21 August 2011

Epub the emotional journey

If you follow me on twitter or even on facebook, you may have seen some of the articles I've posted the last couple months, mainly having to do with publishing and writing. I read a string of articles in close succession earlier this month that in so many words, in different ways, said that - yeah epublishing is a big deal right now, but really bookstores and paperbooks are still the majority of the market and if you want to be respected you need to go the traditional route and find an agent, who finds a publisher, who edits your book etc.

I always believed this and held very firmly to this mantra until the last year. Something has broken loose the last couple years in ebooks and I started to wonder - what if I just did it? I was a journalist, freelance writer, graphic designer in previous jobs. The skills to create a book are not out of reach. In fact, I worked with a publisher and actually produced 3 books myself. This is a process I can do. So, like a crack of light under a door in a dark room this idea started seeping into me. I read lots of things that seemed to say this is the future.

Then I stumbled on the articles with my old point of view -- you're only a real author if NY says you are (in so many words). So earlier this month in a fit of panic I sent letters to agents. I think I sent out 4 or 5 via email and I haven't heard anything back. It would be too soon in most cases, but I think they all said something like, "If we don't respond, we're not interested."

But I learned something about myself doing that. As I started working my way through the queries and the requirements, all those old feelings came back. The scary ones I try to bury. They'll never respond, you're not good enough, it'll never work for you, etc. etc. The evil editorial voice in the head.

I contrasted this with how I felt when I "published" my short story myself to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The story had been published by a webzine so I already had some sense that it was legit, but be that as it may, I was eccstatic to see the work of my hands, the creation of my mind, and my husband's brillant cover posted out there for all the world to see. I know I'm not going to get rich from it and I know that it's a long way from the respect and bestsellerdom of NYC but it felt good. I felt proud as opposed to the sense of begging and shame I felt from my query letters to agents.

So for now, I walk the epub journey with a clear conscious. I know the respect I long for isn't there but for now I am content. And don't let anybody kid you, there's not an epub out there who wouldn't sign a contract for six figures or more if it was offered by the NYC big dogs!

12 August 2011

To post a book by Denise

I spent a good deal of the last couple months researching and reading about posting ebooks. I read a lot of pros, cons, and instructions. Some of the instructions were a year or two old on the internet and didn't really serve a purpose anymore. I decided to stick to new ones. I downloaded the Smashwords Style guide which is a long book-like document and read a few bits of it. This is a case where everyone seems to have a different idea and you eventually have to pick one and try it.

Ultimately, someone on a forum was testing a video that they put on youtube of how to format your book. It's only a 5 minute video, so I invested the time. It's from an author CJ Lyons: How to Format your Ebook Video. 

I found the video easy to follow and clear. It was helpful to see what she meant on screen in Word rather than just read it. Normally I'm a read it and do it person because that is often faster for me. I thought it was helpful and a doable process that did not take hours. Of course this is a short story. I'd have to spend more time eliminating some formatting in my novel (coming soon!) but it does not seem out of reach. I have been a graphic designer in a former life so maybe this stuff is easier for me, but personally I'd recommend trying to do it yourself before you hire someone.

Another tip that was very helpful was to have certain things prepared and ready before you go to upload. I got this tip from John Kremer at this helpful blog. ebook-publishing guide
This was the list I found helpful but he's got lots of other information there too and other links.
Book (preferably in.doc format) – See detailed formatting guidelines below.
Cover picture (in JPG format, max 1200 pixels high)
Short book description (400 characters max)
Proper book description (up to about 2,500 characters)
About the Author summary
Book categories (i.e. Young Adult, Fantasy, etc.)
Decision on selling price of book

Barnes and Noble's Pub It gets the prize for the easiest and most pain free upload-my-book (short story) process. Amazon is a close second but slightly more cumbersome at their kdp website that was hard to find.Find it here. Smashwords I almost skipped because they are a much smaller share of the market (Kobo, Sony, Indies) but they do epub for ibook which meant I needed it if I wanted to see my finished story on my ipad, so I got on board. It was the most cumbersome, the most fussy not liking my formatting etc. They do however have a way to do a coupon so you can give away the book.

I did not see immediately any way to have a free book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It must be there and I will investigate further.

I downloaded my book from Smashwords since the ipad is the only reader I've got. Looks really good -- except for 2 sentences that seem to be in a different font (and they weren't) -- and it appears to be bold face throughout which it also was not. So a little more investigating to be done, but overall a good look I'm pleased with for a start. Waiting on a friend with a Nook and a Kindle to tell me how they look there and then I will take another look at the formatting.