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Usually, when one sees a history book on sale, it doesn’t elicit the same excitement as best-selling novels.  A common reaction when you talk of history might be rolling eyes, a yawn or even your supposed listener walking out.  But history can be told like an interesting story.  Although it’s non-fictional, it can be appealing and might even excite readers to see a place for themselves.  A history book might be worth reading if the author weaves a true story that transports the reader to the time indicated in the book.  The book might give a sprinkling of facts and figures from cover to cover but it can be more.  

An author can relate the common understanding or interpretation of events in the past.  Relating associations between cultures might explain how or why certain beliefs or practices came about.  He/she can even make arguments when some things are up for debate.  Making a history book come alive is what makes it worth reading and somehow, it might even be considered for the Wolfson History Prize.  The prize, which is given by the Wolfson Foundation, encourages British historians to write in such a way that they are able to reach out to the general public.  It rewards authors who are able to present events in the past in a different light and not just to produce a book on sale.

It may seem that history is such a very limited subject.  In actuality, history can be presented as a biography or autobiography.  It can be based on the diary of a particular person.  It can also tackle occurrences depicting the social, economic and cultural life of people and societies of the past.  Narrating history can focus on the politics and foreign relations from a particular time and place.  It can even showcase life in olden times through the evolution of a place’s architecture and perhaps the influences derived from conquerors as reflected in buildings or structures.

The Wolfson History Prize is open to British nationals who reside in the UK.  That is not to say that since this is an award for British historians, your book subject would solely cover British history.  Even if you are a Brit, you can cover topics pertaining to the history of other countries or the world.  Despite its ability to reach the general public, it must still be scholarly.  Entries for the competition shall be made through a publisher who then gives suggestions to the Prize Administrator.
In addition, a book entered for the award should have been published during the previous year.  Books that have been published or will be published in 2014 may be entered for the prize in 2015.  So, authors who are planning to join the competition in 2015 better make sure that their books are ready by the end of the year.  Better yet, have your history book on sale by December.  It might be considered a good Christmas gift especially for bookworms or history buffs.


Book Fairs Specially for Children

Written by   |   Wednesday, 18 June 2014 12:53

book fairs

Several learning institutions are holding book fairs all throughout the US.  Halfway through the year there are still some institutions that are yet to hold book fairs.  The books on sale at such fairs are not only academic in nature.  In fact, a lot of them are stories of adventure and fantasy.  There are also books of world records that could inspire children to dream big and believe in themselves.  Books on sale at a school-based book fair are not just for children, too.  They are also for parents and teachers.  Parents who read to their children or with them strengthen the bond between parent and child.

Reading also encourages good scholastic performance and creativity among well-read children.  As for teachers, they can add to their classroom libraries     and promote the exchange of ideas.  Children who are given access to a variety of reading materials help shape who they want to become and enable them to learn from the characters within the books.  Older children and adolescents also have a chance to keep abreast of their favorite singers and celebrities through paperbacks featuring their idols.  Such books are replete with pictures.  

Books also make good gifts whether for birthdays or Christmas.  So, enough of the benefits of reading and on to where you can find books on sale.  Below are the schedules of book fairs:

June 19 – 25
Pathways College Prep School
109-89 204th Street, Albans, NY

June 20 – 25
Robert F. Wagner School
220 East 76th Street, New York, NY

June 20 – 27
United Christian Education Center

16152 Gale Ave., Hacienda Heights, CA

June 23 – 27
Cerritos Public Library

18025 Bloomfield Ave., Cerritos, CA

Beyond Basic Learning
1330 Sinatra Drive North, Hoboken, NJ

Christopher Ave. Community School
51 Christopher Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Bridgeview Public Library
7840 W. 79th Street, Bridgeview, IL

