E-Book Challenges: 5 Things That Are Hard To Do In E-Books

Last week I posted Five Things You Can Do With E-Books. Today I consider their limitations. Here are my top e-book challenges:E-Book Challenges: 5 Things That Are Hard To Do In E-Books

Footnotes

If a book needs references, I prefer footnotes to endnotes. However, with the font resizing aspect of e-book readers, displaying footnotes are challenging at best and impossible at worst.

Charts and Tables

Including a text-based graph, chart, or table in an e-book is problematic. When a reader changes the font size, these elements will also be adjusted. Once resized they can go from functional to unreadable. Compounding the problem is that each device will render them differently. Straight text just reflows; specially formatted words become convoluted.

Artwork and Graphics

Any non-text image, such as photos, pictures, line art, figures, or graphics solve the issues caused by changing the font size. But they create another problem. Their size is fixed, so if they are too small on a certain device, they cannot be enlarged. This makes their inclusion more frustrating than helpful. 5 things that are difficult to do in an e-book. Click To Tweet

Fixed Formatting

The PDF version of my book How Big Is Your Tent?, for example, contains special formatting to give readers a unique reading experience. Some text is left justified, other lines are centered, and, some words are to the far right. Other times, successive lines each contain one additional indent to present a staggered appearance. Also, by design, certain concepts are self-contained on one page. None of these formatting decisions can be retained in an e-book, as adjusting the font size messes up all of these layout choices.

Color or Not

E-books with color may disappoint readers using monochrome devices. Conversely, e-books in black and white will limit the experience of readers with color devices. These e-book challenges are a conundrum for e-book publishers.

What else is difficult to do in an e-book?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Five Things You Can Do With E-Books

There is some writing that we almost never see in printed form, due to its length, content, format, market size, or other factors. When it comes to e-books these are no longer issues.Five Things You Can Do With E-Books

Here are five things we can do with e-books that we seldom see in print.

Novellas

A novella is a work of fiction that falls into the gap between a short story (under 7,500 words) and a novel (over 40,000 words). Novellas are too long for a magazine or literary journal but too short to meet the physical requirements of a printed book. When it comes to an e-book, length doesn’t matter.With e-books, our work can reach an even larger audience and then be fine-tuned. Click To Tweet

Serial Fiction

We all have TV shows we love to watch. We anticipate the next episode to see what happens next. What about books? Yes, the same applies, but waiting a year or more for the next book is agonizing. What if we can read stories in installments or episodes? Although some magazines do this, it’s not too common.

E-books are the answer. Imagine unveiling a 5,000 to 10,000 word e-book every month or so. Just like a TV show, there needs to be a self-contained story that is resolved and a larger story that advances with each installment. We can include cliffhangers and even write seasons.

Poetry

Although there are books of poetry, they’re not too common—unless the author is famous. Most poets toil in obscurity, with few readers ever seeing their work. An e-book solves that. I’m not much of a poet, but if I was (or when I am), an e-book will be the way to go.

Short Story Collections

Yes, printed books of short stories do exist, but they’re not common and are often anthologies or by well-known authors. For most writers, a printed collection of their short stories is a dream that will go unmet. E-books solve that.

Test Marketing

Most authors have critique partners (who give initial input on a book) and beta readers (who help fine-tune things further), but even so, these readers may offer conflicting advice or may not uncover all a book’s issues.

With e-books, our work can reach an even larger audience and then be fine-tuned. That doesn’t mean publishing junk or half-baked ideas. The e-book needs to be the best we can make it. But if corrections are needed, e-publishing makes them easy to accomplish.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

UR Turn: Are You on Instagram?

Share photos and videos with friends on Instagram

In past months we’ve talk about a lot of social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.  Another social media platform is Instagram, a place to share pictures and videos from your smart phone (and now computer).urUR Turn: are you on Instagram?

As far as social media sites go, it’s still a kid, launched on 2010. (And bought by Facebook a couple years later.)

It has a fresh, clean interface and is easy to use. It appeals to a younger demographic, with upwards of 800 million users worldwide. Many writers use Instagram to connect with their readers.

Are you on Instagram?

I am, but I’m a newbie. I post images and videos from my blog, along with book covers.

Maybe we can follow each other.

If you’re not on Instagram, check it out. Let’s follow each other on Instagram. Click To Tweet

Here’s my Instagram page.

Please share your Instagram link below. Then we can follow each other.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Three Perspectives on Hybrid Authors

Be a hybrid author: 3 perspective to considerA hybrid author is someone who uses both traditional publishing and self-publishing. Though the reasons for pursuing this dual approach are many, there are two base motivations: more sales or more income.

Generally, traditionally published books are better vetted, have higher quality, enjoy wider distribution, and produce more sales.

The benefits of self-publishing tend to be faster publication, more author control, greater profit per sale, and much faster access to profits.

