The Journal, Saturday, 4/8

Hey Folks,

Yesterday turned out to be productive, albeit not with actual writing.

I did create a cover and a promo doc and get the new book up in all major e-venues.

But this morning, something was bugging me about that cover. It just didn’t pop off the page.

So I revised it. Now it reflects “noir” better and it pops off the page. That’s it on the left over there.

Topic: Thoughts on Novel Two-Fers

So I’m thinking I want to put the last two novels (both pulp fiction detective noir mysteries) in a “boxed set” in ebook.

But I’m also thinking of doing the same thing, sort of, in print.

But why only two? I mean, I can easily turn out two of these masterpieces per month (grin), so why not wait until I have three or more to put in a boxed set?

Well, does anyone out there remember the old pulp novel two-fers?

You buy one physical book, but it has two front covers, one on each side, and the covers are upside down from each other.

You open one cover to read one novel, then flip the book over and open the other cover to read the other novel. (grin)

It was charming, to say the least. And the idea of it is intriguing to me.

I’ve already been in touch with Kat at Cover to Upload to see whether she has any ideas and whether the project interests her.

I really doubt I’ll be able to replicate the old pulp two-fer construction. But I’m looking for a way to do something that’s at least similar.

Oh, and let’s toss in another challenge while we’re at it. I’m kind of a stickler for having my ebook and print book covers look the same.

Of course, you can’t flip an ebook over, so….

Hmm. Maybe a new cover with both the other covers on it, only sideways with the top of the original covers at the spine.

I don’t know.

I’ll keep you posted.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little before 4 after a rough night with my stomach. Ugh.

After briefly playing with email and FB, I updated pages on my website and my publisher website to reflect the new book. If you wanna read about it, here’s the 411:

Around 7 my wife and I went for a short walk (about a mile). Then back to breakfast and writing.

Good short walk, then a trip to Sierra Vista (about 45 miles) for two new tires for my Tacoma.

Lunch in Sierra Vista and ate too much (burgers and fries, and if you know me, nomnomnom).

Out to the Hovel around 2:20 to see if it’ll still have me. (grin)

Around 3 I started a new novel. Woohoo! As my buddy Dan says, I am in hebben. Like the previous two, this one features Detective Lou Galecki. He’s a Polack, but he has a Brooklyn accent and an Italian partner, so it’s all right.

A great hour. I’ll hope to write more on this one tomorrow.

See you then.

Of Interest

At Dean’s place, “Two More Stories in Two Days” at

Fiction Words: 1381
Nonfiction Words: 490 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1871

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 8750
Total fiction words for the year………… 217126
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3480
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 60820

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 277946

The Journal, Friday, 3/17

Hey Folks,

This morning, after spending about ten minutes with email and Facebook, I dived right into Smashwords. Time for some admin work and hard choices.

That led to the topic below. I’ll be back tomorrow with another set of recommendations re DWS’ lectures (as opposed to his workshops).

Topic: Why I’m No Longer Using Smashwords for My Novels and Short Stories

This is kind of a personal author earnings report. I’ll still use Smashwords for my nonfiction. Some. But only in the Smashwords store.

Oddly enough, my nonfiction sells far better than my fiction.

I find that truly weird. Think about it. People are willing to buy advice on writing from me without verifying for themselves whether I know the first thing about actually doing it. No wonder there are so many scammers out there. Check your sources, folks.

Anyway, there’s an old saying that goes something like this: Change occurs when fear of the status quo becomes greater than the fear of change.

Here’s the rundown on the three main distributors:

First, Smashwords ( Not recommended.

Smashwords distributes to a boatload of venues. Fifteen venues, to be exact. Sixteen if you include the Smashwords store itself. That’s what always attracted me to it.

Those venues include Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Inktera (formerly Page Foundry), Baker & Taylor Blio, Txtr, Library Direct, Baker-Taylor Axis360, OverDrive, Scribd, cloudLibrary, Gardners Extended Retail, Yuzu, Tolino, Odilo, and Gardners Library.

All those venues is one wonderful feature of Smashwords.

But I’m an old sales guy. There’s a difference between a feature and a benefit.

That feature doesn’t become a benefit unless people are actually buying my books through those venues.

Also, the clunky interface at Smashwords takes a lot of time (comparatively, to me) and that’s always been annoying.

So I decided to do a kind of “return on investment” study this morning (with the investment being the time it takes to use the Smashwords interface) for 2011 – 2017. (Because it’s early in 2017, this is almost exactly six years.)

To date, all of my sales — that’s ALL of my sales — through Smashwords have come either through the Smashwords store or via Apple, B&N, Kobo and Scribd, with the exception of Oyster, whom Smashwords dropped in late 2014.