June 23 – 30

1250 West Spring Street, South Elgin, IL

Namaste Charter School
3737 S. Paulina, Chicago, IL

June 27 – 29
Jesse Kaplan School

65 Parrott Road, West Nyack, NY

June 30 – July 4
Household of Faith Church

11601 Shadow Creek, Pearland, TX

Just Kidz
480 S Beverwyck Road, Parsippany, NJ

July 1 – 9
First United Methodist PS

101 SE 3rd Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL

July 2 – 4
Roosevelt Elementary School

1400 E 20th Street, Long Beach, CA

July 7 – 11
Giralda Child Development Center

5 Giralda Farms, Madison, NJ

Rogys Learning Place
50 Mitchell Road, North Aurora, IL

Carmalt Elementary School
1550 Breining Street, Pittsburgh, PA

Faison Arts Academy
7430 Tioga Street, Pittsburgh, PA

Langley K-8
2940 Sheraden Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA

July 7 – 14
Johnson n Johnson

1 Johnson n Johnson Plaza, New Brunswick, NJ

July 7 – 24
Stony Lane Elementary School

W 110 Ridgewood Ave., Paramus, NJ

July 8 – 9
Temple Beth Sholom Day Camp

401 Roslyn Road, Roslyn Heights, NY

July 8 – 10
PS 26 Elementary School

1 East 32nd Street, Paterson, NJ

October 21 – 24
Chapel Hill Academy
31 Chapel Hill Road, Lincoln Park, NJ

December 1 – 5
West Side Nursery School
6 South    Monroe Street, Ridgewood, NJ


Prepare for the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards

Written by   |   Monday, 16 June 2014 23:40


ipThis early, the Independent Publisher Book Awards is calling all independent publishers to gear up for the 2015 competition.  This competition has a very wide playing field for independent publishers and even foundations and universities.  Small-scale publishers – incorporated ones that publish less than 50 titles per year and operate autonomously -- are also enjoined to participate in this competition.  Aside from numerous subject categories that are eligible to join for the national awards, there are also regional awards for English-speaking countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  There is somewhat of a limit in this respect because the publications to be chosen are books for the North American market.
However, the playing field widens because aside from printed books, there are categories for ebooks.  They are further classified as fiction, non-fiction and children’s categories.  Fiction publications include: popular, literary, short story, anthologies, juvenile, young adult, historical and multicultural fiction, to name a few.  Non-fiction categories include: fine art, photography, performing arts, architecture, biographies and autobiographies.  Autobiographies are broken down into those for politicians and celebrities, those discussing personal struggles and health issues, and those that talk about one’s family legacy.
Children’s publications include those that are for seven-year-olds and under; another is a picture book for all ages.  Medals and certificates shall also be given to winners who produce audios, CD-ROMs and other interactive media for children.  Cookbooks, coffee table books, history books, and travel guidebooks have a chance to participate.  Regional winners will also be selected from different geographical regions within the United States, such as the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, South, the Great Lakes, Midwest, West-Mountain and West-Pacific.  Canada will have two winners, representing the east and west, while Australia and New Zealand will only have one regional winner.
Joining the IPPY Awards, as it is commonly called, allows winners greater publicity.  Winners are featured in the articles found on the Independent Publisher website as well as advertise on its affiliated websites.  They also have a chance to advertise using the organization’s newsletter mailing list.  This translates to reaching myriads of buyers, agents and librarians.  On top of that, winners are mentioned in press releases that find their way to thousands of publishing industry media outlets.  Aside from the recognition of being given the awards, the winner will be given two free passes for the IPPY gala to be held in New York and a Winner’s Celebration Packet that contains a set of book seals in addition to the medal and certificate.
Given the benefits of joining the IPPY Awards, the return on investment can be high.  Winning may not be a certainty in any competition, but joining the IPPY Awards increases your chances.  Likewise, it serves as an avenue to being introduced to people who matter and audiences who can appreciate your work.  It’s like having a PR company work for you.  Additionally, you gain credibility.  When people hear your name, they instantly associate it with a product that’s worth spending on and reading through.
More details can be found at http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/IPAwards.php




Rachel CarsonRachel Louise Carson, american marine biologist, environmentalist and author of Silent Spring. She  was born on May 27, 1907 and tomorrow will be her 107th birth anniversary. Her book "Silent Spring" is an environmental science book that was published on September 27, 1962 by Houghton Mifflin.

Silent Spring documented the destructive effect of pesticides on the environment, the wildlife especially the birds. This book is also credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

Carson only wrote four books: Under the Sea-wind (available in print), The Sea Around Us (available in print), The Edge of the Sea (available in print and Kindle) and Silent Spring (available in print and Kindle). The Sense of Wonder was a posthumous book, originally written as a 1950's magazine article called "Help Your Child to Wonder".

credit: Wikipedia.org, rachelcarson.org

Book Marketing - How Timing and Audience Considerations Play a Role

Written by   |   Wednesday, 23 April 2014 12:49

Book marketing is one of the core pillars of successful self-publishing, which although achievable, demands a great deal of dedication on the part of the author. It’s a major driver of book sales and if executed right, an author can keep smiling all the way to the bank for as long as they’re writing. However, there are prerequisites to successful book marketing that an author needs to address to ensure optimal return on investments.


