Monday, September 5, 2011

The Calamari Kid is on Kindle! :D

I wrote the story of the Calamari Kid a couple of years ago. I wanted to make up a story for the website Squidoo, and a story about an octopus seemed appropriate, even though the site as a whole is not particularly squid-related. I wanted to write a story that I could illustrate with my own cartoons. The whole story ended up taking five of Squidoo's "lenses" (that's what Squidoo calls their web pages, I don't know why) to complete.
I almost wrote myself into a corner with this one. I made up the story as I went along. After the first three lenses, I couldn't figure out how to end the story. Then I saw this cartoon in the Sunday paper.

Of course! I should have storyboarded this in the first place! So I printed up what I had so far and taped it to the pantry door. Now I could see my storyline and try to figure out where it was going. I could see that something needed to happen to little Joy and the Calamari Kid would save her, with the help of his friends. I was able to write and illustrate the end of the story.


I received some kind comments from people who seemed to like the story. Some people encouraged me to have it printed as a children's book. I looked into it a few times, but I never got past trying to find out the aspect ratio of the pages. My mother takes up so much of my time.

Recently, I've been encouraged to publish it on Kindle. I decided that this is something I can do. (!) I read up on the process. Also here. It is recommended that you use a Word document. I use a Mac. I do have a version of Word for Macs that my husband put on my computer. I had never used it before.

It was very confusing because the instructions referred to some different, newer version of Word. The Kindle uploading site requires a newer operating system than I have, so I used John's computer. He has a newer version of Word, too.

I thought that I wanted to enter everything as images. That way, I reasoned, I could control the layout of each page. Well, apparently, this doesn't work.

I tried uploading the first page as a trial. My image was sideways, cut in half, and in black and white. I re-sized the picture and turned it 90ยบ. I re-sized it again. I tried several configurations. I even measured the kindle picture on my screen.

It never looked right.

Finally, I decided that I should follow the directions as closely as possible. What a concept! Now all I had to do was teach myself Word. It was mostly self-explanatory. I used the help function a lot. And I could insert the same illustrations that I used in the Squidoo lenses.

This was an improvement. 

Now the problem I was having was the layout of the pages. I designed a page with text above and a picture on the bottom. But when I uploaded it into the Kindle maker, the text and the picture were on separate pages. The text was at the top of the page, and there was plenty enough blank space for the picture to fit. Other times, the text and images shared the page comfortably.

The instructions said that Kindle books are not just viewed on Kindles. People read them on other devices, and the proportions and layout of the pages have to be fluid. That's why you can't do a table of contents unless you use a special TOC generator that changes with the circumstances.

So my page layouts can't be counted on. I just typed in my story and sprinkled the pictures where they seemed appropriate.

I proofread this book so many times, I got sick and tired of the story.

The pricing of my book presented problems that I hadn't anticipated. I had a choice of claiming a 35% or a 70% profit. When I read that, I wondered why anyone would do 35%.

The answer is this. At 35%, the minimum retail price is 99¢. At 70%, the minimum price is $2.99.

I chose 70%, but I'm thinking about changing it so I can sell my book for 99¢. It may be more popular that way. After all, it's my first book. And I'm sure I didn't do a perfect job.

Another thing I had to decide was whether to enable something called digital rights management. I think I did enable this, and they won't let you change this. I read a little about it. It's something about protecting my copyright, which I'm totally in favor of. But I don't know everything about it. So now, I'm second guessing myself on this. I'll probably research it a little more before I publish my next book.

So The Calamari Kid is now available on Kindle.

By the way, although the book cover is in color on the Amazon website, the images seen on the Kindle are in black and white. And a lot of shades of gray. However, when the other devices (that I mentioned earlier) are used, the colors will show. Plus, I think they will probably come out with color Kindle some day.

And when they do, I'll put a Kindle on my Amazon wish list.

I'd appreciate your comments, especially if you know something about this.