Ebook Creation: Fixed Format vs. Reflowable Ebooks

I’ve been working on the second book in my How to Create Ebooks series, which will be focused on making fixed format ebooks. Fixed format ebooks work particularly well for children’s picture books, though there are number of other useful ways to use the format.

I came across a video on Lynda.com (full disclosure, I am an affiliate) recently that does a great job showing the differences between reflowable ebooks (usually used for novels and text-heavy books) and fixed format ebooks. Hopefully this clears things up for anyone who was wondering!

Comparing the looks of fixed vs. flowable EPUBs

What Games and Books Have in Common

Games and books have a lot in common. They can be tools for learning, as well as avenues for entertainment (See the game/app Zombies, Run! for an example of a game that also motivates people to stay active). They can be physical and digital. And sometimes the lines between them can even be blurred.

Because of all these similarities, there are a lot of book and game issues that overlap. For example, game developers worry about piracy, just as book publishers do. One game publisher, Paradox, tackled the piracy issue by “offering a superior service to piracy,” according to Kotaku. They did this by offering periodic free updates to the game.

The startup Product Hunt works with their active community to discuss and vote up product recommendations. Fortune reported that the company started with a games vertical, and then more recently launched a books vertical, aiming “to become the Oprah Book Club of Silicon Valley.” And they’re not the only company to mix games and books. In 2013, Nintendo 3DS opened up an ebookstore.

But the biggest thing games and books have in common is that they are storytelling mediums. Sure, they use different approaches. For some great examples of games with strong stories, read The Guardian’s “The first great works of digital literature are already being written,” where the author cites 10 examples of games that play with experimental literature, heavy themes of mortality, and more.

Have any examples of powerful stories told via games? Please share in the comments!

Reading Ebooks on Your Smartphone

"Samsung Galaxy S5" by GalaxyOptimus - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samsung_Galaxy_S5.png#/media/File:Samsung_Galaxy_S5.png

“Samsung Galaxy S5” by GalaxyOptimus – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samsung_Galaxy_S5.png#/media/File:Samsung_Galaxy_S5.png

Smartphones have exploded in popularity in the last few years, and because so many people own smartphones, publishers are now thinking about how to best deliver digital content to the small screen.

As a side anecdote, four years ago (2011) I was sitting in a marketing class at NYU, and the lecturer was telling us about how she read all five A Song of Ice and Fire books (you know, Game of Thrones), on her phone, usually while commuting on the subway. At the time, most of us in the class thought it was crazy extraordinary — we were still getting used to the idea of ebooks, and reading books on an iPad. But flash forward and I find myself getting most of my reading done on my phone when I’m commuting on BART in San Francisco. The times they are a changin’.

According to BookWorks, “there are over one billion smartphones in the hands of potential readers, and that number is thought to triple by 2017.” And, “With the growing popularity of eBooks, on-the-go bibliophiles have chosen to transition to their smartphones for their daily dose of literature.” Wall Street Journal also confirms the rise of phone reading. Continue reading

What Rights Do Ebook Owners Have?

By NotFromUtrecht (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By NotFromUtrecht (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion around the ownership of ebooks.

The LA Times reported in 2012 about how ebook owners had few rights when it came to their ebooks. Instead of owning ebooks they purchased, they were merely licensing them:

Unlike the owners of a physical tome, they won’t have the unlimited right to lend an e-book, give it away, resell it or leave it to their heirs. If it’s bought for their iPad, they won’t be able to read it on their Kindle. And if Amazon or the other sellers don’t like what they’ve done with it, they can take it back, without warning.

In 2013, Motherboard wrote about how in some cases you can only access ebooks in certain territories or countries. For example, one professor from the U.S. traveled to Singapore and lost all his ebooks stored on his Google Play app, all because the Google Play bookstore wasn’t available in Singapore. To get his books back, he had to go back to U.S. and redownload them all. Also,, :

You can’t give away, loan to a friend, trade or sell your book when you’re done reading it, because it’s bound to the account of your Kindle, Google Play, iBooks, or whatever ecosystem you bought it from. This really ruffles the features of voracious readers, since sharing books is a classic and much-loved tradition

And in 2014, Guelph Mercury reported on ebooks that were disappearing in Japan. One ebook retailer announced it was shutting down, and issued refunds to users, but those users were no longer able to access the ebooks and comics they had purchased. According to the article:

It is technologically possible to make such e-books readable on other service providers’ platforms after one company discontinues its service.

