Thank You For Ten Update

My work continues on my short story collection, Thank You For Ten: Short Fiction About a Little Theater. Not without it’s headaches, but I expected that.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had decided on the order of the stories in the collection. That remains true, and I don’t see that changing.

Then I joined Smashwords, which is where I will probably publish this collection. Which meant downloading and studying the style guide for same. I have been doing that for the last week or so.

There is much to learn! One of the biggest things I have learned is that basically, everything you know about typing before you work on self-publishing e-books is wrong. Common buttons I have pressed while moving things around for print since the fourth grade are in fact detrimental to creating epub manuscripts. (Or whatever the proper term is. That’s one of the things I’m still working on, terminology.) That realization alone was cause for some slight muscle tension in my neck. Kind of. If you have published anything online the “right” way, you know what I’m talking about, probably.

But a bit of a debate raged in my head. Do I buy Word, for which Smashwords was designed, and for which the style guide was written? Or do I use open Office, which I got for free only a few weeks ago and am still playing with, since I have only had this computer for just over a month. I like free, and after all my friend and fellow author J. Lea Lopez told me she used Open Office for her publishing. She just had to remember to…(insert something that is too technical for me to understand at this moment of my education.) I like Open Office and was getting used to it.

I went back and forth over the decision, reading an adequate but not impressive Open Office guide to Smashwords that a pastor had written online. (Actually several of these were written by pastors, and I am trying not to spend too much time determining why that is.)  After studying that a few times, and having a conceptual breakthrough as to why and how e-publishing manuscripts are different from standard manuscripts I actually decided to bite the bullet and buy Word.

I’m not more happy about it than you are! But Smashwords advises it for anyone who plans to publish multiple things with them. I figure this is all new and strange enough to me as it is, without trying to add a bunch of extra steps to determine the spirit of the Word-based style guide and apply it to Open Open Office. (Which is also pretty new to me.) And since I don’t know any pastors that could help me, I decided the shortest distance between two points was a straight line.

Generally I am willing to trade some inconvenience for saving money. I tried to do so here. But publishing my stories is too important to spend days or weeks dithering over what to do. The time for theories and speculation is over in my author life. Time to get on with everything. I’ve had a chorus of “publishing/marketing is coming to get you one day!” for long enough. It’s not going to take care of itself, and if I am going to have to slog through things such as formatting and meatgrinders and rewiring my brain when it comes to typing, I want as few steps as possible. So, Microsoft Word it is. Just know what a dedication and commitment I am making to my fiction writing by taking such a step.

Outside of the mechanical, I spent about 90 minutes the other day coming up with an author’s note for Thank You For Ten. It started innocently enough, as I was just planning to put some space filling text in the document to test some of the formatting rules I’ve been talking about. Then in another minute I find myself slaving over an introduction to the entire collection. I’m sure it will undergo a few more changes before the final draft that gets published, but I’m quite happy with it. (After 90 minutes on less than a page, I should be.)

I mentioned this on Twitter but it’s worth repeating; I cut myself a lot of slack for the author’s note. That is to say I didn’t worry about rules or trends when i wrote it. (Not that I let myself get too worried about those anyway.) I’m happy with just about everything I write, but sometimes one has to consider structure or expectations or deadline or style guides. Not with my author’s note. This, after all, was not a narrator speaking, but me, directly. If convention says it is too long, too poetic, too philosophical, or distracting from the rest of the book, so be it. I’m the author, and I have a note for my readers.

So what with said note, and with learning, (slowly) the specifics of formatting for e-publication along with what I already learned earlier in the year from using my coupon on Createspace, it’s all starting to feel real now. Starting to feel that I may not have to be buried by the information and the technology after all. The learning curve remains steep as I go further into this process, but it doesn’t feel like a cliff to be scaled anymore, and that is progress, believe me. When/if I self publish my first novel, Flowers of Dionysus the process will be even longer and more complicated. But for the first time, it feels possible, and that makes me lean more towards self-publishing the novel and skipping the agent process than I have ever felt before.



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