publishing

The Butterfly Jar & Other Tales Now Available

The Butterfly Jar & Other Tales, the fifth of six volumes of short stories and novellas that will make up The Singles Collection, is now available in ebook format (read an excerpt).

* * *

Dana isn’t sure what happened after the blast door slammed closed on the shelter, but she has a bicycle, a map, and a butterfly in a jar that will be her companion on the long, lonely road to her grandmother’s house…

In this collection of short stories, The Butterfly Jar is accompanied by four tales (Stork Is Not a Name I Love, Bale of Mars, Forgetting Leo, & The Ballad of Slaughter Rose) that skirt the line between science fiction and science fantasy, with brief detours to destinations dystopian and post-apocalyptic.

==================== 

This is the fifth of six volumes to be released by M.S. Hund as part of his initial Singles Collection. Each volume’s stories will focus on roughly similar themes or genres, spanning the gamut from science fiction to fantasy to horror. Other volumes in this series include: 

  • Volume 1: A Desolation of Grass & Yesterday’s War 
  • Volume 2: The Rune Painter & Other Tales
  • Volume 3: The Sack of Gotham & Letters from Paris
  • Volume 4: A Fragile Circle & Other Tales

BUY NOW

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

The More Eyes, The Merrier?

It's not uncommon to find mistakes, often really obvious ones, even in books by big-name authors with deep-pocketed publishers. I'm sure you've found your share as well, and I can take the tiniest bit of comfort from that experience when I spot errors in my own work. But in the interest of eliminating as many errors as possible, I'm announcing a forthcoming recruitment drive to get more eyes on my books before they hit the market...

* * *

It seems that no matter how many sets of eyes you get on a manuscript, something always manages to slip through the cracks of an editor or proofreader's attention, a fact that was brought home to me when I stumbled across a few such niggling errors when reviewing the proof copies for the print edition of Seven.

(For the record, the mistakes were a "where/wear" swap, one instance of extra spaces around an em-dash when all of the others had been adjusted to have no spaces, and a period that had a space before and after it at the end of a sentence...)

I'm not sure if I spotted those errors because I had a distance of months from my last read through the book or whether it was seeing it in a new form, namely a printed, trade paperback book rather than a computer print-out or on a screen. But the experience brought home that it can't hurt to have more eyes on my words prior to sharing them with the world at large. 

I'm also loathe to entrust "story decisions" to a single editor (at least until I find, or can afford, the right editor), and would instead prefer to place my trust in the wisdom of a crowd of readers/editors.

So where am I headed with all of this?

Well, I currently use a (very) small crew of beta & proof readers as part of my editorial process, but would like to expand that operation.

And what does that mean to the reader of this post and my books in general?

Depends. Are you willing to take a look at a manuscript that's not quite fully baked, to take a peek behind the curtain and see the wizard furiously punching buttons and pulling levers? Do you have the type of analytical mind that zeroes in on inconsistencies and continuity problems in a story? Does the thought of a weak passage of prose or a bogged-down plot make you want to tell the author about it?

If you've answered "yes" to any of the above, you might be a good candidate to join my Beta Brigade.

Beta Brigade? Seriously?

Yup. I'm going to be actively recruiting volunteers who want to help make my books the best they can be by digging into the half-formed guts of my precious little creations, starting with my forthcoming second novel. 

Are grammar, spelling, and general nit-picking more your thing? I'll need you as well, but not until the next stage in the editing process. After I've put some polish on the book with my Beta Brigade and current editorial team, I'd also like a team of proofreaders, a Proof Patrol if you will, to read Advance Release Copies (ARCs) in the weeks before publication to catch anything that may have slipped through the cracks.

But what's in it for these volunteers?

Besides my undying gratitude and the satisfaction of helping to make a story the best it can be? How about a free ebook copy of any book you work on? I expect that the rewards will increase for these readers down the road, but at the moment that's all I've got on the table.

Still interested?

Keep your eyes peeled for an announcement in the coming week or so about a sign-up form for both the Beta Brigade and Proof Patrol. Or just bookmark this post and check back in about a week as I'll post a link to the sign-up page when it's ready to go live.

