Files Uploaded, Now We Wait

I found Kindle Create a breeze to use and successfully created a textbook replica file of 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. Then I created a JPG cover file. I uploaded both files to KDP, reviewed the interior in the online previewer and clicked on “Publish.” Now it will be reviewed and hopefully should be live on Amazon within the next 72 hours.

Using Windows Software on a Linux Machine

So if I want to convert a PDF copy of 5 Acres & A Dream The Book into an eBook, how do I do that if the conversion software isn’t compatible with my operating system? The answer? I must create a virtual machine on my computer that can run Windows. How do I do that? With Oracle’s VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is virtualization software. It can be installed on any host operating system, and be used to run a huge variety of guest operating systems. My host OS is Xubuntu Linux. My guest OS will be Windows 10. VB does this by partitioning off a small section of my hard drive and installing Windows there. When I start VB and choose Windows, it opens Windows in a private space within Xubuntu. On my desktop it looks like any other window. If I maximize that window, then you’d never know it was any other than a Windows machine.

Once I had VB installed I added the VB extension pack. After I installed Windows, I added Guest Additions. Both of these increase the functionality of Windows as a guest OS on my computer.

The challenge, then, is to share files between the two. I have my PDF on Xubuntu, but since Win 10 is sandboxed, how do I let Windows access it? And how do I get a copy of my finished Windows work back to my regular OS? For that I had to create a shared file as part of a networking system between Xubuntu and Windows. Once I had that created and added my PDF file, I was able to download and install Kindle Create within Windows and get started on my project. The completed project is saved to the same shared file, so that I can upload it to KDP when it’s ready.

From Paperback to eBook: 5 Acres & A Dream The Book

Five years ago when I published 5 Acres & A Dream The Book I didn’t give electronic publishing a thought. I wasn’t especially big on eBooks, because I like nothing better than the look and feel of a real live book in my hands. I like seeing books on my bookshelves. And I like knowing that the books I want to read and keep will be available, even if my electronic device is not.

Finally, out of curiosity I bought a Kindle. I found that I liked the convenience of being able to keep numerous books on a small, handheld device, especially fiction. Then I began to dabble with creating eBooks for my Little Series of Homestead How-Tos. I learned the differences in formatting and how to make a flowable book for eReaders. I didn’t find them very convenient for images and graphs, however. I couldn’t fathom the many homestead maps in 5 Acres & A Dream The Book being legible on a small electronic device; it was hard enough to see them on the pages of a 6×9 inch paperback.

The real show stopper, however, was the file size of both 5 Acres & A Dream The Book and Critter Tales. Both are photograph heavy (something my husband thought was important), so the interior book files are quite large. Too large for the maximum limits of most eBook producers. So the idea was moot even if I had wanted to take such a plunge.

Recently the idea has come to mind once again. While Smashwords still maintains a 10 MB maximum file size limit, Kindle Direct Publishing and Lulu and greatly increased theirs. So much so that my most optimized PDF version of both books is within the new limits.

Even with this new possibility there is a problem. Most eBook publishers prefer to convert .doc files. These are easy enough to make and upload, but for my paperback books I never created a ready-to-print .doc file. I created PDF/X files, which is the standard preferred by print publishers. To create a .doc (or .docx) file would mean starting from scratch! Honestly, I have too much on my plate to do that; I’d rather continue working on 5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel.

The other day something at KDP caught my eye – Kindle Create. Kindle Create is a program which can convert PDF files into “Print Replica eBooks” for Kindle. It maintains the print book’s layout and formatting while converting it into a mobi file. That sounded like the perfect solution for me.

The “glitch” is that Kindle Create must be downloaded to use and is for Windows or Mac only. Since I use Xubuntu Linux, that is indeed a problem. But not an unsolvable one. More on that next time!

Transferring Titles to Ingram Spark

With all of the problems indie authors have been having with Amazon’s replacing CreateSpace with Kindle Direct Publishing, I thought it might be a good time to transfer my paperback titles to a more stable platform. This is possible because I own my books’ ISBNs. As long as I use the same files with the same ISBN, I can have my books printed from as many sources as I wish. In fact, many authors publish through both Ingram Spark and CreateSpace, because IS gives greater royalty flexibility for non-Amazon distributors. For books sold through Amazon, royalties are higher for books published through their printers, hence the strategy to go through both.

