Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Amazon Updates

Big changes at Amazon.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of the new 70% royalty rate structure at Amazon.  The DTP dashboard has been totally revamped and the option to opt in to the new contract is now available.  Expect a lot of disruption over the next month as people struggle to figure things.  First impressions of the new dashboard and reports - meh.  Doesn't look great, slightly confusing and has no monthly grand total as of yet so will take some getting used to.  I'm not really interested in weekly sales but I'm sure we'll settle in with it eventually.

The new structure has been in beta mode for some writers.  Reports had been coming that were panicking a lot of authors.  Rumours were trickling in that pricing discounts on other sites could make Kindle books ineligible for the new royalty rate and worse, that the books would be removed altogether.  This has already happened to some people so many are at panic stations and I'm pretty certain lots of books have been pulled from Smashwords.  Or at least attempted to - the site seems to be down right now. 

There seems to be some automatic trigger regarding pricing disparity but from responses people are claiming to have received from Amazon, it will all be worked out in the end.  I personally can't see Amazon locking in writers in that way - it would mean we all have to stop distributing to other ebook stores in case they happened to discount our books.  It would be silly of Amazon to try this so I'm hoping it isn't the case. 

So far, all the changes have done is cause disruption and chaos - and it hasn't officially started yet.  Here's hoping it settles down soon.  I'm not raising prices on anything I have on Kindle so it doesn't really affect me as yet.  Except when all products are unavailable to buy, that is!  I hope people give both Amazon and Smashwords a chance to work everything out.  I'd hate to see Smashwords disrupted because of Amazon's actions.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Reading List

I've had the books of most of the indie writers from Kindleboards on my ereader for ages.  I'm trying to get through them but I don't have much time and the TBR pile is getting bigger all the time. 

This month I've finished Whiskey Sour and The Second Coming.   Today I finished The Whore of Freedom.  Okay, the name seems to have changed to Wife but I much prefer the original title.  I enjoyed all three.  They all either have or will have sequels so I'll definitely be looking out for those.  Overall, I'm very pleased with my reads this month because I've been having trouble finishing (trad published) books lately.  So yay.

Whiskey Sour is pretty well known as the first one of Konrath's Jack Daniels books.  Nothing profound or really original but it is a very enjoyable page turner.  I was surprised by how much I liked it.  I'm going to read the next one at some stage.

The Second Coming is a long fantasy set in an alternate version of earth.  This was one of the first indie books that caught my attention and I wasn't disappointed.  It kept me reading until the end, some of characters I found very intriguing and it was pretty original as far as fantasy goes.  I personally really enjoy fantasy so I might be a little biased on this one but I'm eagerly waiting the next one.  :)

I remember getting The Whore/Wife of Freedom after I read a description of it on Kindleboards.  Really drew me in but by the time I started it, I had forgotten what it was about and was worried it was a romance.  Not that there is anything wrong with romance, I just haven't been in the humour.  I kept reading though and was thoroughly entertained.  It's a quirky wee book and I found myself liking the MC more as the book went on.  At first she seems flighty but she pulls you onto her side easily.  I quite like strong female leads and she turned out to be one.  I felt like  the book ended with a decent resolution but I see the author is working on a sequel so I am definitely going to purchase it when it is released. 

I've also started The Weight of Blood but I'll probably read another book at the same time.  It's just how I roll.  This one is yet another book I've been meaning to read for months.

The funny thing about this post is I've struggled to put genres and descriptions on these books.  The Second Coming and The Whore/Wife of Freedom are both slightly outside the box.  I love that.  I've been so sick of formulaic books that these two were a breath of fresh air for me.  I like to read things that are a bit different and The Whore of Freedom in particular took me straight out of my comfort zone.  I think I just needed something brand new.  Me = happy camper.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sony Pricing

On the Smashwords updates, they mentioned that books are starting to appear at Sony.  I checked my dashboard and saw that one of my books had in fact (finally) been shipped to Sony.  I did a quick search on the Sony ebookstore and saw my book.  The one listed on Kindle and Smashwords for .99c.  List price at Sony?  $4.95.  And people wonder why Amazon are selling more ebooks than other places?