So most of my non-Amazon sales have come through the major players (Apple, B&N, Kobo and Scribd). Keep that in mind. And we’ll move on to

Pronoun ( Not recommended.

Pronoun distributes to Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Kobo, plus GooglePlay. So all of the major players except Scribd.

I still haven’t dealt directly with Pronoun. I have tried. What appeals to me about them is that they distribute to Amazon.

But frankly, for me, the benefit of allowing them to distribute my work to Amazon (so I won’t have to) and the “appeal” of GooglePlay hasn’t yet outweighed the PITA of dealing with Amazon on my own.

Nor does it outweigh the annoyance of putting up with Pronoun’s condescending interface and the effort I would have to expend to learn that interface thoroughly. I mean, even Smashwords doesn’t get condescending except around NaNoWriMo, and I kind’a understand that.

And that leads us to

Draft2Digital ( Very highly recommended.

D2D distributes to Apple, B&N, and Kobo, plus PageFoundry (Inkterra), Tolino, Scribd and 24Symbols. So all the major players except Amazon. (Again, I distribute to Amazon myself.)

With their easy-to-use interface, I can publish any work there in two or three minutes.

This vs. ten to fifteen minutes per book at Smashwords, including time to add an ISBN (required for inclusion in the premium catalogue, which means distribution) and make selections on the Channel Manager.

D2D even generates an interactive TOC (table of contents), no matter how the chapters or sections are titled and with minimal formatting on my part.

Unless all your chapters are in Arabic numerals only (1, 2, 3, etc., no “Chapter” no “One, Two, etc., no prologue or epilogue), Smashwords requires you to send them a Word file with an interactive TOC already formatted. Another hour or two of the day gone.

D2D also takes ZERO fees from the net royalty. Whatever the venue pays goes directly into my bank account. (Smashwords takes a percentage.)

And at D2D, my books are distributed to all the same major players.

Yeah, that’s a really difficult decision to make.

If I continue to use Smashwords at all, it will be only for my major works (novels, collections, nonfiction) and I’ll offer them only through the Smashwords store.

That means I won’t have to jump through several hoops (and spend more time) to get them listed in the “premium” catalogue so they’ll be distributed to outside retailers. Nor will I have to mess with the hyper-clunky Channel Manager.

Ahh, I feel better already. Any questions about this topic, feel free to email me.

Just in case Mark Coker (founder and CEO of Smashwords) sees this, seriously, upgrade your site, Mark. Players gotta compete, and extra venues that don’t sell my books just don’t matter to me.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3. Got right to work on the admin stuff above, and then wrote everything above this.

Now, a little after 7, a break for breakfast.

7:40, to the Hovel, did a little more admin.

Ah some family stuff came up. I have to visit with my grandson for awhile this morning. I’ll write today if I can.

No fiction on the day. Hey, days happen. Maybe tomorrow. See you then.

Of Interest

See “Freedom in This New Publishing World” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 850 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 850

Writing of Novel Two

Day 1…… 978 words. Total words to date…… 978
Day 2…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 33439
Total fiction words for the year………… 185305
Total nonfiction words for the month… 9820
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 46410

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 231715

Prepping to Epublish

Hi Folks,

Note: This post was originally scheduled for 8/30/2013. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I have NOT revised the original post other than reparagraphing some of it.

This post goes hand in hand with my previous post on Busting the Myths of Digital Publishing.

I often hear from folks who say they want to “publish like you, on Amazon” but they don’t mention any other venues. If you self-publish, you will be both an author and a publisher. The one big secret to building a presence as a publisher is to sell your ebooks in several different venues.

Dean Wesley Smith, to whom I cannot give enough praise for his “Think Like a Publisher” series (now available as a recommended book), even suggests you don’t try to sell 1,000 books per month at one venue. Instead, try to sell 10 books per month at 100 venues. But how do you get into 100 ebook selling venues?

If you publish with Amazon’s Kindle store, that’s around 20 markets already. Of course, through Smashwords your book will also be available worldwide through markets established by Apple (that’s another fifty markets), Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo, Sony and others. That’s a pretty good start.

You can set up a Scribd account and offer your books for sale in the Scribd store. That’s one more venue, and it’s worldwide.

You can set up accounts with Google +, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and others to let your contacts know what you’re up to and to announce book releases, sales, special offers, etc.

(Note: Your primary effort on these social venues must be social, not business, so the better you are at chitchat, the better these will work for you.)

You also can set up a blog through which you give people something of value (if you have something of value to give them), then advertise your books at the bottom of each post. Set up a website and a PayPal account and you can sell books directly from your own website as well. PayPal has a free shopping cart, no problem.

