An Indie Files Interlude: Anatomy of an Ebook

I hope y’all had a merry Christmas! Yesterday was a first for me – I spent the day with the  BF and his family. It was…interesting.

But you’re not here for my tales of holiday shenanigans, right? You want to know how Rehab became a book.

I wrote Rehab over a year ago. Not much changed from the original story. There were bits of ridiculousness that I took out, but that was about it.

So I had my story. Next I needed a cover. I spent waaaay too much time on stock photo sites looking through pictures, trying to find an image that matched what I had in my head. It was hard. I eventually found the one I used on Shutterstock. They’ve got this neat little deal where you can get five downloads for $49, so I downloaded that image, plus the ones that will be used for the covers of Fracture and Hidden Scars. That leaves me with a few for teasers for Fracture. Hooray!

Next came the cover design itself. I’m a big fan of simpler is better, so I didn’t care so much about being able to layer images or do fancy-schmancy graphics on my cover. I took the original image and darkened the background using the photo editor that comes with Windows 8, then found this website, DIY Book Covers, that has a web-based editing program. The program allows you to flip your image around, add text, add layers (so you can have more than one image) and add fancy borders, corners, or dividers. It was fairly easy to use (once I figured out how to get the image the right size), and if you can’t figure something out, there’s a detailed Help section, complete with videos. When I played the videos, though, I couldn’t get any sound to play, despite having my sound turned on (yes, I checked).

I had my story and my cover. Next? Formatting.

I figured formatting would take forever, even though the story was only 6,700 words long. It did take a few hours, but thanks to Bree Bridge’s formatting post, it was mostly painless. I had a couple of issues with replacing the quotation marks. This is all on me; she does state at the beginning that she’s assuming you have a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, which I don’t. It could also be because I didn’t change the font to something that has curved quotes, like Times New Roman (I ended up with the Word default, Calibri, and it never occurred to me to change it because I hate serif fonts). The other thing she doesn’t cover is indents, so I Googled it and found the HTML code for it. I have to say, I was pretty damn impressed with myself that I actually got the fucking thing formatted (mostly) correctly and it looked like a real ebook should.

I needed a program that could convert my HTML file into an ebook. I’d heard about various programs with this ability (Calibre, Scrivener, Jutoh, to name a few) but ultimately went with Sigil. Sigil was a free download (I’m all about the free, yo) and I was intimidated when I opened the thing. What the hell had I gotten myself into? I read through the help manual (which was very clear and concise) and aside from the stupid thing with the quotes, it looked fabulous.

I really need to figure out that quote thing, because I ended up going through and fixing everything manually in Sigil. Fine when you’re working with a 6,700 word file. Not fine when it’s 67,000 words.

Anyway, I had separate files for each vendor (Amazon, B&N, and Kobo) because each had a different link in the back for One Night in Buenos Aires. I could have made it super simple and just linked back to Entangled’s website, but the less clicks your reader has to go through to what they want, the more likely they are to buy it. So. Separate files.

The second to last step was uploading. I used Draft2Digital because they allow you to upload to B&N and set the price as free, which was the important part. I uploaded to Amazon separately. Normally, when you’re uploading, this would be the point where you add in your ISBN (if you’re using one). I didn’t see the point in wasting one on a free book. Amazon assigns its own spiffy little code, and D2D will actually assign an ISBN, too, if you don’t put one in yourself. The downside to that is will list D2D as the distributor, so if you don’t want that, use your own. You can use the same ISBN for all copies of your ebook.

If you ever want to go free on Amazon without enrolling in KDP Select, here’s what you do: make sure your book is free on all other platforms. Report the lower price to Amazon (the more people who do this for you, the better). It may take some time for the price to lower, and Amazon does have the right to not price match, or if they do, to change it any time.

Reporting the lower price was the last step. I had a free ebook, just like I wanted!

I never thought Rehab would do much by way of sales. It’s actually not doing too badly as far as free downloads go. I’ve done almost no promotion. I’ve tweeted about it a few times, posted it on Facebook, and both Liv Rancourt and Golden Angel have posted it on their blogs (thanks, ladies!) For my readers who made an effort to find out what else I had to offer, I wanted something to tide them over until April, when Fracture releases. Someone added it to Goodreads (this is usually done through the Goodreads Librarian Group), so when you look up all the books by me, Rehab is on there.

That said, I had hoped that for the new readers downloading it for free that it would lead them to buy ONiBA, because, hey, it’s still only a buck. Yeah…not so much. Sales are less than stellar. There are probably reasons behind that; if I wanted to expend the brain power, I could probably figure it out and do something about it. One of those reasons may be the price. Some people believe the lower the price, the lower the quality, which drives readers away from your books. However, a disproportionate number of people who say that are other writers. As evidenced by the seemingly obscene numbers of readers who will read books with poor grammar, punctuation mistakes, and general ugh-ness in the story, I don’t think price is as big a factor as some think it is. After the first of the year, I may do another promotional push and query blogs who haven’t already been contacted about a review.

Anyway.

I was surprised at how much of this was easy to do, once I figured it out. Next month starts the serious prep-work for Fracture, so I’m glad to have this test run out of the way.

Questions? Comments? Hit me with ’em 🙂

 

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