Funnily enough, I don't expect to get many sales from distribution to Sony.  :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Highlighting Good Books

Have to complain for a minute first.  One of my darling little angels has been on a mission to strip my laptop of keyboard buttons this month.  I'm actually used to that.  Every single laptop I have ever owned has ended up with a part bald keyboard.  The netbook I'm using has easily clickable buttons so it works fine except for the space bar which has been missing for a while.  I've been able to use, I just had to adjust my typing method slightly.  Anyway, yesterday, the spongey bit was removed from the space bar which just makes everything a million times more awkward so if I miss spaces or overdo a space then please ignore it.  It's taking me an hour to write a freaking paragraph as it is.

Today I wanted to sort of  think something through.  I've been feeling really bad that I'm reading or noticing a lot of books yet I never review them or mention them.  I'm really bad at reviews, I don't give 5 stars unless it is a book I would read over and over again, I try not to be overly enthusiastic which results in a bit of a lack lustre review and I'm pretty sure I manage to make the authors feel like they've gotten a poor review even if I haven't intended it as such.

I've been thinking about highlighting books on my blog.  Not reviewing.  I'm really trying to avoid anything looking like review exchanges.  More like highlighting books I want to read or have read and enjoyed.  Books I've noticed, authors I might like.  A little bit of a shout out as it were.  Because there are so many great ones that deserve a little attention.  (Not just indies btw.)  And I'd quite like to help out other writers even in a small way.  The only thing that is bothering me is what if I don't like a book?  Should I ignore it, not mention it, say I don't like it?  This is another reason why I don't review anymore.  Even if I'm trying to be helpful, there is a big chance the writer will be upset or take it personally.  Would love opinions/advice on this.

I'm way too honest sometimes.  It's a flaw.  Most people can't deal with honesty because there has to be empathy behind it softening the blow.  I have a serious lack of empathy so me being honest doesn't come over well.  I'm torn between wanting people to trust my opinion and striving to avoid the conflict that can come with it.  I think I'll take it a day at a time.  See how it goes.  Later this year, I plan on working on this blog a little harder so hopefully any book I highlight will be seen by a few readers. 

Space bar is seriously pissing me off.  I'll have to get it fixed.  Ugh.  I hate people touching my stuff.  :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Enduring Change

Konrath posted on his blog about his two newest books.  He withdrew them from traditional publishing and decided to self publish them on Kindle instead.  Some said it was brave, some said it was stupid.  But right now this second, the first book, Endurance is #42 on the Kindle bestseller list.  As always, he promoted it wisely, involved his readers and fellow indie writers and basically managed to get a lot of us invested in his progress. 

It's always intriguing when someone does something new and we all find it fascinating to compare numbers so it was fun to see the book hop up the charts.  Now that it has broken the top 100, it is likely to stay up there.  That's the thing.  Getting past 100 means you're a topseller and lots of people are more likely to buy books on the topselling list.  It is the visibility factor and a tiny bit of the sheep factor if we're honest.  But it's a decent goal to aim for.

Another indie who is good at getting people behind her is Zoe Winters.  Her third novella in her Blood Lust Series is doing great.  Right now, Mated is ranked at #116.  If she gets past 100, she will fly up that list.  If her third book gets on that list then I reckon her first two will also.  They are cheap, they are paranormal romance, they are a series, they have pretty covers, you get the point.  I'm hoping it happens soon, it'll be very interesting to see how it unfolds once more and more indies make that bestseller list. 

These two writers aren't the first and won't be the last which is a sign of how much change is going on.  Plus, now that the price of the Kindle has dropped less than $200, we're heading to a point in time when ebook readers aren't exclusively used by "serious" readers.  Lots of ereaders are more accessible, more affordable and combining that with the ever growing list of free and cheap ebooks, it's an investment more than a luxury.  It's time to embrace the change.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Three Months Later

Three months ago, I made the decision to become an Indie writer.  I literally researched everything I could find, most of the really useful info coming primarily from the blogs of other Indies.  I had lost the dreamy notion that with publication comes great fortune and the opportunity to write whatever I liked all of the time.  Trad publishing doesn't work that way and the chances of becoming successful are growing slimmer all the time.  I found I was too impatient to wait around for submission responses.  I wanted to write books that crossed genres.  I wanted to write in multiple genres.  I wanted to do things my way.  I wanted to do everything rightnowthissecond.  It seemed as if the Kindle route was the shining light in the distance.  I felt like I could experiment, take chances and lose out on nothing doing it.  I had three finished novels that needed to be edited.  I wanted to see what ebooks could offer someone like me.

