Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Giving Smashwords one more try

I decided I may have been unfair to Smashwords, writing them off as too much work for too little return. I have several books with them but not as many as I have with Amazon; much easier, with formatting etc and besides they just sell a lot more books!

Still, the books I’ve had problems formatting with Smashwords have been mostly those I wrote some time back, when my own Word formatting was pretty rough; also I hadn’t put any of my top sellers on there, partly because of formatting issues and partly because I thought I just might want to make use of Amazon’s KDP Select, which requires exclusive rights.

I’ve now put my outback romance, Stony Creek, on Smashwords, which I think is giving them as good a chance as I can. It’s doing very well on Amazon and apart from a few minor hiccups I had no problems with the formatting, so we’ll see how it goes. Since I have absolutely no intentions of giving any away I decided there was no reason for it to be exclusive with Amazon–haven’t seen any results yet though and I have to say Amazon absolutely rules! One thing I like about Smashwords is that I can make books free whenever I want and I have a small ebook on grammar, What Did You Say? and a short story free. There’s also an interview with yours truly and if you have any suggestions as to what I might add to that I can do that at any time.

not guilty 2014 coverIs there a particular type of book that does well there, I wonder? I’ve found with Amazon my non-fiction, Not Guilty, has done very well as has my outback romance. The others have all sold a few but no-where near the numbers of those two. I’d quite like to put Not Guilty on Smashwords but I think the formatting would be too hard, because it contains different fonts and different spacing for newspaper reports and public records etc. It’s all easy on Amazon, although I must admit Createspace was tricky. I have most of my books on Createspace for PODs and it’s taken me a while to get the hang of it but it’s not too bad now. Amazon ebooks are very simple but if you go through Createspace they can send it over to Amazon and convert it for you.beastfromkindlecover

I have one freebie this week on Amazon, Beast of War, a fantasy about three teens in a land called Breeland. There are three different tribes–different kinds of ‘people’, farmers, cave-dwellers and those who live off the sea, and they are all at risk.  According to prophecy only Terrus, Cener and Airien can save Breeland; they must put aside tribal differences and prejudices and journey together to fight the beast in his lair. I did write this for kids but I’m finding adults enjoy it as well–I know I loved writing it and was rather sad when I finished it and had to say goodbye to the characters! It’s free from the 16th to the 18th of June, so check it out.


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Apologies to Createspace

It looks as if most of my formatting problems have been, and still are, my fault. As I’ve said before I’m hopeless at reading instructions–it’s just gobbledegook to me. I’m one of those people who has to learn hands on, which, in this high-tech age, is probably rather unfortunate! I generally stumble along and eventually the penny drops and I get to point B. Taking most of a year, though, is a bit extreme, even for me. So anyway, it turns out that after all my formatting woes with Createspace, they actually have a template; who knew? My latest endeavour, for which I’m still awaiting cover art, I just copied and pasted into the template and hey presto, it’s done! Almost. I did have to do the page numbers, which has been another source of angst–getting the numbers to start at the page I want, rather than the default first page. I did read instructions for that, which I found online, but it didn’t work until I fiddled around with the format page option as well. After I did that once, I was sure I’d remember the next time, but I didn’t. Then I eventually figured it out again and was sure I’d remember the next time and I didn’t. The third time I jotted down some extra notes and put them in my desk drawer so the next time will be easy, won’t it?

beastfromkindlecoverHaving so easily (relatively) formatted the new book I thought I’d re-format all of them, just to make sure they were all good. I know the kindle versions are fine but the PODs, although they’re okay, could maybe be even better using Createspace’s own template, I reasoned. I started with ‘Beast of War‘, a kids’ book I wrote a few years ago, and it was a complete disaster. Instead of the easy copy and paste I expected it came back with 5 errors and they were not easy ones. I tried again and then thought, ‘Bugger it. It was fine before.’ I have emailed Createspace and asked if we could just forget about all that–pretend it never happened and just revert to the copy that was already there! I’ve never sold PODs of that particular book in any case, only kindles, but I suspect they’ll tell me I have to re-do the whole thing. I think the problem is the original formatting. I wrote that, as I said, a few years ago and probably used a lot of tabs and so on instead of proper paragraph formatting, so I might have to nuke it. Won’t kill me anyway.

One of these days I’ll get back to some actual writing–I seem to spend all my time formatting and editing and creating covers. I do enjoy doing the covers–it’s both challenging and kind of fun. I dabbled in art and design for a few years, before I found I was better at writing, and while I would never in a million years paint my own cover art I have used some of my own photos. I’ve also found a good free source of photos online that I used for ‘Stony Creek‘ my most recent publication. I have mentioned it before but for those of you who missed it,  Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindleit’s http://www.morguefile.com/archive. Most of the others that are supposedly free aren’t and there’s lots of free pictures on this one.

Nine days till Christmas. I should probably start doing something Christmassy. We do have a tree up, so that’s something. And we’ve worked out who buys whose Kris Kringle this year. Now I have to find the perfect gift for mine, as well as something for our two grandsons. I have my mother’s present all ready to post at least–a copy of ‘Stony Creek’! Nice being able to give her something no-one else can. Hopefully I’ll have another one ready by the time her 94th birthday rolls around in April.

