Monday, August 1, 2011

My Guide to self-publishing eBooks at Smashwords.

So in the lead up to being a published author I did many things. Raided Google, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Kindle. I didn't always find what I wanted, but when it comes to Smashwords, the style guide really is the be all and end all of the way to do it. And so for authors reading this page now and in the future I thought I'd do what I could not find. A list of what one needs to do to publish at Smashwords.

1 - Print out the Smashwords style guide by Mark Coker and read through it several times. I was very overwhelmed reading it in the Adobe file but having it in front of you makes for better reading. As it prints, put the pages into a folder that you've set up as your publishing file. I have one with all the print outs from Smashwords, CreateSpace, Kindle, Audio, bits and pieces etc so I know where it all is when I need it.

My folder!
Inside page. CreateSpace page! Wasn't much I could find so I printed out Helen Hanson's blog post.
Smashwords style guide.
Kindle section. I decided not to go the Kindle route as Aussies only get paid via cheque and it takes $30 to bank it. Waste of money. And people have complained on the Kindle boards about the company.

Audio books if you choose to go that way. With Podio you have to record it yourself. So while I have the info, I'm not going this way.

2 - Read through the style guide slowly and carefully. Have a look at your version of Microsoft Word to see what parts are referred to in the guide. Mark with a highlighter all relevant parts of the guide that refers to your version of MS so it's easier to deal with in future.

3 - Make sure your book has been edited, copy edited, assessed and anything else you can do to make it spic and span. Google copy editors for your area or if you've used one before use them again. Also, make sure all of the Smashwords necessities are already in the book. The copyright page, title and author, About the Author, Connect online, sneak peeks of your other book if you have one, all website links etc so when you do the style, it's already there.

3.a - while your book is being edited, if you have art software, or Adobe or something similar, you can create your own book cover. Some clip art is free online and there are sites where you can pay for pictures, but I used pics I already had or had used on my website. If you have software for making other things like art and craft, business cards, letters, brochures etc, I have Broderbund, then it's easy to make one. Just make sure it's sized to the Smashwords specifications which are in the guide.

4 - Make a copy of your book and save it to a file on your computer so you know where it is and then use the copy of your novel for the Smashwords styling.

5 - On a day when you have nothing to do and you have the time, get your folder with the guide in it, open your book copy and follow the instructions slowly and carefully. DO NOT RUSH. It will only lead to mistakes. And don't forget to have your show/hide backward q highlighted. I started with the nuclear method because I had written my book in another version of word. So to save myself hassles later, I just did the nuclear method with both of my books.

6 - I found the styling itself took about 45-ish minutes with the table of contents, but if you used the nuclear method you MUST go back through your book and re-bold, re-italicise and re-underline everything that was because you will lose it. I had both the copy, and the file I copied it from open in windows side by side. Slowly go through and redo everything. And a warning, it may take hours.

7 - Once you've been through the guide and you believe everything is perfect. Print out your book. I know it may seem long and arduous, and it is, but this way you can catch all the mistakes you didn't on the computer as there is such a thing as word blindness. I found it was easier to take the number of the last page, divide by two and then once I'd printed the first half, turned the paper over and printed on the reverse side. You save half the paper.

8 - Once the mistakes are fixed, and you've gone back through to make sure everything is perfect, save a copy to your pc folder as a word.doc. I used 97-2003. Save your copy that is open and then open your brand new book file and have a quick check through. If it looks perfect and you're confident, upload to Smashwords.

9 - If you haven't set up your Smashwords page, and you're going to use a pen name, use your pen name to set up your account. They only need your real name for paying you and the details are in your new Smashwords account anyway for filling in. And don't forget to use a name that no one else has, you could Google the name first.

When I uploaded for the first time in July, I had to fill out the page for all the book details first. Title, short description, longer description, so don't forget to think about those and have them planned, there's a spot to upload your cover and your book file as well. When all of those are done, hit the button at the bottom to publish and you get the page where you see it checking all of the versions of the book. You don't need to stay on that page you can upload another book if you have one.

One other thing I'll add about your Smashwords book descriptions. Make sure the small one is also included with the larger one because it's the larger description of your book that will be sent to all the stores when they're sent through the premium catalogue. I've seen my larger one at Apple and Diesel and didn't know that's what happened to it until I saw it. So make sure you have your FULL description in the larger description section as they will be seen in other ebook stores.

Once the loading is all done, follow the prompts in the email that Smashwords sends to you and check all the versions it recommends. If you've done everything by the guide, it will all be perfect.

Once you've done that, you just have to wait for Smashwords to approve your book for premium status and you can check every day under your dashboard on your Smashwords page.

Don't forget to fill out your bio, and add any websites you're on, your blog/website, Facebook, Twitter etc and make sure all of your details are filled out.

If you are not in America, then you will also need to apply for a tax file number from the IRS, and Smashwords do tell you how to do that. I'm in the process of doing it because it takes so long for Aussies.

I also recommend downloading and printing out their other guide for marketing your book. It's very helpful.
If you have any questions, ask. I've tried to include everything that's necessary, but as long as you follow the guide, it's a breeze. And don't forget to breathe! It's not as hard as it looks. As long as you have experience with MS Word, then you'll have no problems.

Jewels xxoo

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