Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Author's Decision to E-Publish



Please welcome Geraldine Evans as my guest today at Suspense Novelist. When Geraldine sent me the photo of her work area, she explained that it's downstairs in the living room as it's warmer and nearer the kettle for tea.

Geraldine Evans has been writing since her twenties, though only began to get novels published halfway through her thirties. As well as her popular Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series, she has a second crime series, Casey & Catt and has also had published an historical, a romance and articles on a variety of subjects, including, Historical Biography, Writing, Astrology, Palmistry and other New Age subjects. She has also written a dramatization of Dead Before Morning, the first book in her Rafferty series.

She is a Londoner, but now lives in Norfolk England where she moved, with her husband George, in 2000.

Deadly Reunion is her eighteenth novel and fourteenth in the humorous Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series. She is currently working on the next in the series.




My epublishing Experiences
By
Geraldine Evans, author of the Rafferty & Llewellyn and Casey & Catt crime series

It’s not so long (latter quarter of 2010) since I had my first ebook publishing experience, so it’s still fresh in my mind. It took a while to bring me round to the idea, but it was the members of Yahoo Group MurderMustAdvertise whose emails about it that convinced me I could do it. And they were right. So far, I’ve published two ebooks, both crime novels, my out-of-print debut Dead Before Morning and its follow-up, Down Among the Dead Men, both part of my humorous, fourteen-strong, Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series. I’m no longer a technological virgin when it comes to ebooks. Is it time to lose your techie cherry? Go on. You’ll be glad you did. The MMA group will hold your hand every step of the way. Ask whatever questions you like on the list. No one will think you’re stupid if there’s something (everything, in my case!) that you don’t understand.

The first thing to do is to make sure you have got back your rights from your publisher if it’s a book that has already been published once. This shouldn’t be too difficult if it was published some years ago, as you’ll want to be able to offer it to the widest readership possible. But this can sometimes take a little while so start a few months before you intend to go the epublishing route. That done, it’s all systems go!

You might have your backlist on old Amstrad or other out dated discs. Don’t worry as these can be converted and put on CD or the converted docs sent to you via email. I used a firm called Luxsoft in Cornwall in the UK for the conversion. Each disc conversion cost me £5 plus post and packing (sorry, I don’t know how much that is in Dollars, but it’s not much), but if you go online, you’ll soon find firms who offer a similar service in your country. And even if you don’t, the old floppies aren’t going to cost you that much to post to the UK. You don’t even have to pay for the postage for their return if you prefer not to as the conversions can be sent to you by email. Once you have your converted files you’ll have a little bit of work to do to tidy them up as the conversion can alter formats and so on. In my experience, the conversion is very good and there isn’t a lot of cleaning up to do so don’t worry about that side of things.





Next, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to go the epublishing route on your own or employ a specialist. If you think you’re brave enough or know enough, go to this Amazon address (wouldn’t you know it – they’ve changed the name. It’s now called KDP for Kindle Direct Publishing, but the DTP address will get you there just the same) and follow the instructions on the site. For the rest of you, feel free to find your own expert to get your work ready for kindle, iPad, nook, sobo, etc, but I’m more than happy to recommend Kimberly Hitchens (hitch at Q dot com), who made the experience painless for me. She’s a hard taskmaster, don’t get me wrong; she wanted me to proofread three times! Hell, my hardback publisher only expects one proofread. We compromised on two. To be honest, by this time, what with proofing the Amstrad conversion as well, I was getting sick of the sight of my blasted book. But do take great care when you proofread. The book is representing you and if you’re slapdash with your paragraphing, line-spacing, etc, readers might be put off and less inclined to read your next. Just because it’s ‘only’ an ebook is no reason to lower your standards. I have to say that I’ve read a few ebooks where the author hadn’t taken the required amount of trouble and it really put me off. And these were authors I had previously respected as being total professionals.

Anyway, before you start with Kimberly or some other expert, you’ll need to download Mozilla Firefox, plus their epub software, which is what your expert will use both to work with you and to prepare your work for epublishing. Don’t worry, they’re both free.

Your expert will not only prepare your work for publishing to kindle, they should also prepare it for publishing to other ebook publishing formats, Mine was prepared for kindle, iPad, iPhone, nook, sobo, iBookstore, android and several others whose names escape me. Kimberly also has a deal with an American firm called InGrooves, whereby they will not only put your book up on an amazing number of ebook sites, they will also supply you with an ISBN. And all for $50 or thereabouts.

To finish your book off and give it that professional polish, you’ll want to choose a cover. Admittedly, this part is not essential, but I think it’s worth the extra time and money. This is the fun part. You can go for a more expensive graphic artist or you can go the cheap route. I did the latter. Kimberly Hitchens knew a student who liked to eat occasionally and he designed both my covers. Take a look at them and see what you think. I’m pleased with my covers. I think they’re quite striking. But it’s up to you. Each cover cost me $75 and I paid for everything via Paypal. It’s easy enough to set up an account; just go to Paypal and follow the instructions.

Once you have your proofreading done and your cover chosen, you’ll need to upload the book to kindle and decide on a price. Most people on the MMA list seem to agree that $2.99 is the most effective price: not too low to make potential buyers think your product is going to be low quality, but not expensive enough to make people put their credit card back in their wallet. Its reasonably simple to complete amazon’s form on their DTP site, but if you have problems, don’t hesitate to ask your expert’s advice. When it comes to uploading to sites other than kindle, I chickened out and got Kimberly to do it for me. Hey, who says you’ve got to be brave all the time?! It’s not as if it cost me any more money to have Kimberly do it. When you’re uploading to amazon, make sure you opt for the 70% royalty option. From what I’ve read about this, there seems no reason to opt for the lower percentage and every reason not to. But don’t forget, whatever you decide on, be it the price or the royalty percentage, you can always go back in and change things at a later date.

