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Guest Blog Post: How to Build an eBook on the Cheap by Alina Adams

Today, I have a special guest Alina Adams, discussing self-publishing her backlist titles.

Two summers ago, I was on a panel at Comic-Con in San Diego, talking about writing tie-in books (in my case to a pair of soap operas, As the World Turns and Guiding Light).

The moderator asked a question about future projects, and I mentioned that I was taking my series of Figure Skating Murder Mysteries, originally published as paperbacks by Berkley Prime Crime, and turning them into enhanced e-books, where not only did you get all the text of the original but, in partnership with The Ice Theatre of New York, I was adding professional skating videos to represent my fictional characters.

Afterwards, a fellow writer from the panel came up and told me she too had been thinking of doing a multimedia book, but she’d priced out the necessary technical services, and “Those IT guys are just so expensive.”

I pointed to my husband, standing nearby, and explained, “I sleep with my IT guy.”

“Oh!” She exclaimed. “That’s so much cheaper!”

Indeed. I highly recommended it. (Not that there aren’t many wonderful companies out there that could get the job done for you. Many of them even charge reasonable prices. But, even a reasonable price is an expenditure I’d rather avoid.)

When I first decided, in 2011, to get the rights back to not only my previously published figure skating series, but to my romance titles, as well, and turn them into enhanced e-books, it was only because I knew my husband had the technical know-how to physically build them.

When a Man Loves a WomanAnd if he didn’t have the technical know-how, he’d educate himself until he did. Or deal with my complaining about it. (And no one wants that.)

When it came to my romance novel, When a Man Loves a Woman, originally published by DELL in 2000, he literally ripped the book at the spine, then sat up several nights in a row, scanning each page by hand while he watched TV (and I went to bed).

I proofed it, compiled it, added a name to each chapter that corresponded to a popular song that could comment and compliment the action, found the songs on-line, created links to them, and handed the whole thing back to my husband. Who spent many more late nights formatting the book according to Amazon specs, and testing and retesting it in a variety of machines, according to the way he’d been taught at MIT. (Nuclear engineering… Building enhanced e-books… Practically the same thing, no?)

With my figure skating mysteries, Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop, and Skate Crime, he taught himself how to transfer videos from DVD into a format compatible with both mobi (for Amazon) and ePub (for Nook). He also figured out how to build the table of contents the platform required, not to mention indent, bold, italicize, and double-space. (Sounds simple. I gather it is not.)

CounterpointWe’ve been married for almost fourteen years. My romance writing career actually predates our meeting.

Back then, when I wrote about romantic heroes, they were either witty, urbane, Regency-era Marquis, or dashing fighter pilots, or sensitive, sexy surgeons.

Little did I know at the time, that the most romantic thing a man can do is sit up for hours tediously scanning pages torn from a tattered book, then spend hours pouring through coding specs in tiny font, followed by going back and redoing a day’s worth of work because I found a misplaced comma and really, really need it fixed. Now.

My latest enhanced e-book is Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga. It is a romantic serial where, at the end of Volume One, I ask readers to tell me what they’d like to see happen in Volume Two. I incorporate their suggestions into Volume Two, and ask them for input regarding Volume Three. And so on.

I am really looking forward to what my readers come up with.

But, if I may offer a bit of friendly advice based on life experience, if you truly want a Happily Ever After – go for the IT guy.

You won’t regret it.

Alina AdamsAlina Adams is the New York Times’ best selling author of soap opera tie-ins, figure skating mysteries, and romances, including Annie’s Wild Ride and When a Man Loves a Woman. Her latest project is Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga. In addition to turning her own backlist into enhanced e-books, she has produced enhanced e-books for others, including Dan Elish, whose middle-grade fantasy novel, The Worldwide Dessert Contest, now includes its own original musical score. Learn more at

500 Words a Day Challenge

I just started the 500 Words a Day Challenge that runs from July 23 until the end of the year. A few writers are doing 1,000 words a day, and I wish I could do that, too. But with the Boy and all, I don’t want to commit to writing 1,000 words when I’m not sure I can meet the goal. There are days when he’s a perfect angel, but there are also days when he is just impossible to please or creates lots of work. For example, on Saturday he was responsible for creating three loads of urgent laundry. (I never thought a human being that weighs only twelve pounds could do that!)

I suppose I could take time off until the end of the year, but I’m afraid that I might get rusty. I can’t speak for others, but for me writing is like playing the piano. The more I write, the better I become.

