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Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Do Readers Choose to Read?

This is a related post from the one earlier today.  Something within that first blog stirred my need to know.  So I did more unscheduled research and came up with the following interesting info.  My apologies for any errors or math miscalculations.  Believe me, they were not intended.  However, with that caveat, here we go.

As authors we should consider this:  What are our potential readers reading?  What genres do these Kindle Million Club authors encompass?  Does offering a huge selection of books to the public help generate these one million books sold?  

Restricting this discussion to the Kindle Million Club authors, here is a thumbnail overview:

Line No.
Kindle Million Club Author
Novels Published to Date*

D. Baldacci
Thriller**, Children's
A. Hocking
YA Paranormal
S. Meyer
YA Vampire Romance
S. Larsson
J. Patterson
Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb
C. Harris
Vampire Thriller
Lee Child
S. Collins
Children’s, Sci-Fi
M. Connelly
John Locke
Humorous Thriller
K. Stockett
J. Evanovich
Humorous Thriller, Humorous Romance
G. R.R. Martin
Fantasy, Sci-Fi

* -  no short stories or anthologies counted (at least not on purpose)
** - "Thriller" includes mysteries and police procedurals
*** - some of Janet Evanovich's novels counted here were co-authored

NOTE:  The children's genre is skewed as I was ignoring it at first, like I did the short stories and the anthologies--based on the fact they are probably not novel-length books, may not be necessarily offered via Amazon (such as articles, another category I overlooked, would most likely be published in magazines, periodicals, etc.) plus any anthology purchase could be deemed due to another contributor's name on the cover.  Hence, not part of why these authors made Amazon's Kindle Million Club.   However, it shows up for Collins as her bibliography has more books in that genre.  I plan to update this category with more research later (hopefully not today as I am already so off track--ha!).  At that time, I'll add the appropriate entries where needed and a confirming postscript at the end of this entry.

The million-sales-generating genres include crossovers so here's that tally per the authors referenced above, starting with the most desired/bought and working down to the other favorites:

     9 Thrillers/Mysteries/Police Procedurals, including the two mixed genres noted below

     3 Romance, including the two mixed genres noted below  /
3 Humorous, including the two mixed genres noted below

     2 Young Adults  /  2 Science Fiction  /  2 Humorous Thrillers  /  2 Children's

     1 Paranormal Romance   / 1 Historical  /  1 Fantasy / 1 Vampire Thriller  / 1 Humorous Romance

Remember, these numbers here indicate genres shared among these Kindle Million Club authors, not the number of books written.  If I have the genres wrong, then my math here is inherently erroneous, so take that into account.

Obviously Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb has the greatest number of books written to date among this selection of novelists.  Even adding together all the other authors' publications from the chart above, I come up with roughly 223 novels compared to 251 just by Nora.  That is incredible.  As author Nora Roberts, she has written 209 romance books.  Under the J.D. Robb pen name for her In Death murder series, she's created another 42.

Still, you have a debut author making this list with her lone contribution (K. Stockett).

So just because you aren't as prolific as Nora or have a humongous backlist to convert to e-book format, you can still accomplish great things with one individual story.

The other single-digit-book-producing authors here have trilogies--or a quadrilogy--going for them (Hocking, Meyer, Larsson, Collins).

The beginning of the double-digit producers (covering 11-19 books) seem to be replete with authors doing a longer series.  Look at Harris with her book/TV series, Child's Reacher series, then Locke's two series with his start on a third, ending with Martin who has one series among his other standalone books.

For authors offering twenty-something books to choose from, we have the series theme popping up again, with Baldacci's four (counting the children's series) and Connolly's three.

Nobody considered here has thirty-ish books published.  They either have less or more.  So we jump into the forty-plus-books-published category:  Patterson and Evanovich.  They both have embraced the book series, too.

Also, per our Kindle Million Club author listing, you can be traditionally published or Indie-published, as Hocking and Locke attest to, and still make the cut.

To recap, here's what readers want based on my personal analysis of Kindle's Million Club authors. 

A great entertaining read, first and foremost would be my generic answer, whether (1) hundreds of books prolifically written throughout the decades (keep 'em coming) or (2) a standalone adult novel, your first even, in whatever category (every one of these extraordinary authors started with Book One).  (3) Both traditionally and Indie-published authors appear in this listTop-selling genres include (4) Thrillers, then (5) Romance and Humor genres.  (6)  Create a series, at least a trilogy, but longer is better.  (7)  It is okay to mix genres.  Plus, as you see fit, (8) add in these elements:  fantasy, paranormal, vampire and/or sci-fi; (9) feel free to write to these audiences: young adults and children; and (10) they want more serious reads first and lighthearted reads second.

One final point.  No matter what genre of book is selling big at the moment, no matter what genre of movie is drawing record numbers at the theaters, no matter what genre of TV show is a huge hit, write from your heart.  Write what you want.  Write what you are drawn to.  If it happens to be the current "thing," so much the better.

Just as I am compelled to do this research and these two blogs today no matter what my To Do list may dictate, sometimes you gotta go with your gut.  Trust your instincts.  If they are nudging you now, then now is the right time to do it.

Like Kathryn Stockett's "differences" stand out among the other authors within Amazon's Kindle Million Club on so many levels (it's her debut novel, it's the only historical on the list, she made her one million in sales from one single book--that's a big following), she could be deemed the anomaly.  So could one of us someday.

And that's it.

For now.

Authors Are a Rare and Unique Breed--Be Proud, Authors!

This blog was not on my unending To Do list.  Still the idea for it kept flashing in my brain, annoying me like that incessant 12:00 blinking on a VCR to go deal with it already.  I seem to keep adding to my To Do list more than I am taking off.  Grrr.  So, to stop the madness from taking root, here is the not-on-my-To-Do-list post.

I am proud of all 2011 NaNo participants, the two hundred thousand or more spread out over this glorious Earth.  (Wish I had exact numbers, but my quick internet search didn't find that data.)  Since NaNo ends November 30 and it is only November 27, I have no figures on the winners' count either, but would love to have that fact come December if anyone wants to share it with me (please confirm your data source).

Again, I came up empty when I tried to locate the number of authors worldwide; even a round figure on the authors registered within Amazon's Author Central netted me nothing.  So I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and their online Occupational Outlook Handbook (2010-2011 edition), obviously with data mined from our Income Tax forms.  Based on 2008 numbers, there were 151,700 writers and authors here in the States.  There is no way for me to separate the two, but see my earlier blog about their differences.  Also see  http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos320.htm (where I found this info) for the great general descriptions that confirm my own definitions of "author" as versus "writer."

