Tag Archives: Smashwords

Adventures of an Indie Author Update

Wow, no kidding, it really has been an adventure! The past month has been a wild ride. My thanks to the folks at Promotional Book Tours for arranging a phenomenal tour. It was great to get Legend of the Spider-Prince #1: REBEL in front of avid readers and even better to get reader feedback in the form of good reviews. Rebel made it to Amazon’s Top 100 YA Swords & Sorcery list almost as soon as the tour started and is still clinging there two weeks after it ended, despite the start of the school year. (How it ended up in S & S, I don’t know. I love S & S, but I categorized it as Epic Fantasy for a reason! So much about Amazon’s inner workings remains a mystery.)

So, what’s next?

A little bit of irony–one part of my editing process is to read aloud. I like reading aloud, and it was one of my favorite things to do with my kids when they were younger. In my usual, let’s-be-efficient-about-this approach, I did some recording when I was editing, you know, since I was talking anyway. Just used a USB headset and Sound Forge Studio, and I didn’t record the whole thing–I spent about eighteen years in my company’s media production department (on the admin side), which meant I acquired (by osmosis) an unfortunate appreciation for production values, and even I cringed at what I was hearing. I couldn’t justify the time I was spending recording crap and moved on. I didn’t seriously consider doing an audiobook because that meant getting an agent who wanted to spend time selling audio rights for an unknown author to some audiobook producer. Not! And frankly, I didn’t want to get tangled in yet another behemoth food chain. I like being an indie author, and getting into audiobooks (even if I could, without an agent) seemed too much like going the traditional publishing route.

Then I discovered ACX, an indie-author friendly platform for audiobook publishing and distribution that reminded me of Smashwords (can I say that in the same sentence with an Amazon company?) But they distribute to Audible and iTunes, and only for seven years’ commitment. My research hasn’t turned up any similarly-friendly platforms with that kind of distribution reach. So, I’ve looked into the whole thing more seriously and have gotten some great advice  from books and practical guidance from pros at my day job, and it’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

So, armed now with a nicely, affordably-professional front end (mic and preamp) for my writing dungeon/home studio, I’m heavily into pre-production of REBEL in audio, waiting on the weekend for my husband to help me build a sound-proof box for my noisy computer so I can cut another test audio clip. I want the audiobook out in time for Christmas, so that means nose-to-the-grindstone time again.

The narration decision was a tough one. I’m not a professional voice actor, but I have two big advantages that a voice actor doesn’t have–the words are my words, and I know all the characters, including what’s not in the book. That, coupled with the quality control that comes from doing my own recording and the tight timeline, means I’ve decided to narrate my own book. I know author-narrators aren’t the most common approach, but I suspect it’s more because production companies that buy audio rights want their own talent doing the talking. There certainly seems to be an interest in hearing an author tell their story in their own words, hence the popularity of author readings. And, of course, the other big advantage to narrating it myself lies in keeping down the overhead costs–there’s a reason so many audiobooks cost a fortune when you have to pay a cast of thousands. I’m thinking I can produce an audiobook worth listening to at a price my audience can afford to pay.

Since I can’t record the way I write (nonstop for hours), this means I’m still able to work on my next book in the series, ROGUE. But I will do one thing differently with the second book–I’ll record the book as part of the final proofread, but before I publish it. How efficient is that?

And maybe I’ll try podcasting…!


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Surprise Book Birthday!

A funny thing happened on Monday, July 15th.

I had just received my finished book cover and realized that for my book to be available in time for my blog tour that starts August 16th, I was going to have to get it into the distribution system well before that date. I also figured Murphy’s Law was still in force, so I expected surprise problems when I started uploading on Smashwords. (If I have a mantra, it would be, “it’s always something….”)

I uploaded, and sure enough, there was something wonky in the formatting, despite all my precautions to make sure there wasn’t—the known formatting issues stopped with Word 2007, and I’ve got Word 2010, though I saved the files as Word 97-2003 docs. So, I got rid of some surprise XML and hidden text, and tried again. The only change in the error message was the line numbers where the problems were—somewhere in the front matter and Table of Contents, which looked fine in EPUB. I fussed for a couple hours (it was already past my bedtime when I started) and called it a night, then discovered that while I was fussing and re-uploading, I’d had two of my sample pages downloaded!

That was a shock—but not a bad one!

I’d hoped to have the EPUBCHECK problem worked out before anyone discovered my book was out there. Except for this blog and my web site, and the FB author page and Twitter posts that go out whenever I make a post here, no one really knows about my book, so I figure the wonderful cover Kirsi made, and my blurb, were doing their job in those few hours when my book was at the top of the home page of Smashwords.

Long story short, I’d made my first sale on Smashwords in twelve hours, and three more in the next twenty-four hours! Not one for the record books, I’m sure, but I still take it as an encouraging sign.

Since then, I’ve uploaded Legend of the Spider-Prince #1: REBEL on Amazon as an ebook, and in the first twenty-four hours there, I also made four sales!

The score now sits at five sales on Smashwords and four sales on Amazon, with nineteen additional samples downloaded on Smashwords!

As for the mystery error, I rooted it out today, so my ebook is now set to go out to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. I also finished my paperback edition’s layout and ordered my proof, so it also should be ready to go when the blog tour kicks off in August. I also posted Chapter 4 on my web site.

After so many years of writing in total obscurity, it has been an amazing week, the more so for this all being completely unexpected. So, a HUGE THANK-YOU to those brave souls who took a chance on a completely unknown author—I hope my book delivered on its promise, and left you entertained and wanting more.

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