Book Babying It – Part Five: On the Way to the Amazon

Today I finally decided to check my status on Book Baby to gauge the progress of Virtually Yours.

Yes, I am the most lackadaisical writer/author you’ll ever meet. I’m not one of those who clicks back and forth for a progress report. I’m from the old school: A watched pot never boils.

(In case you were wondering, My virtual book will hit Amazon in a couple of days. *WHEE!* For the other vendors, like Nook and iBookstore, it could be a few weeks.)

My reaction? Meh…

Besides never watching a boiling pot (and this is hard to admit), there’s a part of me that just can’t believe I’ve done this.

Come on, admit you feel the same way.

I’m a writer-wannabe. I dream of writing fine literature, and I practice constantly, but I come to the craft with a deficit. I don’t have weighty credentials behind my name. I have written stories ever since my mother handed me a pencil, but thanks to my own poor economy, I didn’t finish college. I thought it was more important to have a roof over my head and an occasional dinner. I’m a late starter, only beginning to write “seriously” after the kids grew up and moved away, so there was a twenty year gap between the last “serious” thing I wrote (a poem for my husband, coincidentally) and the next “serious” thing I wrote (my first novel).

I’ve been writing online (in some way or another) for years. (YEARS and years and years. Google me, and be amazed.) There have been times when the criticism has ranged from ho-hum-yawn to flat out excoriation. But I can take it – obviously, or I wouldn’t still be here. I know some people won’t like my work at all and that doesn’t bother me in the least. Virtually Yours is not literary fiction. Puh-leeze. I wrote it in thirty days, during NaNoWriMo 2009. It’s a light and silly beach read, which I hope is mildly entertaining to most of the people who enjoy light and silly beach reads.

So now I’m looking at ways of tooting my horn and announcing to the world that my baby is due to be hatched, without looking like I’m a narcissistic huckster pushing a product. Book Baby sent me some great articles on how to do just that.

Once I finish the yard work, I might take a look at those articles. (Lackadaisically, of course.) Because I’m a realist, I know that just launching a book doesn’t mean I hit the lottery and can afford to quit my day job – or my duties.

Off to the fields! More spouting when Virtually Yours is ready.

Book Babying It – Part Four, The New Proof

Whee!

Late last night, I received an email from Book Baby informing me that my proof was (finally) ready for inspection.

Of course, since I’m tucked into bed by 9 p.m., I was too tuckered out to investigate last night. So the first thing this morning, I opened up my account and downloaded Virtually Yours into my iBooks.

For some unexplained reason, the download went off flawlessly fast. Lightning quick! As some of you might recall, the first download took me a few days and much mental anguish and technical jerry-rigging to get the book into my iPad. I have no idea what I did this time to get it to upload so quickly. (I have no idea what I did last time, either.) I’m from the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “if you can get it to work, don’t over analyze it” schools of thought, so I’m not even going there.

There were some minor glitchy problems with my first proof. The resultant formatting wasn’t as I envisioned. This story takes place online, with plenty of email, IMs, and blog posts. My email exchanges were off center. All scrunched up, it was difficult to read. The blog posts weren’t immediately recognizable as such. Plus I made the error of using spaces and tabs. (Note to writers: NEVER use spaces and tabs! Set up your document correctly before you type the first word!) And worse, my emoticons were running into the text.

Plus I noted spelling errors I thought I had changed (I was in between computers, my main  laptop nearly succumbing to the Blue Screen of Death before I bought another) and other typos that were glaringly painful to look at.

My re-worked manuscript had no tabs or unnecessary spaces. I cushioned my smiley faces with a space before and a space after. The phrases I wanted italicized were, and the ones that shouldn’t have been weren’t. I made certain that each block of text was separate and readable.

Enter now my returned proof, which looks pretty good. So far, my only complaint would be that there may be a little bit too much space in between text blocks. (I know. I am super picky.) I also inserted a disclaimer and questions for discussion, and that looks good as well.