Okay, so what about the prep work?

If you’re going to submit your Word file .doc to Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and Scribd (for starters, for example), surely you don’t want to completely reinvent the wheel each time, right? Right. So here’s what you do:

1. Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble PubIt do not require (or even want) an ISBN, so first, decide who you want to be as a publisher, then create a name. If you’re name’s Jack Smith, I suggest something like JSmith Publishing. It’s just that easy. That’s the publisher you’ll list (or you can list nothing at all in the Publisher block) with Amazon and B&N.

2. Smashwords will provide a free ISBN if you allow them to list themselves as the official publisher. (This entails you putting in the front matter “the Smashwords edition of / a JSmith publication” where the forward slash is a line break.) Otherwise they provide an ISBN but it costs you $9.95. So let Smashwords be the publisher for what you submit to them. Trust me for a few minutes and you’ll understand.

But how do you publish under JSmith Publishing with Amazon and B&N (and Scribd and any other venues you find on your own, like Xin Xii) and yet list Smashwords as the publisher for Kobo, Sony, Diesel, et al? Here’s what you do, and again, most of this is from Dean Wesley Smith:

Then set up a file folder with the name of your book. For example, my latest file folder is named Maldito & Tomas. In that file folder, I keep the standard cover for my ebook (mine are all 2000 x 3000 pixels), the thumbnail-sized cover (mine is 200 x 300 pixels). You will also keep the following:

1. Your original Word document set up with your own publishing info and your own license notes in the front matter. For example, my latest file (.doc) is titled Maldito & Tomas.doc. The first page will be your title page, which also contains the publishing and copyright info and license notes, then the table of contents (if necessary), then the story/novel/memoir, and then the back matter, which for me consists solely of a brief About the Author section. Here’s the front matter for the first document (Maldito & Tomas.doc):

Maldito & Tomás
a StoneThread Publication
Copyright © 2011 by Harvey Stanbrough

StoneThread License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment. Please don’t resell it or give it away.
If you want to share this book, please purchase an additional copy as a gift.
Thank you for respecting the author’s work.

2. A second Word document set up with Smashwords’ info in the front matter. In my example, that file is titled Maldito & Tomas Smash.doc and it’s set up with front matter that reads “the Smashwords edition / of a StoneThread publication.” Making it the Smashwords edition is all that’s required. Here’s the front matter for the first document (Maldito & Tomas Smash.doc):

Maldito & Tomás
the Smashwords Edition
of a StoneThread Publication
Copyright © 2011 by Harvey Stanbrough

StoneThread License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment. Please don’t resell it or give it away.
If you want to share this book, please purchase an additional copy as a gift.
Thank you for respecting the author’s work.

3. A third Word document with promotion information. In my example the file is Maldito & Tomas Promo.doc. This file contains the title of the book, a “teaser” for the cover, a good, strong book description, the author bio, the categories or genres into which the book fits (the shelving sections where you would like it to be displayed if it were in a brick and mortar store) and any Internet search keywords.

When you publish your work to Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Scribd, and pretty much anywhere else, they will ask you for all of this info.

I open the Internet window over 2/3 of my screen and I open the appropriate “promo” file in the other 1/3. Then it’s an easy matter to copy/paste the required info from the promo.doc into whichever form (Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc.) you’re using at the time.

To extend the example, here’s what’s written in Maldito & Tomas Promo.doc:

Title: Maldito & Tomás

Cover tease:
Tomás comes to help,
but not everyone in a robe
is a priest….

Description: When Maldito finally escapes his horrible home, he flees to an ancient stone house high in the jungled mountains overlooking the sea where he soon encounters both his future and his past. He makes a new home, finds a vantage point from which he can see the whole world, both past and future, encounters Tomás, whom he takes to be a priest, and begins to become aware of his destiny. If you’ve enjoyed the works of Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende, you’ll enjoy these Stories from the Cantina.

Author: Harvey Stanbrough was born in New Mexico, seasoned in Texas, and baked in Arizona. He spent most of his early life in the home of his heart, the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona. After graduating from a 21-year civilian-appreciation course in the U.S. Marine Corps, he attended Eastern New Mexico University where he managed to sneak up on a bachelors degree. He writes and works as a freelance editor and writing instructor from his home in southeast Arizona.

Categories/Genres: Fiction > Fantasy > General / Fiction > Fantasy > Paranormal

Keywords: magic realism, fantasy, short story, stories from the cantina, surrealism, paranormal, stanbrough

As you can see, this appears to be a time-consuming effort, but it really isn’t.

For one thing, you can keep a stock folder on hand with a Word document titled MyFiction.doc and another with Smashwords.doc. In those files, respectively, you can keep your standard front matter and Smashwords’ standard front matter.

