Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Digital Publishing Services - FAQs

Hey Self-Publishers, hope your writing and publishing week has been successful!

This week I've been checking out a few more YA books from my local library. I've really enjoyed being able to use the online library 'request' function - I've used it enough to know my library login username and password off by heart - which is about 50 letters and numbers... ok not really.

Apart from reading and Christmas shopping - I know, I know, I'm a freak! - I've been working with a few other self-publishers in New Zealand and around the world to get their picture books formatted for ebook for Kindle, iBook and Kobo.

There were some new authors and some returning clients who are all trying to get their books up online before the Christmas season starts. It is a great time of year for us self-publishers. From here on out things are going to get better and better until about April, then sales die down again. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest sales days prior to Christmas and many, MANY digital devices are gonna be purchased for Christmas gifts. With Amazon's new kids tablet now on the market at a great price with heaps of kid friendly features, it is going to be a great time to get your kids ebooks ready and publishing.

There are a few common questions we get from new authors looking to use our services. I thought I'd share a few of these questions today and try to answer them as best as I can.

1) What file types can you (Findlay Books) format ebooks in?
We can format your ebook and provide you with a MOBI file for Kindle, and an EPUB file for iBook, Kobo or Smashwords. 

2) What does it cost?
If you email us with your book type, how many pages you have and what file type you require, we will get back to you with a free quote. We have three packages:
  • Children's picture book: NZD$50.00 up to 20 pages and NZD$2.00 per extra page (32-page children's picture book will cost $74.00).
  • Ebook without complex formatting or images: NZD$70.00 first 200 pages and NZD$2.00 per extra 10 pages (original document is glitch-free and has no complex formatting issues).
  • Ebook with complex formatting and images: NZD$100.00 first 200 pages and NZD$5.00 per extra 10 pages ($0.50/page).  Each image used is NZD$5.00 per image.  ("Complex formatting" includes issues with the original document's formatting, or inclusion of special layout, font colours, sizing, tables, or graphics, etc).
3) What do you need from me (the author)?
We will need a word doc of your completed manuscript, a pdf of what the book needs to look like - especially important if the book has heaps of images, and we will need all of your images as separate, best quality jpeg files.

4) What if I don't have jpeg files, can you work with png or tiff files?
Yes we can, but they need to be best quality. Reason for this is that we have to format the book's images by resizing them down to under 127kb each. This file size is tiny, but these are the requirements for Amazon publishing platform KDP. If we don't resize these images ourselves then KDP will and their platform doesn't care for quality. Another reason to do the image resizing ourselves is to control the size of completed product. The file size of the images used determine the end product size - and this determines your price. If you are uploading images at at a high resolution you may end up with a large MOBI file. This determines your price bracket - $0.99 plus for under 3MB file size & $1.99 plus for any ebook file size over 3MB.

5) What if I have words already on my images, does this matter?
If you have a picture book that has words already over the image - embedded on the image - we can work with you to create a fixed format picture book that resizes depending on which device it is viewed on. If the images don't have the words on them already, we can format the ebook so the words are below the image. The images will still resize according to device display, but the words can be resized by the reader. 

6) Can you do pop-up enhancements? 
Yes we can, but as a very basic function. We cannot create ebooks with audio and video files embedded as many of the self-publishing platforms will not allow files to upload with video and audio.

7) How do I get these files to you?
Once you have agreed to the quote, we will set up a Dropbox folder with your name on it and email the link to this folder to your email address. You can then add all of the files for your book into this folder and we will proceed with formatting your project for you.

8) How long with it take to format the book for me?
It depends on how many projects we have on the go. We endeavour to get picture books and basic chapter novels formatted within a week, two at the most, but the image-heavy projects with loads of graphics and formatting and layout requirements, these will take up to three weeks to complete. Bevan, my husband, works on these formatting projects in the evenings and weekends.

9) How do I make payment?
For international clients, we will send you a Paypal invoice to your email address. This email will take you to Paypal to pay either by your own Paypal account or by credit card. If you are based in New Zealand, we will send you an invoice with out account details on for you to deposit payment into.
Once the ebook has been approved by you and payment is made, we will remove the 'DRAFT ONLY' label on the copyright and back pages.

10) What else do I need to know about formatting for ebooks?
* Ebooks don't have page numbers. Because each page flows on to the next no matter what the size of the words are, the need for page numbers goes out the window. 
* Each time you need to make changes in a book - update information, add to the edition, correct grammar/spelling, you will need to reformat your book again. Get it right the first time.
* You can apply to National Library of NZ for an ebook ISBN number. It is free.

