Tag Archives: Island of Glass

Publishing to multiple stores through Draft2Digital: Almost All the Way Home From the Stars

A while back, I promised to blog about the process of formatting a book for all sales channels offered by Draft2Digital, including CreateSpace. Before I published this collection of stories I wrote with Jay Lake, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars, I only used D2D for B&N, Kobo, and the Apple bookstore. For that, I could upload the EPUB file that I compiled with Scrivener. For this collection, however, I also wanted hard copy, and in order to generate the PDF for CreateSpace, D2D requires a DOC file.

So I made a clean doc file of the book, (I talk more about that here), uploaded it to D2D, and waited to see what would happen.

I had a couple of problems with the upload that writers who use the service in the future will not have, at least according to a recent email I received listing some of the improvements they’ve made. I knew, for example, that the generation procedures used by Draft2Digital at the time of my upload stripped away all the scene break symbols, like “#” or “* * *”. On the Kindle Boards, I’d read the recommendation to use a graphic to indicate scene breaks in order to get around that “feature”. So I found a dingbat I thought fit in a science fiction book and replaced all the scene breaks with that.

Unfortunately, the D2D generators didn’t understand it, it defaulted to something else, and I ended up with a random letter between scenes.

Next try, I found a symbol native to Word in the hopes that it would stick, a simple diamond, and replaced all the scene breaks in my DOC file with that. That worked for the ebook venues, and I approved the ebook for publication.

Next step, CreateSpace. I wasn’t completely happy with the PDF that was to be the basis for the print copy, for several reasons. The most important was that it didn’t have a Table of Contents. That’s perfectly fine for a novel, but a short story collection really needs a TOC. So the wonderful Draft2Digital folks decided to use our book to test a new and improved PDF generation.

Now, after a lot of PDFs sent by D2D support and suggestions for improvement made by me, not only does the print version of Almost All the Way Home have a TOC, it also has running headers. You can take a look at how it turned out here.

Once I approved the PDF, I had to make the wraparound cover for the paperback. This is what it looks like:

The disadvantage of publishing to CreateSpace through D2D, I discovered, is that I don’t get a discount as an author, boo hoo. But now that it’s live, I think I’ll manage to buy myself a copy anyway. 🙂 (If you’re interested in other stores carrying the ebook, I listed them here.)

As to writing, rather than formatting and publishing, I finished the new version of Island of Glass last week. It is now 23,000 words, 7,000 words more than the last incarnation. Most of that is through adding Chiara’s step-sister Minerva as foil for the protagonist, as well as more detail where I had skipped it. Right now, I’m going through a printed copy before sending it to my niece, who will be my first reader.

Anyway, never a dull moment. And now, the winter that never wanted to end is finally showing signs of ending, and we have SO much to catch up on in the garden! That has taken a lot of my free time the last few days, I have to admit. 🙂

Wishing everyone a great week and much success with whatever you undertake!

I HAS HARD COPY! *g* Yseult published to CreateSpace

After weeks of work, and ten days waiting for the proof, Yseult arrived in Germany today — and it looks gorgeous! See for yourself:

Ok, that last is a bit dusty, I admit. 🙂

Right now, I’m happy I went ahead and took so much time to get this book right, and that I spent the money on one of Joel Friedlander’s templates for the interior. It was still a heck of a lot of work, but here’s what it looks like:

I’m ridiculously proud of myself. *g* So off I went to CreateSpace to approve the proof. Yseult should be available on Amazon in 5-7 days. (As I mentioned in a previous post, I opted out of Expanded Distribution because it would have put the minimum price of Yseult at over $20!)

Just for fun, I also took a pic of all the traditional publications of Yseult, the translations into German, Dutch and Italian. I really think the do-it-yourself version is quite decent in comparison!

