Monday, August 28, 2017

EBook Formatting Tips

EBook formatting may seem overwhelming at first. Even once we get the hang of it, there are still little details that are often overlooked. As authors, we want our eBooks to stack up those produced by the big publishers.

Here are some tips for producing a professional-looking product:

The layout is similar to print books. Keep in mind that text sizes can be changed by readers, so don’t overload the front matter - we want those who download a sample first to get a portion of the first chapter. The general page order should be:
Title page
Copyright page
Table of contents
About author
Other books by author or excerpt from next book - with purchase links if possible

Set font size to 12 and stick with standard fonts. Unusual fonts don’t translate well.

Clean up the manuscript. Remove all extra spaces at the end (and beginning) of paragraphs. Those extra spaces at the end could create a blank page.

Always use the “Paragraph” feature in Word (or similar feature in other programs) to set indents. If the tab key or space bar were used, remove all of those with the “Find and Replace” feature. Indents can be set at .2-.5 for fiction. (With the first line of each chapter not indented and the first letter a special character or larger size if desired.) Non-fiction isn’t indented–paragraphs are separated either by a line or by setting the spacing in the “Paragraph” feature.

Text should be justified for a more professional appearance.

Chapter titles/numbers are a couple sizes larger than the text font and usually centered. Use a “Heading” style (in Word) for chapter titles, adjusting it to the correct size and position. This helps when hyperlinking the chapters, as that feature will seek out headings.

Images and tables are often bumped to the next page. The nature of eBooks makes positioning them exactly almost impossible. (Unless you are creating an ePub in InDesign where you have a little more control over image placement.) Set them “in line” with text to create a smoother flow. Always use 72 dpi sized images.

Pages are impossible to control since readers can adjust the font size, so don’t include page numbers.

Once the eBook is formatted, chapters can be hyperlinked. Create at table of contents. In Word, highlight the words “Table of Contents” and go to the “Insert” tab. Click on “Bookmark” and call it ToC. Then highlight your first chapter title in your table of contents and click on “Hyperlink.” Choose “Places in this Document” and select chapter one. Repeat for the remaining chapters and double check after finishing.

There are two ways to include links. The actual link can be used or a hyperlink. If using the actual link, it must be the full web address.
Correct -
Incorrect -
For a hyperlink, highlight the text in the book and when setting the hyperlink, select “Existing File or Web Page.”

Be sure links line up with the retailer. Barnes & Noble will not appreciate links to Amazon in the eBooks they sell.

Follow these guidelines and produce a professional-looking eBook that readers will devour!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Do You Look Ridiculous If You Dance?

I was curious about how Goodnight Moon could be such a successful children’s book that it has sold millions of copies. It had no plot. It was repetitious and terribly simple. If its goal was to put toddlers to sleep, that was one thing, but I thought books were to enrich and engage readers. 

Then I stumbled on an article a few of months ago, and there was my answer. Margaret Wise Brown had discovered that books for this age group had to be about their own world, not one manufactured by an adult writer. Fantasy was great for older readers, but not those pre-schoolers who might even be confused by it. She’d discovered that for her readers “. . .the pleasure of language lies less in what it communicates than in its sound and rhythm.” [Amy Crawford,, January 26, 2017] 

"In the great green room
There was a telephone
and a red balloon
And a picture of–
The cow jumping over the moon. . ."

In her biography, The Great Green Room, Anne E. Fernald, writes that in Brown’s book there is “a love of color, joy in ordinary objects, repetition with unexpected variation.” [Anne E. Fernald, In the Great Green Room: Margaret Wise Brown and Modernism, November 17, 2015]

Then I began thinking that all of these elements are what I enjoy while reading. When a writer enables a vibrant color in words, that's exciting. I love seeing those azure seas or mountains soaring into black and turbulent clouds. 

Ordinary objects place me in a setting. Even if it's sci-fi and the world builder has created something that's not of this time and place, that object helps me "be" in the story. The neoprene wetsuit from Dune. The powered exoskeleton from Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Remember those ordinary object from the future? They were central to the stories, and I saw them clearly while I devoured the stories. 

