Reviewing The Adventure So Far

DSCN7533 I thought I’d share a photo’ or two.  These are the first two paperbacks of my novelettes.  I was finally able to get some batteries for my camera.  Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to get them into good light so there’s some flash flare on the photo’.  Still, I think it’s better than a simple scan!  I still can’t begin to describe just how it felt, after waiting 43 years, what it’s like to hold them in my hand.  Don’t get me wrong!  I doubt very much that I would have them now, if I hadn’t first discovered the miracle of ebooks.  Seeing my ebooks receiving interest gave me the courage to go for the ‘real thing’!

Perhaps that’s the true importance of ebooks and self-publishing.  Without ebooks, I would have continued to write, but what I wrote would have remained forever a curious pile of paper or collection of computer files, gathering dust, getting damaged or lost.  I’ve never had the resources to mail agent after agent, publisher after publisher – well, not since my youth, anyway.  As many manuscripts I produced were either written longhand or typed in non-manuscript format (MS format took far too much paper), I couldn’t even afford to have them typed professionally, ready in case somebody actually showed interest.  But ebooks!  Oh what a revolution!

DSCN7525 Early experiments with PDFs had not convinced me.  I don’t like them.  It’s as simple as that.  SO a handful of half-hearted attempts at writing on the computer simply sat there, doing nothing.  discovering Kindle ebooks and ePubs transformed everything!  A good number of short story ebooks yielded the fact that I could get readers – judging by the number of downloads.  It was this that led to the novelettes.  Naturally, like the vast majority of Indie writers, translating hundreds of downloads of free stories into sales of longer tales has not been quite so impressive.  In fact, I still get excited by a sale.  That gives you some idea of how quick sales are going!  Despite that, I know that there are millions of people who don’t like ebooks, so I decided to issue the novelettes as paperbacks, at the absolute minimum price.  I’m not sorry I did, even if I’m yet to get any sales!

And that’s the thing.  I have made a discovery.  I now know that the dream on its own is enough!  Yes, some sales would be very nice, and no, they’ll never make me rich – or even financially ‘comfortable’, but, I have realised the most cherished dream of my life!  Yes, I would feel immensely honoured to have readers, especially ones who come back for more, but that would be icing on the cake, and icing without a cake is rather pointless.  After all these years, I now know that it is simply the sense of having moved from a manuscript to a finished, honest-to-goodness, book is incomparable in terms of satisfaction.

Does that al sound egocentric?  It probably does, but I’m honest enough to acknowledge the truth, now that I understand it.  This realisation of a simple fact caused me to consider something.  Is my ambition now fulfilled?  Do I now move to something new?  Well, you may be unhappy to learn that I intend to continue writing.  I have another ambition, and it may even be the one that has driven everything else this far.  I want to see one of my novels not in ebook format, nor even in paperback.  I really wish to see one in hardback!  More, it should be a stylish hardback, such as anybody would be proud to display on their most publicly visible bookshelf.  Sure, it can have a slip cover, but the bare book, without that paper wrapping, however ‘pretty’ is very much secondary.  And here, I will make a confession.  I came very close to having that a very long time ago.  I contacted a company I thought were legitimate publishers.  In fact, I discovered that they were ‘Vanity publishers’.  Still, if I had had more money and less sense, I would have leapt at the opportunity to see my book published.  I had a clear impression of how it would look, and I so wanted it!  Yet, with the good sense instilled in me by excellent parents, I recognised that it would be an expensive way to massage my ego.  As a result, and not without a few twinges of regret, I rejected the deal and returned meekly to the realms of the author dreaming but not succeeding.  Today, I am very glad that I didn’t take that route.

The other two of my novelettes are on the brink of appearing as paperbacks.  My recently completed novella will follow as swiftly as possible.  I’ve now begun writing another book, which will be the fourth of the G1: The Guardians series, and I don’t yet know what length it will be.  It is my hope that it will be the longest tale yet, but that could mean that it will still be of novella length.  My production rate has declined, but that’s natural given the increased length of each book.  I’m not really writing less, it’s just more concentrated.

So far, this adventure has been fascinating and fun.  With any luck, it will continue in the same vein!

~ Steve

The Guardians Are Here – New Release!

Evil Under The CircleNewly released through Amazon (worldwide) is the sequel to Shade of Evil.  Second in the G1: The Guardians series, Evil Under The Circle is another novelette, though it came dangerously close to qualifying as a novella.  It is currently only available as a Kindle ebook (though if you contact me directly, I’ll send you a copy in ePub format as soon as I receive your payment via PayPal).  To quote the blurb:

A chance find of a tunnel under an ancient stone circle leads to a terrible secret, hidden millennia before.  As terror strikes, and evil consumes, only one group can help: the Guardians.  Their elite team, G1, arrives and must overcome the ancient evil.  If they fail, then the very world will be destroyed.

