In June, a writer friend and I drove to an event together. On the way there, she said I’m one of the few indie authors whose books she’s read that don’t have a lot of errors and are formatted well. She said she buys a lot of e-books by indies and often feels cheated.
You might wonder why she continues to buy them. A voracious reader, she’s willing to take the chance that the book might be great. Especially with the low prices of self-pubbed books. We also talked about the prices of traditionally pubbed books. She thinks traditional publishers overcharge for ebooks. Lucky for indie writers.
Author Trish McCallan, who spends a lot of time on the Kindle boards, even before she self-pubbed her debut book FORGED IN FIRE, a hot paranormal romance, said that readers on the boards complain bitterly about the mistakes in indie books. Unlike my friend, it does stop a lot of these readers from buying indie books. Trish had planned to say in her book’s description that it was professionally edited and formatted. Now that it’s up, I don’t see that, but she does have two editors listed.
For two of my books, CATTITUDE and DRAGON BLUES, a reviewer sent me lists of their copy edit errors. Embarrassing, embarrassing, embarrassing. For CATTITUDE, in addition to three CPs and a former agent, six beta readers went over it. And I read it so many times, I lost count. I think it takes a special kind of person to find copy edit errors. For most of us, our eyes slide over them. We know what it’s supposed to say, so that’s what our minds see. For my most recent release, GALAXY GIRLS, I paid the reviewer who reported the errors to proofread it. (I learn from my mistakes. Eventually.)
Now, for tagging. I belong to a group that has “tagging and liking” days, and I found out there’s an easy way to tag. On Amazon, after you click on the “Like” below the title (which will turn orange after you like it), click anywhere on the page and type tt. A box for your tags will show up. Below it, tag words already given by the author or readers will appear. You can either click each word, which will post inside the box, or you can copy all the words and paste them into the box. You can also add your own tags, though the number of tag words you give the book are limited to 15. When you’re done, click “save tags.” Since one of the writers told us about it, my tagging has gone much faster.
You might know this already, but if you want to change your book’s description, add snippets from reviews, etc., at Amazon, you can do it in Author Central instead of going through the KDP dashboard. (I just found out from another loop that if you originally publish the description through KDP, that’s where you have to make the changes, or it will be a mess. But Lori Devoti said she changed a description through Author Central and it turned out fine. So, I’m not sure what’s going on there. If you try it and it doesn’t work out, then you can always change through KDP.)
I recently uploaded ENTANGLED, A PARANORMAL ANTHOLOGY on Barnes & Noble (with all proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation), and the description was mushed together, with no blank lines between paragraphs. Another author and I tried to change it twice. Cynthia Eden said she could have her husband look at it, but we couldn’t see anything he could do that we hadn’t tried already. Finally, Allison Brennan said that if you click on “read more,” it shows up just as it should. Apparently if you go over a certain magical number of characters, the lines mush together at the first look.
Smashwords advice I got from Lori Devoti, co-founder of the How To Write Shop: If your book has about the same level of sensuality or less as books you see for sale at WalMart or Target, then check the box that says, “My book does not contain adult content.” If you check the one that says, “My book contains adult content,” the reader looking for your book won’t find it unless they uncheck the adult filter. According to Smashwords, this filter is clearly visible. But it’s not something I noticed until I got a complaint from a reader who couldn’t find one of my books.
One more thing I learned from Lori about Smashwords (actually, I learned many things, but you’ll have to take her Digital Self-Publishing class to learn the rest): When choosing your formats, choose them all except rtf. Rtf is too easy to pirate.
That’s all I have until next month. I hope anything I said helped you or saved you from a hassle. If you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments.[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://howtowriteshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/EdieColumn.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Edie Ramer is funnier on the page than in real life. A multiple award-winning writer, she writes paranormal romance about cats, dead people, dragons and aliens with attitude. CATTITUDE, DEAD PEOPLE, DRAGON BLUES, GALAXY GIRLS and her short story THE SEVENTH DIMENSION are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.[/author_info] [/author]
This is a very helpful article. THANK you. How would I find a tagging and liking group?
KayAnna, I’m happy to help. I think a lot of indie groups have tagging and liking. The one I belong to is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndieRomanceInk/.
There’s much more to it than tagging and liking. I learn a lot there.
Thanks for the mentions, Edie. On the adult content, this is, just the rule I use, but since there is no written description anywhere that I have seen as to what constitutes “adult content,” it seems like a fair decider.
And on the rtf, it isn’t so much the piracy thing. I don’t think there is anything that can stop piracy. It is more that I see no reason to make a text file, like an rtf, of my work available so easily. There are zero barriers to editing a file of that type–just open it in your word processing program and do as you will. At least with the other formats some effort has to be made. 🙂 In today’s world anytime you put your work out for the world to see, it is with some element of trust that for the most part people do want to treat the creators of that work fairly.
