Saturday, June 18, 2011

An update on what I've been doing

Forgive me. It's been a while since my last blog post. Why does this sound like a Catholic confession? Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been *insert time here* since my last confession. Maybe I feel guilty for not blogging more frequently.

Lately, I've been working on a new novel. The working title is called Pass the Buck and, of course, it takes place in Atlanta. I'm not delving into details at this point as the story is still in its infancy, but from the feedback I received when I pitched the idea to friends, I'm very excited about it. I hope I can do it justice and deliver a highly entertaining story my readers. Time will tell.

My college hit man novel, Majoring in Murder, is still in the editorial phase. I've gone through it several time and felt comfortable enough to give it to two of my beta readers (one of those being my wife, who is marking it up as if I was one of her students). Hopefully, she'll be finished with it soon so that I can make my revisions and give it to some different beta readers. This is always such a daunting process for me. I hate editing, as do most writers I know. Also, the honest feedback can sting sometimes and make any writer doubt themselves. But, it shouldn't be too long until I can offer up the book to the readers.

I pitched the idea to a fellow writer friend to co-author a book together. Since he writes science fiction and I enjoy writing crime fiction, we have to come up with an idea that will appeal to both of us. I've got one fairly solid idea and the seeds for another. He's supposed to be brainstorming about some ideas too, so we'll see where we are after July 4th when we reconvene to discuss whether we really want to go through with writing a book together. So, stay tuned for that.

As you may know, and in case you don't, I released my anthology, An Adverse Anthology: Strange & Disturbing Short Stories ,earlier this month on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. If you haven't yet purchased a copy, you're missing out on some really entertaining stories. Also, I've lowered the price from $2.99 to $2.25, which is quite a bargain for 8 stories. Did I mention they were very entertaining? In addition, I've uploaded a more professionally formatted version for both Kindle and Nook on Amazon and B&N. Unfortunately, I have yet to try this Smashwords. This brings me to another point...

I recently came across a series of posts by another indie publisher, Guido Henkel, who gave quite a lot of insight into professionally formatting one's eBooks. His series is definitely worth a read if you want to make your eBooks look their best. The information he presents is priceless, in my opinion. I will warn you ahead of time that it gets fairly technical if you're not familiar with HTML.

In the past, when I uploaded my manuscript, I would simply submit a Word document that was complete and polished. The frustration came when I would upload it to Amazon, view it in the Kindle emulator, tweak it to make it look as I wanted, and then do the same at Barnes & Noble, only to discover that it needed more tweaking to look right for the Nook Color. Once it looked nice in the Nook Color, I would view it in the older Nook emulator and see that it looked hideous. Talk about wanting to pull my hair out! And then there's Smashwords "meatgrinder" where they highly advise you to upload a Word document and adhere to their style guide specifications. Guido's series will eliminate that frustration (at least for Amazon and B&N) and make your manuscript look like you want it to on any eReader device.

I've reformatted my anthology using his steps and tested it on my Nook for PC app, the Kindle app on my smart phone, and the Nook Color I own, and I must say, it looks stellar! I still need to test uploading an ePub version to Smashwords to learn how well their meatgrinder handles the format and I'll do a post to tell you what I learn. I plan to incorporate these techniques into every eBook I publish from this point forward.

Now that I've added another, professionally formatted, title to my repertoire and I'm struggling with self-promotion and experimenting with price points. I've sold several copies of my latest short story collection, but nothing like I was expecting. Of course, I don't have an extensive back list or anything, so I imagine what I'm experiencing is just par for the course. Hopefully, things will pick up as I build my oeuvre. Again, time will tell.

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