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How to publish an ebook the cheap way

kindle, formating kindle ebookSo, as I wrap up the last release for Robot Awareness, Part IV, and by this point I’ve gotten my publishing down to a science. (And by science, I mean a lot of “how did I do that again?”) I remember the first time I published — I spent half a day trying to figure out the formatting, trying to get it just right and work out the bugs. It’s really a pain.

But it’s really not that bad, once you know what you’re doing. You could hire a professional formatter, but for a lot of us newer authors are books aren’t making a ton, and any money invested is better spent on book covers or advertising. Unless you want something really fancy, or have illustrations (I’ve never tried it, but I might with the anthology), then maybe you want to hire a professional.

So, I thought I would lay out my process for anyone interested — I had a heck of a time finding this info when I started, so maybe someone else will save some headaches reading this.

Start with Open Office: I used to write in Bean, a defunct but still available editing program for Mac. I like it because it’s simple and stays out of my way. But you need either Open Office or Word for the formatting you need to do. I was copying and pasting but for future releases I started writing right in ODT. At some point I might buy Scrivener, which makes things even way easier, I understand, but this is what I use for now.

  • Formatting styles: When you’ve gotten your finished text, open up the styles and formatting tab (command T on mac in ODT). You’ll be saving as an ODT file by the way, which makes conversions easier. Select all of the text and choose either text body indent (in Open Office, you have to double click for the change to take effect). Next, go through and select each chapter heading and select Heading1. I actually think just about any heading will do, but that’s the one I prefer.
  • Tabbing: Now, last part, and this is really important. Select all the text. Go to the paragraph tab, and in the box next to first line indent, type in 0.15. (Or more or less, depending on your preference. This setting is a pretty minimal indent.) This is super important! If you don’t do this step, your text will all run together. Your tabbing won’t matter, because Kindle doesn’t recognize it. There will be no tabbing and all your text will look run together!
  • Conversion: Here’s where things get weird. I learned I have to convert from  the ODT file to epub (find a free converter online). For some reason KDP won’t recognize the file if I convert it to mobi, its format, but it will happily convert the epub file (which is iBooks format) to mobi. Definitely spent some frustrating time figuring that out!
  • Preview: Definitely use the online preview to make sure things work right. It pulls up an simulated kindle so you can see how it looks. How it looks on the virtual screen is how it will look on someone’s device.
  • Bonus: Hyperlinks work. I was pretty thrilled to discover I could add a hyperlink in ODT and it would translate. So you can hyperlink the title of the next book in the series, and send readers to further releases, not to mention a newsletter.

I hope that helps! I would be happy to answer any questions anyone has too. I’m planning to play around with scrivener some time soon, because I think it would streamline things. But for now, this takes a little work but not a ton, once you know what you’re doing.



daredevil, marvel, mathew murdoch

Daredevil: A fun series that needed better research

daredevil, marvel, mathew murdochI just about fell off my couch, I was screaming so loud at the TV. I’m usually not vocal when I watch TV shows but the premise being thrown out willy nilly was so ridiculous I couldn’t contain myself.

On the series Daredevil, a Netflix Marvel series, a newspaper editor tells his reporter, a character who later becomes central to the story, that crime stories don’t sell any more, and that he should do a story on the possibility of a new metro line.

You’ve got to be kidding me. Listen, as someone who made a living covering crime, I can tell you that maybe no more ridiculous an assertion has ever been made in the history of journalism being portrayed on TV. Of all the things that generate views, clicks and internet commentary, crime and sports are the top two. While I saw other beats being condensed all around me, my crime beat remained untouched.

Continue reading “Daredevil: A fun series that needed better research”

Do I regret my decision to be an indie author? Nope

imagesBack in 2009, I started writing Robot Awareness. I had a vision for it — once completed, I would start shopping it around to publishers. If no one bit, I would find a way to publish it myself. It’s a story I love, and I wanted to see it in print.

Sometime around 2013, I came across the book Wool. I read it and loved it, so much. But what fascinated me was how it was written and published – Hugh Howey completely published it himself. The more I read, and the more authors I learned were doing this, the more intrigued I became.

Self-publishing used to have the stigma attached to it that meant the author couldn’t get published by a traditional arm. It was a last resort of the unpublished desperate to see the work in print. Authors such as Howey, Michael Bunker, Nick Cole and Susan Kaye Quinn changed my mind. I saw how an author could have success on their own, without a publisher, and control every aspect of the work and how it’s presented.

Continue reading “Do I regret my decision to be an indie author? Nope”

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Robot Awareness Part I ebook is free today on Kindle!

ebook, sci-fi, robot awareness, ebook, indie publishingJust a little note to let you all know Robot Awareness: Part I is free today!

For a little background, here is the description from Amazon:

Isellia dreams of following in her father’s footsteps and becoming the greatest XR racer around, and popular media exploded with predictions of her success early on. The only problem? She never finished a race. Sponsors of the spaceship racing circuit quickly shied away from her after each race ended in calamity. To earn money she teams up with a crew of smugglers (aHEM – Cargo transporters): Porter, a caring and protective man with a bit of a messiah complex; Joey, a boy they rescued from a mining planet; and the obtuse robot Joey repaired which now follows him around loyally. The crew barely makes ends meet and Isellia’s dreams appear to be on permanent hold until a pair of mysterious passengers introduce them to people and situations beyond their imagination. While Porter and the crew grow increasingly concerned what they’re being drawn into, Isellia could care less; this looks to finally be her shot at breaking into the XR circuit.

