In the mood for a quick read? I’ve got just the thing for you–a short story! It’s called Blue Sky, and you can buy it on Amazon for just 99 cents. Read it while on the treadmill, while waiting for your duaghter’s gymnastic practice to end, or as you drum your fingers wishing that download would finish up.
Nell Malone’s life is changing, big time. Still grieving over the death of her husband two years earlier, she grapples with the empty nest syndrome as her daughter leaves for college. But a visit to Santa Fe yields new insights into herself–and the tantalizing prospect of a relationship with an intriguing artist. This is a short story about loss and love.
And some reviews:
“This is a wonderfully human story about our dilemmas, how intense they can be, and how our escape makes us who we are.” J.D.
“A quick easy read, this story resonated with anyone starting a new phase of life.” Danielle
“Dixon does a fine job herem with a well-written story that will resonate, I think, with any adult going through some difficult changes.” Christopher
Ever since I wrote part one of this post, I've been obsessed with worry that I'm misrepresenting Amazon. As in, presenting this rosy view of everything that you can do on the site without also showing the down side. So, here's an article that does that. And I want to state again that I fall down somewhere in the middle on the Amazon issue. I like to think I can see both sides of the issue clearly. In some ways, the issue is about much more than Amazon. It's about the collision of the old style legacy publishing and the new digital revolution. But, of course, since Amazon spearheaded the revolution, it is difficult to take them out of the picture.
What I see is that each side often knows little about the other and it is my job on this blog to tackle the big picture–tackling all aspects of the writing life. So I do my best to share what I learn. And what I learned at AWP was that Amazon, love it or hate it, offers quite a range of tools and programs for writers.
Amazon Author Central. Once you have a book or two published, you can create your own page for them. The cool thing is that you can put whatever you want to on it, such as links to your site or sign-ups for your mailing list, an author bio, a rant about politics–anything. You can also link to your blog so that posts automatically update, and your Twitter feed. For an example, you can see my page here. You essentially get your own web page for free.
Metadata on your book listing page. I'm essentially clueless about this, but as I understand it, you can list keywords (and lots of 'em) of your own choosing in order to drive Amazon's search engines to your listing. Read more about this here.
Create Space.This is Amazon's service for creating hard copies of your book through print-on-demand technology.
Kindle Direct Publishing. And this would be the Ebook arm of the indie publishing services. Many authors start here and branch out to other formats.
ACX. You can now also create audio versions of your book. This website is essentially an exchange where you can find actors to read your book, and audition them. You can then pay them upfront or with a cut of your royalties. Cool, huh?
Their own publishing imprints.Amazon also has their own publishing imprints, covering mystery, romance, women's fiction, science fiction, fantasy and horror, literary fiction, young adult, self help, non-fiction, memoirs and short stories. In other words, just about everything. Note, however, that their submissions page says they are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts at this time. My idea is that they look for indie publishers who are doing well and offer them contracts.
Kindle Worlds. Fan fiction now has a legitimate outlet that you can actually make money on. I don't get it–either why you want to write in a world that someone else invented or how exactly this works. But if you're interested, click the link and find out more.
Amazon Associates. You can earn money just by putting links to Amazon to your page. I used to do this years ago but it never amounted to much and didn't seem worth the time. But I probably ought to revisit it.
Goodreadsis a book-lover's site, and yes it is now owned by Amazon. There was a big stink when they bought it last year. People say Goodreads is great for authors, but I myself have never gained traction on it, which probably says more about me than them.
Kindle Singles. The tag line for this is compelling ideas expressed at their natural length. Ebooks have renewed enthusiasm for short stories and novellas and this program takes advantage of that. And the good news is that you can submit to them manuscripts from 5,000 to 30,000 words.
No doubt, by the time this post is published, there will be even more programs and services for authors offered by Amazon. You can see why people believe they are out to conquer the world.
And bear in mind…that many other publishing platforms exist, such as Barnes and Noble, Lulu, and Smashwords, to name only a few. As far as I know, however, none of them offer quite the extensive range of services for authors that Amazon does. If I'm wrong, please let me know.
Okay, that's it. That's all I know. Over the next few months, I plan to experiment with Amazon publishing myself. My novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, was published by a small press that took advantage of Amazon's CreateSpace and Kindle Publishing. I think the book looks good (I'm not biased or anything). But the marketing part has been hard. And I'm hearing over and over again that the best way to market is to make sure there's more work up for people to buy, so…I have a few short stories that I'm going to publish myself to bolster my presence on the site, so we'll see what happens. And I have a few ideas for genre pieces, as well. I'll keep you all apprised on my progress! I'd be crazy not to give it a whirl.