So I threw together a short story collection.  I had lots of short stories on my hard drive.  I would never submit them anywhere but I enjoyed writing them.  I had some personal ones that are a true reflection of incidents that happened to me - these I will never publish because I feel it would be unfair to the people in my life who are portrayed in them.  I have others that are undefinable.  They are dark in a way but not similar enough to place together.  Then I had ones which could be placed under the genre of horror.  I decided to take a chance, upload them and see what happened.  I had no expectations, horror, short stories, unknown writer, Indie publishing, unprofessional cover - it had everything going against it but still, I wasn't losing out.

That was three full months ago.  I sell copies slowly but steadily.  Last month I got my first reviews on Amazon.  I rarely sell anything on Smashwords aside from free coupon copies but my stuff is there and even on B&N.  I uploaded another short collection that was extremely experimental.  It sells very little but in my own way, I'm proud of it nonetheless.  I'm still terrified of what people will think of the things I've uploaded.  I worry that the horror stories are weak, that people won't get the faery one, that I'm not good enough to write.  But I've learned so much.  And I'll keep learning.  And writing.  And experimenting.  And being happy.  Because the whole Indie thing is stressful and time consuming and can chip at your self esteem sometimes.  But the happiness it gives me cancels it out. I love it.  Even the horrible bits like book covers, formatting and self promotion. 

There's something freeing about being in control.  Again, I've lost nothing from this.  My stories were there, doing nothing.  I'm slowly earning something from them.  More than what I was gaining when they were sitting quietly on my hard drive.  And I'm working on new things, novellas and novels plus the occasional piece of flash fiction.  I'm still working on one of the completed novels, the other two will be looked at again eventually.  They are for the younger reader so not as popular on Amazon as of yet but maybe some day they'll have a place.  There's no pressure though.  That's the best bit.  I can take my time, I can change my mind, I can be as creative as I like. There's a place in Indie publishing for people like me and I'm going to enjoy it for as long as I can.  Highly recommended.  ;)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hyperlinking TOC - Smashwords

Hopefully this will be easy to follow, I've been holding out on writing it until I get a decent sleep but it's never going to happen so I'll dive in.  Smashwords have a particular method of hyperlinking the table of contents.  You can use this one for Kindle.  Basically, you're linking from your chapter/story titles in your index to the chapter/story titles throughout the book.  You're also linking from the chapter/story titles throughout the book back to the index.  It makes it easier for the reader to move around the book.  I used this method of linking back to the index on my kindle version too.  Both ways seem to work quite well on the Kindle.  On Smashwords, it is supposed to work in certain formats only, once your book is converted.  EPUB, MOBI and PDF.  As far as I am aware, a linkable table of contents is required to submit your ebook to Sony.

I followed the Smashwords Style Guide, the information on hyperlinking is a little over half way through the book.  Of course, if you use an EPUB, MOBI or PDF version, you can easily click on the link in the table of contents to go directly to the right section.  First of all, make sure you have a full table of contents listing all of your story titles/chapter headings.  Don't add page numbers because they don't matter in ebook form. 

As per the instructions, I went through my entire document, highlighting all of the story titles (chapter headings) and inserting bookmarks.  In my Word program, I went to the Insert tab, looked for the links section and added a bookmark for each title.  When you click on bookmarks, a dialogue box appears.  You type in the name of the bookmark (no spaces), then click add.  You'll be using these bookmark titles later so it is very useful if you use the exact title of your header.  It makes it easier to find and harder to make a mistake.  In my case, the first one was SkeletonInTheCloset but if it was a novel of mine it would have been ChapterOne, for example.  Add these bookmarks to all of the story titles/chapter headings and don't forget to add a bookmark to the heading on the table of contents page itself.