Since the BLS's figures are from 2008, with an expected 22,500 annual increase thereafter, I end up with an estimated 219,200 authors/writers being reported to the IRS at tax time for the year 2011.  And remember while there may be some 200,000 NaNo-ers this year, that does not mean all of them are reporting income and "have" to be among the 219,200 authors/writers the IRS recognizes.  They could be participating and winning NaNo yet not making any earnings therefrom at all.  Their salary may come from a totally different field or a day job to pay the bills.  Plus NaNo comprises people from all over the world, not just within the United States.

Here's the main point I'm leading up to.  Out of the 313 million people in just the United States, only approximately 219,200 are earning authors/writers.  Those figures alone should convince you of an author's uniqueness.  That's 7.00319 % of your fellow Americans. 

When we further refine that number, the statistics are amazing--at least they were to me.  The Kindle Direct Publishing's (KDP) November 2011 Newsletter gave me these statistics:  Within Amazon, there are only fourteen authors in the Kindle Million Club.  Remember KDP launched in 2007 along with the first Kindle release in November 2007 (not that e-books weren't born before the twenty-first century; they were there, as well).  So to have a tad more than a dozen authors reach one million in sales in four years is a pretty awesome accomplishment.

The current Kindle Million Club authors are:  David Baldacci, Amanda Hocking, Stephenie Meyer, Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins, Michael Connelly, John Locke, Kathryn Stockett (with her debut novel), Janet Evanovich and George R.R. Martin, per KDP.

That is a club I aspire to belong to some day.  Even if it takes me decades.  However, should I do that in four years, we should throw a party or something.

Here are three more targets to keep in your sights.  

First Target:  Again per KDP, both John Locke and Amanda Hocking have sold more than TWO million books.  (Shouldn't their names be listed twice in the Kindle Million Club?  Ha!)  Really, there should be a distinction for these folks.  

Second Target:  Based on KDP figures, twelve KDP authors have sold more than two hundred thousand books.

Third Target:  From the same KDP newsletter, thirty KDP authors have sold more than one hundred thousand books.

Quite a litany, huh? Pretty impressive, I must say.  

And can be done, as these nice people before us have proven.  Like the four-minute-mile record that supposedly couldn't be broken, or Mt. Everest that couldn't be scaled--until some "uninformed" individual showed us differently.  If the KDP Kindle Million Club is too much to imagine from the get-go, look to hit one thousand in sales, then ten thousand, then one hundred thousand.

So whenever you authors out there are berating yourself mentally, or out loud--as we authors are somewhat prone to talk to ourselves--read this blog again.  Recalibrate the old mind-set.  Then get to your keyboard and pound out a new chapter, or revise an old one, or upload to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Don't stagnate.  Do something wonderful with your gift.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Crossed Over the Magical 50K Mark In NaNoWriMo

Yep.  Yesterday.  This is such a wonderful thing.  The process lends itself to turning off the critical internal editor because our focus in on our word count.  Plus with the thirty-day deadline inherent within NaNoWriMo--as its slogan says, "Thirty days and  nights of literary abandon!"--there is the proverbial ticking bomb to get us moving.  So we have forward momentum, with no questioning or doubting to delay, distract, sideline or otherwise sabotage our efforts and presto!  We get words written.  Not an easy job, but can be done.  Obviously.  Check out the NaNoWriMo website for all the past winners each year.

While there is no prize money or plaque given, anyone who makes it over that 50,000 WC mark--and proves it by providing a copy (encrypted, please) of their document to the NaNo site--is deemed a winner that year.  I do not know how many authors participated this year, but I do know that on Thanksgiving Day, at times there were over 80,000 people signed in.  A quick internet search found this fact.  About 200,000 people participated in NaNoWriMo 2010.  Just amazing.

While I cannot maintain this daily November schedule over the remaining months of the year, I can see this becoming a seasonal activity for me, one every spring, summer, fall and winter.  If NaNoWriMo is the fall setting, then February, May and August would be the additional months of writing with abandon.  Then a month off from such strictly writing-generating activity to deal with whatever else makes your life full and satisfying, not to mention just having fun and filling up your memory tank.  The next month would entail editing, clean-up work, maybe enlisting some Beta-readers, a Final Edit, then uploading the finalized e-book version. 

This example precludes any day job is factored in.  If so, the process above slows down a bit.  A lot actually.  But a plan is a plan.  Even if you have to modify it to work around that thing called life.

P.S.  I encrypted my novel before copying and sending to NaNo to confirm my WC.  My actual WC is 50,017.  My "winner" WC shown otherwise within the NaNoWriMo site (which is a much bigger WC) must be due to the encryption adding in characters.  Even if the WC shown within nanowrimo.org is inflated, I'm a "winner" nonetheless.  Congrats to all 2011 NaNoWriMo participants and winners!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We Should Live More By Our Gut Feelings

I'm doing that more and more.  Living by my gut feeling.  I must forewarn you, though, people who are more "rational" will question you.  Heck, people who are more "emotional" will question you--well, more likely manipulate, control, try to get you to feel guilty, yada yada yada.

Don't let them.

Don't let you, ether.

I mean it.  I've been guilty of talking myself out of stuff without needing anybody else's notions added to the mix.  And what did I miss by not even trying?

I've read numerous times in a variety of places that we will regret more of what we DIDN'T do than what we did.  Also, I'm reminded of a statement I believe author Marianne Williamson made regarding a chapter in one of her books.  She hesitated putting it into this book, but did and had more positive comments and feedback on that particular chapter.  It entailed clearing out a drawer in your office to bring in customers (and money).

The Bible talks about us waiting to feel peace about a decision before we sally forth.  I definitely believe in that and follow it ninety-nine times out of one hundred.

But living by my gut?  Takes more courage whereas the "waiting for peace" part just takes more patience.

Regardless, I'm going the "riskier" route.  Believe me, you will not, dare I say never, find me bungee jumping, participating in NASCAR, parachuting from a reliable aircraft, running with the bulls, repelling mountains or skyscrapers or any other such extreme sport, especially those that involve heights.  I'm not talking about risks of that nature.  I'm talking about overruling my mind and the status quo (and what some people may expect me to do) with my gut and my intuition.

Want to join me?

P.S. One of my readers made an excellent point.  When you live by your intuition, you should not choose something unlawful, or that hurts anyone, including yourself.  No selfish acts allowed.  Just to be clear here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Two More Things

Since I already have a post entitled "Two Things," I deemed it necessary to call this one "Two More Things" just for clarity's sake. 

