The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Ten
Welcome Back Once Again My Friends
Well, I’ll be honest with you. I had no idea this series would be as popular as it is. I am smiling as I write this. Every once in a while I come up with a good idea. Who would have thunk it? LOL
You ask the questions and I attempt to answer. There are times I will not know the answer. We start off today with one such question. When I don’t know I won’t fake it. I’ll try to steer you in the right direction so you can get the answer you need, but I won’t say something unless I’m positive that I’m right.
Now let’s do it to it like Sonny Pruitt.
From Rachael: “billybuc, you suggested once that I combine a number of my biographical articles into ebooks and I really want to do that - but I don't understand the formatting process. I wrote all of them in Word, but I'm finding that Word is not acceptable on all ebook platforms. Some are flexible but others are not. A new epublisher will come along with their own requirements for conversion and, for some unbelievable reason, Word is not good enough for them. They want epub(the easiest), or else LIT, LRF, Doc and DOCX, RTF, MOBI, TCR, PDF, PDB, and if there are pictures, then they want you to use a program that supports text and pictures so that there are not two different formats used in one ebook.
I don't understand the conversion process. I've used CALIBRE and "Online-Convert" to change formatting, but it still gets corrupted so it has to be corrected line by line.
Is there a special program that will convert the text without jumbling it up or corrupting it so I don't have to sit and retype or copy paste my work into the new formats? I have researched this to death and I don't know whether it is MY mental resistance that roadblocks me or what, but the formatting just doesn't make sense to me. What is ok for one is not ok for another site. Thanks for any advice you can offer.”
I already answered Rachael in an email, but I’ll tell all of you the same thing…I don’t know. I am lost when it comes to tech stuff and formatting. If I need something formatted for an ebook, I ask my friend Liz to handle it. There are numerous articles online that can help. Here’s one if you are interested.
There are also several good books that will help. One of them is “eBook Creator Guide” by Glenn Hunt.
Sorry, Rachael, but that’s the best I can do.
From Ann: “ It's going to be a family memoir. I therefore have a question for you.
“It's based around several family characters, covering a long time-span. I'm going round in circles trying to decide whether to write chronologically, one side of family then the other or just go with a series of photos (of which I have many, thanks to Dad).
“Any suggestions to help my framework, bill? Then I can stop floundering before I tie myself in knots.”
Unfortunately, or fortunately, this is a subjective decision. Ann is basically asking what approach she should take to writing her memoir, but there is no “best answer” for that question. If I wrote a memoir I would probably take the chronological approach, but that’s just me. I’m comfortable using time as a framework. Others might not be.
Melissa asks: “What do you think of pen names? If you were to write your first book using a pen name, would you carry through with that pen name on your author’s website?”
Thanks, Melissa. I’m willing to bet there are quite a few differing opinions on this one, so what you are getting as an answer is just mine. There are no guarantees I am correct, but the same could be true of any opinion on this subject.
I know why writers use pen names, but I don’t really agree with it and I certainly would never do it.
Having said that, if one did use a pen name, I would think that pen name should be included on the author’s website just for the sake of marketing and name-recognition….but….if the author, for whatever reason, does not want the public to know who he/she is, then obviously you would not…or…you could start a website just for that pen name.
Sally once again: “Thank you for including a question of mine, which does lead me to ask who owns the rights to a kindle book? Is it a necessary requirement to own a kindle before you can successfully write an e-book?”
I’ll answer the second question first, mainly because I’m contrary on my best days. No, you don’t need to own a Kindle before writing an ebook. I don’t own one and I’ve published ebooks. Owning one might help you in a small way to understand how they are formatted, but that is such a small reason that I don’t think it is significant.
As for the rights to a Kindle book….it gets amazingly complicated, and some of you might find this interesting.
This from an NBC news story: “But it serves as a bitter reminder that we don't ever truly own the digital goods and software we buy online. Instead, we rent them, or hold them in a sort of long-term lease, the terms of which are brokered and policed exclusively by the leaseholder.
As Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow put it in a blog post yesterday:
This fine print will always have a clause that says you are a mere tenant farmer of your books, and not their owner, and your right to carry around your "purchases" (which are really conditional licenses, despite misleading buttons labeled with words like "Buy this with one click" — I suppose "Conditionally license this with one click" is deemed too cumbersome for a button) can be revoked without notice or explanation (or, notably, refund) at any time.”
It’s all in that little fine print you read and agree with before you publish your ebook, so read carefully and think twice before agreeing to publish.
10,000 Hour Rule
From Peter: “What’s up with this 10,000 hour rule I keep hearing about? Could you explain more about it?”
Well yes I can.
The 10,000 Hour Principle was first mentioned in the book “Outliers: The Story of Success,” by Malcolm Gladwell. Throughout this book, Gladwell mentions that the key to success in any field is a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of approximately 10,000 hours.
A bit random for sure, but I happen to believe the basic premise. Whether you set the hour limit at 9,000 or 10,000 or 11,000 isn’t really important. The point is that you will never be exceptional at something without practicing it and working at it.
I estimate that I am currently at hour 7,000. I’ll let you know how much I believe in the principle in 3,000 more hours.
Join me on my blog/website
- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Tips and discussions about writing
From Brian: “When you compile a group of your HubPages articles into an e-book about a topic, do you first unpublish those articles from HubPages? If you do, how do you decide when an article would do better in an e-book than on HubPages? If you do not, how can you have the same article in two places online at the same time—HubPages and wherever you post your e-book, such as at Amazon Kindle e-books?”
Thanks, Brian. This is a question that comes up all the time. There is no duplication issue when using Hubs for an ebook. I have done it on numerous occasions and I know of others who have done it as well. The only time one runs into duplication problems is when a Hub is used as an article in a magazine.
As for deciding which would do better on HubPages vs an ebook, I have no definitive answer for that. To me that’s a purely subjective decision and I can’t make it for you. The decision is an easy one for me because all the articles I do for HubPages are done with the express purpose of one day being a book of some sort. HP is just a staging area for me and my articles.
Do you find this series helpful?
That’s All, Folks, and Thank You
Let’s put Installment Ten to bed. I’ll sit patiently by waiting for the next set of questions, and then I’ll get busy with Installment Eleven. Thanks to all of you who asked questions this week, and thanks to all of you who took the time to visit and comment.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”