500 words is doable if I manage what free time I have carefully. If I must, I can stay up after the Boy has fallen asleep at night (he doesn’t sleep much during the day). 500 words seems so much more manageable than 1,000 words, and the psychological effect can make me knock out those words even though I’m tired.

It may not seem like a lot to those who are really prolific, but if I write at least 500 words a day until December 31, I’ll have 81,000 words written. And that’s a novel.

Carina Press 1st Anniversary!

Carina Press

Today I have Angela James, the Executive Editor from Carina Press, to share her experience at Carina and what she’s learned.

Angela JamesIn celebration of our one year anniversary, I asked as many of our Harlequin team members and Carina Press freelance editors as possible to write a short blog post, talking about what the past year or so has been like for them, working on Carina Press. I deliberately didn’t provide any direction other than that, because I wanted to see what people came up with, in the spirit of Carina’s 1st anniversary. I was so pleased when I saw what they’d all come up with, and had to say (and some of these posts made me just a little teary)! I hope you enjoy the post, and look for your opportunity to win a Carina Press book at the bottom of this post. ~Angela James

I wasn’t going to do a post on an author blog, because I wrote the anniversary post for the Carina Press blog. But when I went to write that post, I discovered there was a LOT to say and it made the post kind of long to include all of this. So thanks to Nadia, who kindly agreed to host me, I get the privilege of having two blog posts today!

So what did I learn this year? Ha! That I have a lot to learn. I swear, some days I feel like I know absolutely nothing about the industry, authors or how publishing works. I feel just as green as I did on the very first day I started editing almost a decade ago.

I learned that I hate packing for trips as much today as I did a year ago, and I’ve not gotten any better at packing “light”. People who can travel with one teeny, tiny, half-size carry-on are mutants. I’m convinced.

I’ve learned patience. I’m an impatient person by nature. If I have an idea, or a concept, or a thought flitting through my head, I want to jump on it and do it now. That’s not quite as easy at a larger corporation like Harlequin. We’re not quite so nimble as some of the smaller folks. Oh, we get things done and make things happen, just not quite as quickly as my impatient nature liked. So I’ve learned patience (well, having a six-year-old daughter has helped with that too)

I’ve learned that while I’m a good editor, and I miss editing, I’m also a pretty darn good administrator, boss, presenter and task-master. I knew I had what it takes to build an imprint, but I really feel like I’ve proven it to myself again.

And holy cow, I’ve been reminded how important a good team is. From the Carina Press acquisitions team, to the freelance editors, I’m surrounded by talented, hard-working, dedicated people. I have been so very fortunate in my co-workers and freelancers, and some of them have become very good friends who listen to my phone and email rants without complaining. Without the talent of this group, Carina Press would not exist today. I get a lot of the glory because I’m out in front, but I’ve worked to try and make sure you all see who’s behind the scenes, actually making it happen. Thanks to all of them, and the wonderful, wonderful authors who’ve trusted us with their books, today we have Carina Press!

Speaking of the authors, I’ve learned that they can come together to be enthusiastic and supportive of each other, and their publisher, in a pretty awesome way. I wish each of you could see the brainstorming and goodwill that occurs on the Carina author loop. It’s inspiring!

As I mention in the main Carina Press blog, I’ve discovered I love working for Harlequin. It’s been a year and a half, and I feel so lucky to be working there every day. I’m fortunate to have not just one, but several wonderful bosses. Malle Vallik has been an incredible boss and mentor, and I look forward to the times we’re together, when we can share a meal and a glass of wine, and talk not just about work, but about life. Loriana Sacilotto has been gracious and welcoming, making me feel as though Carina is just as important in its place in Harlequin editorial as any other imprint, and not just listening to my opinion on digital publishing, but also seeking it out. Last, Brent Lewis and Donna Hayes, who provided snippets for our Carina blog post today, have gone out of their way to let me know how much they value my skills.

But most of all, I’ve been reminded all over again how much I love digital publishing, and you know, learned to feel a little justified in all that preaching about the “digital dark side” that I’ve been doing for years.

Today’s not just a celebration of all we’ve accomplished in the past year, but also a celebration of digital publishing in general, because without all of the readers, retailers, authors, and other industry people who’ve embraced digital publishing, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So here’s to all of you, thank you!

