Tag Archives: self publishing

Now In Paperback!

A lot of people don’t think a book is a “book” unless it’s made out of dead trees. I can understand that until I bought my Kindle and started publishing my Christopher Columbus books electronically. I say “books” because there are three different versions.

One is simply the original, all-English version that is only available as an e-book. http://www.amazon.com/Tacking-Through-Adversitys-Wake-ebook/dp/B007X8F278/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337002969&sr=1-3  It is priced at $2.99.

Then there are the two dual-language editions. Stephany Peñaloza and Deyreth García, students at La Universidad Latina here in David, Panama, translated the book into Spanish as their thesis for their degrees in English translation. I combined the original English book with their translation and published them as e-books priced at $4.99.

http://www.amazon.com/Virada-Estela-Adversidad-Desafortunado-ebook/dp/B007XU7Y7M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337002969&sr=1-1 Is for English-speakers studying Spanish. The Spanish text is presented first in BOLD face followed immediately by the English text in ITALICS. This formatting, which I haven’t seen used anywhere else, allows the reader’s eye to follow the story as they would reading normally, yet they can easily check the italics to confirm their comprehension.

I also converted the book for Spanish-speakers studying English with the English version in bold text and the Spanish in italics. http://www.amazon.com/Adversitys-Wake-Calamitous-Christopher-ebook/dp/B007XTYMXW/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337002969&sr=1-2

While Amazon has reported that e-books are actually outselling paperbacks, a lot of people don’t have an e-book reader. I know that’s true of several people who follow this blog. Also, in an effort to supplement my income, I decided to publish the books through CreateSpace, the Print on Demand branch of Amazon.com. to reach a wider audience.

Let me tell you, there’s a HUGE difference in formatting a book for print than it is setting one up for digital publishing, and the learning curve for doing it was STEEP! I spent more than a week tearing my hair out (and at 70 I still have a full head of hair) trying to figure out such things as inserting headers and footers and page numbering. The digital editions of the book are approximately 288 pages. The reason I say approximately is that with a digital book the reader can change the size of the type and when that happens the page count changes. In a printed volume the page count can’t be changed. It is what it is. Sort of.

The first paperback edition of the English to Spanish book is 316 pages. I’m working on the Spanish to English version now and it’s interesting. Even though the type face and type size is the same when the Spanish text is put into boldface and the English into italics the page count jumps to 319 pages.

Well, folks, here it is: https://www.createspace.com/3862699 Because of printing costs I had to price the book at $9.99. Odd thing is that while it’s a bit double the price of the electronic version my royalty works is only 1/3 of what I make from the e-book. Actually I make about a nickel more from the electronic version than I do from the paperback.

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My Dual-Language Books at Amazon.com

I have combined my book about Christopher Columbus’s last voyage with the Spanish translation.

For English-speaking students studying Spanish there is this volume:


For Spanish-speaking students studying English there is this version:


To See ALL my books available at Amazon.com go here:



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Reader Feedback Request

One of the big advantages for writers, especially independent authors, has been the digital revolution. No longer is an author’s work dependent on literary agents (Literary agents, in my opinion, are like lawyers, low-life bottom-feeders who can’t write themselves so they make a living skimming 15% off the top from people who can write. They simply didn’t have the grades in college that would get them admitted to law school so they could spend their lives chasing ambulances.) and the Big 6 publishing houses who are more interested in churning out re-hashed versions of the same, slightly modified stories by the likes of James Patterson, John Grishom, Clive Cussler and the like. Those with a vested interest in perpetuating the Big 6 domination of the literary world clamor that independent authors clutter the world with trashy writing…yeah? Look above and tell me about their value to the printed word.

Ever since Gutenberg figured out moveable type until just a couple of years ago once an author gave his work a title and a cover was affixed to it that was it. . forever. You were stuck with it. Now, though, with just a few clicks of the mouse (and a new ISBN number) an author whose work is in electronic form whether as an e-book or Print on Demand (POD) can change the title and/or the cover at will.

