recently released an e-book through of self-publishing. How was the
I released seven of my books as
e-books, and the reasons, as well as the process, have been different
For one, I was locking into a
publisher’s contract at a low royalty with no advance. Since they could
add an e-book without increasing my percentage, it was a great deal for
them. Writing is a business so I don’t blame them for increasing their
profit, even though it decreased mine. I published the other six on my
My first experience
was a sharp
learning curve, and I’ve since stopped distributing that one because of
The next two were out-of-print
books whose rights had reverted to me. I originally published in a
newsletter my compilation of short stories. Another was a booklet of
Christmas stories. My newest e-book, The Assignment,
is my first novel, which went online last week.
Since you are
a multipublished author, why didn’t you use traditional channels with
That was my original intent, but
I hit walls everywhere I turned. I believe in the work, am passionate
about it, but the book does not fit neatly into any fast-selling
category, it doesn’t follow the strict formula that is expected for
first novels, and although I have published several nonfiction works,
as far as fiction was concerned I was cast in the same mold as other
process difficult? Long? What tools helped?
The process is not beyond the
capabilities of most authors, and technology is making it easier;
however, it takes effort to weed through the jungle of conflicting
advice and marketers. Slogging through it is the first challenge, but
understanding basic principles can help clear up the confusion.
principles were most helpful?
First, this is an emerging
industry. File extension and programs that work one place don’t
necessarily work somewhere else. For example, the Nook and Kindle do
not use the same coding so they are incompatible.
You can convert your book to an
epub file using any one of several free programs and the results can be
downloaded on Nook and Kindle as well as most other readers. But
downloading to your own device and creating something to be uploaded to
Amazon or Kindle are two different processes. Both systems are
different and each has different contract agreements as well as coding,
so read the fine print. Look for their exclusivity clauses, and make
It was very frustrating at
first. I wanted one set of rules and one type of technology that I
could apply universally. The actual process of uploading a text to
either distributor is easy. You can even convert directly from a Word
document, but the other details can drive you over the edge.
How would you
advise someone who is considering an e-book?
If an author does not want to go
with a company, it would be best to find one distributor (Amazon,
Barnes & Noble, others). Learn their system thoroughly,
including marketing opportunities. Once you know the terms, have
converted the files, and have uploaded your work, it will be much
easier to deal with the quirks of a second company.
Also, remember that when you put
your book online, you are the publisher. All
quality control is in your court. It is your name and reputation on the
line. Don’t be so anxious to get something online that you skimp on the
details. From content edit to copy edit to book cover to ISBN to the
way the text looks on the page, the baby is all
yours. Doing it well is a many-step process.
What are some
of those steps?
cover and the content are
two separate beasts. Most authors are accustomed to working with
content, but not so much with covers. You can hire a graphic artist to
do the work.
my collection of short
stories, Spiritual Trail Mix, I purchased a picture
from www.istockphoto.com then used the editing features of
www.picnik.com. Other resources are available, but you must be willing
to learn new skills.
My novel was
much more difficult. The story line of The Assignment
involves angels and humans. I found no adequate picture. I had to be
creative. I used a shaded background from PowerPoint, imported three
colored, overlapping discs, edited in picnik, and used their fonts for
the title and my name.
cover for Cause Angels Can’t Sing was a drawing by
my son-in-law and colored with crayons by my granddaughter. Other
covers are scanned copies of covers that originally appeared on books.
You can clear rights for these just like you clear rights for the text.
No. Even if you have them, the
distributor will probably assign a different tracking number unique to
Most authors don’t/can’t edit
well. I am slightly dyslectic, so for me the job is even more
difficult. I read the sentence as I intended to
write it, not as it actually appears on the page.
If you pay a company to get your e-book online, editing is often an
option they offer—for a price.
I’ve used Crystal, an
electronic voice in Natural Reader program. Now, “Crystal” reads the
book to me and I “see” the errors. This was without doubt the best
investment I ever made.
online publishing brought the return you expected?
Yes. But, my expectations for
money were very low so it was hard to be disappointed. My books have
been online for about three weeks, so I can’t judge what the eventual
return might be. My real hope is for ministry. Do I want money? Sure!
But I am content.
The biggest problem with any
e-book is discoverability. Imagine walking into a warehouse the size of
a football field with tightly packed shelves six feet high. Your one
book is located somewhere in the maze. You must effectively market to
connect readers to your books.
Why are you so
passionate about your novel? What is it about?
We are surrounded by a spirit
world as well as the physical, but what does that mean practically? I
wanted to show the spirit world through a good story that could be read
and enjoyed by busy people living ordinary lives. I determined to stay
firmly grounded in revealed biblical truth but at the same time let my
imagination soar with possibilities that flesh out that unseen world
and make it feel real. I wanted to others to “see” the unseen and find
fresh reasons to embrace spiritual reality.
a mix between Jan Karon’s Mitford series and Randy Alcorn’s Deadline,
follows a middle-aged Southern pastor and his family through the hours
of one ordinary Sunday in a small town. Boring? Not when viewed through
the eyes of JaKobe, a warrior angel who is returning to earth after an
absence of 700 years. He and the rest of the crew stay plenty busy, and
finishing his assignment will change the life of Jonathan Phelps and
his family forever.
is a quality read. Reviews on Amazon are, so far, good. Members of
Amazon Prime can download to Kindle for free and others can purchase it