Top 10 of the greatest books to read before you die – and they are free…

people reading on booksI’ve got my librarian’s hat on for this post. To celebrate the publication of my A Simpler Guide to Finding Free eBooks, I decided at 1 in the morning to write a post about the top 10 books to read before you die that are available for free. Little did I know it would take hours to compile and format! Still, the list below are novels you should at least take a look at with links to Amazon and the Gutenberg Project. While you can only get Kindle versions from Amazon, you will be able to download other types of e-books from the Gutenberg Project and of course they are free.

Here are my top ten picks:

1. Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

One of the first and best romance novels of all time. Set in the 19th century by a writer from the 19th century, this is a read you won’t want to miss.

Get it now as:

AMAZON BUTTONGUTENBERG BUTTON

2. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Rags to riches and unrequited love, this book has it all from the writer of Oliver Twist.

AMAZON BUTTON GUTENBERG BUTTON

 

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Another classic romance, boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, split up, then get together again but this is one of the first novels and one of the best (or it wouldn’t be in this list!) Worth a look.

AMAZON BUTTONGUTENBERG BUTTON

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

I read this story when I was about ten years old. This completely freaked me out as a child and so I recommend it for the next generation! Dorian Gray is a handsome man who sells his soul for eternal youth. He doesn’t lead a good life and there are consequences…

AMAZON BUTTON GUTENBERG BUTTON

5. The Mill on the Floss – George Elliot

This is a fast paced love story from the Victorian era. This is a tragedy so have a box of tissues ready.

AMAZON BUTTON GUTENBERG BUTTON

6. Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

Ah, Mr Darcy. Who hasn’t heard of the hero of this romance? This is the original of the  often repeated tale of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.

AMAZON BUTTON GUTENBERG BUTTON

 

7. The Fall of the House of Usher & other stories – Edgar Allen Poe

An old crumbling, evil house, a sick relative, a death, this is a gothic horror which builds on previous horrors to a new level. The links below take you to the Works of Edgar Allan Poe, volume 2 but this is the book you are looking for.

AMAZON BUTTON GUTENBERG BUTTON

 

8. Vanity Fair – William Thackeray

Vanity fair is the opposite to the Brontës, as in don’t expect the straight happy ending. It is a more complex read but well worth it.

AMAZON BUTTON GUTENBERG BUTTON

9. Moby Dick – Hermann Melville

The hunt for Moby Dick has fascinated readers for generations. Will it captivate you?

AMAZON BUTTON GUTENBERG BUTTON

10. Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

The last entry in this blog post is a mystery. This is one of the first detective novels ever written and if you like the Mystery genre you’ll want to see how it all began. Even if you don’t normally like Victorian literature you might be pleasantly surprised with this one.

AMAZON BUTTON GUTENBERG BUTTON

The great freebie giveaway experiment

It is far too early to work out if it’was successful or not but last weekend I decided to give away my A Simpler Guide to Gmail, Second Edition book for free for one day only.

As you might have already guessed A Simpler Guide to Gmail is a non-fiction book about of all things, Gmail, not a romantic story set in 1920s New York (although it could be a great time travel tale given enough time and plot!) I’ve come to the conclusion that giveing  away non-fiction books may not be the best idea.

As I mentioned it is too early to make a decision whether it is a success but I did give away hundreds of books on Saturday. So much so that I bottled out around midnight UK time and cancelled the rest of the 24 hour promotion.

Now I’ve taken part in giveaways before, the last one was with Fantasy Island Book Publishing for my Children of the Elementi book. The value of giving away books on Amazon is that your customerscan lend those books to their friends using the Amazon system. Of course at the moment this is only true for the US but it will expand in time to other countries.

The market for non-fiction is smaller. That is why traditionally the books are more expensive. You wouldn’t begrudge someone a living from their talents would you? I would agree that non-fiction is not necessarily easier or harder to write. After all fiction book are all in the inagination, but historical novels do need a certain amount of research. Still the market is smaller.

Another thing I did not take into account inmy great experiment is that it appears normally, the freebies available are not all full-blown books. I didn’t realise this but a Saturday of downloading lots of books revealed that most of the books were teasers or promotional material for services. Oops. I gave away the Full Monty, the Real McCoy (too many cliches?) – the complete book. I seemed to have missed a trick there!

My only hope is that people who have downloaded it find it useful enough that they will think to review it or at least tag it. If receiving is not on their minds, my sevond hope is that they lend it to their froends – before April when I take it off the Kindle Select program. Gmail was my biggest seller on Barnes and Noble and you could argue that I was putting all my eggs into one basket by only selling it on Amazon.

Time will tell!

Lending ebooks through Amazon – oh the unfairness of it all!

In the US, (and I am not sure where else), if you buy a book from Amazon there is every reason to believe that you can lend it to a deserving friend., what other kind of friend would you lend your books too?

Unfortunately this is not the case in the UK and possible South Africa, I have a friend there.

If you bought a book from Amazon, all you do is go to the Amazon book page and click the link on the top of the page to lend the book, Your friend will then have two weeks to read it. Sounds simple, don’t it (bad grammar deliberate). If you want more details on how to do this Johanna Garth has a great blog post explaining how to lend them to your friends at: http://www.johannagarth.com/2012/01/shared-good-book-lately.html

Well I can’t do that and I feel left out. I’m the girl sulking in the corner of the party, nursing a gin and tonic looking at the floor, whilst everyone is partying like its 1999 (erm 2012) in the center.