*Deep cleansing breath*

I guess I could do one of two things. 1. Pick it apart some more and send it back to see if the spaces can be tightened up. (Crazy, I know.) or 2. Kiss my baby goodbye and send it off into the world.

Let me finish up my proofing, but you know which way I’m leaning.

🙂

So far, I’m up to page 200 of proof reading. There is one word on one page that bothers me thus far, and I’m not sure I want to change it. I’m not sure it’s worth it to change it. I’m not sure anyone will notice.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Book Baby-ing It – Part Three, The Wait

Ya know, writing is so much more than writing.

This revelation hit me like a ton of bricks the day after I finished the first novel. Editing, re-writing, writing query letters, writing synopses, pitching, attending conferences, editing some more, proofreading, promotion, editing even more, researching options on publishing, choosing an option, and finally wrangling what you’ve written into a format that your chosen option will accept with the most ease – if you’re not tired reading this sentence, I want to hire you to be my shadow.

After four days of careful inspection of my manuscript, where I probably still missed some glaring errors, and where I still don’t get why some things came out italicized when they weren’t on my Word document, and why some purposely italicized phrases on my Word document didn’t come out that way, I finally closed the book on my proof and sent the corrections back to Book Baby.

This is the point where I wish code, computers, and conversions would be magically impregnated in my brain during my sleep and I would wake up tomorrow infused with the kind of technical knowledge I need to make my travel from written word to e-book-ready word a skip down the garden path.

One thing I can say about Book Baby, they are helpful beyond words. I even received an email from the CEO. You know me, it’s all about customer service.

That’s not to say I’d use them again. For one thing, and it might be a long shot, maybe someday I can learn the Smashwords conversion. (I might have to be dropped on my head first.) But more importantly, the Internet is constantly changing. I can’t tell you how many start up similar businesses (to Book Baby) that I met while at the San Francisco Writers Conference. The indie book business is booming (more on that later), and with the boom comes the requisite people trying to fill a gap in the niche. Book Baby has been great so far, but what about all the up and comers?

Like it is with any purchase, if you decide to go this way, check out the company’s track record. Remember, you get what you pay for, so scrimping on this service is not a good idea. And most important: Customer Service. I have capitalized this because 1. you are the customer, paying for a service, and that service had better be stellar, and 2. you’ll appreciate it in the end.

Now that Virtually Yours is virtually put to rest, it’s time to work on the sequel. 51K words so far, but it’s a mess. See you in a few.

Book Baby-ing It – Part Two

When last you left me, I had uploaded my work onto Book Baby and was waiting for the shiny new proof of Virtually Yours to arrive in my inbox. So I waited. And chewed down my fingernails. And waited. And emailed. And waited and waited some more.

After ten anxiety-ridden days of terror, most of which included thoughts of “Should I do this?” “Am I nuts?” and of course, the perennial favorite, “Am I ready?”, word came of my proof being ready. Wha-zzaa! But wait (I’ve already been waiting, so I was used to it), by the time the congratulatory email arrived, I was still in San Francisco. I was also by that time terribly ill and not in the mood to tackle anything on the screen. So I thought I’d hang for a couple of days and see what was up once I was safely on my own turf.

Once back in Michigan, I opened the email, which directed me back to my Book Baby account. There I found instructions as to the next step. (Remember, I so judiciously decided to spend the extra bucks on the proof. Thank the Lord, as you shall learn a few paragraphs down.)

There was a huge problem with the proof, and the problem began before I even got a glance at the e-printed page. For one thing, one must upload the file onto an e-reader or iPad.

I have an iPad (older version), and had no problem in the past with uploading purchased books. But files…that’s another story. I’d never done it before. And you know me… s – l – o – w when it comes to the wondrousness of the Internet and our modern technology. This is the kind of technological clod I am: I’ll be texting my daughter, and write the response I want to give her down on a pad of paper before I realize what I’ve done. Like DUH.