First, one of my pet peeves is when authors do not take enough care with simple things like spelling and basic grammar rules.  I'm not talking about in an email between one friend to another or in a dashed-off birthday card or in your diary of secrets or in your grocery lists.  I'm talking about anything uploaded to the web.  A book excerpt, an article, a blog, a complaint letter, an e-book or whatever is put up for general consumption by the public. 

Note my deliberate use of the word "authors."  I don't hold every Tom, Dick or Harry to this ideal.  But authors?  Most definitely YES.  We are the standard-bearers of the (English) language, using our skills to accurately communicate our thoughts into words on paper (or computer) that are then received by our educated readers just as we expect them to be. 

And I'm not talking about a stray error or two within such internet publications.  We are all human.  We have all had the unfortunate incident of finding ourselves in a position to explain an incomprehensible error.  Which we find unexplainable and would never have committed knowingly.  But by some strange "brain blip," we did.  Although when I find one within my uploads, I hurry to change it immediately.  So far, I've changed mine before any reader comments made me aware of them.  Which is my preference.

But when I read things that have multiple spelling errors coupled with multiple grammatical errors, I cringe in embarrassment for both its creator and myself, as an Indie-published author.  I'm holding myself to a higher standard of excellence and professionalism, so no barbs can be pointed directly at me alleging any level of substandard work in my e-books. 

For all my individual attempts at professional excellence, I really hate to be generically lumped into any grouping that disparages me and my work.  Those overall remarks made about the low quality of e-books being self-published stab at my soul.  I am trying so hard to elevate that perception with each and every e-publication of mine, first to meet my own benchmark, but second also to overcome the negative stereotypes.

I love words.  I love reading.  I love creating both nonfiction and fiction. I love my freelance copyediting work.  That was my first dream-come-true.  I love Indie-publishing my e-books.  That was my second dream-come-true.  [BTW, while "dream-come-true" may not appear in Web11, I'm creating this multiple-word noun based on CMS 7.90.]

So when I see cluttered and clouded communication--caused by simple words being mutilated by misspelling and basic homophones any third-grade student has been taught (there, they're, their for one example and two, too, to for a second) being misused by an adult author--I wonder about the quality of education in America, where the minimum requirements should be fairly high.  As a communicator, as an author, as a copy editor, as a bibliophile, as a lover of words, I find that so very sad.

Plus, when a book containing those errors lands in the hands of youngsters with no formal training or at least not adequate schooling, they are then being mistaught by the very use of these mangled words and incorrect grammar.  We are just passing on these bad English lessons to yet another generation.

Parents want better things for their children.  As authors, we should remember we are surrogate parents to an unseen group of readers who are surrogate children and influenced by our writing to some degree.  We have a great responsibility to them.  I take mine seriously.

Second, on a happier note, I want to say a great big I AM PROUD OF YOU! to all the 2011 NaNoWriMo participants.  I've blogged about this before--probably one of the most repeated dreams is to write a book.  I would posit that almost every single person has had the thought "I could do that" and maybe fifty percent of them have spoken that wish out loud.  Yet, again, my best guesstimate here, I would theorize that maybe two percent do any actual writing.  I'm even broadening the catch of my proverbial net by counting simply writing down a title that's been floating in your head for decades.  Or a paragraph of notes, ideas.  Or an actual outline of your plot.  Just one sentence, one page, one list of bullet points--to me that makes you a newbie wannabe author.

BUT, to finish your creation makes you truly an author in earnest.  Whether published or not, by whoever's definitions.  And we all have been privy to myriad ones.  There is the RWA's definition of "published" which discounted my CP's short stories found in anthologies.  There is of course the snobbery abounding as to whether an Indie-published author (like me) is truly published.  To those snobs, the only definition of "published" is to go the traditional publishing route.  Which we all must agree is "published."  I just happen to think it is not the ONLY way to be "published."  As is my right as a U.S. citizen.

Nevertheless, to complete my thought from the above paragraph, I maintain you are a "published" novelist simply by putting words to paper regarding one story and writing until The End.  You have finished!  What is procrastination but simply NOT finishing?  So you are to be complimented.  Of course, there are other forms of publication--short stories, articles, blogs, poems, flash fiction, novellas, etc., etc.

Plus the Copyright Office agrees with me about the mere writing down of your creation makes you the author and the document deemed published at its inception, whether a copyright application is formally filed with its office or not.  Granted, from my layman's understanding, you cannot use this general pronouncement in a court of law to fight someone who may have infringed your copyright.  For litigation, you do need written approval of your copyright application considered by the Library of Congress, Copyright Office. 

Still, I hear you may be eligible for a minimal fine to be collected from an infringer even without a copyright on file with the government.  Check with your Patent & Trademark attorney or Entertainment lawyer or online for more information.  Links follow:  http://www.uspto.gov/ and http://www.copyright.gov/.  Boy, am I off target here.

Back to my main thoughts on this second topic.  I'm equally as proud of the NaNo-ers whose WC stands at 100 as I am of those with 60,000 and beyond already.  I'm equally as proud of the NaNo-ers who signed up and wrote one day as I am of those who have written on each of the twenty-one days in November so far.  I'm equally as proud of the NaNo-ers who decided to write in November and fell below that magical 50K number as I am of those who make and/or exceed the winner status.

For any action, any step, any decision, any thought that leads you to your dream, you are to be congratulated.  For the dreamers who take physical movement toward those ethereal hopes are rare in this world.  Probably less than one percent of all humankind.  Again, just numbers I've grabbed off the top of my head. 

But you see that same one-digit percentage re the world's finances--three percent have the bulk while the remaining ninety-seven percent live in want.  Same with goal-setting.  I've heard that the three percent who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than the other ninety-seven percent who didn't and consequently never reached their desired destination.  So, it is not far-fetched for me to make such related claims. 

Just my opinions here.  But concerning two very important topics that are directly linked to my creed for living.

Write on, fellow 2011 NaNoWriMo participants!  I wish you well.  #nanowrimo

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Professional Freelance Copy Editor Denise Barker

SUBMISSIONS REOPENED ON A TRIAL BASIS. Beginning March 15, 2013, I will consider copyediting requests from individual authors. Depending on my availability, I will take as many individual author jobs as my time allows.

SUBMISSIONS CLOSED. Beginning August 11, 2012, I am not able to take on new clients for individual author projects as my freelance work for publishing houses is now taking all my available time. Should my schedule change, I will update this post. 

Thank y'all!

~ ~ ~ ~

This is the "long version" as referenced in my NaNoWriMo ad, for those authors seeking a copy edit of their work.  This is not needed when going the traditionally published route as the publishing house hires a copy editor to review the contracted-for novel.  The process involves several rounds with proofreading done, as well.  I don't know all that is entailed, but I do freelance as a copy editor for a well-known NYC publishing house.

