Sunday, 29 September 2013

AUTHORS ELECTRIC 'HOW-TO' DAY e-(asy) tips for electric authors by Cally Phillips

     This is the first of a new (hopefully regular) series which is loosely called 'A How-To Day' or 'Training Day' - the aim being that AE'ers share skills, tips and knowledge related to ebooks. With apologies to all the grannies I'm teaching to suck eggs. But someone out there will doubtless find this useful. [Cally.]

     Cally - I think it's a myth that 'everyone' knows how to do these things. When I was working in a university, I was astonished how many students never thought to take a quick look on Google for information - something which has become second nature to me. Many of them - and not just the older students - would say, 'Oh, I'm not really into computers.' And my young hairdresser, the other day, when I said, jokingly, that I would blog something, said, 'What's a blog?' I thought she was joking, but no, she really had no idea what a blog was.  So, thank you for going back to basics! - Sue Price.

Links and how to make them.
We all know how important links are right? No? Yes. Of course we do.
You put your ebook up on Kindle (or Kobo or apple) and then you want to tell people about it.  You want to share. How do you do this?  Well, each ebook (or indeed anything else you write, like blog posts) has a unique identifier

For a Kindle ebook it looks like this

If we look at the structure of it you’ll see the amazon area ( is there followed by the title, the format of book, it’s number and a load of reference stuff. It’s a beast of a thing.  If you like to play spot the difference, here is the US version of the same link

Yes, the significant difference is the instead of
Before you give up, let’s look at what you actually NEED of that link

This is the unique identifier. Amazon area, book title and format and CODE – you’ll notice that’s the same code you get when you actually publish the book to KDP    that B008QJVP60 is like your isbn number. It’s the ebooks unique identifier. The rest of the link takes you to that books place in amazon’s store.  
All the ref stuff that comes after, that’s not necessary to get you to the ebook.
But it’s still pretty weighty. Especially if you’ve got a lot of ebooks,

      Well, straight off, you've taught me something there, Cally! [Sue]. I knew you could just alter the part to or or whatever, without having to re-copy for every different Amazon site - but I hadn't realised that you didn't need the whole damn thing!
     So what to do?

Top Tip.
Create a list (or database) of your links so that you can refer to them in future and just drop them into whatever share medium (post, facebook status or email) you want to use.

Here’s an example of one of my ebook catalogue lists (as short links)
Another World is Possible

Bond is Back
Brand Loyalty
Chasing Waves
Down the Line

DTL/AC Omnibus
It Wisnae Me
Men in White Suits
Threads of Time
Triptych 2 FREE D
Voices in ma Heid

     I hope you can see how valuable this is, and you’ll have noticed they are NOT the same links = they are SHORT LINKS.  So how do you get short links?

     You might have noticed that Twitter makes its own shortlinks (maybe I need to get out more) and there are other places that enable you to create your own shortlinks which you can then store in that list/database you DO intend to make and save on a word file, right?

     I use Bitly.  You go to and set up an account. Free and easy.  Then you just copy/paste the LONG link into the slot where it says PASTE A LINK and bitly converts it into a short link which you
copy/paste back into your own word list/database.
     Bingo. You have all your ebooks in one handy place ready for using at later dates.

What about linking blog posts?
     You’ll notice (if you get out as little as me) that blogsites have addresses.

     They're called URLs - short for 'Uniform Resource Locator'. [Sue.] You find it in the 'browser box' at the top of your computer screen - the long box with the arrow pointing to the left at the left hand side.

     And each separate blog post has an individual identifier.

    If you ask someone to go to they will simply get whatever is up there at the time they visit. If you want them to go to YOUR OWN post you need to give them YOUR post link.
Which looks like THIS.

     You can see that it has the authors electric blogspot address at the front (this is effectively the same as that  so don’t stress about it. 

     That’s followed by the year, the month and the actual TITLE of that post (this is mine from August)
You can save this link, copy and paste it and share it wherever you like if you want folk to go straight to this post. And yes, for those paying attention at the front, you can take that to bitly and short link it too.

     As with all things technical, there are many alternative ways to do things. In Wordpress as you create your post it asks you if you want to get a shortlink and if you do, then you’ve done the job then and there. Just add it to you OWN list with appropriate hint as to what it is and you’re set.  I can’t see a way to do that in blogger (but I don’t really know how to use blogger, I only use it to post for AE) Until your post is scheduled you can’t get a short link and until its published the link isn’t valid – think of it, the link is live when your post is live. But those are the only restrictions I can see.

Embedding links into word documents or into blog posts.

     When you are creating your blog (again I’m speaking wordpress here but it probably applies for blogger too) look for the link sign (like an 8) and you can copy/paste your link into the space. You need to Control +c the text you want to link then click link then paste in the link (be careful that you don’t paste in the text you’ve just highlighted!) and it’s all go.

     You can circumvent this with Word 2007 onwards by embedding links into the document before you copy it to Blogger/Wordpress (if you do this in advance rather than write ‘live’ into the sites)  You just highlight the text you want to link, right click the mouse and pick the HYPERLINK option and then paste in your link. 
     You’ll see why all of this is so much easier if you use short links. But it can be done with long links too.
I hope this is of some use to those who’ve been struggling wondering how to deal with those unwieldy links – when you shorten them and save them in a dedicated space, it becomes much easier to SHARE them.   You do, of course, have to remember to keep your list up to date with all the NEW things you publish.

     Thank you, Cally! - You've taught me a couple of things anyway, so I'm happy! [Sue]


Chris Longmuir said...

Thanks, Cally. I didn't know how to get short links except for the automatic ones that come up in Twitter, so that's useful information. I'm off to work on my links database now!

Bill Kirton said...

You've reignited my guilt at not having compiled the links database which I promised myself I'd do at least a year ago. Thanks, Cally.

Lee said...

You don't have to join bitly to use it.

Lydia Bennet said...

I use, very useful - you can also edit the short link they give you to help you remember it or find it.

Dennis Hamley said...

This really has been an eye-opener to me, Cally. I had no idea that's how links worked. Simple things I never knew - the world is full of them. I'm printing this blog out and blu-tacking it to the wall for perpetual reference. Thanks.

Susan Price said...

Glad to see that people have found Cally's post useful. The next 'How To Day' on 29th October will be Bill Kirton on how to embed an audio recording. I need to know about that, so looking forward to it, Bill.

julia jones said...

I'm with Dennis. Thanks Cally - knew this was going to be a great series but didn't know how much more I didn't know. Looking forward to Bill next month