What We Learned in 2012 – For a Happy 2013

Publishing Notes from the Lucky Bat Books Team

We’re approaching the end of a year, beginning of a new one, and what did we learn in 2012? What’s going to matter in 2013?

It takes a team—a highly professional and accomplished team—to create a successful Lucky Bat Books. When Cindie and I (Judith)  started, we had the support of an awe-inspiring board of advisors—Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Scott William Carter and Garrett Sutton.  How fortunate we were in that! We knew it then and we continue to celebrate it now. When it came to doing the work, though, it was just us, and we quickly discovered that we needed more “us”. We were lucky to find our first full-year team, Louisa Swann, Jessica Santina and Julie Ricks. And to have an entire group of artists, editors and IT folks at our side! And it takes all of us to make Lucky Bat Books the publishing company at the edge, leading the revolution in publishing.

Ebook Conversions, Print and Marketing—Our Notes and Tips for Writers and Publishers, Direct from the Team

CONTROL Z is my friend :>) So easy now to undo whatever glitches my fingers drum up simply by using those two keys!—From Project Manager Louisa Swann.

DO IT WITH STYLES! I’ve been using Word since it was all blue screens and F-keys, but I’d never used Styles until this year. I can’t believe how easy it is to format a document using Styles. Not just manuscripts for e-book conversions, either. Any document. It is the most amazing thing, ever! And so easy. I’m using it for my novel as well as my clients’ manuscripts. It’s not hard to learn—in fact, it’s very simple. Use Word Help for Styles or Google the same for a video if you think you need it. Save yourself some time formatting documents—you won’t regret it.—From Project Manager Julie Ricks.

KOBO! Uploading to Kobo through Kobo Writing Life is easy peasy. It uses epub, just like Barnes & Noble Pubit. The company just started its direct upload program this year—the same year it started its indie bookstore program. I think we’re going to see Kobo becoming a big player in the U.S. market (it is already big in Canada and Japan) and it behoves us all to take advantage of the control allowed by direct upload whenever we can. Because Kobo Writing Life is still new, expect bugs, be patient, and stick with it. Kobo’s tech support has, in my experience, been quite helpful, though quite slow by email.—From Co-Owner Cindie Geddes.

MARKET FROM YOUR STRENGTHS.  Lucky Bat Books authors have shown me over and over that what works for one in marketing is a flop for another. But what works for all is reaching out to readers from core strengths. See what Robert Bucchianeri (aka RJ Bucchianeri)  has done on Twitter, what Gregory Benford does on his website, how Douglas Smith reaches out through several methods. And notice, as I have, that each has chosen his own way. Gregory seldom tweets, Bob does minimal Facebook, just for instance. And they all interact directly with their readers! It’s a beautiful dance to behold.—From Co-Owner Judith Harlan

LEARN. LEARN. LEARN SOME MORE. Technology is changing so quickly—just try to find a pay-phone booth—and the e-book world is no exception. It’s like the Wild, Wild West out there. This year I had to learn, and learn, and learn, and change, and learn new ways of processing e-book conversions for different e-tailers. If there is one thing I’ve learned this year it’s stay flexible!!  Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and we need to keep up. Besides, learning new things is good for your brain synapses and will keep you young. Flexibility is key!—From Project Manager Julie Ricks.

EBOOK INTERNAL LINKS. I love popping around in ebooks, but I hate losing my place. I follow a link to a footnote or to a particular short story in a collection, but then I want to get back to where I was. Too many internal links can not only get cumbersome, it can also lead to accidental jumps (which happens when readers think they are turning pages but end up accidentally hitting a link instead). So one of my favorite tips is how to take a reader back to the Table of Contents. From the TOC, readers can go anywhere. So when I build an ebook, I build live TOCs (click on any heading in the TOC and jump to that place in the book), but also live link-backs (click on the chapter head and jump back to the TOC, for example). Just as a live TOC link is built from two linked parts (bookmark and hyperlink), so is a link-back. Highlight the word “Content” at the top of your TOC and create a blind bookmark (by calling it ref_toc —the “ref” makes sure it doesn’t get pulled into your TOC). Then when you are creating your TOC bookmarks, go ahead and make those chapter headings hyperlinks as well (#ref_toc). Voila!—From Co-Owner Cindie Geddes.

PRINT AND EBOOK VERSIONS. Having a print edition along with a digital edition of a book is the best way to go because the print book gives the impression of added value (I could buy the print edition for $12.99 or the kindle edition for $9.99, etc.)—From Project Manager Louisa Swann.

STAY NIMBLE. Witness the rapid shift in conversion requirements for ebooks—and Smashwords end of year announcement of epub uploads available in beta!—And Kobo’s direct entry, as Cindie talks about above, and its growing international footprint.  And note the expansion of Amazon into international markets this past year, adding sites for European countries, the UK, and getting its foot into India, Japan and Brazil.  And that’s not just ebooks. Some of that applies to print, too, with Amazon’s CreateSpace revving up printers in Europe. The doors that we are opening via Amazon to Lucky Bat Books authors going our print on demand route are multiplying. Look for lots more of this in 2013! And new options for writers wanting into bookstores and international markets.  Be nimble, be quick, that’s what I learned in 2012, and always be on the lookout for new strategies for professional writers.—From Co-Owner Judith Harlan

(Project Manager Jessica Santina is on vacation, but look for more of her tips on copy-editing and writing this coming year!)

Got tips you want to share with the writing community? Drop them into the comments and we’ll pop those up here, too. We’re a community, we writers, and here at Lucky Bat Books, we believe in the power of sharing.