Here I am offering my skills and expertise to Indie-publishing authors, based on industry standards within the fiction community of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Web11), and The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition (CMS).

I have intimate knowledge of the nine-hundred-page CMS and exacting familiarity with Web11. I implement Microsoft Word's Track Changes features as I edit, showing my suggestions and comments--where I am like the senate edicting laws. The author is then like the president with ultimate veto powers, having the final say; after all, it is his (or her) name on the front of his book. His brand, his ultimate responsibility.

NOTE:  No MS will be accepted for copyediting that has not already been spell-checked and grammar-checked via Microsoft Word and had one proofreading by either the author or beta reader.

Rates:  $25/hour – one read-through only. 

Estimated Rates per Book:  One novel (200-300 pp.) approximately $250 to $500, depending on the cleanness of the writing and the actual length of the document.

Writing Sample:  Give me your blog site or the first five pages of the novel to be copyedited or another story of your creation, so I can predetermine if your copy edit will be easy or hard and can therefore more properly estimate the total fee.

Self-Help:  If you would prefer to do-it-yourself, consider my e-book, A Copyediting Checklist for Novelists, available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble online.  Links follow.

Also check out previous posts to my blog here where I delve into many matters regarding authors and their creations and copyediting concerns.  While I have Indie-published my own e-works under this DBA, I am not a public publishing company.  I do not wish to be a public publishing company.  I only wish to be an author and a freelance copy editor.

Background:  As of March 2013, almost five years of freelancing for a well-known NYC publishing house, having worked on 154 manuscripts to date, as well as some individual author projects along the way.  Previous career as a legal assistant for trial lawyers for three decades.  My love of reading and writing began early in life.  I currently have eight nonfiction and two nonfiction e-books offered through four online venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Kobo. I have another fifteen works-in-progress. I am a perfectionist and a workaholic who loves her creative career.

Reference Materials:
The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition (CMS)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Web11), which trumps Word’s spell-check
UrbanDictionary.com and the like, as needed
Authorized websites confirming technical knowledge terms

My Copyediting Duties Defined:  WORDS.  I’m very sensitive to word choices and connotation versus denotation.  So while I require all my projects to have been previously spell-checked and grammar-checked by Microsoft Word to cover the basics, the human element is still very much needed for the intermediate to the more complex issues.  Web11 has “preferred” spellings that I double-check among other things, like confirming hyphenated usages over compound word construction.  GRAMMAR.  The CMS has 801 pages of English grammar rules and if I don’t already know them, I know where to look them up.  PUNCTUATION.  Proper use of punctuation is a communication skill.  Even with slang or dialects and the like, an apostrophe at the beginning of a word still means a missing letter.  If there is no missing letter, then the apostrophe is grammatically incorrect.  An apostrophe at the end of a word usually means possession and there are rules regarding plural possession and singular possession. These are just two examples when it comes to one punctuation mark--the apostrophe.  EDITOR OVERVIEW.  I have a great memory for details and timelines and geography, so the seasons, the months, the places, all fall together into an orderly puzzle in my brain—or if they do not, a glaring error to be fixed.  CONSISTENCY.  In character names, eye color, capitalization and sites.  If your story starts and ends in Chicago, the strange and unexplained mention of Cincinnati at one point will be addressed by me.

Document Defined:  A Microsoft Word document, double-spaced, preferably using Courier 10 font, properly formatted into Chapters.  English language only.

Payment:  Estimated half of total fees due received by my PayPal account before any work commences.  Balance of actual fees due to be deposited with my PayPal account the same day I return the copyedited MS via email.  That specific financial information to be shared later only with actual authors utilizing my copyediting services.

Online Editing Only (no mailing of paper manuscripts):  Only upon mutual approval and agreement to copy edit your novel, then your Microsoft Word Document would be sent via email to my contact info below.  Upon first PayPal payment (of two), online copyediting commences utilizing Track Changes feature within Word.

Estimated Time to Complete Project:  After mutual acceptance by the author and me of this copyediting project plus receipt of the first of two PayPal payments, project completed usually by two weeks but more often sooner.  The NYC publishing house projects I work on take precedence over any individual author’s project.  That is why I quote two weeks, instead of one.  I’ve never missed a deadline and I prefer to turn in my comprehensive work early. I work at least six days out of every seven and, because my career is so much fun, even on holidays.

What does the author do upon receipt of the copyedited MS?  Familiar with MSWord’s Track Changes?  If not, find articles about how to use it on the internet.  Basically, it concerns choices of Accept or Reject, reading Comment(s) and clicking on Final within the Track Changes toolbar to give you the new improved clean MS version.

Your returned MS will be marked to show deletions or insertions or replacement words for clarity or to correct usage (like misuse of their, there, or they’re, for instance).  For each such deletion, replacement or inserted word, the author either chooses to Accept the change I have suggested or to Reject same—in case I have misunderstood the passage.  However, usually the changes I recommend are because the passage confused me and I have attempted to clarify same.  There are also Comment features within Track Changes that give you further information from me, like why I did it this way here and probably the CMS rule to back me up.

My changes are suggestions based upon reference materials like Web11, CMS16 and authorized internet websites (meaning I will confirm with an authorized Ford website that it produces the Ranger truck).  Any such correction is made to improve communication via the book, to increase the reader’s understanding and to make the author look really good. The author chooses which remain or can stet the original wording by clicking Reject. 

Caveats:  My estimates for any project are not the final fee due.  The final fee due can only be calculated once I have spent the actual hours completing the project. 

I am human and, try as I might, I still make mistakes.  If I did a second read-through (which I no longer have the time to do), I would catch any of my mistakes overlooked during my initial read-through.  Since I am limited to only the one read-through, I would suggest noting any consistent errors marked within your MS so that you can perform your own search using Find/Replace.  Like “Philip” showing up as “Phillip” or too many times “canvas” (noun) showed up when it should have been “canvass” (verb).  As an author, I know my weaknesses and I am sure you know yours, too.  Double-check your weak areas.

I never share your creation with others.  Your work is safeguarded by me.  However, we all know about hackers and with email there is always that possibility.  If I could rid the world of malicious hackers, spammers, spoofers and phishers, I would have done so already.  In the meantime, we do what we can to prevent the possible theft of Intellectual Property.  However, I assume no responsibility should hackers make off with your manuscript.

Personality Differences:  If an untenable working relationship develops between the author and me, for whatever reason, we will agree to disagree and part company.  I will keep fees to cover the hours I have invested to this point of unworkability.  I will refund any overages paid.  I will return the UNFINISHED COPYEDITING JOB AS-IS to the author.  Thankfully, this has only happened once and it showed up pretty much immediately.  I had wasted six hours of my precious time.  I do NOT want a repeat of that.

