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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

E-Publishing: Changing the Ball Game


When I decided to place my reverted backlist novels into e-publishing, I researched the hows. I was stunned. So much to learn! Multiple software, formats, extensive networking to promote....

Initially, I wasn't certain I wanted to dedicate so much time to my backlist.. Did I really want to take time away from my new WIP to revive my early books? My gosh, as a seasoned veteran of Berkley, Dell, Avon, and Harlequin books, experienced at promotion/graphics/webwork, I didn't expect the necessity of learning so much, so fast, to self-publish my reverted early books. (Reverted: publishers send a formal letter, a reversion of rights of a particular contracted book to the author or responsible person.)

Okay, self-publishing services, i.e. formatting, cover design, etc. are available, but hey, that costs, and there goes the profit. Plus, I'm a hands-on person, and my reverted book list was long, so I dug in to learn the ball game. And I'm liking it.


NIGHT FIRE is my latest cover effort. You can read more about my actual trip on the Oregon Trail to research at my  blog. You can also see the original Berkley cover.

Changing, adapting to the ball game is what writers are doing now, adjusting to a whole new realm of e-publishing and Internet.

One of the main differences, other that writing well in writing to sell today includes more technical knowledge. The writer needs good skills, a good story, and some technical skills at the very least. The majority of selling writers today are familiar with lots of technical stuff, from computer-ease to creating their own websites, blogs, etc. with a high priority on e-mail skill. Experts can be hired, but the more the writer knows, the more the profit, and this is a business, remember?

Writers and writers' organizations are constantly evaluating what works today. !In my opinion, any writers' organization that does not provide some informational programs about e-publishing is deficient. E-publishing is here now, the big elephant, and cannot be overlooked.

Major traditional publishers are now entering this e-reader game, in addition to their regular paper and e-book sales. At this writing, Avon is the latest to start a separate division dedicated to e-publishing; theirs is titled Impulse. There is a realm of e-publishers available for submission. The list of Indie Authors (writers who self-publish) is growing.

Self-published writers like Amanda Hocking or ground-breaker J.A. Konrath have soared to top lists by hitting self-publishing after traditional publisher rejection. Beth Orsoff has a great blog post on her experience.

These writers generated their self-publishing careers by sheer energy and dedication, after rejection from traditional publishers. They used blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Kindleboards and every Internet source possible. (Publishers usually want their writers to be active anyway in these media.) At 26, news-maker Amanda Hocking is a millionaire, after 10 months of grueling Internet work. Konrath's story is legendary, but his road to success took several years. These sellers and others inspire writers to get that "drawer" manuscript out, polish it, and send that baby out into the ball game. Or publish new material, bypassing the traditional route.

There is a big question out there in Writerville now: Do I want to bypass the traditional method of querying an agent/getting a publisher? Or do I want to do my own thing?

Many have decided to self-publish alone. Writers akin to myself with traditionally published books, and those reverted rights are reviving their books, too. E-newsletters remind subscribers when a new title is ready. An online presence is a must, i.e. a blog, etc. Blogger and others are free, drawing reader/buyers to your product.

It's out there, folks, all the how-tos you could ever want, if you want to self-publish. Learn by doing. Almost every writer's site has how-to information. (Please visit my Writers Guide to Survival tag at my blog, and or information at my Writers Tips.)

While my publishers have Cait London paper and e-books available, I'm currently placing my reverted backlist into epublishing and learning every day. Night Fire was a Berkley Diamond 1994 release; Wild Dawn a 1992 release. After Blue Leaf Scanning service provided a Word document of my scanned title to me, and I cleaned the file, I created the new covers, using Adobe Elements 9.

If using fresh copy, this journey is much easier. I've uploaded various formatted versions several times, uploaded different covers in my learning journey. It's smoothing out now, but I am redoing some early tries.

NOTE: The overlay of "Dawn" is really the sunset from my back yard. 


Basic pieces of freeware (software that is free) are necessary. For covers, graphic software is available for download called Paint.net, which is pretty good. I've started using some of my own photographs on my covers, which saves on stock photos, such as you can buy at istockphoto and others.

Self-publishing my reverted rights novels is finding me new readers and new sales, plus readers familiar with my contemporary work, are enjoying my early westerns. My early books were under the Cait Logan pseudonym, but it was easy to copyright them all under the Cait London tag. I've also retitled one early book and may retitle another. The ease with which changes can be made, after uplifting the original file and cover is amazing.

One reader wrote that she was glad I was placing my "classics" into e-publishing, because she couldn't find copies and she'd worn hers out! Others appreciate this rebirth because their e-readers allow for enlarging the fonts. I love this feedback.

In this safari to get my reverted backlist novels into e-publishing, I've found that the learning curve is very steep. Remember that services are available. But a determined individual can learn the mechanics and save. As a business person, thinking in terms of profit/loss is ultra-important. Always remember that writing to sell is a business.

NOTE: THE MACLEAN TRILOGY.  I'm changing the middle cover soon. All so easy. Just upload new graphic or new edition.


