Dear Indie | Fonts, Vectors, & Scams, Oh…snap!

Hi Indies! I’m back, and I have links!

In my last post, I touched base on some of the issues we DIY’ers face when working with a small budget and little-to-no experience. Formatting an eBook, which has “Floating Text” vs. formatting a paperback with “Fixed Text” is not only different, but sometimes it can be more difficult. Getting things to stay where you want them isn’t quite as easy when nothing’s pinned down.

But, Let’s Take It Back a Step

Before I was reminded of the whole issue with mobi changing fonts, my plan was to make the interior formatting of my eBook more cohesive with the cover. At first, I thought I could use the same title page I’d created on Canva for my paperbacks and insert it as an image into the document, like so…

Avarice Unleashed Title Page-page-001

Note: Canva only uses ‘free for commercial use’ fonts, so don’t worry about including something you create there in your books. If you’re ever in doubt, you can run a search online to make sure there are no restrictions on the font(s) you used.

The problem with using images happens when converting to a different file type. I not only use Calibre to create my ARC’s in EPUB, PDF & MOBI, but to get a general idea of what my eBook will look like on a Kindle once it’s published. Unfortunately, Calibre detects the title page image as the cover, even when I try to leave the first page blank and insert the image on the second page. That means, I can’t add the real cover without it replacing the title page, altogether.

So, I went in search of the next best thing: Free fonts!

I don’t know about your relationship with search engines, but mine is abysmal at best. I can never conjure the accurate key words to get the results I’m looking for. I’m especially leery about searching for things that will have potentially scammy results. Instead, I always look for articles about the best sites for that particular item. Because, there are a million bloggers who’ve already made that list for me. 😉 (Thanks, bloggers!)

I found an article naming the top free font sites that are not only legit, but specify license use types – This is crucial when dealing with publishing, because just like photographs, anything that is created by someone (a designer/artist/writer) is protected by copyrights and you don’t want to risk backlash of any kind.

Now usually, I end up checking out most, if not all of the sites an article lists–but I fell in love with the very first one I clicked on.

Font Squirrel is 100% legit and they go beyond awesomely user-friendly, right into amazeballs. Most sites will have a list of things you have to click on to find out what kind of license it has–not with this site. They tell you right under the font name with 4 little icons which appear in the order of: a monitor, a globe, a tablet, and a mobile phone.

FontScreenShot

These indicate what kind of license the font provides. If all of them are lit up as you can see in the red circle, then you’re good to go and can use that font everywhere for any reason. But, as shown by the blue circle near the bottom, if only 1 or 2 are lit up then you need to be careful how you use the font. 

For us writers, the icon you want lit up is the tablet – this is the commercial license that allows you to use the font in Ebooks and PDF documents. So, for the example screen shot above, the fonts “Chausson” and “Mondia,” would NOT be permitted in publishing eBooks or PDF files of any kind, but “Go,” and “Be Vietnam” would be allowed.

And when I searched their site for a font they didn’t have, it didn’t just pop up with a “Sorry,” it also gave me this: 

FSSS1Hi, can we get any more user friendly and super helpful than this? I know several sites that should be taking some serious notes here! 

Next, I wanted to find those decorative elements I’ve seen in other books and came across Public Domain Vectors. The absolute best feature this site offers, aside from a massive amount of FREE for commercial use vectors and clipart, is the SVG Editor.

PDSS1PDSS2

An SVG Editor is what you need to convert a Vector file into a Picture file like JPEG or PNG. Without the conversion, you’re not going to be able to use that image anywhere. Every other SVG editor online requires that you sign up, even if it’s free, they won’t let you use it without first becoming a registered member. No, thanks. I don’t plan on converting enough vectors to warrant a ton of spam mail.

The SVG Editor on this site is fast, easy to use, and best of all – doesn’t require a login! 😀

Another good place to search for vectors and clipart is Pixabay. Almost everyone uses Pixabay already for their license-free photos because they’re one of the rare sites that doesn’t require you to attribute/credit or link back to the photographer/designer, and often the site will have items you can’t find anywhere else.

One final mention is a site I would caution you TO AVOID and that is: all-free-download[dot]com. This site and the site it “links” to when you click on an artist’s name – are both 100% SCAMS.

One vector I downloaded, unzipped as an entirely different image altogether, so I went back to the original image on their website and “saved as” then ran a Google Photo search and that same sheet of designs has been circulating as a scam for years AND originated in Asia.

