Amazon Elastic IP and a Real Domain Name

Got an Elastic IP (EIP) for the Devil Music web server instance and configured it to use our own registered domain name using Route 53 for Domain Name System (DNS) service.

I now had a web server, but it needed to be addressable using a custom domain name.

= tl;dr =

  1. Register a domain with a domain name registrar
  2. Get an Elastic IP (EIP) address associated with your instance
  3. Use Route 53 (or your registrar’s DNS tools, if available) to point the domain name at the EIP
  4. Update the server’s HOSTNAME in /etc/sysconfig/network.

1. The custom domain names for Devil Music were already acquired by the author, Carly Orosz, quite some time ago — back when she titled her novel and web comic series. The .net and .org domains were available immediately and were registered through DynDNS *. The .com name was being sat on by a troll, but it was important enough it was bought anyway and was transferred internally with its original registrar, Dynadot, which has also been alright.
* In retrospect, Namecheap might have been a better choice, but oh well.

2. An EIP is necessary so the IP address of your web server instance does not get reset/altered/reassigned each time the instance goes down. To get a new EIP (a) allocated to your AWS account and (b) associated with your instance:
a) AWS console > EC2 > Network & Security > Elastic IPs > Allocate New Address
b) with the new EIP selected > Associate Address > select your instance from the drop-down list

3. DNS service is necessary to inform computers on the network of the IP address of the server given a domain name. Route 53, the AWS DNS service/toolset is cheap (running me ~$1.50/month as of 2014/05/05), well documented, and scalable. To set it up:
a) AWS console > Route 53 > Create Hosted Zone *
* Since the comment can only be up to 256 characters and it cannot be altered once set (which is a bit silly, IMHO), I’ve just left them empty for the most part.
b) with the new zone selected > Go to Record Sets > Create Record Set > [fill out the form]

– You need a hosted zone for each domain name you register and want served through Route 53.
– You need a Type “A” record set with your EIP as its value for each hosted zone you want directed to your AWS EC2 web server instance.
– I chose to include an “A” Type record for * aliased to the primary “A” Type record and would recommend others do so. This means you only need the 2 records (and only have to update an IP address once) per hosted zone even if you have www, blog, forum, etc. subdomains all hosted by the same web server.

4. The server’s HOSTNAME needs to be set correctly for Apache and SSL to work later, and should be set correctly on principle. Edit the network system configuration file:

sudo /etc/sysconfig/network

Change the line with “HOSTNAME=localhost.localdomain” to the domain name only — “”.
* I think this is not 100% correct, but it is working. See What do I need to do in /etc/hosts, in /etc/sysconfig/network, and with the hostname command? on Server Fault.

Up and Running with AWS EC2 LAMP Instance

Got an Amazon Web Services (AWS) account with an Amazon Linux Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance running (which you can connect to) with LAMP infrastructure configured to support a WordPress installation.

Based on positive past experiences, I had already decided to use AWS to host the Devil Music website in a virtual LAMP stack environment.

Following these tutorials:

I was able to get:

† Working in the Microsoft stack environment was good too, but it seemed overpowered and overcomplicated for the simple initial needs of the Devil Music book and web comic properties. Also, I knew that the author, Carly Orosz, was already familiar with the WordPress administration interface which meant that she would not have to spend time learning a new administration interface (custom, Orchard, etc.). Although could have been used to host just the web comic (e.g. using a customized ComicPress theme with the Comic Easel plugin) and a few one-off pages, I felt more comfortable having full control over the webserver, knowing I left myself room for whatever innovation or eccentricity I could muster in the future for this project.

A Novel – Formatted for Self-Publication

Finished getting the novel Devil Music, by Carly Orosz, formatted for self-publication with the help of Custom-book-tique.

We needed several different formats in order to distribute the book both physically and digitally through multiple distribution channels / vendors. Since we’ve not done that before, we looked around online for a professional formatting service and eventually settled on Custom-book-tique (we worked with Maggie Pagratis). The manuscript already had location-specific formatting done correctly (e.g. italicized paragraphs and underlined words). Carly, as the author, answered about a page of formatting questions, such as font preferences and physical book dimensions. Custom-book-tique then got Carly’s manuscript formatted correctly in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats, and formatted as a 5.5″ x 8.5″ trade paperback to the technical printing specifications of CreateSpace (which are also PDF files, one for the cover and one for the interior). This included getting the synopsis onto the rear cover of the print paperback.

