Tips

Quick Tip: Using Klout to Enhance Your Reach

Klout Suggestions

Some days my analytics suffer and sometimes they really click well. Part of the reason for fluctuations in analytics is availability to interact. Weekends and holidays are some of the reasons I might post less. Of course I can schedule some tweets and posts but I also need ways to share other content than my own. I’ve found Klout to be a source that supplements my social media, especially on the days when I spend less time on my author platform. Here are a few aspects of Klout that help my social media:

  • It suggests some Twitter followers for me. I’ve followed some of these and gotten extra follows back off this action.
  • It suggests articles I can schedule to tweet the next day. This is great to share content links that I like. I’ve gotten extra retweets on days when I’m not able to be as active as other days.

Businessman Speaking Through MegaphoneThese little suggestions have proven to enhance my author platform in supplemental ways that really help over weekends and holidays.

Do you have a Klout account? What do you use as a supplemental strategy to enhance your analytics when you have less availability? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a question, idea or strategy in the comment section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today!

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Styling Your E-Book With Proper Formatting

Introduction

The use of styles in word processing is a bit esoteric for many users. However, when formatting an e-book, styles can be very handy. With that in mind, I’ll follow-up on last week’s post about formatting by digging a little deeper into what styles are, why they are important to e-book formatting and how to use them. As a reminder, create a back-up copy of your content before formatting so you can easily revert to the original.

Does Your Manuscript Have Style?

So what’s a style and does your book have it? Well, when considering formatting, this is not so much a question of writing style as visual presentation. You don’t want to worry about this while your actually creating your content but when you are formatting styles add, well – style.

Formatting Word Styles

Styles, as implied by the term, is a way of changing the appearance of your content. That’s a simple statement but there’s much more to than that. It’s basically using a template of different format settings. In Word this is done via the Styles section of the Home menu. Using different styles means you can change headings, first lines of chapters and other sections of your content when a simple click. It’s very handy when it comes to formatting.

But why should you use it?

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The Importance of Styles

Your e-book needs style. It’s like when Kramer (think Seinfeld) found the wide-brimmed hat when he was wearing the coat from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. It’s just not as gaudy. The use of styles adds effects to your manuscript that improve reader experience.

For instance, if you have a book with headings or chapter titles a different style that’s in bold with larger font size can be helpful. However, you don’t want to just make those changes anywhere since they can create discontinuity if used improperly like I just did. Additionally, the first line of a chapter or scene can be enhanced so that it’s noticeably different from the rest of the text and alerts readers to the change. Styles also set apart other types of content in your e-book such as copyright, end material and block quotes (non-fiction).

So that’s a thumbnail of what styles are and why you need them. But how do you use them?

How To Use Styles

The use of styles can actually range from quite simple to complex. I’ll keep it simple here for the sake of brevity but a more thorough discussion can be found in the Smashwords Style Guide. Let’s scratch the surface to get started.

Pre-set styles are on the Home menu in Word 2007 or later. My screenshots are from Word 2010 so yours may be different. First of all there are several styles of which you may need to make use: First Line of a Chapter, Normal, Block (for non-fiction), etc. These are all changed or created from the Styles Manager. It must be noted that just highlighting and changing formatting to suit your needs may not mean that these are picked up correctly when processed by Kindle or Smashwords. Styles manage formatting on a larger, more consistent scale and allows you to change the style easily with a click or two.

In Word 2010 to modify a style right click on the style and choose modify:

Modify Word Style

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Next click on the format button in the lower left and choose Paragraph.

Word Style Modification

The paragraph properties for this style are displayed.

Word Paragraph Properties

Settings such as indent, line spacing, etc can be changed here. Try to make your “Normal” style consistent with what the whole book will be. If you will be using a first line style to forego the use of indent for the beginning of a chapter try creating a separate style. There are pre-set styles for headings, titles, subtitles, etc so don’t try to re-invent these – just change them to suit your needs. Apply the various styles besides Normal wherever necessary by click to that location and clicking the applicable style and the text will be changed.

