November 1, 2014

New Project - Need Readers' Help!

I'm embarking on a new project - a series of eBooks I'm calling The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos. The original idea was a follow-up to 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, how-to paperback. Although 5 Acres The Book contains a few homesteading how-tos, it was mostly meant to be the story of Dan's and my up and down journey toward becoming more self-sufficient. After a discussion about eBooks at my author blog, I decided to learn how to make them. The individual how-to ideas seemed a good place to start.

So, I've gotten a start and I need feedback. I have several concerns, and who better to help me than my wonderful blog readers.

The first two are ready for your perusal and input. Below I'll give you links plus a coupon code to download them for free at Smashwords. They are available there for any type of eReader (including Kindle), plus a PDF version to read on any computer.

What I need your comments on:

1. Price. I've priced them at 99¢ each. The question is, is that a fair price considering how short these little how-tos are? This is a much talked about topic amongst eBook authors and many fiction writers offer anything under 6,000 to 7,000 words for free. On the other hand, research shows readers are willing to pay a little more for non-fiction because of the perceived value of the information. Mine are 3500 - 4300 words. What do you think? Is 99¢ an acceptable price?

2. Formatting. There many different eReaders and each one formats what you see on the screen differently; like viewing a webpage with different browsers. I went with both Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords, because Smashwords enables authors to create eBooks in all formats: epub, mobi, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt, and html. I've had a lot of trouble with the epub edition and on 2 of my 3 computer epub readers, the book looks terrible. Please let me know which version you download, what you read it on, and how it looks to you. 

3. Other. For example: overall appearance, content, images, usefulness, subject appeal, anything else you can think of, etc.

4. If after all that you think the project is worth it, tell me what else you'd like to see in the series. (It's also okay to tell me if you think it isn't worth it.) Some of my ideas for future books in the series include:
  • How To Peel Tomatoes For Canning Without Boiling Water 
  • How To Mix Your Own Feed Rations With The Pearson Square 
  • How To Make Butter & Whipped Cream From Goats Milk
  • How To Make An Herbal Salve 
  • How To Make Yogurt & Yogurt Cheese Without Electricity
  • How To Whitewash a Chicken Coop
  • How To Install Fence 
  • How To Make Kefir 
  • How To Husk Sunflowers 
  • How To Make Goats Milk Mozzarella 
  • How To Lacto-Ferment Anything 
  • How To Render Animal Fat 
  • How To Bake Without Baking Powder 
  • How To Determine Soil Texture 
  • How To Save Seeds
  • How To Hard Boil Eggs Without Water 
  • Suggestions?????

Now for the codes. I'm only able to offer discount codes with Smashwords. Kindle Direct Publishing only allows eBooks for free if they are part of their Kindle Select Program. That means making the book exclusive for Kindle, which I did not want to do. There are other eReaders out there and for those without, pdf is the way to go.

For Smashwords:

Both codes expire Nov. 7 at midnight. You will have to set up a Smashwords account to take advantage of this offer.

At Amazon: If you prefer Amazon's convenient wireless delivery to your Kindle, you can purchase them there for 99¢ each. (Also available at Amazon websites in UK, IN, DE, FR, ES, IT, JP, BR, CA, MX, and AU).

Smashwords distributes to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, PageFoundry, Flipkart, and Baker & Taylor, so my eBooks should start to show up at these sites soon. They also distribute to public libraries through Library Direct, Baker & Taylor's Axis360, and OverDrive. That means you can request your local library to buy them too.

Lastly, if you think this project is a useful idea, please help me by reviewing them at Amazon, Smashwords, or your own website. Reviews are what make self-publishing worth it.

So that's it. New additions to the series probably won't come out very quickly, but for those who would like to know when they do, I've set up an email list for notifications. Shoot an email to littlehomesteadhow-tos (at) (dot) net. The list will only be used to announce new releases to the series.

Now go grab a copy of each and let me know what you think.


Alisa said...

Your direct to Kindle links don't work...I get an error message. I searched for the egg one directly on Amazon and found it, however. I'm perfectly willing to drop .99 for a good book if it's helpful, and I do like to help support people like you, so bought my copy. I'll give you a review/ feedback once I've read it.

Wendy said...

I checked the amazon links but they do not work. The other two do. I checked (being from the Netherlands) and there I can find your E-books (EUR 0,89). I think this is a very reasonable price. Unfortunatelay I do not have chickens nor goats :)
Thanks for all your good work and williness to share your knowledge.

Leigh said...

Alisa and Wendy, thank you for the heads up about the links! I've fixed them now and they appear to be working. I also appreciate your encouragements.

