Today is a special day for me. Think About Love is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon!
This one is special for a couple of reasons.
Think About Lovewas the first of my books to be reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly. My editor at Kensington sent me the review before I saw a copy of the printed book. I was thrilled that to be mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, and pleased that I got a pretty decent review. I hoped to see good sales for this title, but unfortunately, hardly anyone got to see the book because the publisher discontinued the Zebra Bouquet line, and Think About Love was published in one of the final months. The publisher printed so few copies in the line’s final month, that I didn’t even get the copies I’d ordered directly from the publisher for friends and family. I generally refer to this book as, “the one they printed 10 copies of,” although I admit that’s a (slight) exaggeration 🙂
Now, thanks to the marvels of Indie publishing, Think About Love is available in my own Indie edition. And, because independent authors get to choose their own cover artists, I’m lucky enough to have the perfect cover, designed by my daughter, Angela Oltmann of AngieOCreations.com.
And this is a marker day for another reason – I’ve now published all of my backlist (with the exception of Pacific Disturbance, my very first book. That one needs a lot of work, and I may never get to it. Just reading the first page, it’s obvious to me that this was a writer learning her craft.)
My next project is a new book, the story of a counselor named Kate, who makes a decision that throws her into a counselor’s worst nightmare and sets her on a collision path with disaster. I’m in final revisions for Kate’s book, and one of my challenges is finding a title. I love it when titles come to me while I’m writing the first few chapters of a new story. These early titles provide a focal point for my writing, and I escape the nagging frustration of trying to find the perfect title. I know almost everything about Kate, except the name of her story. Somewhere around chapter 6, I came up with the title Lifelines, but it feels too tame for the storm Kate finds herself sailing into.
In any case, I hope to release Kate (AKA ????) before Christmas this year.
I started rereleasing my previously published books some years ago, when I applied to my print publisher for reversion of rights of some of my print-published titles. Back then I believed eBook adoption would be swift and enthusiastic, but it was actually over ten years before eReaders became a common sight.
The last few years have been filled with big changes in publishing, and where authors who chose to publish their own works were once looked down upon, so many big authors have joined the crowd of “indies” (independently published authors using the readily available vehicles for publishing their own eBooks and POD – AKA Print on Demand – books) that most traditionally published authors are at least considering applying for reversion of rights and independently ePublishing their backlist. It’s hard to argue that “real authors don’t self-publish” when J. K. Rowling is going the indie route for eBook releases of Harry Potter.
Amazon has taken the lead in making it easy and inexpensive for authors to publish independently with Kindle Digital Publishing and CreateSpace Print on Demand services, and supporting services and forums for indie authors. Authors wanting to make their books available on the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Kobo, and Apple devices can go direct to the online vendors like Barnes & Noble and Apple, or they can go through Smashwords.com which offers eBook publishing and sales, and distribution services to other retail channels like Apple, Kobobooks, Sony, and Barnes and Noble.
When I learned that Microsoft was investing $300 million in Barnes and Noble’s digital book business, like many others, I hoped that this would give new life to Barnes and Noble’s digital book presence, and allow B&N to offer both authors and readers better service. Frankly, Barnes and Noble’s performance in this area has been disappointing.
Competition gives both readers and authors more choices, and creates a healthier industry.
Author Libby Fischer Hellman, publicist Rebecca Crowley, NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris, and thriller author CJ West have done more than wish good things for Microsoft’s investment in Barnes and Noble. They’ve taken the time to analyze their experience of digital publishing through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and write an open letter to Microsoft sharing their view of how Microsoft can help make Barnes and Noble’s digital book presence better for readers, authors, and the publishing industry.
If you want to see healthy competition in the eBook world, pop over to Libby’s blog and read the Open Letter to Microsoft written by these four authors. While you’re there, take the time to use the share buttons at the top of the blog to spread the word, and make a comment yourself.
Many published authors are choosing to independently publish their works as eBooks these days. Many authors have regained their rights from their print publishers and are electronically publishing their previously print-published works, and a number are also choosing to indie publish their new works, leaving their traditional publishers.
Recently I was asked to explain how to create an eBook from a manuscript and also embed custom cover art image in the ebook. I thought it would be useful to post the answer here for anyone who is interested.
This is a brief summary of the three most common scenarios, with links to step-by-step instructions that I have found useful myself. If you are planning to sell your eBook, I recommend that you have your own custom cover art created. When I first started ePublishing my previously print-published books in the 1990s, I created my own covers using Photoshop. However, when eBooks became widely popular a couple of years ago, I realized I needed a more professional look for my covers. (My new covers are now done by Angela Oltmann at Angie-O Creations.)
If your manuscript was created in Word, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice, you can use the Calibre eBook management software. Calibre is available free for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems at calibre-ebook.com. If you find Calibre useful, I suggest donating to calibre to support its continued development. I use Calibre to manage my library of ebooks, and to do conversions from one format to another when I change ebook readers (I’ve used a number of eReaders since the 1990s, so I frequently need to convert.) I notice on discussion boards that many indie authors are using Calibre to generate their MOBI and EPUB ebook files for publication. (Because I write using Scrivener – see below – that’s the program I use to create my own eBook format files from new manuscripts for publication.)
