Everyone who knows me would hoot about me writing about technology. Being your basic neo-Luddite, I’m lucky to get my Word program going without glitches! But one of the wonderful things about being in this business so long, is knowing exactly who to call in for help.
Doris Booth, CEO of Authorlink, constantly stays on the cutting edge of technology, and specifically, technology that applies to books of all sorts. While we were both speaking at the Harriett Austin Writer’s Conference at the University of Georgia, I had the pleasure of attending her session on e-book conversions. Most of it of course was like Russian to me, but a few points really caught my attention. So I contacted her again to get the scoop of what writers truly need to know before diving into that vast sea.
First off, do be ready for a ton of work. “E-book publishing is a highly complex process,” Ms. Booth said, “so when you go in, be patient. There’s a lot of proofing at every step—including the actual conversion itself. The flow isn’t stable, the process itself isn’t stable.”
Yikes, I thought. I’d run up against this issue years ago, with a traditional publisher that actually scanned a manuscript to its printer. Boy, was that a nightmare of catching “be” that should have been “he,” etc. Apparently, this process is worse when doing e-book conversions.
“For example,” Ms. Booth continued, “hyphens can appear in the middle of a sentence because of the flow. You just have to proof and proof and proof some more.”
Okay, so you have this part done. Then comes the issue of metadata, which is the longer description of the book. “Again, getting this right is extremely complex and critical—it will determine whether your book is ever seen,” Ms Booth said. “If it’s not done correctly, your book will have less visibility.”
Personally, I don’t even want to know what metadata is (even if I could comprehend it!). Those kinds of terms give me the hives. But back to issues number one and two.
“To get the conversion done correctly and the metadata targeted specifically to your book, truly does take a professional conversion company—not one of the do-it-yourself conversion tools, which usually don’t work.”
My only experience with this is through many of my writers, who have self-published via e-book, and the nightmares they’ve faced. Of course, since they, too, are speaking Russian (and not the Dostoyevsky kind, which I actually love), I cannot convey exactly what those nightmares were. But I do know the results—books drowning in that vast sea of 400,000 e-books published just last year!
“Finally,” Ms Booth said, “you can have parts one and two, and your book still not go anywhere without good marketing. You need to have your marketing going six months to one year before you publish.”
Some things about this business never change, even as the technology does. Writing a good book in the first place (my bailiwick!), fashioning a marketing plan—the backbone of success before tackling the technological age!