Sunday Services

Sunday Services - Pro Writing Aid (via: @prowritingaid, HT: @duckaroy)

Not sure how long this has been around but it's pretty slick. I've actually been wanting to write something similar to this (it's really hard, don't even try) and as you can see the folks at Pro Writing Aid have knocked it out of the park. The only drawback: no plug in support for Mac Word (the reason for that being Mac Word's fault, not Pro Writing Aid's).

ProWritingAid is your free online writing editor and personal writing coach. Of course it checks your grammar but it does much more to help you improve your writing:

  • Online grammar and spelling checker;

  • Online plagiarism checker;

  • Improve readability;

  • Find overused words;

  • Improve dull paragraph structure;

  • Find repeated words and phrases;

  • Check for consistency of spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization;

  • Eliminate clichés and redundancies;

  • Create a word cloud of your text;

  • Eliminate vague, abstract, and complex words from your writing.

Check it out here: https://prowritingaid.com/ and jump straight into the editor here https://prowritingaid.com/en/Analysis/Editor

Sunday Services - Gumroad (via @gumroad)

Welcome to 2015 and a happy new year! Literarium isn't just for markets, it's for services too. I tend not to post Sunday Services nearly as often though, which is really just my failing. I figured for the start of the new year I'd make a change. I stumbled on Gumroad because I was trying to buy a DRM free epub (the only kind of digibook that I buy). You may have already used it on your own travels, as seller or buyer, but my user experience was great:

  • Receive link to book I wanted to buy from the author on twitter
  • Clicked 'I wanna buy this'
  • Entered Email address and CC details
  • Clicked buy
  • Received email with link to ebook.
  • Clicked on link and selected 'open in iBooks'
  • Book appeared in iBooks app and promptly synchronised to my iCloud backup, other iOS devices and whatnot.

So for authors looking into non-user-antagonistic distribution platforms, do have a look at what Gumroad offers. Fees are 5% + 25c per transaction: https://gumroad.com

Sunday Services - Tablo - Create, Share & Discover Great Books (HT: @galercristo)

My good friend Nicholas Roots discovered this on a podcast for me, and I had a quick look into the service. It's a beautiful and very glossy website, and an interesting service. You can write and prepare your work, while your fans can read your in-progress work. When you're done, you can publish the ebook directly. The site describes it as follows:

You can drop in a document.

If you've already written a book, just drop the document into Tablo and watch the magic happen. Preview the results & edit in the cloud. You'll be a published author in seconds!

 

Or you can write in the cloud.

With a clean, focused writing environment, chapter control, autosaving & plenty of sharing features, you'll love creating your book with Tablo. It's a literally awesome place to write (get it?).

 

Preview in the browser, download to your device.

Spin up a perfect preview of your eBook with a click, or download ePub files for a more thorough test. If you know how to write (and you probably do), you can create gorgeous eBooks for the iPad, Kindle and more.

 

Publish globally in seconds.

This is the cool part. Click a button and your books will be published on Amazon and the iBooks Store. Tablo assigns ISBNs, produce your files and distributes your books globally. It's as easy as publishing a blog post.

But.

But I had a look at the plans, and maybe I'm missing something, but this does not seem sustainable to me.

The publishing plans range from $8/mth (paid annually) to $30/mth. At $8/mth (in perpetuity) you can publish a single book (including free ISBN) to various online bookstores, and keep all the royalties.

But... but when you stop your subscription those books are suspended from the stores. With a cap of 1 book publishable in total at the lowest plan, and 10 at the highest (contact them for custom plans that support more books), it seems like your subscription fee would rapidly eat up any royalties, and totally kill the 'long tail' effect of having a broad catalogue for fans to purchase.

What this kind of price pressure produces is a need to sell eBooks at more than $5 a pop, which I would call the 'danger zone of customer detachment'. ie. A price range where you lose the casual interest of readers, which impacts the discovery and sharing of your work.

I can't comment as to whether the social aspect of the site will make up for this cost, but I just don't know how it could. Perhaps someone has experience with Tablo, or someone can clarify it for me.

In any case, check it out here. A free account can't hurt, and you can always try to use it to build up a fan following which might translate into sales, as long as you publish elsewhere: https://tablo.io/

Sunday Service - Persona: Character Development Software (via @theloop)

We don't do a lot of the Sunday Services, but this one popped up over the week and it looked interesting. Also, I'm sneaking it in because it's still mostly Sunday in the rest of the world. Now, software tools aren't for everyone, but they are for someone, so have a read and click-through if it sounds interesting:

Go look at your library of writing tools. What do you see? Products to help create a story outline, a place to compile research, a dictionary app, spellchecking, and more. But what about your characters? What do you use to develop them, or do you just sort of, you know, let them evolve.

[...]

Persona is based on this concept: by categorizing characters into archetypes, you can know their background, which in turn shows their motivations, and then allows you to predict their behavior. To put it bluntly, it is the difference between deliberately crafting a compelling character or hoping that the character turns out the way you wanted.

Check it out here: https://www.marinersoftware.com/products/persona/

Sunday Service - Extended Imagery (Book cover design)

Carl from Extended Imagery provides cover design in three flavours, from simple through to ready-for-print:

Whether you've been traditionally published and want to relaunch your backlist titles on Kindle, or you're brand new and have just finished your first book, I can help. I've designed covers for bestselling authors and newbies, fiction and non-fiction.

