CyberWitch Press


CyberWitch Press Short Fiction Anthologies 2016

I love the written word. (Not a secret.) Books are my narcotic, my raison d’etre. I can spend hours lost in a good novel, where chores don’t matter and sometimes my dogs get fed later than they’d like.

But I really love the short story. I think this particular medium often gets overlooked in a society obsessed with BIGGER IS BETTER. A great short story can pack a punch in less than a few thousand words. To me, that is the signature of a phenomenal writer.


About four years ago, I was part of a great group of authors. We released fun, quirky short story collections every few months. (Click here to see.) They were by no means professional, as we were all pretty new to the game. We edited each other’s work. My friend and cowriter Tara West created eye-catching cover art, and I did the formatting. Not to mention, the genres were alllll over the place. But surprisingly, they’re still pretty popular. We see hundreds of downloads a month, and an interesting percentage of people who buy my novels have found me through those collections. They have remained free to download for years, and thus have become free, eternal promotion for all the authors involved.

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time and decided to stop thinking and do it: CyberWitch Press is branching out into releasing short story anthologies. Now, because paranormal is my genre of choice, and I want the authors in these anthologies to be able to market to their fans for each other, these will be paranormal/urban fantasy/high fantasy anthologies.

For 2016, I’m tentatively planning three anthologies.

Current anthology call for submissions:


A Midsummer Night’s Sidhe


Carol of the Spells

CyberWitch Lowered Rates + Updates

In case the title of the post hasn’t made it clear enough, I’ve lowered my formatting rates for 2016. So if cost has ever been prohibitive for you in your desire to hire me to format your ebooks or print books, maybe you could reconsider!

A standard length novel (under 100k words):

  • Mobi/Epub = $75
  • Smashwords = $50
  • Createspace = $75
  • Free PDF
  • + 15% discount
  • TOTAL = $170

I also added a “Budget Formatting” option for anybody who wants a professionally formatted book for rock-bottom cost.

See “Services & Rates” in the top, right-hand corner of my site for further info.

~ * ~

I’ve posted two anthology calls for submissions:

A Midsummer Night’s Sidhe (due April 4)

Broomsticks (due August 1)

I learned a lot upon releasing Jingle Spells, so for now, until I perfect the process, I’m only doing these two anthologies this year. If you want to be a part, you’ve got plenty of time!

JINGLE SPELLS has been released and has been doing very well, even now that it’s post-Christmas. If you’re interested in picking up a FREE copy of the inaugural CyberWitch Press Short Fiction Anthology, get it at Amazon. It’s a beautifully formatted ebook, and can give you an idea of what I’m capable of when it comes to making your book beautiful.

Examples of My Interior Formatting

David Gaughran’s “Let’s Get Visible”


The follow up to LET’S GET DIGITAL, the book I recommend to every new writer who asks me “Hey, I wanna self-publish. Where do I start?” I was updating my site and realized I never posted about this back when he released it.  Copied and pasted from his blog:

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble |

Kobo | Smashwords | $4.99

Here’s the blurb:

Take your sales to the next level! The author of the award-winning, bestselling Let’s Get Digital is back with an advanced guide for more experienced self-publishers.

There are over 1.5 million books in the Kindle Store, with thousands more added every day. How do you get yours noticed? Visibility isn’t a challenge that can be bested once – it requires continual work. But there are tools and strategies to do much of the heavy lifting for you.

In Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books, you’ll discover how to:

  • Leverage Amazon’s famous recommendation engine to take advantage of the various opportunities it provides for exposure
  • Position your books for discoverability on other sales venues
  • Minimize the time you spend promoting so you have more time to spend writing
  • Promote in a cost-effective way that actually works

By using these tips, you will get your book noticed. And getting noticed is the key to growing your sales.

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | $4.99

But hey, that’s marketing copy. Here’s what the first reviewers had to say:

Let’s Get Visible is the best tool I have discovered for a writer to push sales and visibility to the next level, and an indispensable addition to the library of any indie writer. If you’re an indie writer and you’re not buying this book, you simply aren’t playing this game to win.” – Michael Wallace, bestselling author of The Righteous.

“Gaughran distills complex subject matter and explains it in a way that anybody can easily understand, and takes the guesswork out of promotion at Amazon. He removes the mysticism and gets you as close as anyone outside of Amazon will probably be to understanding how stuff works behind the curtain.” – David Wright, bestselling author of Yesterday’s Gone.

“If you are a self-publisher looking to improve your ability to get eyeballs on your books, I can’t recommend this title highly enough. The book contains many ideas I’ve used successfully and several I’m now excited to try.” — Cidney Swanson, bestselling author of Saving Mars.