In case I don’t have time next week, Merry Christmas to everyone and stay safe.


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Fun and Games with Amazon–again.

Why do I do this to myself? I should obviously wait until I’m 100% happy with all aspects of my book, including the cover, before I publish. I’m quite patient up to a point and then I think it’s all good but I tend to change my mind. I’m still waiting for CreateSpace to sort out my new cover for Not Guilty. Although they assure me it’s all done it’s not displaying on my author page with the new cover–the kindle version is. Weird.

So I decided to do the same thing with my new novel, Stony Creek. What a brilliant idea! I just wasn’t really happy with the cover and found something I liked better. After much mucking around I had a cover I was happy with and that CreateSpace accepted. Yay! But my author page now shows the new cover in the initial display but then the old cover when you click on the kindle. If you click on the POD you get the new front cover and the old back cover!Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle

Weird or what? I’ve emailed Amazon of course. I’m also waiting for them to remove the odd phrases that somehow magically attached themselves to a couple of my books, again just on the author page. They’re described as Inspector Banks novels! They certainly don’t contain any reference to Inspector Banks and are not detective stories at all. Amazon assure me they’re fixing it but I don’t know why it’s taking so long or how it could happen. I’m sure the creator of Inspector Banks wouldn’t appreciate it any more than I do but there’s nothing I can do about it.

My thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder, Demented Mothers, is on a countdown deal for 0.99, starting on 25th November. It is a university thesis rather than a commercial true crime and is where my true crime book, Not Guilty, had its origins. For those of you who like the facts and the sources etc. I’m sure you’ll find this an interesting read. If you prefer more of a narrative I’m hoping to have the fictionalized version available before Christmas. More on that later.

Happy reading.


15 Comments

More problems with CreateSpace.

I love CreateSpace–I really do, but why is it so difficult to make changes once your book is published? I’m not sure if the BookCoverImageconnectionsproblem is CreateSpace or Amazon or me. I had a small short story ebook published with Amazon, called Connections, for a while. Then I decided to beef it up with more stories and make it available as a POD as well, through CreateSpace. The system seemed very confused that I used the same name even though I had a different cover and it took several emails and quite some time before the cover matched the new content.

not guilty 2014 coverNow I have the same problem with Not Guilty, my true crime book. It’s always been a POD and an ebook and I just wanted to add a couple of things and do some minor edits but then I decided I wanted a new cover as well. I spent weeks mucking around with that, mainly trying to find out who I needed permission from to use photos. After one rejection I went with a photo of the court house where the trial was held and I’m quite happy with that. Finally put it up on CreateSpace and Amazon.

The ebook is fine but the POD, while it shows the new cover on my author page, shows the old cover and content when you click on it. So far I’ve written several emails, which is always a bit frustrating because it takes some time to get a reply, probably because I’m in Oz and they’re not. I even considered unpublishing it and starting over but you need to make quite significant changes to do that with CreateSpace, including changing the name of the book. Has anyone else had problems like this?

I live in hope it will eventually be resolved and at least I sell way more ebooks that Stony_Creek_Cover_for_KindlePODs anyway. I’ve also just published a new story, Stony Creek, which is free from the 18th to the 22nd November; it’s a romance set in outback Australia, mostly in 1970. Those of you who’ve read Not Guilty or Inheritance might think romance is an odd genre for me to dabble in but I do like variety and I have actually co-authored a couple of romances published traditionally.

My son’s getting married in less than two weeks and I’ve been looking around for an outfit for a month or two–pleased to say I’ve found something I’m actually happy with. Woo-hoo!


26 Comments

Formatting for CreateSpace

Book number six on CreateSpace and I think I’ve finally figured it out! All the text fitted in first time and was accepted immediately–then I read the proofs and found a couple of typos but that was easily fixed. Feeling pretty good about all that I decided I’d get that first page number business right. I’d never been able to work out how to start the page numbers on the page I want them, which in this case is page 5, after the Contents page etc.

I confess I’m not good at reading instructions–never have been and probably never will be. My eyes sort of glaze over and my brain goes to a happier place when faced with technical details.  I used to sew a bit, for myself and my kids when they were little. I managed, usually, just by cutting out the shapes according to the paper patterns and sewing them together in a logical manner. If I started to read the actual instructions I’d give up. Too hard. I’m one of those people who have to learn using the hands on method, I think.

My CreateSpace experience, therefore, has been very . . . um . . . let’s just say it’s probably taken me longer to figure it out than if I’d read the instructions properly the first time. A lot of trial and error later, here I am at my first properly formatted book. I’m still not sure about the font though, or more so, the size of the font. What do you use? I’ve used Bookman, which I like, but while size 12 looks good to me it’s hard to say until I have the actual book in my hands. The book, by the way, is an extended version of Connections, my short story collection. I’ve added several more stories to it and a new cover, which was fun and I’m happy with. The POD version is available now for $5.65 and the kindle should be up next week. It will be free for a few days and I’ll announce that here, so stay tuned. BookCoverImageconnections

If anyone has found this post via linkedin please reply here. For some reason my computer seems to have taken a sudden dislike to linkedin and won’t allow any emails through from them. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks.