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Getting Published – Maybe soon?

I’ve been putting off the final formatting of Hidden Boundaries, and preparing it to be uploaded to Smashwords. Waiting for the cover. Waiting for… Waiting. But it may happen this week, so today is devoted to what will probably always be my least favorite part of writing novels. First job was to reread the Smashwords style guide and copy the most important bits to a text file for easy reference. At least I won’t have to do that again.

Now I’m figuring out how to use Open Office, since Smashwords’ instructions are all for Word. Curses. But once I have it, that’s another part of publishing that will be easier to deal with.

A little bonus of reading the guide more closely is that I found the answers to a couple of questions. Why had the guide changed the original recommendation of a 600 pixel width for covers to 500 pixels? Turns out that small screens like those on phones and the iPod Touch will cut off the larger graphics. I also wondered why the ePubs of some books showed the cover twice. It turns out to be the difference between making the cover the first page of the book or uploading it separately. Aargh, that’s one detail I didn’t copy, and am too lazy to look for right now, but there are different requirement for PDFs and one of the other formats. If you don’t do it correctly, the PDF version won’t show the cover. Go look it up for yourself if you really need to know.

Another detail that I hope Smashwords will modify some time in the future is chapter links. If your chapter headings start with the word “Chapter,” the meatgrinder will automatically create a  live TOC. Which is nice, in theory. But I’ve seen books with three pages of nothing but chapter numbers because Smashwords creates just one column, no matter how many chapters the book has. This means a lot of useless clicking to get to the text, and it also cuts down on the length of the free sample. So, if you’re inclined to write a lot of very short chapters, that’s something you might want to think about. Either combine chapters, if that’s possible, or don’t use the word “Chapter.” By the way, if you create your own TOC with Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc., you will wind up with two TOCs.

All in all, this is one time that it’s really a good idea to RTDM. Read the Damned Manual. I keep hearing that one of the more frustrating aspects of publishing on Smashwords is finding that you’ve done something wrong and have to upload the whole thing again.

And, for a bit of icing on the publishing cake, here’s an excellent post I found this morning. The Pit and the Pendulum, which might be subtitled A Reviewer’s Lament. Don’t be one of the writers she’s talking about.

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14 Comments

  1. Thank you for the mention, Catana. And for your insightful comments on my blog this morning.
    I’ve heard it’s difficult to do everything right with regard to uploading to Smashwords and other e-book sites. But someday I may need to know how. Thanks for blazing a trail and being concerned with doing it right. I pray that those who pay attention to the quality of their offerings will reap the rewards.

  2. Cynthia, thanks for the kind words. One of the things I’d like to do, once I’ve been through the mill on Smashwords, is write a nice long post full of dos and don’ts, and all the little things that can make a difference in how well you show up on the site.

    • Well I will be checking back and noting those. Some of the writers in my groups want to self publish the novels they are working on. So these tips are invaluable. I am doing a mash up of blog posts and have added yours to it.
      Are you on Twitter?

  3. I’m on Twitter, Cynthia, but it’s just to follow a couple of writers and some bloggers. I hardly ever post anything there. I got pretty sick of it, and decided that I could live without it as part of a platform. I depend on my blogs, blog comments, and forums for that.

  4. 2blu2btru

     /  May 10, 2011

    I’m finally finishing edits to my dad’s book. Luckily, he has someone who’s experienced with Smashwords formatting and uploading the finished product for him, instead of me trying to figure it out. I can’t wait to get back to my own works, and eventually to the point of publication. Although, this whole Smashwords/ePub thing sounds terribly complicated. Good luck with getting your book out there soon! :-)

  5. I hope you can get back to your own writing soon. That can be frustrating if you have stuff in your head that needs to get out. I’m having a bear of a time with the formatting, but I hope once I’ve figured it out, the next time will be easy. From what I’ve seen of a lot of badly formatted Smashwords books, the authors haven’t bothered to read and follow the instructions in the Guide. At this point, I almost can’t blame them.

  6. I can forgive a few errors, small ones, like typos. After all, it is very hard to self-edit. And typing–I’ve always hated typing. I think I’m a little dsylexic, when I type.

    On the other hand, some people got no business….you know what I mean? Please, have they never heard of Strunk & White? It’s like me sitting down at the piano and thinking that I’ll be discovered, never mind I can’t play piano or sing.

    BTW: The Style Guide that I download was a new version. So you might want to update it.

    Question: I thought only full and complete stories could be uploaded to Smashwords. But today, under Science Fiction, I see that someone has uploaded 10 episodes of the same thing. Am I wrong, did I misread the guide?

  7. I got the latest edition of the style guide a couple of days ago.

    No, you didn’t misread. — Just checked it out and reported it. Though I’m beginning to wonder if somebody isn’t on the ball lately. Reported a book for including Kindle info instead of Smashwords. Got a message it was flagged. But that was yesterday, and the last I looked today, it was still up, without any change. Guy was using his free Smashwords book to get people over to Amazon to give him reviews. Shithead.

    • I did get a good chuckle over it. As I recall the author was charging 99 cents for each ePisode. Either the prose is really good or someone is being greedy.

      I might add that it’s extremely rude, since her 10 ePisodes pushes everyone else’s science fiction to page 2 or 10, depending on cost. (If I was looking to make some doe-ray-me, I’d be pissed. Still it’s good to find out these fobiles before rather than after a big effort.)

      BTW: I wanted to ask you about the ramification of assigning an ISBN number. The free version makes Smashwords the publisher and you the author. The 9.95 version make the author the publisher and Smashwords the distributor. How would that work out money wise if the book was–wonders of all wonders–a big hit???

      If you don’t know, I’ll have to go back and study the guide some more. Probably do that anyway, since I won’t be satisfied until I see it in black and white.

      • Serializations are okay, but not on a site where you expect to get the whole thing. I’m with you — get somewhat pissed off when somebody takes up a page and shoves everybody else down.

        I haven’t gone into the ins and outs of ISBNs, though I think I’ve read that if your book is going to be on various sites, it’s best to have the ISBN in your own name. For folks like you and me, they’re too much of an investment normally — over $100.00 — so Smashwords making them available for ten bucks is a blessing. That’s what I’ll go for. But having Smashwords listed as the publisher doesn’t give them any rights, so you don’t need to worry about that.

        • A hundred bucks? No shit? Didn’t know that.

          But still, I got to thinking about it. If there was a profit, a publisher would get a bigger cut, surely, than a distributor. Hate to lose out, just cause I went cheap of 10 bucks.

          Course, it doesn’t matter to me yet, since I did a freebie, just to test the waters, but I was thinking about doing a collection.

  8. Thanks for this. There are a lot of things that need to be looked over in detail when you decide to self publish, especially because Smashwords does the auto convert.

  9. Yeah, it’s the little details that will kill you. Right now, I’m seeing anomalies in the invisibles that nothing seems to get rid of. Little gremlins. I’m just hoping they don’t screw things up when it goes through the meatgrinder.

  10. I think the price of an ISBN is actually quite a bit higher, but with my lousy memory, I couldn’t give you a better figure. And I don’t think it would make any difference in the publisher’s take. Amazon, Smashwords, and all the other distributors have set fees for their cut.

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