Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

The Vanguard

So, at long last, I published “The Vanguard” this morning, on both Amazon and Smashwords.  It may take some hours or days for it to show up on various sites.






The only technical problem I had was trying to make an interactive table of contents.  It was easy enough to create one in Word, but Smashwords balked at it and said that I should do something else with bookmarks and hyperlinks, which I tried, but could not make work.  In the end, I just used a simple text TOC that simply lists the chapters and does not link anywhere.  Honestly, I never use this feature while reading fiction anyhow – I simply read the story in a linear fashion.  Very handy in digital magazines, however.

Oh, and once again, I have selected a beginning of chapter symbol that does not translate properly on older Kindles, even though I specifically selected it from a simplified character set.  It is a sort of “V” symbol, forget what it was called.  Greek, maybe.  Anyhow, I left it as is – not going to change it on 27 chapters, only to find that the replacement does not work either.  The old Kindle readers (of which I am one) can just assume that the question mark symbol denotes the mystery aspect of the book.

Yes, I am lazy.  Why do you ask?

Already has about forty page views on Smashwords, because some people cruise the Newly Published screen – in fact, the default Smashwords homepage.  One sample download.  I do expect a little more action on this title, as it is more mainstream than my past efforts.  Time will tell.

Was waiting for help on my cover, which never appeared, so I finally slapped something together that seems to work and which I hope does not look too cheap.

Decided to publish this under my own name.  My original plan was to use a pseudonym for my youth adventure stories – as a sort of branding – but as it happens, it is not really necessary.  Kristine Rusch, whose blog I read religiously and who happens to have over a half-dozen pen names of her own, wrote last week that it was not really necessary for an “indie” writer.

Indeed, Heinlein – who I am not – only used pen names to disguise the fact that he was writing half the stories in a single issue of Astounding or to sell off his few clunkers without harming his reputation.  Everything I read of his I read under his byline, even if it was originally published under a pen name.  There has never been much confusion of readers buying the “wrong kind” of story from him.  That is, nobody who bought his juveniles would buy Stranger in a Strange Land thinking it was appropriate for children.  It is only necessary that the blurb and the cover connote the type of content being sold.

If I was ever able to write full time, I might want to revisit the pen name issue.  As it is, publishing one or two a year, I need all the synergy I can muster.  This way, any young readers I manage to snag with what I hope will be several Vanguard and Life on the School Bus books can “graduate” to my more adult trope as their tastes change.

And don’t worry.  While I am quite capable of using innuendo and being suggestive, I do not believe I could comfortably write anything, even in adult titles, that would mortally offend most parents, unless it was to show a weapon being used for the express purpose of self defense.

Will probably get the links to Amazon and Smashwords loaded on this site once they have solidified, probably in a couple of days.

Then, back to work, I suppose.  This work, not the job I actually get paid for.  I am writing, very slowly, what will one day be the second or third of the Life on the School Bus series, but I won’t publish that until I have the first story ready to go – and would prefer to have at least three in the series.  Yes, The Vanguard is also in a series (I hope), but it is actually meant to be the first and it is far larger and stands up all by itself.

Meanwhile, I can start putting the polish on my mother’s favorite, Sky Yukon, and get that published.  This will be more involved than The Vanguard, which I only needed to reformat.  Sky Yukon is going to need some rewriting.  Not story or structure, just word choice and flow.  It is, I think, just a tiny bit stilted.  Just like Lifeboats, I wrote it in 1995 and I have learned a fair bit since then, though not always noticeably.  Should keep me busy well into the new year.

Categories: Publishing, Writing

Good Press

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment

BetteRose Ryan reviews Lifeboats.  She is very kind.

Of course, she has liked my writing since I used to write press releases about her, back when she chaired the LPCO.



Categories: Publishing

Another Smash

Another small triumph last weekend.  I took the three short stories that I published on Kindle last year and published them on Smashwords.  They are all now accepted on Premium, which means they will start showing up on other ebook stores soon, like Kobe and iTunes.