Then it’s a simple matter to copy/paste from that document to the front page of your story/novel/memoir etc. Given a finished, formatted manuscript and the promo doc above, I can publish it to Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and Scribd in about a half-hour. With just a little practice, you can too.

Happy writing!

I am a professional fiction writer as well as a copyeditor. For details, or just to learn what comprises a good copy edit, please visit Copyediting.

If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at

Update to Brave New World of Publishing

Hi Folks,

This morning as I emailed a friend, I had occasion to revisit an old blog post, one I wrote here back in October, 2015. The information in it bears repeating, especially in light of recent posts over at Dean Wesley Smith’s website. I recommend you read my older blog post before continuing with this one, even if you think you remember everything about it. To do so, click Brave New World of Publishing.

After that, to read one of the more important posts to come along in awhile in the way of advice for writers from a guy who’s been doing it successfully for decades, read Dean’s Blaming the Reader (for no sales).

His post includes a list of reasons your books don’t sell even a few copies. It was so good I copied/pasted it into a Word document, mostly so I could re-read it in the future and also to share it with others.

But back to this post. This is an update on the information I shared in the October 17, 2015 post.

First, I no longer use Pronoun. They don’t allow the author to select the venues to which they distribute the author’s work. For me, that’s a deal killer.

As for XinXii I have sold one copy of one short story collection through them (as far as I can tell) for a grand total royalty of $1.10. That’s in well over a year. So I’m not pushing them anymore either. Then again, $1.10 is a minuscule price to pay for a lesson.

I also had some problems interfacing with OmniLit’s website (they’re also All Romance Ebooks). I found the website clunky at best and unresponsive at times. Soon I decided the few sales I might get through them wasn’t worth the hassle. But that might have just been me. I recommend you check them for yourself, especially if you write romance or erotica.

So today, my titles are distributed through Amazon, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, and through direct sales at StoneThread Publishing.

Yes, Amazon remains the biggest seller.

Draft2Digital remains by far the easiest distribution venue to use, and they pay fair royalties.

I still despise Smashwords’ extremely clunky interface. If you have only a few titles to manage, it isn’t a big deal and it isn’t bad. But if you But with 200 titles in my account, using the channel manager or anything else is a nightmare. Still, the number of big-deal sales venues they offer makes the aggravation acceptable.

Back in the Iron Age (2011) I didn’t mind the clunkiness at Smashwords so much. It was pretty much state of the art. But today, all you have to do is compare the submission process at Smashwords with D2D to see what I mean. If D2D had the venues Smashwords has, I’d drop the latter in a heartbeat.

I haven’t mentioned CreateSpace. They are by far the best choice for do-it-yourself print production and distribution. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you’ll need to look around and select a print-layout and cover design service. Because loyalty and honesty are important to me, I cannot in good conscience recommend any service in particular.

If anyone out there knows of any that you recommend or if you do your own layout and spine and back cover AND ENJOY IT, please let me know.

Of course, if you aren’t writing and producing new work, none of the above matters in the slightest. Ahem.

That’s it for this time. ‘Til next time, keep writing.

Farewell, Smashwords, and Why

Hi Folks,

First a couple of announcements—

1. On September 23, Author Earnings released a new report that ALL writers should see. Especially if you’re locked into traditional publishing or if you’re on the fence.

The previous report I mentioned talks about market share in ebooks from traditional publishing vs. indie publishing. So it was kind of abstract.

But this report shows the actual distribution of income to individual authors who choose to publish traditionally vs. independently. This probably will surprise you. And if you’re an indie publisher, it will surprise you in a very good way. I encourage you go follow this link and sign up to get your own reports as they come out.

2. Yesterday, September 30 2015, was the final day for my Daily Journal blog. I created a spreadsheet that enables me to track what I write, how long it takes, and my daily, monthly and annual numbers. So no more need for the journal.

However, past editions of the journal will be available on this site for a limited time in case anyone wants to go back over some of them for the topics. Just click the tab.

3. And a note — If you self-publish, you are an indie publisher. If you publish through ANY subsidy publishing house — in other words, if you pay money to a publishing company to publish your work PLUS they keep a share of your royalties — you’re not an independent publisher. You’re just lost. Please don’t fall into that trap, and if you’re already in it, please do yourself a favor and break free. Every subsidy publisher, every place that charges you an up front fee PLUS keeps a share of your royalties, is a scam.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programming. (grin)

If you are an independent (self) publisher, this is an important post for you.

In the previous post, I busted a few of the myths of digital publishing. In that, I talked about the distributor, Smashwords. Recently I decided to leave Smashwords behind and switch all my distribution to Draft2Digital. Below is why.

