Tag Archives: formatting

Book Formatting Services Now Available!

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to start¬†offering formatting services soon. I now have that information gathered in one place… my Interior Book Design page! I’ve also updated the prices on my Book Cover Design page.

So, if you’re interested in having your book formatted for Smashwords, Kindle, and/or Createspace, here’s a list of the services I provide. ūüôā

 

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Ebook (Basic Formatting)

What I do: I clean the file of stray formatting and make the file compliant for both Kindle and Smashwords. Allows for one-to-five images, as provided by the author. I can insert a basic copyright page if needed. I also insert a table of contents and hyperlinks, where appropriate.

Cost:

$50.00 for up to 50,000 words

$75.00 for up to 100,000 words

What you get: .doc file for Smashwords and a ZIP file for Kindle (or .doc, if there are no images inside the file).

I allow for 1 round of cost-free corrections to be made after the file has been approved (this is to allow for proofing), as long as the corrections are requested within two months of the original approval of the project.  Note, for 50,000 word projects, I cap the amount of time put into corrections at 1.5 hours. For 100,000 words projects, the cap is 3 hours. After that, additional corrections during the first round will be $10.00 an hour. After the first round, corrections will be made at a rate of $15.00 an hour. For this reason, please provide the file that is closest to what your final product will be.

(Corrections made that are due to my errors will be made free of charge, so long as the corrections are requested within two months of the project’s approval date).

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EBook (Decorative Formatting)

What I do: Same as Basic Formatting, but stylized chapter headings are available and I can insert glyphs for section breaks. Exact details will depend on the book and its genre.

This includes the creation of 1 glyph (a stock image may need to be purchased, or I may design the glyph myself. You’ll have a chance to approve the design). Alternatively, you may provide the glyph. It also includes chapter headings and title text that have been stylized in a font appropriate for your book. (Again, you’ll have a chance to approve the design). Please note that I do not embed the font–I use images to ensure that the headings will be visible on multiple e-readers.

This option also allows for the insertion of 1 – 10 images, as provided by the author.

Cost:

$125.00 for up to 50,000 words

$175.00 for up to 100,000 words

What you get: .doc file for Smashwords and ZIP file for Kindle.

Examples:

Distant Horizon, Magic’s Stealing, The Poe Codec, M.O.B. (Mean Old Bastard)

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Print and EBook Formatting

What I do: Same as Decorative Ebook formatting, except that I also prepare a print edition for Createspace or Ingram Spark.  Because the process I use to format the file for a print book starts with the ebook file, the ebook files come with the print formatting.

Note: If I have created the cover of the book (separate cost–email me for information), I may be able to design a specialty chapter background page and/or title page based specifically on the cover.

Cost:

$250.00 for up to 50,000 words

$300.00 for up to 100,000 words

What you get: .doc file for Smashwords, ZIP file for Kindle, and PDF file for Createspace or Ingram Spark (Please specify which–additional costs apply when formatting a manuscript for both printers).

Examples:

Magic’s Stealing,¬†Distant Horizon, The Poe Codec

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Cleaned-Up Maps

If you have a sketch of a map that you would like included in your book, but need the file cleaned up, I can provide a cleaner version.

Cost: starts at $25.00 and goes up based on complexity. Contact me for a quote on your anticipated project.

What you get: JPG file suitable for ebook and print editions. You don’t have to use my other services to have this done.

Examples: 

(Click the¬†“Look Inside” option, then go back a couple pages to see the maps.)

Show Me the Sinister Snowman¬†–¬†This is an example of maps where I took the basic sketch and made a completely digital version.

Magic’s Stealing¬†– This is an example of a map that I took the pencil version and retouched in Photoshop, then added in the lettering

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.Doc to PDF Conversion

What I do: I take the file you send me (Note: You assume responsibility for having the rights to file to make this conversion) and I convert it into a PDF file. This is helpful if you want to do print edition formatting yourself, but don’t have the program necessary to make the PDF conversion.

