A Thief on Amazon

A very nice lady on Goodreads sent me a message today. She told me one of my stories was being sold by someone else on Amazon.

Hm, I thought, odd.

So I looked this person up on Amazon and my jaw hits the floor. He’s selling one of my short stories as his own. He hasn’t changed the cover or any of the contents of the story. It literally looks like this: note he’s using himself as the author.

After having an awkward laugh and replying to this very nice woman (thank you, Mary!)  I shot an email off to Amazon about it.

But what to do now? I don’t want anyone to buy this book. God, even when I used to sell it I sold it for $.99 not $2.99! Outrageous for a short story, in my opinion. So, I jumped on Facebook and asked the fans on my author and fan page to leave some 1-star reviews to warn people that this is stolen work. My fans are AWESOME! As in the greatest people ever. They did leave a bunch and I had a great time reading them.

And what do I know, several hours later I go and refresh that Amazon page and BOOM! It’s gone. I search for the Mr. Eric Zhang and “Ecstasy Overload” but find nothing. So, I did a giddy giggle and cheered because Amazon was quick to the punch. I mean, they haven’t even emailed me back yet! But they took that money-stealing, copyright infringing douche down. (Pardon my language, but he is a douche).

So, what a day folks. What can I say but that if you’re a self-published author, watch your books. Or, in my case, hope some kind soul comes forward to tell you someone’s using your work as their own. Thank you to everyone who helped out and cared. That means a lot to me! 🙂

By the way, if you’d like to read my short story it is available for FREE at Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords. (And hopefully soon on Amazon, by me).

Have a great week everyone!

T. A. Grey

www.tagrey.com

Formatting your eBook (part 2)

If you haven’t read part 1, do so before barreling into this coding fest!

Now, you must have: a text-editor such as Notepad++, Jedit, or Macromates and Calibre. Download them, get them, let’s do this.

HTML doesn’t recognize certain symbols and such unless they are literally in their HTML form. So, unless a curly quote like these “” are in its proper code (same goes for dash, hyphens, umlauts, tildas, etc.) then they will not be rendered properly. Also, in order to make sure that your word-processing software has rendered all your quotations, italics, and apostrophes in their correct form we have to do some work. So first, we’re going to do a series of Find and Replaces to easily change those up, or, make sure they’re accurate just in case! Just because your sentence looks and has the correct quotations, we still have to do this.

STEP 1

  • Open your manuscript in Word or whatever word processor you use.
  • Open the FIND and REPLACE box. (Usually CTRL+ F)
  • In the FIND box put ” and in the REPLACE box put “. Select Replace all. Note: ” is your quotation mark, it looks a little weird here because this is a blog post–can’t help it.
  • Next, in the FIND box put ‘ (that’s a single quote) and REPLACE with ‘.  Select Replace all. Note: single quote = apostrophe.

Now a little different:

  • FIND … for ellipses and REPLACE with … then select Replace all.
  • In the FIND box press CTRL + I. You should see it now searches for font:italic. In the REPLACE box type exactly: <i>^&</i> and hit Replace all.

Now stop. That part’s done for now. But, if you have some issues later like I did then it might involve some manual tracking down of certain elements that are out of place. No worries about that for now! We’ll get to it when, or if, it happens.

STEP 2

  • Select all, copy, and paste your manuscript into your text-editor. Save your document. In the Save As… box choose Hyper-text Markup Language (or .HTML). Your saved file might look like booktitle.html. The formatting might look a little odd but your book should now look something like this:

Manuscript in text-editor

  • Next, press CTRL + F to open the Find menu in your text-editor with your manuscript in there. Go to the Find and Replace section and check REGULAR EXPRESSION.

In the FIND box type ^(.+)$ and in the REPLACE box type <p>$1</p> then select Replace all.

This will wrap everything into neat little paragraph tags that we can alter and play with. It will also probably add some unnecessary ones that will need to be manually deleted. Now your manuscript should look like this:

Manuscript with paragraph tags

Now we’re going to start adding the basics of HTML into our document. These are the same basic opening and closing tags that I discussed in the first post. Here is what the beginning HTML looks like. This will go at the very top of your document, before any of your book begins.

Insert this before your manuscript

Type that at the beginning of your document. Be very careful that you type in every quotation mark, exclamation point, semi-colon, etc. I’m going to try to find a way to type that in so you can just copy and past it from this post, but every time I actually type in any real HTML, my blog posts goes all crazy because it’s trying to read it! Spacing or indenting doesn’t matter. So you can write each line on its own new one if you want to make it clear, but you don’t have to indent them.