On Facebook, there is a group called SOS, Share our Stories. Its all promoted by Fantasy Island Book Publishing (FIBP) to promote the lending program. After all authors just want their books to be read. Authors are freely lending their copies of other author#s books within the program, unless they are currently reading them.

I think it is about time that Amazon opened up the Kindle Lending Library to the rest of the world or at least the UK! We like to read too and there is a great vampire novel I KNOW my friend will love.

Here’s hoping 2012 will be the year of the Kindle Library.

C’mon Amazon don’t leave us inthe corner…

 

 

Publishing for the Kindle: Images

Images are a nuisance. They can be beautiful when you design them but upload them to an ebook asn the magic can be lost instantly. This is my little guide, mostly for my own benefit so I don’t have to search the KDP website for minor details such as optimum sizes etc.

Covers

Covers are difficult. You might want to make them so they stand out on the Kindle store. If you have a non-fiction book sometimes it is nice to have a square cover, but otherwise I feel filling a Kindle screen would be better in which case a rectangle fits the need.

Another thing to consider is that when designing your Kindle Cover, have a look at a thumbnail before you make your final decision. This is what customers will see when they browse.

Inside Images

KDP advise the PNG format in one section of their help pages, bitmaps are too big and gifs too limited, which I agree with in my limited experience. Although in a different part of the website they recommend using jpegs. Usefully they also mention that the content is shown in 16 shades of grey on some Kindles.

So looking quickly through the nightmare of help pages, still trying to find the right size to create the images in the first place, my husband walks in suggesting I look at jailbroken Kindle pages. He was right. The optimum size is 600px by 800px. Genius.

Right off to make some images now…

 

Indie Publishing on Kindle – Part One

This post is for Ricardo from G+, who asked me to blog about this. :0).

I’ve published a few books on Kindle. While it won’t make you rich (unless you are very lucky) it will give you an enormous feeling of satisfaction for making someone happy or just helping a stranger who would find your books useful.

So what did I do?

First I came up with something I felt I could write about. I love my Android phone and was always trying out apps so I had my idea.

I then needed to format the book so it would look good in an ebook. Remember there are no page numbers in an ebook because everyone can change the size of the text and even spacings for comfort, so a page will have a different number of words for different people. I would recommend the Smashwords Style Guide (available from Smashwords.com funnily enough).

Another thing to note about is formatting, if you are using  Microsoft Word then try to use the styles function. Use this to space out paragraphs, headings etc. Your book will look so much better. Also this will have the added benefit of the ability to change all your headings in your entire book by changing one style.

Yet another aside. Think about how your images will look in greyscale. Kindles on tablets and phones are usually in colour but the ereaders are in grey. Even if they bring out a colour Kindle there are millions of the black and white versions which will be out there for a looooonnnng time.

So you have formatted the book, what next?

Upload the book to Kindle Direct Publishing of course. Remember to pay special attention to the tags as that is how people will find your book once it is published.

Pricing

Think hard about pricing. If you are writing a non-fiction book then have a look at similar books in the field you have chosen. How long are they? How much are they? Try to get the balance so that you are offering value for money.

For a fiction book, if the book took a lot of effort and a long time with a huge amount of editing then I believe selling for less than $2.99 is selling yourself short. I think more than this for a first time author is hubris.

Wait a couple of days and you are set.

Of course this is not the definitive guide to publishing with KDP as this would be a lot longer than a blog post should be, but it should give you an overview.

Ways to read ebooks on your computer (PC or Mac) – for when you don’t have a Kindle or iPad

Having recently done a Member Giveaway of  my ebook, Children of the Elementi, I sent emails with the book attached in the Kindle and epub formats. I was surprised that not everyone knew about Kindle for PC or Mac, so I thought I would do a brief post about the various ways to read an ebook on your computer.

Kindle Apps

The best software for reading Mobi files is always going to be using the Kindle software but there are several different versions.

Go to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (whichever is appropriate) and click on Kindle on the left navigation bar. Choose Free Kindle Reading Apps. A page will load which will give you the option to download the app for your PC or Mac. Download and enjoy.

The advantage of using the Kindle Apps is that if you read books on your phone using Kindle but then read a little on your computer, if you bought the book from Amazon then it will synchronise how for you’ve got. This means you don’t have to mess with bookmarks, the software just opens at the point where you stopped reading previously. Brilliant.

You can read Mobis and PDFs using this.

Calibre

Calibre ebook software is not just a way to manage your ebooks, it also contain an ereader. You can pretty much read all file formats using this software. Its multipurpose.

Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Digital Editions

With Acrobat you can read PDFs and with Adobe Digital Editions  you can read Epubs and PDFs.

You CAN have the benefits of ebooks without ereader devices!

Please note: There are other ebook readers but these are the best in my opinion. This is not an exhaustive list. If you would like to find out more type ereaders into Google. 🙂

Children of the Element Kindle Competition winner announcement

The winner of the Kindle Competition is Laura Poyner.

Her entry was:

The dog in the story was called Friel

Five children are living in a world – unaware of their magical heritage and the part they will play in restoring the world, now consumed by an evil Magi force, to what it once was.  Now a teenager, the protagonist of the story is Jake who discovers he can read minds and is the heir to the Elementi throne!

When Jake discovers a magical crystal and touches it for the first time, the evil emperor in Eleria summons a demon to destroy the remaining Elementi threatening to overthrow the Magi reign.  With the help of Mirim, Jake seeks out the remaining Elementi and we learn of their individual powers.

As representatives of the elements fire, water, air, earth and spirit, the children must reunite to fully realise their fate and unearth their powers.