Self-Publishing 1

12 01 2020

There are so many questions to answer before I can self-pub anything. And every time I get an answer it generates more questions!

So I have made some tentative decisions about what, where and when – subject to some more answers…

I’ve listed the previously published work – about 20 items between 2009 and 2014. I’ve put them into order to re-publish. After studying the list I decided to move some of the short stories to my Free Fiction page instead. I’ve combined a few related stories and decided not to do anything with a couple more. All of which leaves me with 12 almost ready-to-go manuscripts.

Two short stories are ready after a read through and a few minor changes – a few words changed or moved around in the sentence. I decided to format them for publishing following the Smashwords guidelines which are recommended in other ‘how to’ books.

‘Now’ abruptly collides with ten years ago. Now fiction e-books should be formatted with indented paragraphs and no space between paragraphs; only non-fiction should be done in block paragraphs with a space between. Duh? Readers prefer this. Double duh?

I’m a reader. Maybe even a Reader with a capital R. I like blank lines between paragraphs. I don’t like indents. For me that is easier to read.

Ten years ago print books were formatted indent/no space and e-books were block/space because that was easier to read on screen. All my previously published stuff is block/space. My works in progress are block/space. I picked my original publisher because they wanted manuscripts formatted in my default style…

I did format my print version on Lulu as indent/no space as it was traditional/expected and reduced the number of pages, so reduced the print book price; the e-book version was block/indent. Two different master documents; two different outputs.

I followed the instructions and formatted both stories as indent/no space. They don’t look good to me. I checked some of the e-books I have on my Kindle and yes the newer ones are indented, some with spaces and some without. I can only get about one paragraph on screen so I’m not looking at a big splodge of text and the lack of space between paragraphs isn’t as obvious as it is on a computer screen. Most of them are more than single line spacing though and the ones that aren’t look cramped.

So it looks like I’ll be reformatting those two stories again. Line spacing a bit over 1 and with a small trailing space to separate the paragraphs. Or maybe to block/space…

Another thing that’s changed is using Word’s formatting rather than manual – that was a no-no ten years ago. Microsoft Word internal formats did not translate well and often caused problems on conversion. So manuscripts had to be manual format rather than automatic. A lot of the auto-format options still have to be turned off, but now some are needed and spacing paragraphs with a blank line can cause problems…

A big question has surfaced from all this: why am I struggling to do this? Why self-publish these old manuscripts? What do I want to achieve?

Fame and fortune? No, not really. I don’t want all the attention that fame would bring – and the chances of getting any favourable fame from a pile of stories that didn’t do that well ten years ago are remote. I’d like to earn a modest living from writing, but that is unlikely as well because I am very bad at marketing.

So why self-publish? Why bother? Why not just put them all up as free reads?

I can see the stats for this blog – not a lot of interest in my free reads. Maybe there was some interest back in 2011 when I posted most of them. And I’d like to get them to a wider audience – getting paid is also a good thing even if it is just pocket money to buy more books for me to read.

But do I want to publish something that ticks all the boxes for the fads and fashions or do I want to publish something that I am pleased and proud to call mine? Even if nobody likes it or buys it?

Now that is a really big question.




2 responses

25 01 2020

I can relate to most of that. I have used both indented and block paragraphs – different works demanded, I thought, different styles. Clearly, the indented paragraphs are related to print needs – pages, costs, etc. I have had trouble getting Word to play nicely, especially when I copy paste material from other programs – I haven’t always used Word but have reluctantly concluded that it’s essential for publishing so will compose in it from the start from now on! And yes – like you I’m not really seeking either fame or fortune. Maybe our stories are simply asking us to let them be ‘out there’?

25 01 2020
Mara Ismine

I did think about just putting everything on here for free, but I like saying I’m an author (or writer depending on my mood!) and published. I’ve claimed that more in the last few years while I had nothing for people to buy. I suspect I feel ‘safer’ when they can’t get hold of anything of mine to read! This post in particular is me in toddler mode screaming and kicking because ‘I don’t want to’ – I admire you for going self-pub from the start and not compromising as much as I have. Not that having a publisher did a lot for my sales because that was the time when publishers started expecting their authors to do their own promo and marketing…

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