Another Vector file I downloaded and unzipped gave me only an .ai file. The extension .ai stands for and is strictly used with Adobe Illustrator. Now, if you happen to get a LEGITIMATE .ai file, you can convert it easily and for free with an online converter, or even by changing it to a PDF in your own computer and opening it that way. However, these were NOT legit extractions, since the only thing that opened was a warning from Adobe that the file belonged to them.

I ran my C-cleaner & virus software after that to put a stop to any tracker bugs or malware those files likely downloaded onto my computer. People don’t scam you for no reason. So, if they’re not charging money, then they’re probably attacking you through your own computer. It’s best to just avoid that site completely!

In my next post, I’m going to confess to another sort-of scam I fell for and talk about book editing sites/software. 

❤ Does anyone have a tummy ache from eating all that chocolate yesterday? I know, I wish I did, too… 😐 

p.s. If you’ve never installed fonts onto your computer before, I’m excited to say I just learned how to do that, myself. This is only for Windows, though (sorry, Mac users!)

  1. Go to Start Menu
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. Find the “view by” option on the screen (usually in the top corner)
  4. Choose one of the icon options (large or small) – as this will allow you to see ALL of the folders
  5. Find the “Fonts” folder (it might take a minute or two for your computer to load all of your available fonts.
  6. Drag and drop your new font files anywhere on the screen and it will do the rest for you.

Vjola! Now, when you open your word processing software, those new fonts should be available to you.

Dear Indie | Book Formatting: More Error than Trial

First, Happy Free to Consume as Much Chocolate as You Want Without Feeling Guilty About It Day! ❤ I mean, why else do we celebrate it, really? 😛

Hi Indies! Long time, no post. I’ve been up to no good this past week, which has given me a ton of new resources and info to share with you about the nasty, tedious self-publishing step of formatting your book. Dun-dun-duuuun…! As such, I’ll have to break these up into separate posts (oh, darn).

The Biggest -ish With Book Formatting?

Money. Most writers are on a tight budget, so you’re probably not paying a professional to format and style the layout of your book. I made the mistake of hiring a cheap formatter with my first Indie book and ended up not even using the file because I was able to make one that was more attractive. This lesson taught me two valuable things:

  1. You definitely get what you pay for sometimes, and
  2. If and when you can, always ask for an example of a professional’s work BEFORE you hire them.

The second biggest -ish, is experience &/or training in professional formatting. Many of us just don’t have it. This whole issue came about for me, not because I’m awesome and have a new book coming out – but because I noticed that even on Kindle Unlimited, people who read the Avarice books never go on to read Hexed, which is the next book in line for the series.

It dawned on me that Avarice “looks” like a trilogy, rather than the beginning of a series, and added to that, there’s no information about Hexed in the back matter of those books because it didn’t exist at the time they were published. I decided that needed to be updated ASAP.

That’s when the publishing gods pushed me down the rabbit-hole and straight into Formatting Hell. Don’t laugh, it’s a real place.

The madness that ensued sounded something like this: “Well, since I’m already updating these files, I might as well make them look prettier while I’m at it!”

When you’re done laughing, we can move on…

What’s So Hard About Formatting, Anyway?

As readers, I’m sure you’ve noticed that some author’s eBooks have stylized fonts and decorative elements – even on Kindle! If you’re an Indie who’s formatting your own books without extensive, professional training, then you know that mobi is the only file extension that won’t support your beautiful font choices and will immediately change them when you upload to KDP or convert via Calibre.

That’s because Amazon likes to give people the choice of changing the fonts on their Kindle devices to one that’s easiest for them to read. So, how is that some authors manage to have these spectacular looking books that stand out in the competitive crowd? If you guessed it’s because they’re paying fancy professionals, that would be correct.

Unfortunately, after taking many avenues, all of which led to dead ends, I have hoisted my white flag and surrendered to the fact that there is no way for a non-professional, non-experienced formatter, to create a book file that KDP won’t strip bare upon arrival. Pervs.

So, if you’re in the same boat as me, my advice is this: just use a supported font like Times New Roman and apply ‘font effects’ such as Small Caps or Italicize to spice things up, so mobi won’t have a hernia. Save yourself the head-and-heartache, I already went through all of that for you the last few days.

‘Twas Not All in Vain

During this painful process, I managed to find some good sites and after a couple of days of vicious tweaking, I finally got one of my files completely updated and polished with a prettier interior than before. Wanna see?

