I’m thrilled to report that, at last, the proof copy of Moon Over Donamorgh looks the way it should. I’ve ordered a print copy so I can see it with my own real eyes and feel it in my hands. Assuming all is well with the proof, you should see Donamorgh on online shelves within a week!
I solved the problem by using the “Start section break on next odd (or even) page.” That solution was staring at me the whole time, but I never thought to use it. It’s called “being in a rut.” We get so used to doing things a certain way (in this case, using section break to start on the next page), that we don’t even see the obvious.
Mind you, there is still NO REASON why Word should be placing extra blank pages in the document when it gets saved to .pdf. But since that’s what it was doing, I needed a way to work around it. Remember, this never happened with my first two books. It’s completely random.
Anyway! It’s done, and the book can be published. I hope you all ooh and aah over the professional-looking front matter, remembering what I went through to get it that way .
Oh, my stars, I have been having the WORST time with a Word file. It’s driving me nuts.
I try to be really picky about my books. I want them to look as professional as possible, in everything from font to design. Truly? I don’t know the first thing about book design. But I know what a book looks like when I hold it in my hands, and that’s what I want MY books to look like.
I’ve published two books in hardcover and so far, both of them look pretty darn good. But Moon Over Donamorgh… what the hell is Word trying to do to me?
I set the front pages to print so that certain material is on the right-hand page. Dedications, list of other books, and of course, the first page of chapter 1, should all be on the right-hand page. If necessary, this might mean inserting a blank page before or after to make the file print correctly.
It’s always worked before (ahem… for my other books – all two of them)
I’ve set up the front pages for Donamorgh the same way I’ve always done. But when I save it to .pdf, lo and behold, there are extra blank pages inserted. These blank pages don’t exist in the Word document. I’ve been going crazy! I’ve done everything I can think of, including crying for help.
I think… think… that I’ve got it fixed, by blunt force. I have to wait to upload the new file to Createspace, then wait to see if it works the way it’s supposed to. Holy cow, people, this is not supposed to be so damn hard. But right now, there exists on my hard drive, a pdf file with all the information on the correct page. This makes me happy, but I don’t dance until I know for sure it will work.
Which brings me to another issue. Not formatting. Marketing.
I advertise myself as a science fiction AND fantasy writer. Despite the fact that bookstores lump these together, they really are separate genres. Some people who like SF do not like fantasy. The opposite is also true.
It is, therefore, unusual to find an author who publishes BOTH genres under the same name. It wouldn’t surprise me to know that many authors write both genres, because an awful lot of people like both of them. Um… like me.
I like them both.
I write both. So far, you’ve only seen the science fiction, as evidenced by the two books of the Time Travel Journals series. But Moon Over Donamorgh is fantasy. And I’m putting it out under the same name (MY name) as the SF.
I believe a great many publishers / agents / critics will frown at this. And for all I know, they are correct to do so. I may irritate people who now expect science fiction when they see my name. I may miss fantasy readers for the same reason.
But honestly, it’s still pretty early in my publishing career. I think you folks can keep up just fine. So I’m publishing both under the same name, and we’ll see what happens. And for the record, I’ve also written a paranormal romance that I just might publish under my name, too.
Why not just publish different genres under different names? Believe me, I asked myself that question. Aside from the added frustration inherent in using more than one name, my reason came down to one thing:
I want several books to come up when you plug my name into searches.
That’s it. Marketing, plain and simple.
Publishing is a numbers game, and self-publishing is a murderous numbers game. My books don’t show up automatically in thousands of bookstores across the country. They are completely dependent on people who buy online (even for the hardcovers), and on you lovely people telling your friends about them.
The game works best when an author has several books. So I don’t want to waste my name in SF by using a different name on a fantasy book, and having to essentially start all over to get the “new” name out there.
I might be wrong. Won’t be the first time. But speaking purely as a Reader of Books, I think I’m pretty savvy when shopping for books. I read the book description and I also read a few pages at the beginning, before I decide to buy a book. If it’s an author I recognize, I don’t freak out if the book is not exactly like their other books. If I like one thing they wrote, chances are I’ll like another thing. Even if one was SF and the other fantasy.
I have the same faith and respect for people who read my books. Y’all ain’t dumb folks. If I tell you Donamorgh is fantasy, and you don’t LIKE fantasy, then you might not buy the book. Or you might be so enamored of my story-telling, that you decide to take a chance. If you do, I hope you love it.
Hey, it could happen.
If you read it, and it’s still just “fantasy” and bores you silly – I’m sorry. But you and I both know your eyes were wide open when you bought it. It’s always a good idea to read the first chapter or so to see if a story piques your interest. I think you should always do this. It’s one reason I post the first chapters of my books on my web page. It’s why Amazon and Smashwords let you download or look at a sample.
Or why you browse in bookstores.
So I invite you to hang in there with me. I will continue to publish in both genres, along with my fling with paranormal romance. That’s sort of fantasy, anyway. Witches, werewolves, elves, and magic.
Along with time travel and space colonization, what else do you need?
