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Monthly Archives: June 2012

All I’ve learned in a month! Beware, this post may be epic!

So, in my last post, I talked about the self-publishing I’ve been doing.  Doing this has taught me a few things in the last month.  Publishing your own work, beyond the writing and editing stages, is work.  It is better to go into it realizing you know nothing, and work from there.  You make mistakes, but don’t take them to heart.  It will all work out in the end.  Be flexible.

I had chosen Smashwords.com as a primary distribution point for my work.  They have set standards, which they nicely publish in a free e-book Smashwords Style Guide available through their website or through pretty much any e-reader’s store.  These standards go against certain stylistic choices we, as typists, are taught.  For instance, I was taught to double-space after a period.  I do this by complete habit now, and haven’t been able to break it.  I’ve done it entirely through my blog, all my manuscripts, and even thinking about it this very second, I am loath to stop doing it.  It’s been something that has been dying out in recent years in style guides, but habits are tough to break just because someone says it isn’t necessary anymore.  double space.  🙂

Also, with the advent of blogs, web publishing, web pages, the initial tab at the beginning of a paragraph has been dying out.  I noticed this while setting up my first personal webpage in the mid 2000s.  In e-books, particularly fiction, this can still be done, but it requires setting MS Word or your word processor of choice, to automatically indent after a paragraph return.  However, again, I am ingrained with months of typing classes, and years of habitual practice, to tab in myself.  I found with the Style Guide’s help, I can edit my natural tendencies with a little diligence and judicious use of Find and Replace.  It would be easier to just write that way in the first place, but I haven’t had much luck with that so far.

Also, I learned that I can admire thousands of book covers in a day, but when it comes to creatively replicating such a thing, I am no graphic designer.  Not remotely.  Not only are my Paint.net skills rudimentary (and I’m too broke for Photoshop), but my conception of space, color, and design are staid and simplistic.  I can create a rather tolerable cover in a reasonable amount of time, given a good stock photo and some playful fonts, but it will, in no way, look like a professional had a hand in it.

Publishing four pieces (I won’t call them books since even put together, they are nowhere near book length), has been entertaining and interesting and frustrating.  I’m at the point where it can go relatively smoothly.  And then I tried publishing one on Kindle Direct, just to see.  Of course, the formatting and file types necessary are different, so that led to file folders on my desktop with each individual type of file, the Open Office program since my MS Word Starter won’t insert bookmarks, and shuffling files back and forth between programs to get all the proper formatting in place.  Also, the jpg requirements for the cover were vastly different.  Smashwords recommends pixel counts anywhere from 500×800 to 650×1000, but Amazon recommends anything from 1000 to 1600 pixels on the shortest side, with similar trade paperback ratios,  Still, this was mostly busy work and I refer each time to the instructions so that I get everything right.  Won’t do to be cocky and have to start over again!

I uploaded the files for each piece at least twice, and in some cases, three times, making small changes and checking to see how the translation to epub or mobi fared.  Sometimes, no matter what I changed, I still couldn’t get silly things to stop happening.  I learned to let go the perfectionism and work with what I could change.  For instance, the coding on one file kept justifying a couple of words on both edges, leading to weirdly stretched out words.  That justification setting wasn’t in my source file, and I changed a few things and it happened a second time.  The third time, I changed how I set up the lines so that they’d be centered and that took care of the problem.

I’ve also learned a bit about stock photography and fonts and commercial use.  Neither the Smashwords guide nor the Amazon publishing guide really talk about it, and I even had to email the stock photo site to clarify some points.  I can use royalty free photos for my book cover, though it is nice to give credit to the site and photographer.  I haven’t done so yet.  It is not technically necessary, but it is generally done.  I plan to incorporate credit for these into my files soon.  I will probably make the change once I have a few more things listed and update the files with more links to other works anyway.  I will also remember to do so on my title page for any future works.  I count this as a mistake I made, simply because no one said outright to do so.  Still, fixable and, with self publishing, just a bit of work and time to make the change.

   Stock photo courtesy of Azlaura via Dreamstime.com.  Font Rope5 by Character and Tonky by Grudnuck Creations via Fontspace.com

  Stock photo courtesy of Rolfaasa via Dreamstime.com.  Font Decadence Condensed by Emerald City Fontworks via Fontspace.com.

  Stock photos courtesy of Dgstudio and Tolokonov via Dreamstime.com.  Also, font used was Demons and Darlings by Chad Savage, via Fontspace.com.  I’ve linked to his own site here, mainly when I found the font on the other site, and realized it was Chad Savage, I was pretty excited.  I’d been a fan of his work since 2006 and found the site zombiepinups.com through Christopher Moore’s book A Dirty Job.

As for Those Who Howl, I have stated before that I did the painting myself, took the photo of the painting myself, and I’m fairly sure the font is Ariel, so I’m not too worried about that credit. 🙂  Wow, looking all that up was a lot of work!