Joined by unexpected allies, G1 face one of the greatest challenges their organisation has ever encountered, and there’s no guarantee that they will survive!

A novelette.

Despite its greater length, around 15,700 words, the ebook is at the same low price of $0.99 (note that the price may be higher if local taxes, like VAT, apply to your location).  Search for the ASIN B00CA74SX6

Pinning down these works to a specific genre is not really possible.  They feature horror, future fiction, occult/supernatural, parapsychology and the paranormal.  Quite a feast, really!

About two weeks after its release on Amazon, the ebook will also be released through Smashwords, in multiple formats.  If all has gone well with getting Shade of Evil into paperback form, then this book will follow suit.

~ Steve

 

The Guild (Thief, #5) by Steve K Smy – New ebook released

I don’t normally post more than once in a day but I hope that you’ll think this is justified:

The Guild - ImagineerAnd here it is, the fifth short story in the Thief series.  I still don’t know for certain how far this is all going!  I am thinking about bringing them all together in a single volume at some time.  Of course, to do that I’ll have to be fairly sure that the end has been reached…

Anyway, back to The Guild.  To quote the blurb:

The Guild: a criminal organisation that lurks in every corner of Ur’gavan. The Guildmaster: chief of that organisation. And caught between old oaths and new: Tirnam.

The prince and his friends are confronted by the Guild’s brutal methods. His power challenged by the demands of the Guildmaster, they must prove that Tirnam is the only ruler of the city.

Will Tirnam and his friends be free of problems now?  Well, if they’re human, then the answer is probably that they won’t.  The question then becomes whether or not the problems they will face in the future will be enough to justify writing about them.  It’s a puzzle… sort of.  In  fact, I must confess that I have the germ of an idea for another tale in the series, but is there another after that?  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what comes along.

The Guild is available in multiple formats from Smashwords (just click the cover picture), in ePub format from Goodreads and in ePub and mobi (Kindle) format from the shop on the main Imagineer web site.

~ Steve

Update to “News and Views”

Aside

An update to “News and Views”, from an email just received from the British Library regarding ebook submissions:

Dear Steve,

 

At present, electronic publications are submitted to us on a voluntary basis, although Legal Deposit for electronic material is likely to come into force next month. Currently, where a publication is produced in print format, there is still a requirement for this to be sent to us, and we would not require an electronic version as well. Material can be submitted to us by e-mail attachment to this address, providing the total size of the e-mail is no larger than 5 MB. As you have mentioned, PDF is our preferred method but we can accept other formats just as ePub or mobi files.

Hope this information helps.

Regards,

[Name deleted]

British Library – Digital Processing Team

 

A refreshingly clear reply!  Note that “Legal Deposit for electronic material is likely to come into force next month”.

~ Steve

Jutoh – The Answer To Self-Publishing Prayers

Jutoh: What it is

jutoh Jutoh is a software package that permits the creation of ebooks.  That was difficult!  No, seriously, it is just that.  You can import your writing from various sources or use the (admittedly) basic built-in editor.  When you are ready, you can then export your ebook in various formats.  There’s also a basic cover designer.  Jutoh is programmed and published by Julian Smart of Anthemion Software.  If you want something to provide a “writer’s desktop”, with a wide variety of very useful features, I would recommend that you also take a look at Writer’s Café, from the same source.  This concerns the whole process up to creating the finished product.  It provides tools that can help in the actual writing of your works of fiction.  Combine the two (very simple), and you have everything you need!

.:0:.

My Own Story

When I first started writing ebooks, the only option that I could find was Open Office’s PDF export.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t like PDFs.  More, I was aware of the Kindle and iBooks, along with other ebook formats.  That’s what I wanted!  I wanted something that came as close to behaving like a real book as possible.  After a lengthy period of searching, my eldest son, Damien, sent me a link to Anthemion Software’s Jutoh.

Now, I’m not going to pretend it was all smooth sailing from that point.  To be honest, I’m not a great one for reading guides to software.  To me, the best software is usually as intuitive to use as possible.  Jutoh appeared to be just that.  Naturally, not having actually read anything about using it, I started colliding with problems, most of which could be sorted in moments by simply reading the User’s Guide.  What I did learn, however, was that Julian Smart, the creator of the software, is superb at providing remarkably patient support, whether it’s just pointing to a part of the User’s Guide, or delving deeper.  I can say in all honesty that I have never experienced such excellent levels of support!

These days, I write away in Open Office, open a new project in Jutoh when ready, and import the Open Office document.  Very little work is required after that.  I have saved configurations that I import at the beginning.  Close the project, reopen it and apply the configurations.  That just leaves designing a cover, or using one already made, adding a few extras, and then I can run the ebook generator for each format I want, including a special format Open Office document for submission (after conversion to a Word document) to Smashwords.com with no problems.  Life simply can’t get any simpler.

