Doggeral-CoverIn part 1 of my adventures, I published my short story, Less Of Her, on Wattpad. As I mentioned at the time, I thought that the Wattpad site would lend itself well to publishing my flash fiction stories as it can be done a story / chapter  at a time.

Well, I went ahead, knocked up a cover on my own with my mad Gimp skillz and voilà!

All the flash stories I have already published here on this blog are also now under this ‘title’ on Wattpad for your viewing pleasure.

Doggerel – A Flash Fiction Collection.

In part 1, I explored the trials and tribulations of publishing on Wattpad.

smashwordsThis time, I published my short story,  Less Of Her, on Smashwords.

Smashwords, is all about publishing your work in various e-book formats. The website itself isn’t quite as slick and easy on the eye as Wattpad is (except there is a lot less of that hateful orange, so it’s got that going for it) but it’s still pretty tight and easy to navigate around.

First things first, set up your profile. It’s a doddle, and lets you add all your social media contact points.  Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to add your magnum opus. On the face of it, it seems pretty simple – Microsoft Word 97 document goes in, various e-reader formats, PDF, html and plain text versions come out. If only. Between your word document and all those shiny e-reader friendly formats is the Meat-grinder.

smashwords-meatgrinder

Beware – this is not as straightforward as it seems. Badly formatted word document goes in, incomprehensible mess comes out – capiche?

Thankfully, there is an excellent, well laid out, step-by-step guide to formatting your great work so that it eases through the Meat-grinder like… like… You know, I can’t come up with a metaphor here that isn’t disgusting. Let’s just assume I did and proceed. Let me put this in bold to emphasis how really, really important this is.

smashwords-style-guide-cover

Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Corker

You Must Use  the Smashwords Style Guide to Format Your Word Document.

Not only does this document tell you how to make your work look the best in all formats, it also helps you with how to layout the copyright page, authors page, acknowledgements, everything. And when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of getting Microsoft Word to behave, it does it in fine detail, in simple clear instructions and with diagrams.  I want to say fool proof but I know that fools are really very ingenious.

Once you’ve got your word document in perfect Smashwords format, you’re good to go. You will need an International Book Serial Number (ISBN) to publish to some of the formats, such as for the Sony e-reader. Fear not, Smashwords will let you use one if you already have it or give you a free one!

You press the button. It sends you an e-mail when your precious baby has been through the meat-grinder (really, it was genius to call it such) and then you can click and download to your heart’s content.

As you may imagine, since you have to put your whole manuscript through the meat-grinder, you cannot publish your work a chapter at a time, unlike Wattpad. It’s all or nothing on Smashwords.

As with Wattpad, having a nice, eye-catching front cover is important. They recommend a humongous resolution, at a minimum your cover must be 1,400 pixels wide. The recommended resolution is 1,600 wide by 2,400 high. Luckily, when Rafido Francavilla did the cover for ‘Less Of Her’, he know what he was doing. At the time, I did wonder at the huge size.

When publishing you have various options for setting the price of your e-book.

  • Free, as in beer
  • Customer pays what they want
  • Fixed price

With the latter two, you can set a percentage of the book you want to allow them to sample, which can be done right there on the site in HTML. If you insist on charging, your payment comes either as a paper cheque or paypal, in the States, or just paypal if you live outside the US of A.

“What about the finished product?” I hear you ask.

Well, the PDF and HTML versions look okay. Plain text is plain text. I only own an Amazon Kindle, so I can only really vouch for that e-book format but, I can honestly say, it looks awesome! (I may be slightly biased).

smashwords-less-of-her

Stories are displayed with cover art and all relevant information (see above). As the author, not only do you get a download count, you also get a nice little stats page showing how many people visited your e-book’s page and how many people actually downloaded it.

So, which one is better: Wattpad or Smashwords?

Really, they are complimentary, if you are publishing for free, as they cater to different readers and different ways in which people can read your work. Go for both if you want maximum attention whoring potential.

This concludes my adventures, so far. If your still looking for something to read, can I suggest a certain short story

Let’s face it, you’re not a writer unless you’re an attention whore. Personally, I’m only in it for the warm fuzzies. Being a family pet means I have no idea about finance, I may have chewed a ten pound note once. What I’m getting at is that this is my passion and my hobby, not an alternative career, strictly amateur. I don’t do it for the money.

However, I do want desperately for people to read my stories and tell me how brilliant I am.  I like to publish my stories on various webzines; Every Daily Fiction, Quantum-Muse, Another Realm, Daily Science Fiction (one day they WILL accept one of my stories) and, my personal favourite, Aphelion. It’s not just the sense of community that surrounds these sites and makes them special, to get a story published at these sites means that it has met a certain quality, that its ‘good enough’ by someone else’s standards. That is also important to me.