Now that I know all the work paid off, I will post at length about the process, seeing as (as far as I’m concerned) it was a success. But since this is primarily an update post, I’ll leave it at the pretty pictures for now. 🙂

The beginning of this week, I got a really bad cold or really bad allergies (this time of year, I can’t always tell which), and that has slowed my progress on Island of Glass somewhat. I feel more like a person again today, but the creeping crud is still giving me some problems. I’m up to chapter six on the revisions now. Adding a foil for Chiara means a lot more new writing than just a read-through, so it’s taking longer than an editing pass would. But I think this will make the book a lot stronger.

And for those who don’t yet have it, Shadow of Stone is FREE through Friday, May 31. Enjoy!

Getting back to the writing: Revisions on Island of Glass

Not a lot of progress on Island of Glass to report for the week, since revisions are hard to quantify. What I can say is that I’m in the middle of chapter four now (of ten), and during this rewrite, I’ve added an additional character as a foil for Chiara. That has resulted in about another 2500 words to Island of Glass, which is now coming in at just under 20,000 words.

It might not be a lot of words for the week, but I don’t think it’s smart to count words while revising. I’m just mentioning them for the record. Sometimes, the best revision is measured in words cut. If memory serves, when I was working on the final draft of Shadow of Stone, I cut at least 10,000 words — but that, admittedly, from an initial manuscript of about 190,000 words. And the cuts happened over a revision lasting weeks. Which means my “progress” during the revision stage was about -2000 words a week. I dare someone to top that! *g*

Before I close, just another reminder to check out the Epic Fantasy Ebook Sale Party!

I wish everyone a wonderful week. 🙂

Slowly but surely getting there on the paperback version of Yseult

This is what I spent most of the day on today:

I’m not very Photoshop savvy, and my daughter was out and about today, so I decided to tackle it myself. Of course, I had the front cover of Yseult already, designed by the lovely and talented Derek Murphy of Creativindie Covers. I’ve sat beside my daughter many a time while we designed covers together, have tweaked them myself in accordance with feedback. Besides, Britta is moving to the States soon, which will make it a lot harder to work on covers with her. It’s time I learned how to do a bit more on my own. I figured it couldn’t be all that hard, right?

Wrong.

I had to google all kinds of little steps that would have been super easy for someone else. But the thing I spent the most time on was the text on the back. The first time I tried to copy the description in, I had a long line of text with everything superimposed on top of each other. So I kept googling, trying to figure out a way to make Photoshop treat text like text. I finally found an apparent solution — but for the life of me, I couldn’t get it to work with my ancient version of Photoshop. Some little arrow that I was supposed to pull down that I couldn’t get to appear …

By this time, I’ve deleted more layers than I’ve kept, and hours have passed. I finally gave up, created a text box in Paint, saved it as a JPG, and copied it onto my cover as a layer.

If anyone with more design experience than me has any suggestions, please let me know how I could improve the cover!

Thursday was my birthday, so that day was taken up with preparation and celebration:

Birthday

The next day was taken up with recovery. As a result, I haven’t gotten very far on recreating the revisions I lost on Island of Glass. At least I’m moving forward with a couple of big things. I really do want to get Yseult off to Createspace, and off my to-do list. A number of readers have asked me about when a physical book will be available, but I’ve been so wary of all the work involved, I just kept putting it off. Soon now!

And before I forget, I would like to point out that Elle Casey is hosting a massive Springtime Indie Giveaway. Most of you reading this will probably already have my book Dragon Time, but perhaps there are some other books on the list you might be interested in. 🙂 And if you think it looks good, pass the word along if you’re so inclined!

ETA: My daughter showed me how to make the text box this morning — rather than clicking on the surface of your image, you hold down the left mouse key and pull. Now off to make my cover correctly and then upload!

Trudging along in the ebook jungles

In the spirit of ROW80, I’ll try to emphasize what I did get done this week, rather than what I didn’t. Once I sent Chameleon in a Mirror sent off to my critique partner, I’ve mostly been working on writing business, rather than actual writing.