Now this was strictly a business decision, as you’ll see below. If Smashwords cleans up their act quite a bit, I probably would go back to them, at least for partial distribution. This post appeared in slightly different form in my other blog, the Daily Journal.

Back in 2011, during the first year of the “gold rush” of electronic publishing, I signed up for a Smashwords account. Today, I have 143 books (nonfiction, novels, short stories and collections) published with them.

When I finished a work, whatever it was, first I published it to Smashwords. I allowed them to distribute it for me to 12 of 13 sales venues (all but Amazon). Then I published it to Amazon.

Enter Draft2Digital, a sleek new company that does what Smashwords does but MUCH more quickly and efficiently. They distribute to the same “big six” that Smashwords distributes to (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Inktera, Oyster, and Scribd) plus Tolino, a growing ebook store in Germany that was created specifically to rival Amazon.

Yesterday, I published a short story to D2D and Amazon, but for the first time, did NOT publish it to Smashwords. Why? Because then I’d have to clunk my way through the “opt out” radio buttons thirteen times so Smashwords would not distribute it (because D2D is distributing it).

Now admittedly, if I HAD done all that, the story would still be available in the Smashwords store, and I’m always advising writers to sell in as many markets as possible. But the thing is, having to spend a half-hour clunking around on Smashwords’ site just so a short story will be in their store… well, it simply isn’t worth the time.

Another thing, through the Smashwords online store I’ve sold mostly nonfiction. And most of that I’ve sold when I’ve created coupons for it, and then advertised the coupons. Again, it’s a lot of effort for very few sales.
I’m not lazy when it comes to expending necessary effort, but any time I spend uploading etc. is part of my investment in my writing. Since it’s part of the investment, I have to consider what return the effort will yield.

Here are a few stark numbers:

  • At it takes me about 15 minutes from clicking Create New Title to clicking Publish IF the process is uninterrupted by Amazon’s ridiculous page-loading times and jumping around. Probably the average time is 20 to 25 minutes. However, Amazon is currently my best venue, so the frustration, while annoying, is worthwhile.
  • At it takes me about 10 minutes to go from entering the title of my book to clicking Publish at the bottom of the form.
    • But then I have to go to their ISBN Manager to assign an ISBN for distribution to some of the big six as well as several tiny library venues (where I’ve never sold a book).
    • Then I have to go to their Channel Manager. There I have to find my book (there are three pages) and then click thirteen “opt out” radio buttons one at a time so Smashwords will not distribute to anyone except the online store.
    • Even after I’ve done all that, even though I’ve opted out of distribution to every place that requires an ISBN, I continue to see a message saying I need to assign an ISBN to my books. Very, very clunky system. I skip over the ISBN Manager since I no longer use them for distribution, but using the Channel Manager easily adds another 10 minutes and roughly half a ton of frustration to the process. Not worth it.
  • And D2D. Ahh, D2D. At it takes me about 3 minutes from Add New Book to Publish. On the final page I check the stores to which I want them to distribute my work (so seven checkmarks), verify that the work is either mine or that I have the rights to publish it, and I’m done. They assign an ISBN for the venues that require it, but I don’t have to do anything with that.

D2D does for me what Smashwords does but in a lot less time and with absolutely zero frustration. Score!

So for me, it’s bye-bye to Smashwords. I might put my major publications (novels, collections) up in their store, but frankly I doubt it. I really REALLY don’t like having to “opt out” 13 times per publication.

Now I’m a fair guy, so I will be addressing this issue with Mark Coker soon. Well, relatively soon. I probably won’t do so until I’ve moved my major nonfiction books over to D2D. Anyway, I’ll keep you updated, but I think he’s pretty entrenched in the way he does things.

So it’s like this. Five years ago, Mark and his company were on the cutting edge of ebook publishing and distribution. Today they’re eating dust from every other major player.

If you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to try to answer them for you. Please ask in the comments section below.

‘Til next time, happy writing.


PS: UPDATE: I’ve also found another sales venue. To look it over for yourself, visit OmniLit.

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out or just click If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. (grin) Again, thank you.

News of Import to Authors

Hey Folks,

This is not part of the usual sequence and it will be very short.

If you’re a writer and/or an indie publisher, this is some VERY exciting news.

The 2015 Author Earnings Report just came out. It turns out ebooks are NOT declining as reported by traditional publishing’s “Big 5.” Ebook sales by traditional publishers are declining.

It turns out, indie published ebooks are on the increase. They also are taking a lot larger market share. Ebook sales overall actually are increasing.

This truly is great news in this wonderful new world of publishing.