Instructions for conversion using Calibre
Nat Weinham has posted useful instructions for how to use Calibre to convert your word processing manuscript to eBook formats at pdxNat’s How to make an epub / mobi file. Note that when you follow these instructions, the book will be imported into Calibre as a ZIP file. Calibre will then convert this to EPUB and MOBI when you follow the remainder of the instructions.
I suggest that when you view the Calibre Edit Metadata screen, you also add your own custom cover art, and a brief description of the book on the Metadata screen. Fill in the other metadata fields as appropriate, and be sure that your author name is typed in full in the “Author” section, and “sorted” properly in the “Author sort” field – for example, my author name shows as Vanessa Grant, while in the author sort field it’s Grant, Vanessa.
If you have your own custom cover art (highly recommended), click Browse in the “Change Cover” window of Calibre’s Edit Metadata screen, and locate and upload four cover art image into Calibre. That way, when you do the conversion in Calibre, your cover art will be embedded in the EPUB and MOBI eBook files. If you don’t add your own cover art, Calibre will generate a generic image for the cover.
Option 2: Scrivener (multi-purpose software for writers, currently $45)
Literature and Latte’s Scrivener is created for writers who want a single program to outline, edit, storyboard, and write. In addition, Scrivener can compile a manuscript into an book for the the most common ebook formats (EPUB and MOBI). Instructions for the various Scrivener compile settings for eBook export are available in a Scrivener video at http://www.literatureandlatte.com/videos/Exporting_eBook.mov. The video includes a screen shot showing how to link your cover image so that it is included in the compiled ebook.
Scrivener is available for Mac and Windows at Literature and Latte’s website (also available on the Mac App store). Reading the extensive list of author testimonials for Scrivener will give you a good picture of Scrivener’s extensive capabilities. I’ve been using Scrivener as a writing tool for about 18 months and I love it! I bought it after reading the many author testimonials. The eBook conversion features are a bonus!
If you don’t want to do it yourself: Using an eBook conversion service
If you don’t want to do your own conversion, there are many book conversion services available. If you go this route, I’d suggest that choose someone recommended by an author you trust (check the websites of indie authors who ePublish their books – many mention the services they use on their blogs). Prices and the services offered vary. I recommend you select someone who is recommended and be sure you understand what services they offer and what the cost is. I’ve used eBookPrep for conversions from several of my previously print-published books, and I’ve been very happy with their services.
May the muse be with you, and good luck with your independent publishing venture!
Yesterday I received the almost-ready-to-publish-as-an-ebook file of If You Loved Me, a novel of mine originally published by Zebra Bouquet (Kensington Books). I love this story and I’m so pumped to know it will soon be available once again!
Originally I wrote it for Mills and Boon Harlequin, but my editor there wanted me to
make the heroine younger (she was in her late thirties), and
change the father of her son to someone else
The whole story was based on the premise that Emma’s son had gone kayaking in the wilderness with a friend, and was now missing. Changing Emma’s age would have made her either a child-mother, or a negligent one for letting her pre-adolescent son head into the wilderness without an adult. In addition, it was unlikely she would have achieved prominence as an orthopaedic surgeon at the ripe old age of twenty-something.
My editor was reasonable about Emma’s age because of the negligent mother issue, but wouldn’t budge on the identity of her son’s father. I decided not to change the identity of the father of Emma’s son, because that would change a crucial decision Emma had made in the past – and my plot would make no sense at all. So I withdrew the novel and went on to write several other books for Harlequin.
A few years later I learned that one of the Kensington editors was looking for 70,000 word stories for their new Bouquet imprint. I decided to submit If You Loved Me. I would need to add an extra 10-15,000 words, but that would be a pleasure as I’d been challenged to fit it into M&B’s 55-60,000 word limit when I first wrote the novel. I sent off an email query and received a phone call from Kensington within a few days. If You Loved Me became the first of four novels I wrote for Kensington, and I enjoyed the scope the extra length gave me.
I laughed when my new Kensington editor told me that one of the things she loved about the book was the boy’s parentage – the exact thing that had caused me to withdraw the book from M&B. Go figure!
Last year I applied to get the rights back to my four Kensington novels, and when I received the reversion documents I was thrilled because I could have all four novels available as eBooks for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks before the end of 2011.
So here I am with the “e” equivalent of galleys, ready to start the final edit. Unlike the world of print books, I have the opportunity to make any changes I like before the book goes out to the world – and I get to work with my own cover artist on a design! Kensington does great cover art and I liked the covers of my four Bouquets, but being in on the creation with a cover designer like Angela is a real joy.
So while my husband and I continue east on our road trip across the North American continent, I’ll be enjoying a final read through If You Loved Me before it goes to e-press on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks!