Wednesday, 27 April 2011

E-Books: E-sier than it looks!

Well, the new novel (the Huge Gamble, the Complete Departure from everything I've ever written before), having been read and approved and edited by my three daughters, has now been submitted for the first time. I feel too superstitious to say much more about this, but let's just say it's gone, in the first instance, to someone whose judgement I trust a lot, and who has actually expressed an interest in seeing it. More than that, I won't even speculate on. It could, as we all know, still be touted around for years and end up as another failure. Or it could, just possibly, be successful, and without that tiny flame of hope, none of us would ever bother to pick up a pen or tap another sentence onto our computers, would we!

Meanwhile, and partly to take my mind off the Huge Gamble, I've been embarking on another project. For some time, I've been considering trying to self-publish my older books - the five novels I wrote under my real name (Sheila Norton) - as e-books. The rights in these books have reverted to me, so I can do what I like with them, and they were never published electronically by my publishers. I've read loads of stuff on forums, in magazines and on other writers' blogs, about doing this, and to be honest it looked so difficult and complicated, I kept putting it off. I was even considering paying someone to do it for me.

Well, I decided I'd have a go, first, at creating my own 'cover' images. The cover illustrations of the original books are copyright, so I couldn't use them. None of my own photos really seemed suitable, so someone suggested buying images on the internet. I spent a pleasant day browsing various websites, finally settling on one that had thousands of images available on all possible subjects. It was fun choosing pictures to suit my books, and wasn't too expensive - at least, I thought it was money well-spent. I then had the problem of putting the title and my name onto the images I'd downloaded. I haven't got Photoshop and didn't want to have to fork out for it, but with the 'Paint' programme I managed to (eventually) work out how to add text to the pictures, and had some more fun deciding where to put the text! I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't make the text quite as large as I'd have liked, but all in all, I was pleased with the results.

Before I did anything else, I had to go through each book, checking my original file copy against the published books. There had been editorial changes made at the proof stage, and as these changes were made on paper, they hadn't been transferred to my file copies on computer. This was a bit of a long job but it's been quite nice to read the old books again, and it also gave me the opportunity to make any very little changes that I felt could improve them in the light of experience.

When I'd finished reading/correcting the first one, I suddenly thought - why am I being such a wimp? I know other writers who have done this. OK, so I might find it too hard and have to abandon the attempt, but why don't I at least give it a try? So I logged onto the Kindle self-publishing site at and just started following the steps. I had to write my own 'blurb' for the e-book as I was worried that the blurb on the 'paper' version of the book might have been copyright to the original publisher. And when it came to choosing a price for the book, I was a bit stumped as I had to price it in dollars, for it to be automatically converted to sterling on the UK Amazon site, so that was a bit of guesswork! But apart from that, the whole process seemed so straightforward, I was convinced I must have missed something or done something wrong! But within 24 hours, my first e-book was there on Amazon for Kindle. I couldn't believe I'd been contemplating paying someone to do it for me!

I wanted to show off about it straight away, but I was still nervous that the first book had been a fluke and that something would go wrong with the next one. (Lacking techno confidence? Me?!).
But last night I was ready to upload the next book, and this time I had the blurb written ready, and the price already decided, and knew how to go through the various steps, so the whole thing took about ten minutes! And I now have two e-books up there for sale! You can see them on

The other books will follow in due course, when I've read them, checked them, finished designing the cover illustrations etc. But I thought I'd share my experiences with you because I know there are other authors wanting to do the same thing, who like me were hesitating on the brink, worried that it would be difficult. Eventually, I'd like to put the books up on other websites as well as Amazon (I can't buy e-books from Amazon myself, because my e-reader isn't a Kindle), but I'll attempt that later, after I've finished creating the Kindle editions for Amazon! One thing at a time!

Meanwhile, I'd love to know what you think of the two I've uploaded. (And, of course, if you have a Kindle and haven't yet read the books ... I think they're a bargain!).


  1. Congratulations, Olivia! That sounds very impressive and very exciting. ButI'm still not sure I'd be brave enough to tackle such an adventure...

    I don't have a Kindle, but will have a look anyway.

  2. Olivia this is brilliant news. Well done to you for trying and getting your books available on kindle. I wouldn't have a clue, but will take a look. Good luck with the present novel.

  3. Thanks Frances, thanks Suzy. But honestly, it's really easy! I'm still amazed that I didn't have to give up halfway through the process, bursting into tears of frustration and having a nervous breakdown!

  4. Hi, Olivia,

    I don't have kindle either, but it sounds great. Hope new book is doing well.

    I've also awarded you the versatile blog award. If you're happy to accept you just tell us 7 things about yourself and then pass it on to 7 other blogs!

    Julie xx

  5. Good luck with your E-books. I like the new cover on 'Other people's lifes'

  6. Thanks again, everyone. I'm working on the next one to upload any day now - hope it works as easily as the first two did!

  7. What a great idea! It does look complicated, but definitely the way forward :o)

  8. How impressive! I hope you drop that little achievement into casual coffee conversations! x