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Monday, January 31, 2011


Sherman Alexie, during a lecture at COCC in November 2009, stopped in the middle of entertaining the audience with stories about his heritage and his experience as a writer, to praise the intrinsic value of books--real books printed on real paper with real covers. I silently agreed with him, thinking this Kindle thing was just a fad, one more toy people with an abundance of discretionary income could add to their toy boxes. Eighteen months later I was part of the "revolution."

I should have foreseen that books, like hi-fis, electric typewriters, VCRs, and keypads would one day be subject to the relentless advance of technology, especially by the younger generations who start using computers by the age of three. There will still be people who prefer the feel of a book in their hands, but over time this number will dwindle.

So . . . how does the self-published author hop on this bullet train? The first thing I learned was that a manuscript written in Microsoft Word or any word processing program must be converted into a format that can be distributed via the internet. There are several companies that will do this for a fee, and I highly recommend the one I used: for their clear, precise instructions and professionalism.

The second thing I learned was that Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the two main players so far in the eBook market, both use different formats. To upload your book to Amazon, it must be converted to something called "mobi." For Nook books, you convert into "ePub" which works for Barnes & Noble as well as Google Editions, Kobo (Borders), and most other eBook sellers. Note: Borders will not list your eBook unless you give them at least ten titles which excludes most of us self-publishers. Apple for iPad or iPhone requires the same format (mobi) as Kindle, but you have to own a Mac to use it.

To view the electronic version of your book after it has been converted to ePub, you need to download Adobe Digital Edition , then go through a series of steps. The Kindle process is easier. After you install Kindle for Mac or Kindle for PC, you simply double click on the file, "4Kindle."

Besides the big three: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders, there are tons of websites that will market your e-book--for a fee, or course. Be sure to check out Google Editions and Smashwords Affiliate marketers such as Click Bank have a whole stable of marketers looking for books or other products to sell, so they can become your auxiliary sales force. Look for these marketers to come up with even more technological advances such as, don't laugh, a way for authors to sign eBooks electronically.

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