I love copyediting and require that it remain a fun profession, shared between two serious authors (as I am an author as well as a copy editor) who both want to present a wonderful work of literary art--utilizing grammar rules and generally accepted spelling practices—by which they clearly communicate their story with their educated readers.

What I Will Not Do:

No marketing - No publication - No critiques - No promoting - No formatting - No uploading for e-publication - No cover art - Nothing but copyediting as defined above.

No research except as needed to confirm a technical term or career-specific phrase within the copyediting process.

Again--No MS will be accepted for copyediting that has not already been spell-checked and grammar-checked via Microsoft Word with at least one proofreading by the author or authorized beta-reader.

No telephone number for me will ever be given out.  Please do not ask for one.  It is a distraction from my copyediting work as well as my own writing.

No face-to-face meeting with me will ever be granted.  Please do not ask for one. It is a distraction from my copyediting work as well as my own writing.

No emails bouncing back and forth re the project.  I am as fast as I can be and still maintain the highest degree of accuracy.  Track Changes shows my suggestions and any further information can be found within Comments.

Copyediting is not a debate.  Within Track Changes, I am like the senate with the laws spelled out and the author is like the president with ultimate veto powers.

I have intimate knowledge of the nine hundred pages of the CMS and also with Webster's. I share that expertise regarding those grammar rules and preferred spellings when I copyedit. Each author has the final say; after all, it is his (or her ) name on the front of their book. His brand, his ultimate responsibility.

Referrals:  One of my CPs also has a copyediting service. For additional info, e-mail her at: Editor@CopyeditingSavesLives.com.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Magical Elements in NaNoWriMo

As a 2011 NaNoWriMo Participant, I have learned that inspiration can hit AFTER you start writing.  That even with worrying about your late start on the day's NaNo WC, the muse can still show up pretty much immediately upon tapping those keys.  

My mantra this year is to have fun with it, to keep my Internal Editor gagged and to not question the writing.  I leave notes that remind me to add this, or move that, and I've hit a sweet spot two days in a row, so I'm jazzed.  

As of late yesterday, my NaNo WC reached 17,489.  If I can keep up my current daily pace, I should hit the magical 50,000 WC mark by November 22!  Wow!  Of course, I intend to continue on.  

What helped me is that I took a character, the grandfather, from my soon-to-be-released debut novel, "Good Ole Boys," and am working on his story in the NaNo prequel novel.  In fact, some interesting details came out in the NaNo prequel that alters my timeline of some events in the original tale.  Good thing I know that now, so I can edit those entries before uploading the first story.

Two amazing things happened (so far) during NaNo.  I needed something on two occasions--two surprise factors--that slid home what emotion I was trying to hit, and hit hard.  It was astounding what came to me WITHIN NANOSECONDS (pun not intended here!) that I DID NOT KNOW about my own story creation.  They continue to shock me.  Just goes to prove that once you set about to do something, the universe or God, or whoever is your personal favorite, steps in to aid us.  Simply stupefying.  In a good way.

Oh, and just so you know:  Before a book is published, it is correct to put it within quotations as I've done above.  See CMS 8.195.

Of course, after publication, it becomes the italicized version we all know and love.

Write on, fellow NaNo peeps!  #nanowrimo

Monday, November 7, 2011

The New Math, by Denise

I recently gave up a day job and gained thirty-two hours plus some transit time.  Which I have allocated to about forty-five hours of weekly To Do items.  Yeah, I know.  The math does not work.

However, I am not numbers-challenged.  I am dream-driven and madly pursing them this month.  Amid NaNoWriMo.  Along with my copyediting jobs (love to read and get paid for it!).  Doing some belated spring-cleaning, step-by-step.  Making progress.  Not as much as I would like to see, but it still makes a smile overtake my face when I pass by one spot that is organized or glimpse a cabinet, knowing behind that door is less clutter and more useful "stuff."

Last night I went through two Banker's boxes of paper I had saved.  I tossed a bunch of old receipts, filed the others, but really, I was mining for the gold--pictures that prompt a novel in me, wisdom that could be the theme for my next book, goal-setting tips because I'm always reaching higher, humorous quotes to guarantee me at least one hearty belly laugh.  We all need more belly laughs.

One thing I realized about my boxes.  They are all To Do items awaiting action.  Instead of throwing in another great article about one single Bible verse that I want to add to my latest volume in my collection of favorites, I should really just stop and type it in a Word doc labeled so.  Back it up weekly.  Voila.  Handled once.  Less stuff in a box for me to review later.  And a quick fix.

I know.  Not enough time in the day to do all our tasks perfectly.  Sometimes it is added to the box(es) marked "Later."  Still, me and my systems are improving.  And it puts my mind in that alert-warning spot where it now looks how to streamline my old processes.

Works for me.

Today, I've got NaNo (of course, this IS November), two copyediting projects to spend some hours on, a few loads of laundry, my Final Edit of my debut novel--twenty-five pages or so for the next nine days would do it--and homemade spaghetti to tackle.

I don't make all my deadlines, but I like having them.  They motivate me.  What motivates you?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My New Characters Woke Me Up Early This Morning

Day Six of NaNoWriMo and I was up early, 6:10 a.m., already typing while my coffee brewed as these four newest characters were giving me my lines before I left my bed and could get my laptop booted up.  You know those great lines that, for want of paper and pencil, float right back into the ether and evaporate?

Yeah.  Those.

But I still captured some to paper--or radio waves or whatever makes my computer work.  And I've been going at it strong till now, 7:02 a.m.  I've added another ten pages.  One more chapter in my NaNo novel.   This is so great!

Hope they keep dictating to me.  These four guys are quite the characters.  Don't you just love it when they show up, take over, tell you what to write?  Writing heaven.  An author's dream.  Which is what happened to J.K. Rowling when she was writing her seven-book series on Harry Potter.  How utterly cool is that?

And for some probably long-buried-but-Puritanical reason, I feel better when I create first thing in the morning.  (My apologies to my LY-hating CP for my expansive feeling which can only be expressed, obviously, through adverbs.)

So, how is your day going?

#nanowrimo 12,356 WC

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Importance of Our Sixth Sense

I'm in Day Five of NaNoWriMo.  And having a nicely productive week.  But today I was a little worried about my late start on writing toward my NaNo WC.  However, since I plan to have fun with NaNo 2011 and to shut down my Internal Editor (who was talking a lot today), I just kept on track with my To Do list of other tasks until I finally felt the nudging to create those daily pages.