When it’s finished, your document should look like this:

Opening HTML before your manuscript

Now we’re going to close this. Because right now we have opening HTML tags but none closed. The closing tags for this goes at the very end of your story. As in after the very final paragraph.

  • Scroll to the very end of your manuscript and hit ENTER a few times to give you some space. Then type the following:

Close your HTML tags

Good, now you’ve closed the body and html tags which were open. Now you have the beginning of a solid HTML document. In the next blog post, we’ll beginning styling our document — the fun stuff!

CONCLUSION

Remember, if you have any problems just leave a comment. Hopefully, I am being detailed enough that you can just (slowly) follow along as I make these posts. Now that your manuscript is in HTML format, though without much styling, we can view it in a web browser! Simply go into your folder or wherever you have you booktitle.html file saved and double click it. Or, you should be able to drag the file to your browser and it will open.

Here’s what mine looks like in Google Chrome:

Notice how there are a lot of weird question marks going on. That’s something we’ll fix next time! Though, if you use a different browser you may see a prettier result. Such as in Internet Explorer:

Viewed in Internet Explorer

Browsers display web pages differently and is nothing to bother yourself with. I just thought it was neat to show.Next time on Formatting your eBook, we’ll be doing some more Find and Replacing, getting into designing your front matter, and maybe even (hopefully!) designing your chapter headings and title page. Though, I have a feeling chapter headings and title page will get a post of their own. I hope this has helped!

Happy reading,

T. A. Grey

www.tagrey.com

Formatting your eBook (Part 1)

It’s taken awhile for me to post this because I realized explaining this takes careful consideration. One doesn’t necesaarily have to understand HTML or CSS to do this, but I still had to weigh how much you need to know or understand to follow what I’m saying. Hopefully, I’ve balanced this well enough, but if you’re not understanding something then just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

FIRST THING’S FIRST

Get the right tools. For Mac users try Macromates or Jedit. Jedit can also be used for Window users. Now, personally, I prefer Notepad++. I find it easy to use and it’s the one I’m most familiar with, and when you see screenshots of my HTML you’ll see it in Notepadd++.

You will also need Calibre, though many of you probably already have it. Calibre is an awesome software that converts your book into a variety of ebook formats such as .lit, .epub, .mobi, and a lot more.

  1. So, download your text-editor (Macromates, Jedit, or Notepad++).
  2. Download Calibre if you haven’t already.

Next, I’m going to explain some basic info about HTML and CSS so that it won’t look scary or unfamiliar to you when you see it.

HTML

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty. If you know HTML and CSS then none of this should be a problem for you (and you can probably skip ahead to later posts). However, if you don’t then read ahead but be extra careful when carrying out the transformation process in the next posts.

HTML is used to structure a document. Here is a very basic look at HTML:

<!–DOCTYPE html>–>
<html>
<body>

<h1>My First Heading

<p>My first paragraph.</p>

</body>
</html>

And here’s what that looks like in a browser:

What HTML looks like in browser

Click to enlarge.

HTML is used to display web pages in your browser and on other devices. Think of a coloring book where you just have a white page of paper with black lines creating a teddy bear. That would be the HTML–the structure of a document. The CSS is what styles that HTML to look fancy. CSS would be using crayons to color that teddy bear.

Now there is no styling in the HTML I’ve done so far. The way the heading looks taller and bold is because every broswer and e-reading device has a preset of commands installed to designated a header or, in this case, h1 to look a specific way. And the same goes for all other tags such as the paragraph element or . HTML always uses these little < > around tags. A tag is some of the HTML lingo you see up above (see image 1) such as html, p, body. When you begin to transform your  manuscript you will see a lot of them. Now, I’m not going to begin to try to teach anyone HTML or CSS, because, while I make and run my own website off it I don’t think I’m an expert. I won’t begin to try to explain everything. I am simply explaining what I think you will need to know in order to transform your document.

THE CSS

In the case of an ebook, you’re going to embed a CSS stylesheet to make your book look fancy. How we do this is by adding this into our HTML:

<style type=“text/css”>

p {

text-indent: 15px;

}

</style>

What this CSS does is tells our HTML to render all paragraphs (that’s the element you see there) as having an indent (that’s first line of a paragraph from the left) at 15px. Pixels are a unit of measure and you’ve probably heard of it. You will insert this stylesheet which starts with

<style type=“text/css”>

and ends with </style> after the <html> tag and before the <body> tag like this:

Click to enlarge

Note that CSS looks and is laid out differently than HTML. CSS uses a framework of {curly brackets} and semi-colons. NOTE: be very careful when we get into actually altering your manuscript that you always have the semi-colons where they should be and that your HTML tags are always closed.