UPDATE: The sign-up page is now live. If you're interested, apply within.

Print at Last!

The long wait for print is over! Seven: The Haunted Girl of NuLo is now available in trade paperback from CreateSpace and Amazon at the limited-time launch price of $9.99 (though it appears Amazon is offering a bit of an additional discount at the time of writing). To coincide with the launch, I've also dropped the price of the ebook version to $2.99 across all platforms. Pick up your copy (or copies!) today. 

The Ups & Downs of the Big Four

Having now published at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo, I've found that all have their strengths and weaknesses, but the big dog is still the leader of the pack...

* * *

While Seven is still in the uncertain (and often torturously long) process of approval with Apple, the rest of my published fiction is available at the "Big Four" ebook stores. I'm not going to claim that the process of publishing is torture with any of them, but they all have their faults and frustrations (and, to be fair, shining moments of quality).

So let's run through the pros and cons as I see them (in April 2014), shall we?

 

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Pro: fastest approval (usually within hours), best online preview tools, ePub upload means one less step in the pre-publication process, biggest/best marketplace, email notification when books are live/published, easiest to find help (KDP documentation, kboards, and the web in general)

Con: book description formatting is messy, utilitarian (but functional) back-end, two places to post descriptions (Author Central and KDP) is confusing, lower royalties

 

Kobo Writing Life

Pro: pretty back-end design with fun status messages, streamlined and quick process to upload and prepare books, fastest approval/availability outside Amazon (within 24 hours)

Con: finding bank was a headache for payment processing, non-existent online previewer (download an epub and look at that in an app), WYSIWYG formatting of book synopsis didn’t work (and apparently hasn’t for some time, despite claims of ignorance from Kobo on Twitter), bookstore probably the least searchable/effective of the four, no email notification that books are live/published

 

NOOK Press (Barnes & Noble)

Pro: pretty back-end design, not quite as streamlined a process to upload/prep books for sale as Kobo (but close!), slightly slower to publish than Kobo (but up in about 24 hours), store/catalog pages are the most useful/elegant

Con: help documentation vague and (sigh) unhelpful, online previewer present but terrible, no notification that books are live/published, weirdness surrounding whether to accept ePub as uploaded or as modified within online previewer (even when online previewer not used)

 

iBooks/iTunes Producer (Apple)

Pro: predictably, the catalog pages for books are the most aesthetically pleasing (but app-based is a bummer)

Con: why do I need an app (iTunes Producer) to upload a book? why does it have to save a package to my machine as part of the process? no preview of any sort before uploading, approval time way longer than other stores (over a week), byzantine and overly complex sign-up process to even get started publishing through them is not indie-friendly, no email notification that books are live on the store

* * *

So how would I rank them? Amazon is still the easiest to use, the fastest to publish, the easiest to get paid, and has the biggest reach. It's easily #1 (as I knew going in, which is why I published there first). Correspondingly, Apple is easily dead last (I'd heard the rumors and hoped they weren't true, but they were...in every gory detail). 

There's not much between Nook and Kobo, but B&N's greater market reach (at least in the US) and higher quality storefront trump Kobo's indie-friendliness and irreverent "cute" factor. At least in my book, and, as I said, not by much.

Compile. Review. Compile. Review

Such has been my lot over the last couple of days as I inch ever closer to having Seven ready for print with CreateSpace. I can't imagine how much worse the process would be without Scrivener, the writers who love it and share their techniques for its use, and the ever-so-helpful denizens of the forums over at Literature & Latte (the developers of Scrivener).

Still, there's a lot of painstaking detail that can't be automated away, so I've spent hours comparing fonts, font sizes, line spacing, header styles and arrangements, and murdering orphans and widows. (Not as bad as it sounds! Honest!)

But I'm closing on having the interior looking the way I want it, which means it's time for a little sneak peak at the work in progress...

Sample interior pages. Click to enlarge.

Sample interior pages showing chapter title styling. Click to enlarge.

With the interior just about wrapped up, all that's left is to rework the existing e-book cover for print and to create imagery for the spine and back cover. I've pretty much settled on the design style for the next version of the cover, but expect there to be another poll (or series of polls) to help me determine which title font is going to work best.