Next you create hyperlinks to all of the bookmarks you made.  Go to the Table of Contents page.  Select the first story title/chapter heading to highlight it.  In the same place as before, (the Insert tab and then the Links section) click on hyperlink.  A dialogue box appears.  To the left, it is automatically selected to "Existing file or web page."  Right under this is a box called "Place in this document" - click on this.  All of the bookmarks you previously created should show up in alphabetical order.  Click on the relevant bookmark (for example my first one was SkeletonInTheCloset) then click okay.  Your first story title/chapter heading in your contents section is now linked to your first story/chapter.

Follow this step for each title/heading in your Table of Contents.  Next, go through the document and highlight the story titles/chapter headings and link all of these back to the bookmark you created for the table of contents itself.  Linking both ways makes it easier to flip through the book.  Finally, test all of the links by clicking on each title in the Table of Contents which should bring you to the relevant stories/chapters.  Click on all of the story titles/chapter headings throughout the book to test the links you made back to the Table of Contents. 

That's it.  All done.  This should upload to Smashwords without any problems.  It takes a bit longer than the other version I talked about but it is still relatively simple once you follow the steps.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Createspace Proof Copy

Just a quick post to say how amazed I am to have received my proof copy from Createspace today.  Today is Friday, the thing was only approved last Friday.  I had forgotten all about it so it was a really nice surprise to get it in the post today.  It looks a lot better than I expected.  The cover is very glossy.  I had already planned on making a new cover - I only ordered the proof because the code for a free one was up this month.  But how it looks on the proof has really changed what I wanted to do with it.  The book itself was larger than I imagined, I thought it would be a normal sized paperback but it's one of those bigger ones.  The pages are snow white and it looks completely professional.  It's really nice.

My interior leaves a lot to be desired because I decided to space between paragraphs instead of indenting.  I didn't have a clue what I was doing so at least now, I can really see the difference it makes.  I used Garamond, pt 12 as the font.  I wasn't sure about it but I like it.  It makes the text look very readable and well spaced so I think I'll be sticking with it.  I have some ideas about changing the formatting of the beginning of the chapters, particularly the first sentence so we'll see how that goes.  I'm definitely going to make changes and order another proof at some stage.  I have to admit, it was nice to hold an actual product.  So, yep, I was impressed.  I might order a proof from Lulu to compare the two.  Can't wait to read the book to see if I can pick up any more typos!

To summarise: me = happy camper.

DTP is Messed Up

I've had a book stuck in "publishing" mode for days now.  It normally takes roughly a day at the most.  I've uploaded a couple of edited versions of my books this week due to the linking TOC's experiment so I've seen firsthand how messed up DTP is this week.  One of my books was done obscenely fast while the other is still languishing away yet people can buy the latest version.  Makes no sense. 

Aside from that, lots of writers have noticed their sales suddenly stopping or worse, losing sales altogether.  I read somewhere that Amazon are working on updates to the DTP so it could be that.  Hopefully it isn't a total database failure and everyone gets their sales (and earnings) back.  I wouldn't worry too much about it.  Amazon tend to be on top of customer service so I'm sure keeping everyone happy is a priority for them.  Especially when all those writers are earning them a small fortune.  :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I had a bit of a false alarm yesterday so didn't schedule the post I planned for today.  I'm so over being pregnant but I was still praying nothing would happen until I reached 37 weeks.  That's today, technically classed as full term so bring it on baby.  Even a day beforehand and they make a big deal out of it so anytime now is fine with me.  Better charge my ereader just in case!

I'll get the other post done as soon as I can/feel like it but I wanted to update from the last post and note that method for hyperlinking table of contents seems to work well.  I could only download the samples onto my pc application for Kindle but the links were all clickable so yay for that option and yay for me learning something new.  Pity it doesn't work for Smashwords too because it's quicker than their preferred method.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Linked TOC - Kindle

I followed April L. Hamilton's free Indie Author Guide to create a linked table of contents for a Kindle DTP upload.  It's a little outdated for my version of Word but easy to follow nonetheless.  The guide goes through the whole process so is well worth a read especially if you're planning on uploading a book to Kindle for the first time.  Tips include making sure each chapter or story begin after a page break and to remove all tab spaces.  You can do this pretty easily by clicking CTRL + F, typing ^t into the find section and replacing all with nothing.  So assuming your manuscript is otherwise perfect, this is how I (hopefully successfully) inserted a hyperlinked table of contents into my Kindle editions.

