Category Archives: Digital Publishing

Into a Sky Below, Forever Official Release Day!

Sky-Below-1The day has officially arrived! My second book, Into a Sky Below, Forever arrives at stores across the web today.

Here’s the cover description:

Moving. Disturbing. In Denver, a young woman grows up terrorized by something massive and unnatural that watches her while she sleeps. In west Texas, a boy’s world unravels as his brother relates an encounter with a strange figure in the woods. Struggling with insomnia and depression, a man named Mitch begins speaking to a creature of folklore in the trees behind his house. And along the plains of the Rocky Mountains, two college students discover a house that should not exist.

These stories and more make up Karl Pfeiffer’s first collection following his debut novel, Hallowtide. Ranging from fiction to non-fiction, from the poetic to the profane, Into a Sky Below, Forever examines the thin places, where the wild leaks into the refined, the supernatural bleeds into the physical, reality blends with fiction, and where the only things left holding the world together are the things that truly matter the most.

This is a book about birth and rebirth: it’s a study of cycles, sex, and ouroboric processes; it’s an examination of the ways we grow up, grow strong, grow together, and grow apart; an autopsy of the ways we love and rage and reproduce and repeat again.

As always, it’s about finding light amidst the darkness.

On Twitter, three weeks ago, I posted a call to arms for my followers to buy the book today, Monday, if at all possible. With the lack of a presale option for indie-published authors, we’re immediately put at a severe disadvantage compared to the traditional approach, despite all Amazon does to support indies. The only reason pre-sales are well-loved is because they take three month’s worth of early sales and put them through on the same day, shot-gunning a book to rapid-seller, and most-popular lists in an instant.

So I ask that, if you are interested in this book at all, if you might buy it one day, you drop $.99 on a Kindle copy today. Hell, even if you don’t have a Kindle, support the book! It’s the price of a coffee size-upgrade.

But if Kindle’s not your thing, there are other places to pick the book up too. There are sites that will be carrying the book, but because of various approval processes, this could be the difference of hours or days. However, each format is available somewhere on the web. I’ll list them below as they stand now, on the release-day morning.

Kindle is available on Amazon. (The hard copy will be there whenever Amazon’s robots decide they should push their button)

The hard copy is available right now through the Createspace e-store. (in the interest of full disclosure, shipping is kinda expensive on this option, for whatever reason).

Nook is available through Barnes and Noble.

The iTunes epub file may not be going up on the iTunes Store at all (because iTunes is the biggest nightmare to work with in the world), but you can download the epub file from Smashwords. (Or you can download the Nook file, and it should look and function the same).

I’ll keep you updated as to when Amazon starts pushing the hard copy.

Otherwise… buy, read, and I do so hope you enjoy it.


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I self-published my first novel, Hallowtide, this past October. It’s March now and I want to give it away for free. I put seven years into this book, writing revision after revision, enlisted the help of a number of brilliant editors, and worked on the book’s design for six months before its publication. There’s always errors and more to fix, but I wouldn’t release something I’m not proud of, and there’s nothing I’ve done yet in life that I’m more proud of than this novel.

To go to a free PDF of the novel Hallowtide, go ahead and click this link: Hallowtide Free PDF

or click the photo below.

A self-published debut novel is a hard sell. I get that. There’s a lot of crap out there. I also get that free is the way of the future. It’s more important to me to have my work spread first, and trust that it’s good enough to help support me later. Writing is one of my two greatest passions, and it’s the dream to be able to support myself financially while working on the next project.

The only thing I ask in return is your time to read it and chew on it a bit and, if you feel so moved, to maybe toss a review on amazon to help generate more interest. Of course, digital and hard copies are also available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes if you’d like something fancier.

Thanks all! I hope it moves you the way it has moved me for the past seven years.

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Hallowtide is the story of one young man and a journey to Hell. Thought he can’t remember it, Will Andrews was a victim of a high school shooting in 2001. They found Will, bleeding out beside the gunman, pistol in his hand, apparently having saved what could have been hundreds of lives. Now, five years later, he’s crippled by nightmares of Hell.

These nightmares, his therapist  believes, are likely one half of himself desperately trying to communicate with the other. But the deeper Will digs at both the dreams and the shooting, the more the lines between reality and fiction are blurred, and he finds himself in a place where nightmare bleeds into memory, the spiritual leaks into the physical, and the world as he knows it threatens to dissolve entirely. 

