Book Formatting

The Phoenix Conference: Buildin’ the Dream

Janet, Ruth, Judy, and Rose

From left: Janet Syas Nitsick (me), Ruth Ann Nordin, Judy DeVries and Rose Gordon

Flying away to Phoenix for a writing conference was one special time not only in what the conference offered but also in the flying experience.

Never before had I flown first class. Dreamed about it but did not believe I would do it. However, the trip to Phoenix changed that.

I experienced a full-course meal, including wine and dessert and bags arriving first in the baggage terminal. It was a great and sure beats my last time flying where my youngest autistic son ran out the plane while waiting to take off from Omaha Eppley Airfield. You can read about this in my first book, Seasons of the Soul.

Of course, Phoenix’s scenery was spectacular. A little too hot in late May for even this cold-blooded individual with temperatures around 107 degrees. But, the sand domes in the horizon took your breath away!

But I digress. What I liked about the Buildin’ the Dream Conference was how you got to interact with fellow authors, publishers and workshops speakers. It was more informal, where you could enjoy eating in the hotel’s breakfast buffet where conferees gathered and intermingle with them or in the lobby area.

You were not going from one workshop to another in rooms so packed you barely could breathe. In addition, you did not walk a mile in high heels to find food. Everything at the hotel was at your finger tips.

The nice advantage of attending a conference like this one was the wonderful speakers, such as USA Today best-selling author Rose Gordon, a top, book-cover designer Anya Kelleye and a Phoenix attorney, Megan D. Scott, who is an entertainment and copyright lawyer.

Gordon gave two presentations. Her first was “Mistakes Authors Make – Historical.” Gordon knows how to sell and make money, thus she knew of what she spoke so you listened.

She writes Regency and American historical romances. Gordon said for you to think of the setting as your wallpaper where people wear clothing and interact to those time-period dictates. Remember, however, to focus on the romance so do not get caught in details which overshadow your storyline. Your office needs to include a dictionary, access to Web resources, a book on that age’s idioms and a trusted friend who knows more than you about the period, she said.

Adding to Rose’s last point, I have a friend who read my Lockets and Lanterns and my novella, She Came by Train. She is knowledgeable about farms, farm animals, reading by kerosene light and attending a small country school. This friend is an excellent resource. I cannot tell you how many times she caught something wrong.

Her second workshop was “Your Books, Your Business.” Gordon told attendees to write with their hearts but think with their brains. Thus make sure your book is done, edited, formatted, has an attractive cover which sells and is marketable. Study your genre, engage the readers, condense descriptions to a sentence or two and become visible like through blog tours, giveaways, promotional items and advertisements, she said. Each piece, though, has its pros and cons. An author blog, for example, is where people interact and learn about you. The con is the time involved in doing one, she added.

Anya Kelleye showed us some of her cover designs. A good book cover needs a strong focal point and must evoke emotions. She cautioned against using a script font. Instead, keep it simple. Too many images or text overtake the cover, she said. Remember, she added, your cover does not need to tell the novel’s whole story.

The lawyer, Scott, also was a great resource. Each state is unique in its own laws, she said. No matter, however, where you live when you bring your idea to physical material it is copyrighted even before it is published and recorded with the United States Copyright office, she said.

In addition, there were many other wonderful workshops. The smaller arena gave you time to talk to the speakers for a short time after their workshops. It also allowed you space to sit and take notes.

But, downfalls did exist. One was the Buildin’ the Dream author conference, and the Arizona Dreamin reader event shared the same Web site page. The two headers used the same colors and unless you paid close attention you could easily sign up for the wrong event. On their feedback form, I alerted them to this problem.

Would I go again, you ask? You bet, in a heartbeat. It was a wonderful trip. The conference was fantastic and it was awesome meeting people you interact with on the Internet, such as Lauralynn Elliott and Judy DeVries. It also was great seeing Rose Gordon again. laughing with her, Judy and Ruth Ann. They even taught me some new words. It was a lovely trip and traveling and sharing a hotel room with Ruth Ann Nordin made it the best. God bless.

 
Categories: Blogs & Websites, Book Covers, Book Formatting, Book Promotion, Business Plan, Copyright, General Writing, Marketing & Promoting, Self-Publishing, Social Networking, The Reader, The Writer & Author, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , ,

Creating An Acknowledgements Section

Plenty of books these days come with acknowledgements sections near the back, where the author lists everyone from research assistants (should you happen to have any) to agents (should you have one) to God (should you have one to worship). Not all novelists have them, but I find they are useful things to have. Not only do they show who was instrumental in the creation of the book, but they are also a great way of saying, “Thank you for helping me in the creation of my book. Without your part, this novel wouldn’t have been written and you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this”.

