Boxing Week Sale on My EBooks

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Smashwords is having their first Boxing Week sale,* and I’ve taken 50 to 75 percent off my ebooks! Until January 1st, fill your new eReader or old tablet with all my ebooks at amazing prices. Just hit the links below!

Memoir and Biography

Concussion Is Brain Injury 75% off:

Lifeliner 75% off:

Novels and Short Story Collection

She 50% off:

Time and Space 50% off:

Aban’s Accension 50% off:

Eleven Shorts +1 50% off:

*Smashwords calls it their End of Year sale, but us Canadians know it’s really Boxing Week!!!


Read An E-Book Week Is Here And So Are Hot Deals On My E-Books!

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March 4 to 10 is Read An E-Book Week!

To celebrate, Smashwords is running a promotion all week, and I’m pleased to announce that I’ve enrolled all my ebooks in it.

To participate as a reader, all you have to do is go to Smashwords, choose any or all of my ebooks, enter the appropriate coupon code given below, download, and read. It’s as easy as looking up at the stars…or, well, in the city, looking at your local streetlamp.

All Smashwords ebooks are available in every ebook format so that you can read my ebooks whether you have a Kindle, Sony Reader, kobo, Nook, smart phone, or computer.

So what are you waiting for, get browsing and downloading!

She: coupon code REW50

Lifeliner: coupon code REW50

Eleven Shorts +1: free with coupon code RE100

A Nibble of Chocolate: free with coupon code RE100

The Job Sessions: Why Do The Innocent Suffer?: free with coupon code RE100


A NaNo Sale to Remember

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As you know, I’m a novelling Wrimo, one of over two-hundred-thousand people around planet Earth writing 50,000-word novels in the month of November as part of National Novel Writing Month. It’s my third time.

In honour of my third NaNoWriMo, I’m putting the ebook and Kindle versions of my highly rated and very first NaNoWriMo novel She on sale on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Smashwords (with coupon code PZ44G) for only 99¢. Read a sample and download it today before November is over!


Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale of “Lifeliner” and “She” Now On!

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It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter for friends in the Southern Hemisphere. In honour of that, Smashwords is kicking off their third annual Summer/Winter Sale, and they invited authors to participate. I answered their invitation with a resounding “Yes!”

Lifeliner and She will both be fifty percent off their regular price. And as always, all ebook formats will be available for download. So whether you have a Kindle, Sony Reader, kobo, Nook, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, smartphone, or a computer, you will be able to read all my ebooks. And for July only, at a special price too! Just click the images below to be taken directly to the respective book pages.

If you need instructions on how to download and read ebooks from Smashwords, please check out my 2010 post on Reading Any DRM-Free ePub on iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone. To read an ePub ebook on your computer, download the free Adobe Digital Editions, then download the ebooks from Smashwords. And when you’ve finished reading, please don’t forget to leave a review on the Smashwords book pages! Enjoy!!

Lifeliner by Shireen Jeejeebhoy

She by Shireen Jeejeebhoy


The Soft Launch of SHE

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She is out. She is published. Yay! It’s rather unbelievable that my fantasy novel finally is.

Right now, I am doing a soft launch of the eBook. I had read about this method of launching a book awhile ago and thought it a good idea. Basically, I upload the final DOC file to Smashwords, which converts it to all the eBook formats, creates a book page for my urban fantasy novel, and lists it on all their appropriate shelves. I tweet about She a little and tell a few close people and my Beta Readers, increase the small announcements once I’ve had a chance to check and fix it for errors, but I hold off on doing the big announcement and marketing push until everything else is in place, like ISBNs and retailers stocking it. A soft launch gives me a chance to see it in its final eBook form on my Sony Reader, on the computer, and on my iPad in the various apps — kobo, iBooks, Stanza, Bluefire Reader, Kindle. That’s the best way to find formatting errors, like a title not fully italicized, or minor punctuation errors, or typos that would’ve been missed in the DOC file. After several readings of the same file, your eyes tend to see what is supposed to be there instead of what is actually there. Looking at the ePub is like seeing it for the first time, and errors pop out at you. With Smashwords, it is easy to fix the file and re-upload it. Anyone who has bought the original version will also be able to download the newer one.

