Spice Up Your Author Page with Icons

social media icons for authorsIndie authors know the importance of connecting with readers. It’s about building community, using the gifts of the internet to network with people all over the world and ultimately help with book sales. How can you facilitate this within your ebook?

If a reader enjoyed it, there’s a good chance she/he will click on your author page especially if it’s easy to find in the Table of Contents. Somewhere in that author bio should be links to places like Facebook, Twitter, your website or blog, whatever you prefer for connecting. Most authors do it with text links. The problem is the growing number of links many of us want to share with potential readers. I have a half dozen or more, and suddenly the page looks a lot less appealing with so many hyperlinks blaring at the reader. Icons are more effective, and it doesn’t matter how many you have. The more the merrier.

On a minimal scale, notice which example below gets the job done better. Text links…

https://www.facebook.com/author.name

https://twitter.com/authorname

http://www.amazon.com/authorname/e/B004A8W4BG/

or icon links… Facebook logo  Twitter logo amazon_kindle_icon large

The answer is clear especially when you get into higher numbers. Images quickly tell readers where you and your other books can be found. List the sites you want and hopefully enough of them so that the readers can choose the social media connection they prefer. Others may include G+, Pinterest, Goodreads, YouTube or maybe your blog feed. Bottom line, make it easy for readers.

If you format in MS Word, just use the Insert tab to add a Picture for each icon image and size it accordingly, around .5 inches or 100 pixels square. Then use the Insert tab and add a Hyperlink to the URL of the destination. Choosing the Open in a New Window option is wise too.

Only include Amazon icons for Amazon books. If you upload directly to vendors like Kobo or Apple, use their icon or none at all. For Smashwords, Draft2Digital or other distributors, just use social media icons and not book vendors.

What about copyright and legal issues? It’s true that each company has its own specifics on what you can and can’t do with their logo. You can check each website’s branding guidelines, which I’m just going to list a few because there are dozens of possibilities. Unfortunately the approved icons are rather boring, and the creative ones you find online with an image search are typically not allowed. Boo-hoo, I know. My assumption is this rule gets broken like the old 55 mph speed limit and you’re probably just risking a notice to make a change, but I’m no lawyer and sense the idiot emails coming soon. Here are the places to go for the company approved icons:

https://www.facebookbrand.com/

https://about.twitter.com/press/brand-assets

https://developers.google.com/+/branding-guidelines

http://www.youtube.com/yt/brand/downloads.html

https://brand.linkedin.com/

Questions or comments? Leave a reply below.


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My Babelcube Experience (part 3) Translated Paperbacks with CreateSpace

Babelcube CreateSpace paperbackThe plan for part 3 on Babelcube was scheduled for sales, but translated paperbacks recently became an option that deserved a look. It’s a logical step since Draft2Digital is their main distributor. Draft2Digital has included the choice of a CreateSpace paperback for a while on top of ebooks to retailers. It also makes sense because ebooks still aren’t mainstream in many nations, so having a print version of your translated book might be wise. Sales will be pushed to part 4, coming soon, while we talk paper now. (Part 1 and Part 2 for those who haven’t read them.)

Using the automated system, making a paperback with CreateSpace via Babelcube is an absolutely bare bones experience, nothing like making one directly through CreateSpace yourself. The current system has a long way to go if it wants to produce quality looking paperbacks, but there is also some good news which we’ll get to.

The problem with the automated system is because Babelcube and D2D simply upload the ebook version formatted for print with a program that is below reasonable expectations, so the opening page of the print book is likely to be a Table of Contents and it continues downhill from there. Page 2 of my TOC was numbered with the author name in the header as you can see in the photo below.

Babelube CreateSpace translations

Their system makes choices for trim size, font, layout, you name it, not allowing for personal preferences. Here’s another example below where the conversion process oddly assigned a page break after a first line that translates to Part 2, then was followed by a couple paragraph returns, then the chapter title and then the chapter text, which are obviously missing.

Babelube CreateSpace translations 2

That page should have looked like the one below, which is from my formatting.

Babelube CreateSpace translations 3

However, the good news is you can supply and upload your own PDF interior and cover files, which is clearly the way to do this. You will need to be familiar with formatting interiors and covers with CreateSpace beforehand because you won’t have access to the CS digital previewer through Babelcube.

