Friday, January 12, 2018

How (and where) to Publish an Ebook

     I answer questions on Quora, a site that lets you post any query – and often get a response. I generally respond to questions on writing and publishing. The week, someone asked “how do I publish an ebook?” Pretty broad question.

     I responded on two levels. First was the where you do it, second was the how. 

     Companies such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords make it possible to publish your ebook — for free.  You need to load honest information about who you are (even if you use a pen name) and how you will pay your taxes on the income. You also need to provide a bank account (or in some cases a Pay Pal account) so you can be paid.

     You could consider loading only to Amazon and an aggregator. Smashwords is an aggregator and they load your book to a bunch of sites, such as BN, Kobo and more. They save you a lot of work. Another aggregator is Draft2Digital, but I pretty much use Smashwords.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
Nook Press for Barnes and Noble
Google Play Partner Program
     All of these sites have instructions about how to prepare your book, and how to load it to their site. Study these carefully.

     I learned how by relying on the Smashwords Style Guide, which is written in an easy-to-understand format. All style guides and instructions are free to download from their respective sites.Smashwords Style Guide, an Ebook by Mark Coker

     Instructions are largely similar, but there are some differences. For example, Amazon wants you to do the Table of Contents (required for most books) one way, and Smashwords another way. You can list links to your other books, but Smashwords requires that all links go to your own web page or blog. Why? Because the sites to which they publish don’t want you mentioning their competitors’ websites. I get that.

     I suggest you start with Amazon. It’s easy and you can preview your book immediately. You need to preview to make sure it looks as you expect.
     I have prepared a (free) short course called Thinking through Self-Publishing. Lifelong Dream. There is a second course (Writing and Publishing When time is Scarce) on the same site with lots of practical how-to info on writing, publishing, andmarketing ($29). However, you can learn what you need by studying free info at the sites. You can also go to this blog index, where you will see lots of how-to articles. All those are free!
      Sometimes it will seem like a lot of info to absorb, but you can do it. If you get frustrated, take a break and come back to it.
     One final point. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Do not publish the first draft of your book! Put it in a drawer and come back to it a bit later so you can be a cold reader. Ask others for comments, but do remember, all choices are yours. If you can, pay for an editor.
     Good luck!!
     For more of my articles on Quora, go to
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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Making a Commitment to Short Stories

Short stories have never been my bag. Not since high school. Guy de Maupassant's The Necklace had me spellbound, and I was convinced that O. Henry's Gift of the Magi would end differently. Jonathan Swift's Metamorphosis was not a fun read, but since I still remember it, clearly a superb one.

Given my relatively short attention span, I'm not sure why I gravitated solely to books for fiction. However, last spring I attended a conference at which we were given an issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and another of  Alfred Hithcock's Mystery Magazine. I devoured them on the long train ride from Washington, DC to Chicago. And then didn't pick up another short story until recently.

So, 2018 is going to be the year of the short story for me. I picked up a couple of articles on writing them, because I like to assess fiction as I read it. I don't know much about short story pacing. And I need to get away from the idea that everything I write (or read) has to be a mystery.

I went to the used book store and bought some short story anthologies, one classics and another of the wonderful books that Sisters in Crime does periodically. Lots of authors whose books I like to read.

Suggestions? I'll read a bunch and review them here. All ideas welcome.