Tag Archives: apple. e-book. e-book publishing

On being Creative


kens eyespaintOne of the things I am privileged to do is interview up and coming singer/songwriters. I started doing this when my partner David Dodds and I created songwritersmarketplace.com. an international site and San Diego Acoustic.com a local site.  Our original intention was somewhat different from what now exists, but there is no complaint from us.  Originally we wanted to post articles about songwriting and reviews on equipment. We still have the articles,from very talented folks who generously contribute to the site, on all things of interest to singer/songwriters (hopefully) the interviews was something I did because I knew so many talented people and it was just a natural outcome to chat and give promotional help to these people I cared so much about.

What came of it, as a true blessing, was the gift I got within each and every conversation with such creative people. As my site so ‘modestly’ asserts I am a poet, artist, author and a singer/songwriter. Most of my life I have plied those crafts on the side, while I labored as a contractor in the construction biz. That decision was made early in my life because it would give me the opportunities to gig, do art shows and write, particularly when the building market was slow. It certainly was difficult at times for my family, but all my creative endeavors have on those occasions contributed financially in difficult times.

My point being that when I look back through all those years it wasn’t my 6:00 to 6:00 job that kept me sane it was the fruit of my creative self. Every creative person I chat with says the same thing, “I write songs (paint, sculpt, write, dance, act etc.) because I have to.” The story is always a bit different as to what happen to start the process and every story is unique and remarkable.

The hardest thing any artist faces is whether to make their efforts into a full time endeavor, whether that effort will provide enough income to live at least modestly well.. Today’s economy is not at all helpful. And discourse among artists as to whether their work is devalued is  a conversation artists have had since there have been artists. The word ‘Selah’ in Kind David’s Psalms is said to be a note to accompanying musicians to present a musical interlude – one wonders if they complained about the low wages King David offered for their services.

The gift of creativity is apparent and needed by a society that seems, more and more, to devalue the work of, heart, mind and soul –synthisized into one dull grey phrase ‘intellectual property’.  I don’t think that any artist will deny that technology  has been a help, but can also point to where it has been a hinderence. In a recent interview with a remarkable singer/songwriter the current condition of the music bussiness is a result of the Internet – the ‘Gate’ is open.  The simple truth that everything both good and awful is put up on the web, the screening process of the old business has been removed. What the music business, the publishing business, the business of art will turn into when the cultural and technological dust settles no one knows.

What I know for myself and all those fantastic creative people I chat with is that there is no dampening of creative output in the world or the appreciation by society for the exceptional. Whatever the world becomes, the manifestations of creativity; art, music, and literature, will be a part of it, because it is what it is to be human, a spirit or a muse built in and permanent.  If you are a person that expresses their creative side continue and work hard to develop your craft  joyfully, even if the world now seems indifferent. Do it because you must.

On Smashwords

I just finished three days of arduous work . I published a book on Smashwords.com. I have been seeing a lot of e-book publishers popping up and I wondered on what program was being used to upload the manuscript. I found the site and began the journey. The first thing I noticed is that they wanted a perfectly edited manuscript. ‘What!’ What writer ever has a perfect manuscript. We are artists. We allow the mind to roam free, to find the little treasures we write. I was deflated and almost gave up. But I decided to move ahead. I edited my book three times – sadly finding errors every time. I now appreciate the skill, the stamina, the dedication, and the tenacity it takes to be an editor. Once I had finished I sent it out to be properly edited.

The next step was to read the horribly long and eye twisting ‘help and guidelines’. Dear God I thought I had already done all this. I finished reading the guidelines and collapsed head down on my desk, from the sheer horror of undertaking the next step. But I rose from the pit and went to work. Now I know that there are a lot of writers out there that use ‘Word’ and I would imagine, like me, feel pretty damn smug and boast proficiency on that insidious program. Well, there is more to learn. It was mindboggeling to me at all the functions available to the editor on ‘Word’, which I must now master Okay, you already knew, it was only me stuck back in the 20th century who didn’t. I do now, and I am sure I am a better man for it.

I did it. Everything was perfect, in fact, probably the only thing I have ever written that was technically that well done. Dear Lord, what have I put people through ,when I say “Could you edit my book?’  For the record – ‘I am truly Sorry!’

I uploaded my now near perfect book (I am sure there are still typos in there, please forgive them for the blood and sweat I have given.) and it worked across a number of formats. (Kindle and other devices) But not for APPLE, oh no, there was a standard out there for e-books. I sat and stared in dismay. I read up on the requirments and realized that it was ‘good’. Apple had set a standard at the same level as printed work. I was pleased, if a little daunted. I slogged forward and submitted my manuscript into a site that checked for compliance. I got back the page of errors and set about trying my best to even understand the techno script I was reading.

I stayed with it, line for line. Research and fix, research and fix. Finally it came down to a Giff. image that I had never put in my book. nevertheless the code was in there somewhere. Two hours later, starving for lack of sleep, nourishment,and coffee, I threw my hands in the air and deleted every image,  re-inserted jpegs, and resubmitted. The manuscript passed.

The good folks at Smashwords don’t pull any punches. They tell you that it will be an arduous and terrible process. They call the program ‘Meatgrinder’ for good reason.

I would actually suggest all you writers out there to not do this yourself, some of us are computer savey enough and have a masochistic streak that compels us to jump off cliffs and walk on fire. (But never drink bad coffee) Nearly twenty five hours went into learning the program and the process. I feel as if I have graduated from some invisible school. My advice is write your creative heart out then find a good e-book publisher, or pay me,  or others like me, that have decided to give up a substantial chunk of their life to learn the process, to help you through the process. In any event keep writing!


OH Yeah! Buy my book!