Both heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and deeply harrowing, Hallowtide combines Jungian theory with echoes of classic descent narratives, deconstructing western philosophy, depression, religion, and the 21st century sense of the self, while following one young man’s fall into Stygian wasteland and the journey that will change him forever. 

Again, you can click the graphic above to read the free PDF,

You can always find more at

And you can always find me at and on twitter @KarlPfeiffer

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Apple Giving You Errors When You Try to Upload Your eBook?

Wanted to do a quick post to help those other indie publishers out there who want to upload to iTunes, but are having difficulties (on a mac, sorry Windows friends).

There are plenty of good resources through google that will tell you how to format your work for ebook publishing, whether that be Kindle, Nook, iTunes, or whomever. And for the most part, the formatting is all the same. You get rid of tabs, font specifics, excessive returns, insert page breaks, build a table of contents, etc. Uploading to Kindle and Nook was a piece of cake. But Apple made things a headache. First getting approved for their publishing software, then downloading, then entering all the information in, all of that was easy enough. But when I clicked upload, I received a list of errors, like these:

“Error ITMS-9000: “Hallowtide_-_Karl_Pfeiffer.epub: Hallowtide_iTunes_Edition_split_000.htm(12): attribute “vlink” not allowed here; expected attribute “class”, “dir”, “id”, “Style”, “title” or “xml:lang”. This error occurs 47 times.” At Book (MZItmspBookPackage)”

or “ERROR ITMS-9000: “Hallowtide_-_Karl_Pfeiffer.epub: Hallowtide_iTunes_Edition_split_000.htm(13): element “apan” not allowed here; expected element “address”, “blockquote”, “del”, “div”, “dl”, “h1”, “h2”, “h3”, “h4”, “h5”, “h6”, “hr”, “ins”, “noscript”, “ns:svg”, “ol”, “p”, “pre”, “script”, “table” or “ul” (with xmlns:ns=””). This error occurs 18 times.” at book (MZItmspBookPackage).

And so on.

The process of converting your book to ebook is essentially writing it in code the way you write a website in code. eReaders read the code the way that a browser reads website code, as far as I know. You start in word, you try to strip out all the bad formatting, save it as an html file, and then use a program to convert that file into the .mobi or .epub file as you want it for whatever store you’re using. The converter I used was Calibre, which was freaking awesome software, that worked in each case to give me a pretty, customized ebook that I could then upload and publish. Except for the one case: Apple.

The code that Word puts out is sloppy and filled with potentially problematic clutter. Anyone who knows anything about code hates word-published html. It was good enough for all devices but Apple it seems. After an hour or two of frantic research, the first Error that Apple called me on was for having a file name “Hallowtide-Karl Pfeiffer”, to which, anyone with coding background knows that spaces are bad, and should have an underscore, “_” instead. But digging into every error I got was a mess, so I called a gifted programmer friend and asked if he might be able to translate the errors and make the appropriate changes in the document.

This being my gifted programmer friend, he instead designed a program that would strip out all of Word’s bullshit code and make it pretty for Apple. And it worked.

So I’d like to share it with you if you’re having the same problem and might’ve found this post by a google search.

First of all, start in Word. Format the file according to traditional epub specifications. Then export as HTM.

Download Calibre here. Check up on the how to use Calibre, then export your book as an epub file for ipads.

Then click here to download the Fixit package that my programmer buddy made. (It’s not a virus, relax, it’s cool to open it).

(Edit: It’s come to my attention that due to the writing of the program, your file will need to be named “Hallowtide.epub” (no quotes) in order for the software to kick it out properly. It was the name of my first novel and I’m too passive/lazy to have my buddy tweak the program.)

Put your “Hallowtide.Epub” file in the same file as fixer/jar and, the “Fixit” folder that was in the zip is easiest.

Open the program Terminal (if you’re on a mac), type the command:

cd “/Users/Your Computer Name/Desktop/Fixit” (Or the sequence of folders to wherever your folder downloaded to, or to where you moved it)

Followed by the commands:

chmod +x



That should poop out a new cleaned up ebook that should be ready to be uploaded to Apple without problems. If that doesn’t work, in terminal, run:

./make_fix_ebook_2 (you may have to tweak security settings on your mac)

Then do whatever ./make_fix_ebook_2 told you to do.