Check samples and pricing here: http://www.extendedimagery.com/info.html

Sunday Service - 52 Novels (via @52novels)

52 Novels provides ebook formatting and assistance in getting your work on the electronic distribution networks of your choice.

Thinking about adding your book to the Amazon Kindle Store but don’t know how to start?

Frustrated with converting your Microsoft Word file or PDF to a Kindle-friendly format by yourself?

We can help.

We’re 52 Novels and we design ebooks. We can save you time and hassle by getting your manuscript to play nice with Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iPad and other ereader devices.

There are plenty of skills required to do your own publishing, and it's unrealistic for authors to learn them all. It's worth checking out if 52 Novels can help you claw back some of the time you spend publishing and let you put that back into your writing.

Look into it here: http://www.52novels.com/

Sunday Service - Autography - Digital Signing (via @autographyllc)

Autography is a company that provides a neat service that tries to create a bit of ownership around ebooks by allowing authors to digitally sign (ie. autograph/customise) a given electronic book.

Autography LLC is a media technology firm in St Petersburg, Florida with a patent-pending method for inserting an autograph or other salutation into an ebook. This personalization can take place at the time of purchase or any time afterwards, including after secondary (used) sales. .

I've listed some of their features here (the website contains additional detail for each item):

  • The freedom to use any eReader
  • Custom tailored author signature pages
  • Social network positioning
  • Autography has the metadata advantage

That last one sounds market-speaky, but in essence just refers to the ability to produce reports about what titles are being customised, etc.

What's cool about this kind of service is that it provides another avenue to connect authors to their readers, and even expands on the concept of author signings, by allowing a real-time ebook signing event to be held in a remote, distributed way - the author at a physical book signing at his/her favourite bookshop, while also performing a digital signing event for readers who can't attend in person.

Look into it here: http://www.autography.com/

Sunday Service - The Mad Formatter - Manuscript Formatting

The Mad Formatter provides document formatting services, for print and ebook (with a special mention for Smashwords and it's extensive formatting constraints).

Are you a writer looking to publish your book and get it out there? Do you want to make your manuscript shine? Take a look at my service and let me help make your book interior exceptional. We all know that Word can be a pain sometimes, so let The Mad Formatter help you!

The pricing is quite reasonable, and it might save you a heap of time.

Look into it here: http://www.themadformatter.com/

Sunday Service - Xuni - Author Website Management

Xuni provides a customised author website (including a PayPal store), and might be worth your while. The FAQ page on the site goes into associated costs. I noticed they also do cover design, and there's a portfolio to get a feel for the kind of work they do.

Need a brand new website, or a redesign of your existing one? xuni.com creates, designs, and maintains author websites for those authors just starting out to those with 20+ books. I specialize in creative, well-organized, uncluttered sites.

Look into it here: http://xuni.com/

Sunday Service - Blurb - Self Publishing

Eileen Gittens is interviewed on Mashable. She's representing Blurb, a self-publishing business that focusses on trying to make cross-media books (design once, buy/download/distribute across platforms):

Let me take you into where we’ve been over the last few years when it comes to enabling people to make a book. Now historically, a book meant a printed book, but we’ve known for a long time that that wasn’t always going to be the case. So as the iPad came out, we really learned all about it. [...] So right now, our beta [iPad app] — which will be out later this year publicly — will let you create your book once using any of Blurb’s tools. We offer three options for book making: 1) a browser-based book-making tool; 2) a downloadable client that works on a Mac or a PC called BookSmart; and 3) if you’re a designer and you want to use Adobe InDesign, we’ve got a template generator that will enable you to use InDesign and then just upload a PDF directly to us. So you can use any of those tools to make a book.

 

Now here’s the kicker: You will then be able to output that book from the same file to any medium. You can purchase an iPad version, you can purchase a hardcover or softcover, and in our bookstore (because we’re not only about “you can make it” — we’re also about “you can market it, and you can sell it”), you can then make it available to your fans, your family, your friends and your customers in whatever form they want to purchase it, whether that’s in iPad form or a printed book.

A big differentiatior in the Print on Demand industry is that there is no requirement to take large risks on long print runs. But the flipside is that allowing tiny print runs still needs to be profitable for the printing/publication service. Eileen explains:

There was one question for the company before we actually got funded, and I think I will call out that as pivotal. And that was: Could we make money as a business on a book of one? Meaning if somebody made a book, and they only ever ordered one copy, could we have a viable business? And the reason why that was so important was that’s the opposite of traditional book publishing.

Read the article here: http://mashable.com/2011/08/11/blurb-eileen-gittins-interview/

Pricing is always going to be higher for PoD books, but they have reasonable low-print run discounts: http://www.blurb.com/create/book/pricing

Check out Blurb here: http://www.blurb.com/

Sunday Service - BookRooster - Reviews

I found this via Joe Konrath's blog, and although it is no longer Sunday in Australia, alliteration and some time-zone wiggle room compels me to do a Sunday Service update. The article itself (an interview with BookRooster) is worth reading, too. BookRooster.com helps distribute digital review copies to readers, to get those helpful book reviews on Amazon that let you stand out a little in the crowd.

Please note though, that you aren't guaranteed a positive review, just an honest one from one of their many readers.