How Smashwords Turned Confusion into Confidence
Are you an eBook ignoramus?
Until last week, I was certainly in the dark about how to successfully convert my independently published paperbacks into beautifully presented eBooks. My only exposure to the process had been through Amazon’s KDP, and the results of simply uploading my original Word manuscript into that system were woeful to say the least.
That’s not to say that KDP left me totally in the cold with what they had to offer, but the moment I looked at their Tools and Resources page, a veil of Geekish White Noise descended upon me – one which made it impossible to understand what I should be doing with my pride and joy. As soon as I saw the enormous menu and the array of downloads available, I panicked and surrendered, which resulted in the most awful dog’s breakfast of an eBook. I don’t blame KDP for this – I blame me for failing to understand and absorb KDP’s requirements for epublishing. I simply don’t get it and I suspect I never will.
Additionally, I was feeling frustrated that I couldn’t offer my first eBook, The Horseman’s Desire, for free on Amazon. As it is the first in a series of five Historical Romances, I had planned to whet readers’ appetites with the first book before offering the next four books for $1.99 each. Sadly, unless you are a registered publisher, you are limited to a minimum price of $0.99 on Amazon. Many indie authors get around this by placing their eBook on Barnes & Noble for free, and then notifying Amazon to adjust their price to match. As my only attempt at creating a Kindle version of my books had failed miserably, I decided not to bother – mainly because the results were embarrassing.
Having therefore given up on the whole eBook thing, a chance post in a Facebook book review group piqued my interest last week. The author simply said “Download my new eBook for free from Smashwords”, and I automatically thought “What the hell is Smashwords?” Still suffering from fear of the aforementioned Geekish White Noise, I tentatively Googled Smashwords and started poking around in it, but I held out little hope for enlightenment. Boy – was I wrong!
Readers, if your book isn’t in electronic format and you want to make it so, run, walk, claw, scratch and fight your way to your computer and use Smashwords – unless you’re more electronically ignorant that I am, you will be delighted with the results!
The moment I arrived at Smashword’s Home Page, I clicked the Publish tab and was faced with only three instructions, the first of which directed me to read The Smashwords Style Guide. Groaning at the thought of what I might face, I decided to download the guide, and was both shocked and delighted with the way in which it was written – for the electronic ignoramus (me)! Not only did Smashwords tell me what to do, but it told me WHY I had to remove things like headers & footers, tabs, clever little chapter headings and such like. With the help of the guide, I finally understood that an eBook is not the same as an ordinary book, and that I shouldn’t be striving to make beautiful pages. Instead, I should accept that the electronic gizmo on which the book is read understands the simplest of commands and will do the work for me. Simple commands and I have always been the best of friends, so I followed the guide, looked at the sample books available for viewing and made the necessary alterations to all five of the novels in The Bartlemas Anthology.
It took me three days to make the necessary adjustments to all five books, but once I uploaded the first (and made it available for FREE), I saw my work successfully converted into nine different eBook reading formats (HTML, Kindle, Epub, PDF, RTF, LRF, Palm Doc, Plain Text (download) & Plain Text (view). I can now rattle off these names with seemingly gay abandon, but still don’t have a clue what most of them are. Do I care? Not at all! I simply know that I have now satisfied all of the requirements that ensure the reading pleasure of those who download the eBooks in The Bartlemas Anthology. In Geekish White Noise terms, I have passed Smashword’s AutoVettor and have no errors. In baby boomer author terms, I feel smarter than my computer guy right now (giggle).
Thank you, Smashwords, for making it easy and for talking to me without a veil of Geekish White Noise to terrify me. You have liberated this baby boomer author and have given me faith that I’m not ready for the electronic scrap heap yet. You didn’t promise me the world in terms of sales or downloads, and you didn’t blow megabytes of smoke up my bottom – you just talked my language and told me how EVIL that little Tab Button can be in electronic publishing. (Sigh…bliss…gloat).
I might only be a small indie author from Oz, but if gobsmackingly awesome historical love stories are your thing, download your FREE COPY (tee hee) of The Horseman’s Desire here. A review of the book would also be appreciated (thank you).
Alternatively, if you’re not into gobsmackingly awesome historical love stories, why not download it anyway – if only to see what a beautifully formatted eBook can look like when electronically ignorant authors visit Smashwords and follow the instructions!
Have a fantastic day folks!
- eBook authors, writers read this survey by Smashwords you will be glad you did. (webcontentrx.typepad.com)
- Shorter Titles are Good For Sales But Longer Stories Are Better: Insights From Smashwords (the-digital-reader.com)