For more information about formatting your book for digital publishing, visit our earlier post here:

For more information, email us at:  Please note we do not offer editing, beta-reading, or art design, nor do we publish your ebook, however we can offer direction on how to achieve these.  

That's all for now.
If you have a book that is ready for digital formatting, we have a few spaces available next week and early November. Once Christmas hits we will not be on holiday for a few weeks. 

Over and out
~ Joy Findlay

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week that was: 1 Oct 2014

It has been a busy week in the world of self-publishing. A few links include some important changes to note:

Smashwords are now allowing books to be published through their online publishing platform without "Smashwords Edition" requirements in the copyright page. Smashwords have "updated the Style Guide to clarify that it's recommended but not required to include" in your ms when uploading to SW.

Amazon is releasing their Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition with a year of FreeTime Unlimited. This is their pre-Christmas product release just in time for Black Friday and Ciber Monday - the biggest pre-christmas digital device sales season of the year. Why is this important - parents will be looking for new and popular digital material for these new Kids Editions in time for Christmas. It means more sales of your kids ebooks on Amazon.

Amazon are also about to launch a new publishing platform that works a bit like a crowd sourcing platform. Authors are asked to submit their complete manuscript and if chosen, it will go live on the platform for readers to bid on the project to get it funded. Amazon will then complete the book and publish it on Amazon keeping the ebook rights for five years at a payout of $5000 to the author. Rights revert back if the author asked for it after five years or after the first year if it makes less than $500. I'm not really sure what I think about this, has the potential to shake things up in the publishing worlds again....

David Gaughran talks about Author Solutions and its sticky fingers in sticky pies. If you don't know what Author Solutions is then read and learn. Basically it is a vanity printhouse that is duping authors into spending thousands to get their books publishing.

Hachette Australia are accepting new full and complete YA manuscripts. More info here:

And for a quick laugh: How Do Kissing, Snoring And Other Things Sound In Different Languages? Coz you never know when this will come in handy with your latest ms! :)

Over and out,

Joy Findlay

Monday, September 22, 2014

Step-by-step Guides by Joy Findlay

This is a list of all of the Step-by-step Guides on this blog. 

Kindle Kids' Book Creator - A Step-by-step Guide


We take a look at Kindle Kids' Book Creator and check out its main features, its advantages and its disadvantages and what changes it could bring to the children's ebook industry.




Legal and Financial Issues Part 3, Withholding Tax and EIN numbers: A Step-by-step Guide

We take a look at Withholding Tax, US Tax numbers and a Step-by-step Guide for applying for an EIN number and how to inform Amazon, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital of your new EIN number.



Publishing Your Book Online - A Step-By-Step Guide


We take a look at how to publish on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KPD). This is a serious Step-by-step guide for those with ebooks ready to publish. The great part to this guide is that the skills learned here can help with publishing on other platforms as well.






Formatting Your Ebook for Publishing - A Step-by-step Guide


Formatting your book is an important part of self-publishing – as important as writing and hitting the publish button.  If your book is not correctly formatted you will NOT get the desired results.  This post is going to deal with the technical side of formatting an ebook, and because there is so much technical jargon, I have had my wonderful assistant – my husband, Bevan Findlay – to write the rest of this post.




Sideloading your MOBI files onto your Kindle Ereader or Kindle App.


If you have ever been given a MOBI file in a competition or a giveaway you need to follow the instructions below explain learn how to "side load" the files into the Kindle reader app. 

Lazy Day post... Weekly Links

Just a quick post this week. After last week's Step-by-step Guide which took me a few hours to write, this week we are just looking at a few things on the web that interest me.

First up - Hugh Howey's latest post on Ruminations on ExclusivityI have to say, that since the launch of Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited, my KOLL/KU sales have more than quadrupled. This is huge - especially if KOLL/KU sales start out-numbering my actual sales. I have kept many of my books exclusive to Amazon for this reason, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Basically Hugh Howey is letting us know that with Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited - a library borrowing programme for ebooks on Amazon - he is getting more readership and royalties from borrows than if he had his books in other online stores like Nook, B&N and iBook. For Hugh Howey, going exclusive to Amazon is working better for him than selling his books world wide. This is quite a controversal subject but I'm glad Hugh is putting his opinion out there.More here:
Whitcoulls Kids’ Top 50 Books announcement indicates change in New Zealanders’ reading habit. Interesting to read how many more picture books are making the list this year.

