Creativity / publishing / writing

Writing Wednesday: Publishing on the Cheap

I consider myself serious about writing, but I have my own criteria (as we all should.) I know that a majority of people who say they WANT to be a writer fail on the first of Heinlein’s Rules: YOU MUST WRITE. It took me a couple of years to hold myself to that principle, and although I stumble sometimes, I’ve been able to keep to it by and large.

For me, another sign that I’m serious is that I submit my stories to markets in an attempt to make a sale. There’s no point in writing if no one is going to read it (if a writer writes in the forest and there’s no one there to read it, is there really a story?) This is the same reason that I self-publish – it means that my stories are out there where readers can find (AND READ) them.

Now, being a poor, starving artist (not really – but I choose to keep my writing and publishing separate from the rest of my finances), I can’t justify spending a lot of money on this. I imagine there are a lot of beginners out there who also have financial restrictions, so here’s how I do this ON THE CHEAP.

One of the things you have to do to indie publish is create covers for your work. If you’re an artist, you might actually be able to create a story-appropriate cover all on your own. I can sketch a little (I may resort to that when I finally publish my first novel because I have a VERY DEFINITE design in mind), but it would be too time-consuming to have to create a cover for every story (I publish one every four weeks.)

I rely on photos – some that I’ve taken myself, and others that I get for free on (in the early days I let myself splurge on another site, but my money didn’t go far.) Morguefile photos are licensed so that you can use them for free as long as you don’t use them in a stand-alone fashion, so I use multiple elements and combine them together. I have Adobe Photoshop Elements, but I do most of my editing in an old photo editor I got years ago with a digital camera (Photo Impression 3.0 – the newer versions don’t suit my needs.)

Once I have the cover art the way I want it, I use it as the background on a Microsoft PowerPoint page and add the cover text. This lets me choose from a wide range of fonts, colors, and effects. I save the cover image as a .jpeg file when I’m done.

I only format my text for two distributors for eBooks: Amazon (for Kindle only) and Smashwords for everything else. Smashwords is fairly straight-forward – they give you directions on how to format for them, and I send them a file in a standard .doc file.

**When I first started writing this, I was going to say that Amazon’s a little trickier. I have been using Mobipocket Creator (which was free) to create a .prc file, but I just checked Amazon’s formatting instructions: at some point they expanded the formats of files they accept (I wonder how long this has been the case…). Word, HTML, and .prc, look to be the least problematic, although they accept other formats as well. They say they don’t support .prc’s created by Mobipocket anymore, although they offer their own free KindleGen tool to create the files. I will probably opt for the simplicity of Word documents. At any rate, you have plenty of options at little to no cost.

When I first started writing, I would occasionally submit to publications that only allowed hard copies (that means paper, ink, envelopes, and postage), but most thankfully accept electronic submissions, so that doesn’t cost anything now. So, if MONEY is the reason you haven’t actually written or published, it’s time to get to it.

Just saying…


NewAntiquesCoverThis week’s Smashword’s coupon is for “New Antiques”:

Tim Crabtree takes time out of his daily harassment by the local bullies to wonder why his new neighbors have built a forty-foot pole in their backyard. Are they trying to get hit by lightning? If he only knew…

“New Antiques” was yet another go at a little bit of time travel, but I wanted to play with the mundane wonder of being a kid and having to deal with how fantastic reality can be. I saw this one play out visually like a movie as I wrote it.

Use coupon code YY92P to get 67% off the cover price at Smashwords (that’s only 99-cents – such a deal!) – it’s good until August 6th. Here’s the link:

“New Antiques” is also available in the collection – Yet Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND.


William Mangieri’s writing, including his latest publication “Obsolete”, can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:
• His Amazon Author page:
• Barnes & Noble:
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books):
• His site on WordPress:
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:
• His Goodreads author page:
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri



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