -

I also made sure I updated my social media.  When I first started I was not on Twitter or Goodreads but now have a presence on both.

For personal use I love Facebook but don't find it so successful for book posts as it now has a habit of hiding posts & sending promotion boost messages which I find annoying.  I have a fairly small Facebook following 229 & my last 5 posts were seen by, 73, 46, 100, 229 & 73 people.  So as you can see you do not always reach your full audience.

I know some people have started using an alternative platform called tsu but I have not explored this avenue yet.

I have found Twitter has been the best source for me & is where I get most of my interaction.  I have just over 1000 followers which is small compared to many but I am pleased with the results in just over a year.

I am undecided on the benefits of Goodreads & am uncertain how much interaction I should have.  I'm in two minds as to whether I should actually rate books myself & find the star system a little frustrating from an author point of view. I received a 1 star the other day & of course there is no feedback so you have no idea why.  Goodreads state Don’t engage with people who give you negative reviews. We cannot stress this enough. The number one mistake new authors make is to respond to negative reviews. I completely understand why they say this but it can be frustrating & I'm deliberating coming of the site.  I know some authors love it & it has been very successful for them.  I think the downside for me is Goodreads actively encourage giveaways but Ebooks are not valid & my books are ebook only so it means I cannot use this vital tool.  The terms & conditions state Ebooks are not allowed. Every winner must receive a physical copy of the book.

Although Twitter is by far my best social media source my favourite has become my blog & has been an unexpected upside from self publishing.

I have now released 2 novels & a short story & am having a self publishing break but will continue to blog, write, read & keep an eye on the self publishing world.

Good luck & hope this has helped any newbies out there.

Emma x

Monday, 1 December 2014

Giving a Kindle eBook as a gift - Possible work around

I have been frustrated since self publishing about the lack of give as gift button on

Our American friends have had the feature for years & I cannot understand why we can't have the feature here.  I did email Amazon months ago & was told my feedback would be passed onto the appropriate team but that appears to be that.  Maybe everyone effected should email them & they'll realise its an issue that needs addressing.

I have been searching for an alternative solution for months. Recently I stumbled across Echo eBooks Digital Publishing and a blog post  this offers a solution to the frustrating problem.  To try it yourself follow the instructions on their site.  I can take no credit for this & am just sharing the information as I think its brilliant.

You still cannot buy Kindle eBooks as gifts, but you can buy gift cards which people can then use to buy Kindle eBooks.  The system Echo eBooks has come up with is to customise a gift card.  This will then show the eBook name & cover of the book you wish to suggest/gift. This is then emailed to the recipient.  Obviously the recipient could still use the credit to buy something else but it does look quite professional & seems to be the best work around I've found.

I tested it on my mum who said the gift card looked very good.  This is what the gift card looked like.

What do you think?

Have you found any other solutions?

Let me know if you give it a try.

I hope you find this interesting.

Emma x