Category Archives: Publishing

Bluenoses At the ‘Zon

Crystal Blade Episode 27: Eureka! is live at Kindle Vella. You know the drill.

I have noticed something fascinating with Kindle Vella. As you know, Bob, some of my stuff can get rather steamy and Episode 26 was one of those zesty episodes. I named it Down Mexico Way because that is an amusing nickname for the activity that happened in the episode (and if you don’t know what the term refers to I suggest you read the episode and find out).

Usually when I post an episode, it gets approved within a couple of hours and goes live. But when I posted Down Mexico Way it took a full eight hours to get approved. I then had to edit it slightly (wound up adding a bit to the last paragraph that I needed to delete and move to Episode 27), and resubmitted it. It took another eight hours to get approved. When you release episodes on Vella you are warned that they can take up to 72 hours to be released, presumably so that if a reviewing bot stumbles across something “questionable” in the ep it can be put in a holder until a human reviewer can get to it). I can only assume that either the reviewer bots know what “Down Mexico Way” means or found some key naughty words in the episode that caused them to put it on the, “Yeah, we need a grownup here” list.

Which is good to know for future episodes because there will be more zesty scenes coming up in Crystal Blade. Being aware that it will take at least eight hours for them to be released gives me a more accurate timeline of when I should click the Publish button.

By the way, I’m not complaining about the extra hold. I’m playing in the ‘Zon’s sandbox and I have to abide by their rules, and they will not publish anything that contains certain verboten topics (and with good reason) so they need to check what’s published through them. But it amuses me that some human had to spot check my little episode of languissement.

Stupid Body Tricks

Crystal Blade Episode 26: Down Mexico Way is live at Kindle Vella. If you enjoy spice, you’ll like this one.

Meanwhile, my left leg is acting up and the knee is hurting like a complete bitch due in part to 1) osteoarthritis, 2) what I think is a sciatica attack, and 3) the mondo hella rainstorm we had in the wee hours of the morning, so I didn’t really get to sleep until 5:00 AM and didn’t get up until noon. This neatly screwed up my plans for the day to go to the main branch of my bank and get my business checking and savings account started. I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

And yes, it is nice that I have the freedom to sleep in if I need it, but I also work every hour the Flying Spaghetti Monster sends so there are tradeoffs, believe me. With luck and a handful of NSAIDs I should be able to get to sleep early tonight, which will let me head out in the morning and hit the bank. Once that’s done, I can start the business PayPal account, and then I can start selling signed books from the website.

I’m also  looking into ways to use the Silhouette to brand the boxes. It’s a little extra work, true, but readers really like having the decorated boxes and it’s only an afternoon’s worth of work to print out and apply the decals to a stack of boxes. If nothing else it give me an excuse to play with the Silhouette and make some more magnetic book marks to add to the books as swag.

The Mechanics of Going Wide

It occurs to me that many of y’all probably don’t know what goes into formatting an ebook for a specific sales platform such as Amazon, and you are probably wondering why I can’t just stick my Amazon ebooks up at Smashwords and Google Play. Lemme ‘splain.

My ebooks contain a lot of links. There’s the Other Works page that has links to all of my books, and if the ebook is in a series I have a Series page right up front that lists all the books currently in the series. This is for marketing purposes—ideally a reader will love my book so much that they want to read something else I’ve written. So they’ll check out the Other Works page or the Series page, click on a book that appeals to them, and ideally buy it from whatever ebook retailer they use, thereby allowing me to keep a roof over the J Crew’s head.

The problem is, those ebook links need to be specific to the platform where the ebook is published. For example, I have an Olympic Cove series page in Storm Season that contains links to all of the OC books and short stories. When I publish Storm Season on Amazon, all those links point to the Amazon pages for the OC books (because if someone buys Storm Season on Amazon, chances are they’ll want to buy the rest of the series on Amazon and I want to make that as easy as possible for them).

When I publish Storm Season on Smashwords, which distributes the book to Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and a whole slew of other ebook retailers, I have to adjust the links on the Olympic Cove series page so that they point to a Books2Read universal landing page (since I have no idea where a reader may buy the Smashwords ebook version from—could be B&N, could be Apple, could be Walmart, who knows). From that landing page, the reader can then choose what retailer they want and hopefully go on to buy the other books in the series. I do the same thing to my Other Works page—each link points to a universal landing page for that ebook, and the reader can choose the retailer where they want to buy it. I also have to use a slightly different copyright page for a Smashwords book—it’s part of their rules.

When I publish Storm Season on Google Play, I do the same thing all over again—the Olympic Cove series page links have to point to books on Google Play, as do all the links on my Other Works page.