Cost:

$25.00 per file

(Note: If you have multiple files that need converting, email me to get a quote for a lower price per file).

What you get: A PDF file in the specifications you provide.

If there are errors uploading, and the fault is mine, I will reconvert the file at no additional cost to you. Otherwise, I allow for three conversions of the same file within a two month period (to allow for proofing, etc) before the same cost applies.

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Interested in one of these services?

Contact me at: bookcovers (at) sbibbphoto.com

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Thoughts on Writing – Formatting Telepathy in a Novel

There’s a section I’m currently working on formatting in Distant Horizon, which has a lot to do with telepathy. And of course, that had me puzzling over the best way to format telepathy.

Originally, I had planned to designate telepathic sections using colons and italics, like this:

:This is a thought that you hear in your head,: the blogger thought to her readers.

However, I had several beta-readers say they didn’t like that formatting (never mind that I loved it in Mercedes Lackey’s¬†Magic’s Pawn),¬†so, since I want to make the book easier on the readers to read and enjoy, I made the change.¬†They suggested keeping with simple italics, tagged like dialogue to note that it’s telepathy.

That worked well in Magic’s Stealing, where telepathy is mostly limited to communication.

Then we get to Distant Horizon.

*Flop.*

There are several forms of telepathy in the Distant Horizon universe. Most telepaths specialize in one or two abilities, but a really powerful telepath can do any of these:

(Note: These aren’t their formal classifications, just how I’ll refer to them for the moment)

  • Communication (Sending thoughts).
  • Mind Reading (Getting a sense of what someone else is thinking).
  • Perception Manipulation (Changing what someone thinks they see/hear/touch, etc.)
  • Possession (Taking control of someone’s body through a mental link).

(…Hehe. I feel like I’m writing out optional skills for a role-play character. Let’s take three¬†points in communication and two in perception manipulation, please…)

The problem I’ve run into is how to denote each of these things, among other normally italicized sections.

Originally, I used italics to denote a few different things: telepathy, flashbacks that the characters is “experiencing” at the moment,” and telepathic attacks, in which what is happening is perceived entirely in the narrator’s mind.

When I was using the colons, it was easy to show that someone was communicating via thought, versus a person was having a short flashback, and when someone was communicating via thought during a flashback.

Fun, right?

Now, however, things have gotten a little more difficult.

For example, if the main character is thinking to¬†herself, it usually isn’t too hard to switch the italicized parts to a non-italicized thought, given this story is 1st person, past tense.

For instance, this:

He¬†winced, then handed me the notebook. “Look– I don‚Äôt know about either of us, okay?”

Wait. Either of us?

I gaped at him. “You‚Äôre not taking the pill, either?”

Becomes this:

He¬†winced, then handed me the notebook. “Look– I don‚Äôt know about either of us, okay?”

Wait. Either of us?

I gaped at him. “You‚Äôre not taking the pill, either?”

No big change, and in fact, I like it better. Otherwise, it really felt more like it was italicized for emphasis.

I read an interesting¬†article¬†that mentioned using italics for thoughts creates greater narrative distance. Since I want readers close to the MC’s perspective, removing¬†as many of these as possible could prove beneficial. (Plus, it makes Isaac happy. He never was a fan of all the italicized chunks I had in the earlier drafts).

But what about thoughts that are active? Thoughts that, by all right, should be 1st person present?

“What about you? Do you have this so-called persuasion power?”

He inclined his head. “Yes.”

You’re admitting to it? “You were using it last night,” I tested. “To get me to come with you.”

If I try to remove the italics, the paragraph doesn’t read right (or maybe it does, and I’m just being finicky). Technically, I could change the thought to “He was admitting to it?” and the sentence would read fine, but I’m thinking it sounds punchier if she’s directing an active thought toward him.

So I’m considering removing italics for thoughts that flow with the the past tense prose, or rearranging them into past tense when feasible, while leaving italics for thoughts that are in present tense, along with¬†thoughts which are¬†directed toward another person, even if that person can’t hear them.

