Saturday, 3 September 2011

Smashwords, a blue mug and I

is where you can publish your book for FREE.  And you get to sell your book too, although of course Smashwords would want a piece of the pie once it's baked. Go on, try it. It's fun.

Mark Coker did it again. Just when I thought I should take a few days off after publishing my first ebook and starting my blog, he waved that  blue mug in my face and I'm off again.

When I started on the draft of this post, my intention was to motivate my former students to write because some of them are really good at it. I have been encouraging them since their school days but when one comes from the backwaters of Malaysia (Go to google maps and find Kuching, Sarawak. You'll see what I mean.), I suppose one would have some reservations about one's English writing skills. It's something that I never understood because I'm kind of self delusional in that aspect. I suppose I have my teachers to thank for that. I emerged from school raring to write and three decades of setbacks only served to stoke my determination to succeed. Yeah, I must resemble some of those American Idol hopefuls that you see during the first audition.

So when Mark Coker dangled his carrot (that blue mug) on his blog post, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and fast forward this post about how I (a "technologically disadvantaged" person) ever even considered publishing on Smashwords and my experience dealing with it.

Okay, I was at a loose end. I was also desperate. Rejections from Big Publishing were the norm. Who in their right mind would give a retired fifty something  Malaysian woman with no writing experience a chance? When I read up on Smashwords, the word that kept leaping into sight was that publishing with it was EASY. So I plucked up my courage and opened up the Smashwords Style Guide. If you look at the first page under the GETTING STARTED section, the first two lines were 'Welcome to Smashwords' and 'Do-it-yourself or Hire Help'. A quick tour of the guide was enough to make me shudder. So before my fingers failed me, I hightailed it back to the Hire Help part. Made a beeline for Mark's List - a list of professional formatters and cover designers. Took out my galaxy tab and found that I could well afford them even at the current foreign exchange rate. Began going through their websites one by one. Figured that if I want to launch my first novel, it had better be done by some one I could relate to. After scrolling up and down numerous times, I finally decided on Miss Mae She's a mystery romance writer who is also a formatter AND cover designer. Oh, I love this 'killing two birds with one stone' business. Why did I pick her? She's an animal lover and since my novella revolves around mice, I thought she might enjoy doing my book for me. As it turns out, my instincts were right. Once my email was sent, she responded overnight. She was professional yet warm. We hit it off from the word 'Go'. She started on the cover first, sending me the mock-up below over the weekend.

I agreed with the photos but totally disagreed with colors and font. Fortunately hubby was on hand to photoshop the cover. I showed Miss Mae what I wanted and she redid it to perfection. The formatting was completed without a hitch although I had to tweak it here and there. Mostly spelling errors. My mistake in sending in the wrong edited file.

There followed a week of agony while I waited for the right time to send in to Smashwords. It happened to be the 7th month of the lunar year - the month of the Hungry Ghosts. A time when we Chinese all over the world avoid getting married, opening businesses.....Although the gates of hell were closed and padlocked by the time my book was ready for publishing, I wasn't taking any chances. My efforts at publishing seemed  pretty jinxed by then and I certainly did not want the supernatural forces to jeopardize them further. I reckon that if I could wait almost four decades to publish my book, I could hold back another week .

So that was how I got to publish my first e-book  (pix below) on Smashwords on 29 August 2011 - the first day of the 8th lunar month. Thanks, Mark Coker for giving this over-the-hill lady a chance. You're my fairy godmother? godfather? godson...oh whatever. Hats off to you. Now do I get that mug?

Footnote: I harbor no ill feelings towards Big Publishing. I'm old school enough to want to see my book in print form. It'll be nice too to donate part of the proceeds to cancer causes.

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