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Like Doing a Poo!

So said, (according to the Goodreads website), British fantasy fiction author H. O. Charles. What, you ask, has such an unmentionable bodily function got to do with literature, or anything remotely related to it?

So, here’s the entire quote to put into context. On the subject of publishing, Mr. Charles proffered that he “. . . often think[s] publishing a book is like doing a poo. Once it’s ready for the world, you have to relinquish that control and let nature take its course. A few will be impressed by your creation, others will be disgusted. Plus, no one will enjoy your success and achievement in producing it as much as you did.”

I think the man has a point, and the great news is that in this day of e-book publishing any writer can metaphorically both S*@t AND get off the pot!

Aside from my own e-commerce page that provides a download link upon purchase, my marketplace of choice is Kindle Direct Publishing (or KDP as it’s known). Why? Well, it has the lion’s share of the e-book market. I know there are other platforms, including Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and Apple’s iBookstore. There are also a plethora of sites that offer e-book publication services for less technical authors, but with so many choices, it’s often hard to choose the best option.

I like KDP because it allows me to re-upload a file if necessary. Like many an author, my mistakes are usually found after the fact, especially as my stories haven’t been professionally proofread. Don’t get me wrong here; I’m OCD, so mistakes are few and far between. I also have great writer friends who pitch in to proofread whenever I need extra sets of eyes. But even in the best of circumstances, things get missed. I can’t tell you how many typos I’ve found in professionally published books, even though the big publishing houses have armies of proofreaders just hankering to find that typo!

I also am pretty handy with graphic design tools, so I find creating covers for my short stories pretty stress-free. (There are great online tools for writers who want to create a professional looking book cover but don’t have graphics skills or the funds to hire someone who does – more on that in a future post.)

One of the biggest frustrations for the beginning self-publisher (e.g., me at first) is getting the format converted correctly. Like most, I write in Microsoft Word which can be a bear to convert if the Word document isn’t formatted correctly. A crucial piece of advice is to set up the formatting before you even put the first word on the page, and then let Word do its thing. Fight the urge to add line breaks, indents and impromptu returns as it creates a spaghetti-like entanglement that the Kindle converter does not like; your preview will look like your story’s gone haywire. Instead, follow this fail-safe formatting guide:

Make sure there are no headers or footers in the document. Yep, even those page numbers have to be removed!

  1. Select your entire document by holding down the “Control” key and pressing A on the keyboard.

  2. Remove the tabs or spaces you may have used to create indents. An easy way to find them is to click the ¶ button on the Home ribbon. It will show you any indents/spaces you may have slipped into the document.

  3. If you need to separate the pages, don’t be tempted to return fifty times to get yourself to the next page. Instead click “Page Break” on the Insert tab.

  4. Indent your paragraphs using the Paragraph dialogue box. Click on the corner of the ribbon listed as “Paragraph” to make it appear.

  5. In the Paragraph dialogue box, select “First Line” in the “Special” drop down menu, then change the value from 0.25 to 0.5 in the “By” field.

  6. While you’re there, change the value in the “After” field from 8 pt to 10 pt. This will add some extra space between each of your paragraphs for easier reading.

Et Voilà!

One of things I don’t like about Kindle includes having to pay Amazon a whopping 65% royalty. That means for every story sold I get 35 cents. I do believe fewer royalties are paid for more expensive e-books, but I sell my shorts for a buck a piece. So… if you’re considering trying one of my stories on for size, buy it here instead of Amazon pretty please!

If you have any questions about converting your book to a Kindle format, let me know. If I can help, I will! There is also an excellent e-book publishing community run by Amazon. Go check that out too!

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