Monday, 24 June 2013

Book Review, Self Publishing Diary Update & Other Stuff

By Colin Dunbar

There is no progress to report in my self publishing diary this week, but hopefully I have some useful stuff for you, including a book review of an awesome book.

All the goal setting, strategies, and focus go down the tubes when life throughs you a curve ball. When something like this happens, it seems one's instinct's become acute and take over, especially when it's a matter of life and death. (I may still put this in a book, one day).

Anyway, on to better things... good self publishing things.

Self Publishing Diary Update

What I decided to do is let you know what the projects are that I'm busy with. And then it's my intention to update the status of these here in my self publishing diary. For some of my books I'll only use a code (I like surprises and mystery).

My Little Book of Encouragement (MLBE). It was the great Zig Ziglar who said, "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing. That's why we recommend it daily." Very real, very true words. My Little Book of Encouragement is to help us keep up our motivation, and encourage us when things don't seem to go according to plan. This book is about 80% complete, and my publishing target is to have it available the end of July.

Invest In Yourself (2nd Edition) (IIY2). In 2004 I self published this book, offline. This is a memoir about my home business endeavors. The first edition ran up to 2003, and in the revised 2nd edition I've added the years 2004 up to 2012. The revised part of the book is about 25%, and my publishing target is end of December.

DSPB. This is a how-to book, and is my big project. I moved this book down on my priority list as it needs my undivided attention. It's about 60% complete, and I haven't set a launch date for it yet.

There are other books in different stages of completion, but these are the three I'm presently working on (and the only books I want to put my neck on the line for, publicly).

I will be updating my self publishing diary with all the details on the progress of these books: writing, where they'll be self published, promotion and marketing, sales - the whole kaboodle. I trust this is going to be helpful to you, and would love to hear anything you have to say, suggest, or ask.

How's that for public commitment? Now I'm accountable (Or I land up with egg on my face. Not good.)

Book Review: Sell Your Book Like Wildfire

If I had to describe Rob Eager's Sell Your Book Like Wildfire with one word, it would be: Awesome!

In the Preface, Rob shares the following: "This book was written to serve as your personal guide to help you sell more books." And I can, with a clear conscience, say Sell Your Book Like Wildfire IS my guide. I'm using Rob's book to plan my self-publishing journey. Period.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1 Establish Your Expertise
Chapter 2 Light a Fire in Your Readers
Chapter 3 Make Your Mark with an Author Brand
Chapter 4 How to Build Book-Marketing Tools into Your Manuscript
Chapter 5 Start a Wild Fire with Your Author Website
Chapter 6 How to Capture More Media Interviews
Chapter 7 Turn Media Interviews Into Book Sales
Chapter 8 Feed the Beast: How to Use Amazon to Sell More Books
Chapter 9 The Skinny On Social Networking
Chapter 10 Working with a Publisher
Chapter 11 The Flammability Of Free: How To Drive Word Of Mouth
Chapter 12 Sell Books Through Public Speaking
Chapter 13 Create News Letters That Get Results
Chapter 14 Marketing Tips For Fiction

As you can see from the Table of Contents, Rob Eager covers all the essentials for an author to reach success, and sell your book like wildfire.

In Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, Rob covers the different elements, from your expertise as an author, to an author brand, to an author website - everything you need is in this book.

As Rob says, "I set out to try every strategy possible to sell my books. It wasn't easy, but within a couple of years I sold 13,000 copies on my own and built a nationwide following. I conducted more than 170 events across North America and spoke to more than 35,000 people.", you discover in the pages of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, this book is written by someone who knows his stuff.

There is one section in this book that blew me away: Fifteen Ways to Build Marketing Tools Into Your Book (pages 59-66). I was astounded when I learned of these. Marketing tools IN your book... amazing.

If there was only ONE book I had to recommend to every self-published author (and traditional authors, for that matter), it would be Sell Your Book Like Wildfire. Get your copy now, and invest in your publishing future.

For my South African visitors, the book is available at kalahari:
sell your book like wildfire

Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Literature

Whoa, man... I read this article, and was going to respond with my own take on what this guy says, then I found the article at The Independent Publishing Magazine. Brilliant.

Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Literature

Open Letter Reply to Michael Kozlowski's Article - Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Literature

I would like to hear what your thoughts on this are.

Have you considered making your book available as an audio book?