On the writing front:

– I’ve returned to Island of Glass and got the novella divided up into chapters, so it looks more “book-like.” I also put together a (long) list of critique points for me to tackle during the next rewrite (or not), for example, giving Chiara a foil. Probably a good idea, even though it might be more work than I’d hoped to have to do. OTOH, right now it’s barely novella length, and while I tend to add details during rewrites, since my first drafts are pretty bare-bone, adding a foil would help in making the length more substantial.

– I did a final editing pass of my story collection Story Hunger

On the writing business front:

– I got my short story “In the Middle of Nowhere With Company” up to Draft2Digital, and it is now available on Barnes & Noble and the iTunes store. (Kobo is taking its merry time.)

– I got a collection of collab stories with my writing buddy Jay Lake started. Today, my daughter helped me with the first version of a cover — but I won’t be sharing it until Jay sees it. 🙂

– I noticed that my SF collection From Earth to Mars and Beyond was suffering from doubled inside covers, so I uploaded a new version.

– I got a new chapter of Chameleon in a Mirror up on the Aphra Behn Page.

But I’m having problems shaking this stupid cold, so I think now I’m going to go back to bed for a while with a cup of tea.

Wishing everyone great words, great progress, and a great week. 🙂

Cover reveal for Island of Glass and progress report

I have my final cover for Island of Glass. Now all I have to do is revise, send it off to beta readers, find an available editor, revise again, format, and publish …

Right. Anyway, here’s the amazing cover by Rachel Cole:

If anyone is inclined to be a beta reader for a fantasy novella set in an alternate seventeenth century Venice and revolving around the glassmakers of Murano, please let me know! Right now, it’s in dormancy, an important step in my creative process, but I think after about another month, I’ll be ready to revise and then send off to my first readers.

Progress on Chameleon in a Mirror: I’ve completed revisions through chapter 13, of 31, which means I’m almost halfway through. Aphra Behn has just experienced the slave rebellion in Surinam that was the basis of her short novel Oroonoko, and is on her way back to England. My critique partner won’t have time to read it until April, but I still want to finish it as soon as possible, so that I have the whole book in mind while I do this pass.

The group promo this week was a lot more successful than the last one, but I’m not seeing much of a post-promo sales bump. At least I finally had some sales on Kobo and B&N. At some point, I will probably have some thoughts on things that could contribute to a successful group promo, but not today. 🙂

Revising the Aphra Behn time travel

After completing the first draft of Island of Glass, I started on revisions of Chameleon in a Mirror, my popular literature homage to Aphra Behn. Commercially, this one will probably be a washout, since it’s balancing on so many chairs, and none of them comfortably. The subject matter is literary history, but the approach is conventional, accessible, with nothing much innovative to challenge the reader. I certainly don’t have anything against innovation — I’ve written hyperfiction, after all, and the single Nebula nomination I’ve garnered was for a short story told in a series of computer database entries.

But the thing is, even though she was revolutionary, the first professional woman writer in the English language, Aphra Behn was nothing if not accessible. Her plays drew large crowds. Certainly, she messed with the conventions of her male contemporaries, she did wonderful things with the trope of the innocent heroine, and she made the bad-girl whore so sympathetic, it makes it hard to root whole-heartedly for the spunky heroine. But while she wrote the first epistolary novel in the English language, she wasn’t experimenting for experiment’s sake, she was venturing in to a new medium, the long prose narrative, and trying to find an effective way to tell a story.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I regard Aphra Behn as the Steven Spielberg of her era. So while some might think a “literary figure” like Aphra would deserve a “literary” treatment, I think she deserves a gripping plot with lots of twists and turns and surprises, just as she once delivered to the Restoration audience of the Duke’s Company. I doubt if my time travel will do her justice, and it will probably suffer just as much from too much Literature as it will from not enough Literariness. As if that weren’t enough, it’s undeniably a stand-alone novel — there is no way I can turn it into a series. Which is the form which seems to be most likely to lead to success in this brave new publshing world.