Jutoh can be as simple or as complicated as you want, according to what you want of your ebook.  If you opt for complicated, you can rest secure in the knowledge that Mr Smart can help in an emergency.  You will get quick support through joining the Yahoo Group.

.:0:.

Testimonials for Jutoh

“I just put a new Teen novel up on Kindle – using Jutoh, it came out clean and easy to read, even with my differing fonts.   I started to get good reviews right away; and as you know, that is the life-blood for self-publishing.”

R. W. Jensen, Author of Diary of a Celebrity Horse Trainer

***

“I started using Jutoh almost a year ago. Up until then I was going crazy trying to get my first book formatted to meet the Smashwords premium catalog standards, but it seemed no matter how closely I followed Smashwords’ own directions I kept having problems. I was not a happy writer.

Since I’m fairly technically inclined I decided I had no choice but to learn HTML and format the book that way. While I was looking for HTML tutorials somehow I ran across a review for Jutoh from an indie author and so I checked it out. I was blown away and in love from first usage.

Here’s what makes Jutoh such an invaluable tool for me:

  • It runs on every major platform. I like to use GNU/Linux, the fact that it’s supported is great. Occasionally I need to use Windows or Mac, and it’s even better than I can install it legally on all three platforms using my serial number.

  • It uses HTML for formatting, but I don’t have to dig through the code unless I really want to. eBooks really do need to be formatted in HTML, but having use of Jutoh’s WYSIWYG editor makes my life so much easier.

  • Producing a book for nearly any bookstore is painless. Want to upload to Kindle? Push the button for .mobi. Publishing on iTunes or Nook. Piece of cake, that’s the .epub button. Smashwords, my old nemesis? Again, as easy as pushing a single button. (OK, Smashwords has the extra step of opening the file and resaving it as a .doc file, but even my grandma can do that.)

  • The community is active and vibrant, and Julian (the creator) is a champ at service and support. And bug squishing. I’ve yet to run into an issue that the community couldn’t help me through, and I’ve had some strange ones come up. I’m sure there are other communities this helpful, but the fact that most Jutoh users are authors adds something special to it.

I’ve gotten handy enough at formatting that I’ve even been able to take on some clients, and Jutoh hasn’t failed me yet. If you are willing to learn your way around inside Jutoh (and the learning curve is short), I would encourage you to try it. It will let you focus on writing more and formatting less, and that’s what all writers want, isn’t it?”

Adam Tervort http://adamtervort.com

***

Of the dozen or so eBook creation apps on the market aimed at the non-HTML crowd, Jutoh is the ONLY one I can recommend without reserve. It’s what Word or Word Perfect would be like if they produced epub and mobi files, and it’s just about as full featured as either. It produces the best looking HTML and CSS out there. More importantly, it’s very easy for amateurs to use. Making a table of contents (TOC) has never been easier. There’s no perfect substitute for coding by hand, but Jutoh comes closer than any app of its kind.

Charles Seper – professional eBook formatter and owner eBook Pioneers

Ur’gavan – New ebook Release!

The latest short story by Steve is now available as an ebook!  Ur’gavan is the third in the Thief series.  It is slightly longer than the two previous tales, Thief (Thief 1) and Gabrin: The Avatar (Thief 2).

To quote the blurb:

Continuing on from the end of both “Thief” and “Gabrin: The Avatar“, this short story sees the people of the ancient city of Ur’gavan facing grave danger. The one-time boy thief, Tirnam, and his friend Gabrin Parr, must seek to forge a new future, a future of hope. They are the only ones who can achieve the impossible, or can they? The risks are enormous, but the rewards are even greater…

The ebook is available from Smashwords (multiple formats) and Goodreads (ePub only).

To make it absolutely clear as to the correct reading order of these stories, they should be read in strict sequence as numbered!  While there is overlap between Thief and Gabrin: The Avatar, the sequence should be adhered to – it’s the way they have been written to be read.

New book launched

On Saint Valentine’s Day, very late, I self-published my latest short story ebook, through Smashwords.  Now, this one was a little different from previous releases.  It’s a tale in its own right, but it’s also linked to Thief.  I call it a prequel, but only because it starts a little before the events in Thief take place.  In fact, it overlaps that story.  It’s definitely not a sequel, that I’m sure about.  So, what is this ebook?  Well, it’s all made clear below.

 GabrinTheAvatarGabrin: The Avatar is the sixth short story ebook I’ve released through Smashwords.  It is the second book in a developing series which has the provisional title of Thief, the same as the first story.  To quote:

Gabrin Parr, son of the mighty Elthan Parr, discovers the terrible fate which hangs over him, thanks to his courageous mother. Rebelling, he flees, until he learns of his mother’s cruel death. Driven by that, he determines to destroy his father – and the evil he contains. Can he triumph over an evil that has lasted for thousands of years?