Reach New Readers With The Magic Of Audiobooks

"Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value." ~ Albert Einstein

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Great book for self-published authors (Red Hot Internet Publicity)

By Colin Dunbar

I'm kinda finding my feet with this self publishing diary, blogging thing. I certainly hope I'm offering something of value, and maybe even a little interesting. I'd really appreciate any feedback you want to share. In the next post I'll be sharing more on my progress on my own self publishing journey. Please enjoy.

Book review: Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny C. Sensevieri

I couldn't wait for my copy of Red Hot Internet Publicity to arrive. The day I picked up my parcel at the post office, I wasted no time in ripping open the package.

Book out, I followed the normal routine of fanning the pages and smelling the paper/ink of my new book.

That night I began reading Red Hot Internet Publicity...

The book is divided into five Parts:

Part One: Red Hot Search Engine Optimization
Part Two: Your Website
Part Three: Red Hot Social Media
Part Four: Red Hot Blogging
Part Five: Driving Even More Traffic

As you can see, Red Hot Internet Publicity covers the main elements for doing business on the Web.

In the Foreword (by Joan Stewart), she says: "If marketing online was a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, Penny would be the one you'd want sitting next to you at the kitchen table. She's an author, a business owner, a publicist and a marketing expert who helped create 11 best-sellers in 22 months." And as I absorbed page after page, I never doubted Penny's experience and knowledge with respect to marketing a business online. This author knows her stuff.

If you've been online for some time, and feel you know it all, consider Joan's words: "Red Hot [Internet Publicity} is also a valuable reminder for experts like me who have been doing Internet marketing for 15 years." (my emphasis)

Joan closes off her Foreword with: "If you know the types of people who are ideal buyers for your book or consumers for your business, but you don't know how to use the technology to find them, you're in luck. Red Hot shows you how."

A neat little feature in the book are the Red Hot Tips. Short, valuable snippets of relevant tips, sprinkled throughout the book.

What I got from this book

Although Red Hot Internet Publicity offers a lot of information, it's not a how-to book. To be honest, such a book would be a monstrous volume, so it's not actually a negative.

I found Part Four and Part Five the most valuable. These are the topics I regularly research.

In the Chapter, WORDS ON YOUR WEBSITE, pages 50 to 54 offer very good advice about the text on your website. Very useful.

I bought this book because I read that it was for authors, and even though it's not for authors ONLY, I still found tremendous value in the book. Especially pages 56 to 58 (Media Room Tips) is very useful for the self-published author.

With what I just said, if you are a new self-published author (or considering self-publishing), you will find Red Hot Internet Publicity valuable. This is especially true if you're just starting out on the Web.

I certainly am pleased to have this book on my book shelf, and can without a doubt recommend it to anyone wishing to do business on the Web. Penny C. Sensevieri has done a superb job with Red Hot Internet Publicity.

Red Hot Internet Publicity

For my South African visitors, this book is available at

Self Published Books

Do you agree that most self-published ebooks are terrible?  In my experience, there are a lot of self-published ebooks that do look terrible, and difficult to read, but if it's most... The Overwhelming Majority of Self-Published Books are Terrible

4 Lessons for Independent Authors: A Recap of BookExpo America 2013

The following is an extract from this article. A neat article.

2. Write your business plan before you write your book

Many of the successful authors I talked to had similar advice: figure out the business/marketing details first.

Who is your audience? How will you find them?
What will they get from your book?
What will set your book apart from similar titles to make it an essential purchase?
What is the marketing hook?
What is the elevator pitch? Can you summarize your book in 3 sentences while conveying the
depth of its content?
Will it be part of a series?
What is your writing schedule and deadlines? How will you measure your progress?
What are my weaknesses, and how can I get assistance in those areas?
How can I build my platform WHILE I write this book?

By answering these and many more questions, you’ll have a clear vision that will not only guide you through the writing process, but fuel you with enough energy to begin the book in the first place (if you decide it’s worth your time). 4 Lessons for Independent Authors

Price Fixing for Ebooks?

Can prices be fixed for ebooks? Real (paper) books? How can prices be fixed for any literary or creative work? How do you feel about this?

"Amazon created the modern eBook market: Kindle was introduced in 2007. Amazon immediately grabbed over 90% of the market. Kindle proprietary files created a “walled garden” and shut others out. Once they got publishers on board, they started to demand more. Amazon played hardball with publishers and punished them by pulling titles for sale and charging below-cost for best-sellers." It’s an Apple and Amazon World


Self-Published eBooks Account for 12% of the Entire Digital Market

Are you a fiction author? This article may be useful...

