Thursday, March 31, 2011


A few weeks ago I decided to bite the bullet and generate Kindle versions of my stories as either collections around a theme or as stand alone pieces.

Signing up with Amazon was the easiest part of the process but once I had an account I had to figure out how to generate the mobi format the Kindle requires.  My previous experience with producing a Smashwords eDocument was that it took a lot of fiddling to produce an acceptable document.  I did not want to put that same level of effort into each story since the return on time invested would be so slight at best.

Fortunately I use Scrivener as a writing tool and much to my surprise and delight it was able to produce documents in mobi and epub formats through an easy to use interface. The process that evolved while putting a Sam Boone collection together was first to produce txt versions of each story, then paste that into one of my Scrivener "cards" (each card representing a chapter), and finally compile the story in mobi format and review it on my Kindle reader.  This took several iterations until I finally figured out which were the proper settings needed to make the result more book-like.

The only difficulty was producing a decent cover, since it is the cover that hopefully will attract the eye of the potential reader. For this I used a combination of my own photography, Photoshop elements, and Gimp.  It took several tries to get the aspect ratio correct.

The next, and agonizingly difficult step was pricing the collection.  There is damn little guidance in this area so I stepped back and looked at the pricing of the genre magazines.  Analog and Asimov's both sell for $4.99 an issue.  An issue contains roughly 62,000 words, which equates to about 200 words per kilobyte.  Doing the math means that reasonable pricing should be about $0.0000811312 per kb.  But consumers don't like the prices to be too specific, so I had to round up or down AND pay attention to Amazon's 30% and 70% guidelines, one of which has a $2.99 minimum. Using that as a guide I priced the collections to come as close to the 70% minimum as possible while maintaining the integrity of the collection's theme.

Uploading involved putting all of the metadata in place on the Amazon menu and then waiting forty-eight hours for acceptance before it appeared in the virtual store.

Later I discovered Calibre and am now able to produce copies of my collections in any format and, even better, convert any eDocument from whichever of the dozen eFormats to any other.

All I have to do now is hope that someone, somewhere will buy the stories. 

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