When I write acknowledgements sections in my books, I try to follow a few guidelines to make sure the sections are as nice, neat, and presentable as possible (though I sometimes forget my own rules. Nobody’s perfect). Here’s what I try to do:

1. Make a list of who to thank. You want to thank everyone who’s been instrumental in the creation, polishing, and publication of the book. Sadly, human memory is not as good as we’d like for it to be. So keep a list, so that when the time comes you won’t forget anyone.

2. Organize. I usually thank people starting with people who helped with research and writing, followed by editing, then publication. After those people, I thank my family and friends, and then I thank God. And finally I thank the reader, because honestly they deserve thanks for picking up my book and deciding to read it. It doesn’t generally have to follow this order, but keeping things organized in groups usually helps.

3. Sometimes I include a little story. One that relates to the main novel, of course. Maybe it’ll be about the process of writing, or maybe it’ll be about what created the main story of the novel in the first place. It depends upon the story in question. Of course, not every novel gets a story. The story of the novel can be enough sometimes.

Whether or not you include acknowledgements in your novels, knowing how to make one is always a handy skill. I hope you found this helpful in creating your own acknowledgements section (though if you did, you don’t have to acknowledge this blog or its writers in your next book. It’d be flattering, but it’s not what we’re here for).

Categories: Book Formatting, General Writing, Publishing Basics, The Writer & Author | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Add a Simple Table of Contents in Kindle Books

I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t have a table of contents in my books, or at least I haven’t manually put one in. But, a fellow author got a notice from Amazon that some of you may have gotten:

Your book doesn’t have a Table of Contents. A table of contents provides readers with both easy navigation and improved visibility into the contents of the book.  Please see https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2BQILI6OJWLTC for help with creating and formatting a Table of Contents.

So, I thought this might be a good time to discuss HOW to make a table of contents using Word. (I assume other word processing programs are similar but I haven’t used them, so I don’t know.)

There are probably multiple ways to go about this, (for how to use headers, check out THIS POST)  but here is what I did:

1. Since my chapters don’t have names, I just typed them up after all of the copyright info

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 2. Then I went through the book and made bookmarks at each chapter. To make a bookmark, place your cursor next to your chapter title/heading:

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Then go to Insert> Bookmark

(this is what it looks like in Word 2010)

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You’ll get a pop up box. Type in some identifying name that you can remember. Chapter1 or chapterone would be the easiest. Then click the Add button.

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The box disappears. Repeat for all the chapters, including any prologues, afterwords, introductions, about the author sections, acknowledgements, etc.

When I was done, I went back to that Table of Contents I had added at the beginning and hyper-linked it.

To do that, highlight “Chapter One” then go to Insert>Hyperlink 

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OR Right Click and choose Hyperlink from the menu:

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This will give you a pop up box. Choose the Bookmark button:

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A second box will pop up. Choose the matching bookmark (aka Chapter One – chapter1) and click OK.

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The second box will disappear and you’ll notice that in the address bar it now says #- whatever your bookmark is named. Technically, I suppose you could manually type your bookmark titles in there, but I always worry about a typo, so I go ahead and choose it from the list. Hit OK

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Your text will now be hyperlinked:

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Repeat for the remaining chapters.

But what if you’ve done all of this, uploaded it and got this response form Amazon?

The Table of Contents isn’t accessible from the “Go To” menu in your book.

Huh? What does this mean? It means that on the kindle, when a reader clicks the menu while in your book the Table of Contents is not showing up under the menu that says “Go to…” There is an easy way to fix this in word. Remember those bookmarks we just made? Go to your table of contents and put the cursor next to the heading, or next to the top entry if you don’t have a heading, and then make a bookmark named TOC:

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click add and reupload to KDP .

Before you upload, be sure to click through your table of contents to make sure that each link goes where you want it to. It might take a couple of extra minutes, but it could save you a lot of frustration and embarrassment later on.

If this doesn’t work for you, try the other method, using headers.

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If you have books on Kindle, do you have a table of contents in them or are you “living on the edge” and waiting for Amazon to make you add one in?

Categories: Amazon store, Book Formatting, Self-Publishing

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