Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: publishing (Page 1 of 2)

Tuesday thoughts

It still amazes me the vitriol and pearl-clutching we are seeing from both sides of the political spectrum. There are those who are still firmly convinced Trump is trying to overthrow the Constitution and set himself up as emperor or something. Every action he takes is compared to Hitler or Stalin. Protesters take to the streets and many of them see no problem with destroying private property or assaulting people who don’t agree with them. At the same time, we are told that we shouldn’t condemn them for what they are doing because Trump scares them and feelz or something.

Mind you, they aren’t the only ones acting like spoiled kids. A certain set of Trump supporters are as well. If you don’t come down completely in favor of the president, these folks are quick to jump in and call names and accuse you of being the real problem. They troll blogs and FB or Twitter postings, acting as if they can do or say whatever they want without consequences.

It is really like watching two playground bullies trying to prove their predominance over the rest of us who just want to be left alone to earn a living, life our lives and get on with business.

Here’s the thing, none of you are doing your sides any good. Those of you who keep crying wolf every time Trump opens his mouth are creating such a constant static of background noise that we are tuning you out. That means when something serious really does happen, we won’t hear it because you have been screaming and ranting and wailing in despair so much and so long that we quit listening. Is that what you want to happen?

As for the other side, quit being poor winners. One of the things that make this country strong is our ability to question our leaders. Remember what it felt like the last eight years when you tried to question what Obama did and were told to shut up, that questioning him made you a racist or a traitor. Don’t start doing the same basic thing to the other side. Instead, praise the good the president does — when and if he does it — and question the bad. If you have to tell someone they are wrong, do it with facts and logic, not by name-calling and bully tactics.

Back to the other side, before you start crowing about how you have pressured publishers to pull books from the shelves — yes, I’m talking about Milo’s book — think about what is going to happen if the tide turns. More than that, each and every author out there who is standing on her soapbox shouting in glee that a publisher pulled a book by a gay foreigner should be ashamed of themselves. We, out of everyone, should advocate that every voice should be heard. We might not agree with what they have to say but to applaud when a voice is silenced is counter-productive for us all. Where do we draw the line?

Finally, since I have the city inspector due soon to check the hvac install, I need to cut this short. So go check out my post at Mad Genius Club this morning. I’ll be back tomorrow with a more coherent post — I promise.

Holiday update

They say that all battle plans go out the window the moment you engage the enemy. Well, that pretty much holds true for writers announcing schedules, especially around the holidays. I had hoped to have Dagger of Elanna out by now. But the holidays and a nagging injury that has turned into more than just nagging has thrown a huge wrench into the works. (In other words, when one has only one working shoulder and arm, and it is not your dominant arm and hand, things come to a screeching halt.)

So, here is the updated schedule, not only for Dagger but for other projects and some promotions.

Free Promotions — December 25th – 27th:

  • Hunted
  • Nocturnal Origins
  • Wedding Bell Blues

Publication Schedule:

  • Dagger of Elanna — mid-January 2017
  • Skeletons in the Closet, Pt. 2 — mid-February 2017
  • Victory from Ashes — May 2017
  • Nocturnal Revolt (working title) — July 2017

Now, my muse being what she is, all of this is subject to some tweaking. I also have not listed several short stories that will be coming out during this time period.

In the meantime, if you are looking for e-books to give (or just to enjoy yourselves), I will be back tomorrow with a list of recommendations.

What is the truth?

No, this isn’t a political post. I am doing my best to stay away from them for the moment. Otherwise, my poor wall won’t survive my head being beaten against it. However, much like the political scene, publishing insiders and commentators are telling us that traditional publishing is making a comeback. E-book consumption is on the decline and soon all will be right with the publishing world. We have a PEW report telling us that the number of e-book readers hasn’t changed since 2014. But, does that give us the complete picture?

When I saw the PEW report, my first response was to ask how they gathered their information. Who did they ask? Then, because I have an inherent distrust of most polls, I wanted to see the questions asked. While I haven’t seen the actual poll questions, the results are interesting and all that surprising — and I question the actual results because, like any poll, results can be manipulated in so many ways to meet the desires of the pollster.

That said, is anyone surprised to find that college graduates are more likely to read, and especially read e-books, than those who did not graduate from high school? Are you surprised to find that 20-somethings are more likely to read an e-book or listen to an audio book than someone over 65? Frankly, that’s common sense, at least as far as I’m concerned.

However, what is interesting are a couple of articles that have come out since the PEW report. The first comes from Publisher’s Weekly. So far, 2016 has been a bust for the Big 5 publishers. For the first half of the year, none showed a sales increase over this time last year. Harper Collins, with only a slight decrease, fared better than the others. When you look at the reports and comments coming from these publishers, you see a lot about how they increased “profit”. Yet, when you study the fine print, you can see that revenue did not increase. What changed was how money was managed — staff cuts, etc. When that is all that makes your company anything close to profitable, especially when you sell product of any sort, is money management and not revenue from sales, you have a problem. Whether traditional publishing will ever start asking themselves the really hard questions about what titles they acquire, how the acquire them and then how they market them — and who their market is — remains to be seen.

The second article that caught my eye came out a couple of days ago. Bloomberg takes a look at whether we are seeing a return to print. There is a great deal of interesting information in the article but the key, to me, is in the last paragraph:

Today that market is the territory of aspiring to moderately successful writers of romance, mystery, science-fiction and fantasy novels and a fan base of dedicated readers who consume such work in mass quantities. It probably won’t stay hemmed in like that, though. It’s getting easier and easier for successful digital-first authors to move into print and even bookstores without the help of a publisher, and the spread of e-book reading from dedicated devices such as the Kindle to tablets and smartphones (22 percent of Americans age 18 to 29 read books on their phones, according to the Pew survey) seems to offer new opportunities for those who get the format and pricing right. In short, the e-book story probably isn’t over yet — and book publishers aren’t helping themselves by acting as it if were.

Most especially, the last phrase of the paragraph tells the story. The big 5 act as if the e-book revolution is over and it lost. Indie authors and small presses are proving that belief to be false. Who wins? In my opinion, authors and readers win — but for how long? The answer comes down to one thing and it is something I hope doesn’t happen: increased governmental regulation of e-books and indie authors in an attempt to “save” traditional publishing. So far, the government hasn’t stepped in, at least not too much. Hopefully, that trend continues.