(Here’s a coupon to save 63% on my Createspace Formatting video course.)

My advice is to first create the book yourself at CreateSpace, even as a mock draft, so you can use the digital previewer and order a physical proof if you want. You won’t be legally allowed to publish it that way since it would be against Babelcube’s terms of service. But at least you’ll feel confident once you do submit those interior and cover files to Babelcube, which will hand them off to D2D which will hand them off to CreateSpace which will publish them into paperbacks and place them on Amazon. As soon as it’s available, order a copy and double-check it matches your original.

What do you think, is this worth the effort especially without being able to use the CS previewer? For the right author and the right book, perhaps. Please share any comments.


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MS Word for CreateSpace Paperbacks, Free Course Limited Time Offer


Happy 2015! Brand new Udemy course just released – Make Paperbacks with CreateSpace: Sell More Books on Amazon – featured 1 week for FREE January 1st – 7th. All the training in the comfort of your own home as a New Year’s gift. (Share with a writer you love.)

Everything you need to format MS Word for CreateSpace paperbacks. Making books is easier than ever. The course helps you:

  • save time
  • save money
  • design your book the way you want it
  • sell books with CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand company
  • have readers enjoying your printed book all over the world!

Offer expires January 8th. To redeem the course for FREE, use coupon code HAPPY2015 or copy and paste the URL, https://www.udemy.com/make-paperbacks-with-createspace-sell-more-books-on-amazon/?couponCode=Happy2015.

And if you enjoy the course and the free gift, please do the courtesy of leaving a course review at Udemy.

Thank you and Happy New Year.


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Teaching at Udemy, Online Courses for Non-Fiction Authors

Udemy Online CoursesWhat can you teach? Udemy and other retailers of online courses should be on your radar if you’re an author who instructs… well, anything. Limiting yourself to just book sales could be missing a golden opportunity.

For educational purposes, the video medium is a natural progression from books and the classroom. It’s also a smart one. MOOCs (massive open online courses) are the future of learning, whether recorded or live. It just makes sense. More students at locations around the world can be reached by fewer teachers, delivering quality instruction at less cost. Plus most people absorb information better when it comes as a combination of video, audio and the written word. All it takes is an internet connection.

Why Udemy?

After testing several online retailers, Udemy for instructors is the closest comparison to KDP Amazon for writers. The user-friendly platform makes it simple for anyone to create and edit courses. They have more tools, training guides and even a Facebook Instructors group for assistance with any need. And they sell by far the most courses of anywhere I’ve tried. My courses exist at six other online retailers–Udemy outsells them all. There’s also no application process, which does mean a range of quality exists in the courses. It’s my belief, ala Amazon indie books, the best tend to rise over time.

Raw data at Udemy is exciting: nearly 5 million students from 190 countries. This was accumulated in just a few years and is growing fast. 10,000 instructors teaching in 53 languages is even more exciting because presently there are about 500 students per instructor.

How do the royalties work?

When you bring in students from your own methods (i.e. website, social media, emails) using instructor coupons, you keep 97% of the coupon price. That’s correct, 97%. Not sure if this deal will last forever, but it’s been going on for a while and feels too good to be true. If Udemy promotes your course and makes an in-house sale, you still earn 50%. Not too shabby. And there are affiliates who promote courses as well, also paying about 50% of sales price on average. Even if you don’t have a course to promote, anyone can make money selling as an affiliate.

Most courses are priced between $10 to $30 per hour on online content, but that’s up to you. The average Udemy instructor makes $7,000 per year while successful ones make over $100,000. Remember, once courses are in place there’s little that needs to be done, mostly communications from time to time.

Besides the paid courses, you can also price courses for free. Could be a smart way to build platform and up-sell other products.

What types of courses can you teach?

Anything that can be taught. Courses related to technology do well as does anything related to making money. Go figure. Traditional subjects are popular: reading, writing, arithmetic, languages. There are courses in Music, Health & Fitness, Photography, Lifestyles, Design, Marketing, Dog Training, pretty much everything.

What do you need to get started?

