Archive for February, 2011

My intention this week had been to investigate the Amazon.com option a little more thoroughly, and I did start doing that.  But my heart wasn’t really into it.  Epublishing with Amazon looks so easy and free, it feels like I should just start converting and uploading my manuscript using the steps I outlined last week and report how things work from there.  And I might have done just that this week, except for an unexpected opportunity that recently presented itself.

A guy I met at a writing class at the University of Washington (hi, Stasa!) who is also a Facebook friend recently posted a request for people to “like” a page he created for his new publishing company called New Libri. I did that, because it’s a great idea.  New Libri’s intent is to be an independent publisher that not only puts its imprint on quality printed books but can offer writers just about any publishing option they want.  They offer everything from traditional publishing (they pay costs, you get royalties, but you’ve got to meet their standards) to collaborative publishing (shared costs, but bigger royalty to the writer and you still have to meet the quality guidelines), to self publishing help (for a fee they offer several services to get your work printed or ebooked under your own imprint).

Stasa and I started exchanging emails and I told him about this blog and my interest in possibly ebooking it myself, and he remembered excerpts of Painted Black that I had brought to class where we first met.  The long and short of it is, he asked if he could look at Painted Black for consideration under their traditional publishing model and I thought why the heck not and sent it off earlier this weekend.  So until I hear back from them, I really don’t know what direction fate might take me to make Black a sellable, published commodity.  Which means it really doesn’t make sense to even try uploading it to Amazon for the sake of experimentation.

Still, I’ve done all this darned research so far, and I have a blog to get out, and there’s this whole extra day in my life thanks to the President’s Day holiday.  So I started thinking about my first Jo Sullivan novel, written so many years ago it should be called a prequel to Painted Black. The style is a bit different and maybe even not quite as good, but when I pulled Teach Your Children Well up to take a look at it again, I started remembering how much I really like it.  I tried hard to publish this way back when and wrote and rewrote it so many times it’s a little confusing to even figure out which file is the most recent one on  my computer.

I decided to read it completely through to see if the whole sounded as promising as the beginning, and as I did so, started wishing I could read it on my phone so I don’t have to sit all afternoon at this computer.  My first thought was I could upload it to Amazon DTP just like I considered doing to Black, but that looked like too much work just so I could read it while relaxing in bed tonight.  Then I remembered how easy Scribd.com is supposed to be.  Create an account, my earlier research had said, then upload a pdf and tada! epublishing accomplished.

It took a little more than that before I was satisfied, but it truly was that easy at first.  I didn’t even have to create an account or put it in pdf format.  Scribd let me sign in with my Facebook account and upload a Word document directly off my hard drive.  It happened so quickly I wasn’t expecting it and had to quickly make it a private document because it is not yet ready for public consumption.  Yet even in that short time, somehow I see that two of my Facebook friends found me and “Followed Me”  (Not sure how that happened, Carey and Charles.  If you read this, let me know.)

So I played a bit more, creating a cover, changing fonts, and then pdfing it so it would keep the fonts I picked instead of converting it into something more standard and boring.  Then I tried sending it to my mobile.  I had the option of downloading it to several eReader devices, but since I don’t have a device, just an Android smart phone, I tried sending to myself via text messaging. …….Nothing, even though I tried several ways of entering my phone number.  Then I emailed it to myself.  That did work, but it only let me send it as a text file and boy was that a mess.  No formatting whatsoever.  Paragraph and page breaks gone, header and page numbers mixed in with the text.

So, since I have the Kindle app on my phone, I thought I would see what would happen if I tried sending it as if I did have a Kindle device.  That did work, but the option I chose was to email it to myself again.  At least it let me choose to email it as a pdf so when I got it on my phone and opened the attachment, my formatting is there, fonts, cover image, headers and page numbers.  It won’t flow my text if I zoom my screen, though, so I have to swipe side to side it I want to increase the font size.  And it’s a little slow to refresh the screen as I move from page to page.  I bet if I had more time, I could experiment with sending it to my Amazon Kindle account and see if that would actually let me download it with my app and act like a normal Kindle ebook for reading.  Maybe I’ll play with that next time and let you know what happens.

For now, this is all the ebook news you’re going to get this post, so I hope you’re not bored or disappointed.  I’ll keep you informed how the New Libri thing works out, and maybe post a new page to let you take a peak at the first chapter of Teach Your Children Well.  Who knows, if I get through proofreading the manuscript and decide I like it well enough, I might even let you buy it off Scirbd or figure out how to publish Kindle and Nook versions.  We’ll see, anything is possible given enough time and caffeine.

Amazon – As Easy as 1, 2, 3

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Self Publishing
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1. Getting Started

  • Set up or use an existing Amazon.com account to log in at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin
  • Once logged in, notice the alert message in the upper right hand corner of your screen. “Your account information is incomplete. To publish a book you’ll need to complete this.” Click “Update Now.”
    • You’ll be asked to enter your Company/Publisher, Tax and Payment Information
    • As an individual I will have to use my Social Security number.  If I was a company, I would use a Federal ID
    • You enter your bank account information.  I’m kind of surprised it doesn’t mention Paypal in the tips, but maybe when I go to do these steps there will be a PayPal option.

