Format, Distribution, Promotion…

Publishing Jolimont Street Ghost should have been a ‘crack a beer and take a week or two off moment’. After all, the hard stuff is done. Writing and editing and proofing and all of that stuff. Done. Front cover and page dimensions and blank space checks. Done. Converting and publishing and getting it approved. Done.

Then what?

Then comes the next part, the bit you really, really wish you could forget about. Jolimont Street Ghost was pushed up in digital format (a little early, but let’s not dwell) and, thanks to Smashwords’ awesome Channel system, it gets distributed to a lot of major players like iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, along with newer ones like Scribd and Overdrive and Txtr.

Is there a glaring omission to this list? Amazon? One needs to do that oneself. That’s not a failing of Smashwords, rather that’s an annoying fact of Amazon. I won’t go into my usual rant, suffice to say it takes a bit more work to take what you’ve already done and distribute it elsewhere. Google Play? Same deal.

So to distribute it via the ‘other guys’, it’s a matter of copy-pasting a lot of the meta-data, title, series, author, ISBN, etc. and going through the motions on their sites, uploading in the correct formats – epub, png and pdf for Google, mobi and jpg for Amazon – and then submitting for their scrutinisation.

Other issues

The genre issue is a funny one. Seems everyone has their own way of doing it and, while there appear to be standards, not everyone uses them.

For example, with Paranormology, I believe it sits somewhere in a “Ghost” genre, rather than “Horror”, but that isn’t always available at all distributors. OK, so “Science Fiction” is too broad, “Paranormal” exists in one standard but not another. Sheesh! At this point it’s a best-effort approach, near enough is good enough, move on.

Tags. This is another point that has me confuddled and bewused. Some distributors like single words, others like phrases, some have unlimited tags, others a maximum. Don’t put the title in the tag, but try to keep tags similar to books of the same type… Yeah, again, I hit the Sheesh! button and give it a best effort once more.

Anything else?

Of course. This is just what needs to be done to get it up and out. After that, you need to download it all again in the various formats, to make sure the formatting ain’t up the wall. You see, converting your manuscript to ePub and Mobi and PDF and RTF can leave weird spacings or blank pages or dropped fonts, all of which looks unprofessional and is distracting to the reader.

My advice is to follow the Smashwords’ submission guidelines. Their converter is very decent and works like a charm so long as you stick to the guidelines. Sure, you can always re-submit if you need to but, trust me, you don’t want to.

After all, there’s a headless beer slowly getting warmer over there…Mini Jeztyr Logo

Jolimont Street Ghost – Free at last!

Tada! Please find Jolimont Street Ghost at Smashwords, yours for free, with my compliments, in whatever format you like.

Cue the fireworks and open the champagne. OK, maybe I’ll just crack a beer and watch Hellboy.

You see, I wanted to hold off on the release until I had all my ducks in a row. I wanted it available in printed media, as well as on Google Play and Amazon, get the webpage up, and all of that stuff, but I, um, kind of mucked up the delay thing at Smashwords and, well, long story short: it’s out.

But, hey, it’s out!JolimontStreet

It’s released!

It’ll be up on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Kobo in a day or two, and I’ll update the website accordingly, but why wait? Head to Smashwords and bag yourself a free copy now! (Besides, it ain’t gonna be free on Amazon).Mini Jeztyr Logo

Blurb is a Four Letter Word

Third draft of Jolimont Street Ghost is done. More changes, “whoops, how’d that get in there?”, get rid of that unnecessary tosh, red pens and redder eyes.

Now I’m going to let it stew once more, while I figure out a release date, and attack the problem that, for me, is writing’s equivalent of cleaning the shower: the blurb.

It’s just a summary, right?

No. No it is not. If you’re thinking of a synopsis or a digest, that, to me, is akin to cleaning the toilet. I’ve got my own beef with synopses, but this is about the blurb.

The blurb is important. It let’s the reader know just what the book, this marvelous creation, is about. It’s a hook to get their attention and feed their curiosity. It’s a marketing tool. It’s a filter to let an audience decide if they will enjoy it. And it comes in two forms: short and very short.

The short can go onto the back of the print edition, and it’s also sent to various re-sellers. the very short is also sent to re-sellers and is what gets pushed under the nose of the audience when they click the ‘tell me more’ button. So it’s gotta be short, sweet and to the point.

Therein lies the challenge: How does one convey the subtleties of the book when they’ve got a limited character count? How does one grab the reader and say, “This book is (or is not) for you!”? How does one give a story line without giving away the punchline?

The Scene, the Theme, the Premise and the Moral

The hard work of writing the book is done, so writing less than a hundred words should be a cinch, but it ain’t. To help out, I write down the Premise, that global statement of hypothesis, that drove the book.

Then I write the moral out (which is surprisingly hard to summarise into a sentence), and put words pertaining to the theme and the scenery of the book, all in the same vernacular and perspective as the book. For example, with Paranormology, the narrator is relating a personal story from a Victorian era, hence the blurb will be a description, by him, of his tale in his manner of speech. Atlas, Broken, in contrast, is written in a third person, as an observer of Henry, in a more modern tongue.

Thus, the scribbles on my page read:

“A curse brought about by an individual can only be attended to by that individual. Rumour, gossip, conjecture, public opinion and speculation are born from assumptions. Assumptions. Science claims to make no assumptions, yet relies upon them. Light and Dark. Balance, what goes around comes around. Summoned demon, born in darkness. Occult, sorcery, physical harm, reputation harm.”

With these words and phrases, I then construct two sentences, one about the metaphysical nature of the book, and once about the physical side. In this way, I can give the reader two aspects to help them out.

“The supposition that darkness is merely the absence of light is both popular and false, as those who practise the occult can affirm.”

“In the dark cellar of number thirteen Jolimont Street, a house we had assumed benign, I unwittingly brought forth an ancient evil that threatened not only our reputations, but our souls.”

There. That’s 320 odd characters, 80 shy of the limit for the ‘very short’ version. Add in the series information, and I’ve reached my limit.

It took about an hour to write, twiddle, poke, and condense (I’ve got a little boy blowing a very loud recorder, so that skews the figures). That’s why it’s like cleaning the shower: A whole lot of scrubbing and rubbing and swearing in a cramped space, with very little at the end to show for it.

In the ‘short’ version, I’ll be able to add in another sentence or two to expand on the concepts of gossip, rumour and the like.

Now I’m going to go and have a lie down.Mini Jeztyr Logo

It’s that time again…

‘Jolimont Street Ghost’ second draft is done. Still a few things to tidy up. Still some paragraphs that need work. But now it’s time to break out the red pen.

Yeppers, it’s head down, bum up, editing hat on with some white noise flooding my ears, reading over the printed pages of the next great thing, cup of coffee dripping onto the pulp, marking little annotations with my red pen in cryptic squiggles and hieroglyphs.

There’s more to consider than just the story, though. Now that I’m at the pointy end, I need to update the Paranormology series image, figure out an actual release date rather than ‘sometime around March-ish’ – ah, a deadline.

What else?

And, you know what? I’ve been doing some thinking. This episode is in stark contrast to Grosvenor Lane, which is light-hearted and childlike. As I was doing the second draft, I realised the protagonist has grown a lot. His thoughts and attitudes are more adult and the situation he finds himself in is less Enid Blyton and more Howard Lovecraft, and this transition is palpable across the other two books.

It wouldn’t be fair to judge the series based on a single book now, would it?

So, as an extra kicker, Jolimont Street Ghost will be free.

As such, there’s no pre-release period, so I’m going to have to factor that into my release date as well.

Aw, man. More work.Mini Jeztyr Logo