I now have self-published three small (and cheap–I mean inexpensive) e-reader formatted books at Smashwords and Amazon and a free story up at Smashwords. I could put this into a book and offer it for sale, but I’m not like that. I’m all Christ-like and Buddha-nature and all. So read on, dear friends, read on.
What you need to know how to do to publish on Smashwords and Kindle:
It really isn’t HARD to publish on Smashwords and Kindle, just fiddly. Here’s some stuff about it.
First, why publish both places, since Smashwords formats for Kindle? Well, mostly because I wanted to fast-track into the Amazon catalog.
Downside: Amazon wouldn’t let me price my book for less than $1, and the publishing agreement was that I wouldn’t price it for less anywhere else. I wanted books to GIVE AWAY as promotional items.
Workaround: I priced the books for $1 on Amazon and $1 on Smashwords, but Smashwords let me generate a coupon for the price of the book, and I sent the code to people on Twitter and Facebook and certain email lists. So it was sorta free and sorta not free.
So anyway, I went to http://Smashwords.com and signed up and downloaded their free Style Guide. Then I found OUT STANDING IN THE FIELD: THE INDIE AUTHOR’S TWO-STEP GUIDE TO PUBLISHING IN THE KINDLE STORE by FREE PRESS Publications. I got the free Smashwords edition, but it’s also available in print: Print Edition: ISBN 1438293461 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1438293461
Good stuff. I recommend you read both documents. They both walk you through doing this and that, but just in case they want you to do stuff you don’t know how to do, a walk-through from me follows this blah-blah.
Okay, so I downloaded and read the Smashwords style guide and the FREE PRESS Kindle guide. I saved the document I wanted to publish in two new places: Kindle Version and Smashwords Version. Tell you why later.
I went through the Smashwords style guide point by point and made the formatting revisions asked for. In MA’S HOT FLASHES, I used block paragraphing because my paragraphs in the micro-mini-flash fiction are so short indentions would seldom show up. In THE KING OF CHEROKEE CREEK, I used first line indents. The style guides are really good at telling you how to do these, especially with my walk-throughs as additional guides.
I went through the FREE PRESS Kindle guide and made the formatting changes for that. I like the notion of setting the size of the page and the margins to emulate what the Kindle format will look like. ONLY A GOOD NOTION FOR THE AMAZON SITE PUBLICATION! Smashwords publishes in multiple formats, and what you see on your screen is NOT what you’ll get in most of those formats. Amazon only does the one version, though, so using FREE PRESS’ suggested page size and margins works really well for formatting your book for them.
My graphic arts skills are practically non-existant, but I have a daughter and a friend who are wizards at it. I knocked together a cover for MA’S HOT FLASHES and emailed it to both of them. Each gave me a critique of it, which helped me make it look halfway decent. I also read the THE NON-DESIGNER’S DESIGN BOOK by Robin Williams (not that Robin Williams–a different Robin Williams), a most excellent book about typographic design principles using just fonts (proximity, alignment, repetition and contrast). MOST useful.
I opened GIMP (like Photoshop, only free) and clicked File, New and made it 600 wide x 900 tall, with a dpi (ppi) of 300. I think I didn’t need to do this, because I think either Amazon or Smashwords or both turned out to have a cover design wizard or something I could have used. Since I work on dial-up, I do as much work off-line as possible, so I preferred to mess around with GIMP myself. Also, I just like to mess around.
I went to http://dtp.amazon.com and signed up and signed in. DTP stands for Dead Tree Prevention. No, it doesn’t; it stands for Digital Text Platform. Anyway, I followed the on-screen instructions, remembering to click Save Entries at every step, previewed the book on a Kindle emulator, liked it, and clicked Publish. A couple of days later, I saw that lovely word, LIVE next to my manuscript!
Meanwhile, I went to http://smashwords.com and signed up and signed in. Followed their on-screen instructions, sat there for a bazillion years while their “meatgrinder” converted my manuscript to various formats. It converted. Came back a couple of days later and saw that my manuscript wasn’t up to snuff for the Premium Catelog because of poor formatting–I had forgotten to enter twice before page breaks (about which more later). So I did that to my Smashwords Version manuscript, uploaded again, sat there for another bazillion years for it to convert again, and came back a couple of days later to find I had done it right.
End of BLAH-BLAH
Tomorrow, my particular tips and walk-throughs in case the manuals have you tearing out your hair.
WRITING PROMPT: Why would one of your characters want to self-publish a book? Not you–a character. What would it be? Why would they self-publish rather than go through a publisher?
QUESTION FOR YOU: If you’re reading this because you’re considering self-publishing, why are you considering self-publishing? I did it because my mother kept suggesting I collect my short stories, so I collected some that had already been published and added some new ones. What about you? Inquiring minds….