Friday, June 24, 2011

Rough Sailing in the Kindle Sea, or Death By E-Publicide




“Other people do it, so why can’t I?” And with this brave premise I launched into the Kindle self-pub sea.

My short story, “Steamroller,” was written as an entry for the MWA Anthology previously called “Dark Justice.” They are calling it something else now, and since only ten stories out of hundreds of submissions were accepted, “Steamroller” didn’t get in. 

Okay, I thought.  I’ll sell in on Amazon.

My first problem: I am a Corel Word Perfect user and have never learned anything but the basics on Microsoft Word. And I have a bad attitude – I hate the way Microsoft keeps changing, forcing users to upgrade, face yet another learning curve, and spend their money. And what really amuses me is Kindle says they cannot take a Word 2010 file!


Rant finished.  I converted the story from Word Perfect to Microsoft Word and made sure I put manual Word page breaks where needed (after title page, reviews page, etc.) Still it took all day to get the text file up on Kindle.

The file I submitted on Tuesday was up on Amazon Wednesday morning. The Kindle "preview" looked fine Tuesday. But I ordered the book and opened it on my computer’s Kindle application to make sure it looked professional. The cover and front matter were fine. Actual story was a disaster. Some grafs had no indent, some had indents, still others were in block form. Shoot me. In the meantime people were buying the story. It went to #28K in sales rank. I had sold multiple copies of a story in a lousy format. Shoot me again.


I wrote Kindle, then “unpublished” the book as soon as my Kindle bookshelf page dropped the limbo "publishing" status listed next to the book. When your book is “publishing” you can’t unpublish or make any edits. The good thing about Kindle is that any time the drop down arrow next to the word “action” on your bookshelf page is working, you can click on edit, then reload a different copy of the book’s text. Happily, Kindle writes over what was there. 

Magically, I heard back from Kindle! Whoever wrote me even said they saw that I had most recently uploaded a PDF file, and kindly told me why that hadn’t worked either. Believe me, I feel like I have tried everything other than paying someone money I don’t have to do this for me.

Mr./Ms Responder said that I needed to take my word file and justify the text. I did. Mr./Ms. Responder said to save it as a “web page, Filtered (*.htm, *html).” This direction confused me because my Word offers save as “web page, Filtered” – nothing at all about “*.htm, *html.”   

Not knowing what else to do this morning, Friday, June 24, I saved the text as a “web page, Filtered,” reloaded it onto Kindle and looked at the preview, which, of course, looked fine. I republished. Now I wait to see what it really looks like when it comes out tomorrow and I spend another $0.99 to buy it again.

For what it’s worth all the rest of the stuff you fill out, title, rights, price, was easy to do. I was very lucky with the cover because the pro-photographer Rick Samuels let me have a picture he took of a horse named Stay Thirsty. The horse was ridden by an exercise girl that could surely be Nikki Latrelle. Sisters in Crime member Beth Hinshaw took the photo and made a terrific cover. All I had to do was give her the pixel size that Kindle asked for, none of which means anything to me, and she sent me a JPEG that looked great on the Amazon page when the story was up on Wednesday.

And now while I wait on Kindle, I am holding my nose and jumping into deep Nook waters. Wish me luck.




14 comments:

Susan Schreyer said...

Oh, Sasser, I sympathize! I had a similar problem last fall and was ready to start throwing electronics out my window. My husband rescued me -- my hero! He save my Word 2003, final, cleaned up and properly formatted file as an .htm (as Ms. Responder indicated to you)file. It uploaded to Amazon perfectly. Evidently their aggregator injects some ancient, antiquated html code into .doc files. Very strange. Wish their instructions had been more specific to begin with. Would have saved me, you, and a whole lot of other people some undeserved aggravation!

jennymilch said...

Ack, good luck! Um, better you than me? No, seriously, I bet you can do it and all sorts of wonderful things will ensue once it's e-vailable :)

carl brookins said...

regardless, it's a Great cover!

carl brookins said...

Regardless of the running sea, it's a Great cover!

Sandra Cormier said...

Wow, you're a braver person than me, and I already know Photoshop and all that stuff! Good luck with sales.

Nancy Adams said...

Thanks so much, Sasscer, for sharing this process.

One question from an e-reader illiterate. Since there are so many different devices, how do you go about "test driving" them all? If, for example, you owned a Nook, but not a Kindle, would you have any way to see what your Kindle version looked like?

Very curious, as I am planning to follow your example and e-publish a short story myself in the near future.

Thanks so much!

Sally Carpenter said...

I know your frustration with Word. My office upgraded to Word 2007 and some of the features are actually less convenient and more cumbersome than the "old" version. Give me a typewriter any day.
Anyway, good luck with your story! If it comes out in paper, I'll read it (I haven't made the leap to e-readers).

hicotton said...

This sounds so familiar, Sasscer. I produce a lot of stuff that involves formatting and I swear 90% of almost every project is getting the thing to look right. I hate it when it looks perfect in one format, then I email it or convert to another format and one of 10,000 awful things has happened to it. Blaming the computer program is like saying the dog ate my homework but so often it is the damn box. I think I'm heading for the Kindle route myself. Can't wait for THAT adventure. Jane Vasarhelyi

hicotton said...

This sounds so familiar, Sasscer. I produce a lot of stuff that involves formatting and I swear 90% of almost every project is getting the thing to look right. I hate it when it looks perfect in one format, then I email it or convert to another format and one of 10,000 awful things has happened to it. Blaming the computer program is like saying the dog ate my homework but so often it is the damn box. I think I'm heading for the Kindle route myself. Can't wait for THAT adventure. Jane Vasarhelyi

naomi said...

Wow....I thought the hard part was writting the book! Good Luck with everything! Can't wait to read what Nikki does next!

Kaye George said...

It's much, much easier to do Smashwords first. Their formatting guide is clear and complete, at least that's my take on it. Anyway, glad you're rolling now, almost, Sasscer!

jenniferprobst said...

I'm so excited for you! I just published my first short story abou a shelter dog on Kindle too for .99. My computer is brand new so it was easier for me, but I'm so sorry it took so long! I hear many crazy stories, but you were brave to swim in the rough sea so kudos! I will check yours out!

Sasscer Hill said...

Hey, thank you guys for your supportive comments. I haven't committed bookacide yet. Write on, keep on truckin', etc.

Irene Black said...

Another author who hates Word. Have used Word Perfect since it was a stand alone company and love it. There are many writers that feel the same way about the programs.