Friday, December 20, 2013

Sure, This Is Easy?!?

Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
 
I thought it was time to have a little fun at my own expense.  Yesterday, I published a 14 day devotional as a Kindle ebook.  It’s called Days of Diamonds and it’s available, here: http://amzn.to/19XCPZN.  That verse comes in very strongly toward the end of the process.  But it’s been an interesting journey.  Come on along.

Let’s begin by putting things in perspective.  For decades, I wanted to create the Great American Novel.  And, for decades, I wrote, but only dabbling and mostly not very well.  I hit periods where I’d get serious, subscribe to writing magazines, buy writing books to learn my craft.  But I’d mostly study how to write without doing much writing.  My 20/20 hindsight tells me I was more into the fame than the actual creativity. 

I wrote some free form poetry that wasn’t too bad, with some of my haiku winning awards, but not much else worthwhile.  During my time in broadcasting, I did some writing for things to use on the air, but not much of that, either.  And I had a regular record review column in a national jazz newspaper.  After that, I got a degree and became a “responsible citizen” with a “real job”.  But it always seemed that much of what I did required me to be good with words – sales, marketing, counseling, etc.  And, since 2008, I’ve had two blogs going.

So, here I am in the twenty first century, in an economy that isn’t likely to hire someone beyond retirement age, discovering that the “outgo” was greater than the income.  There are some physical things that eliminate standing for long periods as a greeter in some big box store.  That got me thinking about my capabilities with words and with writing.  Boy did that lead to some interesting revelations.

Writing is much like riding a bicycle.  If you’ve been away from it for awhile, it comes back to you.  What bike riders neglect to mention is that there’s a wobbly period before you get back to normal.  With my writing, five years of blogging was part of it.  My blogs were places where I could “hear from God” about what to write, secular or spiritual.  So, there was no discipline to stay on one topic, it was good for developing writing skills for short pieces, but not book length stuff, and there were long dry periods.  I wrote a recent guest post on how to eliminate those dry periods.  You can read it, here: http://bit.ly/J07y13.

I had a couple of ideas for books, all of which are in their infant stages.  That’s mostly because a book requires a lot more planning and work than a blog post – at least for me.  And, probably the biggest change in my writing from my early years, I wanted to hear from God.  That combination got me to experience something I’ve said often on the blog.  More often than not, God wants us to be active participants in our own blessing.  And that’s true for writing.  It doesn’t just flow from God onto the page.  If I’m not thinking, meditating, praying, agonizing, and researching, what hits the page isn’t usually very good.

With several book ideas not going anywhere, I decided that, perhaps, a devotional might be a great idea.  In some ways, it’s like blogging.  Each individual devotional is short and can stand on its own.  This is where I discovered that I still need to gain some discipline.

Proverbs 4:23 (KJV)  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
 
That verse is talking about spirituality, but it applies to writing.  Yes, there are times when other things intrude on a writing schedule.  Life is life.  But, too often, I found it too easy to get distracted if things weren’t coming as easily as I’d like or if I was getting too tired.  I could excuse getting away from the writing desk, mostly by telling myself that I’d come back to it, shortly.  That often was followed by other excuses.  And that points to an interesting principle.
 
If we look through the Bible, we’ll see instances where God has used certain people to do things because the ones God chose ignored the call.  Kathryn Kuhlman, the great faith healer and evangelist, has said she got her ministry because God chose several others, but none stepped up to heed the call.  If you have God in the mix for your writing, I believe that applies, as well.  Too many excuses will find God giving the project to someone else.  And we miss out on the blessing.
 
With all my excuses, I decided to set a deadline to finish the devotional.  In the process, the devotional went from being for a year to monthly to 14 days.  The writing was actually completed yesterday afternoon.  But there was still a cover to be designed and it needed to be published.  The cover part was time consuming, but easy.  I searched for an illustration I could use and designed the first page to be my cover.

Going to Amazon.com, I’m not sure why I expected it, but I looked for the publishing link in the normal menus.  Of course they’re not there!  Normal people don’t publish books.  It took a bout of searching around, but I found the right link, at the bottom of the page, amid a lot of other things normal users might not need regular access to.

At least this time, I chose to do this only as a Kindle book.  There’s a form to fill out, including banking info for royalty payments.  There’s also an option to have Amazon publish a hardcopy version, printing copies on demand.  I didn’t do that, this time.  When I do, I’ll describe the process.

Once the form is filled out, the next step is putting the info about the book in.  From there, you go to the pricing stage.  What percentage of the book price goes to the author depends on what price you set for the book.  Under $2.99 US gets a much lower percentage.  Then comes the publishing step.

There are two parts to the publishing process.  One is compiling the book into Kindle format.  There are a number of original formats that are usable.  The two most popular are Adobe’s PDF format and Word .doc documents.  The other step is the cover.  You can do one of your own or use their cover creator.  I chose their cover creation process because the options looked much more professional than what I had.

For covers, there’s an array of designs, some allowing using your own image in the design,  I chose one of those, added my title and image, and completed the process.  I was tired when I got that stage, so I missed where to put the author name in for the cover.

Having decided to use their cover, I removed the page I was going to use for a cover and recompiled the book.  Somehow, in the process, it lost the introduction I was going to include.  So, over the weekend, I get to do an update, which will go for free to those who’ve already bought the book.  It’s all been a learning process.  I’ve discovered a few of things.
  1. It can be done.
  2. Distractions are the writer’s worst enemy.  That and our own flesh succumbing to them.
  3. Whether we believe God’s involved or not, there’s still a lot of work.
  4. Heed our starting verse.  We can’t rely on what we think we know to get the process completed.
  5. The Kindle publishing process requires a lot of details, but is fairly easy to do.
It’s all very doable.  I will be writing more.  If you have a Kindle, the book is Days of Diamonds and can be purchased here: http://amzn.to/19XCPZN.  If you’ve already bought it, I’d appreciate you following the link to the sale page and writing a review.

4 comments:

  1. Interesting Bill. I will have to check out your book. I always thought along the same lines of writing a book (since I have a blog -- next thing right??). Well I will have to save this info. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Appreciate this information. Thanks for sharing this journey with is.

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    Replies
    1. I know how unsure of things I was. And, for some, that could keep them from doing it or at least slowing down how quickly they did. I figured eliminating some of the mystery would eliminate some of the insecurity.

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