But it’s important for me to finally finish this project of my heart, and I’m glad to be working on it again.

I did lose a day with a stupid mistake — the version I started editing at first was an older version that apparently I had open to consult while I wrote the new version last year. It took a couple of hours of frustration with myself at the writing being so much less polished than I’d expected before I checked the directory again and found the REAL new version. Sigh. I must find a better method of naming my files, obviously. But at least now I’m a little more inclined to believe that I really am still capable of learning as a writer and haven’t hit some kind of wall where I can’t see my own mistakes. 🙂

Despite the false start, I’ve managed to revise 70 pages of 350 this week (a manuscript of 110,000 words total). I’m good with that. I’ve also been working on the next group promo, which I will officially announce tomorrow. Watch this space!

I also spent most of a day creating a new page on my blog for my books. If you have time, please check it out and tell me what you think!

Wishing everyone a very productive and successful week. 🙂

First draft of Island of Glass finished!

This incarnation of Island of Glass is finished!

But very definitely a first draft, so there is still work to do. In its present state, it is coming in at just over 16,000 words, so not quite novella length yet, but this version still has several “placeholders” — notes to myself where I need more description or whatever. So I am reasonably confident that the final draft will at least make it to the SFWA definition of novella (17,500 words).

Just for fun, I’ll share the beginning:

Chiara wiped her hands on her apron and lifted the goblet up to the light, inspecting her work critically. The fluted glass flared out like a lily beginning to bloom, and as hard as she tried, she could find no discoloring or bubbles. She breathed a sigh of relief; a nearly perfect piece. It would command a high price among the nobles of Venice. The work of the Murano glassmakers was in great demand throughout the world. It was the basis of their riches — and their curse. The laws of La Serenissima decreed that the glassmakers of Murano were never to leave the few islands that comprised the small city-state. Murano glass was more precious than gold. Anyone who knew the recipe of the alchemists could make gold, but only the artisans of Murano could make glass so fine, one could nearly touch one’s fingers together on either side; cristallo without an imperfection or blemish, clear as the sky, with a sparkle to rival that of diamonds.

Anyway, besides organizing the next group promo, that’s what I’ve been doing the last few days. Speaking of which, this is the LAST DAY of the Dollar Daze group promo! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter for lots of cool prizes. 🙂

Now that Island of Glass is done, I will set it aside for a while and do revisions on Chameleon in a Mirror, the time travel based on the life of Aphra Behn that I was working on last year. Then off that one goes to first readers, and I can get back to Island of Glass and polish it for external eyes.

I sincerely doubt if I will ever run out of projects. It’s more like — no way I will ever finish them all before I die. Every time someone asks me if I’m working on something new, what I really want to say is, “Duh!” But I’m too polite for that. 🙂

Wishing everyone a wonderful week and great progress on whatever you’re working on!

Changing your book’s categories (and why you should); plus an update

As I’m sure many people know, the categories offered when you publish a book through Kindle Direct Publishing don’t always match the Kindle store categories. Books published via KDP fall under two different types of categories — KDP uses BISAC codes to categorize books, but Amazon uses a broader classification. When you choose your two categories in the KDP Bookshelf, the book is mapped to the closest classification under the “eBook” category on Amazon.

The problem is, those default categories are (naturally) some of the most popular categories in the Kindle store — which means you’re competing with a lot more other books for those important top 100 category slots. Getting into the top 100 lists is an important way to keep from descending into oblivion and boost sales.

Take a look at this screenshot for the categories in Science Fiction in the Kindle store:

Now look at the numbers behind each category. When I first published Looking Through Lace as an ebook, I chose the categories “Adventure” and “Short stories” (ok, it’s officially a novella according to the SFWA definition, but close enough). What I didn’t know then, I had chosen the two categories with the most books in SF — and thus, the two categories least likely to get my book noticed.