Altogether, taking the original disc conversion into account, I suppose it took me around three or four weeks to get my first ebook up on kindle et al. And Kimberly’s services cost me $100. Altogether, including the artwork, disc conversion and InGrooves’ work and provision of the ISBN, it cost me less than $230. Pretty good value, I thought. I’m not selling in huge numbers, but they’re steady and require no more work from me, so I regard them as a bonus. I’m waiting to see if my sales figures rise during and after this blog tour. I’ll post on my blog either way.

Don’t forget, once your book’s up, to check out your ebook’s sales position. Just type 'novelrank' into the search bar and click on Sales Rank Tracking for Author Sales on Amazon. But before you do this, you need to get your book’s amazon URL. So go to amazon, get on your book’s page on the site and copy the URL at the top, this can then be pasted into amazon’s Sales Rank site which will bring up your book. Click on this and your sales and ranking will come up on screen.

As for me, would I epub again? You bet. I found epublishing a blast. Why not give it a try? What have you got to lose? Your backlist’s probably earning you nothing if you’re a midlister like me. Your out-of-print books could be bringing you in an income again and they’ll be given a new lease of life. Maybe you will be, too.



LINK TO MY PAGE WITH THE BLOG TOUR DATES

Deadly Reunion
A Rafferty & Llewellyn crime novel by Geraldine Evans
Publication: 24 February 2011 (UK) 1 June 2011 (US)




Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty is barely back from his honeymoon before he has two unpleasant surprises. Not only has he another murder investigation - a poisoning courtesy of a school reunion, he also has four new lodgers, courtesy of his Ma, Kitty Rafferty. Ma is organising her own reunion and since getting on the Internet, the number of Rafferty and Kelly family attendees has grown, like Topsy. In his murder investigation, Rafferty has to go back in time to learn of all the likely motives of the victim's fellow reunees. But it is only when he is reconciled to his unwanted lodgers, that Rafferty finds the answers to his most important questions.

Links:
amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

ebooks on amazon.com

Geraldine Evans’s website

Geraldine Evans’s blog

PRIZES






The draw of all the comments throughout the Tour will take place at the end of the Tour (end-Feb). There will only be three winners, each of whom wins one signed copy of Deadly Reunion, my latest hardback (fourteenth in my Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series), one copy of each of two ebooks that are the first and second novels in my Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series, that is, one of Dead Before Morning and one of Down Among the Dead Men. They will also receive a subscription to my blog (which they can let lapse when it runs out).






CR: Crashed by Timothy Hallinan

It's all better with friends.

10 comments:

Geraldine Evans said...

Peg, thank you for the opportunity to guest blog during my Tour. The piece looks good and maybe it will encourage some hesitant authors down the epub route. And authors, once you've signed up, you can check your sales on dtp.amazon/reports. It just might make for happy reading.

Peg Brantley said...

Geraldine, thank you for sharing so much of what you've learned in this Brave New World.

Anonymous said...

This was very, very interesting! Thanks so much for sharing it! Your book covers are gorgeous!
BrendaW.

jenny milchman said...

I LOVE your covers, Geraldine--please tell that student for me! Kimberly herself sounds like a goldmine. I'm glad to have cyber-met you and be learning about your work, and this e journey. Peg, thanks for covering the topic!

Anne K. Albert said...

Very informative post, Geraldine. Thank you so much for explaining everything in non-technical terms!

Just wanted to mention to Peg about your love/hate relationship with writing you mention in your bio...oh yeah, I get it completely. :)

Geraldine Evans said...

Peg and Anonymous, glad you found my post interesting and/or helpful. I think the ebook route is likely to be rewarding for many authors and is worth exploring.

Brenda and Jenny, Yes, the covers are pretty striking, aren't they? I particularly like the one for Dead Before Morning. The basic photo was from iStockPhoto and the artist worked on it. Both this and the one for Down Among the Dead Men are by Rick Capadimonte (hope I've spelt his name right!), the impoverished student who spends his spare time creating book covers for my ebook formatter, Kimberly Hitchens (hitch@Q.com). I think he does a great job. I must email Kimberly and let her know of your comments. I'm sure Rick will be chuffed (as long as he doesn't put his prices up!). Can't wait to see what he produces for Death Line, which is the next book in my Rafferty series that I intend to epublish.

Anne, I needed it explained in non-technical terms myself! I'm not a techie at all and found it so much easier because I had Kimberly holding my hand every step of the way.

Definitely a love/hate relationship with writing. When it's going good, it's great. But when it's going bad ir's Grrr!

Ellis Vidler said...

Peg, I really like your new blog design. Very clean and easy to read.
Geraldine, very helpful post and good of you to share so much. It's a daunting prospect for most of us. Also, I love your cover. That misty scene makes me want to look deeper into it.

Peg Brantley said...

Thanks for noticing the updated look, Ellis. And Geraldine, if I didn't say so earlier, I think those covers rock as well. Hitch takes good care of her clients, that's for sure.

Geraldine Evans said...

Ellis, You're welcome. I've learned so much from so many generous authors, it would be very selfish of me not to share, too. Glad you like the cover; I wasn't too keen on it at first, but it's grown on me.

Peg, Yeah, the covers are great, aren't they? especially the one for Dead Before Morning. Yes, hitch was definitely a lucky find for me - I doubt I would have epubbed without her to hold my hand.

Jess said...

Very informative post. Thanks!