Friday, July 29, 2011

Formatting for Print

(If I could subtitle this post, it would be “I have found my newest nemesis: widows and orphans.”)

The family emergency that stalled my momentum a few weeks ago finally seems to be leveling out. My mother had surgery, but is back home recuperating now, and my schedule at the day job has gone more or less back to normal. This means I finally have my afternoons back to work on my novel. None too soon, either, because things at the day job aren’t going so well right now (summer is our slow season, and this particular summer is the slowest one yet), so I’m a little concerned that I may be searching for new employment soon. I hope not: I’ve been there over 10 years now, and while it’s not my dream job, I’m comfortable there and I really hate the thought of having to start over somewhere else. Of course, if I could one day write full-time, that would be ideal, but I’m a practical girl: I know most writers, even the traditionally-published ones, never reach that dream.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Momentum stalled

Last week, I was really moving along. I had my Kindle formatting done, my ePub created and ready for a quick scan, I’d created a Facebook page and even finished and uploaded my web site. The only thing left, for the most part, was starting the print version. I was hoping to get that done this week and maybe, finally, start getting serious about setting a release date.

Unfortunately, all that momentum ground to a halt due to a family emergency, which is why I’ve been so quiet everywhere. My mother went into the hospital and needed surgery, which she finally got on Friday. She’s recovering now, and we’re hoping she can come home next week. Crisis averted, but it’s going to take a little more time for things to get back to normal. My day job will at least get a little less crazy next week, since the manager I was covering for finally returns from his vacation on Tuesday. So maybe once we get into August I can get back to my old routine and get to work on that pesky print book.

I’m unwinding today by going to see the Harry Potter movie in between hospital visits. Maybe it will help lower the stress a little.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This is where I start to freak out

I did it. I finished the website and uploaded it to the server. It’s live, which means there’s no turning back now. The blurb for DESTINED is up, along with the first chapter (I plan to add the next two in the future), so I can’t chicken out and not publish now.

*deep breath*

I can do this. I believe in my book, and I believe there are others out there who will enjoy it as much as I do. My biggest concern is that people will read the blurb and think, “Vampires on the Titanic? What the hell?” DESTINED is really more a time travel romance set on the Titanic than a vampire book, but the vampires are there. Then again, vampires on the Titanic interests me, so I can’t be the only one out there!

Going live with the site also means I’ve settled on my cover, whether I knew it or not. Heh. I have a bad habit of tweaking things to death, so this is good for me.

So go check it out: And when you’re done with that, head over to my shiny new Facebook Fan Page and like me. (There is no way to say that without sounding needy, is there?)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

ePub done! And Kindle TOC tips

Yesterday, I managed to get my book properly into ePub format. Woo! I still need to put it on a Nook and read through it (and possibly get it on my iPad and see if I can read it in iBooks), just to be sure the formatting is good, but a quick skim in Adobe Digital Editions looked promising. It was a real pain to do, partly because I’m such a control freak and had to do it all by hand, but also because, when I got frustrated with that method and actually tried a conversion program, it made a royal mess out of the whole thing. This is why I am such a control freak: if you want it done right, do it yourself.

I’ll do a post later about what I had to do to wrangle my nicely-polished Kindle HTML file into an equally-polished ePub, but rather than going off on a new subject right now, I want to finish what I promised last week and write up some tips on doing a Table of Contents for a Kindle ebook.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Excerpt debate

Hey, what do you know? Two posts less than a week apart!

I’m deviating from my Kindle formatting posts today to ramble a little about my stalled website design. Stalled mainly because I’ve been focusing my time on editing, now that my day job has sucked up my afternoons. But also stalled because I’ve come to a point where I don’t know what else to include. (And because I still can’t come up with verbage for the “about the author” page. I have no idea what to say about myself!)

My current dilemma, however, is the book excerpt. I have a blurb written up that I’m fairly happy with (I’m never completely happy with anything, but I’ve learned to accept that and move on), but I also want to have an excerpt available for those who want more before they spend their hard-earned money on me. I know that Amazon automatically makes the first 10% of a Kindle book the free sample (if you offer a sample, which I will), and with my book, 10% is a little more than the first 3 chapters. I feel that’s a good sample for the book, since it’s a time travel story and the actual time travel itself happens in Chapter 3. (Funny, I just looked at one of my favorite time travel novels, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and it’s paced the same way: setup in the first 2 chapters, time travel in Chapter 3. I didn’t set out to do the same in mine, but hopefully I’ve stumbled upon the magic formula!)

From what I’ve read, I can’t control my Kindle sample, and I’m fine with that. What I need to decide, though, is if I want my website excerpt to be just as long. On the one hand, I like the idea of the third chapter being there, since that’s where the Titanic portion gets started, but I’m worried about having an excerpt that long.  My first 3 chapters total a little more than 8700 words (out of a total word count of 90,000). Personally, I get bad eye strain when I read on my computer, so an excerpt that long might scare me away. But I have vision issues, so I’m probably not a normal reader in that sense.

I could always do the first two chapters… that’s 5700 words and Chapter 2 ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. It could either be a smart place to end the excerpt, or really mean. Heh.

Well, I guess that’s all I had to blog about today. I’m mostly just thinking out loud here (I find it sometimes helps to write things down), but if anyone has any advice on the subject, I’m open to it. Until then, back to the edits!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Kindle formatting tips

I keep meaning to update this more than just once a week, but right now the day job is cutting into most of my free time. If only I were independently wealthy, then I wouldn’t have to work at all!  *sigh* If only…

I’ll try to keep this post shorter. For one, the last one took my entire day to write up, and I’d like to finish my edits today. And I’m sure anyone who’s reading would appreciate a more manageable length. But I have a tendency towards long-windedness, so we’ll see how that goes.

Last week I went through some of the handier coding I’ve learned for formatting paragraphs and such. As promised, today I’ll do covers, chapter headings and if I haven’t gone too long, Table of Contents.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Three-Day Weekend!

Usually, I use a holiday weekend as an excuse to slack off, but this weekend I’m going to have to make myself work harder, because for the next 3 weeks, my hours at the day job are being increased to cover for a manager who is going on vacation. I’m happy to do it: he covers for me when I take vacations, so it’s only fair. But part of me is crying inside at the loss of at-home writing/editing time. Though who knows, I may end up bringing my writing work with me to help fill time, so it might work out all right. Shhh, don’t tell my boss. ;)

Anyway, I’m nearly done with my last (I swear!) edit, so I should finally have my Kindle ebook fully-formatted. At that point, I need to decide if I want to keep on the ebook route and work on the ePub version next, or take an ebreak and start formatting the print version (going back to ePub later). I’m still undecided, though if I’m going to be stuck at work more for a while, maybe the print version is best: I can work on InDesign there.

Before I get back to that editing, I figured it was time to get another blog post up. I meant to blog more often than this, but haven’t had much to say recently. Hopefully that will change soon! For this post, I thought I’d do a run-down of some of the better tips I’ve found/discovered as I’ve slogged through the process of formatting an ebook for Kindle.