Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Wasting Time–Summer Daze

I realise most of you are on the other side of the world and some are suffering very severe cold weather conditions so I apologize in advance for complaining about the heat again! I just seem unable to do anything very constructive of late and I’ve come to the conclusion I should be hibernating for the summer. It just doesn’t suit me at all, not when it’s several days in a row of over 40 celsius here in Oz. (That’s 104 F.) The creative side of my brain seems to be in a summer daze while the more practical side is still able to cope with those chores I really have to do.

A lot of the time I consider wasted has been used up attempting to re-format some of my books for Smashwords–I’m not even sure why I bothered except it seems logical they may as well be available in as many places as possible. So far about half of my attempts have succeeded, one with a lot of help from a nice woman at Smashwords, The other half haven’t gone through and I’ve decided not to persevere at the moment; to be honest I can’t be bothered. I’ve had very few sales through Smashwords anyway but there are certain advantages–I’ve been able to make books available free there on a permanent basis, which I’ve chosen to do with ‘What Did You Say?’, which is a very short ebook on grammar and punctuation. There’s also an interview on Smashwords, which is not available on Amazon.

Apart from that, Amazon rules, and, while I may attempt to publish more with Smashwords from time to time, I am NOT wasting too much time, time that could be spent writing, on their crazy formatting.

So instead of writing or re-formatting today, I’ve spent a bit of time adding excerpts to my list of books here, so have a look at my book page. Probably not terribly well formatted–I’ll get to that one day. Or not! I’ve also been to the library for the first time this summer and am planning to waste some time this week reading a novel. Or two. In front of the air conditioner.

Happy Reading.


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Problems with Smashwords! Amazon’s looking easy.

I’m in the process of publishing all my books on Smashwords, one at a time, as their KDP Select runs out on Amazon. I knew I was up for some re-formatting but some were already on there–I’d just archived them and only had to open them up again. Easy, right? Ha! If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about self-publishing, nothing is easy!Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle

It may be something to do with Apple, which apparently is where we all want to be published. Something about their requirements with TOCs or whatever. Blah blah blah. I might just forget about it all for a while. Is it a waste of time? Time I could, maybe should, be spending writing? I’ve had very few sales on any of my Smashwords stuff and the same books sell pretty well on Amazon but I like the idea of having them available everywhere. I suppose I’ll figure it out eventually. Feels a bit like housework now. Something that needs to be done and I might feel a sense of achievement when it is finally finished, but then I’ll just have to do it all over again the next time and if no-one sees it is there any point?

We’re in for a week in the high 30s to low to mid 40s Celsius, about 102 to 109 F for those of you who don’t speak Celsius. It’ll be horrible but we do have an air-conditioner so I can’t complain too much. I plan to spend most of the week in the lounge room, hopefully writing, not torturing myself with Smashwords. I’ll have to get that done though–having anything half-done gnaws away at me and I cannot forget about it. Of course I also have two stories under way as well which are nagging me a bit. Quite a bit.

I’m well aware of the horrible weather some of you in the US and UK have been enduring, with ice and floods, so sorry to be whining about a bit of heat. I hope things are improving for you if you’re in an affected area.

I hope to have my book, Her Flesh and Blood, up next week. It’s a fiction story based on a murder trial in Australia, in 1910, and I enjoyed writing it. I also enjoyed writing Stony Creek, which is an outback romance I published a few weeks ago. It’s doing quite well, so thanks to you if you’ve read it.


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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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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.