It’s one of the last days I could make it free this period, so I didn’t do a lot of promo for it. But if you haven’t downloaded it, I recommend you check it out!

If you like it, Parts II and III are also available for $0.99 apiece. Part IV (and V for that matter) is written, and I plan to release it a little later this year.

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Is Olivia Munn a fake geek girl? No, there’s no such thing

psylocke, olivia munn x-men, fake geek girlThis post came up on Dr. Nerdlove lately and it brought something to my attention I hadn’t previously ever even heard of: Olivia Munn is a fake geek girl. Apparently.

At least that’s what some people apparently believe. This was all news to me. I didn’t know that Olivia Munn considered herself a geek girl, let alone that people would consider her to be faking it.

Is Oliva Munn a fake geek girl? No, because there is no such thing. You can’t fake something that has no barrier to entry in the first place.

The fact that there even would be such a thing is a foreign concept to me. I guess I come from a time when even geeks didn’t want to be known as geeks, let alone someone that didn’t have to be. When I grew up, you wore your Star Trek shirt knowing it was going to get you beat up. You knew letting that information out branded you somehow, and that you would be looked down upon.

There were women in this group too. They were usually social outcasts as we were. They faced the same marginalization we did, if not worse.

Continue reading “Is Olivia Munn a fake geek girl? No, there’s no such thing”

Get a free kindle book Friday and Saturday: Robot Awareness Part I!

sci-fi, novel, writing, fiction,
The cover for the first release of the science fiction fantasy novel, Robot Awareness.

In honor of EgoCon in Stevens Point (which I totally planned out and was in no way a random coincidence), I will be giving away Robot Awareness: Part I absolutely free!

That’s right – pick up the adventures of Isellia, Joey, the Robot, Porter, Rex, Stephen and Celia as they try to find their way in a corporate-controlled world that doesn’t have much use for misfits such as them. Isellia’s is the most poignant story — a teenage girl, the daughter of a great XR racer, seemingly destined to be great herself, now crashed and burned, lost her sponsors and found work with a smuggling crew. Her goal is to save enough to take the guns off her XR and pay the entry fee, and reclaim her spot as a racer. But traveling through space with them are four mysterious passengers who have other ideas.

The book is in three parts, and the fourth will come out this year. I’m currently working on a follow up story to The Sand Runner, and plan to start revising Part IV. But Part IV will cap off only the first book – Robot Awareness: The Inner Circle is the second part of the series, and I’ve written the first part of that as well. They are basically two novels, told in serial form.

While I learned a lot and since have refined my writing/editing process, I still think Robot Awareness is a good read. That’s what I aim to do with my books. I think there are some deeper themes in Robot Awareness, but I always set out to write a book that’s entertaining first. If it’s not fun to read, what’s the point?

Anyway, enjoy the first part for free today and Saturday!

Why you should never apologize for your previous work

kindle-254339_640I remember the conversation vividly: “Here’s a promo card for my book, but my newest work is the one I’m most proud of.”  I said this to Tim Seeley, creator of Hack/Slash and Revival, the latter which is set in my hometown. Mainly it felt nice to reconnect with a former high school classmate, now both as creators. (There’s a part of me, of course, that dreamed he would read one of my works and want to recreate it as a graphic novel. Hey, a guy can dream!)

I’ve had a few of these conversations with people. There’s a part of me that wanted to erase Robot Awareness’s existence. The series is my first effort (something I’ve later learned is a mistake) and when I think what I’m writing now, it doesn’t hold up, or at least that’s how I feel. As Ira Glass once said, you have to write poorly before you can write good. Chuck Lorre has said something similar, I believe, in one of his vanity cards.

Don’t get me wrong — I love Robot Awareness. I love the characters, and I love that they’ve surprised me as I’ve read the series. I think the story is a good one, and I think I shaved enough needless story arcs out of the series to make it worth reading.

Robot Awareness was a learning process. I’ve felt that it taught me how to tell a story in the long term, to build toward something. There are things I did right: knowing exactly how the story is going to end and working toward that; and wrong: trying to mix together way too many themes and plot threads. I think I narrowed it down and later installments are much more focused and to the point.

But what about Part I? There’s always been this fear that Part I was beyond saving, that because it was the first part, that no matter how many revisions it would never live up to future installments, or other projects that I’d undertaken. I almost felt apologetic about it.

That’s where I was a week ago when I set up a free promo for the series. I decided to open up the ODT file and do a little polishing. I read the first couple of scenes…

…and didn’t change a thing. I was taken aback. It was exactly as I wanted it. After reading the first couple of chapters, other than a couple quick tweaks, I scrolled to the bottom, updated the end note to link to Part II, and decided I was good to go.

I felt embarrassed. Why was I so convinced that Part I was so horrible? It really wasn’t. Granted, it took a lot of revision to get to that point. Much more than I would need these days.

But I also felt relieved. It’s a good book. It’s not perfect, but I set out to write a thrilling sci-fi read with a deeper message for those interested, and something enjoyable. It’s fun to read – that’s the most important thing to me.

So this weekend, as I travel to EgoCon and offer free copies, I can do so proudly.

Robot Awareness: Part I will be free this Saturday and Sunday. Or, read it free any time on Kindle Unlimited.