But once I’ve published a story and the glow of seeing my name in print, up on the screen, has faded, what then?

There’s a lot of noise around the inter-tubes about the changes in the publishing industry. Certainly, its still the ultimate goal for a professional writer, to make it past the gatekeepers of the publishing industry and see their work in dead tree format. I won’t lie, my resolution this year is to get my name in a print magazine.

However, if you don’t want to run that gauntlet, or you’re tired of seeing form rejection letters, then self publishing is  an attractive option.  Or if you’re an attention whore who wants to reach a wider audience.

wattpad-iconMy first dabbling is with Wattpad. This site pimps itself as the ‘youtube’ for sharing electronic stories. The site itself has a very simple and intuitive  look and feel, even though it’s colour theme is orange.  It pushes the social angle hard with integration to Twitter and Facebook. On this site, you can follow other people and be followed. You can write on each others walls, etc…

Publishing stories is a doddle but it really emphasises the need to have a cracking good ‘book cover’ for your work.

I think I got very lucky. I did a google image search with the keywords ‘cybernetic’, ‘legs’,  ‘female’ and straight away hit on something I liked. I tracked down the site of the guy who had created it, Rafido Francavilla. Of course, you have to be very mindful of copyright but I was happy to see Rafido does book covers and so I emailed him, not sure what would happen next.  I don’t want to bore you with details, but long story short, Rafido made me a book cover – for free – as long as I properly attributed his work, the model and original photographer.

This is the result and IT IS TEH AWESOME!!!!LESS-OF-HER-240x340 So, armed with my book cover, I created an account, set up a profile and started to add a new story.

The process is straightforward but you can see straight away that it is geared towards allowing you to update your Work In Progress (WIP) a chapter at a time. You can even release it, only a chapter at a time. This probably works very well for long works but it confused the heck out of me. In the end, I chunked my story up into chapters, even though some of them are only a paragraph long. If I had to do it again, I don’t think I would bother, I’d just put the whole thing in one chunk. This is important for a reason I will get to later.

The site only really caters for reading ON the site. However, there are Wattpad apps for JesusiPhone and Android. I downloaded the Android app and it’s actually really very good. So the best thing about Wattpad for me is that people can access my story, easily and in a really accessible format on their Smart phone or tablet!  Come on, that’s pretty cool, right?

Once you’ve published your masterpiece this is the kind of status info you can get on it.

Less-of-her-wattpad

The read count is a little misleading. It aggregates the read count for each chapter/chunk/section. So, if you go and visit my story, you can see that (currently) 23 people have read the first chapter, ‘brass legs’, but only 7 people made it to the last chapter, ‘whole’ (and 12 people read the ‘Acknowledgements’ page – WTF?).  So really, only 7 people have read it all the way through, assuming nobody skipped a chapter or two.

If you look at the number of stories by genre on Wattpad it gives you an idea of the user demographic of the site. Romance ~3.5 million stories, Fan-fiction ~2.4 million and Teen fiction ~2.2 million. Science Fiction short stories come in at a paltry 4,363 (right now).  A site firmly catering to da youf of today.

Will I put other work here?

Yes, I think I will. Every little helps. In fact, I have a plan to publish my Flash fiction stories here. The model would work very well as I seem to do a Flash story about once or month. I can publish as I go, each Flash story will get it’s own chapter, and therefore its own read count, and I only need one book cover for it. So keep your eyes peeled for that.

In the meantime, go read my story at Wattpad, vote for it, coment on it and tell me how much you love me!

Legacy

Posted: April 20, 2013 in Published, Stories

durga_indian_goddess

Published in the April 2013 issue of the Aphelion-Webzine.

After millenia living as a cyborg, with only a couple of kilograms of brain tissue remaining of her original body, Meera was tired. She chose to have her consciousness transferred into a flesh-and-blood — and mortal — body so she could return home and die. But even the plans of immortals can go wrong…

Legacy

 

The Things We Do For Love

Posted: April 9, 2013 in Flash, Stories

carnival

Written for the Aphelion-webzine February 2013  Flash Challenge.  Trading one monstrosity for another may not always be a bad thing . . .

-oOo-

Aileen walked with John along the dusty track to the Carnival lit up in the darkness of the meadow. She was thankful for the dark, people were less likely to see the bruises. Not that anyone would speak of it. She’d had bruises before.

The sign at the entrance declared, “Dr Simpsons’ Carnival of Curiosities. Entry: One Dollar”. John paid grudgingly while Aileen kept her face turned away. Once within, the place was crowded with townsfolk, laughing and shouting, their feet kicking up a little dust from the hard trodden ground between the garish tents and stalls.

