Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seeing your book on Amazon...

Is such a cool, strange, exhilarating feeling. For those who don't know yet, MALICE went live on Amazon's Kindle store this morning. I encourage everyone to head down and have a look. Just click on the book title and it'll bring you there. And for anyone without a Kindle, on the right side of my blog are links to free Kindle software downloads.

Now it's time to put it through the Smashwords meatgrinder and see what comes out the other end.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Uploading to Kindle

As some of you may know from my Tweets, Ted Risk (my formatter) must have pulled an all-nighter, because I sent him my final proofed copy of MALICE at around 2am and I found it in my inbox when I woke up. The man's a star. I'm expecting this post to be rather short since I'll only be addressing the experience I had uploading my novel to Kindle.

Now keep in mind I outsourced most of the heavy lifting (cover design, proofreading and formatting). All told it set me back about 500 bones, but considering I don't get along well with Photoshop or html code, I think I saved myself a world of aggravation.

Overall the process was quite painless. Most of the boxes to be filled in are rather self explanatory. The keywords bit threw me for a tiny loop. You're supposed to pick words that readers might use to find your book. Luckily Scott Nicholson was nice enough to lend a newb (that's me!) a hand.

If you've seen any previous posts then you might have seen I was feeling 'the crunch'. My deadline is October 1st and without Ted's lightening fast skills, I'd need a defibrillator handy, or two.

The cool thing about Kindle (and maybe B&N too, I just don't know yet), is that you can change whatever you want. If my product description blows, or my covers are weak or I decide to include a sample chapter from my upcoming book, that's not a problem. I hope this doesn't sound like a commercial, because trust me it isn't.

If I haven't mentioned it, there's a 24 hour 'review' period while Amazon preps your digital shelf space. Or checks your ebook to make sure it's not porn masquerading as literature. So until this time tomorrow (Kindle), I'm going to just sit back (Kindle), relax (Kindle) and wipe any thoughts of my book clear out of my mind (Kindle, Kindle, Kindle).

Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Crunch Time

I recently landed a great promotional opportunity with author Scott Nicholson (The Red Church). Once MALICE goes live on Kindle, he'll add a blurb and an html link to my book at the end of four of his own books and short stories. The only catch is that I have to be ready by October 1st which, believe me, is no small feat.

I've already got the cover art, thanks to the amazing Kit Foster, who has done an awesome job if I do say so. Incidentally, Kit is already working on the cover for my novella BIRD OF PREY as well as two of my short stories, THE GRIP and THE SECOND COMING. About two weeks ago I lined up Diana Cox who's currently proofreading the manuscript and recently hired Ted Risk who Scott recommended for the formatting.

One important note before I go on. If you're going the hiring route like I did, be sure to consider that everyone you bring on board has their own schedules, some of which might be very busy. The first formatter I hired, for example, wasn't able to get to me until the end of October. As J.A. Konrath would probably say, every day your book sits idle, is another day it fails to find you a readership.

Now, as promised, since this was all new to me, I'll fill you in on some of what I've learned. For anyone about to embark on the self publishing route, I'd say a strong cover--something that really grabs the eye--is a must. Ideally it shouldn't be too dark since online you'll have little more than a tiny thumbnail to temp readers into clicking on your book. If you shrink the image down to 12.5% and it still looks good, then you're in business. This was where my designer Kit really shined. I definitely have a vision for how I wanted the cover to look, but I can't draw for my life so Kit would send me several options until we zeroed in on the look I was after. It's one thing to have a mental image and another entirely to clearly articulate that vision to the person in charge of making it a reality. It's funny how quickly I forget that no one can read my mind. Ouff!

That being said, my suggestion would be to do your cover first. Whether you go it alone, or hire someone, you're going to need it once you get to the formatting stage (more on that in a future post) and of all the stages, the cover can be the biggest wild card. You might get it all done in a single day's work, or it could take you a month. It all depends on the complexity of what you want, and how clearly you can communicate that idea.

Thanks for hanging out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

The ugly truth is, I started writing novels because my TV went on the fritz. It's sad really and I wish there was a far more romantic story behind it all. Most of the time there isn't. Ken Follett had his eye on a little sports car back in the 1960s and decided writing and publishing a novel was the quickest way to go about it. My first attempt was a middle grade novel about a fat knight and a pig who could talk. I naively started sending out query letters the minute my first draft was done, thinking 'I wrote the damn thing, surely someone will want to read it.'


Needless to say, with that kind of attitude I didn't get very far. I put that project aside and tried my hand at short stories for a while. I quite enjoyed those, published a couple and a handful of the ones I had the most fun writing will be going on Kindle very soon.

It wasn't long after that I stumbled upon an idea for a novel. Two ideas actually that I mashed together to form the basis of my first novel, MALICE. I won't bore anyone just yet with those kinds of details, especially given that the novel isn't out just yet. My goal right now is October 1st, 2011.

What I really want to talk about is my reason for this blog. Over and above spreading the word that my work is for sale--the equivalent really of flipping an open sign on a store front window--I want to chronicle each stage of the indie book publishing process as I slog my way through it. A process that is just as new for me as it is for a number of people. And like most, I'm hoping in with both feet. So in that sense, one of my aims is that writers might learn a trick or two from the many mistakes I'm about to make.

That being said, I also intend this blog to cater to readers and eventually fans. Perhaps one day droves of them will come shambling up my driveway demanding MALICE PART DEUX or another novella like BIRD OF PREY. See, didn't I tell you when you first got here I was a dreamer? And why not? But ultimately it's about getting better at what you do. Writers in their 80s are still learning and improving their craft. I expect to be the same.

Right now, here's my humble definition of success:
someone buys a story I've written, and then comes back to buy more. Rinse and repeat, like the shampoo instructions. That person, who for the sake of argument we'll call, Turbo Fan #1, will be the proof in the pudding that someone is taking as much pleasure in reading my work, as I've had in writing it. As these blogs progress, that definition of success will change and grow. I may not give you a breakdown of every penny I make. Although I can assure you the first few weeks will likely be depressingly slow. But that'll change. As the heading of this blog indicates. Nothing stays the same forever.