Letting Out My Ebook Pants a Notch: Going Beyond Amazon

Barring any earthquakes or tsunamis or such-like, the next Sydney Brennan novel, The Perils of Panacea, will be released March 27, 2015. (At around 700 feet elevation a few miles inland, any tsunamis would have to be metaphorical or cataclysmic to directly affect our home; let’s hope for metaphorical.) Yay—happy writer dance! With the big date approaching, it seemed like a good time to get my website house in order, so I’ve made a few changes, and I’ll be doing a little more tweaking in the coming weeks. Take a look around and let me know what you think and if anything looks or acts wonky. (As I told my newsletter folks, your friends are the people who tell you when your underpants are showing.) In addition to a master book page, each Sydney book now has its own page with its blurb and any relevant extras, including previews. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, the blurb and a preview (the first two chapters) of The Perils of Panacea are live for your reading pleasure.

Person reading Kindle Ereader outside, by James Tarbotten on stocksnap.ioAnother thing I’ve done in anticipation of Panacea’s release is to diversify my ebook sales outlets. Back to Lazarus and Secrets in Stockbridge are now available on Kobo, Nook, and iTunes. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but I had to wait for them to come out of KDP Select. For those who don’t eat and sleep ebook publishing, Select is Amazon’s exclusive program, renewable every 90 days, that gives you promotional perks and puts your books in the Kindle Unlimited subscription program in exchange for you not selling your book anywhere else. (KU increases your visibility, but you’re paid about $1.30 a borrow instead of your usual sale percentage, no matter how much your book costs.) Lazarus has been sinking like a stone in water since coming out of Select (Stockbridge wasn’t selling anyway) but I’m hoping, like a good stock portfolio (note to self: get one of those), diversity is the right choice long-term.

Since I’ve been experimenting with these four ereader apps, I can say from experience that there are differences. Amazon is the big gorilla who’s been doing this forever (seven years is forever in the ebook world) so everything is easier. You’re used to shopping there already, every book is there, Amazon’s Hal-like algorithms know your preferences before you do, and they probably already have your financial information (and brain fMRIs) on file. In addition, actual Kindle ereader devices can be easier on your eyes than reading on a tablet. On the other hand, I think Kobo and iBooks have better-looking book files, files that appear and read more like a book. If you’re an ebook reader, or want to experiment with them (all the cool kids are doing it, and holding a tablet make you look thinner), I recommend downloading all the apps and checking out some free books to see what works for you. (I hear you can get Secrets in Stockbridge for free if you sign up for the author’s newsletter.)

Man Lying on Floor with laptop by  Phaitoon on freedigitalphotos.netLest you think all of these things happened in a straightforward way, that I actually know what I’m doing, let me just say, Au contraire, mon frére. (If the spelling auto-correct will let me.) With the benefit of distance, I can smile at things like the html mistakes in a couple of page titles that made the entire web site appear italicized. (I am perpetually reversing html letters and slashes, and I’m hoping you all slept through that.) But the website was nothing compared to the ebooks. Kobo’s process was painless (although my synopsis formatting won’t show up in the store listing). At the risk of perpetuating a positive stereotype, thank you, Canadians. But everyone else…

I can shake my head at the Nook previewer that—while uploading or shopping in the store—makes your title page look like it was done by a four-year-old, despite the fact that it’s fine when the book is downloaded. (Assuming you choose to buy a book from a four-year-old.) But I’m afraid I don’t yet have enough distance to talk about iBooks without raising my blood pressure. (And I have a Mac; you can’t even publish there without one.) How the people who brought us the iPod and the iPhone and so many pretty, shiny things masterminded such a [expletive-conjugated-expletive] process is beyond me. And I get to do it again in a few weeks. Yay. Every time I upload a file there, I manage to side-step another issue, and encounter the next one in line for my trouble. Maybe by the time I’ve published as many books as Stephen King, I’ll have it figured out. Or better yet, I’ll be paying someone else to do it. An author can dream.

[Man Lying on Floor by Phaitoon on freedigitalphotos.net, Kindle ebook reader by James Tarbotten on stocksnap.io]