Recently, I finished the formatting and upload of the last of my four ebooks to Smashwords. This marks a milestone for my e-publishing efforts in that I have now self-published in both the Amazon and Smashwords marketplaces.
E-publishing ebooks yourself is hard work. There was a temptation to hire a professional to do the formatting. This temptation was overcome by the fact that I didn’t have the money. To aid in the formatting of these ebooks I began, ironically, by purchasing several ebooks, many of which claiming to include ‘all you need to know about ebook formatting.’
The tricky part of this is that 1. Ebook formatting is constantly changing and 2. Many of the writers of these ebooks are professional ebook formatters themselves and I suspect that, at bottom, they want you to agree that their employment is difficult and worthwhile and so several key ingredients in formatting the various files needed to create a state-of-the-art Amazon ebook were universally left out. This conundrum was remedied when I luckily came across April L. Hamilton’s Indie Author Guide to Publishing For The Kindle. This document carefully and thoroughly described how to create the Amazon’s chapter navigation file, also known as the .ncx file.
Now, once the ebooks were live at Amazon, I noticed several minor problems such as Help the Covers are Ugly! and Who can Even Understand these Product Descriptions and Why Have I Chosen Such Illogical Prices. I suspect these are the problems that plague most fledgling independent authors. Guy Kawasaki is famous for his internet marketing adage of “First Get Something Up,” and yet I was prone to repeat to myself over these past months, “And Then Mercilessly Beat Those Things Into Shape!” One of the real difficulties of putting ebooks up for sale at an established marketplace is that all the additional fields of data needing your input must actually be calibrated in an unknown and changing environment. This means the book description, the book’s library categories, the author’s bio and picture, the covers, the prices, etc. – they all must be calibrated. It has occurred to me several times throughout this process that the simplest calibration process imaginable requires at least three data points for a first-time experimenter to really have any idea if the variable in question has been optimized – and preferably more (think of Goldie Locks when she was trying out all the bear’s stuff).
Another cool thing that has happened lately is that a reviewer of one of my short story collections mentioned that he really enjoyed one of the stories. The story in question was, rather surprisingly, Girl Fistfights Boy. The reviewer mentioned,
‘Fistfight’ alone is worth the price of the book and earns a place among my all time favorite short stories.
That was nice to hear and I must admit that I never suspected, of all my short stories, this one would be one of the most popular. I can attest from the viewing of my WordPress dashboard that people are searching for stories about “Fistfighting Girls” all the time. Of course, I didn’t write this story to satisfy an internet trend, I wrote it because I bumped into a girl that wanted to fight me so that she could use the bathroom before me. …Something strange is in the air these days.
Now, I’m a ‘nice’ guy (to be read with a certain amount of suspicion) so Girl Fistfights Boy, all 5000 or so words of it, is available to be read for free on this blog here. If you want to purchase the whole collection to read more comfortably on your e-reader of choice, I will not stand in your way: Amazon Kindle | Smashwords