Category: Self-Publishing Page 1 of 3

Kindle Create

Let me explain the process I follow to create a trade paperback version and the Kindle version of my novels for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This may surprise you.

I write with Scrivener 3 (from Literature and Latte). I have been for years now and I LOVE the programme. The new Scrivener 3 boasted an improved compiler from that found in Scrivener 2 and I was excited about it. Excited until I started using it. It is supposed to be more user friendly. It’s not. It’s supposed to allow you to format your novel in whatever manner you wish. I don’t find it does. You need a PhD. It is NOT intuitive. Try something like Vellum and you will immediately see where Scrivener fails to support the author in formatting what should be a simple thing.

So what I do is compile to a Microsoft Word docx format and an ePub3 format. The docx is for the paperback and the epub is for the Kindle. With me so far?

The paperback version of my novels is so easy to do. I open the Word doc and tweak it. I make sure chapters start on the right side page. I add drop caps (where the first letter of the chapter is enlarged), correct fonts, add blank lines, etc. Once I am happy, I export to PDF, upload to KDP, preview how KDP processes it, and nine times out of ten it is perfect and I can publish the paperback. For those in the know, yes, KDP accepts docx. The conversion is poor though and I find PDFs almost are never modified by KDP and come out exactly as you wanted.

The Kindle version is not so easy. First, you need to understand that Kindle publishes eBooks in their MOBI format. KDP will convert your epub to a mobi when you upload it. KDP has been criticised by many for not describing the specific html code it uses to format the Kindle and invariably the mobi will not match what you formatted the epub to look like. It can be quite frustrating.

What I have been doing is the following:

  1. I compile from Scrivener 3 to ePub3.
  2. I open the ePub3 in Sigil (software to format ebooks). I spend around 2-3 hours formatting the epub with html code until it looks right. I save the epub.
  3. I open the epub in Calibre (an ebook library programme) and CONVERT the epub to mobi.
  4. I upload the mobi to KDP and cross my fingers. Nine times out of ten it looks the way I want the mobi to look (with drop caps, etc.)

I just did this with Cill Darae (Volume 5 of the New Druids series, pick up yours on April 30th!). After I was done, I noticed a little hyperlink on KDP introducing Kindle Create. I was like “wuh?”. I downloaded it, opened it, and cried in joy. Now, I know this has been around for a while (now I do, anyway), but to me this was NEW and SHINY! The good news is all I need to do now is load the docx paperback version, tweak the content to my ebook content (i.e. the ISBN for Kindle is different than the paperback), and save the file in the KPF format. I upload the kpf and BAM! I have a perfect mobi version of my novel.

I’m so happy right now. Time for wine.

New Duilleog Book Cover

I’ve commissioned a professional book cover for Duilleog. I’ve opted to go with a company based in Florida called JD and J Design. They seem reputable and their work looks exceptional. They promised me they can work an entire series and do the epic fantasy style cover I need.

The work starts on March 22, 2019. I’ve never done this before, and I don’t know what to expect. What I expect is a lot of back and forth discussion on the main themes I wish to capture. While that may appear to be simple, in practice I suspect it will be difficult. My existing covers were my design and over the years I have had more negative comments than positive. By far. Which is what led me to make this decision to change the cover.

Fun facts: My New Druids covers have a repeating theme you may have noticed. A tree is getting larger and larger, central to the cover. The bottom is bark. The upper portion is an idyllic scene with a castle predominant in it. And I change the colour of a separating line. And...that’s about it. The castle represents the politics and religious aspects and the tree represents the druids. Modern fantasy covers usually have a character displayed striking a pose with the background covered in some exciting scene of some kind. Its what people expect these days.

Homework: So what themes best represent the New Druids series to you? Let me know. Leave a comment or email me. For me, the New Druids novels are about the harmony of nature and how people can truly screw up a wonderful world through politics and religion. What would you expect, or like to see, on the cover of the New Druids series?

Beta Readers, Sci-Fi and Urban Fantasy

Beta Readers

Cill Darae, Volume 5 of the New Druids Series is almost through the second draft. I have a few beta readers lined up and I am still interested in more. Beta Reading is a task. It requires a critical mind and sense of what good epic fantasy is all about. If you are interested send me an email requested to be considered and why you think you are a good fit.