1) Author Perspective of being a Hybrid Author

For the author, self-publishing some books, while traditionally publishing others, offers the best of both worlds. Taking the hybrid approach results in dual revenue streams and potentially more books on the market with greater readership. And at its base level, isn’t that what every author wants: more readers and the chance to earn a living?

2) Publisher Perspective for a Hybrid Author

Publishers can have many worries about authors who take the hybrid approach. From a macro standpoint, more self-publishing means less traditional publishing—and that’s bad for the industry.

From a practical assessment, authors who also self-publish divide their focus, time, and energy between two or more projects. This suggests they spend less time writing, so the quality may not be as good. They may have less time to promote their traditionally published books because they spend more time promoting their self-published works. They could damage their reputation if their self-published books are not as good. Also, they could confuse their audience (be it called their community, platform, or tribe) if they publish in multiple genres, use different styles, or target different readers.

3) Enlightened Publisher Perspective for a Hybrid Author

While all these publisher concerns are valid, an alternate view is that if these risks can be minimized or controlled, the result can be a larger author platform, a better reputation, and the likelihood of selling more of the author’s traditionally published books.A hybrid author is someone who uses both traditional publishing and self-publishing. Click To Tweet

To do this, traditional publishers can offer their authors career advice and strategic planning for all their books. They can encourage their authors to pursue greater quality in their self-published works, even to the point of letting them tap into their network of freelance editors, designers, and marketers.

When done wisely, hybrid authors can benefit themselves as well as their traditional publishers.

[Also consider hybrid publishing.]

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Quotes About Books and Reading

Check out these inspiring quotes about books and the value of reading

I recently shared some quotes about writing, and in the past I’ve published two other posts with quotes about writing here and here. My favorite of all these is what the Bible says about writing. Here are some quotes about books.

Here are some related sayings, not about writing as much as quotes about books and the importance of reading.

quotes about books

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – C.S. Lewis

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” -Frederick Douglass

“I read a book one day and my whole life was changed. “ -Orhan Pamuk

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” -Margaret Fuller

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” -Jorge Luis Borges

“When I discovered libraries, it was like having Christmas every day.” -Jean Fritz

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -Saint Augustine of Hippo

“When you read a book, you hold another’s mind in your hands.” -James Burke

“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” -Italo Calvino

“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition,” -Henry Miller

“How marvelous books are, crossing worlds and centuries, defeating ignorance and, finally, cruel time itself.” -Gore Vidal

“A childhood without books – that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy.” -Astrid Lindgren

“Books are the mirrors of the soul.” -Virginia Woolf

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

“A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.” -P.L. Travers

With these writing quotes in mind, let’s go find a good book to read.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

When Should You Write? Find the Time that is Right For You

In developing as a writer, it is critical to write every day—or at least almost every day. We need to discover when to write.Find when to write, a time that works best for you.

The first step is to determine the best time for you to write. If writing is important, then give it the best part of your day; make it a priority. Don’t give it your leftover time or squeeze it in between lessor activities.

Schedule time to write; consider it like a job. Even if you aren’t writing to generate income, you need to treat it as seriously as your vocation or you will fail to develop as a writer.Look at your life, your schedule, and your responsibilities. Then pick a time to devote to the craft of writing. Click To Tweet

Only you can determine the best time for you to write—and it may require some experimenting. Some people like to arise early to write, while others prefer midday after their worldly distractions have been sufficiently dispatched. Other writers like to wrap of their day tapping out their words on a keyboard and some even opt for the middle of the night—be it as a regular occurrence or a response to insomnia.

Look at your life, your schedule, and your responsibilities. Then pick a time to devote to the craft of writing. It may not be easy, but good things seldom are. And it may require some trial and error to hone in on the ideal time for you.

For me, in determining when to write, I found that early morning is best for me, often getting up around 5 am and working for an hour or two, but sometimes longer. Then I segue into my day and begin my day job. I’ve even found myself writing in the middle of the night, but not too often. Middays I am too distracted and evenings I am too tired to produce anything worthwhile.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

What’s Next For the Publishing Industry?

The Publishing Industry Is Changing

In round numbers, five hundred years ago the world witnessed the invention of the printing press, changing the way people communicated. This innovation (along with advances in shipbuilding) ushered in the modern era. There’s a definite connection between the printing press and modernity. What's next for the publishing industry?

Though the technology of printing has advanced greatly in the intervening five centuries, the modern publishing industry has changed little.The publishing industry of tomorrow will have little semblance with its predecessor from yesteryear. It will emerge newer, better, and more exciting. Click To Tweet

Currently, the modern era is yielding to the postmodern era. One of the chief catalysts of this transition is the Internet. The Internet is to postmodernity as the printing press was to modernity.

The Publishing Industry In the Postmodern Era

With this transition, the publishing industry is undergoing dramatic changes, a transformation that literally happens once every half a millennium. However, the postmodern era and the Internet that facilitated it, does not portend the end of publishing but merely its rebirth.

