Running Wide Open is now available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, my Lightning Source account has been set up, and I’ve finally uploaded the POD files. Within a week I should have the proof, and once that’s approved I’ll be able to order copies of the book for myself. A few weeks after that, it will appears at online retailers.
I’m finished with the first part of my indie journey—making my debut book available for sale electronically and in print. Looking back on what I’ve done so far, in some ways, it’s been easier than I expected. The actual work isn’t that hard. My brain seems to intuitively understand formatting and other aspects of working with computers. From what I’ve heard from others, that’s not a universal skill. I feel fortunate to have lucked out in that department. But one skill that doesn’t come readily is asking for help. That’s made all of this more difficult for me. I’ve forced myself to approach others with questions I haven’t been able to answer on my own, but it hasn’t been easy. The fact is, I’m the sort of person who will walk out of a store and go somewhere else if I have to ask the clerk how much something costs. I hate to bug people, hate to risk being told “no.” I guess I’m worried people will think doing me a favor is a huge inconvenience, or that they’ll see me as stupid for not being able to figure things out for myself.
Deciding to take the indie author route has pushed me out of my comfort zone in other ways as well. Not because I have to take responsibility and tackle all aspects of publishing on my own, but because I have to talk to people I don’t know and do scary, decisive things I might screw up. What if I upload the wrong file when applying for my copyright? What if I mess up the formatting of the Kindle version of my ebook? What if I download the wrong template for my cover? What if I set my POD price too low in the UK and wind up losing money on printing? What if I ask a stupid question and piss off my Lightning Source client services rep? And maybe the worst one: what if I botch the formatting on my print version and the proof comes out wrong?
But I haven’t messed up in any big way so far, and I owe this mainly to the excellent instructions I found in Zoe Winter’s book, Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author. Not only does she give sound publishing and business advice, she also directs the reader to other books that help with setting up the various formats. I’ve avoided a lot of major blunders by carefully following Zoe’s advice. I’m totally in awe of her because she figured all this out on her own before ebooks even became popular. This journey was intimidating enough with plenty of direction from people like Zoe and my friend Amy Rose Davis. I can’t imagine figuring it out from scratch.
I know many of you have already read Running Wide Open, but for those of you who haven’t, I’d like to provide a preview. Here’s the opening chapter of the book. You can download a longer free sample at any online retailer.
The hiss of a paint can sounded like a roar, even over the rumble of traffic on Sunset Boulevard. Tim’s drunk-assed laugh snagged my attention. His fingers shook as he used a can of Krylon royal blue to put the finishing touches on an anatomically correct and obviously proud elephant.
“Dude,” I said, “his shlong is longer than his trunk.”
“Why do you think he’s smiling?” Tim busted into another giggle fit, doubling over and clutching his gut.
“C’mon, Cody, you’re supposed to be drawing,” prodded Mike. “That’s not a picture.” He was kind of an ass, but it’s hard to blow off a guy you’ve hung out with since third grade.
“Pardon me for being able to communicate with words.”
“Is that a giraffe?” Tim said. He was sprawled on the concrete now, staring up at Mike’s neon pink animal as it brayed a string of four-letter words across the zoo wall.
“No, moron,” Mike said, “it’s a zebra. Can’t you see the stripes?”
“Looks like a giraffe.”
“It’s a frickin’ zebra!”
Mike planted the toe of his Adidas in Tim’s ribs, and Tim tried to nail him in the balls with his rattle can. Then they were both rolling on the sidewalk, thrashing each other.
Why couldn’t they shut the hell up? Beer buzzed through my skull, making everything go sideways. The words spilling out of my spray can had a crazy tilt to them.
Whooooop! A siren shrieked. I jerked back and dropped my paint.
“Cops!” Mike was up in a second, bolting down the sidewalk for the woods. Tim wasn’t so fast. He’d messed up his knee last fall when he totaled his stepdad’s Jeep in the Terwilliger Curves.
“C’mon,” I said, grabbing his arm. Red and blue lights flashed around us as I dragged him down the sidewalk—no easy feat, considering he had five inches and fifty pounds on me.
The siren got louder. I risked a peek over my shoulder. They were close, but if I ditched Tim I could make it.
He stumbled, wrenching my arm.
“Move it!” I said, yanking him up.
Behind us, the car screeched to a stop. Doors slammed, and footsteps pounded the asphalt.
We reached the end of the zoo wall, but I knew we couldn’t make it through the trees in the dark and stay ahead of the cops.
“Shit, Cody. I can’t get busted again!” Tim panted.
I remembered the last time—how his face had looked when his stepdad got done with him.
“Then get the hell out of here,” I said, shoving him into the bushes.
As he disappeared I turned to face the cops.
“Good evening, officers!” I called. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to discuss this like gentlemen over a dozen donuts?”