The reason for this is that there’s a scene in which the main character unintentionally uses telepathy (I won’t say how, to avoid spoilers). However, some of what she’s broadcasting isn’t actively targeted, at least, it wouldn’t appear to be at first glance.

He gave me a pointed look. “Be careful with that thing.”

I winced. “I don’t plan on using it.”

“What you plan to do and what you do are two different things.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled, ducking my eyes from his scowl. All I wanted was a stupid reminder.

“And what you’ve got is trouble,” Inese retorted. I stared at her. I hadn’t said‚ÄĒ

“Now stop worrying about the shiny. We’ve got work to do.”

See what I mean?

If I remove the italics, it won’t be clear that the narrator¬†broadcasted the thought. But it isn’t directed at anyone, either, and kind of reads as if it’s just being emphasized.

But what if I only italicized thoughts that she¬†knows¬†is¬†telepathic. She’s new to the concept of superpowers. If the characters around her react appropriately, she doesn’t have to realize what she’s doing, and the readers will learn at the same time she does.

Try reading this passage again:

He gave me a pointed look. “Be careful with that thing.”

I winced. “I don’t plan on using it.”

“What you plan to do and what you do are two different things.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled, ducking my eyes from his scowl. All I wanted was a stupid reminder.

“And what you’ve got is trouble,” Inese retorted. I stared at her. I hadn’t said‚ÄĒ

“Now stop worrying about the shiny. We’ve got work to do.”

Since Inese is commenting directly on the narrator’s thoughts, and the narrator reacts with confusion, we can guess what has happened.

Plus, this allows for a lot of fun when she’s dealing with high-end telepaths. After all, they’re strong enough to manipulate her mind without her knowing that they’re changing her thoughts. Neither the narrator, nor the reader, actually know what is real and what isn’t, and which thoughts are actually hers.

Unreliable narrator, anyone?

Now, the problem with doing it this way is that there’s always the chance that the larger scenes involving telepathy (and there’s a huge one at the end of the story that prompted this particular blog post) may be confusing for the reader. That’s why I’m hoping to find a proofreader for this style of formatting before Isaac and I release the book. But for now, I think I’ve settled on this:

  • Thoughts directed toward someone/something in present tense will be italicized.

He inclined his head. “Yes.”

You’re admitting to it? “You were using it last night,” I tested. “To get me to come with you.”

  • Telepathic communication (when the narrator is aware these are¬†not her own thoughts) will be italicized.

Brainmaster clucked her tongue. Poor Miss Nickleson… Let me show you what happens to the people who rebel.

  • Flashbacks/memory attacks, where the narrator¬†is experiencing them but does¬†not¬†know this is a flashback will¬†not¬†be italicized. Tags may need to be included in the prose to help aid the reader.

Brainmaster clucked her tongue. Poor Miss Nickleson… Let me show you what happens to the people who rebel.

A rocket slammed into the ground, blowing a beast to bits. Sun scorched the back of my neck, and the stench of burnt flesh tainted the air. A blast of heat rolled over me. I shielded my eyes while debris pelted me with dirt. Something smashed into my chest. I removed my hand from my shirt and found it hot and sticky. The pain threatened to destroy my vision‚ÄĒ

(Since the main character cannot distinguish the manipulation from reality, this is not italicized).

  • Flashbacks/memory attacks that the narrator¬†is actively experiencing and¬†is¬†aware of, will be italicized.

The winding corridor opened to rows upon rows of floor-to-ceiling tanks, each filled with thick, greenish fluid. Bubbles traveled up the tubes, passing over occupants who had been stripped of everything but a breath mask. A helpless, sickening sensation spread through me. I stared at the liquid, petrified.

Brianmaster dragged me into a tube and shoved me inside, the numbing liquid surrounding me, slick against my skin. Burning.

I needed to escape, to breathe, to run‚ÄĒ

“Let’s not open these doors, ‘kay?” Jack said, jarring me from my nightmare.

(In this scene, Jenna is having a memory attack, and though she can’t escape it, she’s aware that the attack is happening).

