debbie duncan's blog

on eBooks and all things orange

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First steps to publishing my novel as an eBook

by debbie duncan
debbie duncan
Writer in Stanford, Calif.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 07 February 2012
  1. Took Jane Friedman’s Writer’s Digest eBook webinar.
    A year ago I knew very little about self-publishing. Jane Friedman [@janefriedman on Twitter] was at least a dozen steps ahead of me. Her 90-minute webinar covered all the basics—eBook retailers, pricing, royalties, marketing and more. About a week later we received handouts with resources. The class is listed as an“OnDemand Webinar.” Ask for it!

  2. Got in the queue at eBook Architects.
    I’m a writer, not a techie. I know many authors convert their own books; I didn’t want to take a chance of messing up. Jane Friedman said that eBook Architects is “Perhaps the best in the business.” I don’t know about other services, but I can recommend Joshua and Chris and the entire team at eBook Architects without reservation. I give them credit for Caller Number Nine receiving a QED seal from Digital Book World. I paid only $150 for hours of one-on-one service. The only drawback was the queue: 11 weeks when I signed up. According to the website the wait is now 4-6 weeks. As it turned out, 11 weeks gave me enough time for the next step.
  3. Revised, revised, revised.
    By the time I decided to self-pub Caller Number Nine, it’d been run by my writers group, edited by beta readers, rewritten, revised, sent out again and gotten an encouraging reception by agents and the one publisher that saw it (snail-mail letter told me every editor in the division had read it). So what did I need to do? Go through the manuscript again, have an editor take another pass, and then copyedit. This was all before I received my book back from eBook Architects to proof.

  4. Bought an ISBN. Then had to buy the 10-pack.
    I knew I needed an ISBN; every book has one. I made the mistake of purchasing a single ISBN and not ten. (After all, I was publishing one eBook.) Then I learned that I really did need separate ISBNs for Amazon, iTunes (Lulu), Barnes & Noble and Google eBooks. Whoops. And the not-so-kind people at Bowker would not credit my initial $125 purchase toward the $250 I needed to spend for 10 ISBNs. Grrr. So now I am the proud owner of 11 ISBNs. (Good thing I plan to write more books.) I respectfully suggested that Bowker put such information on the website. Indeed they have. It’s under the header “Most Books Require More Than 1 ISBN.” 

  5. Hired a cover artist.
    Finding one was easy: Christy Hale is a friend and sits on my left at the monthly meetings of our writers group. She knows my book and is an industry pro. She gave me several covers from which to choose. I sent the samples out to my beta readers and ended up paying Christy for two. I love them both! I use the one I didn't choose as the wallpaper for my iPad. Someday I may change the cover; as an eBook publisher, I can do that. 

    As with eBook Architects and the Jane Friedman eBook webinar, I highly recommend Christy.


Next post: five more steps I took in the six months before publishing Caller Number Nine. Questions? Put them in the comments, or shoot me an email or tweet. I'm happy to help!

I've been traditionally published. So why did I self-pub my novel as an eBook?

by debbie duncan
debbie duncan
Writer in Stanford, Calif.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Top three reasons:

  1. I have confidence in my writing

    I have been published for 22 years: books for children and adults; newspaper columns and op-ed pieces locally and nationally; magazine articles; NPR essays; book reviews; children’s musicals. My picture book won a Benjamin Franklin medal as the best of its kind published that year by an independent press. I’ve worked with dozens of editors through the years, so I know they make my work better. Could an editor at a publishing house have improved my novel? Sure. Kidlit blogger extraordinaire Jen Robinson pointed that out in this otherwise positive review of Caller Number Nine. Every one of my several readers/editors/copyeditors/proofreaders made suggestions. But after a year of editing, I decided it was time to send my novel out into the world, and be proud of it.
  1. I was ready to move beyond the query/synopsis/will this agent take me on? phase

    Again, I felt confident that if I continued pursuing the query route, a traditional publisher would eventually buy my book, and I’d be another “This manuscript was turned down by (count-the-large-number-of) agents/publishers” examples. I never counted the number of agents I queried; it was at least 35. More than half asked for partials or fulls, and almost all of them wrote encouraging rejections. I submitted the manuscript to only one publisher, by email, and only because of a personal contact. Several months later I received a snail-mail letter from one of the editors telling me that every editor in the house had read it, and they seriously considered publishing it. But they didn’t know if kids today would want to read about 1967, and they thought my main character seemed young for an eighth-grader.

    Well, teens were younger in 1967. And I believe there’s always an audience for historical fiction. If I got that close with the only traditional publisher that saw it, I was ready to publish it myself—after several rounds of editing, copyediting, proofreading.
    That said, I used the kickass query that got me dozens of personal contacts with agents to good use as the book description for eBooksellers, and the pitch is always at the tip of my tongue. Synopsis? Worthless.
  2. There’s never been a better time for writers to self-publish

    I believed in my picture book, When Molly Was in the Hospital: A book for brothers and sisters of hospitalized children, so strongly I was willing to self-publish it back in the early 1990’s. Then I went to an SCBWI workshop and met a fellow who had published his book, and had stacks of boxes in his garage to prove it. “Trust me,” he warned, “you do not want to be a publisher.” Then he told me about a small press good with niche markets, and I sold Molly within a week. I never regretted that decision.

    A lot has changed in publishing since 1993 (she says, stating the obvious). In 2011, it’s the eBook revolution, baby. There are new devices and new ways to get books into those devices. Amazon, which is responsible for Molly still being in print, is now king of eBooks. Caller Number Nine looks darn good on a Kindle, and even better, I think, on my iPad. The new Nook is getting raves.

    I will never say self-publishing is easy (to do it right), but with minimal technical knowledge, a small investment and much perseverance, I was able to publish my book six months after one of my young early readers pulled out the pink binder of my manuscript to read again and asked her dad, a university English instructor, “Why hasn’t this book been published?”

I’m eager to share in this blog the steps I took—both forward and back—in the eBook process.

What would you like to know about turning a manuscript into an eBook?

It’s a blog - a debbie duncan blog, on eBooks and all things orange!

by debbie duncan
debbie duncan
Writer in Stanford, Calif.
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 08 September 2011

If you’ve known me a while, you’re probably aware that I’ve had a website since 1997 (when we undoubtedly spelled it “web site”) to spread the word about my books, plays, essays, KQED Perspectives and Palo Alto Weekly book reviews. When I joined Twitter in 2009 I said that I skipped the blogging stage and went to microblogging. I’ve enjoyed reading certain blogs—especially on the craft of writing—I found through Twitter and also by writers I know in real life, but I never felt the need to add more than my 140 characters.

Then last winter I decided to publish my first middle-grade novel as an eBook. In the six months between taking my first webinar and publishing Caller Number Nine, I learned a lot about publishing an eBook that I’m eager to pass on to other writers. And that takes more than 140 characters.

In the spring I completely revamped my website with the help of a terrific local designer. Carol is also helping me launch this blog.

I already have pages of topics to cover in my new blog. What would you like to know about publishing an eBook?