So in order to put all of my ebooks wide, I need three versions of each ebook; one for Amazon, one for Smashwords, and one for Google Play. I use Vellum to format my ebooks, and it makes creating these versions a lot easier than it used to be, but it still takes a fair amount of time because I need to check each book and make sure no formatting weirdness has crept in (which has happened, thus my checking).

Anyway, that’s the process for formatting ebooks for multiple retailers. Print books are a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

Well, That’s Pleasant

Crystal Blade Ep 24: The Art of Conversation is now live at Kindle Vella. Go forth and read.

In other news I just finished entering the Belaurient Press numbers for May and I am currently in the black for the year. Not by a lot, mind you, but even considering that the Amazon payouts run three months in arrears I’ve still taken in more money than I’ve spent (it helps that I haven’t paid for any courses or bought a membership to 20 Books to 50K. Yet). Still need to update the financials for Belaurient Arts but I’ll do that later tonight after I grab receipts from the garage. I know for a bloody fact that I’m in the black for that so I’m not fussed.

While I’m on the subject of Belaurient Press, you’ll be happy to know that Breaker Zone is currently churning its way through Smashwords and Google Play. I’ll be adding the new wide links to the Storm Season and Breaker Zone pages as soon as I have them. By Friday I should have Deep Water and Cross Current uploaded as well, and I’ll add the associated short stories as soon as they’re out of KU.

Then I do Trickster, Stealing Dmitri, and Behind the Iron Cross over the weekend, and the Two Thrones books next week. Mrgh. But once those are all uploaded they’re done (at least until I have to update the back matter, but that won’t happen until the end of June). At that point Nic is doing something nice for herself because she will bloody well deserve it.

I Am the Queen of Organization

I was serious when I said I’m going to start thinking like the small business owner I am.

I already have spreadsheets for my income and expenses so I just have to update those tomorrow with the month’s numbers. But I now also have three separate punch lists in Excel—one for Belaurient Arts, one for Belaurient Press, and one for general Belaurient business, all items with Due By dates and switches to indicate whether or not they’re done (and if not, what has to be done to get them finished. Because sometimes Stuff Happens™).

In addition to the punch lists I have a schedule for formatting books and setting them wide, and once that’s all done by the middle of June I’ll haul my recording equipment into the master bathroom closet and start recording audiobooks (yes, you’re finally getting audiobooks from me. I figure I did a podcast for years, did voiceovers for various training projects, and according to people who have listened to me at cons I give good reading so I may as well do them myself).

As for today, I formatted Storm Season, put it wide, and got started on formatting Breaker Zone (why oh why was I using such huge chapters back then? It is a puzzlement) before I had to run out and pick up some stuff, then make dinner. Once I post this I’m going back upstairs to knock out Friday’s episode of Crystal Blade for Vella, then at 11:30 PM I’ll publish tomorrow’s episode.

And I dunno if this mindset is impressing people, or I’m being rewarded by the universe, or what, but I have sold ten books just on Amazon in the last week. Since my series are no longer in KU and actual sales are the only way I’m making money on the ‘Zon, this is cheering.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Belaurient Press

Crystal Blade Episode 23: Surprise, Surprise, Surprise is live at Vella. You know the drill.

I got my proof copy of Melanie’s short story collection Random Realities today (the print version really did turn out beautifully), and I noticed the colophon on the spine. That’s when I realized—I never explained how Belaurient Press got its name, did I?

Story time—back in college I used to play D&D occasionally, and one time I was working on creating a magic user character. I noodled around with some names and finally came up with Bel’orient (it was the mid-80’s, I apologize, I know better now).

One of my fellow gamers who was clearly ahead of his time suggested that I get rid of the apostrophe and change the name’s spelling. Thanks to the beauty of homophones, I adjusted it to Belaurient and thought, “Ooh, yes. I like that. My character’s name is Belaurient.”

She died in the next game. Fast forward to 2008 and I decided to set up an Etsy store to sell my jewelry and other wares. When it came time to name the store, Belaurient popped back into my head and I decided to go with Belaurient Arts.

Fast forward a little more to 2012 when I decided to bring out Random Realities and needed a name for my eensy publishing company that would produce the book. I figured, what the hell, I was a sole proprietor and could do what I liked, so I named the company Belaurient Press.

Of course, because I am a completist I needed a colophon (the little graphic that is the logo of the publishing house and is printed on the bottom of the spine) for Belaurient Press. I wanted something simple yet memorable, and after some noodling around in Illustrator I came up with the little juggler logo because 1) I am actually a juggler (learned it for a community theater production of Barnum), and running Belaurient Press requires a lot of juggling of assorted hats.

