Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Kindle Adventure

One of the first serious stories I wrote is a short story called, "Seeing Sarah." It is about a man who has had a series of failed relationships with women, including his mother. The story doesn't explore why he has these bad relationships (although we get the idea that it is because of his mother) but what it does do is show how a pivotal moment can put the past in perspective and allow a person, in this case our protagonist, to move forward in his life.

I've had trouble selling the story. Editors have told me it was good, but just not right for their publication. One even told me it was "too sappy" for them. I think another issue was its length. It's a 6,000 word story and most fiction publications don't accept stories of that length and it doesn't lend itself to serialization.

I believed in the story and the feedback I received from others was very positive. Many felt it was very emotional and more than one said it made them cry. I consider that a plus since I feel that anytime a writer can emotionally touch a reader is a good thing.

Most of the positive feedback I received was from women and I researched a few woman's magazines, but to no avail. Most just do not accept fiction.

So, I came across some information on Kindle publishing and thought I'd give it a go and sell the story for $0.99, which seemed to be the going rate for short stories. I know self-publishing gets a "bad rap" in the writing community, but I think it is being seen more and more as a viable alternative - as long as it's done right. I've read some self-published works full to typos and bad formatting and just poorly written. This story has been through countless revisions and test readings, along with a few critique group meetings.

As for the process, it was somewhat frustrating. I won't go into too many details about what didn't work, but will say a few things:

1) Don't bother with the mobipocket creator. That didn't help at all and in fact made things worse.

2) Upload the file and click the "see in html" link. Also be sure to preview your work before approving.

3) Kindle automatically indents the first line of every paragraph. If there is a line you don't want indented (such as on the copyright page) then you have to enter the code yourself. There is a help page at Amazon that gives you the coding. I can't remember how I did it (sorry I tried so many things). Line breaks and empty spaces have to be coded as well.

DO watch the tutorial videos. They help. And don't discount the html factor. You want to make sure your book looks good or it'll turn away readers.

As for the cover art, make sure you use high resolution and make sure the artwork is of proper dimensions before adding the lettering. My first attempt looked more like a square and when I downloaded it to Kindle it didn't look good. My second attempt was a horizontal "squeeze" which made the lettering look sloppy. My third attempt I just started from scratch and did it right.

What do I hope to accomplish? I don't know. Sales of course and I submitted it to be considered as a "Kindle Single" but from what I see, that's a pretty elite group. I just wanted the story out there. Who knows from there? Maybe an agent will see it and want a novelization or maybe it'll inspire a screenwriter who wants to buy the rights for adaptation. That might be overly optimistic, but isn't that what keeps us writers going?

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