First of all, I selected each of my story titles (or chapter headings in the case of a novel) and changed the style to Heading 1.  In my Word program, it's right there on the home tab, no searching but April's guide tells you exactly where to find it in older versions.  You can modify Heading 1 to your taste.

I went to a blank page near the beginning of my book where I wanted to place the table of contents.  In my case it was the page before the first story (chapter one).  I clicked the Reference tab, then the drop down arrow of Table of Contents on the left and finally clicked Insert Table of Contents.  A dialogue box popped up with some choices.  I ticked the box marked Use Hyperlinks Instead of Page Numbers.  I set "Show Levels" as 1 because I only used one sort of heading style.  Deselect any page number options because they won't show up properly.  I clicked okay and a Table of Contents was inserted.  It linked to all of the story titles (chapter headings) I changed to style Heading 1.  I checked all of the links by holding down CTRL while I clicked on each story title (chapter heading) in the new Table of Contents.

Edited to add:  I obviously didn't opt out of page numbers on one of my books because once it became live on kindle, I downloaded the sample and saw the story titles all contained a number.  This didn't show up in the html preview or in the Kindle preview so watch out for that.

I saved my document.  Then I saved as a web page creating a new file.  I was then able to view the document as a web page.  Viewing two pages at a time really showed off the nice formatting due to the page breaks being picked up.  I uploaded this html document to Kindle and republished.  The preview looked fine.  This new version should be available on Kindle soon.  I hope the TOC works when it is live!

There you have it.  Adding a hyperlinked Table of Contents to a Kindle ebook was super easy once I sat down and tried it.  There are other ways, they might work better so have a look around at what other people do.  Again, I have to note that this method does not work on Smashwords.  I don't know why.  I tried uploading the same file and it said the table of contents had an error.  I read the newly updated Smashwords Style Guide and saw they state clearly that this method doesn't get picked up by them.  So I followed their version which is slightly longer and will post that one next time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Linked Table of Contents

Every single time somebody brings up hyperlinking their table of contents in their ebook, my eyes glaze over and I move on to something more interesting.  I have no clue about html, no clue about much really!  I'm a total coward when I see people rattle on about something that makes no sense to me but I decided to finally bite the bullet and at least try to do it.  I followed two completely different sets of intructions, one intended for Kindle, one for Smashwords.  Both were pretty simple once I stopped staring blankly at the screen and attempted to follow the tips.  I've reuploaded books to both Kindle and Smashwords.  Smashwords have approved them for the Premium Catalog so I assume I've done something right but I've no idea how to check it for sure.  I don't have a Kindle but I'm hoping the pc version of the sample will let me know whether or not the linked table of contents works as it is supposed to.  I figure someone will complain if I messed it up completely.  If anyone knows how to test it out accurately then please let me know.

The reason why a working linked table of contents is important is mainly down to the reader's convenience.  On a book of short stories, they can simply click on the name of the story in the index and hey presto, it appears.  It's pretty useful in non-fiction, particularly when looking for specific information but it's handy for fiction too.  Anything that improves an ebook is fine with me.  A lot of people (like me) are too intimidated to try it because it sounds complicated but it really isn't if you follow some clear direct instructions.  I'm going to find links to the sources I followed and try and simplify it further.  Hopefully it will help give somebody the courage to try it. 

Warning:  the instructions I followed for hyperlinking the index for Kindle (slightly outdated) involves html in a very slight way, it is not complicated but that method does not work for Smashwords.  Smashwords will reject it.  I'll write up the Smashwords one in a separate post so it doesn't get too confusing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quick Createspace Update

I uploaded my files to Createspace for review at around midnight - I've no idea what time zone they work in and it was a Thursday night/Friday morning upload so I wasn't expecting anything in a hurry.  The next morning I had an email saying it had been approved.  Again, I had uploaded a basic manuscript and a cover using the cover wizard.  I'm sure making a "real" cover might have been more problematic.  Especially for me.  So, early morning the files were approved.  As soon as I got a chance, I ordered a proof copy.  That afternoon I received an email saying the proof copy had been shipped.  That was super fast in my opinion.  I wasn't expecting it to be sent out until next week due to the weekend. 