A Step-by-step guide: A quick and dirty ebook with Calibre. This is a great post with screen shots, much like my own step by step guides.

27 Publishers Who Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts by Joan Y. Edwards. Updated last month, this is a fantastic list of publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts.

And some gorgeous cakes based on Roald Dahl's stories. :)

That's all this week, hope you have a good one.

Over and out,
~ Joy Findlay

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kindle Kids' Book Creator - A Step-by-step Guide

Earlier this month Amazon announced their new Kindle Kids' Book Creator, a downloadable software programme, 'designed to help children’s book authors prepare, publish and promote both illustrated and chapter books in Kindle Stores worldwide. Children’s book authors can use Amazon’s new Kindle Kids’ Book Creator tool to easily create illustrated children’s books that take advantage of Kindle features like text pop-ups. Once the book is ready, authors can upload it to KDP in just a few simple steps, and use KDP’s category, age and grade range filters to help millions of Amazon customers choose the right books for their kids.' (Amazon Press Release.)

Amazon's KDP has extended its services to include a kids book section called KPD Kids. Along with this additional platform available to children's book authors, Amazon has launched their new Kindle Kids' Book Creator which can be downloaded for Mac and PC.

So in this week's post we are going to take a look at Kindle Kids' Book Creator and check out its main features, its advantages and its disadvantages and what changes it could bring to the children's ebook industry.

Where is new programme downloaded from? is the place to find the programme. Click the 'Get Started' and it will take you to a page where you can download your Mac or your PC copy of the programme.

It is very difficult to use?
The programme starts with a 'Ready to Create a Kindle Kids' Book? section which outlines exactly what any author needs to do to complete their new Kindle Ebook using this tool. It is easy to read and understand.

Lets go through the programme to see how it is done:
The programme will ask you to either 'Open and Existing Book...' or 'Create a New Kids' Book...' If you are beginning your new kids ebook project, Create a New Kids' Book is the way to go.

The Metadata comes next. The programme will ask you to enter the book title, your author name, the publishing company name, which language the book is written in, and where you will place your project file. This project file needs to be empty or the programme wont allow you to continue.

It will then give you an option of creating your ebook in landscape or portrait orientation. This is particularly helpful if you have a book with double page spread illustrations.

It will then lead you to add a cover and pages of your new book. You can either upload a PDF of your book - which you can create in inDesign, Word, or any other publisher type programme: or you can upload individual page files. Be sure at this point that all your illustrations and text are complete, spelled correctly, and best quality.

The programme's Getting Started Guide outlines the file types you can download for the book: "You can import artwork saved as image files (in the .jpg, .tif, or .png formats), or saved as a multiple-page PDF file. Amazon recommends using a PDF because you can import your cover and your pages in one step and the page order is set by the PDF." 

Unfortunately you will have to have all of your text embedded into the image for the programme to work. Although it does support Pop-up Text, it is fixed format and wont allow text wrapping from one page to another. 


You can then add or remove pages or rearrange pages by dragging and dropping them in place.

Once you have arranged the pages how you like, you can then add Text Pop-Up to enhance the book. You can also add Text to the image/page and this will be embedded where you place the text box. If you need to change the font, the tools drop-down menu allow you to add fonts to the programme.

You can Create Book Preview under the Book Preview Menu. This will create a temp file that you can view in the companion programme Kindle Previewer. This will allow you to preview your book for Kindle, Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9" devices.

Once your book is complete and you are happy with the whole product, you can 'Save for Publishing...' The Kindle Kids' Book Creator will create a finished MOBI file that you can upload to your KDP account on

This is the screen shot for the Kindle Previewer. You can download the Kindle Previewer programme from here:


The Kindle Kids' Book Creator programme allows you to go back into the Book Setting and make changes to the Metadata, the Book Orientation Layout and the Cover Image. Once you have made changes you can then 'Save for Publishing' again and upload your changed MOBI file to KDP.

If you leave the programme and go back into it again, the file you are looking to open in Kindle Kids' Book Creator is the 'content.opf' file. This will open your project.

Lastly, the 'How to publish children's books on KDP' on the KDP website gives you a link to Amazon's suggested Age and Grade Range page. This is good to read to get an idea of what age range your book can be published in.