Alisa, please let me know what you think after you've had a chance to read it and look it over. Feedback can only make it better, especially since I'm still fumbling around with formatting, etc. :)

Wendy, your profile doesn't link to a blog so I can't do a return visit, but I appreciate your comment very much!

Kate said...

I read it on Kindle bought straight from Amazon and it was great: clear language, lots of information, a little humor and great pictures. I'll definitely be buying more. I'd live to see pamphlets on making hard cheeses and just cheeses in general, ways of letting acid develop and how that affects coagulation etc; also one on feeding goats, what they need and how you provide it through developing pasture or hay or supplements; also one on goat health - common issues such as worms and your home remedies. I'm looking forward to reading more!

Theresa said...

On first perusal through the post, I'm thinking you have a full book for all things goat and food related. I'm betting there are a fair number of folks who would love a book of recipes for using goats milk, even if they don't have goats. I know here in Oregon we can buy goats milk in some of our supermarkets (many markets are mostly organic in this community) and certainly at either of the two co-ops. The other thought is to bundle some of these ideas, like was done in the 60's or 70's on those common sense lost skills books that I cannot for the life of me remember their names.

Leigh said...

Kate, thank you so much. You just made my day. Great suggestions too, I'm making a list. :)

Theresa, more great ideas, thank you! Bundling is an idea too. My thought is to eventually put them all together in a paperback, but I'm seeing how topics could certainly be bundled as eBooks. Thanks for that!

Dani said...

Leigh - wonderful idea :) Thank you. And thank you for the sample opportunity :)

I only have a very basic Kindle so going to Smashwords - only epub, mobi, Irf and pdb were available - not .pdf, txt or html.

Leigh said...

Dani, thanks for the heads up. Yes, they are available in all formats, which does show up when I visit the Smashwords site. Do you have a "more" button? If so they may be listed there. Also, I wonder if certain countries restrict certain eBooks somehow(?) Or, if you can transfer eBooks from your computer to your Kindle (I can with Calibre) then you can download the mobi version for your Kindle. I think I have your email addy somewhere; let me see about emailing you a pdf copy of each.

Woolly Bits said...

I've the same problem as Dani - even the "more" button doesn't show pdf (I have no e-readers...). but I don't think 99 cents is expensive for a bundle of information! on the contrary - if you think about knitting patterns (just an example:) you'd easily pay $ 5 or more even for one simple pattern! or sweets - don't know about US prizes, but one dollar or less wouldn't get you an awful lot over here - and it's gone in seconds! I like the idea of small e-books, because I wouldn't need all of the infos you want to put out, but pick'n'choose seems perfect to me! on the other hand: if you'd collect all of your cooking/baking recipes into one printed book, I'd buy that in a jiffy:) recipes on the computer or even laptop aren't terribly practical; I still prefer paper for something like that!

Leigh said...

Bettina, with Dani's help I may have figured out the problem. Would you be so kind as to verify? I think the limited formats are only for the 20% limited sample. Please click on the "buy" button and see if all the versions aren't available. Let me know and I'll add a note to the blog post!

And that's an excellent point about the knitting patterns! Thank you!

I'll have to get to work on a recipe collection. This isn't the first time you've encouraged me in that direction. :)

Penny said...

I would like more info on your solar oven. I would love to be able to bake cookies in one. Just basics and any tips you have.
How to cook on a wood stove.
When to plant cover crops and the advantages/disadvantages to each.
I'm sure I'll think of more. I can't wait to get my hands on some of these.

Anonymous said...

Oh Leigh...all that information is so valuable. .99cents is not a bad price at all for the wisdom that you are sharing. Thank you. I have your book on my wishlist to purchase next as a paperback. I try not to use the ereader too much...

Kev Alviti said...

I've just read the egg one and thought it was good. You got the facts across and there was no "filler" which can be a problem with some of these ebooks who are trying to get the word count up. I think you could be on to a winner there. Your writting always reads so well.
I keep think about doing a book with projects to make in it but never seem to start it. Maybe an ebook is the way to go.

Leigh said...

Penny, what great ideas. For solar cooking, I recommend going over to Dani's blog and getting her solar oven recipe series. You can get individual food categories or the entire collection. Link is here. Her's is what I started with and I found it full of good recipes and good tips.

Mari, thank you so much! I have to agree with you about the eReader. I still like real books!

Kev, thank you! I definitely think you should write that project book. An eBook may be a good way to start. The most basic formatting can be done on a word processor as a .doc (wouldn't recommend .docx. I had trouble uploading that). Html is recommended, but I wasn't ready for that yet. eBooks don't do well with lots of images or tables, but you saw how I did mine and they seem to be fine. The nice thing about an eBook is that you can upload new versions if you want to make corrections or update anything. Print books aren't that forgiving! I still prefer a print book, and someday hope to put the Little Series collection into a paperback. That will be awhile though.

