Prepping for Publication

I am setting Sugar Skull up to publish later this month. I have a cover roughed out, courtesy of the writing workshop I attended at the end of September, and I think I have the story all ready, after the kindness of Spike Souders to gently but firmly tell me where the story was going wrong. Having first readers you can trust is invaluable. I’m not looking for “yes” all the time, I need to hear honest “no’s” from time to time. A good “No!” will give you the head’s up that something isn’t working. In this case, I rewrote the story to add a bit more depth to the characters, as far as I can in a short story.

Now it’s time to take a look at the document file itself. I wrote part of the story long-hand, something I rarely do, but during school I find it hard to write except during certain classes. Odd, but for whatever reason… I then transcribed the story beginning to Google Drive, because that’s where I tend to write, as I can access it from any computer with internet access. Finally I moved it to Pages for editing and formatting. Pages is very similar to MS Word so you should be able to follow along in either program.

The first thing I always do are any whole-document changes. Setting font, indentations, and that sort of thing. First of all, take out any line spacing between paragraphs. This is not how books are formatted, it is how website content is written. If you so desire, you can set the spacing between the lines to 1.15, no more. Double-spaced will look odd on an ereader and irritate the readers. I usually set the font to something vanilla like Courier, and set the size at 12pt just for my ease in working. Your readers will be able to adjust the font size to suit themselves, a major perk on an ereader. I remove any tabs I may have used while writing and format the text body with a .25 indent on the first line of each paragraph.

The I start setting up the little things, like copyright and title page, and the important stuff:  an excerpt at the end of the story to another of my works, and the links to my blog and other books, which go at the end of everything. For vastly more details than I have the time for today, check out Amanda S. Green’s Road to Digital Publication series, you can find the links to it here.

If you plan to publish your book through more than one outlet, you will want to create different versions of it, for Amazon, Smashwords, and beyond. Today I’m only planning on putting the file up at KDP, so I will be exporting the Pages file as a .doc file when I am done, with the embedded Amazon links to my other files included. I am not creating an active table of contents, as this is a short work and can be readily navigated without that.

Finally, I will take my cover art file, and my interior file, and create a new title on my KDP dashboard, before uploading, setting the price to a mere $0.99, and waiting. It will take about 12-24 hours to go live. I don’t expect it to sell hundred of copies, but I do believe that it will go over well with my fans, being something a little different, with the kind of characters they expect from me, and a dilemma many of them can imagine themselves faced with.

Sugar Skull story
First draft of the cover for Sugar Skull

Here’s a short excerpt from Sugar Skull:

“Hi, my name is Sally, and I work in the morgue. I’m a diener, which means I move bodies, clean them, and generally assist. It’s not that I’m obsessed with death or anything, it’s just that I really needed a job, and this one pays pretty well, because, as you can imagine, it’s not for the faint of heart. You know how the hospital assigns each department a color of scrubs? Well, ours were supposed to be black, but my boss, who, by the way, isn’t human, I’m pretty sure… Anyway, he laughed at that, and the next day I came into work to find hello kitty skull scrubs in my locker.”

Sally stared out the window on the train, thinking that if she ever said all of that out loud, everyone in the car would be as far away from her as they could be, with looks of horror on their faces. This was something she hadn’t anticipated when she had taken the job. She couldn’t talk about it. Not with anyone. Her mother turned the TV up about four clicks when Sally brought it up, and her friends all treated her like she had a contagious disease.

Not that she wanted to talk about some aspects of her job. It wasn’t the gore part, she knew no-one wanted to hear about that, it was the little things that were beginning to make her wonder if she were going insane. Like this conviction that her boss was not human. His name was Pedro Enriquez, and he was a super boss, but there was something in his eyes when they were working, sometimes, and the bodies she wasn’t allowed to touch, not even double-gloved and with face mask on.

Sally, whose full name was Alessandra Padilla Rivera, and who had been raised by a grandmama full of stories of El Cucuy, the chupacabra, and the jaguar god who hunted in the night, was trying very hard to convince herself that it was just a prejudice against Cuba that was making her see evil in her boss’s eyes. A prejudice she could deal with. The boogieman, not so much.

The train started to slow, and she stood up, clutching her coat around her scrubs, which were chilly even with full silk long johns under them – the morgue was always cold – and got off at the hospital stop, her lunchbag and purse over her shoulder. As she stepped off the train, a teen girl getting on glanced down at Sally’s legs.

“Cool scrubs!” The girl exclaimed before the doors slid shut behind Sally.