Tag Archives: Smashwords

Of Marathons and Brick Walls

That title fairly describes my life over the past few months. Anyone who’s published a book will know what I mean by marathon. But is mine published yet? Nope. That’s where the brick wall comes into the story.

Back in the summer, my publishing platform, Smashwords, merged with Draft 2 Digital (D2D). The books would eventually be migrated, they said. But I took the opportunity to apply the things I’ve learned over the past years to my already-published books, trimming and tweaking what are still essentially the same stories, with every word counting. Three of the four were done. Or so I thought. They are successfully released as e-books, but the paperback has been a huge headache.

D2D now offers the option of paperback books, which Smashwords didn’t have, and I was relieved to have that format again. Their claims were that they could simply apply the e-book file to a paperback version, and would create a full book cover from the e-book cover I provided, or I could upload a full cover myself. I chose the latter because the former was simply taking the main colour of the front cover and slapping it on the back and spine. With some tweaking to my inside document, I gave the okay for an e-book release and ordered paperback proof copies.

Oh. My. Goodness. Everything that could be wrong with a book printing was there: No gutter margin adjustments (“gutter” refers to the inside margin at the spine of the book; you should be able to read the entire line without breaking the book spine!); the spine of my design was partially wrapped to the front cover; the cover colouring was way off; the size of the actual book was too large (not the standard size which I’ve always chosen); there were orphans and widows all over the place (those refer to “abandoned” text, such as “Dear John” on the bottom of a page with the rest of the letter on the next page, or a single line at the end of a chapter on an otherwise blank page); centred elements were NOT; the divider images, clear on every other printing I’ve ever had, are fuzzy. The list goes on. Brick walls.

What it all means is that, as much as I’d worked toward a pre-Christmas release, it will now likely turn into a Valentine’s Day release. I will have to reformat not one, but five books for their paperback versions. Picture five brick walls to surmount that you weren’t planning to face at all. It was work that I had hoped D2D’s claims would relieve me of. But I guess the old adage is still true:

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

For a few days, I was in shock at the poor quality of printing (and the first proof book took weeks to arrive), and I wondered why I was putting myself through this. I seriously thought about just throwing in the towel on writing. But I know myself; I’ll give myself a few days, and then I’ll be spit-fire again. And then D2D will be getting comprehensive feedback on their paperback program (in all other ways so far, I’m satisfied with their service and tools). After that, before I can move on to the next story, I’ll be working for months getting re-releases and my new release ready for paperbacks.

In all this time, I’ve heard that real life has gone on outside of my library (where I write). I had a craft stand at our annual local Christmas market, which meant weeks of preparing when I wasn’t writing. Someone usually cleans our house (me), does our shopping (me), and cooks our meals (me). I’m also part of the decoration trio in our church, which has meant regular stage design changes and creating elements for that – some as simple as wire figures, some as complex as giant wheat stalks.

And I’ve heard the rumour that Christmas is coming! Somehow, with all the editing, graphics, publishing and not publishing lately, I’ve not gotten into the season’s mood yet. But now that the Christmas goal has been ripped away, I’ve allowed myself time. Time to breathe. Time to think about and write something other than manuscripts and blurbs and bios. It’s not that I’ve forgotten this blog, and it’s not as if I’ve had no ideas for it – I’ve had dozens; I’ve just had no time to pursue them, and if you’re like me and don’t write them down as they come, the ideas flit away like startled sparrows. So, I’ll start writing them down – and when I need a break from the editing marathon, I’ll investigate those ideas, and start sharing them with you! Thank you for hanging in there in my long silence!

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Read an Ebook Week

This week, 7 – 13 March, Smashwords is having a sale! Their 12th annual Ebook Week is to encourage readers to find new books, enjoy more reading, and to promote authors. All of my books are 50% off this week only – so click here and head over to check them out! If you’ve already read one or more or my books, please leave a positive review if you enjoyed them – reviews go a long way to generating more views, and more readers! Thank you! Enjoy, and pass the word!

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Free Short Story: The Merging

With more and more people self-isolating during this time, reading is a great way to escape the confines with our imagination. I’ve just released a free short story, called “The Merging: It’s a heightened reality fantasy story just over 7,000 words long; if you’d like to download it, just click on the image below! Enjoy, and let me know how you liked it in the comments below!

Merging - Smashwords Cover

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SALE! 1 Week, Free e-books

Hi, everyone!

Just to let you know that my novels are available from the 3rd to the 9th of March on Smashwords!  To check them out, just click here!

Enjoy reading, and please pass the word! And thanks for being my friends!

5 Books

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Filed under Sales, Promotions

Square Eyes

word-500x392

How my brain looks at the moment…

 

I’ve been staring at the computer screen so much the past few weeks that everything else in life got put on the back burner (including this blog – my apologies!). I could afford to do this because my husband’s been away on his annual hiking & biking holidays, so I could focus on huge chunks of editing for (10-14) hours at a time. I’ve taken the stereotype of authors as hermits to the limits, I must say! And I enjoy it for the moment. With minimal appointments/classes/students during this period, I’ve gotten a LOT done: I’ve been updating/tweaking/editing the already-published novels because they needed to be uploaded again anyway (due to new releases, and broken links*).

This simple goal opened a pandora’s box of issues – like the fact that I’ve realised that I need to keep an active eye on Amazon; they manage to screw up things on a regular basis with links to books, links to my Author Page, and external links to my blog.  They don’t care that their mistakes cost me readers. And not just Amazon.com – but .de and co.uk… that translates to, ideally (heavy dose of sarcasm) checking 10 book links per website times 3… regularly. Obviously, I have nothing else to do with my time.

That’s one issue; another is something I’ve recently become aware of, and I think anyone publishing e-books using Word as a basis-format needs to be aware of: Start off your manuscript with a “nuclearized” version – NO formatting, and turning off all Word auto-corrects and auto-formats.  Word tends to add hidden bookmarks to help navigate through a manuscript; however, these can also mess up your final version if you’re sending it off as Word to be *converted by the end-publisher. That means, go to “Insert”, click “bookmark”, and unclick / re-click the “hidden bookmarks” checkbox. Anything beginning with _(gibberish) needs to be deleted. The bad news: each one has to be deleted individually (unless you pay for a tool like Kutools for Word)! I just did one of my e-books, and I had 280 superfluous bookmarks… Joy.

Once I get this all done, the next phase begins: Preparing all 5 e-book manuscripts for release on another website, Smashwords. They use what they affectionately call “the Meatgrinder” – a program that converts a nuked document into the various formats through which they distribute.  That means sifting through a 120-page PDF for grains of useful info in a vat of chafe – things I already know (like how to copy/paste!). They leave no stone unturned, but I still need to read through it and prepare my personalized list of editing/formatting points.

Every time I look at my to-do list at the moment, I take a few deep breaths. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, however: When I start work on my next manuscript, it will be nuclearized from the get-go; putting pure practices into effect from the beginning will (hopefully) save me a lot of headaches later on when it comes time to publish again!

In a few days, I hope to emerge from the cave to become a modern, socializing human again – in the meantime, just gimme a cuppasoup and turn off the phone, please.

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Filed under Articles, Musings, Nuts & Bolts