The ebook is available in multiple formats from Smashwords or as an ePub from Goodreads.  If you do download it, or any of my ebooks, I would very much appreciate a review on either/both Smashwords/Goodreads.

~ Steve

“Thief” – New Release

Thief is Steve’s latest short story ebook, released 8th February, 2013.

Thief is a fantasy centred around the young thief, Tirnam.  It takes place in a city that is under the heel of an evil conqueror, its people all enslaved by the occupiers.  Tirnam lives with the old thief who saved his life, who dreams of escaping the city.  But the old man is crippled and there’s no realistic way out.  So Tirnam must face the dilemma of allowing his adoptive father to sudden terribly in a dreadful gamble at escape or to live on in perpetual danger from the conquerors.  But there’s another course, and it’s the old man who points the way:  Tirnam can try to raise the people in rebellion.  In the end, he will discover that there are many forms of theft, and some are just indescribably evil.

The ebook can be downloaded in various formats, from Smashwords, or as an ePub from Goodreads,


Reader review:

Review by: David H. Keith on Feb. 07, 2013 :
Now, this is what a story should be: intelligent, well-written and formatted, compelling, and with an ending that left me nodding in agreement. Well done, Mr. Smy. Well done.

The story line itself has been used for millennia, I’m sure, but it never grows old when told right. Mr. Smy told it just spot on. I highly recommend this.

David H. Keith
http://www.davidkeith1.blogspot.com
www.novemberfirstpublications.weebly.com

Sources for eBooks by Steve

It’s about time that we updated the information about where you can obtain Steve’s eBooks from.  The best place to get them from is Smashwords, and its numerous affiliated sites, where the maximum number of formats is available.  All other sources have restrictions on the formats they offer!

The current list is:

Other sources will become available over time and we will endeavour to keep you informed of these changes as they happen.  You can, of course, also locate sources using search engines.

A Question of Format

Well, it’s been a little while since I got my kobo mini eReader, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time either reading or trying to organise its contents.  Having shelves is useful but I’ve discovered that there are definite failings, though I’m not sure that they’re unique to the kobo.

I like to have the best metadata (information about the ebook) possible, and the nicest covers I can find, for all the ebooks I’ve got.  Neither the kobo desktop app nor Adobe Digital Editions allow the metadata to be altered from within them, any more than the eReader does.  As a consequence, I’ve been using Calibre to perform the task, and also to keep a track of my full library.  It’s a very useful tool for such activities as updating metadata, converting formats and maintaining a database of contents, including moving books to and from the kobo.  Unfortunately, problems are thrown up very early on!

First, and perhaps the most frustrating, is that when you obtain an ebook through the kobo store, adding it to your library but not actually downloading it, a “virtual book” record is created on the eReader.  This shows up in Calibre as being a book but is in reality just a pointer – you can’t save the book to your Calibre library or to disk!  The first ebook I opted to read on the kobo was The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, which I added to my library on the kobo site.  All was well, until I discovered that I didn’t actually have the ebook – just that pointer.  Naturally, I downloaded it then, from the kobo store.  The metadata was very poor and the cover was transformed into something of no interest.  Naturally, I updated the data in Calibre, though I first had to copy the ebook to disk and add it to my Calibre-kobo library.  To get the information back onto the kobo, I then had to copy it back to the mini, which left me with two copies!  Deleting the original, uninformative version was the obvious thing to do – until I ran the Synch process – which proceeded to reinstate the version on the kobo store.  I had to delete it from “My Library” at the store to avoid duplication on the eReader.  What’s more, I lost annotations and bookmarks in the process.  Updating metadata leaves much to be desired!

Next, there’s an issue with the way ebooks are rendered.  Pages don’t flow properly.  I constantly encounter situations where large areas of the screen are empty – with fragments of text which are completed on moving forward in the ebook.  Also, bookmarks don’t work!  Periodically, a muddled piece of text is displayed, where a page number collides with a word, at the right edge of the screen.  Putting the eReader to sleep, or powering off, causes a complication in that the automatic bookmark, which is supposed to remember where you got to, restores you to an earlier position in the ebook because the page numbers don’t equate to the number of actual screen pages you’ve read.  This has happened in both PDF and ePub versions.  I don’t know whether it’s a question of the kobo getting it wrong, or the publisher/author!

None of these problems are truly critical, but they are niggles which cause some annoyance.  Interestingly, the pagination/bookmarking worked perfectly for the Sherlock Holmes ebook when it was just a virtual book!  It was only after I switched to a genuine copy of it that the pagination/bookmarking errors started.  It’s not a good advertisement for ebooks.  I’ve also discovered a problem with the Facebook connectivity function – which may be a consequence of using different email addresses for my Facebook and my kobo accounts – I’m still investigating that.

I hope that these problems can be addressed and solutions found.

~ Steve