  • Flashbacks where the character is “remembering,” but not really “experiencing” will not be italicized.

He put the training weapons aside and sat on the floor, stretching his fingers to his toes. “Besides, the Community’s boring. There’s no excitement. Do you remember when we used to pick blackberries off the neighbor‚Äôs bush?”

I nodded.

Walking home from school, we used to take the back ally to our parents‚Äô houses. One time I noticed a dark blackberry poking out from a broken slat in the fence. It was ripe, and touching the berry left a deep red juice stain on my fingertips. The neighbors could’ve been fined because the fence hadn‚Äôt been repaired in a timely manner.

(She’s recalling a memory, but she isn’t “experiencing” it, per se).

And, of course, I’ll use italics to emphasize certain words. And also for sound effects, foreign languages, etc, though I’ll try not to overdo it. ūüôā

So, now that I’ve got this sorted out in blog-post form, I’m off to finish formatting the italics in the manuscript. It’s not perfect, but hopefully the formatting will be smoother now.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. ūüôā Have you ever had to make a particular type of formatting distinguishable?

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Thoughts on Publishing – YA Paperback Prices

In my last post, I discussed my thoughts on pricing an indie card game. That got me thinking back to pricing paperback books. I’ve already determined that I’ll probably sell the paperback edition of¬†Magic’s Stealing for $7.99. It’s an odd price, but a compromise since there weren’t a whole lot of YA novellas in paperback that I could find to reference, and the ones I did find were by well-known authors, and therefore priced higher.

Since there’s a slight possibility that Magic’s Stealing may appeal to the upper range of the middle grade audience, I referenced the $7.99 price point of similar-sized books. Here, AR quizzes can be of use determining word count.

However, I’ve now been thinking about Distant Horizon¬†(a 97,500 Ya/NA science fiction novel), and wondering how I want to format the print edition. Granted, it still needs to be proofread, and Isaac and I are quite a ways from releasing it, but I like figuring out these things.

The print format that I used for Magic’s Stealing won’t work… we would end up with a huge page count, which means that the production costs would be too high to bring the book into local stores.

Createspace gives us the option to compare basic book costs, shipping, and royalties. With a quick check of the Distant Horizon file in the same format as Magic’s Stealing, I found that the initial page count was 450. That’s not including getting the chapter spacing formatted to look nice.

But let’s plug that into the calculator and get some numbers.

For a single copy of a 5.25 x 8 book, black and white pages with bleed, we’re looking at $6.25 for the¬†book and $3.59 for standard shipping. $9.84 per book.

Let’s take a look at volume discounting for a moment, since that’s what makes it possible to get these books into stores.

If we buy 25 copies of the book, we pay $156.25 plus $15.50 for shipping, for a total of $171.75, or $6.87 per book. Notice how much the cost per book went down? If we buy 50 copies of the book, we pay $312.50 plus $23.00 shipping (be sure to adjust your quantity value in both calculators). That’s $335.50 total, or $6.71 per book. A slight difference from 25, but not so different¬†that we couldn’t purchase the smaller quantity of books if funds are tight.

For royalties on Amazon (not looking at any expanded distribution options), we start making a profit at $10.99 (34 cents), $11.99 (94 cents), $12.99 ($1.54), $13.99 ($2.14), and $14.99 (2.74). Books printed in Great Britain need to be priced higher than the converted $12.99, or they lose money, while books printed in Europe need to be priced higher than the converted $10.99 or they lose money.

Keeping in mind that we¬†can adjust those prices separately, I’m not worrying¬†about non-US¬†prices right¬†at the moment.

However, without knowing how to format the book, it’s hard to say what the right price point is.

So I decided to run over to Hastings and take a look at their YA section. Figured I’d take twenty minutes to do some quick research.

One hour later…

*Ahem.*

Anyway, I came up with a list of various young adult books across different genres. I noted their title, my best guess at their genre (I referenced Goodreads¬†for a few of them), their page count (by last page of the story, not including front and back matter), line count per page (unfortunately I didn’t think to count the average words per line), price (there may be some variation here due to price stickers covering the price listed on the book), and book size.

