happy new year!

Happy New Year!


In my last post, I talked about some ideas about what I might work on during 2012.

Since then, I've read a couple of good posts about New Year's plans and resolutions. Maggie at Maggie Madly Writing talked about her goals, and Laura Stanfill talked about hers (and said some very nice things about Maggie's post and mine).

As I said in a comment on Laura's post:

My one definite goal for next year (I think) is to publish some sort of e-book. I’ve been reading up on all the formats and conversions and so on, and I’d rather start with something that doesn’t have illustrations (my mystery book has floors plans and other illustrated clues). Emerald gave me the idea of publishing a novella, as opposed to a full-length novel. I’ve always thought of publishing as being just for book-length works, but with e-books obviously that doesn’t apply.

But we’ll see. I could always do an e-book of A Sane Woman, but I’d really rather start out with something newer.

I've been reading up on the various formats and so on – in between blowing my noisemaker and brushing all the confetti off my keyboard – and I've learned some things.

The big complication in the e-publishing world is that Amazon uses one format for the Kindle, and the rest of the world uses the EPUB format. So, to publish an e-book, you really have to publish twice. (There is a rumor going around that Amazon may soon support the EPUB format, which would make everybody's lives easier – including theirs – but who knows if that will happen.)

I know a lot of people use Smashwords for e-publishing, but there were some things about their instructions that I found annoying. They not only insist in Word format for submission, they really insist on Word itself, saying that files produced with other programs will probably not convert properly even if they are saved in Word format. This is annoying, particularly since Microsoft is unlikely to release a version of Word for Linux.

Lulu (the company that published A Sane Woman) also does EPUB conversion, but apparently their conversion process is somewhat more sophisticated because they can take RTF files from OpenOffice (the program I used to create A Sane Woman). The only annoying part of the Lulu instructions (and it's not their fault) is that apparently the EPUB format includes a mandatory navigable table of contents. This may be a problem with the mystery story book (which is not going to be published in 2012, but I'm thinking ahead), since it's possible that I will not want to have a TOC with links. Although it is a book of mystery stories, I do want people to read it in order.

The most encouraging guide I've read so far is the one from Amazon for Kindle Direct Publishing. They take HTML, and they don't require a TOC. If your book isn't formatted correctly when it's converted, you just fix the HTML and try again. Since I'm very comfortable working with HTML, this seems ideal for me.

So, no immediate plans, but I do have two questions.

1) For those who have published an e-book, how did you do it? Amazon and EPUB, or just one, and who did the conversion?

2) For those who read e-books, how do you read them? On a Kindle, or on another device, or on your computer (and if the last, using what software)?

Oh, and Happy New Year.


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9 Responses to happy new year!

  1. Jo Eberhardt says:

    Happy New Year right back to you!

    As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t read ebooks, but I imagine that if I did, it would probably be on a Kindle.

    My husband reads ebooks on his smartphone, and would much prefer an ipad.

    My preliminary research seems to suggest that women are more likely to prefer a dedicated ereader, whereas men are more likely to prefer something more multi-functional. So I imagine that your decision as to how to publish may be influenced by your target audience to some degree as well.

    Or maybe not. What do I know? 🙂

  2. Interesting research. Certainly the majority of Kindle-users I see on the subway are women. But the majority of book-readers in general might be women, too (I make a mental note when I see people with e-readers, not so much with regular books).

    And the majority of e-readers I see are Kindles. There are also a lot of people looking at various kinds of smart phones, and a few trying to use iPads (which are way too large and heavy for comfortable subway reading).

    I don’t really have a target audience, which either reflects that I think readers should be willing to seek out good writing wherever they it, or that I suck at marketing. 🙂

    In general, I share Sonje’s horror (described in this post) at finding that the woman she was sleeping with would say to her son, “No, that book is for girls.”

    I like to think that my stuff is for a variety of people (fun for boys and girls!), including folks who don’t read e-books (which is one reason, as I wrote about before, that I intend to keep on doing regular books, even when I start publishing e-books).

  3. Tiyana says:

    I’ve only recently been using my Literati to read books (Grandma bought for me :D); I also have Kindle for my PC, but I get so distracted! Anyway, I thought it was annoying that Amazon doesn’t use a universal format that can transfer to any device. To me that’s about as annoying as wanting a PS3 exclusive games and not being able to play it on your Xbox 360. (Sorry, I’m not gonna pay an extra $250+ dollars just so I can buy one $60 game.)

    I can understand the whole “build customer loyalty through exclusive offers” strategy, but it would be a whole lot easier if more universality were employed, as far as technology goes. Fashion and other specialty products…that’s a different story.

  4. Tiyana says:

    Oh yeah–Happy New Year! lol (I fell asleep before midnight. Totally forgot…)

  5. I was not familiar with a Literati, but I went and looked it up. Looks good.

    Generally, whoever is at the top of a market favors exclusive formats, and everybody else likes open formats. Apple doesn’t use EPUB because they’re cooler than Amazon (an argument that I’ve read here and there). It’s just the difference between trying to gain market share and trying to preserve market share. Apple is fine with proprietary and closed systems when it serves their needs.

    If Amazon does start to support EPUB, it will be because they think it will help them gain market share, or make more money, or both.

    And profit trumps market share. Steve Jobs understood this, btw, and it’s the main reason he was able to save Apple when he came back. Nobody talks about that because it’s more fun to talk about his “genius” and his “art.” 🙂

  6. sonje says:

    I go between my Kindle and iBooks (on my iPad). But if you want to start with publishing one format, definitely use the Kindle format. Kristan’s book, Twenty-Somewhere, is available in all the formats, and she recently told me that 95% of her sales come from Kindle. I remember reading a similar statistic from an author (unfortunately I can’t remember his name) who was traditionally published for a long time but now self-publishes because he says he can make more money that way (he’s probably right), and he discussed his e-sales, and the Kindle version dominated by quite a large margin.

    The moral is, if you’re just going to pick one, pick Kindle.

    And happy New Year!

  7. Well, for starters, Happy New Year!! 😀

    Secondly, I’m glad I could inspire someone. 😉

    Thirdly, I recently added my novella to Nook, and we’ll see how that goes as far as sales next to Kindle. So far, Kindle is the best selling compared to Smashwords. I have a few sales there, but unfortunately, I’m not selling nearly enough to get the money out of them. 😛

    As you know, I now have a Kindle, so that is my primary ebook reading tool. I also have an Android tablet that I read epub files on with the app, Aldiko.

    As Jo mentioned about her husband, my cousin who happens to be a male, uses his phone to read on, but he buys primarily from Amazon and used the Kindle app. And what she said, I’ve noticed the same thing.

    Anyway, I did everything for my own books. Converting to epub is actually very simple with Calibre.

  8. Sonje: This is useful to know, especially since the difference is so striking (I would have thought it was in favor of the Kindle, but 95% way beyond what I would have expected). I guess that reflects not only the dominance of the Kindle itself, but the number of people who use the Kindle app on various other hardware. And now of course all those millions of people buying the Kindle Fire tablets will be added as well. Of course, if Amazon starts to support EPUB, everything gets much easier.

    Emerald: I do need to check out Calibre. Thanks for reminding me, since I had intended to do that at one point, but then it slipped my mind. Keep me posted about Nook sales compared to Kindle.

  9. Will do. 🙂 Oh, and you’re welcome!

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