I’ve never been completely happy with either the title of my book about Christopher Columbus’s horrible fourth voyage. His fleet was denied entrance into Santo Domingo to ride out an approaching hurricane. It took them a month to sail the northern coast of what is now Honduras and when they turned the corner he named it “Cabo de Gracias a Dios” which is still on charts to this day, 510 years later. They constantly battled contrary winds and currents. Their attempt at establishing a colony in Panama was a disaster. The Indians didn’t take kindly to the thought of sharing their land with these interlopers and in a bloody battle literally drove the white men into the sea. With his ship’s hulls leaking like sieves because of shipworms he was forced to abandon two of the four in Panama. Trying to return to Santo Domingo the two remaining ships were so close to sinking that besides manning the pumps 24 hours a day the men were literally bailing with their cooking utensils to the point where they had to be run ashore on the bleak coast of Jamaica to save their lives. They remained there for over a year and Columbus faced starvation, a mutiny and a pitched battle between the mutineers and those loyal to their leader.

The original title of the book was “Despair!” and the cover was an old painting of the “Admiral of the Ocean Sea.” It was okay, I guess, but not really what I wanted. Now, with the book translated into Spanish and being worked on to be offered as a dual-language book, I’ve decided on a new title and cover art. I’d like to get some honest feedback from my readers as to what they think of the new title and cover.

Old cover and title:


What do you think about this?


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My Latest Project

As a lot of you know, my book, Despair! (http://www.amazon.com/Despair-ebook/dp/B004LLIXT4/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334499453&sr=1-3) has been translated into Spanish by two young students at the Universidad Latina here in David, Stephany Peñaloza and Deyreth Garcia.

Stephany (L) Deyreth (R)

Stephany translated the first half of the book and Deyreth the other half. I had them send me their MSWord files of their translation and combined the two for a project I’ve had in mind. I spent several days going through the two files and formatting them so they’d work as an electronic book. Stephany had LOTS of extra spaces between words that had to be eliminated and she also used the “TAB” key a lot which throws off the formatting. And Deyreth’s version didn’t use quotation marks correctly so I had to painstakingly go through her version and insert them as needed. One thing I found in going through their versions was that I’d missed punctuation here and there in spite of having read it so many times I was sick of the story.

One of the requirements of their course was that they give me a bound copy of their work. I’d received Stephany’s several months ago and Deyreth wrote to me a couple of weeks ago saying her bound copy was ready and we needed to get together so she could give it to me. Another of the requirements of the course was that they could receive no financial remuneration for their work. My big brainstorm for a project needed their permission to publish their work side by side with mine and I needed to get them to sign away any rights they might have to their translation.

Yesterday I met the two of them at a fine Italian restaurant in David for dinner and explained what I had in mind and got them to sign my agreement to publish their translation. It could very well help them in the future, though, when they go looking for translation work. When asked if they can show any work they’ve done they can say, “Well, sure, here, I translated a BOOK!”

So, here’s what I’ve been working on. 1) I plan on offering the translation simply as a Spanish version of the book. 2) I am combining my original version of the book with their translation so English-speaking students who are studying Spanish can read the Spanish version followed immediately by the original. Like this:

No recuerdo cómo el viejo, Juan, vino a vivir con mi madre y conmigo. Parecía que siempre había estado allí. Él no tenía ningún parentesco con nosotros. No que yo supiera, de todos modos. Él simplemente estaba ‘allí. I don’t remember how the old man, Juan, came to live with my mother and me. It seemed he had always been there. He was no blood relation of ours. Not that I knew of, anyway. He was simply ‘there.’

De niño él me asustaba. No era nada por lo que él hiciese. Era sólo él. Corto de estatura, casi diminuto, su piel quemada por el sol estaba arrugada como una pieza de fruta seca. Siempre estaba encorvado. Aún de pie y apoyado en el viejo pedazo de rama de árbol que llevaba consigo a todas partes, él nunca estuvo erguido. Su espalda siempre estuvo doblada como si hubiera visto algo en el suelo y se había detenido por un segundo para obtener una mejor visión de ella. Cuando él había estado bebiendo no solamente se inclinaba ligeramente hacia adelante también se inclinaba de un lado al otro. Viendo sus brazos podrías decir, que alguna vez él había sido muy fuerte. Todavía se veían los músculos fornidos debajo de los diseños de tinta permanente en su piel. As a young child he scared me. It wasn’t anything he did. It was just him. Short of stature, tiny almost, his sun-weathered skin was wrinkled like a piece of dried up discarded fruit. He was forever hunched over. Even standing and leaning on the old piece of tree limb he carried with him everywhere he was never straight. His back was always bent as if he’d just spotted something on the ground and had stopped for a second to get a better look at it. When he’d been drinking he wasn’t just bent forward, he leaned to one side or the other, too.  You could tell, looking at his arms, that he had once been very strong. The muscles still rippled under the faded designs permanently inked into his skin.