The soft launch also means I have time to create a Goodreads page for She and a page for it on my website (yet to do!). Yet I can still get the eBook out into the public while doing that and while waiting for the Canadian agency that issues ISBNs to process my registration and to issue me a block of ISBNs. Canada does not charge for this service, unlike other countries, but you have to wait. I also have to wait for Smashwords to distribute She to retailers. Some won’t take it until I have assigned it an ISBN; others will. And, as well, I want to assign the Kindle version an ISBN before I publish it in the Amazon Kindle store. In a couple of months, I hope to have the print book out.

But you don’t have to wait to read it: just head over to Smashwords, buy it for the low, low price of $2.99, and download your preferred format to your computer and eReader and smartphone and iPad. Once you’ve bought it, you can download it as many times as you like without paying again. You can also read samples of and buy my other eBooks. Enjoy! And if you can spare a moment, please leave a review on Smashwords!


Publishing is a Series of Confusions to be Solved

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Trying to get your work published is a series of confusions, one leading to the next, each to be solved before moving on.

To be published by a large, traditional publisher, but not a small press, you need an agent. And besides it would be nice to have someone alongside, who knows the ropes. Writing is a solitary game otherwise. But how to get an agent, especially in this era of vampires and paranormals? I don’t read them or write them, but I am getting tired of reading about them, they’re that ubiquitous.

Also, how long must one wait? For an agent to say yes, for a publisher to say yes, for the book to appear? I suppose if you’re young and have another job, a year or two each is no big deal. But I had to ask myself, after losing a decade, how many more years was I willing to lose in this never-ending waiting game? When I was honest with myself, the answer: none.

And so once again into the self-publishing world I go. After the unhappy end with iUniverse and the little matter of no longer having the money, who to go with? And more importantly, should I publish print books or eBooks only? I decided eBooks only. But as is my way, my decision sat on unstable ground.

Next question: who to hire as an editor? I went with the smaller, less expensive outfit. More in another post on that choice. In contrast to trying to choose an editor, revising my novel once I’d received the edits was a relief. This was known territory. Still I worried: was it good enough? Had all the lost threads and inconsistencies, the grammar oops and verbos been found?

I needed a proofreader. But they are hard to find. Amazon CreateSpace doesn’t even provide that service. Instead they offer a round of basic copy editing. But editing and proofreading are physically done differently. In editing, you read like a normal person, left to right, down the page, seeing both content and grammar. In proofreading, you read backwards, from bottom to top of page, sentence by sentence. I start on the first page, but it wouldn’t surprise me if others start on the last page. Not distracted by content, you’re more likely to catch grammatical errors, misspellings, and typos that way. It’s also faster. As a result, the cost for proofreading should be much less than copy editing. So to pay for the latter when you want the former is a bit heavy on the wallet.

I finally did learn of a real book proofreader. But she was booked into the summer. And so I huffed and sighed and groaned and printed out my manuscript, slapped it down on my desk, pulled out my green pen, and began proofreading. I was astonished that though I hadn’t worked as a proofreader in *mumble* years, I went right into proofreading mode as if I had never stopped. I wish I could learn that well today — it really hit home how learning today never becomes ingrained in me like things did pre-injury.

At the same time as I was trying to find a proofreader, I had to contend with what to do with the cover. Do I hire a cover designer or do it myself? A good book cover designer has a special skillset of knowing what looks good in that format and will sell a print book. Yet covers for eBooks work differently than covers for paperbacks or hard covers, which just a perusal of cover thumbnails on kobo or Amazon will tell you as most are designed for print and copied unthinkingly to the eBook.

Unlike other authors, I actually have some design skills and a decent eye for what looks good. And so it wasn’t a case for me of, of course get a cover designer. Cost became the overriding decision-maker. My work is free to me.