One of the nice things about self-publishing with e-books is how easy it is to fix something like that one ridiculous typo you’ve looked at a million times and never notice until someone points it out.  You can just upload a new file.  I was reading on a blog recently, and I don’t recall which one unfortunately, about how someone got the final printed copy of her book and the first sentence was just gone.  Hadn’t been something she or her editor took out, it just somehow disappeared between the galley edits and the final copy.  She handled it well, issuing bookmarks with the first line printed on them, but knowing you can’t really fix it in the thousands of printed copies is, for lack of a better word, sucky.

I think this is enough of a reconstituted lesson for one day!

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Holy crap! I’ve sold two books!

Now, before we all get too excited, I have one thing to say:  If you are a friend or family or coworker who didn’t know I wrote fairly smutty stories occasionally, feel free to exit stage left now.  I don’t especially want to chat about porn in public.  It’s why I will laugh about the craziness of the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon, but can’t really deride it much further since I’ve certainly written worse in my day.

So, with that caveat in mind, I will admit to taking a foray into self-publishing.  In May this year, 2012, I made it a goal to have “something” up on Smashwords.com by the beginning of June.  This was not much of a firm goal, particularly, but one I actually took seriously.  I’d been perusing the guidebooks for publishing on Smashwords and had been playing with a few old stories that were more-or-less publication ready.  I’d been doing a few edits on these stories, though I would have considered them finished several years ago already.  At one point I had a website with these stories, but I let the page go defunct.  So, with selected works ready to go, I took the plunge.

The first work I put up was a dirty, vaguely historical story called “Cowpoke.”  I set myself up with some credits at Dreamstime Stock Photos and Paint.net and set to work.  I found the formatting fairly easy, though some of the requirements went totally against my ingrained typing skills.  I played around with the stock photo I’d chosen and some fonts I downloaded from Fontspace.  I made what I consider a respectable cover.  I like it quite a lot despite a certain unprofessional cheese factor.

I mean, I’m no graphic designer, and that definitely shows, but I just like the image.

Anyway, after some success with immediate downloads (hey, I did, and still, offer it for free), I began work on another.  “Tribute” went up a few days later, also for free.  This story I had written years and years ago as an offshoot of a novel I wrote my sophomore year in college for my friends.  The story was written after that, as a piece of a conceived sequel that never made it to paper.  I submitted this story to a vampire erotica contest on Oysters & Chocolate in 2009 and won third prize, for which I got about $35 between check and gift card.  I was vastly pleased with that at the time.

About this point, though, I was thinking that, while I could publish this work for free, I really was interested in publication with the goal of earning money.  So my third item was Those Who Howl, a collection of three short stories I’d written over the years.  I chose one werewolf, one vampire, and on incubus, with the original intention of having about six stories.  The trio of stories I kept back were generally werewolf stories and I didn’t want the collection to be wolf-heavy, despite the title.  I priced this trio of stories at $1.99, while keeping the singles free.  For this one, I used a photo of a painting of my own as the cover instead of a stock photo.  This is also the only piece I’ve also published directly with Amazon.com (since I can’t figure out how to publish free materials there and Smashwords does not currently ship most things directly to Amazon).  These, and a fourth, Winter Nocturne, have all shipped to bn.com and should be able to be purchased directly on nook.  (And I admit, today was the first day I noticed that they arrived after several weeks of waiting, and I had to squee! a little.)

So, to get to my title reference, I’ve sold two copies of Those Who Howl to date.  I’ve made a whole $2.95, which I won’t see unless it goes over $10, but the money isn’t the thing.  The thing really is that I made an effort to try something new.  I put together covers, formatted text, learned a few things, made a few mistakes, and did something, for chrissakes! 🙂  And that last month of work amounted to something, stats, if nothing else.

Stats.  These are kind of horrible, and I check them obsessively like every other writer, I’m sure.  So far, “Cowpoke” has been my most popular download from Smashwords, with over a thousand downloads since I put it up.  Keep in mind that a single user might download something as many times as they wish, for multiple devices since Smashwords sells around eight different formats to cover Kindle, nook, sony, ibooks, pdf, and a few other things to cover pretty much any device you can think of.  “Tribute” and “Winter Nocturne” are about half that, with Nocturne slightly edging out the other.  I find this strange because not only did “Tribute” come out two weeks earlier, but I find it a more interesting story.  Those Who Howl brings up the rear with 14 downloads consisting mainly of the free sample.  I tried to design the free sample so that it would consist of the whole first story, but perhaps I should cut that in half. 🙂

The other stats I check in a day are at Literotica.com, where I’ve also posted a couple of stories.  I recently posted “Cowpoke” there, and about a month before, I posted a story called “Anniversary Gift.”  AG has had over 15,000 views (!) and CP over 8500.  Unlike on Smashwords, AG is favored much more highly than CP, with a significantly higher rating.  This was partly my attempt at advertising.  I have a few other things in mind as I get more work out there, so we’ll have to see how that goes.  At the moment, I have more work to edit before I can look at putting a new listing up.  I think it will be a 99 cent listing, with Anniversary Gift (as the free sample as well) and a gigolo story I liked quite a bit when I was in my 20s but needs a bit of an overhaul now.

I have a lot more to say on this topic, but I’m hitting 1000 words here, so I will save that for another post.  I should get to work editing!

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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