Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The New Bullet Train of Publishing

Viva la E-book Revolution!

Evelyn David

Authors have been publishing their own work since the beginning of time. Cavemen didn't use a third party to put their drawings up on the wall. But self-publishing has always been the ugly duckling in the publishing world – with no hope of transforming into a beautiful swan. No matter how you tried to dress it up, admit that you had self-published your book and the universal assumption was that a self-published book was "unworthy," evidence of the writer's "vanity," never the equal of any book published by even the smallest commercial house. Self-published tomes were rarely eligible for any prizes awarded for excellence; their authors unable to use those books for entry into professional writing organizations. It didn't matter how many copies you had sold, you weren't worthy. All you had was the dream that perhaps a big publishing house would notice the sales and decide to buy it. The publisher doing the writer the big favor of finally legitimizing what the public had already decided – that it was obviously a darn good book.

But in the last year, probably in the last six months, the publishing world has been hit by a tidal wave of authors who've decided to ignore the old conventional wisdom about self-publishing and instead proudly format their own work into e-books, launch them into the Internet marketplace, and with each sale, pocket more money on the sale of a $2.99 e-book than they had on 10 paperbacks published by a big New York City publisher.

Count Evelyn David as one of the riders on this new bullet train to publishing success.

While our paperback publisher had released Kindle and Nook versions of our first two mysteries, Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake, starting in October, we became our own e-book publishers for a new series, The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries. But while we've definitely donned some rose-colored glasses about the e-book revolution, we actually can see quite clearly the difficulties and barriers that authors face when they choose to take this route. But forewarned means forearmed, or if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and get a little messy, you too can publish your own e-books.

We began the process of converting our stories into e-book formats without any idea of how to do it. Of course we're used to jumping off into the deep end. We only learned afterward that collaborating on a novel was supposed to be impossible and we've been collaborating for six years now without any problems.

When we decided to publish The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries, we researched the process and taught ourselves how to do it. (This is the Northern half of this writing duo interjecting here: Let's be honest. It is the Southern half who taught herself how to format and upload e-books. The Northern half is limited to being a very enthusiastic cheering squad.)

There are lots of guides and blogs out there for authors on how to format e-books, but we never found one that gave us the amount of detail we needed. The best information we found was at Smashwords. ( http://www.smashwords.com/ ) Smashwords is an e-book publishing and distribution platform. You upload your manuscript there and Smashwords converts your book into multiple e-book formats, including Kindle, Nook (e-pub), PDF, Apple i-Pad, etc. Smashwords has a "free" guidebook for getting your manuscript ready for uploading to Smashwords' "meat-grinder." Read it carefully, more than once (like maybe a dozen times), before following the instructions. It's complicated but do-able.

The information you glean from the Smashwords guidebook is very useful for preparing for uploads to not only Smashwords' "meatgrinder," but Amazon's Digital Text Platform and Barnes & Noble's PubIt!

You'll want a cover image, one for the outside of your e-book and one inserted inside. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords all suggest different cover sizes. You'll have to experiment to see what looks best. You are responsible for creating or providing the cover image. Check the Library of Congress web site for royalty-free images you can download and use. For e-books, a simple cover is best. Remember most of the potential buyers are going to see your cover for the first time as an image slightly larger than a thumbnail. You want the title and author name to be readable.

We're not saying it's easy. Revolutions rarely are. Nor are we suggesting that you eschew the traditional publishing route. We're certainly not. We've got a new paperback coming out this spring. What we are suggesting is that it's not a zero-sum game. You can do both. Good Luck!

Biography -

The authors of The Brianna Sullivan Mysteries, Murder Off the Books, Murder Takes the Cake, and the short story Riley Come Home, Evelyn David is the pseudonym for Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett.

Marian lives in New York and is the author of 11 nonfiction books on a wide variety of topics ranging from veterans benefits to playgroups for toddlers! For more information on Marian's books, please visit her web site at http://www.marianedelmanborden.com

Rhonda lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is the director of the coal program for the state, and in her spare time enjoys imagining and writing funny, scary mysteries. Marian and Rhonda write their mystery series via the Internet. While many fans who attend mystery conventions have now chatted with both halves of Evelyn David, Marian and Rhonda have yet to meet in person.

Please check out Evelyn's website at http://www.evelyndavid.com and their blog – The Stiletto Gang - http://www.thestilettogang.blogspot.com/ for information about Evelyn David's appearance schedule and writing projects.

Our Books -
The Sullivan Investigation Series

Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)

Murder Takes the Cake - Paperback - Kindle

Murder Off the Books - Paperback - Kindle

Riley Come Home - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Autographed Copies and other e-book formats available through Wolfmont Press at

The Digital_Bookshop - http://tinyurl.com/DigitalBookshop

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series

The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah

- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah

- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries

- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


Evelyn David said...

Thanks so much Chris for hosting us today! Come visit us at The Stiletto Gang!

Cassie Exline said...

Great post. Caught my interest as I also self publish, but under a different name. Visited you on the Stiletto Gang and also on Smashwords. I feel like a kid in a candy store. Thanks Evelyn and thanks Chris.