And finally came the back cover copy, or in Smashwords parlance, the extended description. But writing back cover blurb is the work for marketers. Now some in the traditional publishers don’t read the book, which is why the back cover blurbs don’t match the story, but good ones do and know what will catch the eye of a reader. I do not. But free is me. And I had a brilliant idea: all those query letters I wrote and had rewritten, they would make a good base for the description. I had already written a logline. So I used that for the short description.

Still, once I had done the soft launch of my novel She and could see the book page, I was not happy with my initial effort. I found a how-to and tried again.

Then someone asked me when readers like her, who read only print books, would be able to read my novel. Sigh. I revisted my first decision, and I suddenly remembered that NaNoWriMo had offered a CreateSpace proof to winners. Could I use that? Well, no, not for this novel, but it did get me to read the website for winners and realise that if I once again, did it myself, I could get it into print for free. So once again, into the tedious brain-busting physically-draining world of formatting I go. And do I go into the formatting world of Word, for which CreateSpace has a template, or my traditional desktop publishing world of Corel Ventura? Formatting a manuscript for print is different than for an eBook or the Kindle, and Ventura does give you more control. I have yet to do the Kindle on Amazon itself (Smashwords converts to Kindle format but it isn’t available on Amazon); I am both procrastinating and waiting to ensure my soft-launch readers don’t find typos or formatting errors. Formatting for print will take a few days and by the time I’m done, assuming I make up my mind which software to use, I will (I hope!) know of any typos.


From Paper to Pixels

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This is from a talk I gave to my fraternity on their Career Day.

We are in an age of transition. Like those who went from calligraphy to the Gutenberg press, so we are going from pen and print books to tablet computers and ebooks.

Up until early last century, manuscripts were written by hand. Then typewriters came along, and writers mastered the two-finger peck. Soon word processors appeared and at about the same time personal computers.

Writers now had a choice of handwriting or typing their drafts on a typewriter or on a computer. But final drafts, the ones sent out as submissions or completed manuscripts to publishers, always had to be typed or printed from a computer.

That changed after the anthrax scare, particularly in the US. Agents and publishers began to demand queries via email only and manuscripts in MS Word DOC format, also via email. But in Canada, some agents and publishers prefer the old ways; perhaps they feel it’s more literary for writing to be on paper than in pixel form. They refuse emails; they want snail mail submissions only. That slow, expensive, tree-wasting method is on the way out though, especially as more and more of us writers refuse to participate and submit only to agents or publishers who accept queries and manuscripts by email.

The revising and editing process has undergone a change too. No longer do editors mark up printed copies with pencil or red pen. Instead they use tracking changes in MS Word and communicate with authors via email. Again, in Canada, some editors still work in the dark ages of print-outs. A few even think it’s not necessary to be on the Internet or have email. Seriously. And so a Canadian author has to pay attention to what specific publishers or agents want: paper or pixels.

But despite a few Canadian anachronisms, writers today must use a computer to write the final draft, however they write their first drafts.

Then last year Apple released the iPad, and things changed radically for writers again.

Up until the iPad, even with computers, writers jotted down ideas in notebooks, sketched out floor plans on paper with coloured pencils. Writers only had one copy of these things, and we panicked if they were lost. No more. The iPad allows us writers to outline, jot down ideas, sketch settings, as well as write our manuscript, all on one electronic medium.

The entire process can now be done on some form of computer. And everything can be saved and backed up to the cloud and shared with others or between our own computers.

Writers are no longer limited to physical media like the typewritten page or thumb drive.

The ability to save one’s work in the cloud means that a writer can work on a manuscript on any computer, tablet computer, or smartphone wherever we are, whenever the mood strikes or a free moment appears.

For those who like to revise on a printed copy, printing itself has undergone a change. With the advent of networked printers, one can print from anywhere on the planet to the printer at home.

In addition to all that, the traditional process of writing, revising, and editing has had a new step inserted: Beta Readers.

Beta readers love to read. They may be strangers or people in one’s writing club. They read our manuscripts and comment on anything from writing style to plot to characters to endings or mood, depending on what their strengths are as readers.