Between vacations, childbirth classes, exercise, and gardens, I also have to prepare Bridgebuilders for publishing. Publishing a book is far more complicated that just uploading a file somewhere. At least it is if you want a professional-looking product. To accomplish this, I’ve spent a great deal of time on edits for Bridgebuilders. I’ve rewritten a few scenes, but mostly it’s been nitpicking stuff. Things like removing extra spaces and fixing ellipses (which I had to learn how to do. The word processor makes them far more complicated than they need to be). And of course, I had about a thousand too many commas that I had to take out.
Then there’s formatting. I do the print version first, for the simple reason that I can order a proof copy. This gives me a real, honest-to-goodness book to read through. I can see errors so much easier in print than I can on the computer. And I can see them better in book form than with a printout. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, that’s just the way it is for me.
I have a tried-and-true method for preparing a manuscript for Createspace. It may be more complicated than it needs to be, but I think it prevents further problems down the line.
First, I copy the entire MS into a plain text file. This strips all the formatting out of it. Sure, it takes out the good stuff, but it also gets rid of all the hidden disasters that lurk in a file. Things like font changes, weird page breaks, and who knows what.
Then I open a new Word file and set the page size to my chosen trim size for the book. Bridgebuilders will be the same size as Shipbuilder, since they are a series. I set the margins, too. Then I copy the MS into my new file, where I create new styles, based on Word’s “normal” style. This includes separate styles for the body, chapter headings, and section headings. I create section breaks between chapters and front and end matter. Also sections – Bridgebuilders has a lot of sections because I want to make it clear to the reader which universe we’re in. That changes a lot, so each time we move to another universe, I have a section heading with the universe name.
Headings have to be made, with different first page, different odd/even page, and indications of whether any particular header or footer carries over from the previous section. For instance, page numbers don’t appear until the story starts with chapter one. But that’s page 5, by my reckoning. So the numbers have to be formatted to “start with 5″ It’s complicated, but once you figure it out, it doesn’t take too long.
I have to write front and end matter: copyright page, acknowledgements, other books I’ve written, etc. Then I have to go through and do another check for any formatting issues that might have slipped by.
Once I’ve reached the point where I know I’m not going to see anything else to fix on the computer screen, it’s time to upload the files and order a proof copy. Then it’s wait… wait…. until the book appears on my doorstep.
What follows is a close read-through with a red pen in my hand. I may even decide at this point to rewrite a scene or add or delete pieces because the act of reading the physical book makes the story more alive to me. I can immediately see when something is not working. It’s how my brain works.
These changes have to be incorporated into the file, then another proof is ordered and the waiting starts over again. That’s where I’m at right now. I expect to go through at least one more proof, but I hope that will be the end. Once the print copy is ready, I use that file to create the files for Kindle and Smashwords. Each requires different formatting. I’m always careful to follow their requirements. So far, I’ve never had my first file rejected because it didn’t meet their guidelines. That would be an unnecessary time-waster.
This is a bit of a technical post, but I hope it’s not boring. To reward your kindness for sticking it out, I’ve saved the best for last: a picture of the proof copy on my kitchen table:
I hate it when I whine. But I’m seriously pissed off.
Several people have recommended them as a distributor. They’ve got a hot new publishing tool, and independent authors should go NOW and upload their books. If you’re not selling on Kobo, you’re missing out on hundreds of sales!
So I read all about it and reviewed post from several authors who recommended it.
I spent a day figuring out how to format Shipbuilder for epub. I even spent $250 for ISBNs, so Shipbuilder would have its own number for Kobo distribution. It was cheaper to buy ten numbers, and I figured I could use them for other books. I wasn’t happy about it, but I did it.
Then I uploaded Shipbuilder to Kobo. It’s on their site, under science fiction and historical romance.
And you will never be able to find it.
Like I said, I’m pissed.
If you search by title, because you’ve heard of this most awesome book and you must have it on your Kobo reader right now…. I’m sorry to tell you that you will never find it.
Go try. Go over to http://www.kobobooks.com/ and type the title into their search bar.
Nada? Imagine that.
What if you don’t know the title, you just want to find a nice time travel romance to read? Or maybe a time travel about Titanic? Or perhaps you’re looking for a touching historical love story?
You won’t find Shipbuilder.
Customer service tells me that “We are aware that there are certain design flaws in our search functionality at present. Our development team is looking at ways to improve the code so that searching for books on the Kobo website becomes far more intuitive for our users. We apologise for the inconvenience of it being so hard to track down your book by its title. I will pass on information about your case to our team to aid their work.”
They further state that “we would recommend trying to use as many keywords in your synopsis as possible that might make it easier for users to track down this content on our system.”
Well, my synopsis has all the keywords I can think of: time travel, Titanic, Edwardian, early 20th century, love affair, Belfast, Ireland… I don’t know – what keywords would you search under?
Anyway, none of them bring up my book.
It does come up if you search under my name. So if you know any Kobo readers, tell them my name. Over and over again, please.
Here stands the current stats:
Bridgebuilders – Still with beta readers, although one report is in. I’m researching and interviewing editors for this manuscript.