I also have a new novel I'm working on that I would love to see published by a legacy publisher. Unless something drastic happens to change my mind, when I finish the book by the end of the year, I'll be going the traditional route and looking for an agent. So I'm a believer that we need to be open to all the opportunities we have available to us as writers.
Writing for Amazon Kindle seems like a godsend for a new author. The fact that you can actually see your book up for sale on Amazon, available to a world-wide audience, is in itself a wonderful experience.
Over the years, like me, you may have submitted your manuscript to publishing houses and agents only to receive a generic letter of rejection. I have often wondered, whether or not a new author’s work even gets read… Anyway, for me, all that printing of hard-copy with the addition of supplying return postage and packing is now a thing of the past. I have written and converted two Kindle books, Gavin’s Music a story for adults based on my experiences as a musician back in the 1960s and The Corridor, a fantasy book for kids from the age of around 10 years.
My E-Publishing Experience
Uploads are made to the KDP section of Amazon kdp.amazon.com and if you already havean account with Amazon, you simply sign in with your e-mail address and password. Next you will be taken through a few forms requesting name, address, bank details for payment and the usual IRS forms for U.S and tax exempt declarations for non U.S. citizens.
And then you are ready to get down to the business of uploading your e-book.
The first thing I realized was that before it went live, my e-book would need a cover and using an artist or specialized e-book cover creator could be expensive, so I took a few photographs and then used my trusty Adobe Photoshop Elements to create a cover. My first book, Gavin’s Music, was the story of a young musician (pianist) working and playing his way through the world of the sixties British nightclub scene, which was based on my own experience. I have my own piano, so I took a photograph of the keyboard and as a background, a photograph of a musical score and layered one on top of the other. It took me quite a while tweaking the cover and showing it to writing friends before deciding on the finished article, but the finished cover can be seen here.
Before I went ahead with my first upload, I procrastinated a lot. This is something that did not occur when I used to send off my hard copies, possibly something to do with the fact that KDP was going to publish my book for all the world to see right now! Wow!
I also heard that getting the right format for the Kindle which is .mobi file, could be more than a little tricky. However, when I finally disciplined myself and got around to it, I found the whole process easy because I cheated… I purchased a software program specifically created for the task that really took the stress out of converting from my word processor to a .mobi file called The UEC (Ultimate E-book Creator).
This piece of software certainly didn’t disappoint and the format of my books proved to be excellent as I could create them as they would appear on a Kindle on my computer before uploading to Amazon.
What I Did
I copied and pasted my book chapter by chapter from my word processor files into the UEC software and then attached my Kindle to my computer and loaded the finished book onto it. There was something wrong though. The spaces between paragraphs looked huge on the smaller screen, so I decided to get rid of the double spacing between paragraphs and opt for indented paragraphing instead. Perfect!
For current price of $67, the UEC software, in my opinion, was worth every penny. It is available here and a full video demo of the product is available on their home page explaining how it all works in greater detail.
You can upload as a Word document or an html file, but I have heard that often times it can all go terribly wrong… the formatting can change in the conversion process. How true that is I do not know, because coward that I am, I never even ventured to try! But let me explain.
I consider myself fairly savvy at html and most other computer tasks, having written my own websites using html code, but I had a lot of “what ifs” regarding the technical side of presenting a whole novel, and what ran through my nagging mind was that I would risk embarrassment if the format of my book looked a mess to the first people who read it.
But through the process, I later discovered that whatever method you use you will get the opportunity to preview your e-book exactly how it would appear on a Kindle whilst still in draft mode on Amazon, and it will stay in draft mode until you select and click “Publish”. Amazon then does a spell check, and does seem to be able to detect names and nicknames and other obvious non-dictionary words and ignore them. I had practically proof-read my novel to death but Amazon found just one typing error. I quickly changed that, resaved my UEC .mobi file and uploaded it again within minutes. Another spell check and it registered zero spelling mistakes.
So my book is up on Amazon and now people need to know it is there. I need to promote it. So far I have tweeted, and also posted to my Facebook account. There has been some downloads and interest in the book from friends and I’ve had one review on Amazon. I have also started a blog on blogger.com and have done some Google searches on novel e-book promotion. But this is early days and I hope to come back sometime in the future with a post telling all about my great success.. Well, one has to stay positive!