So that’s how my publishing company was named and its colophon came to be. Of course, once I start my LLC I’m going to have to come up with a name that encompasses both the jewelry company and the publishing company. Must think on that a bit more…

And Finished

All of the Melanie books have now been sent off to Smashwords and Google Play, so hopefully everything will be accepted at SW and sent off to Kobo/Apple/B&N later this week.

Which means I can return to Crystal Blade and get episodes 23 and 24 hammered out, edited, and uploaded to Vella for release on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. I also need to get on my stick and get the book finished ASAP because I no longer have a two week cache of episodes anymore and that makes me nervous.

I also really need to knuckle down and get the PayPal business account started this week so that I can add purchase buttons here. The thing that’s holding me back is that I would really like to have an EIN and a separate business bank account first, in order to keep the book money separate from my personal money. I’m just gonna have to get an EIN online, then go into my credit union and set up a new account. Ideally I would also prefer to have an LLC, but that will have to wait until I have enough money to file for one.

About That Side Quest

Episode 22: World’s Not Going to Save Itself is now live at Kindle Vella. Go check it out.

Okay, so, I have a new cover for Random Realities.

The problem with covering this collection is that it has SF, fantasy, one horror-adjacent story, and a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, and that’s only the original ten stories. How the heck do you represent all those on one cover? Well, back in 2012 I went with a “girl blowing bubbles with the bubbles representing different realities” graphic for the old cover.

But my graphics skills have improved mightily in the last ten years, and the SF/fantasy antho market has also changed. Gotta keep up with the times, don’t you know? Plus the additional ten stories I’ve added to this collection includes a steampunk novelette, so that’s yet another genre to add to the cover.

Which is how I wound up with the image at left. What I especially like about this cover is that with all the cool stuff visible through the door (a steampunk balloon, a dragon, a space elevator, and something that looks a bit like a wormhole/event horizon/timegate), the girl and her teddy are still looking off to the right like something even better is over there.

I think it gives a sense of hope and optimism for the future. God knows we all need that right now. I’ve ordered a print proof, and if it looks as cool as I think it’s going to I’ll order copies to be sold from this website and at cons.

Because I’m Not Busy Enough As It Is

As I’m slogging through all of this reformatting, it occured to me that it might also be a good idea to put my Melanie Fletcher books and anthos wide as well. Granted, the two FutureClassics anthos (Tales from a Lone Star: A Future Classics Anthology, Volume One and A Lone Star in the Sky: A Future Classics Anthology Volume Two) and my alt-history mystery A Most Malicious Murder were already wide but none of them were in Google Play, and my SF and fantasy short story collection Random Realities had just gotten out of KU so that needed to be put everywhere.

While my Nicola books are most definitely my moneymakers, I think I’m going to get these four titles reformatted and put wide before I do any more work on the romances because they won’t require nearly as much line reading, and I need a bit of a break from that. Plus I may even do a new cover for Random Realities—I’d published it in 2012 and cover requirements have changed significantly since then.

One thing—Realities has a 6×9″ trim, unlike all of my other books with their 5.25×8″ trims. And the printing price increases at Amazon will result in significantly higher printing costs for 6×9″ trim books, which makes it logical to take the trim size down to 5.25×8″. Thing is, the only way to change the trim size is to unpublish and republish the book with a new ISBN (since trim sizes are linked to ISBNs). If I’m going to do all that, I may as well add in a bunch more short stories that I’ve written since 2012, right? Bump up the number from 10 to 20 stories, shrink the trim size, and I should wind up with a book of a reasonable size (the old version of Realities is technically novella length so that’s one slim book).

Ramón is right. I do keep making rods for my own back.

Still Formatting

Crystal Blade Episode 21: I Have to Find What Now? is live at Kindle Vella. Go forth, read, enjoy.

So, formatting. I’m done with Shadow of the Swan and The Crimson and the Black so both of those are now wide, along with the Hidden Empire short story A Gentle Fall of Snow. I’m going to do Stealing Dmitri next, then I’ll just have the Olympic Cove and Two Thrones books to get through. My brain is also getting very, very tired with all of this, and my heart goes out to people who do this for a living. It requires greater mental strength than I possess, I fear.

On the plus side, since I have to skim every book that gives me a chance to refresh my memory on the Olympic Cove book plots and make sure any loose ends are taken up in High Tide. Yes, the Mad Nereid will come steaming back into town and we’ll get a chance to see what she’s been doing with her enthralled millionaire (i.e. nothing good). And the menage in this book will include a merman, a human (well, kind of) and—ta da—a satyr, plus a deeper dive (hur hur) into mer culture and some biases they hold. Because I can’t just make things easy for myself and write about hot guys having sex—I have to add social issues to my romance.