My new Kagi store for digital downloads opened today! No middleman sellers taking at least 30% and more from the fruits of my labors. This is Indie publishing at it's most independent. Please show your support for the Indie arts by buying my book here.
It's a DRM free Epub file which you can also convert to a Kindle format with one of many free softwares out there like Calibre or Sigil for your Kindle tablets. The Epub file is read on iPads and all other ereaders.
Fun-E-Books Publishing Store
Monday, February 20, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Before I go any farther into my own journey into ePublishing you may ask, “What exactly is an e-book?” It’s basically a collection of content and navigation files collected into a fancy zip file that allows for reflowing text that can be rendered on a number of different devices with different sized screens. An .opf file holds the content: images, html pages, metadata files, a table of contents and a file that describes the reading order. An .ncx file contains a table of contents. A container file, the META-INF is used to hold encryption and Digital Rights Management files that protect your book from being shared without purchasing it or printed out like PDFs can be. A simple mimetype file is added, it’s zipped up and saved with an .epub extension.
You write an epub file in strict XHTML web code, each chapter or page being it’s own xhtml page. You can use any simple text editor if you are handy with coding and there are a number of applications, some free, that will combine or compile those with your other content into an e-book package. You need to then validate the file for accuracy with ePubcheck, a free online service. If it comes back error free you can then upload it to your aggregator or right to a seller if you are using only one or two. Sounds fairly simple but there are mistakes waiting everywhere and if your file is not perfect the seller will reject it for any number of coding errors and unfortunately not tell you how to remedy the situation. Some apps lean toward WYSIWYG but the science is still evolving and it will be awhile before we have a program that will do it all for us. Book Creator, an app for iPad is the closet thing so far to a total WYSIWYG fixed layout e-book creator but it’s not well-suited for commercial production in ePublishing.
Now back to my book-loving wife and her preference for real books. Certainly there are still those who prefer the experience of physical books, God bless them and her. Everyday though, the number of converts to digital reading grows. Amazon sold more ebooks than real books for the last half dozen quarters and the trend only shows signs of expanding geometrically from there. The market is a billion dollars at present and by 2013 the estimate is over 2 billion dollars. That is a market you would be silly to ignore. Millions of folks are purchasing tablets and other mobile devices. The embrace of ePub by readers is no longer a novelty waiting to see if it will take hold. The e-book market is bigger than you think and the time to get into it is now.
Lisa De Spain, a professed e-book evangelist says, “ As a publisher… I’ve seen change and plenty of it. That’s why I am so excited about e-books! This single thing has the potential to change the publishing industry forever. The only way you can lose is to ignore it.”
Of course as always, with change there are naysayers. With the invention of movable type to print books in large quantities in 1470, Guillaume Fichet said, “If everything that can be thought can immediately be written and preserved for posterity, the memory capacity of the cultural system will be overstressed and oblivion will be the result.” Conrad Gesner in 1545 bemoans the disappearance of hand-lettered manuscripts as they had “unique authority” and the “aura of truth” that printed books lacked. Gutenberg’s printing was the cause of the “death of quality” literature and design. In 1951 critic Harvey Swados saw paperback books and worried that “this revolution in the reading habits of the American public means that we are being inundated by a flood of trash which will debase farther the popular taste.” Flash forward to 2009 -Paul Constant warns of the “slow moronic death of books as we know them” concluding that people are not going to read anymore or the idea of reading will be reduced to a “boutique experience, not unlike collecting vinyl.” As we know history shows no proof of any of those claims coming true. The answer to whether new breakthroughs will create good or evil is as always: yes. It’s never an either/or scenario. I think you can enjoy the best of both worlds and the only thing that has changed is that you have more choices.
It’s a new world for books and a new world for book creators. Having put together my own e-book I am now looking to help other cartoonists achieve their dreams of becoming self-published authors with an epublishing company. My friend and I have started Volossal Publishing. I’m hoping this has the potential to become a new career along with my plans to produce many more of my own e-books. I have content galore after all these years in the cartooning biz and for the price of my time and an $19 ISBN number, the next book is only clicks away from hitting the e-shelves.
Authors of all types are out there right now making money off short stories, articles and full-length books with E-ase. It only makes sense that cartoonists can do the same with popularly priced, widely available e-books. Indie publishing has become a viable option. Interested? Check out Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming An Indie Author by Zoe Winters. It’s a great book (e-book naturally) for getting your indie publisher juices flowing.
This new frontier is ripe with opportunities for cartoonists and authors alike who want control over their work and the freedom to bring it to a market that is hungry for it! Waiting to see how it works out for others just puts you behind the curve and ultimately farther down the search lists. So stop the presses! Tell the Lorax to relax! The trees will be getting a breather. Epub is here and ready to make you a fan of digital books.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Ask any cartoonist what he most would like to have. Would it be a syndicate contract, a hit comic, a movie deal…? Those are nice but what else is it that a cartoonist craves, that would secure his/her immortality in ink? Why a book of course. I know; I have had that dream too. I’ve been a working, full time cartoonist for 34 years and all that time it’s been there. Heck, since I was a kid making comics at the kitchen table I’ve imagined boxes and boxes of books, store shelves nationwide lined with my very own book of cartoons! I have also had a thing for self-publishing. I think it would be the height of coolness to be in total charge of your own publications.
Up until now I had never had either of those things. I didn’t have publishers knocking on my door, or agents working to get a deal. I was like most of the cartoonists out there without the resources to make that dream happen; wondering if print on demand was the only possible solution to seeing my work in a solo book. With self-publishing there’s also the issue of cost and the prospect of storing pallets of books and shipping and the list goes on. It starts to resemble Sisyphus and his rock rather than 101 Uses for a Dead Cat.
Then last year a week before Christmas I was sitting with a longtime friend at a sidewalk table at Mel’s Diner in Hollywood fretting about the plane trip back to Ohio the next morning. The first big snowstorm of the year was between home and me and my stomach was doing flips with the club sandwich I ordered. He said, “There’s a great new way to create books now without printing. You don’t need a lot of money to do it and you don’t need a publisher, printer, shipper or a distributor! It’s the latest thing called ‘e-books’.” You can create books without paper? That was interesting. No publishers? That was even more interesting. This sounded like a whole new thing to learn, “Don’t worry about that”, he assured me, “ I know how to do it and I’ll show you.” I filed it away in my ‘mental to do’ list and next morning hopped a plane home getting only as far as Memphis before the weather shut every airport east of the Mississippi.
A few months later I started going through boxes of cartoons looking for candidates for a cartoon collection book settling on a little over 80 cartoons that I grouped into five chapters, which a table of contents will list. TOCs are fun things to have for readers making it something you should consider. I resized the cartoons to a specific page size, gathered them into the project folder and listed them in order in the coded web pages. I wrote some copy for an intro and bio page, and then my friend guided me through the process of constructing an .epub file. On October 11th I uploaded my first valid ePub file to an aggregator who delivered it to iTunes, Amazon, Nook and Sony Reader simultaneously. An aggregator is an on-line service that delivers your .epub file to the book sellers, tracks sales and receives money which it will direct deposit to you. They also offer other services an e-author might need such as design, creation and marketing help. When you upload your book is when you also set its price that all the sellers will charge for it along with a description that they use in your book’s listing.
Within hours a little cover image appeared in the lists on the Kindle store and within a day it was there on iTunes! It took a couple of weeks for Nook and Sony to list it in their stores. As soon as I saw it there on Amazon I got a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. I didn’t expect to get that excited but I jumped in the air and shouted, “Yay!” I was a self-published author at long last. I was bona fide. My wife the librarian hugged me, told me she was so proud and reminded me that she still prefers the feel of a real book in her hands. I hugged her and told her that she is so five minutes ago.
Next time we will delve more into just what makes up an epub document. The answer may just surprise you... or totally put you to sleep. The choice is yours!