When I started to write Cold Morning Shadow in January 2019, of course I opened a word processor and began typing away. I began writing Fire, Wind & Yesterday in 1989 using Microsoft Word on an “IBM” computer. As I was finishing it in 2017, I was using Pages on a Mac. But I ran into trouble converting it to Kindle format using Kindle Create. Some Hebrew and Greek characters, used only in the Prelude (Foreword), failed to make the coversion. I switched the entire manuscript to Open Office, which emulates Microsoft Word, and that worked when transferring it to Kindle Create.
For Cold Morning Shadow I started with Open Office, although later I did explore LibreOffice.
At about the halfway point, though, I had a catastrophic failure in Open Office — I forget just what went wrong. Using a backup, I switched to Pages (an awful name for a piece of software, as is Word). I then made a book template to my satisfaction and formatted the document on the screen to simulate how it would look in a finished book. Pages has all the features to accomplish this, but it’s hard to find many of them. I persisted, though, and added the few images that appear in the finished product, and so on.
Starting a Web Site
I started DamnYankee.com in 1999 as an attempt to make an end run around conventional publishing. Since the First Amendment forbids any restrictions on publishing and the only legal concerns are copyrights, libel, and plagiarism, there is nothing that says you have to pass the gauntlet of literary agents and editors who are the gatekeepers for the handful of publishing conglomerates that dominate the industry under names such as Penguin, Random House, Regency Press, and so on.
As an aside, in 1999, when I was looking for a web site name, I first tried to register the names ExLibris.com and Samizdat.com. These were both taken. (With my background in Russian language and history, I knew that Samizdat, which means “to self-publish,” referred to the underground self-publishing that occurred in defiance of the government of the Soviet Union and must still exist today under the radar in totalitarian Russia.) It wasn’t long before ExLibris.com was mapped to Amazon.com, and for a while I thought that Amazon was selling only books.
Guess what… Today ExLibris.com and Samizdat.com are both available URLs. I’m tempted to register them, but at my age, what am I going to throw onto them for web content?
To design DamnYankee.com back in 1999, I took a great deal of advice from some friends (thank you, Stephen Gardner, among others), bought a piece of software — I forget what, and plugged away at designing and redesigning and redesigning a web site to keep up with the pace of web development. DamnYankee.com did publish a few obscure works, both as ebooks and one in hard copy — the first book ever, in fact, to be published BOTH in ebook and hard copy at the same time, now no longer in print in either format, by the way: Three Naked Ladies Playing Cellos.
Once I had bought a Mac computer, around 2007, I switched web site design using a Mac-based program, Rapidweaver, which emulated Dreamweaver.
At last, in around 2012, I began using WordPress to start a “blog.” It may not be the friendliest interface to get used to or start you off with the most visually appealing templates — although that is entirely up to you, the designer, but I’ve become something of an expert in using WordPress, and so I stay with it. I figured out how to use WordPress to set up a web site as opposed to a blog, although it doesn’t provide the best resources to avoid blogging — it seems to push blogging as its primary purpose.
Anyway, as mentioned on a separate page about designing the cover of Cold Morning Shadow, I taught myself to use GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program — the definition of GNU is recursive and complicated). It’s a free, open-source program that stands in for Photoshop. I also taught myself to use one called ArtText, which turns ordinary text in any font into some eye-popping graphics.
But I had a great background in Microsoft Paint and in comparable programs for Mac, and I’ve been an accomplished amateur photographer since I was in my teens. So GIMP was not too daunting, although there is still much that confuses me about it.
There is more about my use of GIMP on the page where I discuss designing the cover.
More About WordPress
WordPress has been a God-send overall. I had already set up a few sites there, which I still manage:
- DamnYankeeUS.wordpress.com which is now DamnYankee.us
- WoodburyDavid.wordpress.com which is now DamnYankee.com
- ColdMorningShadow.wordpress.com which is now ColdMorningShadow.com
The latter three use conventional site names (URLs) because I’ve registered ($$) those names through WordPress.
In late 2019 I converted DamnYankee.com from an entirely self-designed site on a different hosting service — (Thank you, islandwebinc.com for close to 20 years of hosting!) — and rebuilt it on WordPress.
I’ve also designed low-budget web sites for a couple local businesses — (providing my services free of charge), since neither business owner had any idea how to secure the URL or build a site.
Working with Amazon
The final piece was Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform itself — interacting efficiently with Amazon’s interface in order to get everything up there, lay out an author page at amazon.com/author/davidawoodbury/, and then link everything back to this site.
I used the Amazon KDP resources back in 2017 when I published, all at once, four other books I had written but had never released, Fire, Wind & Yesterday, Tales to Warm Your Mind, The Clover Street News, and Babie Nayms.
I know there are other ways to publish beyond the pale of the big conglomerates — Barnes & Noble, for instance — but some subtle and not-so-subtle distinctions have kept me with Amazon.
Many services are available to assist “indies” — authors who wants to publish “independently.” Using those services sort of compromises the independent side of the job if you are depending upon them, but the word, independent, as used in the industry means not submitting to an agent to get you into the big guys — not using the big publishing companies at all.
The services offered to indies include anything you aren’t confident about doing yourself: proofreading, editing, reviewing, formatting for print publication, converting to ebook format, cover design, and all aspects of marketing and distribution. So far I have assumed all those roles myself.
And that pretty much summarizes the resources I used in bringing Cold Morning Shadow to life.