(A guest blog post by Dave)
You may remember from Kay’s recent post that our first eBook came out of Amazon’s Kindle Select programme a short while ago, so it was time to give Smashwords a whirl. As ever, she asked me to do the donkeywork of getting the book ready for publication.
Smashwords lay heavy stress on making sure the eBook is correctly formatted. If you don’t meet their requirements, your book won’t make it into their Premium Catalog [sic]. But if your document is well-formatted in the first place (proper use of headers, positioning of text by appropriate use of styling rather than spaces and carriage returns, etc) then it should be a straightforward enough process to get it to conform.
One quirk compared with the Amazon version is that they recommend the manual building of contents – the automated version with M$ Word doesn’t cut it, apparently. But it’s not hard to do, and it makes it easier to build internal links if you want to cross-reference within your eBook, although they caution against doing too much of that as well, particularly since many users will be using touchscreen devices. The one thing I fell down on was that you can’t include any unlinked text between your individual contents links, otherwise the ePub navigation doesn’t work and your book will be rejected. (I’d included unlinked bullets under each section title to explain what the section was about – I had to junk them.)
Uploading is likewise straightforward. They have a nifty little screen to show you how your eBook is progressing through the ominously named Meat Grinder (that’s a mincer for non-North American English speakers). It doesn’t seem to take anything like as long as the Kindle process – your eBook is generally available for download in all formats (by anyone, not just you!) within a few minutes rather than a few hours. Not only that, but you as the owner can download it free.
They advise you to check that your document’s uploaded properly and that it looks OK in all the various formats. There are all sorts of little niggles that can creep in and spoil the look of your magnum opus, so it’s well worth doing. (Especially as you can download them all free of charge – that’s one reason why it’s so annoying that Kindle don’t make eBooks freely available to their authors. Their previewer doesn’t give a very faithful rendering of the final document.) Fortunately most of the niggles are pointed out in the Style Guide, and you’re encouraged to let SW know if there are any they’ve missed.
All in all, I was pleased at how straightforward the process was, and I particularly appreciated being able to see the finalised files so quickly afterwards. Now all we have to do is sit back and watch the money roll in. Isn’t that right, Kay? 😀