The biggest hassle was, like I had to do for Lifeboats, expanding the size of the book covers.  They need to be so many pixels wide and tall.  Luckily, there is a free website that does that for you.

A little bit non-intuitive, but it does the job.

I made a couple of sales and a lot of people sampled them.  Apparently, some folks hang out on Smashwords’ Recently Published page and sniff ’em as they go by.

Next step is to add the Smashwords links to this blog’s Unfree Fiction page.  Will add other links as they become available.

I guess the next trick is to get The Vanguard ready for publication.  This will be a bit of a trick, as it currently exists as something like twenty-seven chapters in twenty-seven files on Google Drive.  I will have to create a Word document for the whole thing, paste in the chapters one at a time, then do all the reformatting bits at one time.  I will start with the Smashwords edition, then see if I can publish that on Amazon without changes.

Gonna need a cover for it.  (Odd – this spell checker likes “gonna,” but doesn’t like “Smashwords,” no matter how many times I use it.)  Also, I am planning to release this under a pseudonym, which in Smashwords means either a separate account or an upgrade to a publisher account – not sure about Amazon.


Categories: Publishing


Turns out that, when I wrote the last post, I was already on the Premium Catalog (or whatever) for Smashwords.  Nothing more to do but wait.  Understand it takes a few weeks for things to show up on other websites.

Oh and, by the way, should I happen to sell a book on one or more of the other sites, they pay Smashwords who, in turn, would pay me.  Theoretically.  Someday.  In the fullness of time.

The royalty structure is a little different for the “partner resellers” than they are for direct sales on Smashwords – just as Smashword’s royalties are a little different than Amazon’s – but they are not that different and a sale is a sale.

It is important, should any of you make the journey, to keep the price the same between ebook platforms.  Most of your service agreements require this, more or less.  You don’t want to be de-listed because somebody’s web sniffer found your book at a different price elsewhere.  This also makes the temporary sale price (or zero price) problematic.

Print books?  If anybody ever goes there?  You can have a different price for that – though I suspect it would be in your interest to have all your print books (same type of course – not comparing paperback to hardcover) at the same price, as there are probably agreements for that as well.  But that little problem would be your publisher’s issue, not yours.


Categories: Publishing


So, there I was, investigating PubIt, which is Barnes & Noble’s ebook publisher for their Nook.  Turned out, they wanted a credit card, which I found odd.    Further investigation found that they wanted the credit card in case there were more returns of your books in one month than there were sales.  They would charge you, in that case.  Not something I would expect to happen very often.

But that same search turned up the fact that I could get on the Nook through Smashwords instead.

Turns out, if you format everything in accordance with their style guide, Smashwords will get you on every platform BUT the Kindle.  So, publish on Amazon and publish on Smashwords – make sure you charge the same price on both – and you are on most major ebook platforms.  And Smashwords doesn’t ask for a credit card, so I guess they aren’t that worried about returns.

So, I have Lifeboats published on Smashwords.  I am waiting for their final review to see if I qualify for the Premium Catalog, which most books do, which is how you get on the other platforms.  Once that is done, I will spend a couple of hours getting the short stories onto Smashwords and it will be onto the next thing.

What next thing?

Stay tuned.


Categories: Publishing


So, at long last, I have published Lifeboats.  Been working on it, on and off, for nearly a year – more like eighteen years, in some respects.  I got a few suggestions from friends, that I tried to fix, mostly.

Learned a lot more about formatting in this case.  I wrote this in Google Docs.  Adding to the confusion, the original version of this was written in MS Works – the built-in (read: free) word processor that came with all Windows back then.  This got copied to Word somewhere over the years, but some of the legacy formatting was still there and got uploaded to Google when I copied everything over a few years ago.  So, for instance, tabs had gotten converted to spaces.  Quotation marks were a swift pain and  had to be corrected in the final Word version, after I downloaded.

