Category Archives: Business of Writing

A fix for formatting problems with Amazon’s Look Inside function

Today’s helpful hint is for any self-pubbing author who’s had problems with the “Look Inside” function in Amazon completely screwing up your formatting and possibly losing you sales. You see, I checked out Lady of Thorns yesterday and scared the cats with my screaming when I discovered that the preview’s formatting was completely fouled up. I proceeded to check all the rest of my self-pubbed books and discovered the same freaking problem with ALL OF THEM.

After calming down and doing some research, I learned that the Look Inside function interprets HTML very literally and doesn’t always seem to recognize CSS (nobody knows why), which can result in a screwed-up preview even if the actual ebook looks fine.

But there is a way to fix this on your own! Unfortunately Scrivener won’t let me look at an ebook’s HTML so I downloaded Calibre, which will allow you to edit the ebook’s HTML. I added Lady of Thorns in EPUB format to Calibre’s library, then right clicked on it and selected “Edit Book”. That opened up an editing app with a list of all the text pages in the book and their individual CSS style sheets. Ignore the style sheets and focus on the text pages that appear in the Look Inside function (note: a page will be called something like bodyx.xhtml instead of the page name, so just start at the top of the list and open pages until you find the ones you want). Double-click on a page to open it in the HTML editor.

A brief explanation of HTML code: the following code <p>text here</p> indicates that all the text between <p> and </p> (in this case, “text here”) should form a single paragraph. Now look at your page’s HTML code. If a paragraph is primarily something like <p> class=”p1″><br></p>, it’s just a space between paragraphs. Ignore it. But if a paragraph contains text that is screwed up in the preview, replace the paragraph’s <p class=”X”> code (just this first part — you can leave the </p> part alone) with the following:

BODY TEXT

Regular body text to be centered with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be left-aligned with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be left-aligned with a first line indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 1.5em; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

     Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be justified with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be justified with a first line indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 1.5em; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

     Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

HEADERS

Depending on which app you used to create your ebook, your headers (the larger size text used for chapter or page names) will either be indicated with <h1>text</h1> or with <p>text</p>. The following are meant to be used with <p>text</p> headers. To use them with a <h1>text</h1> header, replace the p with h1.

 

If you want to center a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

If you want to left-align a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

If you want to right-align a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: right; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

Note: you don’t have to do this to the entire book, just the pages that show up in the preview. This is usually your front matter (Table of Contents, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowlegements) and part of your first chapter. Save your edits and upload the revised ebook file to Amazon. Et voila — the actual ebook looks the same, but now “Look Inside” recognizes the HTML and generates a properly formatted preview.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on when you upload your corrected ebook file, you may not see the changes immediately in Look Inside. Don’t panic! I fixed Lady of Thorns and uploaded it on Wednesday evening, and by Thursday everything on Look Inside was fine. I then did the rest to my other books on Thursday, uploaded them … and on Friday morning they all still had jacked up Look Inside previews. When I contacted Amazon about this, they said that it takes seven days for new/updated book files to appear on Look Inside and to wait a week then check again. Since the preview for Lady of Thorns was fine by Thursday morning, I translated this to mean, “We usually run a batch process every Wednesday night. Check Thursday morning and all your previews should look fine.” In any case, if your preview formatting issues haven’t gone away after you’ve uploaded the corrected file, wait a week, then check again.

And if this makes you want to cry because you don’t DO HTML, dammit, ping me and I’ll help you out.

Sale!

Just got word from Evernight that they’re buying my sexy hitman romance “Gentleman Jackson” for their Lawless anthology. Which may throw some readers because this story is going in the MF antho, not the MM antho. What can I say — I like mixing things up. Also, it means that if you read the snippet I posted on Wednesday and liked it, you can read the full story in a month or so. More on that as details emerge.

