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 http://www.gailpallotta.com and her blog site is http://gailpallotta.blogspot.com.

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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