Ebooks, they say, are the coming thing, and according to a recent survey it is women who are using them most. We already know that women read more than men (no comment on that one) so it shouldn’t really be surprising, even though one might expect the take up to be greater among techie young men. The young, of course, will adopt it anyway, as a normal progression from the mobile phone, iplayers, ipods, and the rest.
These are exciting times for writers, for however you package it, people still like a good story. For readers too, as it will increase choice, instead of restraining the consumer to the bestseller lists and 3 for 2 tables. And there are lots of bargains out there, freebies too.
Next came the editing and revising and I discovered, much to my relief, that I’m a better writer today than I was in those early days. Coming to the stories fresh, as I’d largely forgotten the details, I was able to see where they were overwritten and tighten them, eradicate clumsy sentences and even check the copy-editor’s changes. Not always perfect! The story wasn’t changed in any way but I was able to improve the telling here and there. It proved to be a fascinating experience and I learned a great deal about myself as a writer from it.
Then came the hard part - publishing them as ebooks. This involved a great deal of reading. First I studied the style guide on Smashwords, a company who supply Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, mobi-pocket and others, which took some time. It was worth the effort though as it carefully explained how to produce a clean document for upload, essential if the formatting is to stay in place. I won’t bore you with the technicalities but it’s all to do with the hidden codes that Word inserts on a page, and ebook software doesn’t care for stray codes, tabs, or too many returns. I cleaned up my documents, made a copyright page, added a teaser for the next book at the end, and I was ready to go with the first five. These were historical romances originally published by Mills & Boon. Uploading them proved to be much easier than I expected, and Smashwords guide you on what to do next in order to assign a free ISBN and submit them to their premium catalogue.
Believing ISBNs to be essential I bought a batch of 10, which is how Neilson sell them, to assign to the sagas I intended to do next. http://www.isbn.nielsenbook.co.uk I’m still not entirely sure whether I needed to do this, as there seems to be conflicting advice on the issue. So far as I am aware every book: hardback, paperback, large print, etc., has to have its own ISBN. Yet Kindle also assign an ID of their own, so the jury is still out on that one.
But if I thought it was all easy, that was before I tried Kindle. Fast forward some weeks, during which time half a dozen of my out of print titles have been duly scanned and edited, cleaned to a pristine condition and are ready to go. Or so I thought. A writer friend offered a few tips, and with courage in hand, I went for it. Oh dear, the first one, despite her warnings, was a disaster, coming out for some reason all in italic. I’d previewed it carefully before publishing, as she’d advised, but in order to change it you are asked to download html, of which my knowledge is zilch. Instead, in my ignorance, I tried to overwrite it and, yes, you’ve guessed it, got that wrong too and ended up with two copies, both in italic. Back to the reading of guidelines, hours spent on the forums, asking questions and finally, amazingly, getting the right answers. You can check how it should be done yourself at
Once I had downloaded the Mobipocket Creator and the Mobipocket Reader, both free from Amazon, it was indeed easy as pie. Although I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to start off with a clean document. Easy as Pie tells you how. I was now able to thoroughly preview the entire book before even attempting to upload it, and correct my early mistakes. My stray bit of code for italic had been picked up and spoilt the entire document. I was now able to overwrite it properly and republish.
I now have 5 historical romances and 6 sagas (more will follow) published on Amazon and on Smashwords, soon to be available on most ereader devices. Or you can do as I’ve done and download the free Kindle for PCs on to your lap top or netbook. You can take a look at them here:
And on Amazon