I had the best day yet.

Even though I have a thirty-six-item scene list to refer to, my chapter yesterday ended without a thread to pick up and follow today.  And I knew that consciously and must have been trying to distract my thoughts away from the supposed problem with my other duties, so that my subconscious could mull on it and whisper solutions to me.  It worked.

I checked the next item on my list and tentatively began to type.  Not that I have to be rigid about addressing my list numerically.  I am a pantster after all, not a plotter.  I have written scenes out of order before and edited them into place.  But, you know, once I got my fingers working those keys, a new idea emerged and it took me off in a word-filled direction with four new characters I had no idea were needed in my novel even one hour earlier.

In fact, had I known about them, I would have already searched through baby boy names trying to lock down each of theirs so I didn't waste my NaNo time on anything less than tapping the keyboard.  Still, I made good time and had my biggest daily WC yet.  I am PSYCHED!

And hope this momentum carries me to November 30 and beyond--and for all the other 2011 NaNoWriMo participants, too!  Woohoo!

Two Things

Being a copy editor (grammar and spelling and clarity and chronology and fact-checking, etc.) and having been a legal assistant (details, details, details, plus grammar and spelling and clarity and chronology and fact-checking), I'm very sensitive to word choices and their exactness and fit within the context of phrases and sentences and overall story structure.  And I can point to a reference book or two which backs me up.

First, I use "pantster" not "pantser" to describe us plot-challenged novelists.  Say it out loud and you hear the second T.  It is a word built like "teamster" or "gangster" or "youngster" with the "ster" suffix.

Second, I am an author, not a writer.  It is a fine distinction but here is my argument for using same.  I create, therefore I am an author (the "au" is a truncated prefix for "author" and/or "to hear/listen" and/or "self" which my mind combines to mean "self-generated words, spoken or written" and the "thor" meaning "God/Creator" further emphasizing the creation part).

The writers, I maintain, are directed to bring to life someone else's idea.  Thus the term "screenwriter" is usually an independent freelancer who takes an author's book and adapts it into a screenplay for either a movie or a live theater production.

A copywriter is just that, someone who writes copy (think advertisements, whether for print or for radio/TV, etc.).  That writing assignment, job if you will, is at the urging of the person who hired them.

A ghost writer is, again, one hired to do a task at the prompting of the employer, the author, who needs help with his vision, his idea, his plot, his story.  I've never heard of a ghost author.

Web11 defines "author" as one who originates or creates.  While I may write, I am not a writer.  Not in the strictest sense of the word.  Not that you can't be a writer AND an author.  But there is a difference.

Where My Book Ideas Come From

After David Farland's guest post yesterday which opened up vast new ways to enhance our e-books, I've been thinking of how I get my book ideas and wanted to share them here.  Following Dave's lead, this post may be an added feature at the back of my e-novels to come.

In an earlier blog, I noted that I start with characters for my fiction.  For my nonfiction, I start with what I know, what I love.  I'm a freelance (corporate) copy editor, thus my e-book on copyediting.  I saw that as a much needed resource for this flux of Indie authors.  That segued into my second e-book on the more practical aspects of being your own publishing company, a business entity.  As a legal assistant for decades, I pulled some details learned in that career and joined it with the common sense applications I had developed over the years.  My third e-book was on how to quit your current day job.  My life experience gained from changing careers, first a legal assistant, next an author, led to sharing my way of accomplishing this diversion from a focus on money earned to one of fulfillment gained.

So, I guess my first three were How-To e-books on what I had learned throughout my professions.

The next two e-books were based on love.  What I love.  What I do with my free time.  What I do daily.  What I collect without being paid to do so.  Which is:  favorite quotes, Bible verses and recipes.  So it seemed very natural to organize my massive (and extremely messy, unorganized) collection of quotes into an e-book.  Mine is a specific collection designed to help the person and the business seeking self-improvement.  They are geared to setting goals, working resolutions into habits, developing a lifestyle founded on principles.

For the last several years, I have been the Bible Verse Editor for a small Texas newspaper, gathering fifty-two verses annually for many years for their subsequent weekly publication.  I went through those seven (or so) years' worth of verses and culled out the repeats and, voila, I had my Bible verses section of my proposed e-book done.  Oh yeah, after I changed them from Revised Standard Version (1952) to American Standard Version (1901) of the Bible to avoid copyright issues.  That took some time with approximately 364 quotes I was working with.

Another hard part was finding all the great quotes I had saved for most of my life--as some were on scraps of paper only God knew where; I bet a lot were lost when my older computers crashed.  I've learned now to make a Word document as I find them, and back it up regularly.

All those books began as a whisper of an idea with a minute lifespan passing through my thoughts.  I captured them, began to make them physical and, what is so cool, have four of the five accomplished and uploaded.  All within 2011.  Aa-mazing.  [weird spelling done to add a more verbal emphasis]

I am still working on my cookbook.  It was supposed to be available with the quotes collection but . . . life got in the way.  Like my Final Edit of my debut e-novel, "Good Ole Boys," still in progress, but nearing its November 18, 2011 deadline.  Like exchanging emails with my artist I had to have for my fiction covers since there is no way I can do that.  Like playing around with the cover for my quotes book.  Like the time it takes to upload and preview a book.  Like NaNoWriMo.  Like copyediting projects.  Like updating my email signature to include my newest e-book.  Like posting to the Kindle Boards my newest e-book.  Like awaiting Moderator approval to then update the Kindle Boards Master List to show my newest e-book.  Like revising the Book Profile for all four of my e-books.

And that doesn't begin to include non-writing activities, i.e., washing clothes, cooking/eating, doing some housecleaning, some yardwork, buying groceries, etc., etc., etc.

But I'm proud of my accomplishments--as we should all be.  So get started on one of yours.  You'll never know true happiness until you do two things:  (1)  begin your dream, just one tiny step, and (2) tackle a job you have been procrastinating on, just one tiny step.

Best wishes!

Kindle Boards Book Profile Tips

Kindle Boards--or KindleBoards--not sure which is more correct as I see both versions online, but anyway, it will be KB from now on.

KB has a Book Profile set up for each of your books, did you know that?  It needs some tweaking though, like the addition of genre (from a drop-down menu), KB thread, author bio, plus room for additional notes from the author in two sections and a place for your website.

I have four nonfiction e-books uploaded to Amazon, three of them on Barnes & Noble--will get that newest e-book uploaded soon.  With each new creation, I post a link on the KB Book Bazaar.  Once the moderator replies, I am good to go with future steps within the KB.  Like having my books added to the KB Master List.  There are two versions, one all-inclusive alphabetical by each author's FIRST name and one by genre.

