Category Archives: writing

My Book – Despair! – Should Appear on Amazon Kindle Books Tomorrow

I went in and published the book directly on Amazon. We’ll see what happens now.

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People Are Actually Buying My Book On Smashwords

I put the book up on Smashwords on Thursday and people have actually been buying the book. Looking at the stats section of Smashwords for my books is interesting. For DESPAIR! five people have downloaded it and four have actually shelled out the $2.99 to buy it. My friend Omar, who writes the blog Lingua Franca: http://epiac1216.wordpress.com/ did me the honor of the very first sale and I wish there was some way I could have given him a signed copy.

Smashwords, without a doubt, is not a site with a million hits a day like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, so I’m quite happy that the book has been selling at all. When you publish on Smashwords they have what they call the “Premium Catalog.” They review the submissions and if they meet all the formatting requirements and a few other things then a book or story is released to Amazon, B&N and other book sellers. Right now my submissions are under review. If they make the cut and appear on Amazon then I think I will actually start making sales that will be a nice supplement to my income.

I find this all quite exciting. So much so that I’m working on my next submission. If I can get it up to the proper length, 10,000 words minimum, I might just try and submit it myself to Amazon’s “Singles” section which is reserved for short works of between 10 and 30,000 words.

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Book Is Published and Available

Well, I got the story up and it’s available at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/39473 for anyone who might be interested. What’s it about? This is the preface:

All school children in the western hemisphere know that in “1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Other than that ditty, few people know the “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” made three subsequent voyages. Of these, his final trip a decade later, to what became known as the “New World,” was probably the most interesting. It is the stuff of fiction: fierce storms, contrary currents and hurricanes. Pitched battles with hostile natives and former companions. Ship wrecks, marooning, mutiny, trickery, petty jealousies, deceit, greed, dashed dreams, despair, extraordinary heroism and rescue. But every bit of it is true and documented. The only license I have taken with the story has been the creation of the fictional narrator of the events.

It’s available for reading in a variety of formats including the popular Kindle. It will soon be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s only $2.99…a bargain at twice the price.

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Why No Recent Posts?

There’s a good reason for that. I’ve been slaving away to get my book finished and published. That should happen within the next few days. Just to tease you, here’s what I’ve got for a cover.

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Editing For Self-Published eBooks

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about  self-publishing since that’s how I plan on publishing my book when I complete the editing.

One of the biggest complaints about the quality of self-published books is the poor editing of the final product. Much of it, apparently, is pretty amateurish. Lots of spelling and grammar errors you usually wouldn’t find in books  published the traditional way having gone through a rigorous editing process.

Not only that, but with the ability to put your book out to the public electronically there’s a lot of real garbage out there, too. Most of the sites such as Smashwords, Amazon, etc., allow you to download a sample of the book you might be interested in. Sort of the digital equivalent of roaming the aisles of a brick and mortar bookstore and leafing through a volume that might strike your fancy. I’ve done that with quite a few books online and quite frankly am glad I wasn’t charged for them, though I did download Joe Konrath’s “Newbie’s Guide to Publishing” and his novel “Shot of Tequila” which I thoroughly enjoyed.Very much in the Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey genre, if you like that sort of thing, and I do. The villains aren’t quite as freaky as those other authors but weird enough to be a lot of fun.

Anyway, in all the reading I’ve done one piece of advice is pretty consistent. “Hire an editor!” After all, writers aren’t editors. They write. Editors edit.

Like a lot of good advice I’ve received in my life I’m going to ignore this bit as well. There are just some things I feel as competent at doing as the so-called experts. For example, one excellent piece of advice given to anyone planning on buying a boat is to hire a qualified marine surveyor. I didn’t do that when I bought my sailboat, Nancy Dawson, or any of the other half-dozen or so boats after her. Why? Well, at that time I’d spent nearly 10 years working in boat yards repairing and restoring boats for a living and I doubt there’s anything a surveyor would have spotted that I couldn’t myself. In fact, there were times when I’d made repairs to boats and they were completely missed by surveyors charging their clients extortionate fees for their services.

Regarding the editing of my book, well, I worked as an editor for nearly three years and think I have a bit of an editor’s eye. In fact, I think I proved that to myself this morning as I was editing a chapter that has been sitting for a while waiting for me to look at it with a fresh perspective. I discovered that the narrator of my story spoke about the crew being “mesmerized” by a sight on the ocean. A perfectly apt description except for one important fact. The narrator is speaking in the year 1502 and Franz Anton Mesmer, after whom the phrase “mesmerized” takes its name, wasn’t born until 1734! Two hundred and thirty two years AFTER the narrator of the story uses the word. Would a paid editor have picked that fact up? Who knows? But I bet most wouldn’t have caught it.

Right now I’m rewriting and editing chapter by chapter and it’s a lot more fun than it was trying to get that first draft down on “paper.”

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WHEW!