I’ve run into some problems on later files, particularly if you have a lot of image files in your book. But past what I’ve got here, if it doesn’t help you, I can’t say I’m good for any more answers, not being a programmer. If you are a programmer and you’d like to download these files and fiddle with them to make a cleaner, smoother, program that can clean up the clutter from Word, you’re absolutely welcome to. Share this on forums if you’re having similar problems, or know of anyone else having a similar problem.

Karl Pfeiffer is the author of the novel Hallowtide. He was cast on and later won the first season of the pilot reality series Ghost Hunters Academy, and went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team on the same network. He now works at the Stanley Hotel, leading the public weekend ghost hunts, writes for the TAPS Paramagazine, contributes to the Paranormal Pop Culture blog, and travels the nation. More can be found at

There might just be hope yet

It was short enough to tweet, but I thought it deserved a blog in itself, since most of my posts are about industrial disappointment.

Damien Walter over at the Guardian is, with hope in hand, calling for weird fiction stories from the dregs of the growing wasteland that is indie digital publication online these days. He believes that there may be some gems. To find someone out there, published, who people listen to, who supports indie digital weird story publishing, well,

that’s a hero in my book-

well; blog. Still.

The article is here; and Walter welcomes input from you guys, the fans of the genre, to find them. Godspeed.



Art in the Future

Friday night. Felt like blagging.*

Just watched a fascinating documentary (appropriately posted over on YouTube) about the future of art in modern western culture, in the face of this exponential technological revolution, the ease with which art is produced by younger, poorer, less-educated people, and what it all means to a whole slew of writers, filmmakers, artists, and musicians.

You can find the video here;

And about halfway through I got all worked up about some of the pretentious things some of these “artistic types” were saying and had to just say my piece.

Which is to say, though there were many positions taken in the film and many issues brought up, my stance on some of the broader and semi-controversial issues is such:

One, art is about the product, and the communication of that product with the audience. Art is communication, usually of an emotion, and so requires two people: the artist and the audience. Many people disagree with this and point toward art as a kind of internal meditation or cathartic process, which indeed it can be, but that’s not art–What that is is either masturbation or therapy.

Art is telepathy, art is discussing those ideas that run below our material world with signs and symbols that speak toward a conversation bigger than ourselves.

And so art is not about process. Process can seek to add a deeper meaning to a work, but that is only one way of critically studying a piece of art, and should by no means be an exclusive explanation to disregard someone’s art. So whether the song is produced on a computer over the course of a day or in a studio over the course of three months, the art should stand regardless.

Because many young people can now access materials for cheap to make music and film, simply because they have the means and produce does not mean that the quality is in any way lessened.

Though indeed, because now everyone can, a lot more people now think they can. Due to this, there is a plague of mediocrity. But this should prompt, not a blanketing of our culture in “gray goo,” but instead a more critical viewing eye on the part of the audience. Which is what I try to do by, frankly, shredding every new horror movie that arrives in theaters in the desperate hope I’ll see something withstand (a la Black Swan or Perfect Sense). Maybe even as a culture we’re being trained to be too nice, too supportive, too open, coddling what’s not quality art. (This could lead to a rant on bullying, but I’ll leave that to another day).

Though, this also leads to the question of what is bad art? If we as a society lower our collective level of critique and are so rewarded with intellectual, emotional experiences from mediocre productions, is that bad? I think so, because I’ve seen some of the crap hollywood produces, heard the music on the radio, and read some of the fiction circulating and I don’t know how we can engage in any kind of stimulating discourse on the matter.

“I don’t think a young Hitchcock or Scorsese would make it in this business. Slap up their early stuff on Facebook, on YouTube, it would get lost in an ocean of garbage. Remember in 2007, Time Magazine gave the award of best person of the year to you, ourselves, you and I. It’s global masturbation.”

-Andrew Keen (who I kind of disagree with everything he says but love to listen to anyway)

But what is overlooked, it seems, is that good art will always transcend mediocrity. If art is good, it is operating on a level that is there awaiting recognition by anyone so prepared to engage with it, and so long as there is an audience, even of only one, there will be a place for good art. At worst, good art will become again elitist, as was suggested in the film.

