eBooks: Hebden Bridge Workshop 09/09/2012

Just returned from hosting an eBook workshop at Hebden Bridge Library and I want to thank the 13 participants who showed such enthusiasm for the eBook and generated debate.

As you may all know my eBook experience started with Neuter back in 1998, an interactive online story which was a precursor to the eBook. I went on to edit the successful Incorporating Writing and Red Ink, both PDF publications available online and over the years read by millions, the fore has been recently archived at Scribd but there are no future plans to archive Red Ink, which is a shame but it all comes down copyright. Incorporating Writing was a free publication, unlike Red Ink which was a poetry and prose subscription magazine. That comes down to legalities and royalties, a hot topic in the workshop. I continue to be an ePublisher with Goggle.

Anyway, as promised, here are some follow on points to consider with links and a copy of the handout used on the day. Enjoy.

  1. Most people understand eBooks and eReaders. They may not use them but understand the concept of them as they become more integrated into our society. You can see more on Ebook Trends in this recent report.
  2. Technical devices are developing fast from Kindle to Kindle apps on ereaders, to iPad and smartphones. Again, you can read about the Future of Publishing, and several ePublishing companies in this paper.
  3. How we are reading is changing. It is not a war between books and ebooks. Readers are changing. As we discussed, readers are keyed into something that is visually stimulating. A book cover does this, and we need to be conscious of the pages/books we have online, from Amazon to Kobo, to twitter and Facebook.
  4. In 2012 in the UK, ebooks outsold print books for the first time.
  5. Ebooks are good for books that are too expensive to print in hardcopy, due to poor sales. This can mean out of print books with limited scope beyond academia to poetry. To those who seek to self publish.
  6. There is a drive in publishing for writers to be involved in promotion and self marketing.
  7. Newspapers and magazines are leading the way in new technologies for readers that will inevitably see cross media publications. eBooks that combine film, audio/sound and text. This has been seen in the recent Treasure Island sequel by the former poet laureate, Sir Andrew Motion.
  8. It is writers not publishers who are scared of ebooks, why? This is a topic that needs discussing further and feel free to reply why you think this is below.
  9. A move from 25% – 50%? There are a number of writers working towards the latter. The Harlequin suit in Canada, romance imprint that didn’t pay eBook royalties.
  10. Understanding rights ‘in book form’ – Harper Collins sued over this. What is a book?
  11. Ebooks licensing means that your book can be read by the owner on a number of devices but if that license is broken. The owner tries to illegally share or alter the file, the book will be removed from their device.
  12. You need to create strategies to find an audience as a writer and publisher. You cannot simply launch your eBook and sit back. Use social media. Create pages on all book sellers websites. You can give away your book for free to generate interest. You should be an active blogger.
  13. The role of the writer is changing. You cannot avoid it. You are now in the spotlight.

There you are, 13 points for 13 people in the group. Thanks for coming and hope these links help. As promised here is a copy of the handout.

Here are the links for MobiPocket Creator for PC and Ecub for Mac.

E-Book Golden Rules According to….

  1. Do Not “convert” your short story, poetry collection and novel directly from Microsoft Word .doc format into HTML. Microsoft Word is a constantly changing from platform to platform. Do Not trust Word’s built in export to HTML (which many eBook formats use as a base) it is not full proof and you will see in many self-published eBooks wide margins, odd paragraph structures and incorrect formatting.
  2. Do use the simple programme that comes on most PCs, NOTEPAD. Save your Word .doc as HTML filtered and then open in NOTEPAD. Use NOTEPAD as an editing tool and save as HTML.
  3. You will notice hundreds of lines of garbage text before you come to your own text. Delete this.
  4. Each complete line should start with <p> YOUR TEXT<p/>. After every line break you will need to repeat this.
  5. Some simple code <b>bold<b/>, <i>italics<i/>, <br/>line space or break.
  6. To indent use the code <P STYLE=”margin-left: 0.79in”> enter the value you wish to indent with. Then add your text and end line with <p/>
  7. Page breaks, place this before any title, such as a poem title, story title or chapter title <mbp:pagebreak/>
  8. There are some Do’s with eBook formatting – keep it simple. If you choose to use indents constantly or right align and then left align, you will end up with a file that may be hard to format. The more formatting tricks you do in your eBook, the more likely you will lose the reader.
  9. Remember, we read differently in hardcopy than we do online.
  10. Do market research, do not just publish an eBook and walk away.
  11. Do use social media. The age of the poet in the garret and the writer who cannot be approached is gone – though this was largely a myth. All writers need one simple thing, an audience, know your audience.
  12. Know your rights as a writer and poet, read terms and conditions and publishing contracts.
  13. If you want to be an eBook publisher, you will have to learn HTML. You can buy computer programmes to do this for you but if you know HTML you can often solve the problem faster.
  14. Never write or publish anything you wouldn’t read yourself. You must be passionate about the eBook and you must never let that passion die.

This handout is supplied by and copyrighted to Andrew Oldham (www.andrewoldham.co.uk), owner of Andrew Oldham publishing group, including the imprint Goggle Publishing (www.gogglepublishing.co.uk), 2012.

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