What's With This E-Book Stuff?
by Georgia Hedrick
Let me take you with me on a journey, a journey that began about fifteen years ago. I wrote a book-a huge one, all about me. (whoopee) But then, I read what I wrote, got scared, and never sent it to any publisher. In fact, all 300 pages of it is still with me in typed form. But it was my first book. I called it: I HAD TO WAIT SOMEWHERE.
Next came allegory, metaphor, and tales from the teaching world, twisted, mixed up, and cooked to become, Children's Books, written much in the manner of folk tales. I drew pictures for each book-with crayon because I like crayon. But, these books never appeared professional enough to send to a publisher, and where would I find publishers anyway?
Four years ago I acquired (for free) an old 386 PC.
I began to fiddle with it. I didn't even know the difference between the monitor and the computer at that time-I thought the monitor WAS the computer. (It isn't, unless you have a new MAC, just out.) I spent hours and hours, trying to get something to happen on my computer after I turned it on. All I got was the flashing curser and the letter C:/. When I tried anything, the next thing was the 'bad command: abort, retry, and close?' I did the *'Margarite Nassau' method of learning-I asked everyone I knew about computers. Over time, this worked. Emphasize: OVER TIME AND MORE TIME AND MORE TIME and lots and lots of asking. Mostly, you have to find people proud of what they have learned on their own about computers. I found a guy, self-taught in computers, who could do most anything and find most anything on a computer. I credit him with being my teacher. Remember the name: Larry Yount. He is an old guy and was laid off because of his age. Yet he taught me most of what I know. But more, he made me brave enough to try on my own.
I am 61 years of age, and by jove, I think I've got it! So I wrote more stories. This time, I was teaching first grade and I couldn't find any 'fun' books about Weather. I looked in my collection of children's books I had written over time. Nothing. So I wrote a new one. I called it: CLOUDWOMAN. At first, I had the kids do the illustrations. I tried it out in other classrooms besides my own kids' class. Everyone liked it.
Colors. That was the next area. We all have to teach colors in first grade--the spelling of the words, the reality of the colors. I thought it'd be fun to write a tale of colors. I thought I'd call it: RAINBOW CHILDREN or maybe HOW THE RAINBOW CAME TO BE. It was a tale of 3 'see-through' children who wanted to be colorful any way they could. They experience a series of adventures and each one becomes one of the primary colors. Over time, they learn that by holding hands, new colors emit. (Secondary colors, of course.) I had songs I had written in it and art lessons in it as well-making rainbow children, of course. I really liked it. So did my kids.
Ah, to publish! Thought I.
So, with high heart, I trotted to the library, checked out WRITER'S MARKET, and started searching for publishers who wanted the sort of stuff I wrote. I sent letters to publishers (called 'query letters') trying to show them why they should want to see my book.
I must have 40 to 50 rejections so far, maybe 80 to 100. I don't know. I stopped counting. No one was interested in an unknown name. All the rejections, except for 2, were form-letters. WRITER'S MARKET was not the most up to date book on what publishers wanted.
Then came the Internet. I had done serious internal surgery on my computer, with Larry's help, and it was now a Pentium II, even though its little case still said '386'. SEARCH was the key word now. So, I searched. More looking for those publishers who wanted 'unsolicited manuscripts'. Amazon.com had a 2000 edition of Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. I ordered it. It not only had publishers but also tips and more tips by the chapter load telling me all about writing and publishing. Then I found www.cbcbooks.org online. It had the latest of the latest on publishers and what they wanted in children's books and who would accept 'unsolicited manuscripts'.
Somewhere, on line, I found the word: ebook. New word. It meant to publish a manuscript you had written, on line for everyone to see if they paid for it. Electronic books on line. Hummmmmmm, says I. Can I just put my manuscript on line?
Not exactly. There were formats to follow: html/rich text form/and other things, which words I had never heard. Whatever manuscript you did, had to be in the computer lingo of the site that accepted your manuscript. Oh dear, thought I. What's it all about, Alphie...
In the meantime, I had trained my mouse to draw pictures. Well, I had trained me to control my mouse to draw pictures. I used the bitmap files (*.bmp) that are in every Windows 3.1, 95, and 98 program. I learned that I could write on top of my pictures. Cool. The pictures were a little stiff, at first, but I got better with practice. And I could color with something other than crayons, plus achieve different effects. Ah! Thought I: "Now I will look professional, whether hardback or ebook.
So I entered 'electronic books' as a search word one day into my search machine. A million sites come up. Actually, somewhere between 4 million and 11 million sites came up. A brave new world was brewing of which I knew little and I decided I wanted to be part of it.
The best site I have found for me to learn about ebooks was: www.fuguesoftware.com/ePublish/publish2.htm . It is the CHILDREN'S WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR MARKET book of the internet. It gives ideas, and how-to's, and just how to think in order to do an ebook.
It is not alone. There are many other sites offering software, methods, ways of publishing, who has what referrals and so on.
So, what's an ebook? It is your manuscript printed on-line. It is your illustrations printed on line. It is any piece of writing in electronic form. It can be printed up by anyone-WAIT A MINUTE! HOW DOES ANYONE MAKE MONEY THIS WAY? Ah! An author converts his/her book into the form of the file of the ebook publisher so that it must be paid for first, before it is printed.
In a way, the teacher.net Gazette is a sort of ebook. It's an enewspaper or emagazine (called: ezine).
Teachers! Have you noticed? The language is changing!!!
Back to ebooks: once you find an ebook publisher, then your work gets accepted if they like it, or if you like it, they present it on line, and get a percentage. Some ebook publishers don't even have to like your work; right now, there are not too many ebooks in various categories on line. So most ebook publishers will accept what you write.
Ebook publishers are still in a countable form-I counted 35 on line. I know that there are more. Ebook distributors are a bit more impressive. If you go to www.ebookmall.com you will see a full-fledged retailer and distributor with lots of selections, well, lots in ebook count.
To see the possibilities of an ebook, I found one on line, available to all. Some ebooks are a lot like websites: they can be arranged in such a manner that you can click to this link or that link if you so wish. Go to www.tigerthekitten.com and see a good example of how an ebook story could be. Remember those books where you could choose your own ending? Well, this story of THE ADVENTURES OF TIGER THE KITTEN is kinda-sorta like that. You can click on any chapter, or click on the map, or click on underlined words and go to that picture of Tiger.
How does an author find the publisher that is just right? Hunt. Hunt. Hunt. I found JETKOR that way.
Like most ebook publishers, this company is new in this area of publishing. This publisher simply liked my story and my art. That's how it goes. They like what you have written, or they do not. JETKOR liked my work. The publisher was friendly and professional. It was easy to work with her; she allowed me creativity with direction-my kind of publisher. She also laughed at my jokes. I liked that, too.
Yes, you do a lot of rewrite and redraw. So what. That goes with any sort of writing. Or drawing.
Once my book, CLOUDWOMAN, is at the distributor on December 12th, which shall be, www.ebookmall.com, then what happens? It can be in instant email form, in Adobe format, in a CD rom. A person orders the book the way the person wants to read it. There's even special ebook readers from which a downloaded book can be read. But it need not be. It can be emailed to the buyer as well. The buyer then prints it up. It can be purchased in adobe format, and printed up as such. All that is need is the credit card number first.
So goes the world of ebooks. So goes the future. So goes my CLOUDWOMAN. And, that's where I'll meet you-should you choose ebook publications, and CLOUDWOMAN at www.ebookmall.com ! See ya'll there!