But Toru Sampei, chief of the secretariat of the Japan Electronic Publishing Association, said, “All the companies are reluctant to do so because it takes time and is costly.”

Fortunately, there is more discussion lately over how to protect readers from losing their ebooks. In 2014 the state of Delaware passed a law that gave “heirs and the executors to estates the same rights over digital content which they would have over physical property,” according to The Digital Reader. Although this only applies to residents in Delaware, it is a strong first step.

Have you heard about any more recent steps to protect ebook owners? Please share in the comments!

From Grammarly: Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel

In honor of NaNoWriMo this month, Grammarly has put together a helpful list of five mistakes to avoid while writing your epic novel. And if you’re feeling inspired, consider participating in Grammarly’s Novel Ideas Competition!

Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic

Ebook Formatting Options for Indie Authors

By Per Palmkvist Knudsen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Per Palmkvist Knudsen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

For indie authors, one great way to save money when it comes to publishing your books is to learn how to make your own ebooks. Personally, when it comes to creating ebooks, I recommend using Sigil, and I teach an online course on Udemy on how to use Sigil and other free tools to create your own beautiful ebooks.

But there are a myriad of other options. Below are some examples: Continue reading

Overcoming Writers Block and Writing a Strong Story

By User:Revital9 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By User:Revital9 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to writing, there are a lot of factors to consider. Continue reading

805 Writers Conference: Self-Publishing Primer and More


This past weekend, I was one of the speakers at the 805 Writers Conference, held in Ventura, California. 805 Writers Conference is an annual event for writers, and this year had a number of wonderful speakers who covered a wide range of topics, including adapting fiction for the screen, writing a non-fiction proposal, writing mysteries and thrillers, writing articles, how to get published, how to sell books, and book marketing tactics. There were also panels with literary agents and book editors.

I was one of two speakers for the session called “Self-Publishing Primer – what has changed and how authors are selling books,” along with Leann Garms, founder of Build.Buzz.Launch. All the sessions have been recorded and should be available online shortly for those who attended the conference.

For those unable to attend the conference, I have an expanded version of my presentation available on Slideshare, which covers

  1. Writing and editing tools
  2. Cover design
  3. Ebook creation tools and techniques
  4. Ebook distribution channels
  5. Marketing tactics
  6. Authorpreneurship concepts
  7. Changes and developments in the industry.

A Halloween Treat From Grammarly: Which Literary Monster Are You?

Tomorrow is Halloween, and what better way for book nerds to celebrate than with a literary monster quiz? Try out this one, from Grammarly:

Books Coming Soon: A New Promotion Site For Authors and Book Lovers


More and more exciting options for indie authors keep popping up, and I’m always happy to write about new ones. At the beginning of October, a new site, Books Coming Soon (BCS), launched. Books Coming Soon is a site where authors and publishers can set up interviews, give away review copies, and release pre-orders, and where readers can get the latest news on their favorite genres and request early copies of books. According to the website:

Books Coming Soon was started for two reasons. First, we wanted to provide both authors and publishers a way to announce their upcoming book releases, receive early review requests, setup pre-orders, and do author interviews-ALL FOR FREE (or mostly free, anyway). Second, if you are a book lover, we wanted to provide you with a chance to request early review copies of books directly from authors and publishers, pre-order books, and receive monthly newsletter updates tailored to your favorite categories of books. This means that when you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you a list every single month of ONLY books you will be interested in, based on your categories of interest that you select when you sign up for the newsletter. How cool is that?

I got to ask the founder, Derek Vasconi, a few questions about his work and his new platform.  Continue reading