For some while I’ve had two free e-books available from myebook.com. They are Recycled Cards and Mementoliths 2. The first is a republication of the texts of some poem cards I published in 1998, and the second is a revision and extension of my self-published pamphlet collection from 2005. According to the site they’ve been ‘opened’ by an extraordinary number of readers, but I’ve got no other feedback from the site.
Other publishers are moving into e-publishing in a big way, having books available for sale from their own sites or from a variety of devices – Kindle, iPad, Android, Blackberry etc. I’m trying to decide if Calder Wood Press will move into this area, but in the meantime I decided to dip a toe in the water by making available two of my out of print books on Amazon’s Kindle. They have a system called Kindle Direct Publishing which takes any self-publishing author through the process in a number of simple steps. I thought I’d outline how the process works:
You start with the book in a Word document file – .doc format. There’s no need to convert it to pdf or html format beforehand, although you can use Mobipocket’s Creator software to format if you wish. You need a cover image in jpeg or tiff format, with the longest side being a minimum of 1280 px. You answer questions on ‘contributors’ (i.e. authorship), rights ownership, publisher name, and supply an ISBN if you have one. (e-books need a separate isbn from the one used for printed works). One of the difficult areas to decide on is whether not you want Digital Rights Management (DRM) to be applied to your book. I chose not to. Upload cover and text, and preview your Kindle book, and it’s done. Pre-formatting takes a bit of time. I don’t know which font Kindle uses, so I standardised my text to a single font and a single font size. I gave each poem its own page, with a page break inserted after each one. I wrote a description of each book, so it could be used to advertise the book. I decide against having an ‘active’ table of contents. That requires html editing, which I could have done, but I decided to go with simple text. The first page is a title page, formatted in larger font, and the second page is the copyright page. I wrote a short biographical note, which went in at the end of the book. The books are now ‘In Review’ and should be available within 24 hours. I had to set a price for the Kindle editions, and I chose a low price, maybe a third of what I’d expect to pay for a printed paperback book of poetry. I don’t know what rates other e-publishers charge, and I must check, but I don’t think I’m overcharging. The aim, after all, is to make these poems available again, several years after they went out of print. I’ve had enquiries from readers over the years, so I know there’s a (small) demand. So, hopefully very soon, Thirteen Ways of Looking At the Highlands…and more, and Seven Senses, will be available.
I chose not to edit or revise the poems, beyond correcting the odd typo or mismatched tense, because I want them to stay in the form they were originally published in. With the second one, Seven Senses, however, I felt that some of the poems were maybe no longer appropriate to release again, and I substituted a few other poems which were written about that time, and which fitted the overall themes. These books were first published by Diehard Publishers, now of Callander, and I’m grateful to Sally Evans for her support. In turn, I’m sure I can give her advice if she wants to put any Diehard titles up on Kindle.
I didn’t buy a Kindle device when they first came out, but I got one a couple of months ago, and I use it quite frequently. I find it very easy to use, and comfortable to read. I got several cheap classics – Darwin, Thoreau, Twain etc for a few pence each, and I’m happily working through them as bedtime reading. So putting them into this form seems very natural to me. I know that Amazon can make them available in other formats for other devices.
Where do I go next? Well, I think I will delete my free e-books, and put them up on Kindle too, as I think it’s a more generally readable platform. And I’m exploring with Calder Wood Press authors the possibility of making their O.P. titles available on Kindle.
Postscript: The two e-books are now available from Amazon. Three pamphlet collections – Mementoliths 2, Recycled Cards, and 600 lines – will be available in the next day or so.