There is nothing quite as exciting as an adventure–also, nothing quite as uncomfortable, fraught with peril and generally the sort of thing that makes you both nervous and thrilled. Adventures also make for good story telling after the fact. I’m still in the early stages of this new path, but seems like a good time to start sharing on what it’s like to bring out books in electronic format. And why not bring back my out-of-print books–I have the rights back and I’ve had folks asking when they could get these for electronic readers, so…let’s go.
Now, I’m not trail blazing here–lots of folks are going electronic, and there are definite advantages. But we’re not talking freeway fast path, either. We’re more like Oregon Trail–there is a trail, many folks have passed this way, and you can see the skeletons of some of them. And we’re still in covered wagons–this is not a trip for those who aren’t stubborn as hell.
My particular trip started with getting enough info from the Novelists Inc. conference that I decided it was time to do some experiments, at the very least. My day job is web work, so you’d think my adoption factor would be high, but my books ran into the cobbler’s children syndrome–not an electronic stitch to have them shod. Time to change all that.
First step–the cover. The books are all done, so I don’t have to worry about finishing them, or edits (well, mostly not, but more on this later). I had the contact info for Albert Slark who did a couple of my covers. He gave me a great rate, and now I’ve fantastic covers coming, including one for Under the Kissing Bough (RITA nominee for Best Regency).
Second step–file conversion. My final edits were on paper, so I pulled out the books and the files to put in final edits. My initial thought was that I’d keep the books the same–they represent my writing at a certain stage of my life, and I thought that should stay the same. Then I started finding things I just did not want to allow in any new edition. There are no major edits, but I found things I wanted to be cleaner, stronger–my skills have improved as a writer, and I found I wanted the electronic edition to be as strong as I could make it. Now I’m going to have to do that with all eight books, so this is going to take more time than I wanted.
Third step–more file conversion. Formatting is a pain in the ass. There’s no way around that. There’s fussing with formats, and fonts, and making sure it’s going to display right on the reader. This is where that stubbornness can really help. You have to get everything ready for upload, and then you have to fuss more with the upload. This is where, on the Oregon Trail, you’re crossing the Continental Divide. You just have to get out and push sometimes.
Fourth step–this one is optional. I bought ISBNs for the books–if you go this route, you need an ISBN for each version, print, electronic, etc. This also gets the books listed in Books in Print, but it is more fussing. (I already have copyright on the books, but if you want to button everything up, you can also get a copyright on the book for not much money).
Now comes the next steps–promotion, promotion, promotion. Getting the word out in an already noisy world is always tough. But I feel as if I’ve got my stake in the ground for some of the new promised land–I’ve cross the great divide and now must learn how to make this adventure work on a long-term basis.
I have to thank a few people who provided great info and insight, including Bob Mayer, Joe Konrath, Della Jacobs — these are all writers, so please go buy their books, too, all in convenient electronic format.
And you can now buy my RITA Nominee for Best Regency, Under the Kissing Bough, for: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook or for Sony readers or other formats at Smashwords…and next month, I’ll let you know how the adventure progresses. I’m pretty sure that, to paraphrase the words of Betty Davis when she played Margo Channing in All About Eve, what we all need to plan on is to, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.”