I publish a thing

July 8, 2016

cover_smallestYears ago, I had a (very brief) career writing for children. Now I’ve self-published a novel on the same subject as a computer game I created. As a computer game, The House at the Edge of Time is a text adventure in which you assemble a time machine. As a novel for children, The House at the Edge of time is an adventure in which two boys use the time machine to find a treasure-hunter lost somewhere in time.

The novel was written almost 25 years ago and failed to find a publisher. While I had great relationships with my publishers, I realized that I don’t want to play in that sandbox any more and decided to be my own publisher. It was surprisingly fun to revise this: I rearranged and reworked and rewrote and just had an amazingly good time. It was fun to create the cover and to decide how the book would look.

The book is widely available: you can get it via iBooks and Overdrive; and it’s available from
Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Amazon | Inktera | Scribd

I hope readers have as much fun reading the book as I had writing and rewriting it. Below is the first chapter, for a little taste. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear HarperCollins

March 5, 2011

An email that went to HarperCollins:

It was with dismay that I read of HarperCollins’ recent decision to put limits on libraries’ use of ebooks produced by the company.

I’m really puzzled that a publishing company I’ve supported for years doesn’t appear to understand how libraries are helping it financially and so obviously doesn’t care about the place a library has in a community.  This is where many of us born into the lower income brackets learn to love books—in my case, enough to pursue a PhD and become a literature professor.  The library is where we check out the books that we then decide we can’t live without, so we purchase them.  Here we discover the writers whose books we get into the habit of buying the instant they’re available.  In my case, it means that I now spend around $200 a month on books, many written by authors I discovered at my local library.  How is it that no one at HarperCollins understands the service that libraries are providing the company?

And, yes, that service extends to ebooks.  Like a lot of people who own a lot of books, I’ve realized how handy it is to carry around an electronic copy of a book I already own in paper.  The two ereaders I own make it very easy to make spur-of-the-moment purchases.  And, effortless as it is to check out an ebook from my living room, it’s just as effortless to buy an electronic copy of that book once I’ve realized that I like the book so much that I simply must have my own copy.

I’m surprised by the company’s action, because this will likely become a public relations fiasco.  Budget cuts are forcing libraries to close branches and cut back on service; that HarperCollins chose this time to squeeze more blood from the turnip is—put mildly—reprehensible.

Limiting ebook checkout to 26 on the supposition that paper books fall apart is laughable.  Paper books are much tougher than that.  HarperCollins paper books are much tougher than that.  I should know:  since the late 1980s I’ve used a number of your books in my university literature classes.

Which is why I’m rather pleased by the timing of this announcement.  We just got a notice that it’s time to order books for next fall.  I have 90 students buying several books apiece.  This semester, I’ve had good experiences with two of your titles.  Fortunately, I’ll have time to find titles to replace them—books published by other publishers.  So that’s 180 potential sales going elsewhere.

Actually, it’s even more sales going elsewhere, because now I’ll be much more careful about which publishers get my money.  I do wish your company luck; you have many wonderful authors.

I just won’t be buying their books.

Bartlett’s Americanisms

August 8, 2010

is now available in epub format at merrycoz.org, freshly proofread.  And proofread.

And proofread.

I read a dictionary.  The whole thing.  (And I’m betting that there are still typos…)


July 6, 2010

I have succumbed to the lure of techno-gee-whizzery and have been playing with the little Nook I bought.  (And reading Mary Roberts Rinehart, whose middle-aged spinsters would be dandy to survey in an American lit class.)  Naturally, this means making everything I can get my hands on into some sort of electronic book, because what’s the fun of having a cool piece of gadgetry if you don’t get to make something with it? or for it?

The result is Ruth Hall in epub format, the first of the long books at my web site to be made available in that format.  You can snag a copy at merrycoz.org.

Earlier attempts to make ebooks available at merrycoz haven’t been a singular success.  “Plucker” puffed the html files into unwieldy digital blobs; and the only comments I ever got about the ebooks were complaints about one thing or another.  The books in pdb and prc format are certainly more usable (I happily read the books in eReader, on my 7-year-old Sony Clie), though I can’t tell if humans are actually reading the ones at the site, or if spambots are building their own library.  I hope people find the epub format useful.

The amusing thing about creating ebooks is that it seems that the best ones pretty much need to be made by hand.  I already do that for the books in pdb format, and it looks as if I’ll have to do it for the epub books as well.  I tried Calibre; I tried eCub; I tried to try Jutoh and Sigil (no success).  And none of them made a book that looked right (Calibre) or opened on the Nook (eCub).  Luckily, I found instructions and examples and hammered out a version of Ruth Hall that looks good in the readers.

Ruth Hall struck me as a good book to learn on, since it’s mostly text.  And, trust me:  once you’ve formatted 94 individual files into an ebook, most other digitizing projects are going to look like small potatoes.

But it amuses me that I’m surrounded by electronic equipment and basking in the dawn of the twenty-first century (you know–the one where we all get jetpacks and vacation on the moon); and I’m still spending an astonishing number of hours making digital files by hand.

Given that the original books were set by hand from hand-written manuscripts, before being bound by hand, I guess that’s appropriate.