I have been very busy working on In Forgery Divided this week (the sequel to In Treachery Forged). Because of that, I haven’t had as much time as I usually do to work on my blog. The blog I was planning for this week (Weird Research Part 5) is half-finished, but it doesn’t look as if I’ll get it done in time for my usual Sunday post. Not because it is especially long, but because it requires I replicate some of my old research in order to complete it, and I just haven’t had time for that.
But I will not go content-less this week. I thought I might lay out some “quick-hits” addendums to my Self-Publishing Roundtable series.
#1: KINDLE PREVIEWER
I look through a lot of blogs on writing and self-publishing. Some I give more attention than others, but even some of the less-relevant to my needs blogs have useful information from time to time.
Such is the case with Aaron Shepard’s Publishing Blog. By the time I discovered his blog, he no longer felt as if he was an “authority” on self-publishing. With the words “The Party’s Over,” he effectively went into semi-retirement as a self-publishing guru, and a lot of his articles have been left aging and out-of-date.
He does still publish the occasional blog post, however (mostly on things like the paper quality of Createspace vs. Ingram POD books, if you’re interested), and every now and then he has new news to share.
Last week, he pointed out something I was unaware of: That the “virtual proof” you can get for your Kindle eBooks from Amazon’s Kindle Previewer no longer resemble the final version of the ebook your readers buy. This is apparently because of Kindle’s still-in-progress attempts to improve typographic features for their .kf8 proprietary ebook file standard. (keep in mind that, as far as 99.999% of writers are concerned, it doesn’t matter what the file standard it. It just matters what the book looks like in the end. Some book designers might have issues with it, however, and sometimes as a self-publisher you need to handle both jobs).
What this means is that — at least for the moment — you should probably buy at least one copy of your own eBook after release, just to double-check and make sure things look the way you intended them do. I suspect it won’t make a noticable change for most of you, but there’s always the chance of something going wonky.
#2: TRENDS IN SELF-PUBLISHING BLOGGING: FONTS
There are a few issues in self-publishing which rise up on occasion. Some of these are bred by controversy, and I tend to avoid saying much on those topics (I usually have an opinion, but I rarely feel strongly enough — or well-informed enough — to get into an argument over these topics), but there are other topics which very well might be “trend by coincidence.”
For example, I saw, over the course of two weeks, five or six articles on font selection. I doubt this was a co-ordinated effort by this blogs, but by happenstance a trend was developing among self-publishing blogs. So, I guess I’ll follow suit.
Keep in mind — it generally isn’t advisable to use a specific font in eBooks; you might (as I do) use something a touch fancy as a title font (the font used on your title page, chapter headers, etc.; this can be, and frequently is, identical to the font used on your front cover), but otherwise leave fonts alone for your eBooks.
If you are designing your own print books, however, you’re going to need to pay attention to your font choice. In print, for the interior of your book, you probably want a serif font rather than a san-serif because it’s easier on the eyes (this is reversed on an electronic screen, though probably not an eInk eReader). And you don’t want the font choice to distract your reader by being too fancy, too stylistic, or too, well…
Book designers, in particular, have issue with certain fonts such as Times New Roman because they are “boring” (or rather, because they make the interior of your book look like it was printed on your home computer on default settings). They think these styles are so boring that they can throw the reader out of the story. I’m not sure how much stock I put into these pronouncements, but I do agree there are fonts that look more stylized than TNR without breeching that “too fancy” line.
When picking a font for the inside of your book, you should ensure you’ve picked something that displays all of your punctuation correctly. It can be a particular issue if you’re using a more obscure font; some fonts were designed for “Display” or for particular specific uses, and any unneeded punctuation (like, say, an apostrophe) simply was never designed for it. And some fonts have a complete set of punctuation marks that look quite nice… until you see, for example, an em-dash placed next to a curvy letter like b, p, u, g, etc. (I know that specific one because it is a known issue with the print edition of “In Treachery Forged.” For some reason, the kerning — the space between letters — looks far too wide with the font I chose)
You also want to make sure you have the right to use these fonts you choose commercially. Don’t trust that, just because you can pick it in the font selector of your computer, you can just use any old font. Most fonts are copywritten, and some have very peculiar restrictions for their use. I like using nice, free fonts without commercial restrictions, such as Alegreya, which can be found on Fontsquirrel. There are some fonts that come with software, however, and you are still permitted to use some of them… but you had better check before you do. There are some fonts that come with Microsoft Word, for example, that you are not allowed to use on commercial projects.
