Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mobipocket adventures ... and a Very Good Mystery

In answer to the four people who got in touch, asking why the heck they can't find Dangerous Moonlight at Smashwords today ... bear with me, guys: we're not out of the woods.

To begin with, Smashwords is having server issues which is slowing everything down -- and no one is immune, in this area. There were problems at Amazon last week, and CreateSpace is prone to difficulties. Be a little bit patient here, and thou shalt be rewarded...

Dangerous Moonlight was uploaded, and IS at Smashwords even as we speak, but you won't be finding it until a tiny bit of fine-tuning is done in the book's "order me" page. The system (which Smashwords calls the Meatgrinder, with excellent reason!) performs the word count on auto ... problem is, right now it's only firing on four out of five cylinders.

For the iPhone (Stanza) edition of Dangerous, it gives a word count of just under 20,000 words (which is 10% shorter than Callisto Switch), and for the Kindle (Mobi) edition it gives a count of about 40,000 -- 10% shorter than Windrage ... so you know something is way off the beam, because Dangerous Moonlight is 208,000, according to every word processor and DTP program I have! We "unpublished" the book, making it disappear temporarily, because to the casual browser who doesn't know it, an $11 pricetag on 20,000 words looks outrageous -- not the first impression we want to make. Then the server started to jack around, and it'll be tomorrow, earliest, before we can get back in and make adjustments.

Patience, guys: I'm in touch with Support at Smashwords, and they are both knowledgeable and helpful. It's just a minor hiccup that will be straightened out before you know it.

Rest assured, I'll update you on the blog here when we're up and running. In fact, if you want to be in on the launch, just make sure you're on the mailing list, and watch your mailbox!

Next piece of good news: the proof for STOPOVER was delivered and looks fantastic. CreateSpace has done another great job. We're now just waiting on the proof for APHELION, and the NARC books will be launching at Amazon ... next week, I hope.

The Mobipocket experience has also begun, behind the scenes. In fact, DreamCraft has gone in and set up the account as the publisher.

The way it works is this: I'm the writer, DreamCraft is the publisher, Mobi is the distributor, and virtually thousands of affiliate sites all over the web correspond to the bookstores. I'm almost a passenger on this one, just sitting back and watching. The way the financial aspect works out is interesting. Mobi pays 35% of the gross, meaning, $3.50 from a $10.00 book will come back here, to be divvied up between writer and publisher. There is also another 10% fee up for grabs -- the affiliate fee, in the event that someone passing through my websites and blogs buys a Keegan for his or her Kindle or smartphone as they jet through. Say it's a sale from the bookstore on my website -- that's another dollar that lands in the account here, helping to cover the expenses of running this show ... and bolstering Keegan's daydreams of quitting the day job to write full time!

So that's how the Mobipocket thing works. My understanding at this time is that they have affiliate members left and right, all over the globe, who will be on the lookout for books to sell off their sites. Each sale, no matter how or where it's generated, brings 35% back to base. And you know what my backlist looks like right now:

(The Hellgate series will be done by Christmas, adding two; unless there's a miracle, the LEGENDS project will be curtailing online at Book One, leaving the whole project to be released in various formats ... and so on. And yes, the haunted house book and Dead of Winter are still on my list of to-do jobs.)

Tomorrow, with the Mobipocket account set up and operational, and the conversion software downloaded, we'll see about running Fortunes of War, Dangerous Moonlight and The Lords of Harbendane through their publishing process ... and I'll let you know how it goes. The sheer size and complexity of Mobipocket is a little intimidating, but it seems simple -- they just have the loose ends tied off, legally, in French braids and sheepshanks, half-hitches and granny knots. The legal-beagle jargon is dense, but the interface is simple.

We downloaded the Mobipocket Reader, and I like the interface a lot: dead easy, and it works offline. If/when I get myself a screenreader (and right now I'm examining netbooks), I would be able to download direct to the gadget.

The other place where the Mobipocket publishing process is very different is in the file conversion system. Basically, with Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Lulu, whatnot, you upload your files to them and the conversion happens at their end. This is neat and tidy -- so long as you're inside the US. If you're not, you time out a lot, and when a file isn't quite right and has to be uploaded again, you can have hours to sweat through, to get a usable version.

Now, Mobipocket does it ... backwards. You download the free conversion software, do the work at your end, get it perfect and (hopefully) upload the little bugger ONCE. It's simple by comparison, because Mobipocket offers ONE file format, whereas Smashwords offers a whole range. With Mobi, you just make sure you download and install the correct reader for your device -- PC, Mac, desktop, netbook, screenreader, phone, whatever.

It's ... ludicrously complicated. Reminds you of the days of VHS and Beta. Of PC and Mac, before the advent of the PDF. Of SD and XD. (One longs to say, of Ford and Holden...)

Today, I leave you with a mystery. As you know if you're a regular reader here, I submitted the LEGENDS blog/site/novel to a directory called BlogCatalog and got it chucked back, rejected. Now, Aricia, being Aricia, was both incensed about that and curious as to the process. So she submitted her celebrity gossip blog, Aricia's Album, to the same venue. And something unspeakably weird went on.

Get this ... and explain it, if you can. We're still trying. After the submission, AG turns off the computer and leaves it for maybe 14 hours. Next day, checks her Gmail, and the are (count them) THREE messages from BlogCatalog.

1) Your blog is unacceptable. Here are the problems ... fix them, resubmit, and we'll reconsider your application.
2) Changes approved!
3) Welcome to BlogCatalog.

Hunh?! She did NOTHING, the computer was turned off. Also, the original message outlining whatever the problems were had vanished from the dashboard when the situation was rectified, so AG never will know what the perceived problems were. And then it was "welcome to BlogCatalog," without a line of text being changed, a picture deleted, or an ad moved.

Does this make any sense to anyone?

No, me neither. So --

Chapter Thirteen concluded at Legends today...

Ciao for now!

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