Archive for April, 2011

Feedback Requested

Posted: April 24, 2011 in Self Publishing

First a quick word about what’s happening with my novel, Painted Black.  It looks like I will be signing a contract with New Libri to publish my book.  I will have a meeting probably this week to go over some final edits.  They will be epublishing first and should be offering paperback versions later using Print On Demand (POD) through Lightening Source which is associated with Ingram Distributers.  I’ll post an update once I have more info.

Now, on to the experiment of self epubbing my short story Peeling the Onion.  First off, apparently not even friends and family want to pay .99 cents for it, since not one story has sold.  There could be several reasons for that, and I’m hoping you guys will help me figure out what it is.  There is a list of possible reasons below and also in a poll on The Critics page of this blog.  If you could take a moment to comment, email me or fill in the poll, I would appreciate it.

  • I don’t have an e-reader and can’t figure out how to read the electronic version online
  • I don’t want to pay .99 for a short story
  • It doesn’t sound like the kind of story I would enjoy (Be honest–it’s okay with me I you don’t like the story. I realize I’m not writing to everyone’s style.)
  • Just haven’t gotten around to it yet
  • Other (you tell me)

Remember, this is an experiment for me.  Your answers will help me determine if this epubbing thing is something I should continue or let go.  Don’t hesitate to be perfectly honest with me.  I won’t hold it against you.


For those (few) of you who are interested in the actual process of e-publishing, I’ve done a little more experimenting if you would like to read on.

You may remember I said Smashwords is a little more particular about the format of what you submit and that I did not take the time to read and follow all their guidelines before putting the story online with them.

Because of that, while my story is available to purchase from the Smashwords site, it did not get distributed to all available venues such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Kobo since they have particular criteria before acceptance.  For this, you need to submit your book for Smashwords’ Premium Distribution, which is also free.

I had two errors on my initial upload that prevented this.  My copyright wording was not sufficient and I had my title font larger than the suggested maximum of 18 point.  Both easy enough to change.  The copyright basically needs to say your ebook is a Smashwords Edition, either by saying “Published by Debra Borys at Smashwords” or “Published by Debra Borys <next line> “Smashwords Edition.”  This is in addition to your “Copyright © 2011 Debra Borys.”

Another issue is I need to assign an ISBN number to the work.  Not having one does not keep it from being accepted to the Premium catalog, but Apple, Borders and Sony require one and since Apple is high on the list of “IN” markets, you want their acceptance.

The ISBN must be specific to the electronic edition–you cannot use the same number as a hard copy edition.  You also cannot use it for more than one type of electronic version.  For instance, you need one ISBN for a mobi file for Amazon and another for the epub version, etc.  Smashwords has both a free and a paid version of ISBN available for you to choose from.  You can also add an ISBN you may have obtained elsewhere.

The free version lists Smashwords as the publisher in the official Bowker database and “in no way limits your ownership of your book, and in no way makes us [Smashwords] your publisher.”

The second version costs $9.95, which they will take from any royalties you receive so there is no up front payment required.  This will list you as the publisher in the database and Smashwords as the distributor.  Smashwords recommends using the free version and says there is no advantage to having this type.  It is basically a vanity ISBN.

I will be getting the free ISBN of course, but have to wait until the review period is over.  I did not get any error messages when I resubmitted, so my formatting should be fine this time.  However, they do say that it takes at least a day and up to a week before it is accepted.  After that, it takes another day to several weeks for it to show up as available on the retailers’ offerings.

In the meantime, I did find an easy way to preview the different versions. Remember my saying I had trouble figuring out how to preview the mobi version? There are apps that can be downloaded to your PC or Mac that are free that will allow you to do that.  The ones Smashwords mentions are:  Adobe Digital Editions (reads epub), Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac (mobi readers) and FBReader (reads .epub, .txt, .mobi and multiple other formats).

Next step for me is researching marketing options.  Something I will need for more than just these short story experiments, assuming all goes well with my meeting with New Libri.


I Did It!

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Self Publishing

Well, kind of, I did it.  I didn’t e-publish my novel because that is still being considered for publication by New Libri.  But I did put a short story of mine up for sale in a couple of places.  Sort of a test about how easy it is to do and what happens once I do it.  If you are interested in buying a copy to read the story, click on the Short Stories link at the top of my page and pick which venue you’d like to download from.

If you have the Kindle app on your phone, you can search by title or my name and download it from there.  It doesn’t show the cover image for some reason, but it’s still pretty cool to search and find myself.  The Smashwords ePub version can be downloaded on your phone if you have Aldiko or other eReader app that accesses Smashwords.  Searching for it on the Nook for Andorid app brought up nothing, either by title or my name.  <insert frowny face here> Maybe it takes a couple days to populate.  I’ll try again later.  If you have the Kobo app you can download the ePub version to your phone, then import it from your SD card.  I didn’t see any way to search for it in the Kobo library itself.  I think I need to get the premium version of Smashwords for that to happen.