And who doesn't love unexpected variation? Those surprising turns of words can be as exciting as a plot twist.

Gertrude Stein, who happened to be one of Brown’s favorite writers, appeals to older readers but using these three same techniques. Here’s some of Stein’s prose. Notice the "joy" in it, the ordinary things she refers to, and the "unexpected variation and repetition." So many of her words sing to you. A lot of grown-ups could use a good song after a day of being a grown-up.

“You look ridiculous if you dance
You look ridiculous if you don't dance
So you might as well dance.” Gertrude Stein

Everyone has a style, but sometimes writers can "borrow" a technique and play with it to see if it enhances their work. Evidently, that's exactly what Margaret Wise Brown did, and it worked--very well.

And so thank you and Goodnight, Moon. Goodnight, Miss Brown. Goodnight, Gertrude Stein. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

#IWSG -- Sometimes writing sucks.

Sometimes writing sucks

Why do I say that? Cause it’s absolutely true. I’d even dare to say that there are more days that suck being a writer than there are days that are truly amazing or noteworthy.

There are times when the 'writing well' is just empty.

And I don’t mean writer’s block. It’s more like, writer’s complete shutdown OR writer’s out-of-gas OR writer’s screeching halt.

You don’t feel like writing.
You don’t feel like editing.
You don’t feel like marketing.
It all just sucks.

You know what? That’s okay, because there are times when EVERY job out there sucks.
Being a ditch digger isn’t always glamorous.
Being a celebrity certainly has its ups and downs.
Try being a proctologist and tell me that every day is rainbows and unicorns.

So, it’s all good to have some down days because they will have to swing back up.

It’s true. Science says so.

It’s what you do when you’re down that can make the difference in your well-being, and for that matter, your career.

Don’t wallow. Don’t sit on your couch and pine for the good ol’ days.

Feed yourself.

Go where the people are. Watch. Listen. Maybe even join in. It doesn’t have to cost anything, except maybe some of your time.

Do stuff with family and/or friends. Lots of writers are introverts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t socialize with people you trust and understand you. Your family will appreciate it.

Read / Watch / Listen to entertainment. It’s okay. You’re not cheating on your writing. It will only help you become a better writer.

Meditate / exercise. I mean, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Learn a new skill to make your brain do something completely different. Check out YouTube for how-to videos on just about everything.

Fill up on all the good things around you and once you’re back in the upswing you will have TONS of new material to work with.

The life of a writer isn’t for wimps, so go kick some ass.


Don't forget to show us your insecurity on October 4th!

Check out all the details...HERE

There are some great prizes for the winners and some great IWSG SWAG to choose from – notebooks, pens, mugs, tote bags, etc.
Proceeds go to fund the upkeep of the IWSG site.

Monday, August 7, 2017

How Much Do You Know About Irony?

Read the complete post

Alanis Morissette should have read this Reedsy post before she sang Ironic. If she had she would have gotten irony right instead of. . .well, rather wrong. It's not ironic when you're already late and stuck in a traffic jam, now is it? And it's not ironic if it rains on your wedding day. Tsk. Tsk, Song writers. Call Reedsy before you tackle irony again because the only irony in the song, Ironic, is that the writers didn't understand irony. 

Reedsy On!


What Is Irony?
As Reedsy points out, "Irony is a storytelling tool used to create contrast between how things seem and how they really are beneath the surface." There are three main types of irony:  dramatic, situational, and verbal."

Dramatic Irony and Why Use It?
Simply put, dramatic irony occurs with the reader/audience knows what will happen before the characters do.  It's a great way to raise and sustain tension until the character finally is allowed in on the secret. Reedsy uses A Touch of Evil to show the effect of dramatic irony.  In the first scene, there's the planting of the bomb. Next, there are delays and some confusion. The bomb's ticking and we're the only ones who know it. 
  • Use dramatic irony if you want to create sympathy for a character or if you want to bring the reader closer to a character.  We all know Peter Parker's Spiderman, but the other characters in the story don't. That allows us to relate to him very differently than if everyone knew his secret identity.