Contrary to what some fresh entrants to the book writing business might expect, book marketing is not something to start thinking about only after finishing writing. That’s why picking an audience is a marketing decision right from the outset. With knowledge of your targeted audience, you not only know what story to write, but also how to sell it once your book is out there in the market.

In a word where ‘big data’ is one of the key definitions of dominant players in any kind of market or industry, no writer can strategize well if they know little about the backgrounds of the people who read their books. Well, a single independent author may not have all the resources for big data mining of the proportions utilized by mega corporations, but they can at least find out the location, residence, sex, career, education, etc of the markets they target.

It’s not that hard to find out info about your target audience, especially if you’re selling through an Estore with sufficient capacity for traffic analytics. You can monitor shipments as well as online eBook sales and keep track of customer info.


Timing is more of a broadly applying factor that an author needs to get right with regard to every single effort they put towards book marketing. This means that any investment or resource that’s devoted to marketing a self-published book has to be timed well to produce desired results. It’s much more like how a musician has to time well the release of a music video to promote a recently released single; a delay in the release of the video could water down its effect on promotion of the single.

In the same vein, timing implies having a grasp of what marketing or book promotion activities must happen before writing, when writing and after writing a book. There are marketing activities that only apply during a specific phase of the book production process and won’t produce desired effects if applied at the wrong time. For instance, marketing by word of mouth can have a very great effect if used when in the process of writing, especially if the author is already known. It can serve to set the market ‘mood’ right and create hype, particularly among audiences who have read a book and are keen to read the next in a popular series.
Many lovers of fiction like to be among the first to read a newly released title. Thus, rather than wait until all have had it with unsolicited spoilers, it makes perfect sense to make an impending release of a book known to potential readers beforehand. Once again, it’s all about timing!

Well, professional book formatting is also part of your marketing strategy, an area in which The Fast Fingers book formatters have unparalleled proficiency.



CreateSpace Trim Size and Bleed Specifications

Written by   |   Saturday, 19 April 2014 05:04

Proper book formatting is one of the key factors that not only enhance the chances of your paper back being accepted by CreateSpace but also give it a professional look in line with mainstream publishing standards. However, certain minute details that would fall into the category of nitty-gritty of paperback interior design play even a bigger role in ensuring your book looks as great on print as on the computer screen.

There are many areas to look at when formatting the interior of your paperback, but one major aspect that calls for serious consideration is Trim size and bleed. A paperback formatter ensures the trim size and bleed are applied such that no live elements are lost when the final paperback is produced.

Trim Size

Trim size defines the final size of a book on printing. It’s the final size of a book after it has undergone all the physical processing such as binding and trimming. For instance a trim size of (6 x 9) inches results in a final paperback that’s 6” wide and 9” high.
CreateSpace offers some level of flexibility when it comes to trim size, allowing authors to choose from a wide array of industry standards. There is also room for custom trim size when setting up your title within the CreateSpace website.

Your options include industry standards, custom trim sizes and even your own unique trim size specifications. However, your lee way with trim size is minimized by the fact trim size determines where you can make your paperback available for sale. Thus, making the wrong choice of trim size can hurt potential sales if your title is ineligible for distribution with certain preferable book stores.

Choosing the right trim size
Industry standard trim sizes allow for dimensions in inches such as 5 x 8, 8 x 10 and 8.5 x 11 among several others for black and white books. The same standard for full color titles allows trim sizes of 5.5 x 8.5 and 8.5 x 11 among several others.
While the trim size options are many, only the Industry Standard is acceptable in all CreateSpace distribution channels. A book trimmed to this standard can be sold through Amazon, your own eStore and even the platforms Expanded Distribution Channel (EDC).

Customized trim sizes allow you to create a book of a unique size, but the book cannot be sold via EDC’s Bookstores and other online distribution outlets or retailers. The same limitations apply for books sized as per the “Enter My Own Size” option.

Bleed defines elements that extend to the edge of a page. Since CreateSpace abhors excessive whitespace, it recommends use of interior or cover images with bleed that extends beyond the trim line. This ensures that no white space is seen when the final book is trimmed to size.

If you encounter difficulties fulfilling the above trim size and bleed requirements for CreateSpace, The Fast Fingers is always ready to help. Our professional paperback formatters will design your book interior and cover according to standards set by CreateSpace.

Where to Buy Stock Photos For Your Book Page Design

Written by   |   Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:51

Where to Buy Stock Photos For Your Book Page DesignSeveral factors enhance quality of a self-published book. For instance, how a book is designed in both its exterior and interior plays a role in quality. That’s why authors pay attention to paperback or eBook formatting all the time.

