Archive for December, 2011

Deana Zhollis – Writing Tools

I’ve been a very BUSY BEE!

And you know that feeling when IT’S FINALLY OVER and you can FINALLY REST feeling? Well, that’s how it feels like after 40+ hours working on instructional videos for my new website: Deana Zhollis – Writing Tools.

There’s been so many people who need that extra help on formatting their books for Print-On-Demand and for the Kindle, I figure I would try my hand at giving some instructions and templates for people to use.

And it’s FREE!

Yep. Free Information. You know that “F” word is my favorite word when it comes to Self-Publishing. So, I’m giving out information and templates for FREE and it’s going to stay that way. Why? Because I wanna: Be Like Google! If you give people want you want, you get things in return. So I’m putting my instructions out there and in return, I get some Good Karma my way. Give to Receive. That’s always been my Motto!

And does it work, you say? Why, yes it does! It’s ALWAYS worked for me.

I enjoy helping out others in a technical kind of way. That’s why I decided to do a blog, and now I’ve added this new level of experience–Instructional Videos!

Granted, they’re not perfect and I make a WHOLE lot of mistakes that I can only laugh at and move on, but it at least might give a bit of help here and there for those who really need to VISUALLY SEE how to do this formatting thing.

  • I created Microsoft Word Templates for the paperback 6×9 printers and show how to put it into a PDF format.
  • Along with the Word Template for printers, I added a Smashword Template to help those upload for the eBooks format.
  • I created a HTML Kindle Template and show how to update it using a FREE Web Page Design software that anyone can download.
  • I also created a Open Office Template, but I really don’t know how to use it, but I figure I put it out there for a starting point for those who could use it.

It was long and tedious and A LOT OF WORK to try to figure out the steps on how to show people what to do, and learning the software Camtasia. And I make mistakes and just ran out of steam to redo the ENTIRE VIDEO again from scratch, so I just made notes in the videos when NOT to do something, and hopefully that would keep it entertaining. I’m sure I’ll receive messages and statements from those people whose motto is: “It’s easier to criticize than to contribute!” types of folks. But that’s okay :). I’m sure I’ll be helping someone who needs it, despite the Human Errs.

So, if you’re one of those individuals who need a little help on formatting, take a look at the site and hopefully it can help direct you into what you would like to do.

Until Next Time!

Making Your Book Free on Amazon — Or Should I?

Making your book Free on Amazon — debate. So, yes, there’s a way to make your book Free…but the question is… should you?

Let’s take a look at the Terms and Conditions Pricing Page

According to Amazon… here’s the deal….

Matching Competitor Prices
From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion. It is important that Digital Books made available through the Program have promotions that are on par with free promotions of the same book in another sales channel. Therefore, if your Digital Book is available through another sales channel for free, we may also make it available for free. If we match a free promotion of your Digital Book somewhere else, your Royalty during that promotion will be zero. (Unlike under the 70% Royalty Option, if we match a price for your Digital Book that is above zero, it won’t change the calculation of your Royalties indicated in C. above.)

Reading this, you might think that they’re saying if you want to put your book Free for promotional purposes, then they will match it. Nope. They’re saying that if the “sales channel” does it NOT you the author/publisher. So, if Barnes and Noble decides to put your book up for Free for prompotional puroses, THEN Amazon will price match.

Think about the List Price as the price you set at, let’s say, Lightning Source for your printed book. So, your printed book is $13.00, and Barnes and Noble wants to put on a promotional deal like: “All Books Are Now %30 Off”. Then Amazon’s robots (the bots) will see the price lowered at Barnes and Noble and then set their price the same.

If YOU, yourself, change your book to free, then you’re manipulating the “List Price,” and this circumvents the system, and the Terms and Conditions with Amazon as stated below.

Setting Your List Price
You must set your Digital Book’s List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book.

But if you choose the 70% Royalty Option, you must further set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book.

By “list price in any sales channel,” we mean the suggested or recommended retail price or, if you sell your book directly to end users, your own sales price, for an edition of the book available outside of our Program.

When you set your List Price for our EU websites, you have to factor in the additional 15% value-added taxes (the Luxembourg statutory rate) we will add for EU customers, so that your List Price complies with this section after adding these VAT taxes.

What that is saying is that you need to set your price for your book the same for all sale channels.

“BUT,” you say, “Amazon’s lowest price is $0.99”.
Yep. That’s as low as Amazon will go, and so you, according to these Terms, are NOT to place your book any lower than $0.99 at other sale channels, which includes making it Free.

“But,” you say, “I got an email from Amazon stating that’s the only way to make my book Free is to make it Free somewhere else!”
Yep, I know. But I think now, with the flood of authors doing this exact same thing, it’s gotten out of hand and Amazon has now changed their tune. Email them today and see if you get that same advice. Probably not.

