technical difficulties

Oh my God, Smashwords

OK, Smashwords is officially driving me crazy. It was the easier one to use back when I was doing the Trang books, but it does NOT play well with illustrations, boy howdy. I'm realizing that I'm going to have to upload one version to be converted into everything, and then upload a special .epub version so that the .epub isn't completely fucked. Uuuuuugggghh......

ETA: OK, at this point The Weirld is on Smashwords itself, and seems fairly decent (like, it's readable, although not necessarily beautiful) in all formats. However, I don't know if I'll be able to set it up so that it can be offered at other retailers through Smashwords. Do I care? Should I just upload it directly? At the moment, I think this is one of those problems I'm going to kick down the road, because I'd rather focus on Trials.

Progress report

The Weirld is out of KDP Select today, so I got it ready to go to Smashwords. That's a process that hasn't changed much, but is still a bit fiddly. Once again file conversions led to problems with italics--I fixed those, but then when I went to look at my Kindle version to make sure the problems weren't there, I realized that the Table of Contents has vanished. Ugh.

ETA: Ooh! I published it on Smashwords, took one look, and immediately unpublished it--the pictures are not working. OK, I think I'm going to put off working on that until tomorrow....

Oy

I was out of town yesterday when my Library Thing giveaway ended, so today when I came back I immediately opened that list up and started sending copies of The Weirld to people!

Until I was about a dozen in, and realized that these were people who had asked for a copy of Trang lo those many years ago.

Ugh. Yeah, the way it's set up, the first list to pop up when you click "Winners" is...the first list of winners you've had....

So then I sent out about a dozen apologies, and then I sent out copies of The Weirld....

Whoot!

I finished refreshing Trust, and that's been uploaded. Whoo! I have to say, as long as you don't have the problems I did when you convert a file to DOCX, Kindle Create is really easy to use, and I will probably be using it with the next books, since they won't have art.

Speaking of a book that does have art--I downloaded the version of The Weirld that's on sale, and ARGH. I went through a lot of trouble with the HTML editor making it so there wouldn't be spaces between the paragraphs, and lo and behold, there are spaces now. Obviously it's not worth fixing because it will just break itself again, but honestly--highly irritating.

Uf

Well, today has been a bit of a grind. I wanted to reformat the Trang and Trust e-books using Kindle Create, and that's proving a bit more difficult because the only files I have are the MOBI ones, and the MOBI => DOCX conversion process creates all kinds of weird issues (with things like italics and paragraph breaks, sheesh). I should be able to get them done in a few days (I have to get my shot tomorrow, which slows everything down), but it's going to be a fiddly process.

I signed my book on for the five-day freebie and was going to e-mail the people who signed up for alerts...but there's a new law that's just gone into effect saying you have to include your physical address in any e-mail sent for commercial purposes. To which I say, FUCK, NO. Jesus, I've had enough problems with fucking stalkers for a lifetime, OK?

So, my apologies to anyone who ever signed up for alerts--you're not getting them. I'll take down the form.

A little disappointing

I was hoping to be able to use Kindle Create, but it does NOT handle artwork well at all. I was thinking that, if it was easy to use, I'd go ahead and reformat the Trang books, but it can't even properly handle chapter ornaments, much less the actual illustrations in The Weirld. But it's made me a little more ambitious with my e-book formatting, so I'm fiddling with stuff by hand--we'll see how it all turns out.

The other Jay

The very evening after I wrote my post bitching about Jay-Z's latest release, a post popped up in my Facebook feed notifying me that Jay Park's latest EP was out and giving me a link to where it was on iTunes. I clicked on the link, previewed the songs, and bought the ones I wanted--easy-peasy.

Then I wrote up an addendum to that post to contrast the two experiences, but I decided not to post it. I mean, we all know who Jay-Z is--people who know nothing about hip-hop know who Jay-Z is--and we all know that his album already sold a gazillion copies before it was even released. If you don't live in Asia, however, you've probably have never even heard of Jay Park.