I ordered the basic shipping.  They paid for it because of the Nanowrimo code (yay) and it said to expect to wait for up to three weeks for it to arrive.  To have the book delivered within three working days costs over $100 by the way.  That is crazy inappropriate pricing.  It's a little book, not a fecking elephant.  Anyway, I might order a copy from Lulu to compare the quality of the two.  Their delivery rates are much more reasonable although their base price for a copy is higher. 

I'm not sure if I clarified before but what I'm doing here is testing out the services offered by Createspace and Lulu.  The book I've ordered may never be seen by anyone but me - I had a free proof copy waiting for me so I figured I might as well use it to see what all the fuss is about.  I wasn't originally interested in printing books but it is a valid option right now, I think, depending on the quality.  If I can get a decent cover made then I will consider printing my next book as well as uploading it to Kindle and Smashwords.  It doesn't cost anything apart from a proof copy.  On Lulu, you don't even have to be approved, I don't think you need to order a copy but I prefer the idea of somebody checking the formatting for major problems before I buy a proof.  I'm actually a little excited to see how the interior of the book looks.   I shall update again when I receive the book and see what I think of it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Initial Submission to Createspace

I've been a bad blogger but I've been busy working on making files for Createspace.  I take part in Nanowrimo every year (and get the code for a free proof copy from Createspace) but this is the first time I've actually followed through on getting a copy ready.  I figured I might as well see how the process works.  I've only ordered the proof today so I have no idea how it will turn out but will update with another post when I know more.

Createspace is annoying for the most part.  Lulu is much easier to use so I read Edward C. Patterson's free book, Are You Still Submitting To A Traditional Publisher?  I read the section on Createspace a number of times and still felt completely confused - it's easier to follow while you're actually going through the steps.  The problem with Createspace is the lack of instructions.  In Ed's book, he recommends setting up the files on Lulu first.  This is because Lulu accepts word documents and turns them into pdfs whereas Createspace only accepts pdfs.  For the clueless (like me) it's actually simpler to use this method.  You download a template in the size book you want, add your text, format it so every chapter starts on an uneven page and you end up with a pretty good representation of what your file should look like.  I think.  :/

Random irritations include the price of delivery on Createspace - for me, it would have been close to $15 whereas the cost of the proof copy would have been under $8 (without the ProPlan option).  Delivery on Lulu worked out at under 4euro but the cost of the proof copy was something like 15euro.  Also annoying was the fact you don't receive an ISBN until after you have uploaded your documents so you have to go back, edit them in Word to add the ISBN, reupload to Lulu, let them transfer the file to a pdf and then upload that file to Createspace.

If/when I find out I've done things correctly, I'll go through a step by step method.  I may think it's all good now but I haven't seen the copy yet so who knows?  My other big problem was the cover.  I ended up using the cover template wizards on both because I have absolutely no clue or understanding how the full cover template thingy works.  Really have to figure out that one - I've found some lovely images if I ever publish that particular book.  I'm looking forward to seeing the proof.  I'm very keen on scoping out the quality and I am dying to see how many typos I found in a different format.  Hopefully it won't be long before I can update on the proof copy from Createspace.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Suicidal Cats et al

It's been a nice week so far, apart from my cat giving me a nervous breakdown by jumping out of the window to sit on the window ledge.  I'm afraid he'll get excited by a bird flying by and do a flying ninja kick thus losing one of his nine lives.  He's been strangled by twin 1 so often that he might only have one life left.  Maybe it's things like dimple faced strangling toddlers that are making him sit on the ledge and peer down like he wants to jump.  The birds freak out when they see the cat and do that warning signal thing at like 5 in the morning.  Can't close the window because it is so hot (yay) and the committee would freak if I put up a mesh thingy so I'm tense as feck trying to kick him out of the room at all hours.  Shithead cat. 

