Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Going into Space--Cyber Space, That Is

AC is honored to present a guest post from author Gail Pallotta. Gail, who once worked as an editor and a copywriter, has published one hundred freelance articles and two books. While some of her articles are included in anthologies, two of her historical pieces ended up in museums. In 2004, the year she published her first book, Now Is the Time, the American Christian Writers Association named her a regional writer of the year. Her most recent book, Love Turns the Tide, an inspirational romance with a bit of mystery, was released this past August, by Awe-Struck E-books. Gail’s Web site is and her blog site is

Today, Gail is giving us a peek into the wave of the future: the world of electronic books and publishing.

A computer klutz, I’m the last person who should be let loose on the internet. But one day two years ago I was surfing the web and found an E-publisher, Awe-Struck E-Books. They were sponsoring a contest for an inspirational short novel. Since I had worked very hard on a Christian romance and had neither a publisher nor an agent, I asked myself, Why not enter? The odds that I’d win the prize, publication, were slim. If I did I could easily figure out the technicalities of e-books, couldn’t I? A few months after I sent the manuscript I received a contract. After I gasped in surprise and wondered how I’d find my way around cyber space I started my adventure. For those who would like to cross the threshold into the world of e-publishing here are a few tips.

Before submitting your work read about the publisher online. Check the categories they feature to see if your book falls into one of them. Once you’ve decided it’s a good place for your manuscript read the publisher’s guidelines carefully.

Even those who have a stellar memory shouldn’t simply read over the directions
for submitting and try to remember how to do every task. Instead, print out the instructions and complete them one step at a time.

After acceptance read the contract carefully. If you have questions ask. A good publisher will not mind answering them. Once all the paperwork is completed you’re ready to enter the big E.

Get better acquainted with the computer. Create a manuscript about something, such as a trip to the grocery, that won’t be a big loss if it floats into cyber space and never returns. Using it, experiment with the icons on the toolbar at the top of the screen. I once believed that touching them would cause them to self-destruct. That’s not true.

After successfully learning the functions of the icons on your throw-away story pull up the real book, story or article and begin working. Just for good measure save an extra copy.

Don’t get discouraged after you have switched, changed and altered the pages only to find you need to do one more thing, and you don’t understand how to do it. That happened for me after I finished my manuscript, following all the instructions for indentations, paragraphs and spacing. I was ready to wrap up my book and send it, when I read the name of the person who should receive my Word document. What was Word? My book was in Works. I got a sinking feeling. After all that work I needed a different computer that saved files in Word! But I told myself, Don’t panic. I mentioned my predicament to a friend, who explained that I could find Word under the “Save As” tab. I changed the book in a flash. Ask for advice, when you need it. If there’s anything people need to share nowadays it’s their knowledge of computers. I doubt any one person corners the market on all of it.

When the publisher requests that you use something you can’t find on your computer, look for it in a different way. It’s probably just hidden. For instance, my program has a tab for copy and paste. When I converted my manuscript to Word, I couldn’t find it. But once again I called on a friend who said, “Highlight the passage. Then, click in the middle of the page. When you can’t find something on Word, always click in the middle of the page.” Thankful for this direction, which I never found in my computer’s “Help” category, I tried it, and it worked.

Not everyone speaks the same computer language. Here again, if you don’t understand a term, ask. Not long after my book had been accepted I read a memo to all the authors from the editor. It said those of us who had Web sites could have buttons on our Web pages, so visitors to the sites could click on them and order books. When I asked about the button, I learned it’s another word for a link.

About E-Books. Since E-books use no paper the cost of producing them is less than it is for print books, so an E-book publisher can afford to pay a higher royalty. However, E-books sell for less than print books. My publisher, Awe-Struck Publishing, pays forty-five percent royalty on E-books, which sell for $4.99. Awe-Struck E-books are copyrighted and have their own ISBN number, so they can be tracked in cyberland. Not only can E-books be downloaded to a number of reading devices, including the Sony Reader and Kindle, they also can be downloaded as PDF files to a computer or laptop. They can be transferred to a disk and stored easily for traveling. The disks are ideal for military personnel who are often in areas where they can’t get a download, and they don’t have enough room to pack thick printed books. The future of E-books is as big as the internet.

I’ve been asked if I think E-books mean the end of print books. I doubt it. There are a number of people who prefer to hold a book in their hands. Some say they like to feel the paper while others enjoy the smell of a book. But, I do believe the first time someone downloads an E-book to his or her laptop or puts a disk in either of them, kicks back, props up and clicks the pages, he or she will be hooked.

The fringe benefit -- probably most importantly, be happy with the new-found way of communicating. I’ve met so many people. My internet friends include a great publishing staff and other authors at Awe-Struck. But that’s not all, there are even more writers with interests similar to mine on many Web sites and blogs in cyber space!
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  1. Hello Linda,

    I'm a retired cop and I started to write down my expiriences into short stories.

    What prevents anyone from reading my stuff and then copying it.

    thank Bat Masterson

  2. Thanks for joining us today, Linda. :) I agree with you, I think over the next few years we are going to see a surge in e-books of all varieties. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    Dick, that is a concern... it is important to create evidence that you wrote that story and the date you wrote it. One thing I've heard to do, is to put your manuscript on a disk and then mail it to yourself. Don't open it when it arrives. The USPS date seal will be proof that it is yours if you ever have to take someone to court.

  3. The publishing industry is hurtling into the digital age, so this is a very timely article. My own books were just released on Kindle today! Thanks for sharing with us, Gail.

  4. Hi Dick,
    E Publishing is new to all of us, but from the experience I've had, I'd advise looking for an E Publisher that publishes anthologies of short stories and copyrights them. Depending on the publisher, you may be able to copyright your own individual story. The way I see it, the copyright is the important aspect of protecting your work whether it's in the public domain in print or via the internet. Good luck with your stories.

  5. Hi Lynette,

    Thanks for the suggestion of mailing a disk to oneself. It's certainly a good one. That's also a good idea, when writing hard copy for the print media. If the work is dated, post marked and sealed, it's proof.

  6. Hi K.M.,

    Congratulations on the release of your books to Kindle. Best of luck! I'm wishing lots of downloads for you.

  7. Great post, thanks so much for this info:)

  8. Hi Karen,
    You're welcome. I appreciate your stopping by and hope the information will be a help to you.

  9. Linda, Lynette and K.M.,
    Thnks so much for having me on Author Culture.
    I enjoyed my day!

  10. Great article, Gail! Thanks so much for this great information. :))


  11. Gail, thank you so much. I'll have to check out Awestruck. Do you feel they give you enough exposure to justify taking over 50%?

    My two books are self published. I make sure I put the ebooks on totally free They convert your book into every conceivable e-format for people to download. If you choose "premium" (also free, just means the formatting has to be perfect) smashwords will automatically sell your books at Sony, Kindle and other established companies' site. You keep all profits.

    What I'm looking for is an epublisher who will allow me to retain all rights to self publish at the same time they publish my book. Anyone know of such an arrangement? Even traditional publishes expect us to do the work of creating a following, and then when we get one, they take away all our rights to sell to them outside of their publication rights.

    I agree with everyone, I'm so excited about the possibilites open to writers now. I plan to explore them all.

  12. Hi Susanne,

    I'm so glad you stopped by!

  13. Hi Aggie,
    Thanks for stopping by. If you would like to check out Awe-Struck, my publisher, the Web site is

    I wish you lots of luck with your writing and publishing.