You can check out all the reviews on Amazon US and Amazon UK, and, if you hadn’t guessed already, you can grab a copy at:

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | $4.99

ME: Word on the street is Dave’s about to publish a Second Edition to LET’S GET DIGITAL. I’m stoked to see the boatload of info I’m sure he’s added after three years in the publishing biz.

The Smashwords NCX/TOC

If you’re formatting for Smashwords, READ THIS POST HERE.


I even have step-by-step formatting instructions for text only books.

Now, we’ll discuss that often elusive Smashwords NCX/TOC.

Ever received an error about NCX?  Have you ever opened your final mobi file and wondered why on earth you have no pagebreaks in the file, even though you used that handy-dandy pagebreak function in Microsoft Word?


So now you know you need a table of contents.  If you’ve got the Chapters and the heading styles goin’ on, you’re all set (as mentioned in that first post I told you to read).  However, if your chapters don’t meet the specifications, you’ll have to do the back door method of showing the Meatgrinder what to do.

Here is our make-believe file.

This file is already formatted per Smashwords’s guidelines.  Now I’m going to show you how to create that snazzy TOC.

Highlight the first chapter heading.  Move your cursor to the toolbar where it says INSERT.  One of the options is “Bookmark”.  Choose it.  A new little dialogue box pops up, as shown below:

In the name line, make the bookmark something that will be easy to refer to later.  It’s best to make it one long name using every word of the chapter heading because there is no room for error when you’re linking to each bookmark later.  So, as you can see in the image, I’ve titled my bookmark elsienewfriend.  (Note: You can’t use characters or spaces in the bookmarks, only text.)

Click add. You’ve put in your first bookmark.  Rinse and repeat for every single chapter heading in your document.

Return to the table of contents.  Highlight the first chapter heading in the list–in this instance, Elsie’s New Friend.  Right-click to bring up that fancy little box.  Click “Hyperlink”.

This new little box shown above will pop up.  See the blue square?  It’s a tab that says “Place in this document”.  Click that, and the white dialogue box will change to show you a list of all your bookmarks in the document.  Click the bookmark for elsienewfriend, and hit Ok, then voila — hyperlink.  Rinse and repeat for the rest of the list.

Your final file should look a little something like this with those nice blue hyperlinks:

Notice how I didn’t even use a pagebreak in the doc.  None.  It’s all on the same page.  Yet… if you want an idea of the separate pages that result from the meatgrinder’s conversion, here’s a montage of images:

Pagebreaks intact.

Happy formatting!

Things You May Not Know About Smashwords Formatting


Yes, you read that correctly.  That cute little “pagebreak” option in Microsoft Word DOES NOT WORK for Smashwords formatting.  You can put it in the doc, and it won’t mess with your formatting, but it will not ensure a pagebreak within the resulting ebook.  The only way to have pagebreaks before every chapter heading is to have a table of contents that points the way for the Meatgrinder to insert those pesky breaks.

There are two ways to ensure your ebook has the NCX/TOC required by Smashwords for premium distribution.

One—if every chapter of your book begins with “Chapter” i.e. Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, AND if you put a Heading style on every heading, then the Meatgrinder will automatically create you an NCX/TOC.  It’s as simple as that.

Two—if your chapters do not begin with “Chapter”, i.e. One, Two, Three, or titles like “The First Day” or “When She Cries” etc. etc. YOU MUST CREATE A HYPERLINKED TABLE OF CONTENTS for the Meatgrinder.  I’ve outlined exactly how to do so HERE.  Once you’ve hyperlinked your table of contents, the Meatgrinder will put your pagebreaks in before every heading.

NOTE: I love Smashwords.  They do us a great service.  But this is not always consistent.  Sometimes, you do everything right, and your pagebreaks STILL don’t show up.  Until SW allows people to upload fully formatted epub files, we’re stuck with what they offer.  And the Meatgrinder isn’t infallible.


Period.  Finito.  If you use any other font that isn’t times new roman, you take the ability to change their ereader font away from the reader.  I get pretty miffed when I open a Smashwords book I bought for my Nook, and I can’t change the font because the author formatted their book wrong.  People are creatures of habit.  We LIKE our own chosen fonts on our ereaders.  We know what feels good on our eyes.  Don’t ruin the reading experience for your readers.


Yep, Smashwords will flag your formatting if you use more than four returns.  You don’t need that many anyway.


Remember, your file is going to be read on a super small screen.  Deep indents are gonna look mighty stupid on an Android Kindle app.

Oh, and you can’t have an indent AND a hanging space (the line of white between paragraphs).  It’s one or the other, not both.  Use both, and Smashwords will flag you to fix it.