<p>A sentence, paragraph, or heading, or anything, should always have a closed tag. A closed tag looks just like the beginning tag of <p> but has a back slash like this.</p>

Say you want your heading 1 or <h1> to all be colored white. Then the CSS for that would look like this.

h1 {

font-color: #fff;

}

This CSS tells the HTML to render all heading 1’s as having a font color of white. (Too much? Too scary? I hope not!)

HOW THIS WILL WORK

In the next posts, we will convert your document into an HTML file. Don’t worry, no harm will come to it, just save a new copy and work from that one if you want to. Then we will proceed to add in a CSS stylesheet, which will look like it does above. You will have to download the free software mentioned above in order to do this if you want to give it a try! And why not? If you can get it to work like I have, then you can have a neat looking book!

ONE LAST THING

I’ve combined all of the examples I’ve shown you above. But, instead of just a header and single paragraph, I’ve added some filler paragraphs so you can really see what this very basic HTML and CSS compilation looks like.

This is our HTML page with just a text-indent of 15 pixels.

A shot of the HTML:

What the HTML looks like with filler paragraphs as text.

HTML displayed with CSS in browser

Now, here is what that text turns into when displayed in my browser. We could do more to this. Change the background-color, the font-color and size, adjust the line-height, etc., etc. But that will be for next time!

Soon, and with a little bit of work, your book could look like this (or better!):

3-page spread look

 Thanks for reading!
For you Kategan Alphas fans, you can pre-order Tempting Whispers (book 6) now!
 
Take care everyone,
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Meet the characters from The Bellum Sisters Trilogy

Firstly readers, this post goes out to Kira Cortz at The Book Lover’s Realm because she first sent me all of these pictures after reading Chains of Frost. She liked it so much that she had to find some pictures with look-alike characters on them. I hope you like and remember this is purely for fun!

Chloe Bellum

Chloe Bellum from Chains of Frost

Tyrian en Kulev

Chains of Frost The Bellum Sisters

Henry

Chains of Frost The Bellum Sisters

Nanu

Willow Bellum (featuring in Bonds of Fire)

Chains of Frost The Bellum Sisters

Alpha Lyonis Keelan

Chains of Frost The Bellum Sisters

Lucinda

Chains of Frost The Bellum Sisters

Lily Bellum (featuring in Ties That Bind)

Telal Demuzi and Lily Bellum (Ties That Bind)

I hope you all like! I thought Kira did an amazing job at finding people with a likeness to the characters. Some are just down right hot! Enjoy everyone, I have to get back to writing. 😉

-T. A. Grey-

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www.tagrey.com

Formatting your eBook (Prequel)

Hello, everyone. I have been doing some research lately because I realized that I did not like how my ebooks looked. I had read Lothaire by Kresley Cole on my tablet and realized how beautiful her title page and headings were and knew there had to be a secret. Why should we self-published authors have plain, simple looking text? With a bit of work, you can transform your own ebook into a pretty book, too! Anyone who has read the formatting guides from Amazon or Barnes and Noble knows that any fancy headings you make will not work. They only have a set of prefixed fonts which e-reader devices can discern, and no matter what strange font you choose, it will not work. But after some lengthy research, I found the answer to fix this!

Here is an example of what I’ve done (notice this is a screenshot of the book in ePub format):

Formatting your ebook's title page

This is my new title page. Here I have used a fancy font that I’ve downloaded from the internet. I’ve also added a vignette for a little flair. Looks kind of nice, right?

Especially compared to how it used to look (see: screenshot 2).

In the next few blog posts, I’m going to go through the (sometimes tedious-not always easy-but worthwhile) process of showing you, in detail, how to do this. If you happen to know a bit of HTML and CSS then this should be cake. If not, then you can still do this, you’ll just have to be a little careful of closing tags and such.

Now, explaining how to do this will not be done in one blog post. So I will divide how to do this into parts. If, at any time, you have questions or do not understand something, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

formatting your chapter headers

My new chapter headings

Now, not only will you be able to style your title page, you will be able to style all of your chapter headings as well. Something like this:

It looks pretty nice, huh? Much better than the typical Arial, bold, 14pt font–boring. If you’re a reader of my books, you might ask me why you haven’t seen this fancy setup yet. The answer is that I’m busy and this is rather time consuming. I’m nearly done formatting Chains of Frost (see: screenshots) and will then move on to the rest of The Bellum Sisters Trilogy.

I will try to make the first post on formatting your eBook this week. Thanks for stopping by!

-T. A. Grey

www.tagrey.com