BEFORE
AFTER

And I also changed out those ordinary **** scene break indicators for a decorative divider. See?

Vjola!

On top of those items, and adding all of the info for Hexed, I went ahead and cleaned up/reorganized some of the other front and back matter pages that were suffering from “This was the first book I ever formatted” syndrome. LOL I haven’t uploaded the new file to KDP just yet to know if there will be any issues – so fingers crossed!

Quick Note For Aspiring Writers: Never worry about updating books you already have published on KDP, it doesn’t render that book unavailable, your original version will stay active for purchase until Amazon approves and publishes the new file.

Up Next, I will go over the sites I found with links and details for fonts, clipart/vectors, graphics –  plus my experience with two different eBook editing programs so far!

❤ Seriously, who’s got the chocolate?

Confessions of a Hybrid Author | WTF?

Stop spending money on marketing. Seriously, put your credit card down and back away from the computer, this is not a drill.

Confession Time: I’ve written a couple of books that you’ve never seen or heard about because I don’t have them linked to any of my social media accounts, nor do I have them listed on my Goodreads or Amazon Author Page.

Why?

Because they’re old, excessively under-edited, and my publisher pissed me off (multiple times), so I decided that I was going to let them hide under the radar until I’m given my rights back. I can be a petty bitch that way.

How does any of this relate to marketing?

Because, they freaking sell! They sell even though I have done EVERYTHING in my power to keep them from selling. My publisher doesn’t provide marketing services – which is common with ePubs – and I have never advertised these books. They weren’t given to beta readers, I didn’t announce their release dates, and they have ZERO reviews.

If you were to go off the advice of every well-known, respectable marketing guru in the world, there is absolutely no way these books should be selling at all, let alone more copies in a 6 month span than my highly-marketed Indie books with 5-Star reviews!

I’m so gobsmacked right now. I just got my 6 month sales report and all I could do was stare at the print out like WTF just happened? First and foremost, it was not a good surprise – I’d been banking on NO book sales helping me get my rights back sooner. Secondly, it totally blew all of my beliefs right out of the water that it’s lack of MARKETING hurting my other book sales.

What a load of crap. Just stop. Don’t bother wasting your money. Apparently, if you want your books to sell, authors, all you have to do is try to make them NOT sell.

❤ And, I’m out.

p.s. If by some weird chance you decide to put this exercise into practice and it actually works, please, please let me know! It would be a trip to find out that I just inadvertently stumbled across the real secret to selling books – and yes, I’m still unhappy about it.

Dear Indie | Genre Trends

Hi Indies!

Have you ever noticed that whenever a certain genre niche gets popular, the market is suddenly inundated with a ton of similar books? Secret Baby trend hits big and – BOOM – 100,000 new secret baby books hit the market overnight. WTF? Were all those authors actually sitting on a finished book, just waiting for that particular niche to make it big before publishing? Why didn’t I think of that?! Ugh!

But is that the truth of the situation, or just how it appears? Are niches really popular long enough for authors to start a book from scratch and publish it while the trend is still hot–or do they just have remarkably lucky timing with what they’re already working on?

These aren’t the only questions I find myself scratching my head over when it comes to why certain books make it and others don’t, despite how alike they are. Of course, we already know why some books make it big, even from unknown authors – it’s because they had that extra. It doesn’t matter what the extra was, it set them apart from the competition. For example: Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent are all YA/NA Dystopian/SciFi and deal with a society or group of people “trapped” in one place, oppressed or strictly governed by a more powerful force. They have a romantic entanglement tossed in or love triangle, which is a common trope for this genre – yet they are so distinctly different with their “extra” that they made it through the mountains of books that just weren’t different enough – or weren’t written as well.

Those are the two key factors: Uniqueness and Well Written. The bonus third factor of course, is marketing/branding/exposure.

But I’ve got a 4th key factor that I never paid any attention to in the past, and maybe you haven’t either: Genre Trends.

I’m not saying you should be searching for a daily report while obsessively typing away to try to get a trending niche book out on the market before it drops in popularity – I’m saying once you have the book you just had to write finished, check the market trends before publishing. There’s a possibility that if you hold off just one week, two months, etc. your book will actually do 100% better at its launch, then if you publish too soon (or not soon enough).