Maggie Pagratis also did the leg work getting Devil Music started as a “project” on CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and Lulu (an easier way to get an ebook listed on the Apple iBooks and Barnes & Noble NOOK book store) for us.

We received all the final files in their final formats, as well as the formatted Microsoft Word files used to create them. The source Word files were especially important as I was able to revise these Word files as additional mistakes were found (fortunately only 4, single-character typos) and re-export as/print to PDF to get PDF format documents. I then used Calibre (open source ebook software) to create new, revised EPUB and MOBI file types, including a separate image file for the cover (watch the image size to avoid bloating the ebook!).

This cost $1,400.00 $USD and was well worth it.

Book Cover Art

I got cover art for the novel Devil Music, by Carly Orosz using 99 Designs. The winning design was by jok.r (Ismail Nihad – on 99 Designs , on Facebook , on Tumblr ) from the Maldives []! It was a pleasure to work with him and Carly got exactly what she was looking for.

You can check out the completed contest if you are interested.
Here is the winning design:

[UPDATE Friday, April 11, 2014]
We did not have the text for the back cover at the time the cover art was done and a couple other last-minute changes were made after seeing the PROOF print from Createspace. Here is a final-final cover image:

Bowker ISBNs for Self-Publication

Signed up with Bowker to get International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) for the novel Devil Music, by Carly Orosz.

Bowker is the ISBN manager/distributor/monopoly for the United States of America. I got 10 ISBNs from them for $250 $USD for Devil Music to start with so we could use them for a trade paperback, a few different ebook formats, a hardback/hardcover edition, and a few limited editions for an eventual crowd funding campaign. This was before I found out that this was probably unnecessary [1].

You need to fill in the information for your book(s) (manually, yourself) after purchasing the ISBNs (this is another reason to let your on-demand publisher do this for you). Start by managing your ISBNs [ Home > My Account > Manage ISBNs ] and then fill in the required and requested information over 4 forms/pages {“Title & Cover”, “Contributors”, “Format & Size”, “Sales & Pricing”}.

The information on the Title & Cover page is straightforward enough. Be warned that the “Main Description” is limited to 350 words. You will also need such a short description later, so go ahead and write a good one now. We did choose to upload the JPG cover and PDF book interior files to be included in the record. There is an option for a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) (as in “optional”), however you will have to come back here later to enter this after you have requested and received one from the United States Library of Congress (if you want one).

The Contributors page is also fairly clear. You are expected to add each contributor to the book here. Using Devil Music as an example, we credited the author with “Author, Characters created by, Created by”, credited LogSine with “Prepared for Publication by”, and credited the editor and cover artist as “Editor” and “Artist”, respectively. Yes, the Contributor Function form control is as terrible, obnoxious, and poorly designed as you think it is. We chose to only include information in the Contributor Biography section for the author.

The Format & Size page was a bit harder. Selecting the Medium and Format was straightforward, but selecting Format Details was felt tricky for the paperback edition. We settled on designating it “Trade Paperback (US)” although it is 5.5″ x 8.5″ instead of 6″ x 9″ because none of the other paper size or book format options looked any more accurate. We listed the Primary Subject as “FICTION_FANTASY_GENERAL” and did bother to fill in the Size Details section, using a postal scale to find the weight of the paperback book.

For the Sales & Pricing page, we chose the United States for the country where the title is sold, even though it is available worldwide. The “help” mouseover (the question mark circles which popup information when you move the mouse cursor over them) says to “Click Add Country” for a new record, but there is no such text or button on the page. I could not find an explanation online as to whether self-publishing through on-demand printers indicates that the Title Status should be “On Demand” or “Active Record”, so we chose the latter in order to make sure it was clear in Bowker’s database that the title is active (in print, available for purchase of new copies). We chose to to go through the hassle of getting an “imprint” as the value of an imprint is entirely unclear (and possibly imaginary).


[1]: “How Bowker uses its U.S. ISBN monopoly to rip off new authors” by Ian Lamont (@ilamont) on The Independent Publishing Magazine, 2013/03/13

Additional Reading