Worlds Apart – Inching toward the finish line. Part of the problem is that I don’t have a clear vision for the ending. I know how I want to end it – but the details for getting there are obscure. It’s been interesting as I start the last chapter. I tried three times to start a scene, and every time, it collapsed by the third paragraph. The fourth try has resulted in one-and-a-half pages so far. Only time will tell if it’s truly viable.
Moon Over Donamorgh – still looking for an editor who has time to take it on.
I’m getting the itchy feeling of “nearly ready to start something new.” I won’t do that until Worlds Apart is finished, but it should be soon. The conflict is that I need to concentrate on the publishing/marketing phase of my business, in order to get Bridgebuilders out on time. At most, perhaps I’ll get some ideas going, either on the next Donamorgh story, or maybe a Worlds Apart sequel. I love these universes I’ve created, and it seems like a good thing to keep playing in them.
There is still Verdandi to finish, as well. So I have choices. It’s just a matter of deciding which one is best.
In all of this, there is one thing I’ve fallen behind on, and I knew I would: those style sheets that Marty Halpern advised writers keep. I’m still working on the style sheet for Bridgebuilders. This is the kind of detail work that drives me crazy. I’ll start on it, then drift away as boredom sets in. This is when I have to remind myself that I’m a grownup, and need to act like one.
We’ll see how that works. If I do start something new, perhaps I’ll remember to start the style sheet right along with it, so they grow together. Live and learn.
All six of these truths boil down to the idea that patience is a good thing for the self-published author. We aren’t going to sell thousands of copies the first week. We may never sell even a thousand copies, ever.
So writers, put out a good, well-edited book, try to tell people about it, and then get on with your life. Write the next book. Don’t quit your day job.
Lastly, let me take this opportunity to remind readers that my books are still for sale. If you haven’t bought Shipbuilder or The Farm yet, there’s still time to improve one writer’s sales numbers. Bridgebuilders will be out this fall, and it’s just possible you’ll see Moon Over Donamorgh on virtual shelves later this year, as well.
Oh, and tell your friends.
This is simply an amazing tale. What is this publisher thinking?
What a whirlwind! I like blog-hopping! Today’s post is up a Anna Kashina’s blog. I talk about each of the main characters in TTJ: Shipbuilder, warts and all. Thanks Anna!
About Anna (from Wikipedia):
Anna S. Kashina, Ph.D. is a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as a writer. Originally from Moscow, Russia, Kashina moved to theUnited States in 1994 and has been living there ever since.
She published her first fantasy novel, The Princess of Dhagabad, which is the first of “The Spirits of the Ancient Sands” trilogy, in 2002. The book is about a romance between an Arabian princess and her djinn who in turn becomes her slave, teacher and steadfast companion. Kashina has published two other books in Russia, one under the pen name Ann Porridge. The Princess of Dhagabad was her first English-language publication.
The second proof has arrived! It looks wonderful. I still need to read through it. Will you understand when I say that I am so sick of reading this novel? I know that sounds awful, and of course, it doesn’t mean I don’t think my book is any good. I love my book. But you try reading the same novel over and over and over again in the span of a few weeks.
And over and over again. It gets old, people.
Okay, whining is done. The real danger is that it’s so easy to miss mistakes because your brain stops seeing it, after a while. This is not Reading for Pleasure. It’s work. But that’s okay.
Tomorrow, we go on vacation. I’m taking The Book with me, but we have grandchildren to visit, including Ethan, the newest addition to family. I haven’t seen older brother Joshua since he was seven months old. He’s two-and-a-half years, now. I am way overdue.
Awww moment: here’s the big guy with his cousin and brand-new brother.
When I talked to Joshua on the phone, I told him we could make cookies when I come to visit. He said, “Yes, please.”
Grandmas have fun.
I’ve been concentrating on Shipbuilder these days, with its publication approaching quickly. I haven’t been doing any writing at all, although I promise I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
Shipbuilder is the first of a series. The second book is about half done, maybe a bit more than that. It has existed under the title of The Time Travel Journals: Returning, but I’ve changed the sub-title to Bridgebuilders. It’s not exactly a sequel – Shipbuilder stands on its own, and Bridgebuilders has all new characters, and takes place in a different time. But it takes place in the same universe.
Anyway, I had put the story aside for a while, in order to work on Worlds Apart. But with Shipbuilder coming out, I know I need to have Bridgebuilders published within the next year. I’ve just put myself on deadline!
Last night, I retrieved Bridgebuilders from the archive to see what condition it was in. There was a lot of dust. I was shocked to see that I haven’t looked at it since October.
How is that even possible? Where did all those months go? I’m telling you, we’ve got to hang on to time. It gets slippery. I feel awful, letting the poor story languish for so long. And now, I have to finish it. It’s going to require a huge effort on my part, but I suspect that will be a good thing. Maybe one reason my writing has been iffy lately, is because there’s no pressure. I think I’m the kind of person who needs a deadline. Otherwise, I just dabble.
So y’all please keep my feet to the fire. As a self-published author, I’m under contract to you, the readers. I’m hoping you’ll like Shipbuilders enough to want to see what happens in the future. If you’re curious, the first chapter of Bridgebuilders is up, here.
I am officially On the Clock.