The publishing industry of tomorrow will have little semblance with its predecessor from yesteryear. It will emerge newer, better, and more exciting – for all who are willing to embrace change and hang on for a wild transition.

I, for one, am giddy with excitement.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Four Ways to Stay Informed About Book Publishing

In the world of book publishing, if we blink, something’s apt to change. Every day there seems to be a new option, a different twist, or better pricing. The best solution for a particular situation soon yields to an even better answer—often within months or even weeks.Four Ways to Stay Informed About Book Publishing

Publishing books becomes an art of aiming at a moving target, a goal that ebbs and flows at the pace of a changing tide. New vendors emerge and existing players develop innovations to target a different niche.

How’s a person to keep up?

1. Join Industry Associations

Groups of like-minded individuals offer the means to stay abreast of changing conditions. Members share news and ideas with each other. It’s an easy way to be informed, although merely joining a group isn’t enough; participation is required.

2. Read Blogs

Find and follow blogs, podcasts, and v-blogs of thought leaders and news aggregators. They’re plenty to choose from; pick ones with a voice you like and a perspective you respect. Ironically, reading books about publishing is not the answer; things change too quickly. Even e-books risk being out of date by the time they reach us.

3. Network

Connect with others. The goal is to listen and to share. Benefits abound when giving, even more so than when receiving.

4. Ask Questions

Requesting advice in a respectful way usually results in new information to consider. People enjoy it when we seek them out and usually offer their opinions to sincere questions. We honor them when we listen to what they say. As a writer, the key is to always be in a learning mode. Don’t become complacent. Click To Tweet

The key is to always be in a learning mode; don’t become complacent, thinking you’ve figured out all the answers. Never disregard a vendor or idea as not viable. In a moment it could become the exact solution we seek.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Three Possible Problems with Self-Published Books

Self-published Book Problems

Self-published books carry a stigma of poor quality: weak writing, shoddy editing, second-rate production, and a product that often screams “amateur.” Unfortunately, this perception stems from the growing evidence provided by many self-published works. Though not all self-published books are substandard, too many are.Self-Published Book Problems: 3 common mistakes to fix

Here are thee examples self-published book problems from some of my recent reads:

1. A Lack of Editing

This printed book had a nice cover and looked professional. It unveiled a pleasing storyline and contained no errors (at least that I noticed). What it needed, however, was a thorough copy-edit, as there were continuity issues, implausible events, and an impossible timeline.

Also, the author tied up every loose end to produce a fairytale conclusion for most every character. Despite much promise, the journey was unsatisfying.

2. The Rough Draft

This novella-length e-book had a decent title and acceptable cover. The story line was intriguing—and those were the good points. It had significant issues with flow and continuity, but worse yet, I felt I was reading a first draft.

To its credit, the book had a killer surprise ending I never saw coming and delighted me immensely. But, unless someone options this for a movie (which could happen), I see no value to this book—either commercial or literary.

3. Missing Substance

A third book had none of these shortcomings. Well written, it benefited from careful editing and proofreading. The author had an enjoyable voice and wonderful concept.

What this book needed, however, was more substance and the removal of some idealistic recommendations that surely no one would follow. Though the majority of the book had value, the impractical parts threatened to overshadow the rest. Your self-published book must avoid these three problems. Click To Tweet

This isn’t to imply all self-published books are bad. There are good self-published books out there, which don’t suffer from these self-published book problems. They contain no consequential flaws and are enjoyable or valuable to read.

Unfortunately, in my experience, good self-published books are not as common as they could and should be.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Consider the Future of Book Publishing

What do the days ahead hold for those of us who publish books?  What is the future of book publishing?

Given the rapid changes the industry is undergoing, we anticipate a different tomorrow, but just how much different will it be? Will today’s roles even exist in a decade or two?Consider the Future of Book Publishing

Predicting the future or even anticipating what might lie ahead in the years to come is a difficult task. Although the details are unclear, three general outcomes remain assured:

Consumers of Content

Barring a cataclysmic apocalypse with survivors reduced to a subsistence life, there will always be people who will desire and consume content. Generically called art, entertainment, or education, this content could take many forms, including print, audio, video, multimedia, or interactive, but regardless of the formats, consumers will want content.

Producers of Content

As long as an audience exists, content producers will be in demand. Writers will supply content: writing, creating, inventing, and envisioning. In a way, writers will become artists, producing art for their patrons. Their art may take many forms, beyond merely the writing out of their words.

Facilitators of Content

Idealism suggests that future content producers will directly connect with content consumers. While this may happen in limited situations, middlemen will facilitate the transaction in many cases and facilitate the creation in most instances. The transaction facilitators will mass-produce and distribute the content.

Therefore content facilitators will provide today’s agents, editors, graphic designers, and publicists with tomorrow’s work, aiding tomorrow’s writers with their content. The future of book publishing will be much different, but as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. Click To Tweet

The future of book publishing will be much different. However, as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. The future is indeed bright—for those willing to see it.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Discussing the art of writing and the business of publishing

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