Being clueless is not a good way to run a business

Sometimes, I wonder if the bean counters of traditional publishing ever look beyond their spreadsheets. Do they look at any of the online forums frequented by readers and authors? Do they look at things like Authors Earnings? I found myself wondering it again as I read this article in Publisher’s Weekly.

The short version of the article is simple. Traditional publishing isn’t making as much from the sale of e-books than it did last year. That’s nothing new. We’ve been seeing headlines and blog posts and tweets saying just that. These lower sales have been touted as proof that the demand for e-books is declining and heralds the return of publishing like it used to be.

Except for two little problems. No one is asking why traditional publishing is selling fewer e-books now than it did a year ago and no one is looking at the fact that small press and indie e-book sales continue to grow.

The PW article has to take the cake when it comes to excuses for the slower pace of traditionally published e-books. First of all, you have this statement: “no one has come up with a clear reason for the drop.” I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve seen a number of very clear reasons — high cost of traditionally published e-books, titles being offered, DRM and more. Yet those who should be in place to actually see the “why” can’t or won’t. Ooops.

There is more about how we need better dedicated e-book readers because those with a Nook or a Kindle or similar device buy more e-books than those who read on tablets or phones, etc. My first issue with this is that they don’t give us any real information about the survey used to determine their numbers on this so-called fact. We don’t know how many readers were sampled, how they were sampled, etc. Nor do we know if those who took part in the survey were asked a very simple set of questions: 1) Do you own a dedicated e-book reader? 2) Do you own a smartphone? 3) Do you own a tablet? 4) If you own a dedicated e-book reader as well as another device capable of allowing you to read e-books, what percentage of your e-books do you read on each device? 5) What percentage of your e-books do you purchase from each device?

I don’t know about you, but I have a dedicated e-book reader. Two, in fact. I also have an Android tablet as well as a Surface Pro 3. I read e-books on all of them but most often on the Android. The Kindle is brought out when I know I will be away from charging ports for a long time or when I will be in brightly lit conditions. My mother, who at 83 was convinced she would never like reading anything but paper books, now does the vast majority of her reading on either the iPad I gave her or her Kindle Fire. She has a regular Kindle as well that she pulls out from time to time but that is usually when she has let the battery run down in one of the tablets.

The other reason the survey gave for lower e-book sales was something called “digital fatigue”. Basically, after spending the work day looking at a screen, folks want to not do that when they relax. Sorry, but I call bogus. How many of those same folks saying they don’t want to read on their device spend much of their time away from the office, Tweeting or Facebooking or something else? Again, without seeing the survey questions, I have a hard time accepting this.

It is amazing, too, that the survey — or at least the PW article — doesn’t mention e-book cost. The Big 5 wanted to be able to set their own prices for e-books. Now that they are, their sales have declined. When I can buy books by authors whose work I love, when I can find new authors who join my “must read” list for half the price of what a traditionally published e-book costs, why should I limit my reading by paying the high dollars?

For example, Apprentice in Death, the next book coming from J. D. Robb, is available for pre-order at the “reasonable” price of $14.99. This price is set by the publisher, Random Penguin (or maybe Randy Penguin). David Weber’s At the Sign of Triumph (Safehold), also a pre-order, is listed at $14.99. This price is also set by the publisher, MacMillan. Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge, by Larry Correia and John Ringo and published by Baen, will be available at $9.99. Guess which book I would be more likely to buy.

Now compare that with the Kindle best sellers list. Looking at the Top 20 this morning, I see one at the $9.99 level. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is listed at $8.99. The vast majority of the Top 20 come in at $4.99 or less. Yet the traditional publishers, mainly the Big 5, can’t figure out that price is one major issue when it comes to what e-books people buy. Instead they would rather blame the devices being used to read e-books on or “digital fatigue”. This sort of short-sightedness — or the intentional use of business blinders — does not bode well for the continued fiscal health of many traditional publishers.

So let me put it out there in words they should be able to understand. I will go back to buying more traditionally published e-books, when the prices become reasonable, when there is no DRM and when they start publishing books I want to read. I have found a number of indie and small press published authors who understand the market and who know the fastest way onto a reader’s device is to price their work reasonably and to do away with DRM. Many in traditional publishing would do well to pay attention.

I won’t hold my breath.

 

Here a format, there a format (Pt. 2)

Yesterday, I began a series of posts on formatting. That post dealt with most of the nuts and bolts of formatting the interior of an e-book.  The basic rule boils down to being consistent, not using a lot of fancy fonts, and remembering that there are numerous different e-reader apps and e-readers. What that means is to bear in mind that keeping it simple is your best bet.

Before we move on to the conversion process, let’s discuss what should be included in your e-book besides the book.

This, too, is where you want to keep it simple and keep it familiar. There is still a bias among a lot of reader that indie e-books are, by nature, going to be sub-par. One way to get around that is to make sure you have a DBA and are publishing under it. It is simple enough and it means when a reader checks the e-book details on the product page, they see a publisher name and not “published by: Amazon Services” or Smashwords, etc. It is a little bit of smoke and mirrors, but it will serve you well.

So what goes in your e-book?

I tend to try to keep my e-book looking as much like a print book as possible when it comes to front matter. Here is the order of front matter as I use it.

  • Title page
  • Other titles written
  • Copyright page
  • Dedication
  • Section heading page or first chapter

This is what is in my manuscript. You can add an acknowledgment page if you wish. What happens on conversion (and more on this later), is the cover is inserted as well. You can also, if you want, insert a second title page after the dedication page.

I tend to keep with the above list, especially for science fiction and fantasy, because that is how print books in those genres (from trad publishers) open their books. Again, it is part of the smoke and mirrors act to convince those readers who still feel indie books aren’t of the same caliber as traditionally published books that they can trust my work.

If you wish to do the same, I suggest you copy a publisher you like. I chose Baen, especially for the science fiction and fantasy. It’s not a direct copy but I use their books as a template of sorts when it comes to front matter.

The copyright page is pretty straightforward and very important. This is your legal page, where you limit rights (not that pirates will care). If you have an ISBN, this is where you put it. It is also where you give credit to your artist and cover designer. In an e-book, you can link to the appropriate site if that is called for in your license for the art. You can also thank the reader and send them to your own website or blog for more information.