“What’s it to be first?” John asked. “The strongman? The bearded woman?”

“Whatever you choose, John.”

John was acting conciliatory for what he’d done but Aileen knew his mood to be mercurial. The smallest slight would set him against her, and if he drank! Oh Lord, if he drank.

A shout from the crowd pulled them onwards to John’s cousin and friends. Aileen stood apart as the menfolk slapped each others backs. If she was lucky John would go off with them and leave her be but John was still acting sorry and broke himself free instead. Not before his cousin had given him a jar of something, a little shine from the backwood’s still. Nothing made John surly like his cousin’s moonshine. Aileen cursed her luck.

“Selena the Snake Woman,” shouted a Barker as they drew near. “Born without bones, see her perform feats that will amaze you, astound you!”

The board outside the tent had a caricature of a woman with a snake’s tail instead of legs and green, scaly skin. John pulled the flap aside and lead her in.

The woman on the stage had no snake’s tail but two perfectly formed legs from what Aileen could see. Her skin was painted green though. There was plenty of skin to see too, for the green woman wore barely a scrap of costume while performing her obscene act. Bending her legs over her head and pulling them wide, the contortionist thrust her hips towards an eager audience of men. John pushed forward, eyes gleaming with lust, lust that he’d put on Aileen before the night was done. Aileen pulled away, towards the back and the exit.

“She’s a snake because her blood runs cold even as it makes theirs run hot.”

The woman’s voice so close to her ear made Aileen jump. She turned and met faded blue eyes, faded like soft denim. The woman was faded too, although she’d been a beauty once. Now she was hard worn and threadbare. Aileen felt sorry for her, thinking how tough life must be travelling with the Carnival from town to town. Aileen saw the pity reflected back at her as the woman stared at Aileen’s bruises, studying them intently.

“Do you stay with him for love?” the woman asked.

Aileen nodded, not really believing it but then why else would she still be with a man who treated her so bad.

“The things we do for love.”

Aileen hurried away, desperate to be out in the cool night air again. The woman caught her hand before she’d gone a dozen paces.

“There’s a special show,” she said. “Invitation only. Some things are only for those who can appreciate them.”

Aileen would have protested but the look in the woman’s eyes hooked her curiosity. The woman lead her on, through the crowds, through the smell of dust, and straw and candy-floss, to a tent beyond the others, small and alone.

“This is my man,” the woman said with pride in her voice as she lead Aileen inside to near total darkness.

“You may be shocked at first but when you truly see him you’ll understand.”

“Understand what?” Aileen asked.

The woman lit an oil lamp and as the yellow flame caught and flickered in the soot stained glass, it reflected dully on the skin of another.

Aileen gasped, a sharp intake of horror. It’s flesh was grey, it’s head grotesque and large with two huge, glistening, black pools for eyes. No nose, but the small line of a mouth. In a fluid movement it stood up, towering over her on legs so thin it didn’t seem right. Aileen couldn’t move, she couldn’t breath. She could only stare in terror as it reached out and caressed her bruised face with soft, slender fingers.

Aileen’s heart skipped.

It didn’t skip with horror or fear. It skipped with joy.

She’d never known how empty she’d been, how lonely and alone, or how drab and dark her world. She knew now. Now she was full of love and was loved, she would never be alone again, and everything was full of color and everything was bright. Her sharply indrawn breath of horror was released as a tremulous contented sigh.

The woman stood by the tent opening, tears running freely from her faded blue eyes. “It’s hard to love and be loved so much,” she said. “I can’t bear the weight of it any more. He needs someone stronger, that’s why I found you.”

Aileen nodded, she understood perfectly.

Outside, John was shouting her name. He was still quite far away but he’d likely been calling for some time. He’d be angry when he found her.

“All that remains is to free you of your obligation.” The woman pulled a knife from the folds of her dress and held the tent open.

“The things we do for love,” the woman said and then was gone.

Aileen turned into her lover’s cool embrace, breathing deeply the musk of dust, straw and candy-floss that surrounded her. Somewhere outside, John’s shouting was cut off right in the middle of calling her name.

The End

BBC3_zombie_drama_In_the_Flesh___trailer

In the Flesh review – Episode Three – BBC Three.

A good review of the last episode of a three part series I enjoyed.

A Digital Orange

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Flash, Published, Stories

orange

Quantum Muse let me get away with it again, this time with a short flash fiction story that I originally entered into the Aphelion-Webzine November 2012 Flash Challenge.

A Digital Orange

The story of a monster and the guilt of performing monstrous deeds.