On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Friday, July 22, 2011


E-publishing is exploding the established paradigms for publishing. It allows the independent author or small publisher to compete on a level playing field with the big traditional publishers to sell books. Since an author can produce and distribute his e-books for free or low cost on the same platforms (Amazon, Barnes&Noble) as the traditional publisher, he may even have the advantage of being able to charge a lower price for his works.

E-Publishing uses e-readers, computer tablets, computers, or other electronic devices to display books electronically on a screen. Some examples of e-readers that display commercially sold books include the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and Apple i-Pad.

Very roughly speaking, Amazon's Kindle uses half the market, and the other e-readers take up the other half. In August 2010 Amazon announced it sold more Kindle books than hardcover books. In June 2011 Amazon announced it sold more Kindle books than DTBs (dead tree books). E-books in other formats are also selling well.

There are 3 general types of formatting for e-books, and the formatting determines which book can be read on which e-reader. The three types of formatting are: .mobi/.azw, .ePub, and PDF.

The .mobi/.azw formatted e-book is read on Kindle reader, Apple I-pad, and devices such as computers that have downloaded a free app from Amazon. The .mobi format was originated by Mobipocket and bought by Amazon in 2005. It's proprietary to Amazon. The .azw format is, for our purposes, interchangeable with .mobi format

The .ePub format is considered the “default” format for e-books, and is the formatting used to lend e-books from libraries. .ePub formatted books are read by Nook and other e-readers except Kindle. Kindle users can convert .ePub documents to read on their e-reader, but this is a laborious and technical process.

PDF formatting preserves the exact layout of the document across forums. These documents are easy to read on the computer using Adobe Acrobat (available for free download). The advantage is that PDF documents can be viewed on all e-readers. The disadvantage is that text size and layout cannot be manipulated on e-readers, and therefore may make the document difficult to read.

While the .mobi/.azw and .ePub documents are formatted in HTML (hyper-text markup language), there are a number of platforms that can convert Word documents directly into the correct formatting. Smashwords is a well-known site that converts and lists e-books, but I'm not as big a fan of Smashwords as some people because you lose some rights going through them. (They can always list your book, and you can't withdraw it from their site). Over the next few months I'll talk occasionally about how you can format and list your own e-book for sale.

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