I’ve had the good and the bad with beta readers. A few I consider exceptional. Their feedback to me was invaluable and I’m so glad to have met these people. Some simply took my novels and that was it. Beta reading is critical to authors; it is through the back and forth that a novel starts to polish. Freamhaigh was the novel that saw the most feedback from beta readers and I find it stands above my other novels. So please, if interested, shoot me an email at donalddallan@gmail.com

Urban Fantasy

I adore urban fantasy. Its my dirty little secret. There is something about reading fantasy in a modern, urban setting that I really, really enjoy. There are some truly talented authors writing urban fantasy today [shoot me an email and I will share with you my list of favourite authors in this genre]. I would love to be one. I’ve wanted to write something in this genre for a while now and I think I have the start of a concept. That’s all: just a concept. The New Druids series was always much more than a concept: I had visualised the entire series, you see, almost in one painful flash of insight.

So, I need to flush out my urban fantasy idea a little (okay, a lot) more. Then I am going to try traditional publishing. I am prepared for rejection. I feel I have already become an accomplished author and have nothing to prove to myself. If it fails the big houses, then I will self-publish, again. The premise, in case you are curious, is a man finds a single torn page hidden inside an old book. It contains a spell for finding things, written in old English. He tries it, and it works. Then he wants more spells. But there is another group(s) looking for the same thing. And another trying to wipe magic from the world. And history, ancient history, from Arthurian legend starts to expose itself [with a nod to Mary Stewart]. Dun dun dun!

Anyway, that’s the premise. It doesn’t sound like much, but with my imagination, I am sure it is going somewhere interesting! I can say that I love my heroes simple: Honest people like you and me that suddenly find themselves having to do something extraordinary. And not knowing why, or how. Not like a certain series where the main characters are all omnipotent demigods. They would have a problem, struggle through chapters and chapters and then suddenly realise: “Hey, we’re gods…” and snap their fingers. Yes, I hated the Belgariad… The struggle is real, dammit!

Science Fiction

I still have a sci-fi novel on the back burner. It is the prequel to the New Druids series, but set in today’s time. Yes. I have a sci-fi novel that prequels my fantasy world.  I had flushed this story out (single novel) a number of years ago. Then I wrote myself into a corner by writing something truly horrible (I had an AI carrying on a conversation with the protagonist’s subconscious…shudder). Happily, the New Druids series sprouted from that seed. But, I need to write it and I will. It’s not a truly happy ending kind of book. It’s a little On The Beach, if you know what I mean. It yells at me for not writing it. It has an attitude. Nasty thing.

Amazon KDP Series Page

Amazon KDP provides a pretty neat service if you ask. They will establish a “series page” for your novels if you ask. Its a pretty useful link and you can direct all your novel traffic there for “one-stop” shopping.

I had Amazon set this up for me for when I had three novels in the New Druids series. I loved it and even went so far as to have my business cards and bookmarks provide a QR code to send people to the Amazon KDP series page.

Then I released Freamhaigh and Amazon dutifully updated the series page to include the new novel. In doing so, they changed the URL. Which meant that all my business cards and bookmarks I had made up were providing a QR code to a dated URL. I asked Amazon to correct this. Turns out they can’t. I’m not sure why; they simply provided a reply to me that they could not.

I’m an IT savvy fellow. I am disappointed to say the least. I know it can be done and translate their response to: its too much manual labour and if they do this for me they will have to do it for everyone. I’m guessing here. I will say that Amazon, as usual, have been very responsive and very supportive. They have even stated:

“I’ll take your concern as feature request and communicate the same to our business team for consideration as we plan future improvements.

Feedback like yours motivates us to dive deep and unearth ways and means which helps us in making publishing on KDP convenient with most features. We definitely value your opinion and will continue to listen and respond to our publisher’s concerns. We will make every effort to evaluate the information you have provided, and try our level best to lead it to program changes or enhancements.”

Interesting. It doesn’t help me now though. I have all these great cards and bookmarks that no longer function as intended. Another hit to Indie Authors, sadly. At least they are listening.

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