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Monday, October 16, 2017

The Second Mouse Goes Digital


It's that time again. Pre-ordering for The Second Mouse Goes Digital: Self-Publishing Comes of Age is now open in the Kindle Store. Go to the Kindle Store to order your copy at the reduced price of $2.99. Copies will become available on November 15, 2017.

In this updated version of The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese: How to Avoid the Traps of Self-Publishing, I offer a closer look at the self-publishing innovations that have opened the gates to mainstream book publication since 2011. In twelve detailed chapters, I'll walk you through the self-publishing process, from that first decision to forego traditional publishing, through setting up a business and office, choosing the right software and social media platforms, planning the book, writing the first draft, revising, editing, choosing the best publishing partners, and finally to the book launch and marketing phase. 

As the Katzenhaus website suggests, some cheese ages well, so I've included all the old advice that still works today. Other cheeses are best sampled fresh, so I've picked the newest recommendations from a family of literary mice. My advice is still based on my personal experiences and still touched with enough gentle humor to make this a fun read, even if you're only dreaming of writing that great American novel. Among my new rules to write on a rock are these:

·       Treat your writing like a business.
·       Words are meant to be read.
·       Software does not come in one-size-fits-all.
·       Don’t start your author journey until you know where you are going.
·       Do your homework.
·       Watch your language,
·       Your cranky old English teacher knew her stuff.
·       Remember that your words (and mistakes) will outlive you.
·       Don’t be fooled by promises of instant fame and fortune.
·       Choose your publishing partners wisely.
·       Give your readers what they love at a price they can afford.

Remember, by November 15th, you're going to be thinking about turkeys and cranberries, and pumpkin pies, so get your book order in now, before you forget. And thanks for supporting my books.



Monday, October 9, 2017

Keeping Up with Language Shifts

Have you noticed lately that our world is speeding up? I don't refer to that well-known sensation that time passes more quickly as you age. That's a given. But I've been noticing that in this digital age, information multiplies faster than most people can keep up with it. And that means that our language is changing, too. Here's a prime example.

I have spent the last few days doing a careful word-by-word check of the manuscript for my next book, which is scheduled to come out in November. Because it is something of a "How-To" book on self-publishing, I have been more than usually aware of any mistake that might cast doubts about my ability to write such a book.  After the usual spelling and grammar check done by Microsoft's Word for MACs, I put the entire thing through two passes of Grammarly Pro, which promises to find any of  250 common writing problems, including spelling.  And only then did I turn to reading the manuscript out loud, almost one word at a time, to spot words left out, awkward phrases, unclear explanations, and random typos.  I did that three times!

Today I was confident enough of its correctness that I uploaded the .mobi file into Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Platform. The program accepted my formatting and then announced it was searching for errors. "Ha!" I thought. Then to my dismay, it churned out a list of 51 possible spelling errors. The instructions said I should consider correcting these and then re-submitting.

I couldn't decide how to react. Angry? Insulted? Embarrassed? Ashamed? Humbled?  I started going through the items, one by one. A few were proper names, which I could simply mark as "Ignore." Three were British spellings -- not exactly incorrect, but needed "Americanizing" for a US audience.

But the rest? They were all terms that have come into common and accepted usage in the last few years as we all become more and more computer-literate. Several were words I used repeatedly, which increased my total number of errors. Here's the list:

backstory
barcode
bulleted list
grayscale
headshot
journalling
metadata
misdated
overthinking
retweet
scammer
smartphone
timeline
trackback
username

I'm trying to be understanding about this, but deep down, I have to wonder why an internet powerhouse like Amazon's KDP is not as current on computer language as this 78-year-old woman!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

An Ongoing Contest--Kindle versus Spark

As I was putting the finishing touches on my upcoming book on self-publishing, I realized that I could not come up with a definitive recommendation about the best indie publishing methods. Amazon Kindle Direct and Ingram's Spark are currently locked in an arm-wrestling match. Both offer simplified e-book publishing. Both have ways to move a manuscript from its electronic format to a paper version. Each one touts certain advantages over the other. Spark offers hard-back publication, but the process can take weeks or months. Kindle only handles trade paper editions, but its speed and efficiency are great. And each has a fan base of users who are convinced that its methods are superior. In the end, I waffled:
Both programs are changing rapidly, and they seem to be spurring one another on to greater and greater improvements. I cannot recommend one over the other. I would remind authors, however, that the final decision on publishing must not rely solely on quick and inexpensive options. If self-publishing is ever to compete with traditional publishers, or if you hope for best-seller lists and big-name reviews, your printed books must meet the same high standards as the rest of the industry.
This morning I discovered new reasons to keep watching this fight without betting large sums of money on either side. My e-mail box had a message from each of the combatants.

Ingram Spark announced a new landscape format:
Take advantage of the new 11 x 8.5 in (216 x 280 mm) trim size offered for Premium Color in both paperback and hardcover formats.This new trim size coupled with rich Premium Color is perfect for children's books, art & photograpy books, and more.
With 30 available trim sizes, you're sure to find the perfect size for your book.
And Kindle Direct Publishing countered with:


Did you know that with X-Ray for Authors, a free Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) tool, you can now add your own definitions, descriptions, or commentary that will show up when the reader engages the X-Ray feature? X-Ray is a unique Kindle eBook feature that allows readers to learn more about a character, topic, event, place, or any other term, simply by pressing and holding on the term or character that interests them. With X-Ray for Authors, you can add new X-Ray entries, edit existing ones, or enable X-Ray for a new book. Even a few descriptive words can make a big difference to the reader as they try and situate characters or learn more about terms or events.
I'm now wondering what others think about these latest offers. Would either of these innovations interest you? If you are a writer, would you use either one? Particularly in the case of the new Kindle program, would you be willing to spend the time it would take to set up the X-ray features? And what about you readers? Would you prefer to have a children's book in this new landscape format? Does it make the book easier for a child to hold? And what about the pop-up feature of X-ray. Would you really take the time to interrupt your reading to follow an explanatory link? Does either idea spark an interest? Do you have a burning desire for either one? Leave your comments below.