I had to download the file to my computer, then upload (or backload, or sideload, whatever) onto the iPad. You’d think this would be easy, but noooo. For one thing, my computer didn’t recognize that my iPad was connected to it. Which is funny, because when I connect to iTunes, it knows my credit card information to charge me for books, movies, and music. I could see the actual file on my computer, but I couldn’t copy it onto my iPad, since it didn’t exist in my computer’s mind.

Stymied, on Saturday, I had to give up. I tried all three recommended ways of getting the file – through iTunes, through Kindle, etc.; it just wasn’t working. I also realized an e-book I purchased from Amazon while in San Francisco wasn’t showing up on my Kindle app. Snap. My problems were multiplying.

Yesterday I gave it another go. The iPad was dusted off (let me tell you, it was dusty when I’d unearthed it), charged up, and ready to go. I was feeling much better and had taken a couple of tylenol as a preventative measure. I followed the steps on the Book Baby site, as well as on the Apple site.

I’m not sure how it happened, but there it was! My book! It was in my library, along with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (I’m downloading the weighty classics on the iPad. They’re so physically heavy. And this one was free.)

The cover looked fab (although I’m still having cover-second-thoughts), and the beginning pages were great! Then I noticed a few formatting glitches. And spelling errors. Oy vay.

I had to hold the presses, as they say.

My next step is to fix the errors and continue on.

More later…

Book Baby-ing It – Part One

Over the weekend, I decided to take the plunge. After months (years) of writing, re-writing, editing, thirteen beta readers, online classes, queries galore, a cover design, and critiques up the wazoo, I have decided to finally *sigh* give birth to one of my written creations.

That’s right, Virtually Yours is virtually going live. I’m going to e-pub it as soon as I can.

As we all know, I am not a computer-internet geek-head, much as you might want to think so considering the setting in Virtually Yours (the internet). I only recently learned I was setting up my Word documents incorrectly for publishing. When did the world decide two spaces between sentences was one too many? Or that you should never, ever tab to indent?

I have suffered headaches just casually glancing at Smashwords’ user guide. To be quite fair to Smashwords, perhaps the guide is easy for those whose right brains are near normal. My brain, left or right, is not anywhere close to that level. Even with this online guru’s massive blog about self-e-pubbing printed and by my side, I still couldn’t figure out the conversion.

I don’t have a lot of time. If I did, I wouldn’t play on the internet more. I’d write more.

So…I have decided to enlist the services of Book Baby. For a nominal fee, they will convert your text, assign your book an ISBN, and release it into markets including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Possible headache averted.

I decided to go for the premium service, which is $100 more. For that fee, a proof will be provided. I’ve proofed my novel at least ten times in the last month; I still miss the typos.

The site is easy to use. You upload your book and your cover, and voila! You’re on your way. While the process is relatively painless, there are a few quirks that caused me to pause before the final click.

One is that you’re warned about not being able to proof or that changes will cost more money. Wait a minute, I thought. I thought I paid for premium? Don’t I get a proof? I then used the “Contact Us” info to contact them. I wanted to be sure before I plunked down my cash for this service. Contact is made by email. There are phone numbers, but I was working on a weekend. I figured email would be faster.

If you’re wondering if it was faster, all I can say is that my email was sent Friday night. I’m still waiting for a reply.

After two days of waiting, I decided to forge ahead and worry about my dissatisfaction later. At the point of payment, the reassuring mention of proof was included. Ah… And then the standard blah-blah-blah about how long it might take (two weeks) but it also might take less than that.

I have no idea what is going on.

As soon as I find out what happens next, I’ll let you know. Also when the book is truly launched. And then my friends who have pledged to buy a copy (leaving me with enough for a Starbucks, I hope) will hopefully whip out their credit cards and PayPal accounts and get busy.

🙂