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PicMonkey, More Thank Just an Awesome Place to Make Free (or almost free) Book Covers

PicMonkeyIf you haven’t used PicMonkey, you haven’t lived. It’s way more than just a super-easy online editing tool. I have to admit, I didn’t know about PicMonkey when I made the cover for my wife’s book. I used Gimp. It is also free, but I had to download it and it’s not-super easy to use. There was a learning curve. With PicMonkey, you just upload a picture from your computer and you can begin adding cover text immediately. They have plenty of fonts in the free version and you can upgrade for $4.99 a month or $33.00 a year.

You don’t need to create an account, it’s literally as fast as you can click the edit button, upload your picture, and add the cover text.

sample cover

The sample at the right took me three minutes to create.  I just picked a photo from a backpacking trip and uploaded from my computer and added the text. I would increase the font size (another simple task and orient on the page for best visual appear.)

Beyond the simple editing, there is the PicMonkey blog which has all kinds of useful posts from tips on Facebook to visual marketing ideas. You have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the navigation links. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Keep on writing!

Google Gets Into the E-book Business with Google Play

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Move over Amazon, Kindle and iStore, Google has made it easy to offer your e-books on Android devices with Google play Books Partners.  Anyone with a phone or tablet running using the Android operating system can buy your book at the Google apps store.  All you need is a Google account and then just upload your e-books for free.  Check out the quick steps below and then get started.  Here is the link to Get Started.

Quick steps

  1. If you don’t already have one, create a new account at play.google.com/books/publish/.
  2. Agree to the Google Books Terms and Conditions and the Google Editions Addendum.
  3. Add a new payment profile.
  4. Add the book to your Book Catalog.
  5. Enter bibliographic information for the book.
  6. On the Content tab, upload the book content and cover files.
  7. On the book’s Prices tab, add a new price.
  8. Enter the currency, value, and the applicable countries for the price.
  9. On the Settings tab, provide additional metadata and configure distribution and Google Search preview settings.
  10. Go to the Publish tab.
  11. Publish the book on Google Play.
  12. In the Payment Center, edit your payment profile.
  13. Add a bank account.
  14. If you plan to sell books in the U.S., submit tax information.

For all the detailed steps go to the Google play website by clicking here.

It’s too early to tell how they are going to do in the e-book business but Google doesn’t give up easily and they will be around for a while.  At the very least, it’s another option for getting your book out there in front of your readers.

Nature, Creativity and Writing

I normally don’t post about writing, but this is a topic in which I have a great deal of interest.  More and more we hear how disconnected we are from nature.  In fact, there is a new term called, Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD).

The term was coined by author Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder in order to explain how our societal disconnect with nature is affecting today’s children. We have become a digitally enhanced, suburban, urban-centric, society.  Our lives are so filled with scurrying to and fro that we seldom take time to smell anything let alone the roses.

I came across a great blog post that illustrated this by Nelson Suit, author of a book of poems, The Songs of Galangal, and a children’s book titled Els Oot and the Mapmaker.  He writes about research that was done that seemed to indicate people who had been on a 4-6 day hike performed better on assessments that measured their creativity.  This validates what I have believed all along, I am way more creative if I get my dose of nature that connects me to the universe.  He says it so well in his blog,

“Even if nature is not always “gentle” or “soft”, it seems true that our brains engage differently between the digital (on/off) choices of the computers that we have manufactured and the fluid dynamics of walks in nature.”

Take a minute and visit his blog, Wordcapering; I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Engaging Readers on Your Blog or Book Website

How can you make your website or blog a destination that grabs the reader and keeps them there for a while?  Make it engaging, offer your visitors choices, provide them rich and varied and fresh content, and give them a way to follow your blog or get updates to your website.

How about adding audio messages or audio blogs for FREE?  I’m all about free or inexpensive ways to market your book or build your author platform.   As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, your website or blog is on aspect of your author platform.  I found a very simple and free way to add a 60 second audio to your blog or website.  It’s so simple even an author can do it.

The name of the site is AudioPal.  It is the fastest way I have found to put an unlimited number of messages anywhere you can embed hypertext on the Internet.  There is no creating an account, no newsletter to sign up for, you just create the audio right on the internet and get the embedded code sent to your email immediately.

Here’s an example of a 37 second message embedded on my wife’s blog, Daily Spiritual Tools.  Look on the left and click on the AudioPal player to hear me explaining about getting my wife’s books on Amazon.

If you want to grab your own audio message (up to 60 seconds) visit the AudioPal Website by clicking here.

In an upcoming post I’ll share some ideas about adding longer audio in Podcasts to your blog or website.

Happy Publishing!

Can You Spare a Fiver?

Have you ever wondered what $5.00 can buy you?  For an aspiring writer, the website Fiverr.com is a cornucopia of services that can be used for everything from finding music for your book trailer, to getting cover art done for you eBook or paperback.

It is also a great place to have someone create graphics for your marketing material.  I found a person who will create a three dimensional graphic of your book cover.  For $5.00 he made me three different graphics for my wife’s book.  I used the 3D graphic (to the right) as part of a promotional poster for her book launch party and book signings.  All I had to do was email him the jpg of the book cover and he made the 3D image for me within a day.  I added it to the posters for book marketing.

Other services for $5.00 include book or product reviews and conversion of word documents into eBook formats with clickable TOC.  You can also find someone to edit photos or create book covers, logos, banners or almost anything else that you can think of.

It’s fun to just visit the website and see what people will do for $5.00.  You do need to be careful; it can be kind of addicting when you start browsing all of the unusual things people will do for a “fiver.”