Monday, October 17, 2011

What's in it for me?

Recently, one of my formatting clients emailed me with some very nice compliments about my work and particularly about the way I am following up to make sure that her book is getting through the Smashwords and Amazon systems in good shape. Then she asked, "What's in it for you?"  So I'll tell you.

I've had many jobs in my life, but in most of them I have found myself around books and writing. I have worked in libraries, clerked in bookstores, owned a bookstore, edited not only educational materials, but literary magazines. I have even been a publisher--still am, in fact. Some of these jobs were unpaid, at least in green currency. No matter. Being around books and writers keeps me in the literary scene, inspires me to write my own works, and gives me hope for the future--something to strive for.

Owing a bookstore was a high point in my life until the megastores like Barnes and Noble came into town with the expressed intention of putting all other bookstores in the area out of business. I still loved going in to work, but something had changed. Instead of being a labor of love, it became a job. I am delighted that my bookstore is still operating--although under new ownership--but I feel no longing to have it back.

Instead, I feel an affinity with e-books, and when I learned about Smashwords and its policy of encouraging independent publishing, I learned all I could. I learned how to format e-books by formatting some of my own. The process was longer than I suspected because it required a lot of study and experiment, but I managed to get the books up in a way that suited me perfectly. It was at that point that I felt I knew what I was doing--especially when I compared it to what other people were doing. Yikes! Then I was fortunate enough to get on "Mark's List" of Smashwords formatters, which enabled me to format books for others.

And what a pleasure it is. I know most of you will doubt me when I say this, but I truly love formatting books. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, it doesn't matter. I enjoy getting to know each new author and find out a little about the way they live and write. I have formatted books for authors in the U. S., Japan, England, and Canada and have enjoyed interacting with each one.

And I don't want to format the fruit of someone's hard work--sometimes their life's work--and leave them hanging between worlds, wondering what to do next. How much should I price my book? How do I get an ISBN? Should I make my book DRM? Why is my book still in Review? Why can't my friends see the sample? There are dozens, or even hundreds, of questions like this, and I know the answer to most of them. And if I don't, I am very likely to know exactly where to go to find out. Why should my clients have to wade through dozens of pages of FAQs or wait for days or weeks to get  replies from Smashwords or Amazon? Hell, they want their books available now. 

So do I, and helping them to make it so is fun.

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