Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Out now: Black Dog Short Stories

Okay! I believe I have successfully completed the publication process for Black Dog Short Stories, which I hope will prove to be the first of several short story collections. I would like to put out a short story collection between each novel, and in fact I do have one story finished that is set between PURE MAGIC and the (unwritten) third book. Uh, maybe I should mention here that my intention is to write five books in this series and bring one out every year. There are no guarantees that that will happen, because I guess stuff could happen that would derail that plan. In particular, if I have CONTRACTS that have DUE DATES and I have to choose between meeting a due date and working on a Black Dog title, well, you can see how it has to be. But as I say, I hope to bring another novel out every spring for the next few years, with short stories in between.

Anyway:

Black-Dog-Short-Stories---web-digital-friendly-cover

I used Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform for Amazon and Draft To Digital for everything else.

FAQS —

1. So when will the story collection actually be available?

It went live really fast at Kobo and then the same day at Barnes and Noble and a few other venders. I was still fiddling with the Amazon version this morning, because we had deluges of rain and violent weather yesterday and I could not get an internet connection to work from my house for 24 hours. However, I think the story collection is live nearly everywhere now.

UPDATE: Okay, Amazon says the corrected version is now live. I’m going to download a copy myself just to check and see how everything works. I would also like to know, if you downloaded the earlier version before the ToC and so on were added, DO you get a notice that changes were made and a chance to download the corrected version? I believe that is supposed to happen automatically, but I’ve never seen that function in action.

2. Print or ebook?

Sorry, this one is ebook only. I will do a print version of PURE MAGIC, of course.

3. What’s actually in this book?

Four short stories, an essay on black dog genetics, and the first chapter of PURE MAGIC. The total length is 115 pages for epub versions; on Kindle it says it’s about 2100 units, or 133 pp. The first three stories take place between BLACK DOG and PURE MAGIC and they are in chronological order. The last story is a prequel story that takes place well before BLAC DOG. I actually think the stories are best read in the order I put them in the book, but hey, if you buy the collection, you can certainly read the prequel story first if that suits you.

4. Uh, why does it say “volume 2” on it?

Because I wanted to indicate that it’s part of a series and I couldn’t put in a half number. So I’m treating BLACK DOG as volume 1, the short story collection as 2, and PURE MAGIC as 3.

5. What’s the price?

I’m putting the price in at the lowest level for which you get 70% royalties, which is $2.99.

6. How will you price PURE MAGIC?

I haven’t decided, but more than $2.99. I may start it off with a low price and then raise it? Not sure.

7. What platform did you use to publish this?

I used Amazon Direct Publishing for, well, Amazon. I used Draft to Digital for everything else. Draft To Digital is a service that both converts manuscripts to ebook formats and distributes them to different vendors. I decided it was important to me to use a service that included distribution. Draft to Digital also collects royalties and sends them to you. For doing all this, they skim off 10%.

I was a bit reluctant to use a service that takes a cut, but on the other hand, I was VERY unwilling to spend any time learning to do everything myself. Having a service that hits most of the vendors other than Amazon is just very helpful. Plus, they have a good reputation. Plus, they charge no up-front fee. Book Baby does the same kind of service and does not take a cut of royalties, but first, their fees seem awfully high, especially to use for a short story collection. Short stories do have the reputation of selling in very low numbers, you know. Feel free to prove that wrong in this case. Second, Book Baby sends you A LOT of emails if they think you’re interested in them. I don’t know how they even got my email address, but it is annoying and a fairly serious turnoff from wanting to get involved with them, even though they also have a good reputation.

I don’t know for sure that I will use Draft to Digital for PURE MAGIC because of the takes-a-cut-of-royalties thing. On the other hand, if they are super-easy to use, I may decide to just go with them.

At the moment I am in fact finding Draft to Digital very easy to use. I did have to download programs in order to preview different versions, and that was a pain in the neck with my slow connection, but at least they provided easy-to-find links for the necessary programs.

Draft to Digital puts in the title page, copyright page, and table of contents for you, with live links. Amazon does not, so I went through their process, but then had to go back and add those things to the file and load it again.

Kindle Direct seems less intuitive in some ways. It was easier getting in and out of stuff in Draft to Digital. BUT I am pretty sure KDP will also seem easy as soon as I get used to it.

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much trouble has it been to self-publish a title (so far)?

Maybe a three? I hate figuring out how to do new things on the computer. But this hasn’t seemed too awful.

9. Are you pleased with the quality of the conversion?

It turns out that all conversion processes seem perfectly able to handle normal things like italics, and also less normal things like superscripts. However, no conversion process could handle formatting the table of genotypes that used to be in there. Rather than fussing about it, I just took it out. If you feel you really NEED a complete list of all possible black dog and Pure gentoypes, let me know.

10. What if we find typos in the short stories? Or an actual mistake?

Please let me know about typos and I will fix them all at once in a few weeks and update the versions. If you tell me what the sentence was, I don’t need any other info; it will be easy to find typos just based on the surrounding sentence.

If you notice mistakes in the genetics or the history, you can let me know, but really there are only so many ways to define “heterozygous.” I hope you find the genetics part interesting. I enjoyed writing it.