The copyright page is also where you can trip up if you are trying to put on a “professional” face. It won’t happen if you upload your manuscript directly to the sites you are selling through (Amazon, B&N, etc.). However, if you use Smashwords, there is a requirement that you insert verbage on your copyright page that shouts to the world that you went through them for distribution. It doesn’t matter if you have a DBA. It doesn’t matter that it is listed on the product page. Right there, on one of the first screens your reader will see is this:

Copyright 2013 Firstname Lastname
Published by Firstname Lastname at Smashwords
Smashwords Edition License Notes

There is nothing wrong with Smashwords, if that is the route you want to go. Smashwords does make it easy to get into certain markets you might not otherwise get into. However, it is probably the most well-known of the self-publishing third-party sites and not every reader looks at it with approval. To them, it has a taint similar to vanity presses. So keep that in mind if you decide to go that route. I will discuss using third-party sites in another post.

Back to the post. . . .

Your back matter is actually, in my opinion, more important than your front matter. This is where you can have a snippet from an upcoming work. It is also where you can expand on your “Other works by” page, giving product descriptions and live links back to the product page for each title. The downside of this is you can’t use the same links for Amazon that you do for B&N that you do for Apple, etc. To the best of my knowledge, every e-bookstore has a requirement in their Terms of Service, that you not link to product pages that are not in their store. So keep that in mind when you are putting your back matter together.

You can also have — and probably should — and “About the Author” page. I have also started adding an “Author’s Note” at the end on new entries in both the Honor and Duty series as well as the Nocturnal Lives series. It’s not necessary, but I’ve had favorable responses from them.

(Note, you don’t usually see the “Other Titles by” page with product descriptions in trade paperbacks and hard covers. However, in e-books, it is a marketing tool you need to take advantage of.)

The order of my back matter is, and this is not set in stone:

  • Author Note
  • About the Author
  • Other titles

Each of those it titled and Heading 1 is used so they show up in the active table of contents, just as a chapter heading will.

So, the basic layout is:

  • Cover (included during conversion)
  • Title Page
  • Also by Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication
  • Section Title Page or Chapter One (a new title page can be put in front of this, but is not necessary.)
  • Your work here
  • Author Note
  • About the Author
  • Expanded Also by Page

One quick note — or maybe two — before signing off today.

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that your section breaks should be centered if you use a character of some sort to indicate the break. If you do, you will need to remove the first line indent for that particular line or lines. Otherwise, it will appear off-center when your manuscript is converted. You can do this either by simply highlighting your break and remove the first line indent in your paragraph format dialog box or you can set a new style for it that includes no first line indent.

Also on the subject of section breaks, I don’t recommend using images for them in e-books. The reason is a financial one. If you choose the 70% royalty option on Amazon, you are assessed a transmission fee for your e-books. It is minimal. I’ve never had it be more than a two or three cents a download. However, it is based on file size and the more images you have in your file, the larger your file.  So use *     *    * or something similar to denote a section change.

You can, of course, use line returns to build in white space to indicate a section break. A caveat here. Unless Smashwords has changed its rules — and I don’t think they have. A quick look at their style guide shows it hasn’t been updated for more than a year — if you have too many line returns in a row, they will automatically insert a page break.

Once you have your manuscript built and ready to convert, check it again. Yes, I know you’ve edited it. You’ve had your beta readers give you feedback. But you have added pages and active links to it and you need to make sure everything is as you want it. You can check those links by simply putting your cursor on a link and holding down shift and left clicking. (In Word at least.) Make sure the links go to the right product page and the right store page. It will save you time and frustration in the long term.

Tomorrow I will talk about conversion and uploading your files.

Update

I’ve been head down at the keyboard, doing my best to catch up on not only my writing but the editing projects that have been backlogged for much too long. The writing is back on track, fortunately, and the editing is getting there. I’m hopeful that everything will be caught up within the next two weeks.

In the meantime, Slay Bells Ring will be going live for purchase later this week as an e-book. Print copies of it and Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) should be available for purchase near the first of the month. The link will take you to the e-book.

Also, the third book of the Honor and Duty series will be winging its way off to Amazon later today for approval for pre-orders. As soon as it goes live, I will post and update. I have a working copy of the cover and, yes, it will be finalized during the pre-order time frame.  But it will work for the pre-orders.

What I discovered writing this draft was that my thoughts at the end of Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2) were right. It was going to take at least two more books to tie up this story arc. I foresee one more book in the immediate story arc. After that, well, there are more stories with these characters and others that want to be written.

Anyway, here is the draft version of the cover for Honor from Ashes. Text about the series, etc., still needs to be added and the lettering needs some work. But this will give you the general idea.

honor from ashes draft 3

The original image can be found here and and is © by NextMars.

Getting the creative juices flowing again

A couple of quick notes first. I have a blog post up at Twisted Writers today discussing what platforms you can look at when going the indie route. Coincidentally, my friend Cedar Sanderson has one up at Mad Genius Club on “the fading stigmata of self-publishing“. Finally, we got our first look at the new royalty payments for Kindle Unlimited titles and, so far, I am very pleased with what I’m seeing. I’ll be doing a post about that in the next few days. I want to take time to break everything down for July’s sales/reads and then compare them to June’s.

On the writing front, not much has been happening. I have warring stories in my head but the rewrite of the last half of Nocturnal Challenge has been, well, a challenge. I think I know what needs to be done but I am also at the point where I recognize that I need to step away from it for a few days to a week to let it start to gel in my mind. In the meantime, an older story I’d started but I put on the back burner some time ago has come back to haunt me. So, I’ll work on it and see if that doesn’t get the creative juices flowing again.

This story ran me off when I first started writing it because it came at a point when my craft was taking a jump — I’m not sure if it was a jump ahead or to the right or left. All I know is that my writing wasn’t the same comfortable writing I’d been used to. So it scared me and I put it away. Now, a couple of years later, I can see what the problem was and I can also see where my craft has, hopefully, improved since then. So, I’ve read the first couple of chapters and then put away the printout. Everything that comes from it comes from memory and I think it will actually wind up playing into the Hunter’s Moon series. I’m not sure about that yet or if it will start a new “world” for me to play in.

(As if I need yet another world. Sigh.)

Anyway, here’s this morning’s output. It may seem familiar to some of you guys. For others, I hope you like it. As always with snippets, this is the first draft. It is unedited and so there will more than likely be misspellings, comma faults and other grammar and punctuation errors.  Oh yeah, working title is Hunter’s Moon 4.

***

“There she is.”

The voice, slick like oil on water, came from the deepest shadows. A chill ran down my spine. My breath caught in a near-sob of frustration that I couldn’t quite hold back. Every instinct screamed for me to get up and run. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. All I could do was silently curse my bad luck and offer up a prayer. But for what?

