Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I've Got a Hankerin' for a Kindle

The other day I sat by my tech savvy friend during an author's presentation. Drool came out of my mouth when, during the talk, my friend popped out her WI-FI Kindle and ordered the book that was being discussed. In less that two minutes she was thumbing through her own copy. Jealousy!!!!

As you can tell by my last post, I'm trying to get involved more into the world of e-publishing. So, imagine my excitement when I saw a blog that is giving away a Kindle. That's right a Kindle! I'm so in.

Check it out at: http://realizedreturns.com/read-my-drivel-win-a-kindle/
Friday, January 21, 2011

My E-pub Story: A How To Tale

Eighty years ago paperback books were the latest and greatest invention in the world of publishing. In 2011 the new sensation is ebooks, and last week I set out to see what the fuss is all about. This is my story:

1. I started with a goal: E-publish twelve short stories in 2011. Why short stories? Several reasons.

First off, once a novel is e-published, few traditional publishers will look at it. That is not the case with short stories. Magazines typically don't care if content has been e-published before. Since I'm still holding out for a book deal on my novels, I thought I stick to what are referred to as “shorts.”

Second, I wanted to start e-publishing NOW, and that meant I didn't have time to write a novel. A short story seemed doable since they run anywhere from 1,000 to 25,000 words. Most are about three to five thousand.

Third, the indie short story market is doing well. (For those like me who were about to Google what “indie” means, it's a piece of art or writing created independently without corporate financing.) With short stories running at .99 cents a pop, they've become a quick time-filler for people with ebook readers waiting at doctor offices, auto mechanics, etc.

2. I learned where to self publish an ebook. I found there are three main websites that feed into most ebook stores. These are: Smashwords.com; Amazon.com; and Barnes and Noble's Pubit. I went to each site and created an account. This was simple—like online shopping, which I happen to be very good at.

3. I wrote a short story, which I hadn't done since high school. Keep in mind that the short stories that sell the best are typically pulp fiction—detective, mystery, horror, science fiction. I've always had a fascination with treasure hunters, so I decided I would write a collection of stories around that theme.

To be honest, the story wrote itself. I don't know if they're all going to be that easy, but hey, I'm not complaining. Attention: Unlike writing a novel or a literary magazine article, pulp fiction doesn't have to be perfect. These are quick stories to give a reader a buzz. So, I didn't worry about editing too much. In fact, I wrote it, let it sit two days, and then read through it just one more time before publishing. Yes, I'm sure there are errors, but when someone is just going to read it on a tiny screen while he waits for his tires to be rotated and then delete it or file it away forever, I didn't feel the same pressure as when writing a book.

4. Making a cover was fun, but time consuming. I'm hoping my next one won't take as long. Here's the key: your cover has to look good as a thumbnail or you might was well not bother. That means no wispy fonts, confusing art, or small type. I learned this the hard way. In Smashwords, my font with a drop shadow looked good. At Amazon, it was unreadable. There's definitely a learning curve here. Also, save it as a jpeg since that format works at all three e-publishing sites.

Photoshop is the industry standard software to make cover art, but I don't own it because it's pricey. So, I downloaded a free version of Gimp. Gimp is about as complex as Photoshop, which can be intense for some of us non-graphics arts people. I turned to YouTube for a few quick tutorials on how to make a basic cover. It worked like a charm. Later I learned that for simple covers PowerPoint works just fine. I may take this route on the next one.

I didn't want to fork out good money to buy cover art—not when I didn't know if I was going to make any money at all. Instead, I went to www.dreamstime.com for free stock photos. This website makes it super simple to download images. Other sites were a pain, wanting all sorts of information before I could use it. If any of you have other suggestions for free stock photos, pass it along in the comments.

5. Formatting the book for upload was a bit of a pain. Seriously, if I were the swearing type, this is where I would insert a ripe four-letter word. I pretty much had to get rid of all formatting and then put back in just a few necessities like tabs. Don't even think about using a fancy font or putting in double space breaks. Multiple returns are death to an ebook. Make it simple. Smashwords.com has the most stringent of formatting rules. They only accept .doc files. So if you have a newer version of MS Word, beware—you'll need to save it as an older version to get the .doc file extension. Kindle and Barnes and Nobles Pubit were a little better.

Once I had my .doc file with the story and my .jpeg file with my cover ready, I uploaded my book at the three sites. This was the fun part. It gave me a quick rush to see that I'm “out there” in the digital world.

6.The road to success for indie authors is to publish, publish, publish. Nothing is going to happen career-wise for me until I have a decent selection of work for readers to choose from. The more I e-publish, the easier it is for people to find me online. For me that means back to the keyboard.

Please take a look at the finished product at Smashwords.com. For a limited time, you can use the code AJ42S to download a copy of my short story for free: FORGOTTEN CANYON by Lois D. Brown. If you don't have an e-reader, no big deal. You can open up in an internet browser to read.

If you've had experience self-publishing an ebook, I'd love to hear about it. Also, if you'd like to use my "how to epub story" on your blog, please feel free. I just ask that you be sure to include the Smashwords' coupon code and the name of my story so your followers can download it for free too.
Friday, January 7, 2011

All For One, One For All

Let's be honest. Every once in a while, do you look at an author who's "made it" and get a twinge of . . . oh, I don't know . . . compete hatred? Ok, so it's not that bad, but I have felt jealousy toward writers whose novels grace the walls of Barnes and Noble while mine sits in an envelope with the word rejected written on it.

Sometimes I have felt like if I don't hurry, other authors will write all of the good stories in the world and there will be none left for me. Ridiculous, I know.

Today I read a great blog about how, unlike in other fields, we have no reason to compete with other writers. Check out the original post at http://www.deanwesleysmith.com

Seriously, it gave me enough warm fuzzies to shake off my after-holidays lethargy and write something.

So here is my shout out to all of you. FEEL THE LOVE! Let's get our back ends in gear and write some great stuff this year together.

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Treasure Hunting Stories

Treasure Hunting Stories
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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.