However, photos can be a great way to enhance a story or content of a self-published book. That’s why authors have to get it right when it comes to choice of photos to include in their titles. But since not all authors are professional photographers, there are sites offering premium stock photos that can prove very helpful in their book interior's page design and layout.
Below are links to online databases that offer high quality premium stock photos.

1. 123RF
The site offers stock images from as low as $0.21 per image. The database is searchable and claims to have “over 1,000,000 satisfied customers.” Some of the listed customers on the site include firms such as J Walter Thompson and Pixel.
The site is secured by Norton anti-virus, meaning that any files downloaded from the site are free of viruses, spyware or any other malicious software.
The site is accredited by BBB, which means you can checkout its reviews as posted by previous customers.


2. OffSet
OffSet is another online stock photo database that an author can try out for fresh ideas. The site homepage claims it offers stock imagery from award-winning artists. The pictures are high quality but relatively expensive. A spot check on A 52 MB 300 dpi photo of a mother Japanese Macaque monkey indicates a price of $500. A smaller 72 dpi version of the same photo is sold at $250 at the site.
The New York based site does not carry any customer portfolio.


3. Mira
Mira has a huge database of premium stock photos ranging from people, wildlife, beautiful scenes, and technology. The site takes you through a rather long process before you can even get to know how much a single photo costs. When you click on an image of choice, you’re taken to a window where you have to click “buy”. After that, you’re taken to window where you can select a license type, at which stage you still don’t know how much the image cost. After selecting a license type, say, commercial use, you’re taken to another window where you fill in details of territory, region, units, category etc.

But the site has a slideshow feature by means of which you can view images of a particular category.


4. DepositPhotos
DepositPhotos is a huge database of premium stock photos for wide use. The site offers two buying options. You can buy photos as needed from $0.72. The monthly subscription plan goes at $49 per month, while the daily option is $69 per month. The site gives you the option to give feedback and is accredited by BBB.


You’re invited to engage The Fast Fingers for image formatting as per the standards required by various self-publishing houses such as CreateSpace, Kindle, Apple, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble. Affordable and quality book page design services are also offered here.

Ensuring Proper InDesign Set up for Conversion to EPUB

Written by   |   Friday, 11 April 2014 05:32

While preparing your InDesign file for export to EPUB, it’s important to ensure that everything falls neatly into place on the epub conversion. You want to make sure the final eBook will open without glitches on as many devices as possible. That’s why, the epub conversion service you entrust with the responsibility should be aware of compatibility issues that may come up with more than 50 different ebook readers available.

The general ebook conversion tips below can help with preparation of a document that will easily adapt to displays on applications such as Sony Reader, Kobo eReader, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBooks app and several others.

Text frames are converted as a single flow of text, based on how they’re appearing on a page. For best results, i.e. to be in a position to control the appearance of text upon conversion, it’s best to order text frames in a preferred pattern and then thread the frames together. You may utilize XML tags to your entire doc and place all the elements in the order you want them to appear in the final EPUB file. You can accomplish that using InDesign’s Structure pane.


InDesign has the capacity to capture basic styles and formatting into a CSS file so that these are reflected in the final epub file. Thus, the styles you have for paragraphs and characters will be retained upon conversion to EPUB. However, you could still tweak certain styling by editing the CSS file after conversion to EPUB.  

You can also adjust settings or apply features within your InDesign document such as white space and indents using the Paragraph Styles dialog box. You can also use the feature to apply space above or below specific elements in your text. Any spaces created using the tab or return/enter keys will not be shown on the final EPUB file.

Book chapters

Professional book formatters prefer to prepare each chapter as a separate EPUB file when the title in question is long and probably over 300kb. You can easily accomplish that in InDesign by splitting chapters into independent InDesign docs and compile them into an InDesign book. But you’ll have to create a new InDesign Book under the file menu and add separate chapter docs. You may then export your compiled files into an eBook.

Embedding fonts

If you’re converting into EPUB for iBooks, any fonts you embed won’t be seen in the final product as many Apple devices have their own standard fonts, although they also give readers the option of customizing fonts. But other self-publishing platforms will accept embedded fonts.


Primarily, EPUB requires image files to be in GIF or JPEG formats. InDesign has capacity to export the images in optimal quality and size, ensuring proper display on wide array of devices. The software allows you to retain image styles and formatting such as rotation after converting to EPUB.

There are deeper set up requirements for EPUBs with which professional book formatters such as The Fast Fingers can help you. Contact us for all your eBook conversion needs.