Él nunca peinó su cabello. Era un blanco cegador y lo poco que quedaba de él creció en lugares aislados en la cabeza. Estaba como ligero y fino, cual la pelusa, como la flor de la planta del diente de león y que ni la más leve brisa lo haría agitarse. He never combed or brushed his hair.  It was blindingly white and what little there was of it grew in isolated spots on his head. It was as light and fine as dandelion fuzz and the slightest suggestion of a breeze would cause it to flutter nervously.

Sus ojos eran del azul más oscuro, como el color del mar, donde la línea recta del horizonte reúne el azul claro del cielo y que a menudo parecía que él estaba mirando fijamente a esa línea lejana donde todo lo que un marinero busca aparecerá en primer lugar. Y su nariz grande, como la de un halcón, hendida en el mar de su cara como la aleta de un tiburón surcando las tranquilas aguas dentro de un arrecife. His eyes were the darkest blue; like the color of the sea where the straight line of the horizon meets the lighter blue of the sky and it often seemed that he was staring intently at that distant line where whatever a seaman is looking for will first appear. And his large, hawk-like nose cleaved the sea of his face like a shark’s fin slicing through the calm waters inside a reef.

Él me dio miedo, el viejo Juan lo hizo, pero eso era cuando yo era joven. A medida que fui creciendo y poco a poco él reveló su historia, yo crecí con el amor del hombre y la maravilla de la aventura de su vida. He scared me, old Juan did, but that was when I was young. As I got older and he slowly revealed his story to me I grew to love the man and marveled at the adventure of his life.

For Spanish-speaking students the book will be presented in reverse with the English first followed by the Spanish translation. So far I’ve gotten the Spanish to English version finished and it wasn’t easy. It took me three complete working days to do it. I’ve got the first two chapters of the English to Spanish version done so far. When that’s done I’ll have to create a cover for the book that is different than the original so it won’t be confusing to people searching on line. I’ll let you all know when they are published.


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I’ve Started A Third Blog

I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I’ve started a third blog. The second blog I created is:


Since I bought my Kindle I’ve been reading a LOT! And most of what I’ve downloaded to my reader are either FREE books or books costing less than $3.00. A lot of the authors are self-published like myself or are offering their books at drastically discounted prices or absolutely free in hopes of attracting an audience that will shell out some cash to read their other work.

I’ve run across some really good stuff and, of course, some real trash. So I thought I’d start a blog giving my opinions on what I’ve found on line.

I call the blog Cheap Reads On Your Kindle.

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e-Book Covers

It’s said you “can’t tell a book by its cover” but every book needs a cover that will “hook” the prospective reader so they’ll pick it up and look inside.

I’ve just finished editing and rewriting A Pirate of the Caribbees by Harry Collingwood. When I say rewriting I mean I converted a 100 year-old text with such archaic writing as:

“For pity’s sake,” I ejaculated, “give me something to drink!”

“Ten thousand pounds?” I ejaculated.

“Thanks,” answered I, with alacrity.

I spent the last four months working to turn the book into something that reads as if it were written in the 21st Century. I pared out nearly 9,000 words from the original text that were just unnecessary but left the basic story line intact.

Next I had to come up with a cover for the book.

Getting cover art isn’t easy. Most writers hire an artist to do this for them. Fortunately I’m working in a genre where there are plenty of images in the public domain. That is they aren’t covered by copyright and can be used by anyone.  In my search I came across a fantastic illustrator named Howard Pyle. Pyle even opened his own art school and one of his students was N. C. Wyeth who did the illustrations for Treasure Island that those of us of a “certain” age surely remember.