Monday, October 2, 2017

Cover Reveal!

Here it is! 


The Second Mouse Goes Digital: Self-Publishing Comes of Age



An updated look at the world of independent publishing
 from the author of 

The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese.

Back Cover Reveal!

Turn It Over!


What's the first thing you do when you pick up a new book? Most readers immediately turn to the back cover to discover what all the fuss is about.  So here's a quick look at my upcoming book:

 The Second Mouse Goes Digital: Self-Publishing Comes of Age




And for tired eyes, here's the text in a more readable form:


“Write these things on a rock!”

In this updated version of The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese: How to Avoid the Traps of Self-Publishing, best-selling author Carolyn Schriber takes a closer look at the self-publishing innovations that have opened the gates to mainstream book publication since 2011. In twelve detailed chapters, she leads the writer through the self-publishing process, from that first decision to forego traditional publishing, through setting up a business and office, choosing the right software and social media platforms, planning the book, writing the first draft, revising, editing, choosing the best publishing partners, and finally to the book launch and marketing phase.  Her words are still based on her personal experiences and still touched with her wise advice and gentle humor. Among her new rules to write on a rock are these:

  • Treat your writing like a business.
  • Words are meant to be read.
  • Software does not come in one-size-fits-all.
  • Don’t start your author journey until you know where you are going.
  • Do your homework.
  • Watch your language,
  • Your cranky old English teacher knew her stuff.
  • Remember that your words (and mistakes) will outlive you.
  • Don’t be fooled by promises of instant fame and fortune.
  • Choose your publishing partners wisely.
  • Give your readers what they love at a price they can afford.

Coming on November 14, 2017.
Pre-orders available after October 16, 2017



Sunday, October 1, 2017

Charleston Society in the Years before the Civil War

Most of what I know of antebellum Charleston comes from one of two sources. One of those is Dr. Nicholas Butler, historian at the Charleston County Public Library and creator of "The Charleston Time Machine," an ongoing blog in which he tells fascinating stories of tidbits he has researched through the library. Nic has been my go-to source of details since around 2002, when he worked in the archives of the South Carolina Historical Society and I was a wide-eyed northern researching probing the details of my great-uncle's Civil War experiences. I read his columns faithfully and have used many of his items in my books. I have him to thank, for example, for the explanation of a "feme sole," which plays such an important role in Henrietta's Journal.

For a broader perspective, I most often turn to an authoritarian work, The Politics of Taste in Antebellum Charleston, by Maurie D . McInnis. The book's description on Amazon has this to say about it:
"At the close of the American Revolution, Charleston, South Carolina, was the wealthiest city in the new nation, with the highest per-capita wealth among whites and the largest number of enslaved residents. Maurie D. McInnis explores the social, political, and material culture of the city to learn how--and at what human cost--Charleston came to be regarded as one of the most refined cities in antebellum America.
"While other cities embraced a culture of democracy and egalitarianism, wealthy Charlestonians cherished English notions of aristocracy and refinement, defending slavery as a social good and encouraging the growth of southern nationalism. Members of the city's merchant-planter class held tight to the belief that the clothes they wore, the manners they adopted, and the ways they designed house lots and laid out city streets helped secure their place in social hierarchies of class and race. This pursuit of refinement, McInnis demonstrates, was bound up with their determined efforts to control the city's African American majority. She then examines slave dress, mobility, work spaces, and leisure activities to understand how Charleston slaves negotiated their lives among the whites they served. "

To see how much Charleston has changed in two hundred years -- and how little -- one need look no further than the modern picture that serves as wallpaper on this blog and the painting on the cover of McInnis's book.








Friday, September 29, 2017

About the Katzenhaus Blog


A note of explanation is probably due here to explain where I have been all week. Starting last week, just as I was gearing up to do a major blitz campaign about my new book, Henrietta's Journal,  the blog site attached to my company website went into a major revolt. The website still works. It is possible to go back and read old blog posts. I can tweak the website as a whole. (I just made some changes today.) But I cannot post anything new on the "Roundheads and Ramblings" blog site.

Why? No one seems to know! I am developing a lengthy history of e-mail correspondence with Vistaprint's technical support team. We're all now on a first-name basis. They've been comforting and "supportive." At first they said, "We'll fix it immediately." Then they said, "Have found the problem. Give us 24 hours." Then it was  "48 hours." And today their message read:

Hi Carolyn,

The issue is still being worked on and currently it looks like it may be resolved in the next couple of weeks. I will write back as soon as I have any additional updates or info.

Eric

My response to that message was an intolerant "You've got to be kidding!"

Somehow, I am no longer reassured by their attentiveness, particularly since so much should be going on right now. I intended to have several posts up about the new book to encourage my readers to get their copy. And now, looking ahead, I am ready to announce the first cover reveal for the next Katzenhaus publication--a revised edition of the always popular The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese. Instead, I've been writing complaint messages and trying to explain what's going on at this end.

The upshot is that I am shifting all blog activities to this Blogger site, hoping that faithful readers will continue to follow me over here for the foreseeable future. I'll spend some time over the weekend making amends to Henrietta and her Journal for neglecting her, so look for some extra postings. And then on Monday, we'll hold the cover reveal for The Second Mouses Goes Digital: Self-Publishing Comes of Age.

I hope you'll bookmark this site: http://www.katzenhausblogs.com/



Then please share the link to help me reach across these broken lines of communication.  Thanks!