Lori, I have sex scenes in my books, but I don’t do graphic descriptions, so I was waffling about whether “adult content” fit my books or not. Your comment made a difference to me.
Thanks for explaining the rtf thing. I don’t know why Smashwords has that option available.
Stacey Joy Netzel
Edie, great tips–thanks! For the adding author content at Author Central (AC)…a tip I figured out was that if you copy what you want to add to into Word Notepad, get rid of all the goofy characters or formatting, then copy/paste into AC from there, it doesn’t get all goofed up. That’s how I fixed the stuff I’d added from AC.
Stacey, good to know. Thanks! Someone also said there’s an html option at Author Central. But since I set mine up at KDP, I’ll stick with that for now.
Kathleen Irene Paterka
Edie, THANK YOU!!! As always, you are an AMAZING source of information! I have not ventured into the world of indie-publishing (yet), but I certainly am trying to pay attention to everything I hear and read – ESPECIALLY when it comes from you!!!
Interesting. I don’t know much about tagging on Amazon, so that helped A LOT.
Kathleen, I’m happy to help. When you decide to take the leap, you know you can ask me questions anytime.
Cynthia, thank YOU for emailing about my error in the blog, letting me know that I had “When choosing your formats, choose them all accept rtf” instead of except. It’s funny because I started the post talking about copy edit errors that our eyes slide over. I know Lori Devoti read this, too, and didn’t catch it, either.
Great tips as usual! I like that about typing tt anywhere on the page and having the tags come up. Very helpful.
Edie, I’ve changed my description through Amazon Central and it hasn’t made anything a mess….maybe something has changed or maybe that was just a particular experience?
Lori, I’m just reporting what I heard from the other loop. This is getting confusing. lol
Dale, just that tip alone would make it worth joining the IRI group. But I’ve learned others, too.
Edie, thanks so much for this terrific post! I’ve just implemented almost everything you suggested. What a stunning cover you have for “Entangled.” That’s got to be a terrific book with all those wonderful authors. 🙂
Linsey, Someone Else’s Daughter
Linsey, I’m happy to pass on what I learned from others. I’m glad that I’ve helped you. I just tagged and liked your book! Great title.
Great tips. I need all the help I can get!
Pepper, thanks for stopping by. I’m with you on needing all the help.
Thanks for this. I didn’t know about the tt tip. I’ve forwarded your article to facebook. Very helpful.
Sadly, even after paying two professional editors to edit Forged for me, I STILL had readers emailing me with lists of errors. Yeah, so embarrassing. I’d skipped one last crucial step in the editing process, sending the final/clean book out to numerous pairs of “fresh” eyes for a final proofing. Patti, a multi-published CP with various NY houses reminded me that traditional books go through layers of editing. Including a copy/line editor, and several proofing editors, but even then when the galleys arrive for review, there are always errors in them. She said she combs through the galleys, her mother combs through them, her agent combs through them and she has several friends with excellent eyes comb through them. This is the step I should have followed before uploading. *sigh* Live and learn.
Courtney said virtually the same thing in her series of editing articles. It’s too bad I didn’t read those first.
btw- the reason I didn’t put “this book has been professionally edited and formatted” in the blurb- is because someone contacted me from the loop who is extremely anti-Indie. She was asking when Forged was going up and wanted to know why my publisher didn’t have it for pre-order. She didn’t realize from cover, blurb and first chapter it was being self-published. Which on the loops she claims she can tell just by the cover and blurb. And I realized that for readers like her, who are so biased about Indie books. Putting that the book had been professional edited/formatted is going to alert them to the fact the book is an Indie and they will turn away. But if they can’t actually tell its self-published, they may buy it without ever knowing. *g
Interesting information, Edie. Amazing, all the things we don’t know we don’t know about ebooks. Kind of exciting to be a pioneer, huh?
Cathleen, I was just at your website. Wow! Congrats on your success. And that German cover is very…naked. lol I see that you do editing, too, at very reasonable prices.
Thanks for passing it on to Facebook!
Trish, I know about those errors. I had to go in and change 3 on my blog today. 3 different times! A friend had told me about one. I caught another myself. And then this afternoon, I saw another one. Those little buggers just sneak in there…
As I’m reading your book, I was thinking that Forged in Fire would be just the kind of book that publishers are looking for. I think it will be a hit, and you’re smart to go indie and get more of the royalties for yourself.
Chris, I’m always learning. There’s always something new. I’m so glad that other writers share freely what they’re learning.
Great post, as always! Best of luck with Entangled!
Once again, Edie, I learn so much from you. Thanks for sharing.