The upshot is this: If you write well and are indie published, hang in there. Great things are coming.

If you’re still traditionally published, you should seriously consider witholding e-rights for future books or, smarter yet, break away altogether. See for yourself at

I urge you also to visit the website of Dean Wesley Smith where he provides a brief discussion of this. Very interesting stuff.


Writing and Selling Short Fiction

Hi Folks,

I’m thinking about doing a daylong seminar on this. It would depend on interest. If you happen to be interested and able to travel to Tucson, let me know by email please at

A brief announcement for a friend. JoAnn Popek and Deborah Owen recently told me about a no-fee short story contest. The deadline is September 15 though, so get cracking. (grin) For guidelines, visit Creative Writing Institute and scroll down.

I’ve had questions recently from folks who are signed up for my Free Short Story of the Week. (If you are not signed up, you can Sign Up Here.) They all ask why I’m not selling my short stories instead of putting them on the website free. A professional writer friend of mine asked the same question in a slightly different context a few weeks ago.

Think about that for a moment. Why in the world would I limit the audience for my short stories to around 70 subscribers? The answer is, I Don’t.

Yes, if you subcribe (see Sign Up Here above), you will receive a brand new short story free in your email once a week. It costs you nothing and you can read it as many times as you want for the next week or so.

But I ALSO publish each story, usually on the day I write it, to Amazon, the Smashwords store, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Inktera, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd and Tolino. Through those markets, my stories, collections and novels are available in over 100 nations worldwide within a few days of publication.

To give you an idea of the process, as I’m writing this (September 2), I wrote the next short story of the week yesterday. It’s called “Paper Hearts.” As soon as I finished it, I did the format, created a cover, and published it to my Free Short Story of the Week blog. It will go live on my website on the morning of Monday, September 7. It will go out in email to subscribers on the afternoon of the same day.

So I posted it to my website yesterday and set a future release date. But I also published it for sale to Draft2Digital, a distributor who sends it to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Inktera, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd and Tolino. Then I published it to Smashwords, but only for sale in their online store. (You can buy titles at in any ebook format.) Then I published it to Amazon.

If you want to see it, I recommend you subscribe to my Free Short Story of the Week and wait until Monday to read it. Or just come back to my website on Monday and click the Free Short Story of the Week tab.

But if you’re really in a rush and you have more money than patience, you’re more than welcome to visit your favorite ebook store anytime and buy it. It only costs $2.99. That includes tax, even if you live in Europe and have that horrible VAT thing going on.

Not ony do I sell each individual short story that I write, I also do this:

When I’ve written five short stories, I combine them in a short collection and sell it for $4.99. So my readers can buy my stories one at a time for $2.99 (five stories would cost just under $15) or they can get five stories in a short collection for $4.99.

So when I’ve written TEN short stories, guess what? Besides the two 5-story collections for $4.99 each, my readers can also opt to buy one 10-story collection for $5.99 to $7.99. Can you say Good Deal?

From a writer and indie publisher standpoint, each story gives me multiple streams of revenue, too. When I’ve written ten short stories, I get thirteen publications: ten individual stories, two 5-story collections, and one 10-story collection.

And each of those is for sale at every venue listed above PLUS at those venues’ subsidiaries. Most of the “big” vendors have a few to several subsidiaries to whom they further distribute the books. Cool, eh?

That gives me three separate streams of revenue for each short story. Thirty streams of revenue for ten stories. Times the number of venues in which my stories are for sale.

Finally, I also publish each 5-story and 10-story collection as a paperback. Do I get a lot of sales in paperback? No.

But when the reader finds my collection or novel online and sees the paperback price (usually around $15.99) right alongside the ebook price (usually around $5.99) it makes the ebook price look really good. See? Which of course it is.

‘Til next time, happy writing. And selling.


Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks! If you can’t make a monetary donation, please at least consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. Again, thank you.

The Journal, Sunday, 8/23

The Day

Rolled out at 3 this morning. Still feeling a little under the weather – ulcer stuff – and then padding through the living room, I was hit by a wood scorpion. Fortunately he caught me on the outside of the left heel and apparently hit a callus.

Either that or I’ve developed a tolerance for things that sting. Fire and intense pain for about a half-minute, then a very small, dull and subsiding ache for another five minutes, then nothing. I am SO lucky.

Sadly, the scorpion did not fare as well once I found my sandals and a flashlight.

Still, kudos to the little dude for being willing to attack something that’s like a b’jillion times his size. I’ll never quite understand why they get that really quizzical look on their face just after you smash ’em. Like “How in the world did you do that?”

Anyway, as befitting a tough little dude, I gave him the closest thing I could arrange to burial at sea.

