Saturday, June 25, 2011

Perfectionism is a Pain

I have my novel formatted for Kindle. I put it on my Kindle to read through and check for errors and other things that might need changing. Made my notes, fixed the problems, saved it again. Then re-uploaded it back to the Kindle to check over one last time. Found more errors and more things I wanted to fix. In the meantime, I found a few things in my research that needed to be changed: historical errors I’d made, some of which were pretty major and couldn’t be left in. I’ve applied this last round of changes to the file, and here’s where the problem comes in: I can’t just let it be. I have to put it back on my Kindle and read it again to be sure it’s perfect. It’s not so much that I’m worried I missed things the first two times. More, I’m worried that, in fixing the other errors, I’ve made new ones.

Since I’m self-publishing, I want to be very careful about the quality of what I put out. I want it to look polished and professional.  Hell, I want it to look better than professional, because let’s face it: a lot of commercial publishers put out pretty awful-looking ebooks. I want mine to be pristine, or as close to it as possible. But the way things are going now, I can see myself falling into an endless loop of edits, and I don’t want to do that.

I’m also worried that, when applying this last round of corrections, I mistakenly used the wrong HTML file.  I was using the one I had been editing all along, then discovered that, when I was converting it to Kindle format last time, I had copied it into another folder. So now I’m freaking out that that was the latest version, and I just edited an old file. Which means I definitely need to read through it again to be sure. *sigh*

At this rate, I’m never going to get the other formats done. I think I’m starting to understand now why it takes so long for a book to be commercially published!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Self-Publishing for Print

I’m a research fanatic. When I get interested in something, or decide I want to do (or buy) something, I first get online and research the hell out of it. I love having as much information as possible before I make a decision, especially when that decision is going to impact my checkbook. I Google, I read message boards, stalk blogs, whatever I have to do to find the information I need. So when I made up my mind that I was going to give self-publishing a serious try, my first step was research.

Initially, I was researching ebooks. For a self-publisher nowadays, it’s become pretty easy to take your manuscript, format it, make up a cover and then submit it to Kindle DTP, Smashwords, or any other number of ebook sites. And because it’s all electronic, you can set the prices remarkably low. Hell, you can give the book away if you really want! So it’s understandable that most self-publishers only deal with ebooks when they start out. It’s easy, free to the author and cheap to the reader. Granted, there’s still a lot of time and work that goes into making a well-formatted ebook, but that’s another issue entirely.

The focus of my research today has been print. While most writers who self-pub do the majority of their sales through ebooks, print is still a factor. There are still a lot of people out there who don’t use ereaders, and don’t like to read books on their computer. I know this because, out of all my friends and family, the only people I know who use ereaders are myself and my mother. Everyone else reads paper books. So when it comes time for me to publish, I will be doing myself a great disservice if I only offer my novel in ebook format. My only guaranteed sales when I start are going to be from friends and family, and if they can’t buy my book in paper format, I lose all of those sales. Pretty stupid not to offer both versions, no?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pardon my dust

I've been messing around with my blog layout today, trying to get it to match my eventual website. Man, what a mess!  I think I've got it mostly worked out now, so it's time to go watch Jeopardy! :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

That pesky copyright page

One of the aspects of self-publishing that has had me oddly stumped has been the copyright page. This shouldn’t be difficult, yet for some reason, I’ve been stalled for weeks because I haven’t had anything on that page. I did numerous Google searches, scanned publishing blogs, dug through the Kindle DTP community forums… you name it, I looked.  But the only mentions of copyright I seemed to find were mentions of where to put the page, questions about the page not being linked properly in the TOC, and a ton of forum posts about obtaining copyright from the US Copyright Office. And while the latter amused me (as soon as you put words down on paper, it’s copyrighted, so in my opinion, it’s silly to shell out the money for an “official” copyright for a novel), none answered my question. All I wanted was someone to say “Hey, here’s a copyright page you can either adjust to your needs, or copy straight out.” I eventually found a few places that did that and was able to cobble something together, though what I mostly ended up doing was copying parts of the notice from print books I own.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Back in Business