  • Do you want your characters vulnerable? Give them a sense of security that doesn't really exist, and let the reader know the truth. They aren't safe at all.

  • Add a dash of comedy. Shakespeare did that with poor Malvolio and his "cross garter" fashion debacle. Reedsy uses a more modern example. "In an episode of Friends, Joey picks up Ross’s coat and a ring tumbles out — a ring intended for Rachel. When Joey kneels down to pick it up, Rachel assumes he is proposing and accepts. Comedy ensues as misunderstanding and miscommunication take the day." 

Situational Irony should not be confused with “coincidence” and “bad luck.” Here's Reedsy's example: "To differentiate, consider this: If you buy a new car and then accidentally drive it into a tree, that is both coincidence and bad luck. If a professional stunt driver crashes into a tree on their way home from receiving a “best driver” award, that is situationally ironic."
What does Situational Irony accomplish in a story?
Surprising twists like those found in thriller, crime, and mystery genres.
To emphasize themes. When the outcome is unexpected, we're made very aware of the underlying message. Reedsy gives the Tortoise and the Hare as an example of Situational Irony. 

Verbal Irony is when the intended meaning of a statement is the opposite of what is said. Somewhat like sarcasm, but not exactly because as Reedsy points out not all sarcastic statements are ironic. 
It gives insight into characters. In verbal irony, characters know what they're doing and why, so when they "intentionally state something that contradicts their true meaning" they reveal a lot about themselves.

If you'd like to read the complete post, go to REEDSY's site. It has more examples and more thorough explanations of each type of irony.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Show us Your Writer Insecurity

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

The August question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

July 27 was the very first IWSG Twitter pitch party, #IWSGPit. And it was a huge success!

Thanks to all who participated in or promoted the #IWSGPit Twitter pitch party. It was an incredible success – there were 2300 Tweets and we were a trending topic. The IWSG team learned a lot and the next #IWSGPit in January will be even better. Now that we’ve established ourselves and the site is a Writer’s Digest Top 101 Site for Writers, there will be five times the amount of publishers and agents watching the feed. Thanks again for such a successful event! - Alex

On August 24th at 2:00 pm EST, Chrys Fey will be participating in a LIVE YouTube interview with Evan Carmichael, an entrepreneur who she'll be interviewing about his book Your One Word and getting some great advice for IWSG members. You'll be able to watch the interview live HERE. You can set a reminder if you click on the link, or you can watch it later.The video will be uploaded in the August 30th IWSG newsletter issue.

Show Us Your Writer Insecurity!

Are you proud to be an insecure writer?

Then show us!

On Wednesday, October 4 (IWSG Day), post a photo of yourself (or your alter ego) with any of the IWSG swag or with the IWSG logo. Then leave a comment that day at either the IWSG website’s post or the IWSG Facebook post directing us to your photo. (All blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and newsletter members welcome, but photo must be posted on a blog or Facebook to qualify.)

The IWSG site admins will visit each one and pick the top three. Why? Because there are cool prizes involved:

Third place – EBook of A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford, eBook of The Remnant by William Michael Davidson, eBook of Cling to God by Lynda R. Young, eBook of Already Home by Heather M. Gardner, and eBook of Dragon of the Stars by Alex. J. Cavanaugh.

Second place – The entire eBook collection of the Totem series by Christine Rains, eBooks of Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie, audio book of CassaSeries by Alex J. Cavanaugh, eBook of Black and White by Nick Wilford, and your choice eBook from J.L. Campbell.

Grand prize winner - IWSG website interview, IWSG newsletter spotlight, IWSG pinned tweet for one week, C. Lee McKenzie's Featured Follower for the month, the IWSG Goodreads book club eBook for October/November, a short chapter critique, and a pair of IWSG erasers.

We have some great IWSG swag – notebooks, pens, mugs, tote bags, etc. Proceeds go to fund the upkeep of the IWSG site.

You have two months to prepare – show us your best insecurity!

Did you participate in #IWSGPit? Are you ready to show us your writer insecurity?