About a year ago, my sister told me about Kindle Direct Publishing. I had three manuscripts written, printed out, and being passed around in three-ring notebooks to the handful of people who knew about them. She had recently bought a Kindle and downloaded quite a few books. She was convinced that Amazon was the place for my books.
The thought of publishing an eBook was rather daunting. I’m a member of the slide rule generation. I remember the first time I worked with a scientific calculator. It was rolled into the classroom on its own cart. It was bigger than my first computer. Now don’t get me wrong. I like calculators. I like computers, but the idea of getting one of my manuscripts formatted and uploaded correctly seemed like a monumental task, and one that I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to undertake.
But my sister was persistent, so I set up an account with Kindle Direct Publishing and read the Kindle Publishing Guide several times. I looked through the KDP forum for hints. Then I decided to try it. I followed the instructions for saving the word document in html format and then I uploaded A Shot in the Dark.
Thank goodness they have the preview feature. As I went through the book page by page, I noted the paragraphs that were gray, places where there were extra spaces, places where spaces were missing, and so on. From what I had read, we were supposed to do our editing in html. Right. Like I knew how to do that.
I found some basic instructions for editing in html so I opened the document in Notepad, as instructed, and started looking at it. I looked at it off and on for days. I compared the sections that looked okay with the sections that didn’t, trying to figure out what had happened. I finally decided that as long as I didn’t click the publish button, no one else would know if I made a total mess of things, so I started changing the html code here and there, trying to make the “wrong” sections look like the “right” sections. Each time I thought I had a section fixed, I’d upload the book again and check it out. If that section was okay, I’d move on to the next trouble spot. If not, I’d go back and try something else. After a couple of weeks of this, I was finally ready to click “Publish.” A couple of days later, my first book was available for sale on Amazon.
Since that time I’ve published two more books with Amazon and all three with Smashwords. I still don’t understand html code and I doubt I ever will, but I’ve found a few things I can do to “fix” my document before I save it in that format. Am I at the point that things go smooth as silk? No, but at least I don’t find the whole process intimidating any more.
Each generation marvels at the advances that have been made during their lifetime, and my generation is no different. I made the transition from slide rules to calculators and then to computers. I switched from a typewriter with ribbons and white out to word processing with backspace, copy/paste, and delete. I used to carry a paperback with me everywhere I went. Now I carry a Kindle. And as I sit here wondering what’s coming next, Bob Dylan’s lyrics echo through my mind. Yes, Bob, the times they are a-changin’.