Some time ago, I changed one of the categories for Yseult from epic fantasy to Arthurian — and it’s been selling fairly regularly ever since. Arthurian fantasy is a niche category, and it doesn’t take many sales for my books to remain in the top 10. And that in turn gives them exposure.

I hadn’t looked into changing categories for any of my other books until recently, though. And that was when I saw how unwise I had been regarding the categories for Looking Through Lace. By that time, I had also published the second novella in the series, Beyond the Waters of the World. I wanted to change both to “Series” and “Space Opera.” Space opera is available from the KDP Bookshelf, but not Series.

If you want your book to appear in any of the categories in the Kindle store for which there is no corresponding match in the KDP Bookshelf, here’s a nifty link you can use.

Hit “Contact us” at the bottom of the page, and you will get a screen that asks you for the following information:

Please fill in the following information:
ASIN or name of book:
Category to delete (optional):
New category (select two):

When filling in the categories, you need to list the complete path. So mine looked like this:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > Series
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > Space Opera

Does it help? Looking Through Lace and Beyond the Waters of the World are not breaking any records, but they’ve been selling about a copy a day each since I did the category change combined with a freebie run. Before that, they were selling maybe 20 copies a month for both titles combined. On the second day of the freebie for Beyond the Waters of the World it had the following ranking:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #931 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > Series
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > Space Opera

And it managed to drag Looking Through Lace with it, which ended up here:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,443 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#51 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > Series

So I would highly recommend taking a look at the numbers in your genre, and if your book fits in a category with less competition, consider changing it. Of course, if you’re already selling hundreds of copies a day, stay where you are. This advice is for the few copies a day crowd, like me. 🙂

* * *

In writing news, I’ve managed to get more done on Island of Glass in two days than I did all last week. Word count 13,700, coming into the home stretch for the first draft of the expanded version. *g* I’ve also been doing some brainstorming for the second novella of the series, tentatively entitled Facets of Glass. With all the promotional work I’ve been doing lately, I’m good with that.

Speaking of promos, don’t forget to check out the Dollar Daze 99c promo and giveaway that I mentioned in my last post!

Marketing demands muscle out the writing — yet again. Oh, and Iceland too.

I have two group promos coming up again very soon (I will make the official announcements when the time comes). While I really need another push for my sales, which have been in free fall this month, the organization is taking a huge chunk out of my writing time. I only managed to complete another 1000 words on the Murano novella, which I am now intending to call Island of Glass. I liked “Prison of Glass” a lot, but “Island of Glass” goes better with the pre-made cover I bought.

Besides group promo organization, I also decided to make my little fairy tale collection, Never Ever After, permanently free. To that end, I both made it free on Smashwords and uploaded it to a new aggregating site, Draft2Digital, that promised to be able to get free ebooks available on the iTunes store. And they did! Draft2Digital is still in beta, so if you’re interested in their services, you need to write them to get a beta code, but they are very fast, and very helpful, and I can only recommend them. Check it out: Never Ever After is now available for free for the iPad! If anyone has one of those overpriced toys, please do me the favor any download my mini-collection. The point of perma-free is too get some attention, and that won’t happen without downloads. It’s not free on Amazon yet, btw. First Ama has to notice that it’s free elsewhere and price match. I will probably be asking for some help with that at some point, but not tonight.

One other business-slash-writing project was distracting me from new words this week — I compiled the stories for the upcoming collection Story Hunger and sent them to my editor.

Then there was the personal stuff that consumed a lot of time: my father is turning 80 this year, and he wants to get the family together in the summer for a late b-day celebration. Flight prices between Europe and the US have become outrageous at high season, but the cheapest are through Iceland Air. So Chris and I decided to make that into a vacation: we’ll be spending a little under a week in Iceland before we continue on to Seattle. Then of course, once I booked the flight, I immediately started checking into hotels and rental cars, and got lost on Tripadvisor and Expedia …

Wishing everyone a great week!