As for our definitions changing for what kind of forms art will take in a new digital age, there’s an important difference in how it’s distributed; distribution is politics. It’s economy. It’s industry. That’s not art, and while a fascinating topic of discussion, should not influence our reception of art. As far as art taking new forms, new styles, new genres, and new media, HELL YES. So whether it’s dubstep, or stories told through internet websites, or a movie made through a series of vlog-style videos on youtube, whatever it is, that can be art too; so long as there’s an intellectual and/or emotional discourse that accompanies it.

That’s why, if I may rant, I can’t really stand it when people blanket-hate on dubstep. I’ve seen dubstep music infect audiences more than many other kinds of music during performances. I love it because I, myself, cannot help but move when I listen to it. There’s something powerful there, and that’s what music is all about, isn’t it? Who cares if there aren’t guitars and it’s very beat-heavy? What difference do the mechanics make?

Toward the end of the movie, these producers started making distinctions between performance of a song and a digital mp3 file, or the difference between track-based music culture and record-based. What’s the fucking point of making such distinctions and calling one better than another?

Who the fuck cares if you listen to a song for four minutes through an iPod or a sixteen-track record on your turntable. If it’s a musical experience that we’re lost in, what’s the difference?

Concerts, in the film, were argued to be some kind of future of music, because it’s a more immersive experience than plugging in headphones; which is true in some cases, but to compare one to the other is apples and oranges. When it becomes performance and collective-based, it’s a different genre of art altogether.

My point then comes down to this; art is art. And to get fuddled up in the details about media, process, and what the future might look like, is too often (and quite often, as the movie relays in fascinating fashion) missing the point. After that it’s people afraid of change and too caught up in their own pretentious definitions of “true” art that reject what’s happening on the foundational level.


Fascinating excerpt from the film that scares the crap out of me:

What are your thoughts though? If you watch the movie or just read my blog? Is art doomed? Is process important? Am I just too bored on a weekend? Sound off down below.

*”Blagging” see,

The Problem (or lack thereof) with Apple’s Digital Publishing

Yesterday, Apple announced brand new software called the iBooks Author Program, which is an OS-X Program you can download in which authors or indie publishers can design and format digital books or textbooks for the ipad. This came on the heels of news about Apple’s new bookstore, where you can now buy textbooks on the ipad like any other books, often with cool new features, like interactive videos and demonstrations and whatnot.

More info on that can be found here;

But today I read an article tweeted by one of my more favorite authorly types earlier today here; about Apple’s EULA, the End User License Agreement (those pages and pages of text we all just click agree to and never think twice about).

What Apple has done with this new software is to say that legally, the book produced by this digital publishing app belongs to Apple if your book is priced other than free, and that the author gets a split of the profits 70/30. Which is essentially the same as app designers for the app store. The problem here is that Apple also reserves the right to deny your book publishing, to which you cannot then use the exported material from the app (which produces a file, just like a music file or a Word file) to then sell somewhere else on the web.

This book is different than your content. I’m a novelist and a writer. If I format my novel for digital publication on Apple’s website through their iBooks program, Apple only owns that file produced by their app, the “book,” not my content itself. I can still go publish my content as a new book in a different format all I want.

Why this is an issue: 

Hubbub arises because no other software puts these kinds of restrictions on the files produced. Microsoft does not say that you can’t use a powerpoint presentation because its through their software. This, critics say of Apple, is an unprecedented restriction, and is ultimately very, very greedy.

Also, people are misreading Apple’s legalities and think that if you publish your book through Apple, they take the rights to the entire content, which would mean you couldn’t sell it anywhere else, and so would mean if Apple turned down your work, you’d be screwed out of publishing your content. This isn’t true.

Why you would care:

Digital publishing is the future. Books aren’t going anywhere; there are too many fanatics who love that experience of reading a bound book, myself included. Legalities like this are paving way for the future of digital publishing, exclusivity, and the implications for independent writers and publishers. And if you’re an independent writer looking to take advantage of an easy publishing format, well–this is important.

But mostly this is a huge step in digital publishing, and many people think its an ugly one.