I found that, overwhelmingly, the young adult paperbacks were 5.25 by 8 inches, or very close to that size (some variations from printer to printer should be¬†expected). In general, if they came from a traditional publisher, they were 5.25 x 8. Keep that in mind if you’re self-publishing, and you want your book to “look” professional. On the other hand, I briefly skimmed the adult section with the 6×9 book, and there were several more instances of the 6×9 trade paperbacks available. At some point I would like to go back and check the adult book¬†price points and line counts and such, since I think my previous research has suggested that the average adult trade paperback would sell for roughly $14.99.

Keep your target audience in mind, and research similar books to get a feel for how to format and price your own book.

This is the list of YA books I compiled at Hastings.

Michael Vey: Rise of Elgen (Science Fiction) – 6 x 9 – 335 pgs – 35 lines per page – $10.99

Hush, Hush (Paranormal Romance) Р5.25 x 8 Р 391 pgs Р25 lines per page Р$11.99

Perfect Chemistry (Contemporary Romance) –¬†5.25 x 8 – 359 ¬†pgs – 29 lines per page – $9.99

Barely Breathing (Romantic Thriller) Р5.25 x 8 Р 502 pgs Р32 lines per page Р$9.99

Perfect Ruin (Dystopian) – 5.25 x 8 – 356 pgs – 29 lines per page – $9.99

The Jewel (Dystopian Romance)- 5.25 x 8 – 359 pgs – 30 lines per page – $9.99

Beautiful Creatures (Paranormal Romance) – 5.25 x 8 – 563 pgs – 30 lines per page – $9.99

Eye of Minds (Science Fiction) – 5.25 x 8 – 310 pgs – 30 lines per page – $9.99

The Dark Is Rising (Complete Sequence, Fantasy) – 6 x 9 – 1082 pgs – 30 lines per page – $16.99 (The Amazon edition is different than the edition I found)

The Hunger Games (Dystopian – Original Edition) – 5.25 x 8 – 374 pgs – 29 lines per page – $8.99 originally. Now has sticker that says $10.99

The Hunger Games (Dystopian РMovie Edition) Р5.25 x 8 Р374 pgs Р29 lines per page Р$12.99

The Hunger Games (Dystopian РShiny Gold Edition) Р5.25 x 8 Р436 pgs Р27 lines per page Р$12.99

City of Bones (Urban Fantasy РNew Cover) Р5.25 x 8 Р485 pgs Р30 lines per page Р$13.99

The Sight (Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 464 pgs – 33 lines per page – $8.99

Graceling (Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 471 pgs – 28 lines per page – $8.99

The Demon King (Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 506 pgs – 29 lines per page – $9.99

The Testing (Science Fiction Dystopian) – 5.25 x 8 – 325 pgs – 29 lines per page –¬†$9.99

The Darkest Minds (Dystopian) – 5.25 x 8 – 488 pgs – 30 lines per page – $9.99

(About here I discovered that Dreamland is out. *Squee!* I’ve been wanting to read that since I read the first few chapters… *Ahem.* Back to cataloging…)

Mortal Gods (Mythology Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 366 pages – 33 lines per page – $10.99

Never Fade (Dystopian) – 5.25 x 8 – 507 pages – 30 lines per page – $10.99

Fourth Comings (Contemporary Romance… looks New Adult) – 6 x 9 – 310 pages – 31 lines per page – $13.99 (Amazon has the list price at $15.00, so I think this may technically be categorized as an¬†adult romance, though it was in the young adult section)

IMPORTANT: Some of these numbers may be incorrect due to my notes having tiny handwriting. I’ve linked to the books in the Amazon store where available, and those may have product details for the print editions that include the front and back matter. As another note, you could probably do a lot of this same research on Amazon by checking the scratched-out list price when you have the paperback edition selected.