So you know, he is a Korean-American singer and rapper who tried to go the traditional K-Pop route but ran afoul of his label and is now basically independent (he works with labels, but he's not owned by them the way Korean musicians so often are). Since he was born and raised in the U.S., Park really understands the way Americans use the Internet, plus his first language is English. He's really got it on the ball when it comes to social media and the like. When I was trying to figure out how I wanted to do my Block B Web site (NO, the domain name doesn't work yet, God damn it! I don't know what the fuck is wrong with Hover, but I am calling them tomorrow--AGAIN. ETA: OK, I called--apparently the problem was the "name servers," whatever the hell those things are. But the person was lovely and supposedly it will be working within 48 hours. EATA: OK, now it's functional), Park's Web site was the one I looked at. And he has a Facebook page that updates just often enough so that I know it hasn't been abandoned, but not often enough to annoy me--plus it provides me with convenient links to his new music the minute it is available for purchase.

And whaddya know, Park's EP debuted in the top 10 of iTunes' R&B list in fifteen different countries, including hitting #4 in the U.S.

In other words, a few days ago the #4 bestselling digital R&B album in the United States was by a guy you've never heard of. And was largely not in English.

Hey, I guess I get to make a post out of this after all!

I mean, think about it--who's the writer equivalent of Jay-Z in this day and age? Stephen King, Scott Turow--all the folks who did it the old way, who can coast off their existing reputations, and who can rely on large corporations to throw enormous bags of money their way regardless of the quality of their work. They do things a certain way, which makes sense for them, because they've already made it big. It's not a path that's actually available to someone who hasn't made it big yet.

But what Park has done? That focus on lowering barriers to entry? Making purchasing beyond easy for the consumer? Samples? So something indie writers can do.

I just want to kill them all and let God sort it out

No, the new domain name hasn't gone through yet, even though I was PROMISED last time that it would go through by now. Yes, I had to call again, even though I was PROMISED last time that that would be my last phone call. We're at the juvenile finger-pointing stage, which is always extra-delightful with tech people because they do it by throwing around a lot of nonsensical jargon, which all basically translates as "It's not my fault! Those other people are crazy, and it's their fault! Boo-hoo!"

Here's how it's going to work: If I don't have a useable domain name by the end of next week, I'll switch registrars.

Where are our robot overlords?

You know, getting this domain name set up was really a snap--no one owned MarySisson.com, and setting it up was a breeze. (Yeah, I didn't map it onto the Web site properly for a really long time, but that was my fault.)

Getting BlockB.com set up--oy. I had to buy the domain name, which is a few extra steps in the process, but the main issue is that in order to actually complete each extra step, I have had to call and follow up (sometimes more than once) with the two tech companies involved. All these steps are supposed to be automated, except that they're not, so you fill out on-line form #4,587,536, click "Submit," and then . . . nothing happens. Until you call. And call again.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this point, but I'm always struck by the irony of how completely technology firms are dependent upon actual human beings doing things like checking their e-mail in-boxes. The reliance on human beings wouldn't be so bad if it weren't apparently illegal for technology firms to hire more than one customer-service representative who actually knows what they're doing. You get the Lone Magical Dude, you're in luck. You get the Massively Stoned and Confused Dude, you gotta keep calling.

Spring may not be quite as horrible as I had thought

It sounds like things may actually happen on the out-of-state elderly relative front without my having to basically spend the entire spring there, doing every last thing myself. That would be wonderful, plus it would mean that I don't have to buy some kind of portable computing device in hopes of getting anything done, which is good. I may even be able to attend Norwescon!

I'm thinking about some beta tasks to do once the Trang audiobook is done. As it turns out, recording an audiobook is a good way to find typos (at one point Cheep is called Chip--funny how hard that is to catch when you're reading silently, but how glaringly obvious it is when you're reading aloud). So I've been marking those up as I find them, and I'll clean up the e-books when that's done with.

Of course, with the new computer, how should I do the e-book files? I think in the interest of efficiency I'll just use Calibre again--I'll save the learning curve for when I convert Trials.

Speaking of new software, I want to spend a little more quality time sorting out GIMP. Obviously, if I'm doing Norwescon, I'll do some flyers, but the other, more-sophisticated project I have in mind is to re-do the lettering on the cover of Trang and Trust. I think the author name should probably be a bit larger and easier to read, plus the title lettering could stand to look a little more elaborate (which I hope is something this program lets you do--my old program was pretty limited). The tweaking should also give me some practice with GIMP, which I'm going to need when I get around to doing the Trials cover. 