I loved Pyle’s pirate illustrations and it was a tough job picking the one to use for the cover of my latest effort.

There are certain things you have to look for in a picture when you’re choosing cover art. Your first consideration is, where are you going to put the text so that it doesn’t interfere with the picture. There has to be enough blank, or empty space for you to do this. Next, you have to go to some sort of photo tampering program and create the cover.

For my first four efforts I used the Microsoft Paint.net program. It was fairly easy to use,”user friendly” and quite intuitive. But then I got hit with an incredibly vicious virus that forced me to reformat my hard drive back to the original factory settings. Fortunately I’m pretty good at saving my work as I go along so I didn’t lose a whole lot of stuff when I reformatted. However, no matter what I tried I couldn’t get Paint.net to reinstall.

I searched all over for another program to use and believe me there are a ton of programs out there. I needed simple and I needed FREE. I downloaded several that just didn’t meet my needs. One that kept popping up and that I loaded is called GIMP. It’s a great program, so I’m told, but the learning curve would challenge a PhD candidate at MIT. I downloaded YouTube videos showing how to “work with layers,” resize photos and everything you need to monkey around with a picture to get a cover you wanted. I couldn’t figure out how to make the damned thing do what I wanted. The frustration kept building. I didn’t want to spend days learning how to make the program work.

Then I found something called Photo Pad Image Editor. It’s WAY better than Paint.net in what it does and within less than an hour I got it to do what I wanted. Talk about “intuitive” and “user friendly.” This is the program to have.

So this is what I came up with:

What do you think?


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The 99¢ Experiment

I’ve decided to try an experiment with the pricing of my book Despair and drop the price to 99¢ for one month.

This isn’t a desperate move. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I read a lot of blogs written by successful indie, self-published authors. One who has a lot of good advice for the likes of myself is J. A. Konrath and his blog: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ This guy is literally making tens of thousands of dollars a month from his ebook novels. The fact that they’re good reads certainly doesn’t hurt.

In several of his posts he’s talked about pricing of his books. Naturally there are different royalty payments depending on the price of your book. Sometimes dropping the price of a book and taking a smaller royalty payment you can actually make more money.Konrath had an interesting post about dropping the price of his book The List from $2.99 down to a bargain 99¢. http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/02/list-experiment-update.html

You can read his post but I’ll give you some of the highlights here.

“At $2.99, I was earning $2.03 per download. And I was selling an average of 43 ebooks a day.”

“At 99 cents, I only earn 35 cents per download. I’m now averaging 205 sales a day.”

“At $2.99, I made $87 a day.”

“At 99 cents, I’m making $71 a day.”

“But in the last few days, The List has been selling stronger, averaging about 250 sales a day. If it can hold that number, or do even better, that’s $87 a day–matching what it made at $2.99.”

It’s not that the book hasn’t been selling. It has and I’ve been surprised to discover that people in Canada, Great Britain and Australia have bought it. Not only that, it’s being translated into Spanish by a couple of students here in Panama who are working on their Master’s degrees in English. Despair has been selling at $2.99 but my short story Sailing Alone To Isla priced at 99¢ has been moving off the rack at a pretty decent pace. I certainly don’t ever expect to match Konrath’s numbers but it should be interesting to see what happens.

All school children in the western hemisphere know that “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Other than that ditty few people know that the Admiral of the Ocean Sea made three subsequent voyages to what was to become known as “The New World.” It was probably the most interesting of the four. It was the stuff of fiction: battling fierce storms, contrary currents and hurricanes. Pitched battles with hostile natives and former companions. Ship wrecks, marooning, mutiny, trickery, deceit, greed, dashed dreams, despair, extraordinary heroism and rescue. But truth is stranger than fiction. All of it is documented. The only license I’ve taken with the story is to create the fictional narrator of the events.

The book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Despair-ebook/dp/B004LLIXT4/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1311258431&sr=1-2. I just made the change and it may take a day or two for the change to appear on their site. If you don’t want to wait you can get it at: Smashwords.com: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/39473 where it’s available for download to a Kindle or Nook reader.







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