Beta Readers can often be found on social media. When we writers engage with people on Twitter and they begin to read our blogs as well and get to know our long-form writing style, they may well offer to read our manuscripts.

That is just one of the many benefits of social media. Twitter also has a thriving writer community, which holds regular writer chats. So in addition to the traditional associations like the Canadian Authors Association, which provides opportunities to meet fellow writers face-to-face in our own regions, Canadian writers can now talk with writers from all over the world in cyberspace.

After we receive feedback from our Beta Readers, we revise once more and then send out the manuscript to agents or small publishers. Or not. Publishing too has changed.

Traditionally, a book writer would seek out a publisher directly, for the publisher would handle all the chores except the writing. (The publisher choosing the title and front cover still bugs me. I cannot imagine why writers in times past gave up that control.) It was very difficult for a writer to self-publish as printing and distribution were expensive and not easy to arrange.

But that has changed. First, traditional large publishers — the big six — began accepting submissions from agents only. Only small or indie publishers accept submissions from authors directly today. An author still has to wait a week or 6 months to hear back though. Although most agents and small publishers have long since allowed simultaneous submissions, realising writers can’t waste half their lives watching the mailbox, the waiting time can still be excessive. I have already spent over a year trying to find an agent with a few nibbles but no bites.

Then the rise of print-on-demand shifted this balance of power towards the author. It has become more feasible financially for authors to self-publish and nix the long, long process of traditional publishing, although it is controversial to turn one’s back on the traditional way.

As a result, in the last decade, companies that support self-publishing authors sprang up. AuthorHouse is the big one today (I won’t use them — see my adventures with iUniverse). But there are others like Lulu and CreateSpace. They provide whatever service an author needs, from editing to printing, for a fee.

But it is the ebook that has truly exploded author emancipation.

The publishing world has been turned upside down in the last year. Ebooks cost virtually nothing (aside from the essential professional editing step) for the multi-competent writer to create.

Readers like their eReaders. Some tell me no one can pry them out of their hands. They also prefer ebooks under $6.99, maybe up to $9.99. Traditional publishers prefer to price their ebooks high — $12.99 is their low end — and release them after hard cover editions. Both readers and authors are unhappy with that.

This traditional-minded approach gives indie authors an edge. They can price their ebooks at a level readers are willing to pay and release them at the same time as the print books, thus allowing readers to buy their preferred format when the book first comes out. After all, books are written for readers. It’s not for us to tell them which format they should read first. It’s the content that’s paramount, not whether the words are printed on paper or shown in pixels.

Ebooks themselves are in transition as different companies support different formats. PubIt! by Barnes & Noble supports ePub, as does Smashwords, kobo, and Sony Reader. Amazon’s Kindle uses the mobi format. Luckily, it’s become easier to publish in all of them, thus covering eReaders from Kindle to Kobo.

Since traditional publishers support only best-selling authors fully, mid-list and small authors now have an alternative to being ignored: self-publish ebooks.

Regardless of which path an author takes, all authors, except best sellers, have to market their own work. And that’s the hardest job in writing.

But here again, the online revolution has made it easier than ever for an author. Social media is a must. Virtual book tours, book trailers on YouTube, pages on Amazon and Chapters are now possible.

A Facebook Page, Twitter, and an author website are the foundation upon which to build a marketing plan. The writer begins building this foundation while still outlining the book, and does not talk just shop online, but shows the whole of who they are. Readers like to know their authors (well, maybe not all, but followers become readers when they get to know the author as a person first, then become intrigued enough to find out about the author’s works).

The author’s Facebook Page — not Profile — shows their professional side, things like writing-related blog posts, book events, links to reviews, and so on.

Twitter is where the author converses on many different topics, showing off their various interests and connecting with other writers. It is also an excellent place to publicize one’s blog posts, books, poetry, etc. via links.

The author website will not be just for blogging but a place where people can find out about the author’s background and how to contact them (really important, contact info is), their writing, and where to buy their books or articles. It needs to be kept up to date, else people will think you, the author, have died and stopped writing.