We're not all going to hit J.A. Konrath's heights, but if you're headed for e-publishing, here's basic facts:

1. Most self-publishers use PubIt, Kindle and Smashwords. All have FAQ pages. Read them.

2. As self-publishers, or "Indy Authors", energy invested equals proportionate success. Amanda, J.A., Beth and self-published are pushing hard for sales. You can hire services, cover artists, formatters, etc. but most self-published do their own, or at least until $ start moving. One benefit of working with e-publishers is that they do this for you. If you prefer not to face this steep learning curve, you might choose to go with an e-publisher, rather than publish your own at Amazon's Kindle, or in paper at their CreateSpace, or Lulu or other places.

3. Business attitude. Same as in the old days: good, clean copy, but now Word 2003 is standard. Be prepared to regiment time, i.e. creative writing time, and dedicate a block of time learning the specs, circulating on Twitter, Kindleboards, etc. Through my lifetime as an artist and/or writer, I've found that anything I wanted to learn, would be mine with a dedicated 2 hours per day. Study this animal as if you were stalking big game, and you are. The "game" is now international, and so is the competition. (In my opinion, Twitter is one of the most useful learning and promotional tools available.)

4. If you're not computer savvy, learn. Today's writers must use computers and enter the Internet. Learn how to network on the various loops and communities. Learn how to back up, how to format for Smashwords, an aggregator. (Aggregator: takes your copy and spins it into others for sale at places like Amazon Kindle, Sony, Apple, etc.) Some places (Sony/Apple/etc.) require ISBNs, which Smashwords makes available, or you can purchase from Bowker. (*Each format, print/epub/audio requires a separate ISBN.) Not all online bookstores take from individuals like Kindle or BN's PubIt will, but they will from a licensed "aggregator".

5. Double Note on Formatting: Each e-book reader will have a prescribed format. Every e-book online seller offers either specific or many formats. Learn the difference between formats, i.e. html, mobi, epub, lit, PDF, etc. Every seller has specs: borders, indentations, line space, fonts. Again, Word 2003 is recommended. And it needs to be cleaned of hidden formatting. In this, Notepad is your friend.

6.  The following are essential freeware: For epublishing and/or changing formats from one to another for your ereader, Calibre is foremost. Then MobiCreator prepares material for Kindle. Adobe Digital Editions, Kindle for PC, and Nook for PC (available from Barnes and Noble) allow means to check your file, prior to Uploading. I am not Mac-acquainted, but software is available for that format, too. These and Notepad are essential for a self-published author, plus they are free and can be used for e-reading without a Kindle, etc. device. Tremendous amount of free e-books out there now, available for download.

7. Cannot say enough about good editorial work on manuscripts. Writers are hiring editors, which has opened jobs. In e-publishing, quality counts.

The Time Crunch: 
Making time (not finding time) to write forward is essential and it's all about priorities, folks. I'm writing new material now, but also dedicated to reviving my "classics". Learning this ball game takes time/energy, too. Did I say the learning curve for self-publishing is steep? Make that double-steep. But highly rewarding. Highly enjoyable.

The first thing to do? Get a ring notebook dedicated specifically for this game, ready for all those passwords and URLs you'll need, like Amazon Associates.

Right now, I'm dedicated and enjoying this journey, and learning more as I self-publish my reverted backlist titles, as many career traditionally-published authors are doing now. At this writing, I am just starting to learn the ins/outs of promotion, such as Daily Cheap Reads and Kindleboards, etc. I'll continue to learn these new emerging e-publishing trends, such as interactive stories--fascinating!
 
I've written more about my experiences at my blog, Daily or Not. But are you fascinated with e-publishing, too? Either with an e-publisher, or self-publishing? As a reader, do you prefer an e-reader, i.e. Kindle, over a paper book/magazine/newspaper?  



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ron Davis to Speak at Sleuths' Ink, March 12th

Ron Davis is one of the most honored journalists in the Ozarks, with a career spanning all mediums.

Davis has covered the Ozarks and called it home since 1983. In that time, he has won more than 100 local, state, regional and national awards for journalism and writing.

He served as news director of KSMU; special writer at the News-Leader; and founding editor of 417 Magazine. After a brief detour into politics and public relations, Davis returned to journalism in 2007, accepting the position of senior producer at KSPR, the ABC affiliate.

Career highlights:
-Two-time winner, outstanding achievement in writing, Gannett
-Nine-time Best of Gannett winner, newspaper
-National Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting, radio
-Regional Emmy award, television

Of particular note to Sleuths' Ink members: Davis has covered more than 100 criminal cases and more than two dozen murder trials, starting with the Jackie Johns case (1985) and continuing through the conviction of Gerald Carnahan (2010).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

RESULTS FOR THE 2ND ANNUAL JANO PARTY

Shirley McCann was first to 50,000 words
Stephanie Jarkins second to 50,000 words
Lynn Frederickson third to 50,000 words

Best title: Vera Jane Goodin-Schultz
Best Plot outline: Nancy Crandall
Best Setting: Beverly Crandell
Most unique character name: Vera Jane Goodin-Schultz
Most unique occupation:Cecily Cornelius-White
Best promotional blurb: Kelly Henkins
Author's Favorite Line: Beth Carter
Best Cliff Hanger: Sharon Kizzah-Holmes
Best First Page: Cecily Cornelius-White

$100 cash was presented to one of the eight particpants who reached their 50,000-word goal in January. All eight names were placed in a pot, then the winner drawn!!!! That lucky winner was SHARON BUFFINGTON!

Congratulations to everyone who participated. We hope you'll join us again next year.