NOTE:  You must be active with your KB Book Bazaar postings (weekly when no viewer replies).

So, how do you do the Book Profile update, you ask?  See http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,40577.0.html, which is Administrator Harvey's topic posting within the KB Writers' Cafe along with some extra tips by (extremely patient) Jeff, officiating over the Master Lists.  But here it is encapsulated for you below.

To see the initial draft of the Book Profile for your book, just use the following URL, and replace those Xs with your book's ASIN.


For the ASINs, go to your Bookshelf within Amazon's website.  [There may be a quicker way than my way, but this is one way to get to it:  Click on any thumbnail book of yours within Amazon, and scroll down to Product Details.  ASINs/ISBNs are there for each book.  Make note of all of yours.]

Once you have brought up the KB Book Profile, go all the way down to the far right-hand corner and click on Author Control Panel to update this initial Book Profile.  Then check all the fields and start inputting info.

If you have multiple offerings like me, this gets more confusing.  So I created a Word document and listed each ASIN/ISBN, each KB feed, a very shortened Bio (only like ~268 characters allowed), an intro of sorts that listed all my other books except for the one being featured on its particular Book Profile page, and a second part to the intro that states my blog spot serves as my website.

The more confusing part comes in when you try to post your saved version of your intro (part one) and notice that the book being profiled is in your "see also" sentence when you should have swapped it out for the title of the earlier Book Profile you just finished.  I said it was confusing.

You are only allowed so many characters in your intro section one and two, as well, so be sure to preview your work for each Book Profile page or you will have your readers wondering what came after QUO....

There are other sections, like three other places where your book can be found and many more, so check them out to see if they are useful for your particular situation.

You must be the author or his/her representative to make these changes.  To prove that, there is an email address to fill in near the bottom of the profile page, along with your password.  I made things even messier by having my first three e-books under one email address and password, and the fourth e-book, added much later, under another email address and password.  Not good for someone with too much data overloading her memory cells.

Again, I am passing this along to be helpful to you all, and to me when I next upload an e-book and have need for all these fresh details after the passage of time has buried them in my brain.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

David Farland's Guest Post is Here, Entitled: The Role of Enhanced Books in the Future of Publishing

I am so proud to host David Farland today, November 4, 2011, on my blog spot.  His publishing company, East India Press, has released its first book, an enhanced e-novel entitled Nightingale. Check it out at www.nightingalenovel.com where, via an online e-reader, you can sample the enhanced version of the novel, read the manuscript, listen to a portion of the forty-five-minute sound track, and enjoy some of the 100+ pieces of art and animations, plus video interviews with David and read his author's notes. The sound track alone is a music blend that is integral to the plot and is the "First Rock Opera of E-Books."

Support David and East India Press by going to www.facebook.com/Nightingale.Novel and "Like" it.  Thanks, all!

At the bottom of Dave's post is info about his short story writing contest.  Check it out.

Also feel free to send your questions to Dave in the comment boxes below.  (I hope this works here!  This is my first time, folks, so bear with me.)

Now for Dave's post:

The Role of Enhanced Books in the Future of Publishing

Right now, the publishing world is in turmoil.  People are buying electronic books in huge numbers.  In fact, it appears that as of today, more than fifty percent of all sales are electronic.  This puts traditional paper book publishers in a bind.  You see, most books earn only a modest profit.  But if paper books are shipped to bookstores and then returned, they get destroyed, and thus don’t make any money at all.  In fact, the publisher then goes into the hole on every book he publishes.

The losses right now are so large in the industry that, as one agent put it, “Nobody in New York wants to be in this business right now.”  That’s why bookstore chains like Borders and major distributors like Anderson News have gone bankrupt.

So where do the publishers make up for those losses?  By selling electronic books for the Kindle, Nook, iPad and similar devices.  The problem is, so many electronic books will come out in the next year, according to Bowker’s Identifier Services (the guys who make the ISBNs that you see on the back of a book), that the market will be flooded with over three million new books.

Why?  Because authors who couldn’t find agents or publishers last year are self-publishing their novels this year.  I was talking to a bestseller last night who groused that in the past week, he’d run into three different “authors,” none of whom had sold more than fifty books, all of whom were self-published.

That creates a problem for readers.  It means that we now have to try to figure out which of those novels are worth buying and reading and which should never have been published in the first place. 

Some of those novels may look good on the outside.  They might have cover quotes from the author’s friends.  They might have gorgeous illustrations.  But inside, maybe halfway through a book, you might find that the story falls apart.

In fact, a lot of criminals are out there right now trying to sell e-books which Tracy Hickman has labeled “Frankensteins.”  These are novels stolen from bits of other novels and cobbled together in a way to look like a legitimate book.  The “author” hopes to steal a couple of dollars from unwary readers.  Sure, it’s not a lot of money, but in some countries, like Nigeria, a few dollars goes a long way.  If there are no laws against it (and in some countries there aren’t), the thief doesn’t even have to worry about getting punished.

How are we going to combat crummy novels?  How are we going to get past the Frankensteins? Ten years ago we had gatekeepers in the industry—literary agents and editors—who made sure that only the best novels got published.  It’s true that the system was flawed, but at least there was a system.

So who are our new gatekeepers going to be? 

The truth is that there will be new kinds of publishers.  Right now, I’m starting a company with my partner Mile Romney, called East India Press.  We’re going to published “enhanced novels.”

Enhanced books are text files, like regular books, but they also combine elements like film clips, music, video games, author interviews, audio files, illustrations, and animations.  They’re part book, part movie, part game, perhaps.  These books are then sold electronically to be read on your iPad, phone, computer, and so on.

Are enhanced books the real future of publishing?  There is good reason to think so.  You see, making a beautiful book in this market will cost tens of thousands of dollars.  That’s a bar to most wannabe authors.  So money alone will limit the competition.

These new publishers will still have to establish their own credibility.  They’ll have to select great books, create superior products, and develop a “brand” presence.  In other words, you’ll want to read the books because of who the publisher is and what they represent.

A hundred years ago, that’s the way that books were bought in the first place.  If you went to the bookstore, the books were ordered by publisher.  You might pick through the piles and find that a certain editor liked the same kind of “science fictional stories” that you did, and that became the place that you visited over and over again.

There will be other ways to judge a book.  It might come from an author with a long list of awards, or great cover quotes from independent review agencies, or maybe the fact that the book is a bestseller will give it a lot of credibility.

So I expect enhanced books to become the dominant art form for novels in the next two years, replacing and outselling simple e-books on the bestseller lists, and even outselling hardbacks and paperbacks within a couple of years.  As my agent, Russell Galen, put it, “Enhanced books are the entire future of publishing.”

