Monday, April 4, 2011

Indie publishing: best e-book ever

I have officially finished my first ever e-book. "What the Market Will Bear," my dystopian science fiction comedy of mercantilist mercenaries, has been released by Isomorph Press (a fancy name for a corporate analogue of myself). "What the Market Will Bear" is available for Kindle via Amazon, and a host of other formats via Smashwords. In a few more days, barring any unforseen consequences, it should be available by way of Barnes & Noble and the iBook store. Buy your copy now! (Duh...)

Anyway, I'm very pleased with the product. But let it never again be said that self-publishing is the "easy way" to get published. Not that making an e-book is terribly difficult; but an author who self-publishes a few digital titles will need to have a much larger bank of practical information than an author who doesn't go indie. Furthermore, they must be willing and able to adapt to more confusing, frustrating, and delicate circumstances than their auctorial forbears.

Let's just lay down the things I learned in the past few days:

1. Where to get the hot free stock photos: SXC.hu, in case you're wondering. Thanks, Jeff!

2. How to turn them as quickly and effectively as possible into e-book covers: PowerPoint, or the OpenOffice equivalent. GIMP, Photoshop, and InDesign were too much work (in my opinion) relative to the desired product.

3. Building and managing a "professional" "publisher" "website": 'nuff said.

And those were the things that didn't cause me any trouble.

The real learning (or "raging," depending) starts when you actually begin the publishing process. Getting the look and feel down is back-end; and so is all that writing that I (you) already spent years working on (you've spent years, right?). No, the hard part is working within the confines of the utilities that let you self-publish: Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, and Barnes & Noble's PubIt!.

PubIt! I'm precluded from using for now, on account of the fact that I lack any American tax status. On the bright side, Smashwords is incredibly client-friendly, and will, with time, hook me up with the required paperwork to get the ball rolling on acquiring an American tax number.

KDP is slightly less user-friendly - by which I really mean less noob-friendly - than Smashwords, but it gave me utterly no trouble with the actual conversion from .html to .mobi format. On the other hand, some of their dashboards are confusing: on the current Kindle edition of "What the Market Will Bear," the stock photographer is listed as one of the contributors. Yes, I appreciate his photo; but listing him as a "contributor" to my e-book was rather distant from my intentions. That's been fixed, but it might take 24 hours to register.

Finally, Smashwords is, by far, the greatest self-publishing provider in terms of client service. Helpful advice, guidelines, and regulations abound. But some of their conversions - namely to HTML, Java, and RTF - just don't pan out as hot as I'd like them. Nonetheless, the ultimate objective is to provide the product to the readers in as many formats as possible, and Smashwords is the only company who can give you so much for so little. Honestly, they're revolutionary.

Suffice it to say, I'm very happy with the e-book I've produced, the (relative) ease of the process, and the knowledge I've acquired. I've developed a new respect for the people who do this more regularly than I; and I have every intention to continue creating e-books of my stories. I'll continue blogging about indie publishing and the rest of my writing adventure on this blog, but for future titles, be sure to check out Isomorph Press.

Oh, and what's next on the list? A real logo for Isomorph Press. Purple shadowed text just isn't the industry standard...

-bn

4 comments:

  1. And there you go ... you're on your way. Congrats!

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  2. Congrats. I have no idea when I'll start doing stuff like this. Maybe I'll come ask you for advice one of these days (or one of these years, it sure ain't gonna happen with a newborn in tow.) :)

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  3. Welcome to the world of Excessive Riches. Not to nitpick your sexy cover, but I would have totally filled that empty space above the handgun with a nice big ole' Author Name.

    Still, I think it'll be grand.

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  4. Don't worry, David: the girlfriend already nit-picked it to a point beyond nerve-death. In a loving, tender way, of course. The next one will be better!

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