Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adventures in Publishing

I am very excited to report that, yesterday, my scifi short story, The Omega Upgrade was published by Barnes and Noble as a NOOKBook. NOOKBooks are electronic publications readable on B&N's NOOK or on just about any system (PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android or Blackberry) after downloading the free NOOKApp. I expect the Kindle version to be out shortly, perhaps even tomorrow. 

I wrote the first draft of this story five or six years ago, about the time people began walking around with bluetooth phone connectors in their ears, talking to phantoms in the air (or so it seemed to most of us). Around the same time, the first waves of research in developing brain-computer interfaces were being reported, and I began to wonder what would happen if these technologies were combined. To tell any more would give away the story, so you're just going to have to read it if you want to know more!

Until quite recently, it never occurred to me to consider publishing my short stories myself in an electronic format. I've been writing fiction for a long time and have had a few stories published in the traditional way (in ink, on paper) and had started to mull over the idea of publishing a collection of my short stories using Amazon's self-publishing system. 

What I had in mind was creating an actual book--you know, the kind with paper pages and a cover. I was still thinking in the traditional way, that the only publication worth its salt is one that you can hold in your hands. And then, one day, I saw a few tweets and blog posts from my friend Drew Goodman about how he had published a single short story for the Kindle, available anytime, anywhere, for 99 cents.

I was intrigued, because short pieces seem perfectly suited to the Kindle or the NOOK -- or any handheld device like a smartphone. Wouldn't it be nice to pass the time waiting in line at the license branch or commuting on the train by pushing a button and downloading a short story for about the same amount of money one might spend on a single piece of music or an app? I, for one, would love to do that.

I admit it took me awhile to get around to actually trying this after reading Drew's first blog post. I thought it would be difficult, that I'd have to learn all sorts of new formatting tricks, that I'd have to create files that I didn't know how to I put it off, convincing myself it was too hard.

And then, on Friday this week (yes, two days ago), I decided to google "e-publishing short stories" and immediately came upon this excellent blog post with more excellent comments, both of which led me to even more useful information. For example, the sign-in page for electronic self-publishing on Barnes & Noble and the similar sign-in page for Kindle self-publishing.

So, I began to read and explore and I found that I didn't need to learn any fancy reformatting. I could upload a Word document. Yes, Word! I was initially excited by how easy this seemed, then realized that I'd have to create a cover image. How to do this? To make a long story a bit shorter, I took one of my own photos (that I own full rights for) and turned it into a cover using PowerPoint and Preview on my Mac. And, yes, I did it wrong about five times before I got it right. 

But the point is, I did all of this within a couple of hours, including the time spent setting up my publisher's account and doing one last word-polish and spellcheck of my story. I hit the submit button and by the next afternoon, there was my story on B&N's website, for sale for 99 cents. The whole process was almost as easy as publishing a blog post.

I will let you know when the Kindle version appears, as well as the other short stories I have in the hopper, ready to go. And for you skeptics out there, who wonder if electronically publishing short stories makes any sense, I'm happy to report that I've already sold 5 copies. In one day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011