Although getting the hang of it took a whole lot of time and a whole lot more mistakes.
My first novel, One Easy Piece, published in 1982, is now available via Amazon for Kindle readers (and, I think Sony and Nook, but I still haven’t figured that part out), and the Apple iBookstore app for the iPad. My two currently in-print novels, Possessed by Shadows and The Common Bond, are as of today uploaded to both Amazon and the iBookstore, although, based on how long it took for One Easy Piece to actually appear for sale (at the astonishing bargain special just for you today price of $2.99), neither will be available for a few days, maybe another week.
I don’t mind this delay, because what it means is that Amazon and Apple are checking and confirming what they refer to as the “metadata,” making sure I am in fact the author, that I do own the electronic rights, and do own the copyright. This is good. I don’t mind that it takes a few days to do it.
If you are considering eBook versions of your writing, this is what I’ve learned (so far).
I now know how to convert the old style 10-digit ISBN to the new 13-digit ISBN. I have not had to figure out how to get an ISBN in the first place because so far I am only doing eBook versions of already published print books. I hope I will always be converting already published print books to electronic, but doubts are creeping in. I am starting to think that eBooks “instead of” print books isn’t such a bad thing.
Kindle formatting is far more simple and direct than Apple’s iBookstore, but the final product looks grand on the iPad app, and rather plain and cheap on the Kindle. Amazon also takes your electronic word for things that Apple spends more time checking out. (Apple sends out a pdf file contract to authors that is 57 pages long — my print book contracts average about ten pages.)
Read the bloody directions very carefully; take notes. Correct formatting is critical for the final look of your eBook. It took a long time and a lot of mistakes before I finally figured out why the Kindle version of One Easy Pieces has no paragraph indentions, and why the title page is missing.
I much prefer the look of a book on the iPad and have spent more time with that particular formatting. I use Apple computers exclusively, and discovered that the “Pages” word processing program for Mac computers greatly simplifies the formatting process in preparing a manuscript for the iBookstore. In fact, when I signed up with the iBookstore – something called iTunes Connect – I was offered a simple template for Pages that essentially allows drag and drop, cut and paste accurate formatting to iBookstore requirements. I could take a document from MS Word and Pages would convert it automatically into a format I could use within the iBookstore template. I was some weeks discovering that simple method.
There are a number of services on the Internet offering to do all this for you; Smashwords comes to mind. I learned that it’s really not that hard, and the pre-prep those services require of your mss means you’ve already done most of the work. Then it is like having an agent who takes a cut from your royalties. Trust me. It takes some time, but if I can do it correctly, anybody can. The critical element to success with this process is READ THE DIRECTIONS.
I am currently reverting the original one-volume version of what Bantam published as a trilogy (the Hatch trilogy) for eBook publication. I am having to recreate some connecting scenes from scraps of the original located in a plethora of locations — all typed, not one byte existing. I’m about halfway through. It will be the next eBook I send out. I bring this up here because it points to what I think is one of the unseen values in eBook publishing: the rare and wonderful chance to fix literary mistakes from your past. (Assuming you have the rights reverted to you, which in this case I did.) It was a literary, although probably not a financial, mistake to have turned Hatch’s story into a trilogy, which required writing an entire new middle volume and sandwiching it between volumes one and two, which had originally constituted the essential whole, as well as having to write an entirely new opening quarter of volume three to account for stuff that happened in volume two. This process diminished all three. So now Hatch’s Island can find readers the way it ought to have been, the story the way it should have been told.
Stay tuned for news of the return of Hatch’s Island.
Here are the books currently (or soon to be) available for eReaders.