2. Content Guidelines

  • Publications must in compliance with all local, state, national, and international laws.
  • If content is considered prohibited, Kindle has the right to remove it.  Prohibited materials include: pornography, offensive material, illegal items, stolen goods, Items that infringe upon personal privacy, recopied media, publicity rights, public domain.
  • You must own the copyright to the material you are publishing.

3. Publish your content

  • Use Word to create the doc
    • Use .doc or .rtf format, not .docx
    • You can use indentations, bold characters, italics and headings, but bullet points, special fonts, headers, and footers will not translate.
    • Enter a page break at the end of every chapter and insert a page break after the last sentence of each chapter in the book.
    • Images should be inserted in .jpeg format with center alignment (don’t copy and paste from another source). Since I don’t use images other than the cover, this doesn’t affect. me.
    • Use spellcheck and carefully proofread your book.
  • Create Front Matter
    • May include a Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Preface, and Prologue. For a stylish and professional presentation, you should add a Title Page at a minimum. The guidelines tell you exactly how to format these sections.
  • Create Back Matter
    • Such as Bibliographies, Appendices, Notes or Glossaries.
    • Indexes are not recommended
  • Save your Word file to your Documents folder or Desktop in Web Page, Filtered (*HTM &*HTML) format.
  • Use Mobipocket Creator to build your eBook
    • More on Mobipocket in a separate blog
  • Use the Kindle Previewer to view your eBook to make sure it if formatted correctly.
  • Upload your eBook to KDP to make it available for sale on Amazon
    • Your book will appear for sale on the Kindle Store in approximately 24-48 hours.
    • Within 48 to 72 hours, all other book features should be available on the detail page, such as the product description and links to related physical editions.

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Easy, peasey, right? So far anyway. I’ll delve deeper next time and let you know what I find.

Sum it Up, Con’t

Posted: February 6, 2011 in Self Publishing
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To continue with summaries for self e-publishing options, we move on to what I would call my alternate options.  They’re not so much direct author-to-bookstore options as they are author-to middleman-to bookstore.  In other words, if I have the word right, they are aggregators.

Smashwords
http://www.smashwords.com/

  1. It sounds similar to Amazon as far as how you get your book formatted.  You upload a Word doc and cover image.  They do, however, offer a style guide on formatting that keeps things simple and you don’t have to use a program like Mobipocket or Calibre.  I have downloaded a couple of Smashwords books to my smart phone (free books, not ones I’ve had to pay for) and have noticed spaces missing sometimes between words, often enough that it was annoying.  I also found other mentions of the format not being as professional looking as some others.
  2. Another way it differs is the resulting file can be in just about any file format you want, while Amazon only produces a Kindle format.  You can then choose to publish them via the Smashwords website or have Smashwords “aggregate” them to most major e-sellers.
  3. There is no charge to create the book, but for books sold on their site, they get 15% of the net price–net price being whatever you’re selling the book for, minus the credit card processing fee.  For books that sell through retailers like iPad, Kobo, etc., Smashwords takes a 10% fee off whatever royalty you get from the retailer.

Lulu
http://www.lulu.com/

  1. Lulu seems to be primarily for self publishing hard copies of books, but they give you the option of printing an e-version as well.  The offer several packages of services and you can pick and choose how much you want them to do, and how much you want to pay.
  2. Their main benefit seems to be that they can aggregate to the iBookstore and since right now it doesn’t look like Apple is going to be that friendly toward direct from author publication, that’s not a small thing if you want to be an iPad warrior.  Like Smashwords, people can buy your book via their website or through any of the major distributors that Lulu can aggregate to.
  3. Lots of pricing options are offered depending on what package you choose.  There is also some fairly complicated numbers on how much of a cut Lulu gets from each book that is sold, depending on which bookstore it sells through.  Frankly, since I’ve already decided I’m not at all interested in Lulu, it’s not worth my time to write some of these percentages here.

I found three more e-publishing options I’d never heard of that I’ll list here, but I didn’t find them worthy of too much research or blog time.  There are many more if you really look, and someone who is really thorough or really loves researching could probably go on and on if this was their blog, but in my mind, if it’s too obscure to find easily by doing a few web searches, then it’s not big enough or easy enough for me to spend my time on.

That’s not to say that I’m not open to looking at other options if someone wants to do the work and let me know what they find.  For instance, I recently heard that a guy I know from a writing class I took has started his own publishing company which includes self publishing and even e-publishing options.  We’ve emailed and are going to get together sometime so he can tell me what New Libri is all about.  Who knows, maybe that’s where my best opportunity lies.  If anything develops in that direction, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, here’s those other three I mentioned earlier:

Fast Pencil
http://www.fastpencil.com/
Does print and ebook self publishing, or just ebook.  It has a template-based setup–you cut and paste your document into their template–or you upload an already formatted pdf.  They distribute widely to lot of stores, including the big ones.  They charge a publication fee and take a percentage of the royalty you get from the retailers.

Publish Green
http://www.publishgreen.com/
Offers the same services as Fast Pencil except claims to offer a more hands-on approach, with “professional human e-book formatting.”  Reportedly they are able to get your ebook listed with some places that traditionally only take books from publishing companies as opposed to self publishers.

Scribd
http://www.scribd.com/
One site called it the fastest and easiest way to get an ebook on the Internet.  You create an account on their website, upload a pdf of your book and cover to the Scribd site, then it can then be viewed on a PC, the iPad, the web or even downloaded to your computer.  It also supports html coding for those that know that.