One caveat to authors: Do not post your drafts or any part of your book online. Some writers do. But your work has value. Your blog posts and status updates are free. Your work writing, your books, are not free because they’re your income and they’re worth the money for the time and effort you’ve put into them. Treat them that way.

Goodreads is a site for readers, but it also has Author Pages, which authors can use to connect with their readers as readers themselves. The most important part of writing is reading. Here the author can foster that side long before publishing that first book.

There are many other social media sites. It’s tempting to join all of them, but over time too tiring. It’s better to focus on a few and be active on them than spread oneself out too thinly.

The move from paper to pixels lets us authors take control and speeds the publishing process; it gives readers their choice of format; and the trees flutter their leaves in joy.

Internet and Computers

Reading Any DRM-Free ePub on iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone

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In honour of all the lucky ducks who got a new iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Kindle, or Sony or Kobo or Nook Reader, I’m offering Lifeliner at an amazing 99¢ through Smashwords. But how do you get the eBook onto your device, you’re probably wondering. Easy — because Lifeliner is DRM-free, meaning there’s no digital lock on it so any eReader or app can read it. Here’s how.

Go to Lifeliner‘s page on Smashwords. Scroll down till you see the eBook formats available (mobi for Kindle; ePub for everyone else). Click on Buy, check out using coupon code CW95G, pay, and you’ll be returned to the Lifeliner page. At that point, you’ll be able to download your eBook format of choice.

I recommend setting up a folder for all your purchased eBooks. Whatever you name the folder, make it so you’ll remember it. (I’ve actually ended up with two or three folders — very confusing!) Through your eReader or iTunes, access your eBooks from that folder. For the Sony Reader, use either Adobe Digital Editions or the Sony Reader software to add the file to your library. I don’t know how one does it for the Kindle, but here’s how you do it for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. (For those with the Stanza app, scroll to the bottom for brief instructions.)

Open iTunes and connect your device.

I find that with my iPod Touch, it has to be on when I connect it to iTunes so that iTunes will see it.

Click on File.

In the dropdown menu, click on Add File to Library. Alternatively, use the the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-O.

Now browse to where you downloaded your ePub file. Choose that one and click OK.

iTunes will automatically put it in the Books section under Library, which you can check by clicking on that menu item in the left sidebar under Library.

You still need to sync your Books to your iPod or iPad. To do that, click on your device in the lefthand column. And then click on the Books tab at the top of the iTunes window. You will see the books that you’ve added. Now check the box next to Sync Books. And either keep the default All Books or check Select Books then check the books you want to sync.

The first time I did that, iTunes told me it would delete all my other media if I did that. Why, I have absolutely no idea. Seems totally nutty to me that if you sync books, iTunes will delete your music, which you then have to reinstall but won’t be deleted again next time you sync your books (I think). This was not an issue for me with my iPad as I had no music on it as books were the first thing I synced. And I don’t actually remember it deleting all my music off my iPod Touch when I synced a book. It seems to be one of these weird Apple things that may or may not happen.  Go ahead and click the Apply button at the bottom right if you’re feeling experimental. It will sync your eBooks to all your eReader apps on your device.

Alternatively, try the File Sharing option. This is one I’ve just learnt about. It is a bit of a pain if you have several eReader apps like I do as you can only add the ePub one at a time to each app. But if you are only using one or two, then it’s not so bad.

After you select your device in the lefthand column, instead of clicking on the Books tab at the top of the iTunes window, click on Apps.

Scroll down, way down to the bottom until you see File Sharing. You will then see a box with the apps listed on the left side that allow file sharing. All your eReader apps will be listed there. Click on the eReader app you want to add Lifeliner to. At the bottom of the box, on the right side, is the Add button. Click that; browse to where you downloaded the ePub file; choose that; and it will be immediately added to the Documents list and synced to your device.

For those who have the Stanza app on their iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad, there is one last method: buy Lifeliner through the Smashwords store in your Stanza app. It’s as easy as launching the app on your device and going to the Smashwords store under Get Books — it’s under Bookstores on that page. I believe you’ll be able to use the coupon code CW95G that way too.