For enough time to think. That’s all I needed. If I could think of a way to survive the next few minutes, I might manage to survive another day.

Maybe all was not yet lost.

Not that I believed it. I knew that voice. Gods, did I know that voice. My blood ran cold at the memory of the last time I’d heard it. My pulse beat an almost deafening beat as my heart tried to pound its way out of my chest. Every instinct screamed for me to get up and run. It didn’t matter where I ran just so long as I get away from there. I’d spent a lifetime praying I never heard that voice again because it meant only one thing – death was near.

But it had been so long. I’d actually convinced myself I’d finally managed to give him the slip.

Gods, I’d been beyond foolish. This encounter had been years in the making. I could no more avoid it than I could deny who – or what – I was.

But that didn’t mean I would stand still, patiently waiting for him to strike. I would never do that. Once before I’d fallen prey to him and it had almost cost my life. Never again would I let him lay hands on me. I’d take my own life before that happened.

Still, fear raced through me, forcing me to remember that terrible time. Panic quickened me pulse and clouded my mind.

No! Don’t panic. Not now.

Panic was what he wanted, what he expected. After all, it would weaken me even as it fed him. So I had to focus. My only hope was to stay calm and figure out a way to escape.

But how?

Slow your breathing. Settle your nerves. Still your heart. Feel the Earth and the Moon. Draw from them. You’re safe. Remember that. You’re safe for the moment.

“You’ve led me on a fine chase, so you have,” came that soft, menacing voice from somewhere behind and to my right.

Determination tinged with anger replaced the fear. With it returned the ability to think. I needed a plan before I moved from this spot. The moment I did, my protections would be gone and I would be at his mercy.

Unless I acted first and took him by surprise. That was my only hope. But I needed to know where he was before I did anything.

“Ah, Fiona, don’t tell me you’ve nothing to say.”

It was hard but I resisted the urge to respond. Let him think me too scared – or too foolish – to speak. It would keep him talking because he wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to taunt me some more. That would, I hoped, give me the time I needed to determine where he was in the darkness beyond the small clearing where I had cast my circle. As long as I remained within its protections, he was helpless to attack.

I hoped.

But the circle’s protection was limited and I knew it. I could not remain there forever. Unfortunately, he knew it too and he had proven to be a very patient hunter when the need arose.

So I remained where I was, kneeling in the center of the circle, my sword and ritual blade carefully placed on the grass before me. The warmth of the earth beneath my knees was like a gentle embrace and I drew it close, savoring the energy I felt growing from ritual and need.

SNAP!

It wasn’t much, but the sound seemed almost ear-shattering in the still night. The muscles of my neck twitched and I fought the urge to turn in the direction of the sound. Instead, I lifted my face skyward and spread my arms as if in anticipation of a lover’s embrace.

“I think little Fiona is afraid.” Menace dripped from his voice. “Come, girl. Don’t you want to play?”

Fool!

In all the years since we had last met, he’d learned nothing. His pride, always his greatest weakness, prevented him from even considering that I might have changed, might have grown in ways he hadn’t anticipated. That was good, very good – for me.

And, I hoped, very bad for him.

Eyes closed, I drew a deep, bracing breath. As I did, I felt him probing, pressing against my protections, trying to find a weakness. Let him try. Each moment he delayed in attacking was another moment I had to live and plan.

I lowered my arms and rested my hands on my thighs. Through barely opened eyes, I saw sword and dagger just inches away. My focus split between my weapons and the enemy circling me. All I had to do was wait for the right moment to act, to catch him off-balance.

Slow, even breaths. Calm. Don’t rush it. You are the last of the line and can’t fail.

Slowly, so slowly it was barely discernable, I reached for my weapons. They might not be much but they were all I had.

They have to be enough. Otherwise, all was lost.

“Come now, girl. Let’s put an end to this.”

The uncertainty and frustration tinging his voice were intoxicating. For so long just the thought of him had been enough to plunge me back into the nightmarish memory of our last meeting. I’d lost so much that day. He’d killed my sister and left me with the guilt of knowing Siobhan had sacrificed her life so I could live.

Maybe if I’d fought harder, if I hadn’t fled when Siobhan had told me to, Siobhan would still be alive. There were still nights when I woke, Siobhan’s cry of pain followed by that terrible dull thud of her body falling resounding through me.

Now I was about to fail my sister again. But at least we would be rejoined in death and there’d be no more nightmares, no more fear.

No! That is the fear talking. Look at him. He’s unsure and confused. He didn’t expect you to deny him. So act now, before you lose the advantage.

I would never know if it was my own words or my sister’s, but my resolve firmed. I wouldn’t give up. I would make him pay for what he’d done to Siobhan and to all the others. Then I would figure out how he’d found me. Otherwise more would come. I’d stop them. I always stopped them. And maybe, just maybe, I would find a way to take the battle back to where it began so long ago. Only then would I be able to end it.

“Just admit it, Fiona. You’re only postponing the inevitable.”

I ordered her body not to respond to his taunts. Instead, I remained where I was, kneeling in the center of my circle, my senses reaching out, noting everything around me. I was safe as long as I remained in the circle. All I had to do was choose the right moment to strike.

Wait . . . wait.

The tips of the fingers of my right hand slowly inched toward the smooth hilt of my katana. When they closed around the worn leather grip with the familiarity that belied all the hours I had worked with the blade, the corners of my mouth turned ever so slightly upward. He had no idea what I could do with the katana. He’d never expect me to actually wield it against him. After all, what sort of good Irish lass would use such a blade?

A smart one who knows her strengths and weaknesses.

It didn’t hurt either that I had never really been a good Irish lass. If I had, I certainly wouldn’t be kneeling in the middle of the woods in the dark of night. Nor would I be carefully planning the best moment to banish my circle and confront the man – the monster – who had haunted my dreams for so long. I most definitely wouldn’t be about to do battle, a battle that very likely would end in my death.

But I was damned if I’d die – AGAIN – without taking this beast from Hell with me.

Slowly, seemingly reluctantly, I climbed to my feet. The katana trailed from my right hand as if it weighed too much to hold before me. Somehow, my ritual blade had found its way into my left hand. I didn’t remember reaching for it, but I welcomed the feel of the hilt, the heft of the blade. Through my lashes I watched as he stepped closer, triumph lighting his expression. He obviously believed the battle already won. Hopefully, I’d be able to prove him wrong.