The process of transfer was certainly easier than directly uploading the files to IS. I created an account and then contacted IS staff, explaining what I wanted to do. They advised me to reach out to CS to give them a heads up, and then remove all my titles from Amazon’s Expanded Distribution. Expanded Distribution covers all non-Amazon sales. Royalties are smaller through Ex. Dist., which is the reason for choosing IS for these sales.

It took a while because my request was initiated right before the big push to close CS and get everything moved to KDP. But both sides were cooperative and very helpful, and eventually, I received word from IS that the transfers were complete. Now I have to learn their ropes! Best of all, transferred files don’t require the IS processing fee, so moving all four titles was free.

My new titles will be be published through both KDP and IS.

Outline For Chapter 6

5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel

F. Ch. 6. Food Self-Sufficiency: Feeding Ourselves
   1. Production
	a. garden
            1) downsizing garden
	    2) year-round
		  a) fewer annuals
		  b) more perennials (permaculture hedgerows)
	    3) soil building - never enough compost and mulch
		  a) chipper - mulch
	    4) permanent no-till (but not raised) beds
	    5) hugelkulture swale beds
	    6) continue diversity with companion group planting
	    7) planting by soil temperature
	    8) cover crops for resting beds
	    9) hoop house 
	    10) greenhouse (future)
	b. orchard
	    1) pectin
	c. field crops 
	    1) wheat
	    2) corn
	    3) other: cowpeas, cushaws, mangels, sugar beets (shared with critters)
	    4) goal - try rice				
            5) challenges 
	        a) not pushing the soil 
		b) soil building (discuss in  ch 10, "Resource Self-Sufficiency")
		    i. cover crops
		    ii. carbon
            6) no-till
	d. perennial foods 
	    1) herb garden
	    2) permaculture hedgerows
	e. eggs, milk, meat
	    1) eating seasonally
	    2) challenges with eggs
		a) storage
		    i. dehydrating
		    ii. water glassing
	            iii. liming
		    iv. see Prepper's Livestock Handbook for more
	    3) challenges with milk
		  a) year-round milk for kefir
		  b) cheesemaking in a hot climate
		  c) brine and oil packed cheeses
	    4) challenges with meat
	f. honeybees (fail)
	g. mushrooms        
        h. miscellanious            
            1) smoke flavoring
	i. hay (discuss in ch 7, "Food Self-Sufficiency: Feeding Our Animals")   
    2. Preservation
        a. less preservation / more year-round growing	
        b. canning / freezing / dehydrating / lacto-fermentation
        c. dry pack vacuum canning	   
    3. Storage	
        a. challenges - heat, humidity, insects
        b. eat more fresh (year-round garden)	
        c. rethinking storage goals 
        d. root cellar
        e. solar powered pantry (discuss in ch 8. "Energy Self-Sufficiency")
    4. Miscellaneous
        a. apple pectin
        b. smoke flavoring (canned or frozen)
        c. hops for homemade yeast
        d. leftovers frozen soup mix
        e. foraged foods
            1) greens
    5. Challenges
        a. diet fatigue
        b. diet diversity with limited foods

Time to Make a Decision

With CreateSpace closing, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my options. Transferring to Kindle Direct Publishing might seem easiest, except for a number of authors relaying problems they’ve had with the transfer process. The other option is to find a different print-on-demand printer.

My first idea was to test the waters. I thought I might try transferring one of my titles to KDP to see what kinds of problems I ran into. And what it would take to fix them. Unfortunately, the transfer must be for all books, so I decided to continue waiting. Several fellow authors chose to transfer their books to Ingram Spark, so I’ve been watching those conversations as well. A common concern is that Amazon will “punish” such authors by making their books either unavailable on Amazon, or take weeks to fulfill the order. Some people claim this has happened to them, but I hold these claims with a grain of salt. We humans tend to personalize everything, even when other explanations are more obvious and logical. Best to reserve judgement and not make assumptions.

There are several other POD publishers out there. Lulu is popular, but when I was getting ready to publish 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, they offered the lowerst royalties. A self-publishing acquantaince used Lightning Source, but about the time I was ready LS had switched small indies to Ingram Spark. At that time the author had no control over the wholesale discount (something which has since changed) so I didn’t sign up with them. I tried a smaller company, but the pdf proof was unsatisfactory. Apparently they couldn’t handle my interior design format. Eventuallly I went with CreateSpace.

Last night I read an announcement from CS staff on their community forum. Books remaining at CS will be transferred to KDP by staff by the end of December. Time to make a decision. More on that next time.