You need video. They recommend at least 60% of your course to be high quality video. It can be live action, as in footage from a camera or your webcam, or it can be screen-cast. Classes that teach an activity like yoga or cooking are suited for live footage. Screen-cast is my preference since they demonstrate how to do things online so students can follow in real time. (My self-publishing related courses are offered here at major savings.) You can also upload PowerPoint, PDFs, audio, zip files and even perform live with student interaction.

Udemy recommends mixing up the teaching materials because some students learn better by reading, some by doing, others by watching and listening. Adding quizzes and course completion requirements also help keep students engaged.

What do you think, is Udemy for you? Share a comment.


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My Babelcube Experience (part 2) Getting Interesting

translate buttonMy optimism for self-pub opportunities spiked when I heard about Babelcube and their book translation services. I filled out a profile, uploaded books and began working with translators. I also wrote a blog post on that initial aspect (see part 1 of My Babelcube Experience).

Now comes part 2, what I’ve learned since a few translations have just been published. The answer is a fair amount. Some notes:

Babelcube uses Draft2Digital as a distributor, which doesn’t distribute to Amazon anymore so how does that work? Not sure, but it might explain why these titles went live two weeks ago to Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Scribd, but just today on Amazon and Google. Support mentioned they’re switching distributors.

Full length novels are much harder to get translated than shorter works or non-fiction. I still haven’t had any offers on my novels that are 96,000 and 105,000 words, but every other book has been translated, is being translated or has received offers.

Babelcube Spanish Book WebsitesNon-fiction seems easier to get deals. Perhaps it’s because the writing is simpler. How-to books attract attention, here and apparently abroad. One thing to beware of for authors of how-to guides: recognize any differences that exist in America (or your home nation) compared to the final destination. For example, my guides deal with websites and software that are popular in the US but not always elsewhere, so some changes were made accordingly. It helped to point that out to the translators ahead of time.

Take your time getting qualified readers to check the sample offer. Why rush into a decision when the book may take a few months once you agree on a deal? Babelcube doesn’t give advice or support there, leaving each author to find a solution. Fiverr, Facebook and Yahoo answers are places to get translations checked if you don’t have friends that read well in certain languages. However, you may have to take the word of strangers you don’t really know or trust.

Don’t ask proofreaders to read more than a few assorted paragraphs unless you’re giving something in return. If you have multiple books and offers in Spanish, for example, try not to wear out your Spanish-reading friends by asking them to read and critique large sections of each title.

Babelcube Italian Book Self PublishingDon’t expect masterpieces. These translators are working for free on the hopes of selling books and making a cut on the sale. They’re unlikely to be perfect in what they do. Of course you expect competency, but in some cases you may ask yourself, “Is it better to have something in a foreign language or nothing at all?” These can be hard choices.

Don’t upload MS Word .doc. Instead use .docx–it converts better. My uploads got stuck in a Babelcube cyber-vortex that took several emails and Twitter and Facebook mentions to sort out, segue to the next tip.

Don’t rely on prompt customer support whether you email them, make a post on their Facebook page or @-message them on Twitter. Presently Babelcube has slower than average customer support, which is surprising for a fledgling company that seems to have a good product and a jump on any competition. They should make an effort to speed things up and take social media a bit more seriously, IMO.

Below is the status of some of my titles. The top three have just been published, while the fourth is months away.

Babelcube translation status

There are some good translators out there. There are also some not so great people to beware of.

If you get along well with your translator, add their name to the cover design and give them some kudos in the “About the Author” section. Whatever extra credit you give should help in their interest at marketing the book in their country, which may be easier for them than you.

Part of me wonders if time and tech will make this obsolete. Google translate has come a long way in a few short years. I remember trying the program when it was younger, and it was terrible. These days it’s getting more intelligent fast, especially with non-fiction. Might there be a limited time before Babelcube’s service will be offered by Google and Amazon or some other computerized function?

Now for the real question: how are sales? At this point it hasn’t been enough time. Two of my titles just came out and I’m curious how they’ll do. I hope they aren’t duds because the translators spent several weeks on them. Sales will be a main focus of part 3 of this experience. I’ll let you know.

What do you think about this: good idea, not so good idea or waste of time? Please share comments.


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