To tweet or not to tweet…

I have no idea why I started a Twitter account, but everyone seems to think a writer should have one. Quite frankly, as a writer, I find it rather irritating. I don’t like the limited space. I don’t like the choppy “tweets”.  I don’t like sounding like a poorly educated urchin.

And it looks so sloppy.

Anyway, I’m over there trying to figure it out. The fun part is I get to drop in on Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) occasionally and see what he’s up to.  *sigh*

If you’re on Twitter, pop on by @BelkoMj .

Oh, and #WinthropRiskDetective .

Word-2-Kindle Rocks!

You’ll recall I had pulled my new book, Winthrop Risk, Detective, from Kindle because I couldn’t get the formatting right.  A little Google search turned up a service called  Word-2-Kindle.com and with a little help from the wonderful Nick Caya, my book is professionally formatted and is officially for sale on Kindle!

Amazon’s CreateSpace wanted $79 to format the book for Amazon’s Kindle.  Displeased with Amazon scratching its own back at my expense, I went in search of a more reasonably priced and responsive service.  Enter Nick of Word-2-Kindle!  For $49, he had my book reformatted within 2 days.  When I had trouble opening the file (not Nick’s fault but due to my own lack of computer savvy), my plea for help was answered in just minutes and I was able to finish the Kindle publishing process.

As self-published authors, we have to wear a lot of hats:  writer, creative director, publicist, marketing guru, etc.  One thing I can’t be is a computer whiz. I tried.  Believe me, I tried. I figured I could keep trying and failing or I could admit my shortcomings and employ someone who knew what they were doing. I think I made a good call.

 

 

 

Quite the Learning Curve

There’s a lot you don’t know when you set about to self-publish your book.  Getting the manuscript to Amazon, ordering a proof, and getting it out there was pretty easy.  I did change the font and line spacing. Keep in mind that what looks OK on typewritten pages is pretty hard on the eyes in book form. Choose something bolder than Courier and definitely spend a few bucks (mine was about $5) and order a printed proof of your book. You won’t regret it. It’s probably something you can write off as a business expense; but since I have to pay someone to do my taxes because I can’t get past the part where I fill out my name, you might want to check with your accountant.  Just sayin’.

Then there’s Kindle. Create Space and Kindle are both Amazon related, so you would think the conversion of your book from the print form of Create Space would translate easily to the e-book form of Kindle. Shockingly, this is not so.  In fact, for those of us who are not computer literate (i.e., the over 50 crowd), the process can be quite frustrating. I kept doing what they said to do (at least what I thought they said to do) and the manuscript on the Kindle preview still looked choppy and ridiculous. I don’t do choppy and ridiculous.

Create Space will generously (wink, wink) reformat your manuscript to work on Kindle for a paltry sum of $79 (US).  In my more paranoid moments, I think Create Space is just drumming up business for itself by screwing up the manuscripts it sends over to Kindle. Not one to be hornswoggled, I found another service that will do the deed for $49. If they do a good job I’ll sing their praises here.  If they screw it up, the blog post will be lengthy and vitriolic.

Anyway, I’m going to enjoy an adult beverage while I wait to hear back from the formatting dude.  Hopefully, I’ll have good news in the next day or so.

Well, that was anticlimactic.

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A few days ago, I announced to my Facebook friends that I had just self-published my first children’s book on Amazon, Winthrop Risk, Detective.  Aside from my husband and one of my sons (the other isn’t on Facebook), nobody responded.  Not one “like”.  Not one expression of congratulations.  Nothing.

I can still hear the crickets.

The day after my big flop of an announcement, a man delivered a bouquet of flowers to my house.  They were from my husband, John (my pet name for him is Bear).  That’s the card he sent with the flowers.

“Congratulations, it’s a boy! And his name is Winthrop Risk.  All my love, all my life.  Love, your Bear.”

Pretty cool, huh?

 

The Frustration Mounts

Getting a book self-published on Amazon is pretty easy and you can order a proof that lets you hold a physical copy of your book on actual paper and see how it looks. After ordering my first proof of Winthrop Risk, Detective, I realized the font I had chosen was too small and faint, so I resubmitted it in a different font and ordered a new proof. The second time around, the proof looked good and I put it up for sale on Amazon.

Then there’s Kindle.  I dutifully uploaded the book file, which they were then supposed to convert to be readable on a Kindle device. Unfortunately, what you submit as a Word document comes out a little messed up on Kindle. Some of the page breaks were bad, some of the paragraph spacing was wrong, and sometimes there were gaps in sentences that didn’t belong there.  After about an hour of trying to comprehend what they meant by formatting a Word document as an html whatever, I pulled the book from Kindle. I can’t fix the formatting and I don’t want the book to be published in a medium that makes it look slapped together. So my apologies, but the book will only be available as an actual physical book for the foreseeable future.

And so, the deed is done…

I did it. My first book, Winthrop Risk, Detective, is officially listed on Amazon and will also be available on Kindle in a few days.

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Now I have to get the word out. When I was submitting the story to traditional publishers, I had trouble categorizing the book, and that may have hurt my chances with them. It isn’t a picture book but it isn’t a novel, either. It’s a four chapter book that falls somewhere in between. A child of about 9 years of age should be able to handle it alone.  It runs about 36 pages and is a fun read, if I do say so myself.  Because the hero in the story uses a child’s version of 1930s detective vernacular, I included a little glossary of terms in the back of the book.  I hope you’ll check it out.  I plan for it to be a series (The Winthrop Risk Mysteries) and book two is in the very rough first draft stage.  Many thanks to the Lake Saint Clair Writers group for critiquing the manuscript for the first book and giving me the thumbs up.

OK, I’ve Been Neglecting You

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That little guy up there is Winthrop Risk.  He’s the lead character in my children’s book, Winthrop Risk, Detective–The Mystery of the Missing Hamster.

I just did the final touches on the book in Amazon’s Create Space, a self-publishing site. I’m nervously waiting for the final review before the book can be offered for sale. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a wreck.

So, where have I been for almost a year? Right here, working. But it’s been an all-around tough year. To sum up, my mother has been at death’s door since last fall and this has churned up all sorts of childhood crap, my husband’s last layoff lasted longer than expected so I’ve worked longer hours, we had to put the dog down, we got a puppy, my lovely mother-in-law passed away, and they recently found something suspicious on my mammogram (they’re 97% sure it isn’t cancer but I have to wait six months and do another mammogram).

Kind of takes the wind out of the creative sails, so to speak.

So why did I jump to self-publishing? Because I could. Because this isn’t a picture book. Because the children’s publishing scene looks so grim. Because the children’s book section is choked with slapped together stories based on cartoon characters. Because publishers don’t seem to be interested in original stories right now.

But mainly because I could.

I haven’t given up on doing the illustrations for my own picture books. In fact, I recently purchased an art kit for beginners. Did you know they make watercolor pencils?! With my first book in the chute, I can turn some of my attention to the picture aspect of the picture books and hopefully turn out something I can sell.

So, I just wanted to pop in and say hello. Hope my followers are all still out there. I’ll post an update when the book is actually for sale, which should be a few days.

Happy tales.