“Come play with me, Fiona. I promise you’ll not forget it.”

His voice rippled over me, soft as a caress. It would be so easy to give in. I was tired of running and hiding. I was tired of losing everyone close to me. Most of all, I was tired of fighting battles for those not deserving mercy, much less life.

Stop it! He’s putting those doubts in your head. Don’t listen to him.

Ruthlessly, I clamped down on those fatalistic thoughts. I knew better. If I listened, it wouldn’t lead to release and peace. It would only lead to torment and, if I was lucky, death. But only long after I had begged for it and then given up all hope.

Remember what he and his kind do to others, to those like you and to those who refuse your help.

Moving almost silently, he took another step forward, pressing against the edge of my circle. The night air crackled with power as he tested first one section of the circle and then another. He was probing for a weak spot, something to exploit in his attempt to get to me. All the while, he continued his soft, seductive promise to be merciful if only I would banish the circle.

So simple.

Se easy.

And so very stupid.

“Don’t be a fool, Fiona. If you come out now, I’ll be merciful.”

“Merciful?” I laughed bitterly, unable to help myself. “You don’t know the meaning of the word, Conal. You’re Morrigan’s wolf in more than just name.”

“Just as you once were,” he growled.

“I was never Morrigan’s.”

With that, I instantly banished her circle. Before Conal could do more than start in surprise, I leapt. The katana flashed against the night sky as it arced through the air. It might not be as heavy as the blade I had carried the last time we met, but it was every bit as deadly. In fact, it was more so because I knew how to wield it, something I’d not known so long ago.

Conal stumbled backwards one step, two and fought to bring his blade up to deflect my blows. The katana sang as it struck his broadsword. My wrist registered the impact even as I reacted on instinct. My right knee bent and, as I let my body bend and move forward, my right elbow leading, taking the katana into a defensive position over my shoulder, I stepped past him. Off-balance, his broadsword sliding down the length of the katana toward the fresh earth, Conal cursed. That curse turned vicious as I once more pivoted, dropping my left shoulder and pulling the katana lengthwise across his side, opening him as easily as a helpless doe.

Ignoring the spray of blood and the hot fury reflected in Conal’s blue eyes, I pressed my advantage. The moment I showed mercy would be the moment I died. I had to keep him off-balance and on the defensive. Otherwise, all was lost.

The silence of the night was shattered as blade met blade and the sounds of battle filled the air. I did my best to take advantage of my speed and agility. Conal was bigger than me, slower and he was injured. But I was tiring. If I didn’t find an opening soon so I could deliver a debilitating strike, all would be lost.

Fear spiked as I danced away from his blade as it swept through the air where I had been just a split-second before. My foot shifted to the left and then slipped. My guard dropped as I struggled to maintain her balance. Everything was happening too quickly, too unexpectedly. Worse, Conal knew it. His heavy broadsword arced toward me. I had to regain my balance…I couldn’t fall.

Damn it, not again!

On being an indie

coverI can’t remember a time when stories haven’t been a part of my life. I was lucky because I grew up in a household where reading was valued. My parents read to me when I was too young to read to myself. Once I was old enough to read, it wasn’t unusual at all to find the three of us sitting in the den at night reading instead of watching TV. My parents would ask what I was reading and how I liked it and they would then tell me about what they were reading.

As important as all that was, more important was how my parents encouraged me to use my imagination. We would talk about what a certain character might have done if the situation had been changed even slightly. My folks encouraged me to tell stories, to use my imagination. No, they didn’t approve — and certainly didn’t let me get away with — fibbing. But both understood how important it was for me to go on those flights of fancy that took me to other places and even to other worlds.

Once I could write — hen-scratch is more correct because my penmanship has always been iffy at best — I put my stories down on paper. The older I got, the stronger the need to write became. In my teens, I discovered that writing had been a large part of the lives of several of my relatives. One uncle was a playwright. His brother and their father were newspaper writers and later editors. There were poets along the line and more. As a dear cousin told me, I came by it naturally.

So, like so many others, I wrote and when I finally felt I had something publishable, I tried shopping it around to agents and to publishers. I tried and tried and tried again. I would get nice rejection letters back — when they bothered to respond at all. But no dice. So I tried with the next project and the next and the next. With each rejection, my frustration grew. How could someone break into a field when there was a limited number of slots available, most of which went to authors who had already proven themselves?

I couldn’t stop writing. I tried. Oh, I could go weeks, sometimes even months, without writing. The thing is, I might not have been writing the stories but I was still thinking about them. Finally, I sat back down and started writing again. Even if I never found a publisher, I was going to write.

Fast-forward through lots of writing and getting up the courage to show my work to Sarah A. Hoyt and having her suggest — kick me in the rear is more like it — I start thinking seriously about my work and do something with it. Not long after that, Amazon started letting indie authors publish direct to its store. I still wasn’t sure but I listened to Sarah, let her look at my work, found myself a good editor and off I went.

Like most indie authors who look at this as our profession, I work very hard to make sure I put out the best product I can. Sometimes mistakes get by me but I go back and fix them. I make sure people who know more about creating covers than I do make my covers. I have someone besides myself edit my books. If I really fall down on anything, it is on promotion — not that it isn’t the one area most authors, indie or traditionally published — fall down on.

So I tend to get my back up when I see traditionally published authors looking down their noses at the rest of us. There is one in particular who seems to spend a great deal of time dissing indies and talking about how bad our work is — then they turn around and offer their services as editor. Sorry, but if you have so little respect for what I do, why in the world am I going to pay you to edit my work?

That same author was crowing earlier this week about how well their latest book was doing. (I understand this need. I love seeing my books do well and have been known to take screenshots when I break into the Top 100, even when it is in the sub-genre lists.) This particular book is a traditionally published, one of a series and this is an established author. Well, when I saw what the book was ranked at for a kindle book, I frowned and thought for a moment. Then I went to Amazon and checked the ranking for Sword of Arelion. The frown turned into a thoughtful expression. Sword came out two weeks before traditionally published author’s book did. It was ranked some 3,000 places above that author’s book — as of this morning, it is approximately 10,000 places above the author’s book. Hmmm, interesting.

Now, I know how quickly Amazon rankings can change. There is some serious arcane handwavium that goes into the algorithm that those rankings happen to be. But I hope you can forgive me a smile when I see someone who so easily dismisses all we indies do because we haven’t “proven ourselves” by receiving a traditional publishing contract before going out on our own.

