Next, in January of 2012 I decided I must do something with my backlist of romance stories. I probably have about 20 stories since I’ve been writing romance, but we won’t talk about the other 13.
I had 7 stories languishing on my computer. 4 contemporary romances, 3 time travels. They had all been rejected by every place imaginable, traditional publishers, epublishers, small houses and large.
An author friend suggested I send one of my romance ebooks to her ebook romance publisher. They were interested in publishing Echoes from the Past, however I would only receive 17% of Kindle sales. Hmm. I did my homework, researched Kindle and other ebook places and wondered why only 17%. A lot of their ebooks they seem to price at $.99. So they would be splitting the 35% from Amazon sales with me. Was my book worth more than 17% of $.99? I thought so.
Additionally, they would not be publishing it for a year to 16 months from signing the contract and it would be tied to them for at least a few years. I mulled this over. Did I want to give them that control? Could I do it myself? Why not do it myself? My author friend is quite content with this company, and they seem well respected, but I knew I wanted something more than 17%.
I found a wonderful illustrator in Australia Julie McClen of Oak Grove Graphics when visiting my Webstudio forum for website information. I ended up hiring her to revamp my website with some new, cool designs and then she created my book covers for both series.
During all this time I had begun to research everything I could find on ebook publishing. I found Jakonrath.blogspot.com, thebookdesigner.com, Joel Friedlander, thecreativepenn.com, Joanna Penn, davidgaughran.wordpress.com to name just a few. I’ve learned so much from their informative posts!
I found Smashwords during this research. I had never heard of them. When I researched ebook formats, there was of course such a diversity from the time that I had made my first foray into this field. At that time I was doing the paperbacks or PDF files. Now there was not only PDF format, but Mobi, ePub, RTF, PDB, LRF and many other formats and devices to read ebooks on.
So my next research point became, do I hire someone to format each of my books, 7 in all, or do I see it it’s something I can learn to do myself? On one blog I found out about a program called Calibre. It creates several types of formats. Ultimately, I used Calibre to create my mobi for Kindle. There’s even a forum Mobileread.com with lots of threads and friendly people to help you out if you get stuck trying to convert your files to ebooks.
It’s my own opinion there should be one universal format for all reading devices. But there isn’t, so I played around with Calibre, a free download, for a few days and at first I got a bit frustrated because I had some formatting squiggles in there that I had to go through and delete. Specifically for dashes, I had used the long dash in places and when you convert to mobi, the long dashes came out as fractions. Trust me, that doesn’t look so great in your manuscript so I manually went through and found all the long dashes and replaced them with a shorter dash.
Back to the drawing board. I also had an issue with trying to get a Table of Contents to show up. Apparently, based on the amount of forum posts about TOC, others have had the same issue.
I found some posts about the correct way to insert html etc., in your document so the table of contents would appear. I had played with html years ago when I first began creating my websites and I really didn’t want to try to learn it again. So I started going through my manuscript word document, trying to figure out why I had the first three chapers showing up in the TOC and nothing after that.
For some reason my first three chapters were “Heading” style in my word document. The rest of the document, unless it was italics, was “Normal” Style. So I went and changed all my Chapters to the Heading style and lo and behold, I had a TOC.
First I saved my document as a html document, web page filtered. Then I opened the html file in Calibre. I now had a full TOC, but I had way too big paragraph indents. So I went through the entire document and made the indents .25 and it looked much better.
Anyone who has been published by traditional publishing houses knows that anywhere you have italics, you underline when submitting your manuscript. So I had to once again go through my manuscript and remove all the underline sections and use italics instead. Italics, the real thing. No more underlining to indicate italics. Way cool.
When I was pretty certain I had my formatting all nice and clean, I again saved the file as a html, web page filtered. Then I opened the file in Calibre. I uploaded my book cover into Calibre, plus all the publisher, author, isbn, tags info etc. Then I converted the book to mobi format. I tested on my kindle reader and it opened nicely.