Unknown said...

How about some home made medicinals from home grown stuff? Like elderberry syrups, etc.?

Woolly Bits said...

Leigh, I just downloaded as pdf. I had to sign up (quickly done, no prob), click on buy, add the code and only after I pressed "download", the choice of pdf (plus others) became visible! downloaded it, can view it all, but it is 22 pages long, because there are lots of empty slots in it. doesn't matter though, the info is there - might only be inconvenient if you wanted to print the pdf?
can't win them all - and thank you for the free "eggy" infos:)

Leigh said...

Nancy, good idea; I've added it to my list.

Bettina, thank you for letting me know how it worked. :)

That's true about the pdf having a lot of space. That's because it was primarily formatted for an eReader. The spaces indicate page breaks to keep all the chapters from running together. Each chapter starts at the top of the eReader screen. For strict pdf, it ought to be formatted differently, I agree.

Theresa said...

It took all day for the old noggin to remember the titles of the series of books your post drew to mind, The Foxfire series. I mean if you want to know how to dress a hog, build a log cabin or make moonshine, these are go to books. ;)

Dani said...

After signing up to Smashwords, all the formats were visible / available :)

Thanks again Leigh :)

Unknown said...

What a lovely idea, Leigh! I'll sign up for Smashwords and give it a go! I'm especially interested in egg preserving.

Alisa said...

I read the kindle edition of the egg book, and the formatting was perfect, and the content was precise and helpful. I gave you a 5 star review on Goodreads and Amazon.

badgerpendous said...

Looking over your list of possible future titles, I noticed that the ones that jumped out at me the most were the ones with the word "without" in the title. I like the twist that adds.

$.99 seems fair especially, as someone pointed above, when you look at what a crochet/knit pattern costs.

pitcherda said...

$.99 is not a bad price. The hard part is you can find most How To stuff on the internet for free. I'm much more likely to buy a collection of these things in a book then individual how to's. That being said I'd willingly submit to you original content that you could turn around and make $.99 off of. ha.

Leigh said...

Well, I thought I'd replied to the most recent comments, but it doesn't seem to be here. (???) Once again, thank you to everyone who took the time to give me some feedback.

Theresa, the Foxfire books! I used to have most of them but the seem to have gone by the wayside after so many moves.

Dani, thank you for following up on that!

Heidi, thank you!

Alisa, I appreciate the feedback And the ratings! Many thanks!

Garrett, I hadn't thought about the "without" so I appreciate the comment. Most of us are probably looking for more way do without. :)

It's funny about trying to price eBook. I did a lot of reading and it seemed most folks expect eBooks to be cheap or free. The rationale was that it's because consumers know there are no costs involved in delivering the book. I couldn't help but think of the hours and hours writers put into their work and wonder why that didn't count!

Pitcherda, you bring up an excellent point, i.e. that all how-to information can be found somewhere for free, either on the internet or in library books. I appreciate your feedback about individual versus collections. Once I get enough singles I may try to put them together into some collections.

Sue said...

I am new to your site. I find it very interesting. I am like Nancy in the above comment, and would love to learn more about the herbs and any wild plants in your farm that you have come across. Can we eat them? Do you make medicine out of them? Do you use them to keep other animals away? Lots of us have weeds in our yard and could use them. We just don't know it. I live in the upstate and find herbs grow like weeds here. Would love to use them more in my everyday life.

Jake said...

Hi Leigh,

Sorry I didn't get around to leaving feedback until now, but I liked the egg book a lot. (I didn't download the goat book, but I'm sure it's great, too!) I downloaded the pdf version from Smashwords.

I think for the amount of info you give, 99 cents is definitely fair. Although the chapters (and book) are short, it's clear you've put a lot of time into researching and experimenting. The book is also nicely organized and well-thought out, even detailing how to get around having to preserve eggs in the first place. All that work is worth at least $0.99!

I'll make sure to leave a review on Amazon to say thanks for the free download! :-)

For your next venture, I'd vote for 'Making Good Stuff From Goat Milk' (butter, whipped cream, yogurt, cheese, kefir? ice cream?) and 'Baking without Baking Powder.' Husking sunflowers also sounds interesting.

Keep up the good work!

Leigh said...

Sue, hello and welcome! Thank you so much for the suggestion, it's one that's near and dear to my heart too.

Jake, thank you! Feedback and suggestions are always welcome. Knowing what folks are interested in really helps.