Does this mean I can sale my book Free on my personal website since it’s not a distributor?
Hmmm…well…. I mean, the words “sales channel” seems to cover any where. I would think that would include your personal website as well.

Will I be penalized if I do “manipulate” the system and make it Free anyway so that Amazon’s Bots will make my book free on Amazon?
No. Not right now. You just won’t get any royalties, which, at one time, Amazon did give Royalties for Free books with the the 35% Royalty Option (meaning your book was listed as less than $2.99). But making your book Free means, for most authors, that they didn’t look to get paid anyway–however it did increase their sales with their other books.

But everyone I know is doing it!
Yep. They are. But, now you know. You would be violating the Terms & Conditions if you decide to manipulate the bots. Everybody I know drives over the speed limit, and cops don’t seem to give away tickets to those who are just over by 10 miles per hour. Yet, you really can get ticketed if you’re just ONE (1) mile over the speed limit. Yes. Really. It’s the law.

That decision is up to you:: Do it until there’s an actual penalty, or follow the terms that you agreed to.

What are YOU, Deana Zhollis, going to do?
Who? Me? Uh…. well… er… uh. I’m human just like the next person. Don’t ask me that question! That’s too much pressure!

Heh. Heh.

But, seriously, more than likely, I’ll wait for an opening, some other kind of way…because there’s ALWAYS another way to get to the same type of results, right? I want to be seen and get more fans. The Free thing was a fast option for that. There’s anyway, albeit, much slower, but it’s still to the path of the Emerald City. When I find that yellow brick road, I’ll let you know.

Until Next Time.

NaNoWriMo and yWriter

Of course I figured out AFTER THE FACT (after NaNoWriMo) how to use yWriter during NaNoWriMo.

What’s NaNoWriMo? For those who don’t know, it’s National Novel Writing Month where participants take on the challenge to write 50,000 words (approximately 175 page novel) by writing from November 1 and end on 11:59:59, November 30.

Is it a Contest? No. Do you win anything? No. It’s a self-perseverance experience to help those, like me, who need that extra help and reminder to… JUST WRITE. No worries of spelling, or grammar, or plot, or character names, or anything that gets a writer hung up. The point is just to WRITE. This activity has helped me with two novels in the past and with the almost completion of the 3rd novel of The Calling series. People chat on forums, meet-up with fellow writers in their local areas, orchestrated by the local Municipal Liaison (ML) who volunteer to help cheer people on to their goals to reaching the 50,000 word mark. The ML also coordinate write-ins where you meet up and all write together.

There’s parties too 🙂

This year, since I’ve been using yWriter on all new materials now, I wanted to use it’s word count to keep track of my progress. Also, I heard that it’s programmer used it specifically for NaNoWriMo as well. As mentioned earlier, I missed out on the feature during the November time-frame. I was busy looking at the bottom of the yWriter window and trying to jot down the “Added Today” word count into a Excel spreadsheet instead of looking around the software to find a much easier way to see what I wrote for every day of my novel project.


Heh. Heh. You know me. Silly, silly.

I wanted to share how to use yWriter with NaNoWriMo for those of you, like me, who wanted to know, but just didn’t look hard enough for the answer. There’s an ongoing, running tally of your word count under: TOOLS > DAILY PROGRESS LOG (picture below).


In the picture, it also tracks the days you just open up the software and didn’t do anything. Notice my Zero counts on the first three rows (Dec 4, Dec 2, and Nov 29). The word count goes all the way down to the very beginning of the start of the project (which I don’t show in the picture, but you get the idea).


You can also set a target of when to complete your novel and it’s word count. The picture below, is just some kind of estimate that I’m most likely am NOT going to reach, but I added it in there anyway.

I put a Start Date for Dec 4, 2011 and an End Date of February 5, 2012 for 75,000 words. The green bar gives my status on my goal.

So, yes, I’m a cheerleader for yWriter. I can’t help it. It has REALLY helped me with getting around my novel, knowing what characters are in what scenes, what items are used, where I use certain locations in the scenes…EVERYTHING, that I think a writer needs. It’s awesome, and I did show my much appreciate by donating…because it’s FREE you know 🙂

Before I go, if you noticed, I don’t have Winner! as my picture for this blog, but just Participate. Yep, I wasn’t going to complete the 50,000 word count…at all. But I participated because it helps me, and I met my goal to add at least 10,000 more words to my current novel Creations. Last year, I believe I only wrote about 3,000 words during the month of NaNoWriMo.

It’s okay though. My local ML said to me in 2009 to just participate for the writing and that I didn’t have to really reach the 50,000 word count. It stuck in my head, and I decided to give it a try for 2010, and I did it again this year.

I enjoy it!

Maybe I’ll reach the 50,000 word count in some future time as when I first participated in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. But for now, I enjoy the experience.

Until Next Time!

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