It’s only .99 little cents ($1.00 for Scribd–see why below) but if someone has a Palm Doc or Sony Reader, I would buy the book off Smashwords for you if you promise to let me know what the format looks like.  Smashwords doesn’t allow previews and I have no idea if my upload worked for those e-readers.

Now for my lessons learned from this process:


I started by publishing to Scribd because my initial investigation made it sound like the simpler option possibly.  It wasn’t. The reason for that is because I actually had to put the cover image IN the document itself, as the first page.  Getting the jpg sized to fit the whole page without stretching it took a little practice.  I also ended up converting it to a pdf file, even though Scrid allows direct upload from Word.  The pdf kept the fonts I wanted, while uploading Word did not.  I have no idea how that is going to affect how it looks if someone downloads the file to an e-reader or phone app.  The only way I could figure how to download to my phone sent it as a text file and talk about effing up the format, you should have seen that.

Scribd did not let me pick .99 as the price like I did for the other options.  It rounded it up to $1.00.  One nice thing about Scribd, though, is it let me choose how many pages I wanted to allow as a free preview.  It had a couple of defaults I could have chosen as well but since this was a short story I selected 4 pages to preview.  You can see this preview at the bottom of the Short Stories link above.

Amazon Kindle

The Kindle Desktop Publishing upload was a piece of cake.  I uploaded my jpg cover as a separate file so didn’t have to mess with that.  In my summary post earlier I wrote something about using formatting software like Mobipocket eBook Creator to format the document, but that wasn’t needed with this story.  Maybe because it was so simple.  No tables or images to worry about, just plain and italics text.

It takes almost no time to upload the book, but there is a 48 hour wait before it becomes available for resale.  I found this in their FAQs:

“The process of making this content buyable (“live”) on the Amazon Kindle Store takes 48 hours for English titles and 2-3 days for all other accepted languages. Publishing a title involves integrating your content into the global catalog, i.e. creating a product detail page, addition of content Amazon’s search index and the Amazon Kindle categories, etc. Please note that some elements such as the product description will take around 24 hours to propagate to the title’s detail page after it becomes buyable, but customers will be able to purchase the book once it has been published to the site.”


The Nook process went pretty much the simple way the Amazon upload did.  It also said it would take 24-48 hours to be ready for purchase.  However, I got an email after starting the process that said there was a problem and they wanted me to call them.  Because I did this Saturday, I had to wait till Monday to call.  All they did was ask me my email address and then did something behind the curtain (lever pulling, button pushing, whatever) before telling me they had confirmed me with the IRS and my book would be available in the next 48 hours.


By far the most difficult upload process.  They are more picky about the format is the main problem.  Perhaps that’s because they convert it to so many formats.  Pdf, RTF, Text only, Kindle mobi, Palm doc, ePub and Sony Reader formats.  When I told Smashwords how much I was going to sell it for, it populated a couple of pie charts telling me how much I would make at that price, which was nice.  It also let me upload the cover as a jpg.

They have a whole publishing tips “book” to read which includes a long section on formatting.  I didn’t read it till after I uploaded, and then I only skimmed.  The biggest thing I saw was that you’re not supposed to use tabs for paragraph indents.  There was also something special you were supposed to do for paragraph and section breaks.  I’m sure there was a lot more that would have made my upload work better.  I may look into it further later since I like the idea of being available on so many formats.

It does not allow you to preview anything before publishing, but you can select which formats you want as output. After it publishes, it shows you links to the downloadable formats you have chosen.  So I was able to determine that the html and pdf downloads looked fine despite my using tabs for paragraphs.  It even showed my italics.

After fiddling with my phone a bit, I got it to open up the epub version in a couple of different apps I have.  In Aldiko it removed my italics and my paragraph indents, but inserted an extra line between paragraphs so still looks okay.  In Kobo, it kept my italics and the little section breaks mark I had in there, and replaced my tabs with an additional line so it is readable.

The text and rtf versions really suffered from my not reading the formatting rules.  Paragraph tabs and breaks were missing or skewed, section marks replaced with something funky.  In general completely undoable.  Luckily it allowed me to go into My Account and remove those as downloadable options so I don’t have to inflict that ugliness on my readers.

I could not find a way to see what the download for Kindle, Sony or Palm looks like.  I do have the Kindle app on my phone so there’s probably a way I should be able to download that at least and look at it, but I couldn’t figure it out.  It downloads a .mobi file but I couldn’t figure out where to put the file on my phone SD card, or even if the app would read it if I did.  There does not seem to be an import function in the app like there was for Kobo and Aldiko. I left those options available to buyers, however, crossing my fingers that since the epub version worked okay that the story would have converted okay for these as well.  If anyone downloads and finds out differently, please let me know.


All in all an interesting experiment.  Now we’ll see if anyone wants to buy and, if they do, will they like it.  It will also be interesting to see what reaction my friends might have to the story.  Be warned:  bad language and the main character’s behavior might make you wonder what kind of twisted person this Deb Borys person really is.