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.