Friday, October 5, 2012
Self-Publishing on Amazon and Smashwords
Woot, woot, I formatted my manuscript in Word and uploaded the word.doc to Amazon's e-book publishing company, Kindle Direct, after filling out the form required. The uploading went smoothly with no problem. However, I wanted to preview the newborn e-book that would show up on the Kindle. I clicked on the previewer and magically my e-book, Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, appeared. My heart leaped! After six years of work on this project for middle grade girls, my dream was coming true, an interactive, non-fiction e-book to inspire and empower girls.
Flipping through the pages, my heart caught in my throat. The biggest worries over loading up the photos and having them stay centered were not realized, but instead wonky things happened with extra double spaces in spots that were single spaced in the .doc. Parts of sentences were missing and centered texts were bunched over to the left. I stared in disbelief at the previewer. I checked my word document. Nothing was wrong even when I punched in Word's show/hide feature for formatting.
After studying how I could NOT publish the document, I clicked to download the HTML doc ground out by Kindle Direct Publishing and pulled it into my Kindle. The problems did not show up. I sent the doc to my friends who have Kindles. They reported no oddities when clicking through the pages, well, maybe one or two which didn't show up on the previewer.
I scratched my head. I decided to go ahead and upload the same doc to Smashwords. I had read Mark Coker's extensive Style Guide for formatting your ebook on Smashwords and followed each step carefully. His constant warnings about remembering to do this and don't forget that rattled in my brain. Taking a deep breath after filling out the form for Smashwords, I clicked on "upload the file" and crossed my fingers. I was told I was #16 in the queue, so I checked email, etc. to get my mind off the fact that I had dumped my pure and perfect word file into the Smashword "meat grinder" as Coker calls it.
When I returned to the screen, a list of problems appeared that needed to be "fixed" before they could okay the e-book for sale at Smashwords. Actually they were easy fixes--more than four returns on the title page. using a table which is a no-no for this publisher, and a few stray tabs I'd missed (no tabs allowed for Smashwords). Re-submitted the file and jumped for joy when it said conversion complete.
Smashwords suggests the author read the book in the e-pub format, so I downloaded the Adobe Digital Reader and checked the pages. All seemed to look fine to me. Even the pictures were sharp and centered. Hooray!!
I could breathe again. It went through. I am now in the process of being vetted for entrance into their Premium Catalog which goes out to major distributors. It doesn't cost anything to get into the catalog, but an ISBN number is required. And lo and behold, Smashwords gives the author a FREE ISBN. Yes, really!
I will soon attack the word file for Amazon to figure out what is wonky in it. Then re-load and publish it!
I thought I would feel relieved and happy when the e-book was finally out to the world, but now because I self-published this piece, I feel more pressure to put out an excellent product for my readers. It is all in my hands. I did not realize I would feel that responsibility so heavily. On the other hand, I am thrilled to see the book come alive online. But I will be even more excited when all the kinks are straightened out...I fear that will be a never-ending process. One good thing about publishing an e-book, the changes are easy to make and quick too.
I will release the buy links to the book as soon as I am satisfied with the pages so you can take a peek at it.
To be continued------
In case you missed it and want to read Part 1, you are welcome to discover the beginning of this journey.