Now, I’ve published some fifty books in science fiction and fantasy.  I’ve won a number of awards and my books have been translated into thirty languages.  I worked for years as the lead judge for one of the largest writing contest in the world.  I’ve trained authors like Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, and Stephenie Meyer who have gone on to become #1 international bestsellers. 

So I know books.  I know a good story when I see one, and I know how to fix a story when it needs fixing.  Given this, and my own background as a novelist, video game designer, and movie producer, it seemed like starting a new type of publishing company was a must.

In fact, I believe in this new medium so much, I’m even putting out my next novel through this publishing company.  It’s called Nightingale, and tells the story of Bron Jones, a young man abandoned at birth and raised in foster care. He discovers that he’s not quite human, and suddenly finds himself at the center of international intrigue.

This is a model for the new publishing industry. I think it’s a great book, and I could have sold it through normal channels.  But this is the best way to go.  So we’re offering the book on our site at www.nightingalenovel.com.  You can buy it in hard cover, for your e-reader, or in enhanced mode for the more advanced e-readers, or we even have an emulator so that you can run it in enhanced mode on any computer.  It also has a forty-five-minute soundtrack, lots of art, optional notes from the author and other features. In the future we may add a game or trailers. I believe this is the way books--good books--will be done in the future. I invite you to check it out, and check out our new company, East India Press.

If you’re a writer, look into our short story writing contest while you’re there.  You could win $1,000. You can find out more about the East India Press or the writing contest at www.EastIndiaPress.com as well.

Indie-Publishing Tips re Amazon and Barnes & Noble e-Book Uploads

Having just uploaded my fourth nonfiction to Amazon, this process is fresher in my mind.  Here's some random tips to share with any newbie Indie-publishing authors reading my blog.

For the home page of the Kindle Boards, see:  http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php (cut and paste in your browser).

Or click on it within my Favorite Links on the right-hand sidebar. 

1.  When you upload your cover JPEG to Amazon, it is blurred.  Do not stress out.  The published thumbnail found on the Amazon website a day or so later is much better.  Except for my last one.  It could be because this is the lightest background cover I've ever used (a fleshy peach-colored tone) or it could be because my new printer/scanner has a default setting that is not dense enough with pictures to capture a really good, pixel-rich JPEG.  I've uploaded my new improved cover with a title utilizing bigger text that I hope fixes the readability factor once live on Amazon in a couple days.  Will let you know.

2.  My first three e-books were author-oriented so I posted them on Kindle Boards Book Bazaar where all the other authors toot their horns about their new e-releases.  Here's that process in a nutshell:  once you have your initial post up, you must wait for the Administrator's okay before you respond to anything (if I remember the rules correctly that I read half a year ago).  Then you are only allowed to hit Reply once a week (if initial post was on Thursday, then every Thursday thereafter) which moves your Post up to position #1 on page #1.  Unless you get a message from an interested viewer, then you get to Reply to each of those.  BUT ONLY AFTER THE MODERATOR GIVES YOU THE THUMBS-UP.

3.  You need to create your "signature" within the Kindle Boards.  My signature is one thumbnail cover of each of my e-books (which when you click it, leads you right into Amazon's page for that particular book), followed by my name, and then one quote that I dearly love.  To do your initial Signature, go to Profile tab, then locate the left-hand box entitled "Modify Profile" then click on "Forum Profile Information" where you will fill in your data, choose a picture to go beside your name (I chose one of my book covers), and other things.  Then you need to create your signature by going up top and click on Link-Maker among the blue-gray words.  Type in your name in the search box to retrieve your Amazon offerings, choose each book to add a cover link in your signature, one at a time, and click on one, then move over to the right and choose a cover picture instead of just text.  Choose the size that is pretty much the thumbnail you see on Amazon.  That seems to be the right size allowable within the Kindle Boards.  Once your picture is seen, click on Select to get all the computer jargon necessary to pull up this book cover, copy it (Ctrl + C) and then bring your cursor back down to the Create Signature part and paste it (Ctrl + V) into the signature-creating box awaiting that info.  While still in that info-needing box, put in a Return (Enter), type in your author name followed by another Return/Enter, and any pithy quote or life reflection or your tagline you wish to be associated with.  HIT SAVE.  Or Update or whatever seals the deal.  That's it!  Yeah, I know.  A lot to remember.  And believe me, I still have to jog my brain every couple months when I need to update my Profile signature.  Hope this helps you.  I know it will help me the next time around.

4.  My newest e-book is a quotations collection so geared to a wider audience than just authors.  If you are producing such books, then we should all visit the Kindle Boards Writers' Cafe to chat with other authors.  Plus check out the Book Corner for reader discussions.  NOTE:  the only self-promotion site is the Book Bazaar

5.  You should read all the KB rules and regulations but I hope to share a few shortcuts here.

6.  There is also an email to send to within the KB for a shout-out of each of your new releases.  They do two listings:  one alphabetical and one by genre.  Pretty cool.  But again, the moderator must have posted a Reply to your initial Post before you can do this step.  It is found under the KB Book Bazaar as one of the always-at-the-top postings entitled:  Official Master List of KB Authors, found at http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,27178.0.html (cut and paste into your browser) or see quick link on my sidebar under Favorite Links.

7.  Also go to Introductions & Welcomes within the KB especially if you are a first-timer to the KB area.

8.  BE SURE to preview your text upload to fix any glitches:  too many returns, not enough returns, odd indents, odd fonts, run-ins, odd page breaks, etc.

9.  ONE BIG THING within Amazon:  use the Insert, Breaks, Page function for any page breaks between sections or chapters within your Microsoft Word document.  VERY IMPORTANT.

10.  FOR BARNES & NOBLE PUBIT! UPLOADS:  you still need to preview the upload as it will appear differently than the one you saw within Amazon.  Different software, I guess, produces different page layouts.  Other than that, you need to upload a JPEG cover with very stringent specifications.  The covers I upload to Amazon are not acceptable to B&N.  Here's the specs: 

Web Results
It walks you through creating an account, uploading your eBook file, cover image,  ... The sides must be between 750 pixels and 2000 pixels in length. ...
~~  I do that pixel reduction within GIMP (free art software), even without an instruction manual.  So it is easy for a newbie to navigate.  If memory serves, click on the Size tab once in GIMP2 and just change the pixel count to fall below 2000 pixels in both directions.  Easy peasy.

~ ~

For now, that is all I've got.  Enough to curdle the old brain cells, but not as much info as there is within the KB website, so I hope I've saved you some time and cut through to the kernels you need most.

On to day three of NaNoWriMo . . .