What else? David Gaughran had a good post about the importance of mailing lists--it's nothing that I didn't know, but I've been very lazy about creating one of those, mainly because I just don't think I have it in me to do a full-fledged newsletter. But I could just do new-book alerts and sale alerts--that sort of thing. I'll put it on the list, anyway, along with getting on Pintrest.

Well, come on!

So, I've been busy writing, and Squarespace now no longer notifies me by e-mail when comments are stuck in the spam filter. (Thanks, guys--that's a big help.) So, yeah--almost a dozen comments were stuck there, and I didn't find out until I actually went poking around. Sorry about that.....

Progress report

Yesterday was Halloween, and I wound up in charge of the kidlets, so nothing got done on the book. Today's pretty busy, too, but the microphone has arrived, I found my notes on that podcasting panel, and I got a book on podcasting from the library (five years old, so I'm assuming a lot of the technical advice is out of date, but advice on things like diction should still be valid).

The blog, if you haven't noticed, is being slow and buggy, which is presumably the fault of Sandy. I hope the Squarespace guys are staying safe and hanging in there!

A technical note

If you wonder why, when you post a comment here, it sometimes doesn't show up for, like, an entire day, that's because it gets caught in the spam filter. I have no idea why--the person's having commented before and, you know, the comment CLEARLY NOT BEING SPAM does not seem to assuage the spam filter's suspicions. I get an alert when you comment, but the alert doesn't actually tell me, "Oh, and BTW, the spam filter's holding this one hostage, so come on over to your blog and let it go ASAP."

Oh my God, Google

I'm trying to pull Trang down from Google Books--could they set that site up to be any LESS user-friendly? Obviously, the book never went up in their store, but I want the excerpts down from their free site, too. The problem is that I canceled out my account there, and now there is literally NO WAY their system will either let me take down my own book, or God forbid, actually contact a human being so that they can do it. Everything is scripted, and since my situation doesn't really fit the script options, I can't tell them what's going on. Instead, I was forced to re-sign up and act like someone else put my book up--crazy. And I have no idea if that's going to work or if I'm going to have to file a DMCA complaint against myself. Beyond stupid. I regret ever having engaged with these fuckwits in the first place.

Progress report

No progress today, alas. Remember how the printer died, but it was under warranty, so they sent me a replacement? Yeah, the replacement died (a Hewlett-Packard Pro8000, if you are wondering what to avoid) shortly before I left for Peru. It was probably still under warranty, but I think at a certain point (you know, like when the same model dies twice in six months) you need to acknowledge that you have purchased a lemon. It's not like the kids were attacking it with hockey sticks or anything, either--it died twice under normal use.

So I ordered a new printer (a Canon this time), and it came today. Hopefully it will last longer, and it has a built-in scanner, which presumably will take care of that issue as well. Anyway, it took a long time to set up (why these things always take so long, I'll never know), and then I had a big backlog of stuff that needed to be printed and sorted. So that plus some other errands pretty much ate my day--tomorrow hopefully I can get stuff done before I have to go lead my first Meetup as organizer

Uf!

Another day lost to the new computer--it will be worth it in the end to get rid of all the 10-to-15-year-old tech I have cluttering my office, but man, the clearing out is a major undertaking, especially if you're not content to just chuck it all in the trash. I'm gonna swing by FedEx and the thrift shop, and then I will be ALMOST done.

And there goes my day!

I managed to do some revision, adding some color to what was already written, but soon the keyboard and the height of the monitor began to bother me. Honestly, it's freaking impossible to find a hutch-type thing to raise a monitor--with my old monitor, I stuck it on a couple of phone books, but this is a new all-in-one computer, so I wanted something more stable. I think I found it (technically, it's shelves for shoes), but I had to go to six different stores to find it (that didn't actually surprise me, since phone books weren't my first choice before). I also went to the Apple store, thinking I could buy an ergonomic keyboard--joke's on me, since the store isn't the sort of place where you can actually buy things. I was told to go on-line, so I did, and apparently my old keyboard (which is actually pretty new) can work on a Mac as well, despite having the Windows logo prominently displayed on it. I'm going to assemble the shelves first and then take a shot at the keyboard. Wish me luck.