The style guide explains this, yet most people still don’t understand why they upload their formatted document and alllll those italics disappear.  You absolutely cannot use the italics button.  Or Ctrl+i.  You have to use a STYLE.  You can read about how to do that HERE.


I don’t care how thorough you are.  Use the paragraph marks.  It’s the only way to ensure consistency, and to catch any pesky problems before they happen.


You could have OCD and think your file is perfect, but it’s not.  Nuke the entire thing.  Strip the formatting. And REDO IT ALL using Smashwords guidelines.  It isn’t that big of a deal to spend a couple hours making sure your file looks perfect.  Your readers will love it, and other indies will thank you for not contributing to the “there’s so much crap out there” theory.


If you want to format your own Smashwords files, do yourself a favor: READ THE STYLE GUIDE.  Yes, it’s annoyingly long and verbose, but it has everything you could possibly need to know about formatting for the Meatgrinder.  If you don’t have the time nor the inclination to do so, hire someone else to do it.  Sometimes you have to put a little effort in for the end result to be pretty.

Print Vs. Digital – Understanding the Flow of Text

Ebooks are not STATIC like print books.

So, what does that mean?

This is my book, Constant State of Disaster, in PDF form. This is what I upload to Createspace. The words on the page are STATIC – meaning, they do not change or move. Ever.

Well, to start off with, let’s look at print books.  A print book is a work of art.  Every word, every bit of punctuation, every heading and footnote and glyph—they are printed on the page in a specific place.  The floral pattern at the start of each chapter—half an inch from the top right corner.  The chapter heading—three lines down, and then another two lines before the start of the text.  Justified lines don’t always flow beautifully, which is why in print, one utilizes hyphens, or the artistic method of rewording and adding until the text is displayed with just the right amount of white space.  There is a lot of planning that goes into making a print book beautiful.  All of the aforementioned things are what make a print book static—embedded on paper and immovable.

Sounds like a lot of work, right?  It is.  But, it’s what sets apart your book from the crowd, so I personally believe print books deserve that kind of love and affection.

Same book in digital. Average screen size, average font size.

Now, let’s talk about how ebooks are completely different.

Same book but in digital format. This is my Kindle app on my 17-inch computer screen. The Kindle screen is as LARGE as it goes, and the font is abnormally large, as well.

Ebooks are NOT static.  When you open a print book, the words are exactly where they’re supposed to be, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you’re doing.  This is not so in the ebook format.

Same book, same chapter, only in abnormally small font on an abnormally large screen.  See how it goes over into the new scene?

What you have to remember is that not all ereaders display the same way.  There are people read your ebooks on tablets the size of a piece of five-subject notebook paper, and there are others reading on screens as small as their tiny Android phone.  Not only does screen size have to be taken into account—there is also the fact that nearly all ereaders allow for the reader to change the font face and the font size.  This means that your book will never display exactly the same as it does on YOUR ereader/app.

Same place, smallest possible screen size but average-ish font size.  Notice it doesn’t go into the new scene.

Ebooks flow to the size of the screen based on font size and face.  Bigger font size means less words on one screen, and skinnier font faces mean more words on one screen.  Your app may display a single lonely word at the end of a chapter—obviously hideous to the eye for that one word to be on its own page—but you must remember that’s not how everyone will see it!

And last but not least (though I could seriously do this a million ways), smallest possible screen size, abnormally large text. Holy cow! Barely anything on the page!

Individuals who own ereaders are well-aware of the idiosyncrasies of their device.  It’s like one’s favorite sweater—yeah, there’s a hole in the armpit and the hem is unraveling, but you know that’s just how it looks and you love it anyway.  Readers will recognize when they see a single line on a single page that it is meant to be with the text on the page previous—cut ‘em a little slack, they’re pretty smart if they’ve joined the digital revolution.

Kindle App for Android. Kindle Fire. Kindle app for PC. Regular, run-of-the-mill Kindle. Four different ereaders from the SAME manufacturer, and each displays a different amount of paragraphs. Let this be your lesson for the day.🙂

This is why its important to understand formatting if you’re going to attempt to do it yourself.  The above reasons show why you should never have page numbers or headings in your ebook. You should never plan for your ebook to have one-page chapters (your reader on her Android phone is gonna see a single paragraph at a time, if that, so your “one page” turns into ten for her.)  Leave those nuances to the print books, and go for simplicity in your ebooks.

Your ebook CAN be gorgeous, as long as you understand the limitations of the formats.

(This post isn’t about the fancy stuff that can be done in ebooks, like glyphs and images.  Those things are possible, but to put it simply, leave them to the professionals if you want your book to look its best.  Those people are the ones that know the issues that come from formatting and can act accordingly.)

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