Aside from the cat drama, this week I have been obsessively listening to Katie Melua's The Flood and lusting after some Ilamasqua nail varnish.  I want unusual opaque colours that last longer than an hour, damnit!  Never been a fan of Katie Melua but I cannot stop listening to that song and it was about time something pipped Adam Lambert - been overplaying For Your Entertainment for far too long.  Watched the trailer to Eclipse (isn't it funny how the main main main character is barely featured in the trailer?) and am planning on reading the free novella soon to be posted by Meyer - I know, so sue me!  Missing Supernatural badly and sad to see Heroes is finally gone despite the fact it was pretty much run into the ground after a class start to life.  I see a disturbing pattern emerging in my interests.

Back to me, me, me - I've been working on a first draft.  It's a lot of fun and may never be fit for human consumption but I'm enjoying myself and getting words down so I'm happy enough.  I've also started another edit of a full manuscript because I'm ordering a free proof copy of it this month.  I know the copy won't be perfect but I don't want to waste a freebie and testing out Createspace will give me something writerly to blog about for a change.  I've been meaning to talk about how Apple and others are trying to bypass their distributors but some things are bothering me about it and I need to consider it some more.  One thing that is annoying me is how one of the requirements for Apple is a tax number.  I have no problem with the tax number thing - if only it was simple to get one.  Amazon's method doesn't seem to be foolproof and on Smashwords you have to have a balance of ten dollars to even start the process.  Considering it took me a couple of months to get my first paying sale on Smashwords, it might take a while to qualify.  :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Highs and Lows of Writing

A thread started on Kindleboards asking writers what their favourite part of the writing process is and it got me thinking.  Some parts are easier than others and I find myself getting through certain things quite quickly while others drag for me.  Unfortunately, they are all parts of the finished product so we have to get through the things we don't particularly enjoy to have a completed project.

For me, I'm happiest on the first draft.  I love that first bubble of inspiration, when all sorts of ideas flow and as the story carries on, even more ideas bounce off each other to create a coherent solid story.  Of course that's how it seems while you're writing it.  It's later when you're editing or rewriting that you see it isn't so solid after all.  The beginning is always the best part for me.  Everything is fresh, the words are coming to me so fast I can barely keep up.  It's fun and new and possibly something good.  But then the editing begins and you realise it will never be perfect and you may never truly know when it is ready.

Aside from editing and not being confident that something is finished - probably part of the reason I enjoy short stories is that I don't feel like they need a "real" ending - is typing The End.  I hate the end.  I hate when it's all over.  I've invested my time in something and that's it, it's gone, all over.  Like when a great television series ends.  Even if the ending is amazing, it still feels like a loss.  I still want more. 

The other thing I really hate is promotion but I keep telling myself that I'll get used to it and one day I may even be as brazen as Konrath who has come up with another fantastic marketing ploy by carrying out a piracy experiment on his blog by encouraging people to download his book of Jack Daniels short stories for free.  It's supposed to see how his sales are affected and as always, the real nitty gritty is in the comments section.  People are going apeshit over the piracy thing.  There are so many other lows of writing that this one is comparatively minor on my radar.

For me, I'm just happy if people are reading my stuff.  Even if they don't like it, the time they spent on it is worth more to me than .35c so right now I'm not in a freaking out position on free books or piracy.  Maybe if I was a successful, well known writer, I might think differently but I'm not so sure.  People pirate things for a reason.  Sometimes it's because they just don't like paying for things.  There's nothing at all I can do about that.  But other reasons, such as the ebook coming out much later than the paperback or being at a ridiculously high price - those are reasons I can fight against.  I'm not going to waste my time worrying about the things I can't change.  While I think of Konrath's experiment as pure promotion and not an accurate test of how piracy affects sales, I wish his efforts well.  His innovation is one of the main reasons he sells imo.

As an aside, the free books on Amazon are still available for international customers although some aren't available in other regions.  Funnily enough, the freebies are the things which will push me right over the fence and onto the kindle owners side.  Also, the Smashwords updates mentions another distribution to Sony soon and that lots won't make it if they don't have an ISBN.  My books on Smashwords have shipped everywhere (except Amazon) by now but only one is available on I think Barnes & Noble.  Others have been much more successful at having their work appear on Sony, Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble so I figure there must be a couple of factors going on.  Good luck to anyone sending their books off for the first time.