Category Archives: Wide

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.

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.

Slog, Slog, Slog

I am kinda kicking myself for not doing all of this reformatting weeks ago when I knew I’d be pulling the Hidden Empire, Olympic Cove, and Two Thrones books out of KU. But I had assumed that formatting a book with Vellum would be a matter of uploading the .docx file, going in and cleaning up any goofy pages, adding the Vellum-sized cover and appropriate links for a given ebook platform, and I would be done. Maybe an hour of work per book at the most.

I did not know that for whatever reason Vellum would hork on how Word formats the occasional italicization here and there and apply italics to the entire damn paragraph. Which means I have to upload a book’s .docx file, then start going through it and scanning for any out of place italics.

And you know that while I’m doing that I’m also keeping an eye out for spelling/grammar/punctuation goofs (because no matter how many eyes were on a given book there is always a handful of mistakes that got through the editing process) and fixing those. All of which takes way more time than a single hour.

No, I cannot hire someone to do this for me. That would be lovely but Nic doesn’t have that kind of cash. So I have a most joyous week ahead of me, tra la.