What that particular author, and others who think the same, seem to forget is that traditional publishers have only a limited number of slots each month. Sound business practice — and I know, there are many questions about whether most traditional publishers have anything resembling a sound business practice — mandates filling as many slots as possible with the work of authors who have already proven themselves. So that limits the number of slots available to those trying to break into the business.

What they also don’t consider is that there are many more readers than books being published. A number of those readers are voracious readers and want new books and new authors because they have already read the established author’s backlists and there aren’t enough new books being published through traditional channels to keep their reading habit supplied.

But there is something else. Publishers are a business and, as such, they tend to follow publishing trends. Look at how many knock-offs of Harry Potter or The Da Vinci Code or even Fifty Shades of Gray have come out, all riding their respective coattails. But what if you don’t want a book like that?

That is where indie writers come in. We aren’t constrained by some accountant saying that the big seller right now is X, so we need to make sure that is the sort of book we are putting out right now. We can write what we love because, whether traditional publishers want to admit it or not, there is someone out there who wants to buy it. If not, most folks will soon come to the conclusion that writing isn’t the job for them because — guess what — writing takes time and isn’t nearly as easy as it looks on TV. When you spends tens to thousands of hours getting something written and ready for sale, if you don’t make money, it is very easy to become discouraged and to move on to the next project.

I guess what this all comes down to is this. Don’t dismiss an entire group — a very large group — of writers just because we didn’t take the same route to publication you did. The times are changing and there are many more options available to us, not only as writers but as readers as well. For every bad indie book I’ve seen, I’ve seen a bad traditionally published book. I’ve learned to check the samples for books by authors I am not familiar with. I do my best not to diss any author simply because they do things differently from me when it comes to getting their book into the hands of readers.

Does this mean I wouldn’t go the traditional route given the chance? No. But that is a qualified “no” right now for the simple reason that there is only one major publisher I would consider signing with. That publisher is Baen. Not only does Baen publish authors I enjoy reading and who I respect as individuals but Baen also treats its authors as something other than interchangeable widgets. That says a lot, at least to me.

So, for now, I will keep plugging away at my indie career. I will smile every time I see the deposits going into my bank account, be they large or small. I will keep writing the sort of stories I think readers want to read. After all, isn’t the latter what we are supposed to be doing anyway?

Update on the Createspace saga: After much cussing and hair pulling and frustration, proofs have been approved for a new print edition of Vengeance from Ashes as well as first print editions of Duty from Ashes and Sword of Arelion. All three should be available within a few days. I will post links once they are.

Signals across the void –awards and other signs.

(This is a reblog of Dave Freer’s wonderful post at Mad Genius Club. After everything that went on over the weekend at that Heinlein page I blogged about yesterday and then seeing how someone has failed to do their homework and seems to think Dorothy L. Sayers is male, I thought we needed some sanity and straight talk. Dave can always be counted on to give us that.)

There is a lot signaling in a writer’s trade.

By signaling I mean the kinds of sign which says to someone who might read your book ‘pick me up’ (probably based on the cover) and the next signal (based on the blurb) ‘I’m your kind of book’. Or ‘I am not your kind of book’. There’s probably nearly as much unappreciated value in ‘I am not your kind of book’ as there is in opposite, although it takes slightly longer term thinking to see this. Heh. Go to a divorce court, or read about the bitterness, the expense, and the damage it can do to kids sometime, and you’ll see what I mean by ‘better if we’d chosen better in first place’. The short term gratification probably doesn’t outweigh the long term damage.

It’s no less true for an author: selling a book to someone ill-suited to your writing (or even ‘meh’ about it) is great for that 64 cents (the royalty a paperback pays), but not so wonderful, as the reader who feels was ripped off is going to take it out on your reputation (because most readers have no idea how little of that cover price goes to the author. This is an ignorance that publishers and retailers do their best to maintain).

The value of a signal does depend, heavily, on it almost always being right. Short term thinking says “If I can signal something desirable, I get an immediate pay off, it doesn’t matter if that signal is false.” And indeed, the immediate payoff (whether it was sex with someone or selling a book) is there… the first and maybe a few times after that. But… word gets around. The signal’s value is degraded, and in time it changes meaning completely.

Of course people can argue about what the signal meant in the first place. Take the various ‘literary’ awards. What were they intended to do?

1) A recognition of excellence by one’s peers?
2) A recognition of excellence by the public?
3) Promote such excellence – signal to others that that is excellent and they should look?
4) A pat on the back for one of the ‘in’ literary clique’s chums?

Different awards have different purposes, and different values. As a reader and writer only (3) ‘Promote such excellence – signal to others that that is excellent and they should look at the work’ is worth much. Most awards, without careful custodianship, head for (4). At which point they lose their historical value and gradually vanish. They have less and less value as (3), and really (1) and (4) are something only the insecure want, unless they feed (3) – which (4) never does and (1) does badly. To put it brutally, if you need and support an award being (1) or (4) you’re a loser, not big enough for what is a tough profession.

(2) is a different kettle of tea. In real terms you could only get there by systematic polling. It does have a lot of (3) value too, because, true enough, we’re not that different. A book which is really the most popular book around, is worth a look-in. The nearest approximation in sf-fantasy is the Hugos. And it isn’t a great approximation (the sample of readers, by who attends/supports Worldcon is obviously inaccurate, and various problems in the nomination have been exposed by the Puppies. (they’re game-able, they’re not demographically representative of the sf readership) – but it’s the best we’ve got right now. As such it could do a good job for sf. It used to.

It had largely devolved into (4) A pat on the back for one of the ‘in’ literary clique’s chums – with rapidly declining signal value. And of course the chums, not known for their wider vision or long term thinking were very happy with that, which is why they’re absolutely livid with the Pups. They’ve been running around firstly trying to down-value our signal, and secondly frantically turning to their usual ally, ‘the rules’. We’ve had ‘think tanks’ and endless pontification about how to turn the clock back, how to retain control how to go on with making the Hugo awards a rapidly dying valueless pat on the back for the ‘in’ literary clique.

If they can do it, so can I. I’d like to re-inforce (2) and (3)

Firstly: Publishers, their employees and beneficiaries, and authors, their employees and beneficiaries are not the ‘disinterested’ public. They have an interest in the outcome, and should never vote. They should certainly never ever nominate. That would be the ethical thing to do, but as ethics are few and far between, making it a rule would not be a bad thing. The anti-puppies could cheer, because that would stop Vox Day from nominating books published by his own publisher, which they tell us is his purpose in all this.

