Monday, May 13, 2013

For Emphasis, Less Is More.

Some Writing Basics: Inexperienced writers tend to use various techniques to emphasize all or parts of their text. Most of them are wrong and will be eliminated by your copy editor. Avoid the rush and don't use them.

  • All Caps: Sometimes, titles and chapter titles are fully capitalized. Other than that, except for the occasional appropriate use of all caps within your text (e.g., BANG! or IBM) or when quoting from a source that used all caps (ugh), don't use all caps for emphasis. And while you're at it, get rid of the "Caps Lock" button on your keyboard.
  • Initial Caps: In German writing, initial caps are part of the style, being used for nouns. However, in American English, initial caps are reserved for the beginning of sentences, key words in headlines (in an "up style"), and proper nouns. They are not used to emphasize words or phrases that you think are particularly important.
  • Bold Face: Many writers like to use bold face to emphasize words that are more important than words that are italicized. Don't. Reserve bold face for its proper use in headings, subheadings, and paragraph or bullet lead-ins (such as I've used in this post).
  • Exclamation Points:  Like a smack on the back of the head with a baseball bat, the exclamation point has its uses. However, said use should be rare. (See aforementioned, BANG!) Unless you're a 13-year-old girl, never use more than one. Got it!!!! (And I hope that hurt.)
  • Italics: Last but not least, words or phrases to be emphasized should be italicized. However, beware of overdoing it. If you emphasize too many words--let's say way more than one percent--you've reached the point where nothing will be emphasized. The Publishing Pro

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Kindle: What We Know So Far

By popular demand: In the past couple of months, egged on by my customers who were baffled by the process, I've been sticking my toe into the Kindle waters. I've learned much and have more to learn.

  • Smashwords' Advantage Over Kindle: Easy. Smashwords makes your book available to more different devices, including Kindle. Also, setting up your file is easier. 
  • Kindle's Advantage Over Smashwords: Also easy. While your customers can access your Smashwords edition with their Kindles, your book will not appear as a Kindle edition on Amazon unless you do a separate Kindle edition through KDP Amazon. That's a big deal. (KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing). 
  • What To Do: You can do both a Kindle edition and a Smashwords edition. Neither KDP Amazon nor Smashwords buys exclusive rights.
  • But: You cannot sign up for KDP Kindle Select if you also have any other digital edition, including but not limited to Smashwords, in publication. Kindle Select gets you into libraries, where patrons can download the book for free, for which you get paid through a mysterious process and which may (or may not) be useful promotion. See "Pros and Cons of the KDP Kindle Select Program" by Rebecca Livermore for a walk through the ups and downs. And here's the voice of experience on a KDP support board.
  • CreateSpace vs. KDP Amazon: CreateSpace and KDP are both owned by Amazon, so "versus" perhaps doesn't describe the relationship correctly. Just know that CreateSpace is where you want to go to self-publish your book in print. KDP Amazon is where you want to go to publish your book in Kindle format. End of story. If you've self-published your printed book through CreateSpace, don't bother asking them about publishing a Kindle edition. In the end, what they'll do is put you through the KDP system. On the way, they'll confuse you no end. Avoid the rush, and go direct to KDP Amazon. The strange thing is, the KDP setup is similar to the CreateSpace setup.
  • The Difference Between Print and Kindle: The advantage of print for the author-publisher is that you control the design, production, and the customer experience. What you (the publisher) see is what (the customer) gets. With an ebook, unless it is a PDF, you have control over the content (you hope) but surprisingly little control over how your customer is going to see and experience that content. Kindle formatting is html-based, which like a website adjusts itself based on the customer's device and choice of settings. Alignments don't happen the way you expect. Pages don't break where you want them to break. Long URL addresses blow up. You do your best, but your canvas is a moving target. You are designing for iPhones and larger tablets and things in between This is not a game of precision. On the other hand, you don't have to pay to print a book. And your customer can hop from place to place, via hyperlinking (not always an advantage for the publisher).
  • Is it hard? Yes and no. If the basic formatting is simple, it is no harder to format a book for Kindle than it is for Smashwords. If it has graphics, tables, or (egad) footnotes that need to be linked to references, it can get hair-pulling. Most books are simple--or can be made so. If you need your book turned into a Kindle edition, give me a buzz. The Publishing Pro.