Checked email, got my coffee and started in combining two spreadsheets. One contained info on all my electronic publications, and the other was print only. Took close to an hour, but I got new columns added to the larger one and the info transferred over. Now it’s all in one place. More on keeping records in the Topic of the Night.

No walk again today. Just administrative stuff and writing.

Okay, it’s now 10:30 a.m. I’ve finished switching over the spreadsheet information and I’ve moved all eight of the books in The Wes Crowley Saga over to D2D. Gonna take a break, then come back to write a little bit.

Wrote a little, but a necessary trip to the store popped up.

Hoping to get a walk in the morning. Try to twist myself back into a more normal (for me) routine.

Topic of the Night: Keeping Records

My Fiction spreadsheet includes columns for the Title and Author (since I occasionally still write under various personas), which Collection each short story is in, Word count, ebook Price,  Ebook ISBN 13, and the Publication Date.

Then I have URL columns for my new distributor, Draft2Digital, and a URL column for each major bookstore. That currently includes Kobo, Inktera, Oyster, Scribd, Tolino, Apple, B&N, Amazon and Smashwords (both distributor and bookstore).

I reach a few other major outlets through Smashwords (Baker & Taylor Blio, txtr, Library Direct, Baker-Taylor Axis360, OverDrive, Flipkart), but I don’t have individual URLs for those. As D2D adds each one, I’ll add a column.

If you’re wondering, I keep the URLs in case a reader emails wanting to know where to find a certain book or story. It’s nice to have the information handy. This happens a lot more often than you might think.

On the other side of all those URL/venue columns I added the new information: the print edition ISBN 13 (Yes, you have to have a different ISBN for print and ebook), number of pages, print price, and the URL for the CreateSpace eStore. (You can’t buy ebooks there. CreateSpace has its own print book store, but it’s not brick and mortar. It’s only on line.)

If this seems like a lot of extra work, after the initial setup, it really isn’t. I view it as a necessary part of being my own publisher. From the time I publish a book or story, it takes about five minutes (if that) to enter all the information on my spreadsheet.

And just so you know, I don’t know a lot about spreadsheets in general or about Microsoft Excel in specific. But I’ve figured out enough to keep a good record of my publications. The point is, if I can do it, you can too (if you want to).

Today’s Writing
Honestly, the way the day started, first with the unusual dance with a scorpion and then all the admin/publisher stuff I did, I wasn’t expecting to get a lot of writing done and I didn’t. But I’ll take it.

It’s great to hit goals, but the main thing is to keep the story moving forward. I’ve been doing that on this one in fits and starts. Forward a bit, back, forward a bit more, back. Nope, that isn’t the opening. That scene comes somewhere AFTER the opening.

Okay, write a new opening. Ah, that’s better. I’ve written three openings for this book in five days. (grin) But I’ll get through all the fits and starts soon (I do this on pretty much every novel) and the thing will start flowing. Sure looking forward to that. (grin)

Hang around. It’ll happen.

Fiction Words: 1187

Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words

Total fiction words for the month…………… 19558
Total fiction words for the year……………… 461958

Exclusivity = Professional Suicide

Well, maybe not suicide, but at least a really severe professional mangling.

Hey Folks,

I’ve recently become aware there are still some writers out there who have made a conscious decision not to publish their work through Smashwords. Frankly, I suspect that’s due in part to the Smashwords Style Guide being so stinkin’ convoluted that it’s difficult to read, much less understand.

That’s okay. I agree.

In fact, I agree so much that after I finally figured out the process (back in 2011) I wrote an alternative instruction book titled The Essentials of Digital Publishing.

I’ve sold a few thousand copies of that ebook around the world. I’ve sold several hundred copies through Amazon, a few dozen through Barnes & Noble, several hundred more through Apple, and the rest through Library Direct, Baker & Taylor, Page Foundry, Scribd, TXTR, Oyster, Flipkart, Kobo, OverDrive and the Smashwords store. (Before they went under, I also sold many copies through Diesel and Sony.)

The thing is this: If I had sold exclusively to Amazon, I would have sold several hundred copies (around 800) of that book over the past five years. Because I did NOT slice away a massive chunk of the reading public by bending to Amazon’s exclusivity clause, I’ve sold just over four THOUSAND copies instead.

Now, The Essentials of Digital Publishing sells on Smashwords for $9.99. My royalty is $7.99 for every copy sold through Smashwords. For copies sold through other stores (for those listed above, Smashwords is the distributor), my royalty is $6.63 per copy. For copies sold through Amazon, I receive $6.99 per copy.

You can do the math. (This doesn’t give you exact figures because I’ve changed the price on the book a couple times, etc.)