Today at 5:07 P.M., Eastern Time, in the Pueblo of Boqueron, Panama, I wrote the words “THE END” on the first draft of my book. It stands at 49,335 words but it will grow with the addition of dialogue and better description. But the basics are all there. I’ll let it rest for a while and then start the job of editing it and getting it formatted for publication which will be done digitally and available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets through Smashwords.

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An Explanation

This is a tremendously exciting time to be a writer. I hate to say it but I wish I was 20 years younger.

Before I became a boat captain I made my living as a writer. I worked as a newspaper reporter,  magazine editor,  advertising copywriter, and a hospital public relations director. I also impaled myself on my own free lance more than once. I published articles in national magazines on such subjects as health care, environmental issues, sports, theater, East-West trade issues when the iron curtain was still in place and crime stories. I even wrote a novel no one wanted to publish.

Back in those days, the middle sixties and early seventies, all publishing was in its traditional form and there were gatekeepers also known as editors. If you had an idea for a magazine article you went to the library and checked the Periodic Guide to Literature to see if anyone else might have been writing about the same thing. If you thought you had a new slant on an idea you wrote a query letter, put it in a self addressed stamped envelope and sent it off to an editor. If they hated it you got a printed rejection letter. If they liked it they’d give you a tentative okay to write it and send it to them “on speculation.” That meant they’d like to take a look at it but it was no guarantee they’d buy it.

All of this took time, of course. There were no computers, no email. Hell, I remember how cutting-edge I thought I was at the hospital when I got an IBM Selectric. Back then you depended on the Postal Service. You considered yourself real lucky if you got an answer to a query letter in a month. If your idea was rejected you went to the second magazine on your list and started all over again. I have to say I usually did quite well and got the go-ahead on almost every query I sent the first time out.

I stopped writing for publication shortly after I started working on boats. One of the main reasons I gave it up was that, unless you were able to get into one of the big “slicks” like Playboy, Esquire or something like that, the rate of pay really sucked. Most of the time you got paid “on publication” rather than “on acceptance.” It could be months before your story was printed, and half the time you had to fight to get them to pay you even after you were in print. It just wasn’t worth the effort as far as I was concerned.

Twenty years later, when I stopped being a captain and had stories to tell, it was worse than before. The rate of pay in those intervening two decades hadn’t kept up with inflation by a long shot and if it wasn’t worth doing back then it certainly wasn’t worth doing now. I wasn’t in it for the ego strokes of “being published.” Been there, done that.

Within the last two years, though, things have changed with the advent of electronic publishing. This past Christmas millions, literally MILLIONS of Kindles were sold and other eBook readers, like the Nook and the iPad stuffed stockings. Even the Luddites among us, like myself, have downloaded Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac to our computers.

Now, here’s the interesting part. If you have a book YOU can upload it directly to Amazon and offer it for sale in electronic form. A lot of people are doing it and some of them, not many, I’ll admit, are making MUCH MORE money than if they went the traditional publishing route of finding and agent and landing a contract with one of the major publishing houses. J. A. Konrath is one of them and he stands to rake in at least a quarter of a million in 2011 from electronic sales.

Here’s another thing about eBook publishing. YOU get to keep the lion’s share of the money. If you have a book available on Amazon you get 70% of the selling price compared to 15% if you’re lucky with a traditional publisher. Granted you won’t get an advance on your book but the truth is the majority of traditionally published books don’t earn their advances back. Let’s take a look at what this means to the writer. If you have a book out that sells for $19.95 you stand to earn $2.99 on each one sold. However, been in a book store lately? Even though the book SAYS $19.99 you can often buy it for less and the author gets less money as well.

Now, if you have an eBook on Amazon priced at $2.99 you get to keep $2.09 cents of the sale. Sure it’s less, but here’s the thing. The shelf-life of a book in a brick and mortar store isn’t very long and if your book isn’t selling very well it’s returned to the publisher and the first run through the printer will also be the last for that volume. When it’s up on Amazon in eBook form it’s up there forever and you can keep selling it and keep making money. There’s also an outfit called Smashwords. Go through them and they format your book so it’s readable on all eBook platforms and it’s distributed to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Sony store, the Apple Store and others. You get to keep 85% of everything that’s sold through their own online bookstore which means a $2.99 book nets you $2.54. YOU set the price, not a publisher  but it seems that $2.99 is the magic number that seems to sell the most books.

For the past couple of weeks while I’ve been neglecting writing entries to this blog and uploaded silly cartoons just to keep things going. Instead,  I’ve been doing two things. I’ve been reading a LOT about self-publishing and I’ve been going to town on the first draft of a novel that’s been gnawing away at me for a long time. Writing the book I’D like to read. I’ve been knocking out from 1,500 to 4,000 words a day and am probably three-quarters of the way through now. It’s my intention to submit it, eventually, directly to Amazon and Smashwords. I’ll let you know what’s happening when it’s finished.

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