Why this isn’t a big deal:

Through zdnet, Ed Bott writes

Dan Wineman calls it “unprecedented audacity” on Apple’s part. For people like me, who write and sell books, access to multiple markets is essential. But that’s prohibited:

Apple, in this EULA, is claiming a right not just to its software, but to its software’s output. It’s akin to Microsoft trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty. As far as I know, in the consumer software industry, this practice is unprecedented.

Point one: “Essential access to multiple markets” is only prohibited if you’re so lazy that Apple’s publishing software is your ONLY means of formatting your digital book.

Point two: In software this practice is unprecedented, perhaps, but not in the publishing world.

Apple is publishing a book that you took the time to format through their device. This is publishing. This is a business. In the world of real books, you send your material to a publisher, and they cut a deal for the rights to publish that book, and tell you that you can’t do it anywhere else until your contract is up.

Obviously digital publishing is a bit different, especially with all the variety of outlets and file formats. Nook, Kindle, and Apple all have different formats. (The market right now is essentially a slow-moving format war that really just needs to find a universal, the way that .mp3 finally took over for much of the music industry). Because anyone can format a digital file for free these days, there are no big publishing companies snatching up all your digital rights for only one format.

Apple isn’t even doing that. Which makes them less “greedy” than industry standard for print books.

But Bott continues:

The program allows you to export your work as plain text, with all formatting stripped. So you do have the option to take the formatting work you did in iBooks Author, throw it away, and start over. That is a devastating potential limitation for an author/publisher.

Devastating limitation? No savvy author or publisher would want to put all their eggs in one basket with Apple, and producing the only formatted copy of your book through Apple is just ignorant business. Also, it’s not that hard to reformat your book for other file types.

With digital publishing, sites that I use like tell the author how to format your story to be published on any number of digital devices, which the independent author then creates through Word, submits it to the independent digital publisher, who then turns it to downloadable content for most industry leading formats. This cuts out the middle man working for the company and leaves it to the author. It’s not that hard. For short stories, this can take an afternoon. For novels, perhaps a couple days. They distribute your work anywhere you like and take a small cut of the profits. You can also take the formatting elsewhere if you like.

But Bott continues:

I’m also hearing, but have not been able to confirm, that the program’s output is not compatible with the industry-standard EPUB format. Updated: An Apple support document notes that “¦iBooks uses the ePub file format” and later refers to it as “the industry-leading ePub digital book file type.” But iBooks Author will not export its output to that industry-leading format.

My longtime friend Giesbert Damaschke, a German author who has written numerous Apple-related books, says via Twitter that “iBA generates Epub (sort of): save as .ibooks, rename to .epub (won’t work with complex layouts, cover will be lost).” Even if that workaround produces a usable EPUB file, however, the license agreement would seem to explicitly prohibit using the resulting file for commercial purposes outside Apple’s store.

Of course this is the case! It’s Apple. It’s how they’ve always done it. Their files (which, doing a lot–containing images, videos, and audio as well as text–necessarily demand their own file type) are always for their own devices. Remember when iTunes first got big? .aac has always only worked on Apple devices. It’s always been their business strategy, this is no surprise. And of course if you change the format you’re going to lose your formatting. .Epub can’t handle this new file design. And of course Apple wouldn’t let anyone else sell their media outside their store. It’s Apple.

What the future looks like:

This situation is only a minor hiccup; people love to hate on big business crushing self-starting artists. No little man is being crushed. Any publisher or author who has any idea what they’re doing in the publishing world (even the brand, shiny, new digital one) knows better than to fall into whatever “problems” might come from using this software.

Apple might be setting a new standard here for book publishing, but it’s no different than what they’ve done for digital music.

Digital publishing is exciting. It makes publishing so easy for indie authors or publishers. Its wicked cheap. What we authors need is an industry-leading format and marketplace, the go-to place for digital stories the way iTunes and Amazon are the go-to places for music downloading. We need somewhere that new authors can introduce new material, and where, if it’s good, it will thrive.

This well could be Apple. I hope it’s Apple. iTunes is great and this needs to happen for authors as soon as possible. And this new way to get published is easy and should be celebrated. The legalities are only a limitation for lazy authors who don’t want to format for the rest of the market right now and don’t understand that this is still publishing. It just looks a little different.