I also found that hardback books tend to lean toward the 6 x 9 mark, but they completely vary as to the exact size, and some are considerably smaller. Also, font size and line spacing varied from book-to-book, so when formatting your own book, be sure to take that into account, and study your favorite books in the genre of the book you are formatting.

Now, let’s do the same categorizing for Magic’s Stealing that I did for the above books.

Magic’s Stealing¬†(Fantasy) – 5.25 x 8 – 158 pages – 28 lines per page – $7.99 (once the print edition is available)

Based on the above list, most of the YA books are sized 5.25 x 8 inches, typically range around $9.99 to $10.99, higher if they’re a well known book. Based on this sampling, there aren’t as many at $11.99 as I originally thought, though more research may be needed regarding specific genres. The biggest benefit to this list that I see for Distant Horizon¬†is that a large number of those books allow for 30 lines per page, which can significantly decrease page count. Additionally, something I didn’t check for at the time is the average word count per line, which would give a rough font size estimate.

Let’s go back to our Distant Horizon book and see what happens. I lowered the font size (which isn’t the end-all answer, but this is a rough estimate), which brought the line count to 31 lines per page (a little high, but still acceptable), and now only have 370 pages. Let’s round this to 400 pages, since formatting changes could increase the count.

With those variables, a single book is $5.65 plus $3.59 shipping, or $9.24 per book. A volume purchase of 25 books would be $141.25 plus $15.50, for a total of $156.75, or $6.27 per book. 50 copies would be $282.50 plus $23.00, for a total of $305.50 or $6.11 per book.

At the common price points, a 5.25 x 8, 400 page book would profit on US Amazon at 34 cents ($9.99), 94 cents ($10.99), and at the uncommon prices $1.54 ($11.99), and $2.14 ($12.99)

Let’s say that we want to take this into local bookstores. We choose to pick up 50 books to start with, so each book costs us $6.11. At the high end, a store asks for a 40% discount, which doesn’t work at all for the $9.99 book, but yields about 50 cents for the $10.99 book, or $1.09 for a $11.99 book.

So… it is possible to sell the book to stores at a 40% discount, though the profit wouldn’t be high. The profits would increase as the store’s requested discount decreases.

Alternatively, we could hand-sell the book at conventions, keeping all profits for ourselves (minus sales tax… and the cost of a booth), earning $3.88 per $9.99 book. Potentially, we could list it as $11.99, and still have room to discount it at conventions. However, it’s still not the best price point available, and I’d need to play with formatting to get the lowest number of pages possible, while still keeping the book as readable as possible.

Remember, poor formatting can drive a reader away from a book without them ever knowing why, while good formatting can help them ease into the reading experience, so make sure your book is readable to your target audience.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and¬†these are just a few things to consider when you’re preparing to format your book. Good luck. ūüôā

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Thoughts on Publishing – The Excerpt at the Front of a Print Book

I’m in the process of creating a paperback edition of Magic’s Stealing. I’ve got most of the formatting complete, save for a couple blank pages, and I’m currently focusing on adding an excerpt at beginning of print book. The idea is that as soon as a potential reader opens the book, the first thing they see is a teaser that makes them want to read more (and encourages them to be patient if that scene takes time to reach).

Keep in mind, when a reader is browsing a book store or examining a book at an author’s table, they will likely look at the cover, then at the back cover blurb, then¬†at the excerpt on the first page of the book. The goal is to draw them in more and more until they choose to buy the book.

This is how I ended up buying The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross (and ultimately loving it) at a Barnes and Noble. I’ve seen other books do the same. Adding the excerpt provides a teaser so that the reader knows what to expect.

(You might see another form of this on a hardcover book, but the excerpt may be on the back cover, usually something of action or intrigue, with the blurb inside the cover flaps).

Let’s take a look at Magic’s Stealing and see how this compares.