Scriv Preset StylesThat’s the basics of managing and applying styles in Word. Scrivener is similar in that it comes with presets like Word and you can apply them from the format bar. I’ll discuss these in a later post but for now these should help you learn the basics of formatting for e-books. For more information I suggest downloading Mark Coker’s free Smashwords Style Guide.

 

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. Interested in my writing? Learn more about The Bow of Destiny by clicking on one of the banners on the sidebar.

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

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This blog does not share personal information – including email addresses – with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyze and optimize your content and reading experience through the use of cookies (which is a WordPress.com function and not mine).

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This privacy policy is subject to change without notice and was last updated on July 2nd, 2015. If you have any questions feel free to contact me directly here: ph at phsolomon.com (replace the “at” with @, it’s written that way to avoid spammers).

 

 

The Great Formatting Conundrum & What To Do About It

I recently received a question over Twitter from someone asking if I provided formatting services. It’s not uncommon since so many independent authors are in need of e-book formatting. I’ve written about this topic in passing before but I decided to cover it in more detail today.

First let me say I do not offer formatting services. I’d be open to in the future if the need arose for more immediate income. However, I’m neither experienced enough yet nor do I have the time to run such a service while publishing my own fiction.

Word Styles

However, having formatted my own short story as an e-book – as well as intending to publish a few more short projects in the future – I do have some insights to offer for newer writers with questions. Most everyone advises that an author farm formatting out to someone who knows how to do it properly. It’s not terribly expensive for a novel and doesn’t require a long turn around time. But for shorter projects you may want to save the money and do the work yourself.

Formatting Resources

In either instance here are some resources for formatting:

  • Want to find formatters? Visit this link by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, for his list of self-publishing related services. It includes people who offer formatting services with their pricing as well as illustrators and editors.
  • Want to do the work yourself? Download Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide. This includes how to format your e-book so that it’s ready for submitting to Smashwords. I also found it effective for uploading to Amazon.

Tips

Scrivener StylesWith that information in mind here are some tips regarding formatting if you decide to give it a go yourself:

  1. Do not use your original manuscript. Create copy of the manuscript from which to work. This way if you mess it up you have no worries about it and can easily start over.
  2. Start learning with a shorter project. Once you have experience try something longer.
  3. Format correctly from the beginning. Read the Smashwords Style Guide for specific instructions on formatting your work with e-book publishing in mind.
  4. To begin formatting, remove all the bad formatting. Copy all of the content to a text editor like Notepad and then back into your word processor software to remove all the incorrect formatting. Again the style guide has detailed instructions for this process.
  5. Learn about Styles and use them when formatting an e-book. Styles are used in Word and are quick way of using preset formatting for different font styles. You can create Styles for titles, first lines, etc. These are also available in Scrivener. (take screen shots of Word and Scrivener styles)
  6. Create and use internal links. When you are formatting your manuscript to e-book conversion you can create internal links. These are important for use in e-book readers so anyone reading can move throughout the book with ease. One of the best ways to use this is to link your table of contents to each chapter heading or title and then each chapter back to the contents.

Final Thoughts

Many people have an aversion to formatting as if they might ruin their book. As long as you don’t work from the original you are free to play around with the process and learn. Once you’ve formatted even a short e-book you’ve gained valuable skill. Even if you do not want to format your novel you certainly know what to expect with a finished product when paying someone else. In the end it’s up to each person to decide what’s best – hiring out the work or DIY – but learn about the process some as well. Who knows, you may find you like doing it and launch a secondary income stream formatting for other authors. Regardless, I’ll follow up on some of the tips with some future posts on this subject.

Have you tried formatting an e-book? What keeps you from trying? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. To find out more about my current novel, The Bow of Destiny, click one of the link banners on the sidebar.

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

Sign-up to receive my free ebooks today.

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As a note, I do not work for or support any services for Smashwords. Please refer to Smashwords for questions and support.