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21 Comments Out now: Black Dog Short Stories

  1. Mary+Beth

    Purchased! It’s been a fairly stressful week at work, so I’m REALLY looking forward to a relaxing weekend with my Kindle. Thank you. :)

    (And the FAQs on the publishing process were fascinating, so thanks for that, too!)

  2. Rachel

    Thanks, Mary Beth! I hope you enjoy the stories! I’ll do another post about the publishing stuff if enough other details come up so that it seems worthwhile.

  3. pete mack

    You can use Calibre for DIY if you decide not to use Direct. It converts to various book formats, lets you add title pages, covers, TOC, etc. It is very nice for converting DRM-free books to the format of your choice.

    Goes to but BD stories…

  4. Craig

    Found it, though it doesn’t seem to be on your author page yet.


    Did you know that Black Dog proper, the novel, is $1.99 on Kindle? Is Strange Chemistry having a sale?

  5. Rachel

    BLACK DOG is $1.99? Gosh, that’s great. Very helpful. I hope it stays right there at that price for the next month. Strange Chem’s titles got bought by someone or other, so I’m not actually sure who’s making those decisions any more.

    Yes, I haven’t added it to my author page yet. I did try to add it to the Books on my website, though.

  6. Rachel

    Pete, I don’t think I’m as competent with computer stuff as I need to be for that. I actually did try that first, but Calibre completely messed up the formatting no matter what I did. I think you’re supposed to be able to strip the formatting out of a word document and then format some other way and then use Calibre? Or something? But I just hate messing with stuff like this, and honestly, I don’t have time for anything with a significant learning curve. I may take another stab at it in September, when I will have more time to figure things out.

  7. Rachel D.

    I already read the short stories and loved them. I can’t wait for Pure Magic. The preview at the end already hooked me!

  8. pete mack

    It is MUCH easier to do Calibre starting from a DRM-free eBook from Amazon rather than from a Word document. The Amazon .mobi file is already in eBook format, so create an Amazon ebook, open it in calibre and generate epub and TOC.

    Starting from PDF or Word doc is harder. Starting from html generated by Word is almost impossible, because Word generates really rotten html.

    I would be happy to do it for an early peek!

  9. Linda S

    Thanks so much for publishing these. I enjoyed them all, especially the one about Thaddeus. Though my inner 12-year-old is very sad that there wasn’t a story about Alejandro!

    I downloaded the Kindle version before the Table of Contents went up, and I don’t think I’ve gotten a notice about changes yet. It’s really not a problem, though.

  10. Rachel

    Linda, I’m glad you enjoyed Thaddeus’s story. He’s one of my favorite secondary characters, but we’re going to see just a tiny glimpse of him in PURE MAGIC. I really wanted to do *something* that would let him shine.

    Thanks for letting me know that so far you haven’t had an update notice from Amazon. When I correct the typos, I’ll figure out how to get Amazon to send those notices. Also, I guess it’s funny that I could drive past Joliet twenty times without remembering how it’s spelled. I even looked at Chicago maps while doing Thaddeus’ story and still didn’t notice how to spell Joliet. Sigh.

    Pete, well, that explains why I seemed to have so much trouble. Thanks. If I don’t go with Draft to Digital in the future, I will take you up your offer.

    Rachel D., thanks!

  11. Hanneke

    I can’t find it on Kobo, not searching on Rachel Neumeier, and not searching on Black Dog.
    As you’ve seen it there, this probably means someone forgot to set the permission to sell to the “rest of the world”. That’s something that needs to be specifically allowed, separately from the sales rights for the USA or for Great Britain. Australia sometimes needs a separate allowance, and sometimes it seems to be lumped in with the UK rights – I don’t know those rules exactly.
    Mainland Europe is always part of “the rest of the world”, and usually all the English-language rights holders have non-exclusive rights to sell to the rest of the world, as well as in their own specific territory.
    As you are publishing this yourself, the rights won’t be a problem; but Draft to Digital needs to tick that box for Kobo (and maybe for other distribution channels as well).

  12. Rachel

    Hanneke, I’m sure you’re right. I will send Draft to Digital a note about this and hope that they don’t have a policy of just enabling some of the rights.

  13. Hanneke

    OK, I’ll wait a few weeks and hope it shows up.
    If Draft to Digital won’t cooperate, would you be willing to mail me an Epub or Mobi if I sent you the money through Paypal? That works with just an email address, from what I heard; if you have a Paypal account.
    I have my digital library in Calibre, so the format isn’t important as Calibre converts it; but my Ereader prefers Epub.

  14. Hanneke

    Thank you! I’ll practice my patience for now, and give them a chance to solve it and get the sale.

  15. pete mack

    Oooh! I love the reference to Stave puzzles in the Christmas shopping story! (Stave puzzles are awesome. Except they are made of wood not cardboard…)

  16. Rachel

    They are? Hmm. My family put one together once, but I don’t remember. That certainly would be a lot sturdier. Maybe I should change that, when I make other corrections.

  17. Hanneke

    I just checked Kobo again, and the Black Dog stories are now available to pre-order, which I did; according to Kobo the book will be released on April 15th.
    I’m happy I am now allowed to buy it too, and look forward to reading it.

  18. Matthew

    Thank you for publishing the stories — I loved this collection and the genetics essay. Also, the Pure Magic preview had me totally hooked and I can’t wait until I get to read the full book! Also, I found the explanation of the e-pub experience very useful.

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