Friday, April 08, 2011

For/From Indie Authors: Edward G. Talbot

Edward G. Talbot is the pen name for two authors, Ed Parrot and Jason Derrig. They met in 1988 at a cross country running race. We won't tell you here how it turned out, but Jason is far more likely to recount the results of that day than Ed. They discovered a lot of common interests, including sports, politics, and thriller novels. They also share the ability to talk for hours on end about absolutely nothing, a trait not fully appreciated by either man's wife. In 2008, they released their first conspiracy thriller novel, New World Orders as a free podcast.  In 2011, they released the book in ebook and print format, and they have two more thrillers planned for released in 2011.
  • The sample.  One of the great thinks about ebooks is that you can sample them.  But if the front of the book contains too much stuff that isn't "the book", people may just move on to the next sample. So keep it brief.  Title page (include no more than two blurbs here if you have them), copyright page, optional table of contents, maybe a list of other works (no samples or blurbs for other works), and maybe no more than a page of acknowledgments.  And keep all this as limited as is realistic. You aren't just copying the physical book to ebook, you're creating a specific experience that you want to optimize.
  • Formatting tips.  It can potentially be a lot of work to format an ebook.  However, a few small items can go a long way towards making the formatting of a basic novel easier:
  • ---Get rid of all your tabs.  They may not convert well.  Simply set your paragraph to indent automatically and write this way from now on.  It can be a pain to remove tabs if you're formatting an existing work, but it's worth the effort to make hidden characters visible and remove all the tabs.
  •  ---When uploading to kindle, create bookmarks (in Word or OpenOffice, do whatever the equivalent is in other packages) called "cover" and "toc" and put them in the obvious locations.  This will make the menu and the five way button on the kindle handle them correctly.
  •  ---If you are writing something for ebook-only, consider minimizing the number of styles you use.  I have only one style besides the default in the book I just released, that one for chapter headers.  If you choose to have more formatting, you'll need more styles, but the fewer you have, the less there is to go wrong.  What I do is write with no styles, then before releasing, I clear all formatting and go through and format the chapter headers with the header style.  It takes me about 90 minutes from scratch to a formatted 100K word book which has everything I want when I upload it - no HMTL editing required. Certainly pursue additional formatting if you're so inclined, but given that readers can customize how ebooks look on their reader, in many cases it will not be worth the effort.
  • Consider podcasting your novel.  I released my novel as a free audiobook via podcast in 2008. My big regret is that I didn't jump on the ebook bandwagon right after doing this, because I had established an audience who would have been happy to spread the word for me. It requires an investment of between $100 and $200 for equipment and some level of comfort reading aloud, but you don't have to be a voice actor to have success.  And the podcast fiction community is really big on cross-promotion, so you will definitely see some interest if your work is decent and you are willing to promote.  Many fans of podcast novelists are more than happy to pay $2.99 for an ebook from an author who gave them the audio for free.

Please feel free to contact me with questions about formatting or about podcasting

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