We spend so much time and effort ensuring that our books are at their best before introducing them to the world at large, doing this one extra step is definitely not going to hurt. Impatience is just as big an enemy as procrastination. I for one am going to add this step to my pre-publishing process from now on – and maybe I’m the only one here who hasn’t actually been doing it this whole time (that would not surprise me, lol!) I just wanted to share in case others haven’t been paying any mind to the current trends when they publish, either. And I also wanted to mention it for those of you who are still aspiring writers, for future reference.

I’ve stumbled upon a good website called “Watched Plot Never Boils” that is specifically designed to keep authors up to date – weekly – on MOST genre’s niche trends. It covers quite a bit of the common genres, but misses others. Though, the website owner might be open to suggestions. It’s pretty cool, if you want to check it out and I’m sure it’s not the only one, but I like it. Week by week the trends don’t change much so it can get a little repetitive – but if you only hop on there to check out your specific genre when you’re getting ready to publish, it’s quite informative breaking down the niches, character types, and plot tropes in a way that’s fun to read rather than dry and analytical. But, as with everything else in this industry, double and triple check your information and never rely on just one source for the whole picture.

Now, I’d like to pose some questions, which you can answer in the comments below or just use as food for thought. 🙂

  1. Do you write only according to what’s popular at the time or do you write your own thing and hope for the best?
  2. Do you often find yourself searching for a way to add a new twist – that “extra” – to an old, favorite theme? ( i.e. fairytales, mythology, etc.)
  3. Would you ever sacrifice your true “writer” self just to sell books? i.e. write differently (or in your opinion, worse) than normal, try a POV you’ve never used before, or write about topics you typically wouldn’t, etc.?
  4. Do you hold fast to the long-standing belief that publishing one astonishing book a year is the best practice – or, do you think that’s become outdated and no longer smart business for the modern-day, e-commerce marketplace?
  5. Last, but not least and this is a 2-parter. #1: What’s your view on ghost writers and do you think they’re in more use today than ever before due to the high demand for faster release dates? #2: Would you take an entire year off (or longer) from publishing to just write, so that you could have multiple finished books to publish in faster succession or would you rather hire a ghost writer to pick up the slack?

❤ Okay, that’s all the questions (for now) 😀 Happy Hump Day, Indies, make it a good one!

A Day With My Muse

As I’m watching the calendar zip toward the end of the year, I’m really feeling the pressure, and all of my 2019 goals slip right through my fingers. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, I’ve just been writing everything except the books I had planned to finish before the end of the year.

Discipline is great advice–if it actually worked for my dysfunctional muse (aka creative flow). Unfortunately, whenever I try to force myself to focus on a certain book, rather than the one my muse wants to work on, I end up spending hours staring at a blinking courser while she sits on the sidelines filing her damn nails.

Any amount of words you can get down for any WIP is progress. This is a golden truth and we should never deny ourselves the credit for those small, random accomplishments. I just wish mine were on the WIPs I need to get done first. There’s a natural order to writing, or at least there should be. Especially, if you’re like me and juggle an extensive amount of series. Oldest series should be getting new installments published before newer series, right? And definitely well before new stand-alone’s that can wait.

My order is slightly different. My older series are with my publisher, rather than self-published so I’m not in any hurry to add to those until I get my rights back. #sorrynotsorry. My goal order begins with my oldest Indie books – the Hell on Earth series would be first and I hit that one out of the ballpark by introducing Hexed earlier in the year. Yay, team! The Dark Day Isle series would be next…. (looks around for muse, and finds her ecstatically pointing toward book 3 of my Ulfrinn series.) Erm…no. I just said, we’re not adding more books to the series that are still with the publisher.

After three days of staring at the blinking courser, I break down. Fine! We’ll work on the damn 3rd book to the Ulfrinn series until you get bored with it!

One week later….

I’m now staring at a blinking courser for book 3 of the Ulfrinn series, so I guess she’s finally bored with it. What are we working on today, muse?

“I had an idea.”

No. No, you didn’t–

“Yes, I did and it’s totally awesome, you wanna hear it?”

No, I–

“SOOOOooo, this is how is goes…”

😐

Two days and one new WIP added to the pile later…

This has been my year so far; lather, rinse, repeat. How are your 2019 goals shaping up, writers? Are you struggling to meet them, surpassing them or just happy with writing anything at all? Do you often find yourself at odds with your muse or did you get a fully-functional, helpful one?

There’s an endless supply of advice out there on the world wide web about how to conquer, control and keep your creative flow in line – and I really hope you’re all finding something useful to help you along your journey. They often don’t work for me because much of it centers around being a Plotter, which I will never be. I couldn’t plot a book to save my life. I’m 100% a Pantser, completely at the mercy of my characters and which direction they want to go, what they want to reveal, and those delicious twists even I never see coming.