I would cheer because it would remove a huge, unfair inequity in the process. Big publishers – like Tor for example, would no longer have 40 or 50 ‘captive’ votes, (enough for a nomination, even if no other person voted for the work) putting them on an even footing with Jenny’s-One-Woman-Publisher. So: a win for all of us, for fairness, for making the process more ‘the public’ and less log-rolling. I look forward to the eager support of Torlings who would of course want things to be fair with the same rules for big and little players. (ha ha ha.)

Secondly: Ever watched the same advert on TV… again. And again. And again. Makes you buy that product after the 43rd repeat… does it? Or makes you go and clean the cat’s litterbox rather than see it again? Advertising either works PDQ or not at all. And, as one of ‘geniuses’ on File 770 put it (it’s a bit like ‘America’s funniest home videos’.) that tragically nasty puppies like me were depriving the poor writers we excluded from having a chance of financial gain from the Hugos. Once I got over the vast guilt… (I have had no rewards, expect none. Yes I know some woman parlayed her Fan Hugo into extra advances from a PC publisher. Oh how will I live knowing I stopped a new one doing that… except it would not have been a new one – it would have been the same ones.). The same. Again. And again.

It came to me that we really need to stop this. No, not the moonbats. Shrug. If people want moonbats, let them have them… But the not SAME moonbats, or even the same nominees, over and over and over again. Let’s give FRESH moonbats a chance! Here’s the thing. Once you’ve got a Hugo, you’ve got a Hugo. If there is any value in putting Hugo Award Winner/nominee on your cover… it’s not something that improves because you’ve got two or five or ninety-three.

Let’s take some of the people who have loudly demanded the Puppies be destroyed, who have told us how bad they are. (these are quick manual counts, I make no guarantees of not missing a few or overcounting one or two.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden – ten nominations, three wins.
Charles Stross – Thirteen noms, three wins.
John Scalzi – 6 noms, one win.

(Because I have been told the Sad Puppies – none of whom have prior slews of noms, are all white hetero Mormon men (even the women) I chose this racially and orientationally diverse group to show how the multiple noms helped the Hugos be more diverse. But it’s actually a broad pattern. If you’re in the clique, you’re in.)

Now here’s my proposal. Let’s have three strikes (noms) or a win, and you’re out. Not eligible again for say ten years if ever.

Just look at the above – even just taking 3 strikes… Another twenty nominations that could have gone to… diversity! (well, it would be hard to be less ‘diverse’) And they want that! They’ve all told us. Lead by example, please! And think, it would eliminate your bête noire John Wright and Vox Day! Ok so 95% of the leading angry CHORFS would also go, but surely they would glad to do this for (capital F) Fandom. Seanan McGuire would be very, very sad, but we all have to make sacrifices. I think I might survive that.

Of course, while these rule changes might help, they’re not going to change the fact that, sooner or later, we need to accept that IF the Hugo Awards are a populist choice among readers in general they’ll need to align roughly with the socio-political demographics of the readers. The only way to do that is to get more people from across the spectrum involved in nomination. We need to stop ignoring this. Trust me, the worm always turns. Those who ignore it willfully now, can be sure will be done to you and yours.

And now we can wait to see what the anti-puppies over on File 770 can do to prove my points for me. They’re really talented at it over there. Last week I wrote about attacking Sad Puppies writers by badmouthing their means of making a living (which is writing)… and lo: Martin Wisse “I pity his poor editors” obliges and others follow suit. Well, I am sure you’re punishing us. Or would you do that? (Pyrrhus again anyone?).

So do I pity my editors. But thank you for proving my point for me.

And I said how this could backfire… and lo: Glenn Hauman starts whinging about how his books got down-starring on Amazon treatment – oddly just after just after he recommended it for the Pup books. Tch. That’s what I still advocate against anyone doing, Glenn. More than you have done.

Mind you, it’s a very ‘creative’ reading set of commenters there. Their ‘proof’ that Patrick Nielsen Hayden is a poor maligned fellow involved proving Brad’s nick-name of CHORF painfully accurate… and completely failing to show ‘how he knew’. They floundered around well, though. The best they could do was Williamson breaking the embargo… is not ‘well I know three puppies were nominated for _Novels_ because of that’. 1) that’s a separate category, one which receives few noms at best. 2) Williamson a regular Con-goer, with a large personal fan base. Why would his win be predictive? 3) There were _four_ pup novel recommendations (all got in, Correia withdrew. So knowing three was more… interesting. 4) How did COULD he know the only other people possible were puppies? 5) No it did not come out of SMOF. “All that made it to SMOFs before the announcement was oblique discussion of a couple of nominees that broke the embargo, with no names attached. To this day I still have no idea who one of the two was.” — Petrea Mitchell.

And you’re missing the point – it is not that Patrick broke the embargo (an embargo is a general limitation, as well as on specific nominees, intended in this case to focus attention on the Hugos and WorldCon –which you claim to support.) (I assume you’re happy he merely betrayed two authors he’d been told in confidence – which of course is better. Not) It’s that he was able to know at all, especially about the puppies.

Anyway, you’re welcome to come and discuss it, 770 people – here. On Mondays. I try to keep Monday as reply and blog time.

And someone sent me this, for your amusement.

“• Blackadder says:
May 31, 2015 at 11:02 AM
This is why I have always felt this whole puppy thing is no big deal. It is time for repercussions. First, yes they stole the nominees but we’ll see how many wins they rack up. Second their little stunt is a one time deal now the fans will join in the nominee process they they will never control it again. Third, not only will they be locked out of the nominee process, they won’t even be published soon. Say goodbye to the puppies, they’re going to disappear.”

Is there a Baldrick in the house? If ever there was a man in need of a cunning plan it has to be this ‘Blackadder’.

Anyway, it is up to you guys –your votes, and whether you buy books and stories by the pups. If you do, it says we’ve got our signal across the void.

If not, it is lost in that void. That’s the gamble we take.

And now once more to work. I was going to write about dialogue and the need to introduce someone as a speaking-part foil for your lead character, but it’ll have to wait.