In other news, Lady of Thorns should be finished by next Wednesday, and I’m looking at a 10/17 release date (it’s two weeks later than I’d originally planned, but Real Life™ wound up turning into a timesink and I want to make sure Lady gets a thorough editing before she’s released into the wild). I’m concurrently working on Shifter Woods: Snarl, which should be released before Lady, and once those are out I put the finishing touches on Cross Current and get that off to Evernight. November and NaNoWriMo is going to be dedicated to Uncertainty Principle, I believe. Lord, if I get everything finished on time I’ll have written four full length books, four novellas that will be combined into a box set, and a novelette this year. Not too shabby if I say so myself.

Want a free fantasy romance ebook? Did I mention it’s FREE? FREEEEEEEE…

And you don’t have to enter a contest, register, sign up for a mailing list, or do anything complicated, I promise. See, with Lady of Thorns projected to come out in early September I need to start my promo now, and part of that is garnering more reviews on book 2 in the series, Palace of Scoundrels. And the absolute best way to get those? Is to give out free ARCs to lovely people like you.

So, if you ping me here and say, “Hey, Nic, sweetie, honey, sugar lips, how about you shoot me a copy of Palace of Scoundrels in X format, please,” I will cheerfully email you a copy in your requested format, along with instructions on how to email it to yourself and get it on your Kindle if you need help with that. All I ask is that you write an honest review of the book — and yeah, if you didn’t like it, put that in the review. I did say I wanted honest reviews, after all.

And in case you forgot the premise of the book:

Kidnapping, poison, and sex — oh, my!

Spring has sprung in the island kingdom of Hellas, but with no signs of an occupant for the royal nursery Queen Danaë is starting to worry about her own fertility. Her concerns aren’t helped by the arrival of the legendarily conniving Dowager Queen Atilia of Illium–or the woman’s handsome grandson Prince Marcus, on the run after being accused of poisoning his older brother.

In the neighboring kingdom of Ypres, Danaë’s royal husband Matthias is dealing with dangerous family politics and a wolfish duke who has kidnapped a young noblewoman for immoral purposes. Or has he? Can Matthias ward off the threat of civil war, outwit his relatives, and deal with a charming rival in his wife’s own palace?

Or as I like it put it, Arrested Development meets Game of Thrones! Thank you for your support!

Yeah, this is definitely Monday

I have been in better moods. The fact that my ears and sinuses are aching do not help (please, dear sweet baby Cthulhu, I do not need another sinus infection).

On the plus side, however, I finished a rather nifty mixed media pendant for a giveaway I’m going to run on Friday. Anyone who follows my Instagram account will be able to get in on the fun — I’ll be giving away copies of Shifter Woods: Howl as well as the pendant.

Where everything starts. A printout of the coyote gets glued onto sterling silver with rubber cement, then cut out very carefully with a jeweler’s saw

Once the shape is roughed out, I use various needle files to refine the shape further, then polish with jeweler’s rouge to smooth off any sharp edges or burrs.

The final coyote shape in sterling silver, placed against a 1″ round of red brass to see how the final piece will look.

Then I get to play with fire. The underside of the coyote piece and the topside of the moon were coated with flux, which was then fired (this prevents soot from building up between the layers and preventing a clean bond with the solder). I cut off and heated three balls of easy silver solder, put them onto the back side of the coyote, turned it over and put it onto the moon, and heated everything until the solder melted and bonded the two pieces. The pendant is now in the pickle pot having firescale and residual gunk removed.

The final product, clean and shiny! The smudges on the coyote’s body are my fingerprints.

Want to win a Kindle Fire? Of course you do!

Do you like sci fi romance? Do you have a hankering for a new Kindle Fire? Then do I have a contest for you!

BookSweeps is holding an awesome giveaway where you can win my book Degree of Resistance, plus books from authors like Evangeline Anderson and Cara Bristol, as well as a new Kindle Fire. This giveaway ends on May 1, so make sure you hurry and enter here — bit.ly/sfr-apr-17. Good luck!

Want to win a new Kindle Fire AND a copy of Degree of Resistance?