Plus, I have the most obstinate, stubborn-as-hell muse in existence. I just really hope I’m not the only who refers to their ‘creativity’ as a separate entity they often butt heads with – LOL. If I am, don’t tell me, I like living in denial of my issues. 😉

❤ Happy Saturday! Wherever you are, I’m sure you’re trying to stay cool like the rest of us – so now might be a great time to work on your next winter or autumn themed novel. Just an idea! 😀

My Preciousss

How big is it? Will it ever see the light of day? Do you feel worthy enough to be its creator? How long are you going to hoard it all to yourself in the dank caverns of your ‘unfinished’ works like Gollum and his precious ring?

Writers, I’m talking about that ONE story that’s been festering in your head for decades. Maybe it was your first, or your twentieth, but it’s the one that you feel the most attached to and most protective of. The one that you’re beyond certain would be an international best seller if only someone like J.K. Rowling penned it, instead. And so you sit on it, leave it on the back burner while teeter-tottering whether or not you’ll ever actually put all of the effort into seeing it published.

Maybe, it’s the one you regret never finishing but have come to the conclusion that you just don’t have it in you anymore to do so. Maybe, you’ve taken the advice that not all books should be published to heart, despite having the inability to trash it. Oh, it’s still there. Every freaking scrap of paper you ever wrote notes about it on, every document related to it taking up space on your hard drive. You’ve moved it a dozen times already, both in boxes and digitally from computer to computer…yeah, I know you have. The entire evolution of that story can be traced all the way back to the beginning, it would just take days to piece all of the notebooks/pages/documents/napkins together to prove it.

How many times do you go back and read it? How many drafts have you created trying to revise it, using all of the knowledge and experience you’ve gained over your writing career to turn it into the masterpiece you’ve always envisioned?

Why are you still unhappy with it?

I’ll tell you. Because it’s your precious, your baby, the one you have dedicated so many hours, emotions, ideas, brilliant moments of creation to, and the one that you held to such high standards, they’ve become unreachable now–and I know this because mine started at age 17 with a simple idea.

That “idea” has since grown into a Tolkienesque catastrophe of details, lands, languages, characters, back stories, side stories – I actually have one completed novel and another that is about 85% completed and they’re not even the beginning – they’re about times, events, and characters that happen hundreds of years AFTER the beginning and the worst part – they’re both over 100,000 words in length! I have an actual filing cabinet filled with handwritten segments, notes, glossaries, character lists, you name it – multiple files saved in Dropbox and if I were to quit my job today and dedicate all of my time to only writing these books, they would still take me years to finish – and then I can’t even promise I’d be happy enough with them to hit publish.

Because, it’s that one story I’ve never felt worthy enough to write. That I imagine Peter Jackson would turn into a blockbuster in a heartbeat, if only I wasn’t the author. And I honestly can’t say why, just that it’s my one…my first, and definitely my most ambitious story of all time. I’m not 100% sure that it will never see the light of day, though. There’s no finality, only wishy-washiness over it, so for now – just putting it out there that if you have your own preciousss – you’re not alone, Gollumses.

Hopefully, I’m not alone, either LOL – so how ’bout it? Ready to dig up the old works and dust them off, give them a new polish or read over? Are you really so sure that you don’t have a hidden gem lurking in all those files just waiting for you to remember it’s there?

❤ Food for thought, writers! Enjoy your Hump Day! 😉

#WordCountWednesday

typewriter-1170657_1920

Okay, here’s to my DIY 30 Day Challenge. Last week I mentioned that I was going to focus on one book and get the first draft done in 30 days. My muse was not impressed by my attempts to squash her fickle flightiness, so we’ve come to a small compromise.

I’m still only focusing on writing one new book, but at the same time, I’m rewriting an old, old novel that I finished like a decade ago and never did anything with. It’s just been sitting in my documents collecting cyber dust. So, below are the word counts for both the new and the revised this week…

Fox Trot (Dark Day Isle: The Ultimate Kink Resort, Book 3): 9,200 words

Mistress Wanted: 24,221 words

Revising is so much easier than writing new content, especially when the characters aren’t that talkative – but I’m really going to have crack down on Felix if I hope to reach my goal, since I’m currently stalled in his POV! Stubborn Doms…

Happy Hump Day!