Formatting issues and concerns

While talking with Cedar Sanderson yesterday, the conversation turned to e-book formatting. Her comment was that she has noticed how e-book formatting has evolved over the last few years. For a moment, I wasn’t sure what she meant. Then I realized she was right. Formatting for e-books has come a long way over the last few years. Part of the reason is because e-books are being read on more advanced and powerful e-readers, tablets and smartphones. Another part of the reason is because we are no longer limited to uploading our e-books to sales sites in HTML format (Let’s face it. Too many of us either don’t know or don’t want to know how to code in HTML and it does take time to do it, time we’d rather spend writing.)

But this change in formatting has brought up a new worry for indie authors and small presses. How do you find the right template to use for you e-books? (There’s another associated question: should your e-books look like your print books?)

What really drove the issue home with me was opening my email this morning and finding a LinkedIn conversation about templates. The initial commenter linked to a site that sells interior templates for Word for a mere $87 (yes, my snark is on with the “mere”). Then he asked if anyone else had any other links to templates. From his comment, it is unclear if he is doing anything but e-books.

There are five answers to his question and, yes, five different pieces of advice. One basically says to run out and buy Adobe PageMaker because they think it is easy to learn and is perfect for the job. Another notes that she uses InDesign (but she also says there is a learning curve and that there are issues with it, as there are with almost any other program, when you upload a non-MOBI file to Amazon). Then there’s the commenter who recommends the templates from Createspace.

All of those recommendations are valid and based on personal experience. Two require major monies be laid out for the programs. But at least they addressed the original poster’s question. The other two comments don’t. At least not directly.

One says that all new authors should spend at least three months learning the ropes of self-publishing and then, if it is too much, they should consider hiring someone to do the layout work for them. Then there is the “vague questions like this produce vague answers” comment that had my hackles rising. The question — where do you find your templates — was not vague.

But it was the remaining comment that had me absolutely seething. According to this person, you MUST hire someone to do your layouts to avoid your book looking like it was self-published. There is no way a mere writer can learn how to put out a quality looking project is basically what he says. What he doesn’t say is that he works for a site/company that does conversions and printing.

So, here’s my take on it. If you are preparing your book only for digital release, it doesn’t matter what program you use. Most sites that allow you to upload an e-book for sale (ie Amazon, B&N, etc) accept Word files, HTML, etc. Experience has taught me that if you upload their native format (EPUB for Apple and B&N, among others and MOBI for Amazon) you have fewer conversion problems. The key is making sure you actually check the file after you’ve uploaded it to insure nothing odd happened.

There are free — and easy to learn — programs available to do the conversions from your original working file to EPUB or MOBI formats. Sigil and Calibre are two examples. Atlantis is a relatively inexpensive word processing program that actually cleans up a lot of the junk code in a Word file and will convert to EPUB. There is also a free plug-in that allows it to convert to MOBI. I’ve found the MOBI conversion a bit lacking but I know others who are happy with it.

As for your interior formatting for e-books, the first thing to decide is if you are also putting your work out in print. If you are, I recommend you use the same basic formatting for chapter headings, first lines of each chapter, etc., in your e-book that you do with your print version. In other words, make them look as much alike as you can. This is something we are now doing with NRP and we will be going back to all our novels and updating the digital files as we bring out the print files.

So, here are some basics I suggest:

1. Use a font that is easily read. The most common are Georgia, Garamond, Times New Roman.

2. Don’t use fancy fonts or symbols that will have to be embedded in your document. The reason for this is because not all e-book readers/programs will recognize them and that will result is odd characters showing up in the e-book and upsetting your reader.

3. Line spacing should be set at 1 or 1.5. Do not use double spacing.

4. Do not add space between paragraphs (either by having an extra return or by using paragraph formatting to do so.)

5. Insert a section break at the end of your chapter. This will cause the next chapter to open on a new screen for your e-book (by using section break instead of page break, you are also setting up your working file for easier conversion for print. You can program the break so that the new section begins on an odd page — which is what you want for print.)

6. Chapter Titles should be set as “heading 1” — which you can modify so that they are centered, black or auto color, etc. By doing this, you are putting in the necessary code for your active table of contents to be built and you don’t have to go in and do it by hand (building in hyperlinks and bookmarks).

7. Paragraphs should have first line indent active in the paragraph formatting options. My recommendation is not to set it at anything higher than 0.33. The default is usually 0.5 and that is too much for an e-book.

8. If you choose to follow standard print formatting, the first line of the first paragraph of every chapter will not be indented and the first few words or first clause of the sentence will be capped. You can remove the first line indent by simply highlighting and going into your paragraph options and unclicking first line indent. The caps can be done either by manually doing it or by highlighting the appropriate section of the first sentence, going into your font options and clicking “All Caps”.

Along this line, the fancy first letter of a chapter/superscript letter/etc., doesn’t translate well into digital format so avoid it.

9. Be sure if you have scene breaks in your novel or short story that you remove the first line indent at the *  *  *  or whatever you use to denote a scene change.

10. If you are writing a novel, you don’t have to have a table of contents in the beginning of the book. By using Heading 1 etc., your ToC will be built during conversion and added either in the drop down menu or at the end of the book depending on what store and e-reader/e-reader program you are talking about.

11. Be sure to include a list of your other works available for download and, if you have something coming out soon, note that. Also include an author bio and an excerpt of your upcoming work or another of your titles that might relate to the book you are publishing.

12. Finally, look at print books and see how they set up the front matter. Have a title page, a legal page, a dedication and/or acknowledgement page. If you want, put in a second title page and then start with Chapter One.

I really do recommend you convert your titles to MOBI for Amazon upload and EPUB for B&N, Kobo, and Apple. For one thing, you get to embed the meta tags you want associated with your titles this way. For another, you can look at your files in a native e-reader program or on your e-reader/tablet/smartphone before you upload to the site and see if there are any problems that need to be fixed. Always convert to EPUB first and from the EPUB convert to MOBI and not the other way around.

This is how I do it today. How I do it six months down the road will probably change. Why? Because tech changes and along with it the programs we use. So the best advice is to do it the way you think it looks best and keep your eye on what everyone else is doing. No, you don’t have to pay someone to format your e-book for you. If you take a little time — and it doesn’t take three months — to learn the process, it is worth the effort.

I’ll look at print formatting later. That is  bit trickier and will take a bit more thought to put together.

In the meantime, check out Kate Paulk’s post on Mad Genius Club about advice on story telling and Sarah A. Hoyt’s post on Talent and Other Fairy Tales.

In other news, Nocturnal Interlude is now available on Amazon for download. The print version will be available for purchase in a couple of weeks.

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