To celebrate Carina’s one year anniversary of publishing books, we’re giving away some prizes. Today, on each of the nineteen blogs our team members are featured on, we’re giving away a download of a Carina Press book to one random winner (that’s nineteen total winners!) All you need to do to be entered to win is comment on this post. You can enter to win on all nineteen posts. In addition, on the Carina Press blog, we’re giving away a grand prize of a Kobo ereader and 12 Carina Press books of the winner’s choice. Visit the Carina Press blog to enter to win, and to see links to all 19 of today’s blog posts.

And a sincere thank you from all of us, to our readers and authors, for making Carina Press’s first year a success!

Sweet May

Hello, everyone. I hope you had a lovely start to your May and a fabulous Mother’s Day.

We had a week-long holiday in Japan (Golden Week), and it was so pretty, with warm and sunny weather. Hero Material and I bought a new refrigerator. And sadly enough, I got really excited about it. If anybody had asked me if I’d get giddy over a new fridge 10 years ago, I would’ve laughed at them. Guess it’s my nesting instinct kicking in…? :D

After the heart-pounding excitement of fridge shopping, I spent most of Golden Week working on edits for The Last Slayer. I’m almost done. I need to let it sit for about a couple of days and read it over before sending it back to my editor.

And speaking of The Last Slayer, it’s the first book in a trilogy, which Carina Press is calling The Heartstone Trilogy. What do you think about the name? :) (And yes, it’s really going to be a trilogy, not a never-ending series.)

CARNAL SECRETS by Nadia LeeFor those of you who haven’t seen it yet, The Romance Reviews hosted a book interview featuring Carnal Secrets. You can learn more about what inspired me to write the story and so on. I’ll be checking comments periodically to answer any questions.

This month, I guest-blogged on The Romance Reviews about other points of view. In it, I discussed the challenges of making antagonists appear not so black and white even while using only one or two points of view (hero / heroine) in Carnal Secrets.

Toward the end of May, the lovely Stella and Lea from Book Lovers Inc. are going to interview me, plus post their dual review of Carnal Secrets. I’ll post updates when I know more, get the links, etc.

Also if you’re an aspiring writer, don’t forget to check out Magic and Mayhem Writer’s 4-in-1 critique to benefit juvenile diabetes research. If you want to learn more about our critique style, you can click on the following for details: Sandy, Amanda, Shawntelle, Yours Truly.

On a more personal note, I’m now at week 35. The Boy weighs almost 6 pounds, and he seems very healthy and energetic; he demonstrates it by kicking his mother mercilessly everywhere, including the ribs. ;) Hero Material and I are very excited at the prospect of holding the Boy in our arms soon. :)

I’ve updated my contact page to let people know that the response time to emails may be longer than usual, given my semi-maternity leave mode. If you’re a writer and want to email me with questions specific to writing and business matters, please check the FAQ for writers before doing so. This will save both of us time. :)

If you’re a reader, I don’t have a FAQ for you. You’re welcome to email me, Tweet me or leave me messages on my FB page. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as able.

I hope you all have a lovely May! Talk to you soon.

Your Only Chance to Get Critted by Me This Year

I can’t speak for other ladies of Magic and Mayhem Writers, but I’m basically not going to do any critiques this year except for Brenda Novak’s annual charity and the Romance Divas giveaway. It’s not that I don’t want to pay it forward or help others, but I just don’t have the time or energy to commit to anything that’s going to require a lot of focus. I’m having a baby this summer, and I have a book contracted to come out later this year (for which I owe edits back to my editor) plus another project that I owe my agent.

So if you ever wanted me or the talented other ladies from Magic and Mayhem, this is your chance. Besides, you get to help a great cause: juvenile diabetes research!

Next week, the Magic and Mayhem Writers will blog about how we crit, so you can decide before you bid. We all have different styles when it comes to critting, so I think you’ll find the posts useful, especially if you plan to bid on our item: 4 critiques in 1. :)

My Books Are on Amazon Kindle Germany!

When I saw the announcement that Amazon is opening Kindle store in Germany, I never thought my books would be available on Amazon DE as well. But then a few people said, “Hey, our books are showing up!” so I hopped on over to look myself up.

Nadia on Amazon DE

All four of my books are on Amazon DE! W00t! I signed up for their author central program, so my information, etc. is there (though in English…I have no idea how to speak or write German).

So cool. I love it that people can buy ebooks easily in countries served by Amazon DE.