(E-Publishing) Halloween Sweets

I’ve been pounding on a keyboard for two months and I’ve worn away all the skin on my finger pads, so now it’s just bones clicking buttons, and they want to tell you, BUY MY BOOK.

But where is it?

Well, sonny Jim, it’s here! On Amazon.com right now, today, the whole gar-darn thing.

It’s called Halloween Sweets and it’s about a teenage girl who can raise the dead, and THAT, let me tell you, gets her in a whole boat load of trouble.

More than a boat load.

Like a titanium reinforced hippopotamus who just stuffed his gourd full of so much TROUBLE that even his excrement could kill the poor sucker who made the mistake of looking at it (much less smelling it…hey, remember this article?)

What’s that? Coffee now pumps through my veins instead of blood?

Buy my book.

I want to talk about e-publishing here (that’s this column’s jam, right? Digital culture?). But I’d rather tell you that we’re all maniacs, everyone who ever put a pen to paper or punched a keyboard for so long he could feel the rhythm still dancing on his fingertips in his sleep.

Have you ever had a dream where you’re putting together sentences?

I hadn’t until this summer, and now I feel with confidence that I am a writer (Hallelujah!)

Do thoughts of grammar wet your sheets?

They do?

Do you make up imaginary friends that obsess your thoughts? That you write about and you craft stories around and you sometimes kill?

Then I love you, unequivocally, all the time, forever and ever, I love you.

Because you’re like me, you see.

In another life, we might have been criminals.

So let’s get to it: a listy of things I’ve learned about e-publishing so far (and this atomic boogie just dropped last Friday, so I’m sure I have a lot more to learn).

1) Reformat your book before you ePublish. Halloween Sweets is now an amazon.com exclusive for ninety days, so I can’t speak about formatting for SmashWords or Barnes & Noble, but I imagine it’s a similar process. That process goes something like this:

Me: “I’ve just completed my novel! Hooray! I’m so excited to upload my book!” (clicks upload) “Hooray! I can’t wait to preview my book!” (clicks preview) “WHAT THE $%*!?”

Because, you see, what happened to me in that scene is what will happen to you if you don’t reformat your book. I’d made Halloween Sweets all prettified and sexified for anyone who wanted to read a PDF of it, but eBooks are HTML documents. Which means they don’t care how many times I hit tab or the spacebar to make things look pretty. They don’t care about all my fantsy-schmantzy font-sizing schemes I’ve cooked up like a Bond villain with bad hair and literary aspirations (eBook readers can choose the font size themselves, and therein lies the trap). Luckily, Amazon provides you with a helpful little guide that navigates you through the process of formatting for their Kindle (and there are plenty of great tutorials online), but make sure you read those things and pay attention, or your title screen will look like this:

H
ALL
O
WEE
N                                       SWEETS

By Some Jerk Who Loves Alphabet Soup

Amazon always (thankfully) let’s you preview your book before it goes live, which gives you plenty of time to return to your manuscript and reformat the living snot out of it before anyone else will see it and feel your bottomless shame.

2) You should probably advertise before you sell something. I picked that tip up here and it’s totally rad advice and, in hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t do that. I’ve known I was working on a book forever, but I think I didn’t make a stink about it because:

a) I love surprises (hence, I love Halloween! The only time it’s appropriate to sneak up behind someone dressed as a blood soaked alien and scream at them and scare them out of their wits and then steal all of their candy…right?)

b) I thought I was Beyonce, and could just release my album without advertising (complete with music videos!) and watch it shoot its way to the top of the charts like a red hot loogie that had just been percolating in the back of my throat. (mmmm).

But Beyonce was right: I wasn’t ready for this jelly. Which leads me to point 3…

3) Promoting yourself is awkward, man! I feel like I’m inevitably going to become that guy who is constantly running around in tight circles acting like my head is on fire and my clothes are full of leeches, screaming, BUY MY BOOK! (Or, you know, READ MY ARTICLE!) And I’d prefer not to be that guy? But seriously: sometimes you do feel like your head is on fire and your clothes are full of leeches, and that must be why you are writing in the first place. So my last bit of advice here is to mingle. You know, boogie with others. What’s the word for it?

Network!

You know:

N    ET
W
O
R
K

Which is stereotypically anathema to authors, because we approach the rest of the world with suspicion–sniffing out odd little idiosyncrasies (while, I’m sure, oozing our own), wondering how exactly we’re going to fit you into our next book/movie/article-for-Digital-America.

But the bottom line is this: you want people to sell your books, so you need to reach as many people as possible, which might go against every one of your awkward/social anxiety/OCD impulses, but if you’re self-publishing, you are also going to have to be self-promoting.

So I guess it’s time to see if I’ve got what it takes to self-promote this snarling little puppy beast and see if I can’t get a few happy customers to snap open their coin purses and plunk down their hard earned cash for my book.

I think they should, though, because the book is totally awesome! (<–unbiased opinion).

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