If you look over there on the right, you will see the cover for my new (and only) book, Ask the Agent: Night Thoughts on Writing and Book Publishing. It’s an e-book collection of the best writings from this blog. It required a considerable amount of editing and rearranging, and I added some new material as well. Last week I launched a “that attack” on the manuscript, managed to identify the word “that” over 500 times, and eliminated 350 of them. Designing the cover was easier than I thought. Of course, I had to use Photoshop, which takes months to learn. I took some old leather-bound books off my shelf and photographed the spines as the background and then superimposed the text. I had to crop it so that the ratio of height to width was 3:2.
Since Amazon won’t cooperate with anyone else, I had to format it and upload it twice. Once for Amazon’s Kindle Direct and once for Smashwords. The Amazon edition only works on Kindles. All the other major readers (iPad, Sony, Nook, Kobo) use the epub format which is available on Smashwords. It should be up on iTunes, Sony, Kobo, Indiebound, or from your local independent bookstore in the next few days.
Preparing it for Amazon Kindle Direct was easy. You take your MS Word manuscript and make a few formatting changes using Amazon’s simple instructions. When you upload the file, you can preview it on a viewer and see exactly how it will look on the various Kindle readers. That’s important to make sure the formatting is correct. Then you upload your cover and provide copyright information.
A few hours after I uploaded the file, I received an e-mail from Amazon telling me that they saw that much of the information in the book was already posted on line. They requested that I email them back with an explanation. Since I wrote all of the material and it is on the blog, there were no copyright infringement problems. But it’s good to know that Amazon is trying to do something about piracy. I wrote them an explanation and was back in business within 24 hours. I’m not sure how the technology for identifying this works, but it is nifty.
Formatting for Smashwords is more complicated but very do-able. Since Smashwords makes the text available in a wide range of formats, it has more stringent formatting requirements. Smashwords provides a step by step style manual that is written in plain English. When you upload the file, Smashwords will inform you if there are specific formatting issues.
I hope some of you will buy the book. I arranged it so that it’s much easier to read than the blog. I organized it into 4 sections that more or less coincide with the topics I’ve been writing about. The first section includes my agent-y advice to writers on getting published and finding an agent. There are numbered tips on query letters, book proposals and the like. The second section has writings about writing. The third is about book publishing. And finally I have written some recollections about my 35 years as a bookseller.
Thanks for reading this blog. I’ve had almost 200,000 page views since it began in 2009. I hope you enjoy the book.