The programme is free to download.
This programme is a fantastic tool for getting your complete picture book in MOBI file format for publishing on Amazon's KDP publishing platform.
It is super user friendly, and easy to use.
You can create pop-up enhancements for your ebook.
It gives the user access to the html and CSS files of the book so those with a little more know-how can fine tune their product.

You only get a MOBI file out of this programme. It doesn't spit anything else out for you so you will still have to go somewhere else to get an epub file.
The file size of the images used determine the end product size - and this determines your price. If you are uploading images at at a high resolution you may end up with a large MOBI file. This determines your price bracket - $0.99 plus for under 3MB file size & $1.99 plus for any ebook file size over 3MB.
The delivery cost will also determine your royalties as well. If you are selling your ebook in the 70% royalties bracket, you will be charged delivery costs: $0.15/MB in the US territory and Australia territory; £0.10/MB in the UK territory.
In the screen shots above I uploaded a birth announcement ebook that I made last year for my new niece. The ebook was only 13 pages long and I uploaded the jpeg files, not the PDF. Each page file size was between .6MB and 2.3MB. The finished MOBI file size is 17.5MB. For me to price this on KDP and make any money after delivery costs of $2.55 I would have to price it very high compared to other picture books by self-publishers. OUCH!
The file size Vs quality - you would have to know your image editing stuff to get the balance right for a lower sized MOBI file that looks great. 
It is fixed format - there is no text wrapping or text size manipulation for readers.

My prediction: This programme will shoot our formatting services in the foot; there will be many more poor quality kids books on Amazon; the kids ebook market will become much more flooded than it already is. 

What others are writing about Kindle Kids' Book Creator:
Fiction Notes writer Darcy Pattinson compares Kindle Kids' Book Creator to Ibook Creator and believes this initiative by Amazon will lead the way for more enhanced educational ebooks for kids. 

Jon from Writeforkids is excited about the programme:

Digital Book World has a few comments on their post that are worth reading.

So that is all for now, it has been a long post today, but you all know that when I give step-by-step guides they are thorough. If you have any questions about how this new programme works, please send us an email at

Over and out
~ Joy Findlay


Monday, September 8, 2014

Need an Editor?

Yes, this is the post that I'd promised after the recent Auckland Independant Book Festival held in Devonport last month. I caught up with a few authors and amongst these writer folk were quite a few editors, manuscript appraisalers and book marketing teams. You will find more for these lists in our LINKS tab above.

If you'd like to learn more about working with editors, please see our post on Working with Editors.

A List of Editors in New Zealand
Sue Copsey

Mary Egan 
Manuscript Assessment & Editing

David Muller
Proofreading & Copy Editing

AM Publishing NZ
Adrienne Moris
Editing and Proofreading

Carolyn McKenzie
Italian Translation, Proofreading and Copy Editing

Create Books
Copy-editing, typesetting, proofreading

A List of Book Marketing Businesses

Mary Egan Publishing
Digital and Self-Publishing Experts

DIY Publishing 
Manuscript to Market with DIY Publishing

Lighhouse PR
NZ Specialists in Book Marketing and Publishing

Create Books
Printing and Distribution, Marketing

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Week that was: 21 August 2014

The Squidlets after the Ak Independent Book Festival
This last weekend I had the privilege of taking the Squidlets to the first Auckland Independent Book Festival over in Devonport. We made a great day of it, taking the bus into the city and the ferry across the harbour. The kids loved the ferry trip, but I have to admit, I really enjoyed the event more. It was such an inspiration seeing so many independent authors and self-publishers. I was told there were over 90 exhibitors at the event and I do not doubt that next year is going to be even bigger and better.

Louise de Varga organised the event and what an amazing job she did!

I made my way round both halls that were filled with displays of books and author's wares. It was so neat seeing the 15 plus authors I knew and it was fantastic meeting new friends as well.

I came home with contacts for many more editors and professional proofreaders and will share their contact details in another post this coming week.

Last week's achievements:
* Visited the Auckland Independent Book Festival
* Added progress bar to my blog
* Edit 'Pinnacchia' and 'Snow' (FINALLY!)
* Read Cress by Melissa Meyers and watch Hansel and Gretle: Witch Hunter but I really wished I hadn't – lets not go there.

What I hope to achieve this week:

* Write first five chapters for 'Briar' – my Sleeping Beauty adaptation
* Update Wattpad with new chapters
* Write 'Copy editor' post
* Catch up with writery friends
* Write beat script for first chapter of 'Hero story'

So that last goal is all about a new story idea I have a-brewing. I love the story, have really enjoyed telling it to many people, but I am not so sure it would make money in the traditional sense – I can't see it getting into the right hands if I just try to sell the book. So I have been thinking of new ways to tell a story as essentially that is all I really want to do with this Hero Story.