7 Bestseller Book Marketing Strategies For Fiction Writers

"Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too." ~ Will Smith

Mini Survey

Will you help me with a mini survey, please?

If you were buying a how-to book on how to do something on your computer, which format would you prefer?

a. Hard copy (paper book)
b. Kindle ebook
c. ePub (used on Tablet or Smartphone)

Many thanks for your time.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Design and Format An Ebook like a Pro! – Part 2

By Colin Dunbar

As promised here is the second part on how to design and format a PDF ebook like a Pro.

Page Layout

Your page layout should be designed for visual appeal, but always be careful not to overdo it. Make use of white space - a page with cramped text and random images is more difficult to read (and understand). When designing your page, constantly think of your target reader. For example, if your e-book covers a business subject, your reader will very likely be pushed for time, and will want to find and read the information quickly. So use tables and graphs where possible. On the other hand, if you have an e-book for young kids, your font can be a little bigger, and you can use double line spacing. Use colorful graphics, too.

In her book, The Non-Designer's Design Book, Robin Williams offers the following: "Very often in beginners' designs, the words and phrases and graphics are strung all over the place, filling corners and taking up lots of room so there won't be any empty space. There seems to be a fear of empty space. When pieces of a design are scattered all over, the page appears unorganized and the information may not be instantly accessible to the reader."


This is not limited to e-books, but with on-screen reading, it is a little more important.

With non-fiction, easy-to-understand language is paramount. If your reader has difficulty understanding the text, they will not enjoy your e-book, and there will be no word-of-mouth promotion.

Even though it's a guide for writing web pages, SiteSell have a great free ebook that can be a great help with writing clearly: Make Your ContentPREsell!

Margins, Headers, and Footers

Margins should not be too narrow (the default 25.4 mm or 1 inch is suitable for most e-books); too narrow and the text on the page becomes very wide, making it harder to read.

Having a header graphic in a page header is a sure sign of an amateur. Your header can display your site's URL, or the title of your e-book. Nothing wrong with having a blank header either. Footers should only have your page number - there's no need to include a copyright notice in the footer, as the copyright notice will be a page in the front of your e-book.

Tables and Graphs

If your subject warrants it, look at where you can put information in tables. This is a neat way to make it easier for your reader to see the information, and remember it.

Using color in your tables makes it visually appealing, and when creating your tables, don't cram too much information into your rows and columns.

Example styled table

Similarly, if it's possible, think of creating graphs. Again, data in a graph is easier to grasp than a block of text.

Numbered and Bullet Lists

Bullet list example

Numbered and bullet lists aid readability.

Be careful though. Lengthy lists can detract rather than enhance.

When you have a long list, split it up into 2, 3 or 4 sections or columns - that way the shorter lists are easier to read.

In Closing

Even an e-book needs to look professionally designed. It is a monetization model, after all, and a good one at that.

It's really about how serious you are about your book (whether e-book or hard copy), and how serious you want to be taken as an author. If it's just a fun thing (not for monetization), then overall design has less importance. But, if you are serious about your book, then having your book professionally designed is worth the effort/cost. It can be the difference between successful and just mediocre results - maybe even the difference between lots of sales and dozens of refunds.

Imagine for a moment, what you would think if you purchased a hard copy book that has plain text with the title and author's name... no page numbers, or table of contents or perhaps, depending on the type of book, no alphabetical index. What would your reaction be? Amateur? Junk? Waste of money? Would you buy it?

If your reader finds your e-book very user-friendly, there's a slim chance that they'll ask for a refund, and, as I mentioned earlier, they will be more inclined to recommend it to others.

I have no doubt that you will have spent a lot of time writing your book, and making sure all the facts are accurate, so why throw it away with a poor e-book design?

Last, but certainly not least... Create a quality e-cover for your e-book. Remember, this is the first thing your prospective customers will see. Make it attractive and polished-looking, and your visitors will easily click through to the sales page, or the order page.

Are you thinking, "But, I've written an e-book that I'm going to be giving away for free. Why should I have my e-book designed?"

What's the purpose of giving away free e-books?

Unless you do it for fun, the reason is to promote your business or service. As such, you need to ask yourself what impression does my reader get of my business?

First impressions count.

It's almost more important to have free e-books professionally designed when we think of the damage that could be caused to our business, and the loss of possible future business.

Special thanks to Michelle Houser of for permission to use screenshots from her e-book.

While designing an e-book is fairly straightforward, it will take time and experience with the word processing program you use (Word, InDesign, etc.). If you don't have the time to design your e-book, you can hire a book designer.