Back Cover Blurb:

For centuries, ribbons of magic have provided the kingdom of Cirena with light, healing, and protection. Then, in a span of minutes, those ribbons fly from their masters, stolen, save for the magic of a few chosen mages. One of these mages is Toranih, a young noblewoman who would rather have a sword in her hand than use her powers to heal or throw fireballs. As a result, her magic skills are lacking. But with former mages dying from magic withdrawal, and the looming threat of an army of shadows who are impervious to mortal weapons, she must either embrace the responsibilities of a mage or watch her home perish.

Whatever excerpt I choose, the excerpt should enhance the understanding of the content inside the book.

These were the two excerpts I’m considering:

First Excerpt

Toranih cast a glance toward the distant mountain and shivered. The closer they came, the more her unease grew. It wasn’t her usual dislike of magic. As close as they were now, the magic inside the forge glowed like a star. Yet the whole place was shrouded with a thick fog, a veil that kept the magic hidden from the distance.

She frowned.

She could almost see thin filaments weaving through the fog, like the shadows of strings from a poorly played puppet theatre. The filaments lashed out in different directions, disappearing as they touched bright, sunlit sky. She tilted her head and squinted, but the strings vanished altogether.

She shivered and returned to picking at the soft innards of her roll.

There was something different about that magic. Wild. Unsteady. Like a foal that hadn’t been broken, and might never be. The magic was curious, like a dark storm cloud spewing cracks of thunder and lightning when the rest of the land was gold.

Toranih shivered.

All this magic was bound to cause strange visions.

So why was she drawn to follow?

In this excerpt, we get a glimpse at shadow magic, a sense of eeriness, and a taste of the¬†writing style. There is a also a question at the end, which would hopefully draw a reader’s attention. However, this scene doesn’t jibe with the back cover blurb. We have a mountain forge, shadowy, string-like magic, strange visions, and some kind of call to follow that magic. While the scene should be intriguing in itself, it doesn’t mesh well with the blurb.

Second Excerpt

Toranih could actually see faint ribbons in the distance, rising from their masters. The ribbons streamed into the sky, a dazzling array of colors, then fled east, away from the city in a glaring river.

She looked at the bowl again and blinked her eyes to clear the spots. She had to know what was going on. The liquid had gone milky-white, but if she could see what was happening . . .

She ran her fingers along the strings at the top of the water. One here, one there. The tips of her fingers tingled as lavender wisps flooded the bowl. The image swirled, faint. The mountain forge reappeared. The man held his sword fixed between both hands, raised to the sky. His feet were spread strong under his shoulders. Ribbons streamed to his sword from across the kingdom. The sword glowed bright and brighter, and as the screams outside died into a disjointed murmur, the sword faded and the image darkened.

The water was clear now, devoid of life.

Everyone’s magic had fled into the stranger‚Äôs sword.

First, this excerpt shows the ribbons mentioned in the blurb. Second, we see Toranih using magic (which conflicts with her dislike of magic, but the blurb does say she must embrace the responsibilities of being a mage). Third, we see a bit about the antagonist. Fourth, we see the event that the blurb mentions, and the end of the excerpt sets the problem up further.

Ultimately, I’m thinking the second excerpt is a lot stronger as a potential hook, especially when paired with the back cover blurb.

I hope you find this post helpful. ūüôā Have you considered adding an excerpt to the front of your book?

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Thoughts on Publishing – A To-Do List

I launched the cover reveal and announcement of pre-orders for Magic’s Stealing¬†yesterday, so make sure to check that out if you haven’t already. ūüôā

In the meantime, I¬†have¬†ideas for new posts, primarily based on my¬†writing process, though they do include minor spoilers (per usual) for the¬†various stories.¬†Possible topics include “Developing A Magic System – Glass-stone (The Wishing Blade series),” “To Swear or Not to Swear,” “How to Keep Characters Alive Under Dire Circumstances/Using Game-play to Solve a Story Problem (The Multiverse Chronicles),” and “Dealing With Multiple Character Motivations in a Scene (The Wishing Blade series).” Let me know if any of them stand out to you that I should write first.

