Why I Decided to e-Publish

It was in the fourth year (or was it the fifth?) that I grew weary waiting for the promised phone call from my NYC literary agent (who I had engaged at a writers’s conference), an agent that I traveled twice to NYC to meet.

That’s when I came across an article in Newsweek, entitled, “Who Needs a Publisher?” I don’t recall the author’s name, but he expected to earn $100,000 that year. I’d appreciate a six-figure paycheck or even one that didn’t approach that amount.

First, I downloaded Kindle for PC and purchased Kindle Formatting by Joshua Tallent.
At the time, I had several completed manuscripts, and was beginning to research The Civil War’s Valiant Irish, which I recently ePublished. Therefore, my next purchase was The Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan, for the total cost, including sales tax, of $1.06 and obtained it in less than a minute. I was hooked. Then, and only then, I purchased a Kindle.

After informing the NYC agent that he now had a deadline, and not hearing a peep not even an acknowledgment of my e-mail, I waited until the specified date before cutting the cord (still without hearing a peep.)

Getting my books(s) published on Kindle wasn’t the end all, nor did I expect it to be.
I still have to market my books. I’m not without experience in publishing. After unsuccessfully trudging down the trail of securing a literary agent, I decided to self-publish.

My initial offering, (now out of print), The Path to a Successful Retirement was reviewed twice by Publisher’s Weekly and twice by The Library Journal. It was fun for a year. I signed and gave away books at the Chicago Book Show, appeared on TV in places like Los Angeles and Bellingham, WA, spent numerous afternoons at book markets. The first printing moved well as did most of the second, that’s when I got greedy. Book returns from distributors began to come back. The remainder of the third printing rests against a wall in my garage.
I vowed, “No more unsold books for me.”

That’s when I ventured into Print-on-Demand (POD) for my first narrative history, Celtic Invasion of Rome. In POD, the author purchases at a discount and resells at a price he or she sets. To make a profit, the POD cost per book demanded a sell price that was even more than I would be willing to pay for my own book. Inventorying, packaging, mailing, etc still rested with the author. The major advantage of POD is that a small quantity could be ordered, thus the author would be stuck with fewer unsold books.

I initially selected the title to include Celts and Romans, hoping that internet searches would key in on those words. For the ePublished edition, I re-titled Celtic Invasion of Rome, to Druids, Celts, and Romans, a more fitting description for what is currently my best selling book. My first piece of advice is to give the title due thought. Ask yourself—Does it adequately represent the contents? Will it attract readers?”

Although book sales are still meager, digital publishing fits another of my needs because of its instant international reach. My books are written to appeal to Irish across the globe. I’ve already sold books in the British Isles, France, and Italy.

To learn how to make my books more marketable, I purchased Konrath’s The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, and immediately reduced the price to a moderate level—$6.99 for my full length novels. Every author believes that our digital books should sell for as much as the printed version, but bear in mind our readers are intelligent and realize that ePublished books cost less. Besides, Amazon wants $29.99 for the hardcover Celtic version. Heck, even I wouldn’t pay that much.

Although I’m still researching my next book about Irish participation in the Revolutionary War, I’m switching hats to one worn by a huckster. My motto:

“Sell the author, and the books will sell themselves.”

Stay tuned as I share my venture into the world of “selling the author.”

ePublish on Kindle and Nook

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are in the business to sell books. Therefore, they make it relatively easy to digitally publish.  On the other hand, Apple sells devices, iPad and the like. This is evident because books from Kindle and Nook can be read on a PC or Apple without the requirement to purchase a reading device. I’ll cover publishing on iBook and book covers in a later article.

Both Kindle and Nook accept MS Word. In essence, you tell them where the file is located, and they come and get it.

Publishing on Kindle needs additional instructions only if you wish to include images inserted in with the text. Then Kindle prefers a HTML file.

Publish with images:

(Tip #1) Open a brand new folder.

  1. Copy the jpg file(s) of the image(s) into the new folder.
  2. Open the file containing the manuscript and insert the image(s) from the newly created file. Then save it as” Web page, filtered (*htm, *html) in the newly created file. This file will now contain the images and the .htm file.
  3. To improve transmission speed, Kindle expects the file to be zipped. I use “7-zip.” Open 7-zip, select the file, which will now have a .zip extension.
  4. This is the file you submit. 

(Tip #2) After the file is uploaded to Kindle, select preview and make certain that the images appear before continuing to publish. If your image(s) doesn’t show up, go back and redo the above steps.

Problems not yet solved.

My patience is almost non-existent, so I detest the slow process using the preview option to wade through my 500-page books. I used to be able to almost go directly to the portion of the book I wanted to preview. To accomplish this, I’d change the location at the bottom to something close to where my images were inserted. For example, if the current location reads 14 of 561098. I’d change the 14 to 561000 so it would automatically sort to the last page. Since Kindle’s Fire came out, this is not longer an option. Thank you Kindle programmers.

The biggest issue I encountered using Kindle (after I learned how to do the above) was that once a book is purchased, you can’t get a revised edition even if you offer to purchase it again. This makes it difficult to review your final version. One time, I gifted a copy in order that the recipient could see if my images were in their proper place. I’ve called this deficiency to Kindle’s attention. If you convince them you’re the author, they will manually (their term) e-mail a revised edition, sometime in the next 12-hours.

I’m calling Kindle’s attention to this article. I believe they need an “Author’s Advocate,” someone who understands authors’ needs and can be contacted directly.

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