Successful Book Marketing - It All Starts with Superb Writing

Written by   |   Monday, 07 April 2014 02:26

successful book marketingBook marketing is one of the most core responsibilities for self-publishing authors, considering that not much help can come from other stakeholders in the self-publishing industry, such as publishing websites. Of course, professional book formatting is part and parcel of projecting a nice image about your literary products. Yet, marketing your title is not a one-off thing.

Book marketing involves making certain strategic moves to promote your title and making it popular with a wide audience base. But it’s of critical importance to be aware of what the first step towards successful marketing is; otherwise, you might pump lots of dollars, time and resources into expensive book marketing only to sell a few copies.

If you’re a self-publishing author and had a title off your production channels and ready for delivery into the market, you’d most certainly be considering how to cause hype around it. Since you wouldn’t be counting on exposure through CNN or a popular Sunday column with The New York Times, the key to successful marketing is to write the best book possible.

Writing a story that’s highly appealing is the first step towards winning about 90% of your marketing struggle. If you don’t get this step right, no amount marketing can save your title. In contrast, a great story that’s told to spur popularity through word of mouth can succeed without much efforts or resources going into aggressive marketing.

A mistake that many new authors make that puts a halt to growth of their careers is writing one book, stopping there and waiting to grow in popularity as they market their product online. But a successful author writes more than one book. The emphasis here is still on leveraging on the power of word of mouth to tie the success of one title to another.
Every new book you bring into the market popularizes your name and book writing business by extension. There’s also a high chance any successive titles will outperform previous ones in the market. Just like people like to watch more movies from their favorite directors or featuring an actor they like, readers like to buy more books from the same author if they already like one or several of their previous titles. This is all about building on successes of your previous books.

An even greater idea would be to serialize a story. Ever heard of Nancy Drew? Although the Nancy Drew character has been picked by more than one author over the years, readers who like stories around the character have bought several books by the authors. It all works by connecting several titles to one theme or an appealing character. This ensures that any new title in a series is bought by your current customers, even as you strive to reach out to a wider audience.

Serialization can also trigger the purchase of old titles in a series by new customers who have just read your latest title in the series.

Well, you don’t have to spend a lot of money marketing a book if you can deliver the most appealing story and learn to build on successes of your previous titles. Talk to The Fast Fingers book formatters for all your book design needs.

How Not to be Amateurish in Self-Publishing

Written by   |   Monday, 31 March 2014 09:01

Self-publishing has its own perks and challenges. While being your own boss throughout the book writing process allows you to express your talents and prowess, less supervision may expose you to blunders that can hurt your business. However, you can still strive to deliver a non-amateurish product, despite not publishing with traditional channels.

Ensure 100% perfection of your content. This involves reading the content severally, proofreading, editing and fixing all typos. Ensure the format is okay and acceptable to your intended self-publishing platform. In as much as you’d want to enjoy a level of autonomy, don’t let that prevent you from seeking professional help with editors or fellow writers. Make sure that you seek the opinion of three or more persons on the quality of your work.
Professional book formatting: You don’t want to leave anything to chance as you strive to design your book in line with acceptable standards. In this regard, you should consider your book’s cover and interior design, to create the right impression of professionalism.

Book cover design is an important component of your marketing efforts, as it’s what many readers will use to judge your work, especially if they’ve not read it before. The first thing about a cover that’s marketed for a particular audience is that it features its tastes and preferences. Some research can also help an author decide on what elements or type of cover design they should incorporate to suit the genre of their title.

Similarly, a professional cover designer can help you make the right decisions about what fonts, colors and graphics to employ. For a book with best-seller potential, a simple design with bold images and colorful but modern fonts on title and author names goes a long way. Avoid fonts such as Times New Roman which may seem too common and amateurish.

Don’t forget about image resolution as well as size. Since you’re most probably going to be marketing and even selling your title online, the image you have for your cover should be of a high resolution and legible even when reduced to thumbnail size.
Professional authors work out a good plan for how or where they’ll source images to use on book covers. For professional purposes, don’t pick an image from the internet to Photoshop and use it as though it’s your own. Originality and quality are critical in marketing your idea as original and authentic.

It also makes sense to try out several cover designs with a selected portion of your audience and evaluate their feedback. You can use the feedback for improvement to deploy a book cover that suits the desires of your target market.     

One thing independent authors need to remain aware of is that their titles are in competition with millions of others, a good portion of which is from mainstream publishing houses. This means that such authors cannot spare efforts in ensuring delivery of the most professional product.
While it’s your job to do the writing, The Fast Fingers book formatters will offer you professional book formatting and layout services to bolster the success of your writing venture.

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