There are not too many of my stories that are that old, so some things will be easily avoided in the future.  Here are some general lessons for converting Google Docs through Word for upload to Amazon Kindle:

Don’t use tabs to indent paragraphs.  This is difficult for me, because I do this reflexively.  But though the tab makes the transition from Google to Word, it gets tossed on transition to HTML.  Instead, use the paragraph indent in the paragraph dialogue box in Word.  It is probable that you can do that in Google as well and it would make the transition, but as Google did not give me a way to delete the tabs, I elected to fix all this in Word.  Also, should you find yourself in this fix, if you go to Word’s paragraph dialogue, find the Tab button, which will give you a way to clear all of the tabs in one shot.

Google page breaks don’t seem to translate to Word.  Well, they do, sort of, but they translate to some special character that does not translate to HTML.  I had to go page by page, deleting the special character, which looks like a tiny square if you turn on special character viewing, and replace them with the standard Word page breaks (ctrl-enter).

Towards the end of the process, I elected to use four special astrological characters as section breaks.  These did make the transition to Word, but only when I downloaded it as RTF, and they made the transition to HTML.  It was not until I had uploaded the HTML file to Amazon and looked at the Kindle simulator that I realized…  by gum! they work there too.  That is, they work when the simulator was at its default setting, which is now Kindle Fire.  If you look at the simulator when set to (old) Kindle or some of the other options, the special characters look like little squares – smaller character set, apparently.  I debated for a while and decided to leave it that way since 1) they are selling a bajillion Kindle Fires these days, so most of “my public” will be reading it that way and 2) the little squares are also acting as section breaks, which works for me.  Can always change it later, if I get complaints.

So, this chapter in my writing and publishing life is finally over.  Next?  I would really like to replace the book covers on my three short stories.  They are truly dreadful.  Again, I made them using the ancient MS Paint.  I now find that I have other (free) tools available to me with far more capability and I might get my wife to help me with some photography.  Oh, and let us not forget all those hundreds of NASA images available online (read: public domain).

Then?  Guess I ought to reexamine publishing on Kobe and Smashwords and the iStore, just to see what is involved.  I would also like to publish my one novel that is about as ready for publication as it will ever be, The Vanguard.  Just need to figure out a cover for it and one or two days to convert and upload.  So, lots of ways to go, just got to pick one.

First, however, I think I’ll take the wife to lunch.


Categories: Publishing

Better Covering

September 30, 2012 Leave a comment

You might remember that I created the covers for my current three published short stories using the ancient MS Paint tool.  What I created was far from superior – for reference, just click on the Unfree Fiction tab above – but Paint was what I had available at the time.

Turns out I was wrong.  Google Docs (now Drive) has a draw tool that is far superior, also free, and has the advantage of storing whatever you make out in the cloud, safe from floods, disk crashes and motherboard fires.

The cover I came up with the other day, for the novella that I am turning into a novel, actually looks like it might NOT have been made by a preschooler with a wireless mouse.  The process was quite simple.  First I did a web search for Solar System images, found one that I like by NASA (read: public domain), and pasted it in the draw tool window.  Then there was a little judicious cropping, to turn a square into a tall rectangle – book cover shaped.  Then I created two text boxes for the title and my name.  Done.

Took about twenty minutes, most of that time spent trying to figure out the quirks of the thing.  It allows me to download it in various formats; I used a JPEG, but PDF is also available.

The only really annoying bit was that I could not figure out how to crop the pasted image.  I could size the background to book cover shape, then center the image over that background.  Only the part of the image that is on top of the background actually prints/exports, but the only way I could see what that looked like was to go to print preview, then come back to the draw screen and move things around.  I could shape and resize the image, but I could not crop it.  Granted, I only have about a half-hour’s experience on the tool and it is quite possible I missed this function, but find it I could not.

Anyhow, this is what I came up with.  It is light-years beyond the other covers – granted, the NASA image is the real reason for this.  I may rethink this before I publish, but for right now, it looks pretty good to me.  Now all I have to do is finish writing.





Categories: Publishing, Technology