Archive for December, 2011

This was linked-to by scbeam from the KDP Community support forum:

‘How to triple your membership of authors groups in seven days’

… the best/saddest part of it is, that the author (Penelope) didn’t actually sell any books …


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Over the last few days I’ve downloaded several samples from fellow Kindle self-publishers. All of them represent determination to tell a story, but some do it much better than most. All too often it seems that we authors are our own worst enemies.

(1) The biggest barrier between author and reader is spelling and grammar: some authors don’t use a spell-checker (I assume this must be deliberate, because a spell-checker is so easy to use). This can make it very difficult to follow a narrative.

(2) Formatting is a real problem. Even if you have a decent set of software, it will do all it can to lose  indents, insert extra pages and generally mess up the book. It’s essential to check everything before uploading to Kindle. Readers can have trouble following a book through blank pages. I’ve spent a lot of time over the holiday checking formatting.

(3) … and blank pages can really mess up a sample. The Kindle sample is 10% of the book. If there are extra blank pages at the start of a short book, the reader can end up with a sample that doesn’t actually have any of the book’s text!

(4) And if the prelims are too long (copyright pages, disclaimers, acknowledgements, Part One, separate Chapter pages) again the reader discovers that the sample doesn’t have any of the book’s text in it.

(5) But the most difficult barrier for me is a book which isn’t written in standard English. I assume that this reflects the author’s background. That would be fine – after all, Kindle self-publishing allows everyone to find their own voice. However, it means that I have to use part of my mind translating as I go along. This is interesting and instructive but not very relaxing; and I read things on Kindle to relax rather than to be instructed.

I wonder what demand there would be for a Kindle copy-editing service: in return for buying my Kindle e-book @87p, I’ll check spelling and grammar on your e-book …

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So far, I’ve found two major problems with putting books on Kindle, both of which were dealt with by publishers under traditional publishing methods.

(1) Formatting. In traditional publishing, this is called ‘typesetting’. It means making sure that the book looks good on the page. All the html and epub converters do not seem to solve the problem of blank pages appearing in unexpected places, or all the indents suddenly disappearing. So it’s necessary to proofread and proofread and proofread again (no change there, then).

(2) Merchandising. The author has to do all the publicity for the book: and this is extremely time-consuming, possibly with no obvious return. At least when the traditional publisher got zero sales, the author could blame the publisher. Now, the only person we can blame is ourselves, which is not very satisfactory when we are doing all the things that Kindle and the Kindle Community recommend!

Back to the problem of cover pictures …

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Christmas! All over the western world, people are on the internet, spending their online gift tokens, downloading on to their e-readers and their MP-3 players (etc.), updating their blogs and facebook pages, and tweeting or skyping to their friends.  Why aren’t we out and about, seeing our friends and family? Because our friends and family are at the other end of the country or on the other side of the globe, and this is the quickest way of contacting them! And also, I don’t know about where you are, but here it’s cold, dark and wet outside, whereas the internet is warm and dry. I’ll be out on the hills tomorrow if it stops raining; otherwise I’ll be indoors, tidying up the next Gray story and sorting out the cover picture.  Greetings of the season, everyone!

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Why should an author whose work is selling quite nicely, thank you very much, and who has more publishers asking her to submit work than she has time to sign up to, decide to branch out into Kindle?

For a start, Kindle gives the author some independence. This may or may not be a good thing. As an author, I prefer to be allowed to work in my own way, without interference from an agent/ commissioning editor/ copy editor. As an editor (I do that too), I realise that most authors really do need an editor, or at least a copy editor, to correct their spelling and polish up their style – and sometimes to re-write the whole book.

Kindle also allows an author to do something Completely Different. Let’s try something completely new, break out of the rut, enjoy ourselves! Maybe, just maybe, some readers out there might enjoy it too. On the other hand, without the publicity machine of a publisher behind a book, it’s much more difficult for those readers to find it.

In my own case, I’ve been writing fiction for fun and emailing it to friends, who can in turn email their own material back to me. Kindle offers us a means of doing that more easily, without the risk of files getting damaged or lost in transit. They’ve all read Gray Matters, but I’ve put that one up first because it was in good order. More stories to come!

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Hello world!

I’m a professional writer who has just started ‘Kindle’ publishing in a completely new field. So as not to confuse my faithful fans I’m using a mixed up version of my name for these new books!

The first book I’ve put on Kindle is Gray Matters, which can be found on Amazon.co.uk here:


And on Amazon.com here:


If you want to ask me about Gray Matters or any other Gray story, this blog is the place to do it.

Gray Matters is made up of three novellas, telling the stories of three individual young women searching for a career. In the first story, Tais wants to be a priest, but hates working indoors.  Beth is determined to get out of tax and doesn’t care if she has to cross the galaxy to achieve it; Sonja needs a job off-planet quickly before her previous boss finds out what she’s done to the company accounts. The good-looking but enigmatic Gray is around to make sure that none of their plans work out quite as expected. These stories are set in a future galactic empire, where the emperor is popularly believed to be divine and humans have to share civilisation with other intelligent races who have widely-differing cultural norms. The stories explore the crises of everyday life, such as finding a job, alongside deeper questions of the morality of power, what humans worship and what they expect from their gods.

Cover of ‘Gray Matters’

 If you want to sample the book, it’s easy to do with Kindle: just download a sample from Amazon.com or from Amazon.co.uk for free!

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