For now, though,¬†I thought I’d go over my publishing process from the past couple days. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Last couple days:

  1. Marked up paper manuscript of Magic’s Stealing. Input changes into ebook file.
  2. Added the table of contents and platform-specific adjustments to each file.
  3. Quickly proofed both files with their table 0f contents on my Kindle.
  4. Uploaded files to Smashwords and Kindle (and discovered that if you have the final file ready, you can set the pre-order for only a couple days away).
  5. Checked that those files uploaded properly the next day.
  6. Added the book to Goodreads.
  7. Changed my accounts to have new author photo.
  8. Updated the main Infinitas Publishing website with the new book cover, blurb and links. Corrected Battle Decks name, and added a blog post.
  9. Tweeted the pre-order announcement from the publisher account (which is specifically meant for announcements).
  10. Prepared a blog post announcing pre-orders and revealed cover. (Thank you to everyone who shared the post! I appreciate it. ūüėÄ )
  11. Responded to tweets.
  12. Sent email to potential reviewer and cover reveal/book launch blogger.
  13. Sent emails to beta readers to offer a thank-you copy of the final ebook.
  14. Wrote up this list to help me keep track of what I’ve done thus far.

Up next:

  1. Complete book cover assignments from separate project (I’m really glad I got through most of those before trying to launch Magic’s Stealing).
  2. Update author photo on Author Central for non-US countries, since they have separate web logins.
  3. Research potential reviewers and make contact.
  4. Continue editing The Multiverse Chronicles episodes. Isaac is getting well ahead of me in getting the rough draft written.
  5. Start writing The Shadow War (I have the first portion written in rough form, but I already know there’s a few big changes I need to make before continuing).
  6. Take a break every now and then. Probably in the form of role-playing one of my favorite characters in the current campaign with Isaac. (Side note: It will be a while before that particular story gets written. It’s highly convoluted… which is what happens when dealing with a super-powerful fourthwaller. *Ahem.*)

That’s the plan.¬†I hope you enjoyed this post. ūüôā Have you had any experiences with preparations for releasing a book?

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Filed under Business Ventures, Writing

Formatting Print Books – and Behind the Scenes – The Tune of Murder

SBibb - The Tune of Murder - Wrap-around Cover

This is a cover I did for Liquid Amber Publishing. Initially, they were looking for formatting of the print edition (since she had the kindle version ready), and since I’ve had some experience with formatting books for my own purposes, I agreed to the job. I had a lot of fun examining other books in the genre to try to emulate the style of formatting as best I could, and it’s something I recommend doing if you plan to format your own book. Pay attention to how chapter headings start (like those first lines… is the first letter of the first sentence¬†a drop cap? Is the whole sentence capitalized? Italicized?), and how the chapters are numbered or headed. Look out for orphaned words and sentences at the end of the chapter that land on an otherwise blank page. See if chapters always start on an odd page, if they continue immediately after the previous chapter left off, or on the next page. Check that your numbers and headings are centered (especially where the ruler wants to indent everything). Make sure your table of contents, if you have one, matches up to the correct pages. If you’re using Microsoft Word, learn how to use styles. (This saves quite a bit of time in the long run. I recommend reading Smashwords’ formatting guide to pick up on the basics of simple ebook formatting, which can save time in print formatting, as well). Check for “rivers” of blank space running across the page. Decide (by printing out test sheets), the size of the font and how much space you want between the lines. It’s not necessarily best to go with single or double-space, and you can individually set paragraphs in Word. In some cases, I shortened a cluster of paragraphs on a single page in order to keep a section break from looking unwieldy on the second or third line of a page.

Side note: Having Adobe Acrobat Pro (I have version 9) is seriously helpful when converting a word document to a PDF that Createspace will recognize. I found this link to be fairly helpful in regards to PDF conversion: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1331

As for the cover, they wanted something that resembled the cover for the ebook edition, but since that same cover wasn’t available for print, we opted to try something slightly different. This is what we came up with:

SBibb - The Tune of Murder - Cover

Stock photo from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-candle-illuminates-music-paper-image22544191

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Filed under Book Covers, Client Work, Photo Illustration