Yes, me. Myself. With my co-writer. Very proudly. Without an agent…and a publisher too. It is Indie publishing as you may call it or recognize as and it’s a super find.
For one thing it gets the book out into the market for eyes it was written for. It’s out there in the market at your own terms, your own edits and credits, and with exactly your own spices brewing your own unique flavor. And most of all, it makes you feel like you own the universe as it flawlessly dishes out your rationed fifteen minutes of fame every day for a week, a month, a year.
You’re dancing. You’re ecstatic. You’re publicizing your masterpiece manuscript on every social channel that can be had for free and are just an idea short of a press release or hiring an ad agency to say how awesome your work is. Good for you! You deserve it all
after all the hard work, the endless writing nights and days, the agents run and the editor’s brutally honest advice and calls for fine-tuning.
And then a friend asks you this: Did you really write this book? Where the hell is your name on it?!!
You spin a sharp 180 degrees and sneer in the face of party pooping monsters, clearly forgetting that you co-wrote this book and there might be, even if just a smidgen, of a problem there.
Your friend smiles a sympathizing smile *no idea how that’s done on Facebook but whatever* and posts THIS for your eyes:
Then she shows you this:
Your friend is perhaps nodding by then to voice your aggravation. Told ya!
In case you’re confused, that isn't my name that’s missing up there. It’s my co-writer Shamila’s. This is her story.
We published our fantasy novel Aoife & Demon: Cursed be the Syhlain as an ebook on www.smashwords.com. Unfortunately, the site allows for only one name entry in the author field. Hence, initially, I entered mine since it was my account being used to publish the manuscript. I thought the worst that would happen is that the page link would say by Humeira Kazmi but the book cover and the copyrights statement all state clearly that there are TWO authors so…there shouldn’t be any problems.
And there weren’t. Initially. We even figured out a way to post the link with both our names. On Facebook, it turned out when you post a link and the preview pops up, just click once on the link name and then you can edit it. So, we did. Whoever, Shamila or I, posted the link would have to edit it every time before posting but it wasn’t all that bad.
Besides, I was told that ebooks do NOT have headers or footers. I was informed that ebooks do NOT have pages. They flow in one single wall of text. Ebooks aren’t formatted the same way as print books are and as long as the author names were correct on the cover and the copyrights statement - all was good!
That was until someone read the book on her iPad.
Apple, bless its heart, in its quest to give its readers the same comforting experience of a book on paper, creates its own book template with a header and everything. And since the account/author title that Smashwords had given to them was in my name alone, the
header of our book on iPad said what it did in the above picture.
I’m not sure how many others do the same. I still prefer my books on paper.
Of course, my co-writer was worried and I was…well…offended to say the least. I had taken immense care to ensure that the credit for the book be given equally to each one us.
We had shared the load of this manuscript in every possible way that a book’s load can be shared. We wouldn’t make changes to the draft without consulting each other. We wouldn’t talk to others about it without talking amongst ourselves first. We discussed where and how the book was to be published. How much money to spend and on what? Heck! I wouldn’t even blog about it without mentioning that it was co-authored!
And this one minor mistake, an internet account name, had ruined it all!
It didn’t matter that my co-writer constantly asked me to take it easy and calm down and that we will figure it out, of course. Her constant reassurance of her trust in me only worsened my anxiety.
I contacted Smashwords for help. And after talking with Shami, I changed the account name from Humeira Kazmi to Humeira Shamila. As a consequence, my prime achievement - the one I’d literally worked my ass off for and read the Smashwords Formatting Style Guide till I could see words no longer and owing to which both our books (Aoife & Demon and its prequel Origin of the Realm) had qualified for the Premium Catalogue - nosedived. The books were sent back to Smashwords Team for the Premium Review with the changed account name.
That meant a delay in delivery to all the ebook channels that Smashwords caters to…including Apple. The books were off the eBookstore shelves and back in the Smashwords review vault until further notice. And we’re not talking days. We’re talking weeks! Although, they did continue to sell at Smashwords, the rest of the picture was less than amazing.
Days later I got a reply from Smashwords and they had some very good advice. This is what they wrote:
“Currently, we only support one author in the metadata field. An inelegant solution is to add the authors to the title field (i.e. "Title" by Author A and Author B). You can also add the co-author(s) to the cover and inside of the book. As long as one name matches the metadata, we'll let it pass. Updating this issue is on our road map.”
I will do that with our next book. Not now because I was recently informed our books were approved for the Premium Catalogue…again. There’s no way in hell I’d delay deliveries now to Apple, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, B&N, Amazon and more! And it’s free for the libraries!
Besides, the book page says by Humeira Shamila and when we post the link, we don’t have to edit anymore because Humeira Shamila is good enough for both of us. Check it out!
Hopefully that’s what the iBooks header for our story would say too.