Sunday, November 22, 2009

Smashwords and Kindle, a comparison

I've been talking about Smashwords and Kindle for quite a while, and after publishing with both, I have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. Smashwords leaves Kindle in the dust in every area, the biggest being ease of use, formats, and flexibility. If you want to see what Smashwords is like, just upload a Word file and give it a test run. Smashwords has something they call the meat grinder that turns your creation into a multitude of files so it can be read on any device. (Download Stanza to your computer if you don't have an ebook reader.) And if you format correctly, your book will end up in the Barnes and Noble premium catalog. And if you don't format correctly, Smashwords will tell you what you did wrong, and how to correct it. The thing I love about Smashwords is the flexibility. If I want to change a price, I change it and the new price appears on my page as soon as I hit save. If I want to change the description, instant. If I want to upload a new copy, instant.

Amazon... If you change one tiny thing, price, typo, etc, you start over with the approval process. This can takes days or weeks. Pale Immortal has been on Amazon for over 6 weeks, and the description still hasn't shown up.

With Smashwords, you have completely control of your book. With Amazon, you have zero. And say you want to REMOVE a title. It can't be done without contacting someone at Amazon, another exercise that could take weeks.

Frustration level with Smashwords is zero. Amazon is off the chart.

Okay, now for sales. I don't think I can even speak to that, because I've sold zero books through Smashwords and three through Amazon. I'll never break even, and I really could have written a novella in the time I spent converting Pale Immortal from print to ebook format.

The takeaway:
I need a publisher for my print and ebook titles. It's that simple.

But I do think Smashwords is going to be huge and they're going to kick Amazon's ass when it comes to self-publishing and a user-friendly platform.

UPDATE: Smashwords Adds Kindle Store, Makes Acquisition. More Smashwords news from Publishers Weekly.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm so impressed with Smashwords. Will blog about them at some point, but I'm really hoping they leave Amazon and Kindle in the dust.
from Jason Boog and Galleycat

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I don't know if it's like this for everybody, but as soon as I email my manuscript to my agent, as soon as I hit Send, everything changes. Up until that point, I fantasize about the book release, the cover, an editor who loves it, a publishing house that's backing in. Maybe even a mini tour funded by someone other than myself. Some national buzz and great reviews. Walk past bookstores to see copies displayed in window. An invitation to guest on MPR and WPR. Already wondering if I should do it when the invitation comes, because I'm not good at that kind of thing. Maybe it would be best to decline. And yet... And now I'm already thinking about the questions they will ask, and formulating replies.

Then I hit Send.

In that instant my brain does a 180.

Nobody is going to buy my book. I'm already imagining editors looking at the manuscript with a WTF expression on their faces. I'm imagining emails from my agent with attached rejection letters, her enthusiasm dwindling with each response. Now I'm mentally trying to find a job. Would Burger King hire me? A bar? The casino? A waitress at Wayne's Diner? Or would I be better off to start another book, a different book? What are people buying now? I've had my head buried in this failure for two years and I haven't paid attention.

Oh, reply from my agent.

Reprieve. It looks like the manuscript won't be submitted until January because of the holidays. And now I'm once again imagining the book tour, and the lovely cover, and the glowing reviews.

Where would writers be without their delusions? Would we write at all? It makes me wonder if optimism is just delusion dressed in pretty clothes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

view from the belfry

A sobering post about an issue that is constantly on my mind:
Sarah Weinman's blog

These are dire times, and I would broaden the darkness to include nonfiction. The truth is, publishers aren't buying and agents aren't selling, and this has been going on for over a year. My memoir will soon be ready to submit, and I will be dumbfounded if it sells. And how depressing for all of us to pound away on material we know doesn't have a chance in hell of selling. I'm not used to working in that mindset, and it's crippling. This has nothing to do with the book, because I think it's my best work, but it has everything to do with the state of publishing. You can look at Publishers Marketplace and see that many agents haven't had a sale since last fall. It seemed there was a slight surge in the spring. Those were probably the titles that agents didn't submit until after the holidays. (How long can these agents remain in business with no sales?) My experiment with publishing my own books and backlist in digital format has been a dismal eye opener. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! What the hell was I thinking???? And ebooks might be the future, but they are not the present. A massive shift to digital readers (as in people) could take years, or it could happen fairly quickly. I suspect there will be a lot of Kindles and Nooks under the tree this year.

All over the web, people are talking about no longer needing publishing houses, and no longer needing agents. A year ago, after working with the wrong agent for a few months, I'd wondered the same thing. But after my misguided foray into what I consider self-publishing, I'm convinced that we NEED publishers. We NEED agents. We should be supporting them, not kicking them to the curb in these horrible times. Writers are stomping off, saying they will just publish their own freakin' books. I said the same thing, but I'm now singing a different tune.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

adorable socks

Okay, I have to admit that even though I'm not someone who cares much about clothes, I happen to have a thing for adorable socks. I was drooling and commenting online about Ozone's cool designs, and the lovely people from Ozone sent me some of their awesome socks! I can say that they are even more attractive in person. I was particularly intrigued by their Sock of the Month Club, which seems like a fantastic Christmas gift. Practical and adorable at the same time!

Ozone Socks

Be sure and check out their cool tights.