Now understand, I don’t just have the one book up there for sale. I currently have around 90 short stories up for sale as well as 9 novels and around 14 nonfiction books, including The Essentials of Digital Publishing.

All of those are for sale in all of the venues I mentioned above.

Imagine all the sales I’m missing if I go exclusively with Amazon?

But like I said up front, I suspect a lot of you are toddling off into exclusivity land because you have trouble following the Smashwords Style Guide. And as I also said up front, I don’t blame you.

So here’s the deal. You can go, right now, to my new daily blog over at When you get there, click on the new Downloads page I just put up. You can download any or all of the documents listed there absolutely free of charge.

That includes the third item, The Essentials of Digital Publishing. It’s a $9.99 value and it’s FREE. C’mon, you can’t beat that deal with a stick.

And I don’t want anything in return.

While you’re there, if you look over a few of the recent blog posts and find them of interest, sign up. That’s free too, at least for the time being. That site takes a lot of my time and I add a new topic of the day almost every day, so I might make it a paying site before too long. But those who are already signed up will continue without paying.

Also, if you find the site of interest or the information there valuable, please consider dropping something in my tip jar on the way out. There’s a link on the bottom of the page there.

And if not, absolutely no worries.

Now go, download, learn to format your Word document for Smashwords AND Amazon and stop cutting off about 2/3 of the readers in the world.

Happy writing!


Note: Eformatting your own work isn’t for everyone, even after following my excellent instructions (grin). If you’d rather hire someone to do that for you, email me at and I’ll pass along the names of some folks who do excellent work at fair prices.

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks! If you can’t make a monetary donation, please at least consider forwarding this post to a friend or several. Again, thank you.


Hi Folks,

This is another in the non-series series of posts that I hope you might find useful.

This morning I rolled out of bed right at 2 a.m. I’ve been getting up between 2 and 3 for quite awhile now. I consider it working the morning shift. Quiet time. Writing time.

And on this particular morning, I awoke realizing I had a short story due. In April 2014, I challenged myself to write at least one new short story each week. To help keep myself motivated, I created a website ( and posted those stories live each week. I left each story up, free for anyone to read, until the next week’s story went up. Some of you, maybe, have been along for the ride. If so, thanks, I appreciate the company.

Well this morning, in addition to realizing I had a deadline due, I also experienced an epiphany.

After a year of following Heinlein’s Rules (Heinlein’s Business Habits) and Writing Into the Dark, I realized the greatest gift that process has given me. It’s rewarded me dozens of times in various ways, not the least of which are 59 short stories in 52 weeks, four novels (plus two underway) and a novella. Oh, plus the compilation of sixteen collections of short fiction and a trilogy. All of that in the past year. Cool.

But the most valuable gift I’ve received as a result of following Heinlein’s Rules and Writing Into the Dark is the ability to wake up on Sunday morning, suddenly realize that I have a story due on Monday morning, and feel Not One Ounce of Trepidation.

Instead, a sense of calm settles over me. I have no idea what I will write, how long it will be or what genre it will be. But because I follow Heinlein’s Rules and Writing Into the Dark, I know that sometime during the day, a character will come up to me. He will point to his problem and say something like, “Would’ya just look at this? Now what am I gonna do?”

Then he’ll trudge off into his setting and, being the nice guy that I am, I’ll follow him. I’ll watch and listen carefully as he solves his problem. I’ll also record the result, and at the end of the day I will have written a new short story. Incredible. I am without a doubt the luckiest man on Earth, Lou Gehrig notwithstanding.

To top it all off, this will be the 52nd consecutive week of writing and publishing at least one new short story per week. So there y’go. In April 2014 I challenged myself to write at least one short story per week every week for a year. Today, over on, I posted “A False Sense of Finality” and with that short story completed my challenge.

Of course, I also have a streak going. I’ve written at least one short story every week for 52 weeks straight. So I’ll keep that going for awhile longer yet, but I don’t feel quite as much pressure over it now that I reached my goal. That was a major milestone, and I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Of course, a short story takes only a few hours to write and I was writing only one a week. Seems easy, right?

All I can say is I hope you’ll try it. If you enjoy writing short fiction, set a challenge for yourself to write one short story per week for a year. Lay your ears back and attack. If you fail, what’s the worst that will happen? Nothing. And if you succeed, at the end of a year you will have written 52 short stories and (I hope) compiled them in to ten 5-story collections and five 10-story collections. So you will have written 52 stories and created 67 publications.

But what about Heinlein’s Rules? And what about Writing Into the Dark? Will those things work for you?

In a word, Yes.

But you have to write.

Back on April 11 with the next post in the Microsoft Word for Writers series. Until then, happy writing!


Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!