Have you seen this awesome giveaway from BookSweeps? You can win my book Degree of Resistance, plus books from authors like Evangeline Anderson and Cara Bristol, and a Kindle Fire. This giveaway ends soon, so make sure you hurry and enter! Good luck!

Join the fun here! bit.ly/sfr-apr-17

It’s time to pull on my Big Writer Panties

degreeofresistancecoverDegree of Resistance has now been out for a shade over a week, and the bulk of my wonderful ARC readers have left reviews (thank you all, *mwah*). I have requests out to a slew of reviewers, advertising going on at various locations, and I’m in the process of getting my media pack out to various bloggers who are kind enough to host my stuff.

And so far … yeah, the sales are perhaps a touch disappointing. The folks who have read the book so far say it’s hella good (and these people have no reason to blow smoke up my ass. If I’d produced something crappy, they would’ve told me). So what that confirms is that my marketing plan is not optimal and I have to come up with a better method of getting Evie and Ben’s story out in front of readers who love smokin’ cyborg romance.

To that end, the lovely and talented Cecilia Tan (my first editor and now my cherished colleague) was kind enough to spend an hour on Skype with me on Thursday going over various battle plans and ways to promote DoR. Some of them, I must admit, had simply never occurred to me but seem obvious in retrospect (e.g. find ways to write blogs posts that will appeal to girl geek-slanted publications such as The Daily Dot and io9, since a significant proportion of my SFR-loving readers will be found there). Others will require careful use of SEO terms to boost exposure, creative use of graphics, or just plain throwing money at the problem. As I am a poor but honest writer who is still paying off the costs of Wild Wicked Weekend (Tl;dr I had a frigging ball and sold more books than last year)  I’m hoping to keep this last method down to a minimum, at least until the end of the month. I still want to try submitting Empress of Storms to BookBub, but I need to save up for that as well, plus I have to wait until I’m past the 90 day limit on sales prices (since it was on sale along with Palace of Scoundrels in December, that should take effect later this month).

So goes the life of a modern hybrid author. Still the best job I’ve ever had, though.

A Christmas Sale!

twothronesseriesheader

Which has much less Darren McGavin than A Christmas Story, but bear with me. In the spirit of the year (and because all of us need a bit of a lift right now) I’m putting both Two Thrones books on sale for 99¢ until New Year’s Eve. So if you’re new to the joint kingdoms of Hellas and Ypres, this is the perfect chance to check them out.

Empress of Storms

Palace of Scoundrels

Interview with Daniel Riding and Update on Palace of Scoundrels

melwritingThe lovely and perspicacious Daniel Riding recently interviewed me  on his blog about writing MM erotic romance, the Olympic Cove series, and just where do I get all those marvelous ideas from, anyway? I forgot to mention my writing tiara (shown at left), but the interview is here — thanks again, Daniel!

In writing news, I’m firing away on all cylinders on Palace of Scoundrels, with a plan to have it released on (checks calendar) September 20. Less than two weeks, in other words. Whee! Sleep’s overrated! After that I plan on sleeping even less and finishing edits on Do No Harm so that I can get it out a few days after Palace, because not only am I going to the Evernight Publishing writer’s retreat in October, I’m also schlepping my sister on a 3-day cruise a few weeks after that (mainly so that she can see if she can tolerate a cruise — she gets terribly motion sick, poor lamb), and I have to pay for all this travel without actually selling an organ or a cat.

Breaker Zone up for Book of the Year at The TBR Pile!

breakerzone_smCalling all Breaker Zone fans! I just found out that book Two in the Olympic Cove series is up for Book of the Year over at The TBR Pile!

This is where you come in — I need you to go and vote for me. No registration is required, just a click of your mouse button. (Plus you would earn my undying gratitude by voting for me because the second half of this year has been sort of crap on the personal front and wining Book of the Year would do wonders for my peace of mind). So please go and vote for Breaker Zone, and I thank you for your support!

P.S. Empress of Storms has now paid off 100% of its production costs and 70% of its promotion costs. I may well break even before the end of the year — woohoo!