Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Recently, I was asked for my best hint that made my author’s life easier!

***At a recent romance writer's workshop, each of us were asked what our best advice would be to help each other. This should have been my first suggestion - next post, I will share what I really said.
When I first decided I wanted a career as an author and not to just have a book with my name on it, like everyone else facing this precipice, I had to make a lot of serious choices.

The decisions that faced me mostly had to do with publishing a professional product and not an amateurish piece of work that would end up being an embarrassment. I had friends who’d taken the cheap route and after the first few one and two star reviews, their warnings were enough. Either do it right or not at all.

So, I worked out a budget for each book with the three main costs being editing, covers and formatting. Hells bells, when I remember how much I spent over the years in turning out properly formatted novels, I have to shake my head and swallow the cuss words. And… all I got in return for my $100+ per book was a mobi file for Amazon.

Now, because my formatter had a lot of other clients, I didn’t feel comfortable in asking him to upgrade the “Also author of…” page of my backlist and so I often felt frustrated that my readers weren’t being kept up to date on my newly published work.

A few years, and twenty-five books later, I decided to spread myself to all the venues available and not just stay with Amazon. When I shared the good news with my formatter, he dropped a bombshell that blew me right out of my comfy little sand patch… you know the one where my head was deeply buried.

Because I’d been with him for so many years, he’d only charge me another $40 per book for the epub format which was necessary to carry out these plans.


As much as I hated the idea of having to force-feed myself yet another technical procedure that would tax my non-techie brain, I knew it needed to be done. I would have to take on the job of formatter myself……groan!!

Thankfully, the way the world works (for me anyway) when you search, you find. After asking other authors at a local workshop how they handled this part of their business, one very smart friend explained about Pressbooks.

It couldn’t be true! How had I missed out on learning about this earlier? Twenty-five books earlier? She explained the concept and I admit to feeling pessimistic. Copy and Paste into a template. Only costs $20 for three formats and as many copies as you want. You can get the paperback format there also for an added reasonable cost. And… they have monthly sales coupons? Well for heaven’s sake… which planet had I been occupying?

That very day, I went home and opened an account. I’ll admit it took a couple of phone calls to my friend, watching the tutorial more than once and with the paperback pdf’s, a few e-mails to the very helpful Pressbook’s administrator. But every time I push that export button and get those lovely, three formatted copies (mobi, epub & pdf) of my updated work, I once again thank my guardian angel for sending me to that workshop.

And… now that I’ve set up every one of my books on Pressbook, I have a wonderful library of my work, altogether on one platform where each book’s information is easy to maintain and always just a click away. If my computer crashes, no problem, my work is safe.

So there’s my hint. Did it interest you? Or are you still taking the hard road and paying someone else and giving up control?


  1. I'll check this out. Currently I use Kindlegen (a free download from Amazon) to generate a .mobi file for Amazon's Kindle store. That basically entails using a .html file as my production manuscript due to how Kindlegen works. I use Calibre for .epub format, though it can also do .mobi and a dozen other formats. I back up my goods to Google Docs.

    I spend the most time dealing with Createspace. Getting the manuscript into their format is murder.

    1. I can honestly tell you that this system is so user friendly even a techie-nerd who has the keyboard imprint in her forehead (me) is able to figure it out with no problem. Maybe not the first time, but eventually, looking back, I wondered why I made things so hard. The pdf for Createspace is the best part. Your manuscript comes out perfect as long as you put the settings right and there's the help desk if you get stuck. Or me if you still need assistance (mimibarbour@hotmail.com) And... if you grab a coupon the total cost can be as low as $65 for the three formats plus the paperback pdf. Good luck :-))))