Last weekend, I had a small setback in my self-pub plans. The goal was to finish the Kindle formatting and move on to print and/or ePub research. Instead, I got to spend the weekend setting up a new computer. My old computer, which is about 5 years old, had started freezing up on me ever since a storm last week. We had a momentary power outage – enough that everything electronic shut off – so I think there was enough of a surge, even with my surge protector, that something happened to it. I kept having to reboot it, and at one point it started doing a CHDSK, so I let it go to see if it would help. It found some bad sectors (I forget the exact error message now), and some online searching led me to many forums where people with similar CHDSK results were told their hard drives were about to die. Cue my panic, as naturally, it had been a while since I last backed up my files. All the work I’d been doing on my novel – multiple edits, html formatting for Kindle, cover art, etc. – was in danger of being lost.

On the bright side, I’ve been looking for an excuse to get a new desktop, so it wasn’t completely bad news. I was lucky that whatever’s wrong with my old comp isn’t quite so bad yet that it can’t run, so I was able to copy all of my files onto my external drive and save everything. Then it was off to Best Buy, where I spent far too many hours comparing desktops (not to mention also going to other nearby stores, but I always tend to end up at Best Buy). I’m picky about computers. I usually prefer my processors to be Intel rather than AMD or the others, though I don’t really know why. My laptop is AMD and it’s perfectly fine.  But then, I don’t use my laptop for anything too heavy. My desktop gets a good workout when I’m doing graphic design, so I wanted to be sure it could handle it all. I ended up with [warning: this is where I let my inner computer geek out]a Gateway that has 6MB of RAM a 3.2ghz dual-core Pentium Intel processor and 1TB hard drive. And it’s smaller than a normal desktop, so it’s all cute and fits on top of my desk rather than on the floor at my feet (like the old one did), where I’d have to lean down and fumble in the shadows every time I wanted to plug in a flash drive or memory card. I love it.

Unfortunately, upgrading computers is tedious and time-consuming. So I ended up spending all weekend getting my files transferred and my programs installed. I’ve had some other personal tasks to attend to as well, which has made me put the self-publishing goal on hold for a few more days. Hopefully by next week I can be back to my normal routine and finally get some of this done!

It also isn’t helping that I’ve decided a large part of the last few chapters needs to be rewritten. *sigh*

Oh! I do have a Twitter now, though. I’m still getting set up there and finding people to follow. Haven’t had as much time, obviously, but it’s another thing I plan on doing more of next week. I’m @AllisonKraft there.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Traffic? I have traffic?!

Out of curiosity, I signed into my Blogger account today and clicked on the stats link. You know, for shits and giggles. I've been blogging for about a month now (after not blogging for a while when my agent hunt fizzled), but since I haven't yet promoted my blog anywhere, I haven't expected people to read it. It's mostly been for myself, and to have an online presence later on when I'm closer to publishing and set out to actually start promoting my novel.

But I guess my post yesterday got indexed in some searches, probably because of the timely subject matter (the Titanic launch centenary), and some people actually viewed the post!  Eek!

I have no idea if any of them stuck around and read the whole thing. Most likely people were looking for stories about the anniversary celebration and wondered how the hell they ended up on some nobody writer's blog. Heh. Still, it's kind of cool. And a little frightening, to be honest. It's easier to blog when you don't think anyone's out there reading and judging you.

In other news, I haven't gotten any actual work done today. Had some drama at the day job, then a bad rain storm that knocked out power and Internet for a bit and made my desktop go all wonky when it came back up. It's still freezing up randomly for no apparent reason, so I may have to admit defeat and shut down for the day, see how things go tomorrow. Bah. I wanted to be more productive today, but most of what I want to do requires either InDesign or Illustrator, both of which require my computer to be on its best behavior. I'm thinking that's not in the cards today. Damn storm.

I also signed up for AbsoluteWrite today, so I'll probably include a link to this blog in my posts... if I ever get up the guts to post anything. So if I do, and anyone clicks the link: *waves to AW folks* Hi there!