Beyond that, I don’t really have much advice. Just use stuff that you think looks professional — don’t do something “fun” and use Comic Sans or a similar font in your interior because “it makes the book look handwritten.” Maybe it does make your book look handwritten… but it also makes it hard to read, and that discourages your customers from wanting to finish your book.
Try and get it right the first time, though. Changing a font after the proof has come out can be very daunting — if you change the font you change the font size; changing the font size means you’ll have to re-do all of those corrections you made for justification, widows and orphans, etc.; re-doing all of those corrections will change the page count; changing the page count changes the thickness of your book spine. Basically, after a certain point, if you change the font you have to completely re-design your book.
#3: BOOKS OFFERED ON EBAY, BUT NO-ONE BOUGHT IT!
I see people in this scenario a lot:
They do a search for their own book. Surprise, surprise, they find a copy of their print book for sale on eBay… but they have yet to sell a single print copy, so how can it possible be offered on eBay?
Well, the thing to remember is that your book is Print-on-Demand, and that many legitimate small-business book dealers use eBay as their storefront.
If your book is made available on expanded distribution, any dealer can buy the book for resale. Some dealers will list books they don’t yet have on eBay, knowing that they can buy those books on-demand, if someone orders it from them. It is only after someone buys the book from them that your book would be sold to them.
So, if you see your book listed on eBay even though it hasn’t been sold, no, it doesn’t mean that the seller is “ripping you off” and should be reported to eBay for fraud. Most likely, they’re trying to sell your book for you, and you should be thanking them.
#4: FUTURE SELF-PUBLISHING ROUNDTABLE PLANS
I’m very busy with In Forgery Divided, but I have a plan to continue the Self-Publishing Roundtable once that’s out the door.
On Facebook (and in a few other spots) I’ve talked about an anthology (or rather, in this case, a compilation; the difference is the number of authors involved) entitled “This Book Cannot Make Any Money.” It would consist of various things (poetry, experimental fiction, an inside joke, story fragments, etc.) that were too small to sell on their own, too wierd to sell on their own, too incomplete (and never-to-be-completed) to sell on their own, or some combination of the above. In other words, it’s a compilation of a bunch of things that will never make any money (as the title says).
What I was thinking I might do (extreme emphasis on the ‘might’) is compile that book, and make a set of blogs dovetailing off of both this Self-Publishing Roundtable Series and my still-to-be-debuted Writing Software Review Series. I would blog the entire process of going from “I’m done writing; time to find an editor” to “Ebook and Print Book Both Published, Copywritten, and the First Month of ‘Marketing’ Complete” completing this project with zero budget and in my “off hours.”
The idea would be I’d walk people through the process. I would also try building the same book multiple times (using different software; I’d build the eBook once with Scriveners, once with Sigil, maybe even once with Jutoh or similar paid-for software (again, if you want me to buy Jutoh to review it, I need AT LEAST ONE COMMENT asking about it). Then I’ll build the print book in Adobe InDesign (CS6), Microsoft Publisher (2007), and Scribus (1.4.5). Then I’d walk through the process of setting prices, assigning ISBNs, and publishing through Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, Draft2Digital, Apple, various niche stores, etc.
Again, this is a very tentative plan. It will go very, very slowly, because I’ll be trying to manage it around the writing, publishing, and marketing work I’m doing that I hope can make some money.
Well, this is the first “unplanned” update for the Self-Publishing Review. There’ll probably be others in addition to item #4, above… but not for a while. Expect another Weird Research post next week.
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