Refreshing Two Boys, Two Planets

If you look on the front page of the Video Liberty site you'll probably see a half-banner ad for Two Boys, Two Planets, which appears there via Project Wonderful. Considering that improving my book marketing has been a theme for me this year, and also considering that the sales of my children's book seem to be declining, I decided to put some time and effort into the book. This includes both marketing (such as online ads) and improving the book itself. I set last night as a deadline for myself to have an upgraded version of the Kindle edition uploaded to Amazon KDP, and some struggles with that upgrade process caused this week's blog post to be delayed.

When I first published Two Boys, Two Planets near the end of 2010, it was in print only. About a year later I released the Kindle edition, which was the first time I'd published a children's book on the Kindle platform. The release that year of the Kindle Fire, with its color display, was the inspiration for me to move my children's book to the Kindle platform. I still think, as I did then, that the print edition offers the best overall experience for the reader. However, some people will still prefer an electronic edition and the Kindle edition can also serve as a low-cost preview of the story before buying the higher-priced print edition.

In retrospect I consider my method for building the original Kindle edition to be rather primitive. However, the Kindle (and overall e-book) environment has changed and matured a lot since then, with new devices, higher resolution, etc. Back then, the primitive form of my upload file — a ZIP file with one HTML file and a bunch of modest-resolution JPEG files — was reasonably acceptable. I certainly would not take that approach with a new book today, though.

I knew that the Kindle edition of Two Boys, Two Planets was overdue for an update. It needed larger images to take advantage of newer displays, and to meet modern expectations the book metadata and document structure needed to be updated. Or to be more accurate, it needed to be created, because the original had no real metadata or structure. I wanted to get those changes completed and uploaded before doing much more to promote the book. After all, why have people download a sub-par product?

Next Friday, the Kindle edition will be available for just 99 cents as part of a Kindle Countdown Deal. The same day, I have a paid promotion scheduled, to try to increase the visibility of the 99-cent deal. That promotion needed to be scheduled a week in advance, and I wanted to be confident that the upgraded version was in place before ordering it, which is why last night was my deadline. I think I missed it a bit, completing things just after midnight, but the promotion was confirmed this morning. Thus, the only bad thing that came from missing the deadline was this blog post being pushed to Saturday.

Part of the problem with creating the upgraded version was that there was no clear path from the "primitive" version to a modern version. After toying with the original source a bit, I realized I would have to rebuild the book from scratch. Luckily, I still had the higher-resolution scans of the artwork, so there was no need to re-scan the illustrations. However, I needed a fresh start on the HTML and CSS code. Another obstacle came from trying to use calibre to build the book. I've been using Sigil to build e-books, but the developer has stopped work on it and is suggesting that people switch to calibre. I made the mistake of trying that. Unfortunately, while calibre is great for some things, building a book from scratch is not a good experience. I kept running into serious problems that wasted time, so I finally switched back to Sigil. For now, the Sigil/KindleGen process works and I will stick with that until something better is ready to use.

Anyway, the work is done, I've let Amazon know that there is a significant upgrade to the book so that they will (hopefully) alert previous buyers to the availability of the updated version, and now I just need to wait and see how the promotion on Friday works. I will also be creating new and hopefully better ads to run on the Project Wonderful platform, for this book as well as my other titles.

If you'd like an inexpensive look at Two Boys, Two Planets, remember to download the Kindle edition on the 25th of this month for just 99 cents!

About the Author
Stuart J. Whitmore is an author of fiction and nonfiction, as well as a photographer, technology developer, and more. If you enjoy reading his blog posts, you might also enjoy reading his books. Take a look at the books by Stuart J. Whitmore today, and download your copy of one that looks interesting to you!