Stay tuned...

Shorts Ahoy!

Publishing Seven was a big step. It wasn't the first novel I've written, but it was the first that I thought was ready to set loose upon the world. I do have a handful of other novels buried in my digital filing cabinet (one completed and a half-dozen unfinished, if you're keeping score at home), and I expect that they'll see the light of day in some form in the future, whether that be through extensive revision/rewriting or by incorporating the characters and/or story-lines into a new project.

But in addition to those novels, I have over fifty shorter tales burning a hole in my back catalog, varying in length from flash-fiction (1,000 words or less) to novellas roughly a third the length of Seven. While not all of these are ready for publication now (and some probably never will be!), I have had enough positive feedback from writers' groups that I feel confident in publishing some of them.

But how best to release them? One at a time? In a massive collection?

How about we split the difference and sort of manage to do both at the same time?

Throughout 2014, I'll be adding some final spit-and-polish to these short stories and releasing them in six e-book installments, with each installment set to feature one novella or a collection of up to five stories. The word count for each installment will be in the 13,000 to 18,000 range (novella length), and they will be sold at 99¢ each. Though the stories will range across science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the paranormal (oft-times combining genres, as is my wont *grin*), each installment will feature stories in roughly similar styles and/or genres.

At the end of the year, the plan is to combine all of the installments, along with any other tales that I feel are worthy of publication but didn't fit into any of the installments, as a single large collection in both e-book and print format (prices yet to be determined). At least, that's the plan anyway. And what better time to start than now?

The first of the six installments, A Desolation of Grass & Yesterday's War, includes two long short stories, both broadly in the military science fiction vein, though there are elements of westerns, occult horror, colonization, coming of age, and space opera also on offer. It will be available as a Kindle book from Amazon in the next week or so and should be available across all the major e-book sellers (iBooks, Kobo, Nook, etc.) before the end of the month.

So keep your eyes peeled for the "new release" announcement or sign up for my mailing list to make sure you don't miss it. The mailing list will always be the first place to hear about my new releases, as well as sales, giveaways, and contests, and I promise it will never be spammy or unbearably frequent.

The Seven Roll-out Begins

My novel, Seven: The Haunted Girl of NuLo, is now for sale on Amazon.com. For the time being, it will be exclusively in ebook format and available only at Amazon, though that will change as the year progresses.

The current plan is to figure out Createspace so that a print version is available in the coming months, followed by rolling out the ebook version of Seven across most of the major platforms in April (Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc.). The wait on that roll-out is due to Seven being enrolled in the KDP Select program on Amazon that keeps the ebook Kindle-exclusive for 90 days. 

So why go with KDP Select then?

It's a trial balloon, really. Though I'm new to the e-publishing game, I've had my ear to the ground for a while. I know that KDP Select isn't pushing the numbers it used to, but Amazon is still the dominant marketplace for e-books. And, to be honest, I want to play with the tools and see what they can do for me as a publisher.

But that doesn't mean that you can't buy and read the ebook if you don't happen to have a Kindle. Amazon has Kindle apps available across a number of platforms, and I've made a deliberate decision to publish Seven DRM-free. That means you can use freely-available tools to convert the proprietary Amazon file and move it to your preferred reading app or device should you be so inclined (and technically adept).

The Future is Now

I can't say exactly why, but 2014 sounds more "futuristic" to my ear than 2008 or even 2021. With that in mind, I'm going to take this presentness of the future (tortured phrase, I know) as a cue to quit fiddling with my fiction and get firing instead.

So this is the year then. No more perpetual polishing in pursuit of perfection (sigh). No more showing "unfinished" manuscripts to just a handful of readers. No more wishing for a traditional publishing contract to fall into my lap. It's time to publish and let the chips fall where they may. Carpe diem and all that.

First out of the gate will be Seven: The Haunted Girl of NuLo, a novel with elements of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that would probably be classed as young/new adult. I've finally gotten it to the stage where I can almost get through any given chapter without wanting to change something, so that's probably a sign that it's ready to be released into the wild.

The future is now. Time to get publishing.