I've been in contact with a few mates who are in the TV & film industry and wondered how adapt it into a story for the screen – but which screen is yet to be decided. I'll keep you posted, but if you are keen to learn more, feel free to drop me a line.

Just quickly, a few interesting links to check out this week:

Scientists believe reading on a device is harder than on paper – I wonder who paid for that research?

Crap someone should have told us writers by now – love it!

What is a Beta Reader and how do you find them?

Great value placed on reading to kids – not rocket science.

How would lower ebook prices by the big 5 ruin marketability for self-publishers? Digital book world discuss this here:

Chch is hosting the Writers & Readers Festival for 2014. Definately worth going along if you are in the region, more information here:

And I love this: 27 Awesome Australian Books Every YA Fan Should Read – how many have you read?

That's all for now, I'll post more information on where to find an editor in NZ.

Over and out,

Joy Findlay

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week that was: 11 August 2014

Auckland City at dusk.
Hey everyone! Hope this week sees you all enjoying the warmer weather. We've had a busy week and a super crazy weekend – we moved downstairs but it felt like we moved down-the-line!

I have enjoyed 'researching' many different fairy tale adaptations this last week, and I've pick up a few Steampunk stories as well. I don't know when I will get sick of the cross-genre but for now I still have many more authors to read through.

It has been an interesting week nation wide and world wide in the area of publishing. Amazon and Hachette are still at each other's throats over ebook pricing and I'm not truly sure who is in the wrong but both sides are making much of the controversial situation blaming each as a money hungry, author stomping, power manipulative, bad guy.

NZ is still adjusting to changes as well with the withdrawal of four major publishing firms early last year. It has seen a pretty significant drop in book sales nationwide in the last few years. But at the same time, ebooks are becoming more and more popular.

This has lead publishers and writers to figure out new ways of selling their books, and many of these new ways are quite innovative. Some are writing music to go with their books – not a new thing but when you marry ebooks and sound/music audio files it becomes an exciting new read. 

Other publishing houses are now using Google search hits as a tool for marketing – they are writing books to meet the popular Google search terms. It is interesting to see how technology is forcing change and how that change is forcing how technology is used.

But I love how self-published authors are getting together to find new ways of cross promoting and marketing. They are even setting up book fairs which I totally support. One of the reasons for this is that existing book festivals don't really cater to self-publishers, sometimes charging huge amounts for little reward.

I'm hoping to head over to Devonport this weekend to support some fellow Kiwi authors at the first Auckland Independent Book Festival. They have over 90 exhbits at the festival - 90! That is amazing! We are going to make a day of it and hopefully meet some new friends in the NZ writery world!

It is being held this Sat, 16th August at the St Paul's Chess Centre, 100 Victoria St, Devonport from 10am until 4pm. More info here: 

OK, so my last week was super busy, and I didn't get much writing or editing done. But there is always this week!

Last week's achievements:
* I set myself up on Wattpad. You can find and support me here:
* I read The third of the UnEnchanted series, Fable (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 3) by Chanda Hahn:
* I read Snow White Sorrow (Book #1 in the Grimm Diaries) by Cameron Jace. It was an interesting Vampire take on the Snow White fairy tale but not one I really enjoyed.

What I hope to achieve this week:
* Go and visit the Auckland Independent Book Festival on this coming weekend, yeah!
* Set up a mailing list for my Steampunk Fairytales
* Add progress bar to my blog
* Print off goals for Steampunk Fairytales
* Write first five chapters for 'Briar' – my Sleeping Beauty adaptation
* Edit 'Pinnacchia' and 'Snow'

Here are some links for you to check out this week:

Why mailing lists are important for authors: David Gaughran:

How to build a killer mailing list: Nick Stephenso:

Amazon Vs Hachette debate: The Plot thickens as 900 authors battle Amazon:

The NZ Post Book Awards are open for the People's Choice Award, vote here:

NZ Herald published an article on 'Online search key to publishing blockbusters':

And I found a Disney Princess CGI make-over – not book related but very cute!

The Word Meter Builder - will be adding this to my blog once my Technical Advisor - aka hubby - shows me how! :)

What a busy week I have in store, I am really looking forward to it!

That's all for now, over and out.

~ Joy Findlay