My Grand Publishing Adventures
Cover of My Newest eBook
The writing life is a wonderful one, and even better when the writing gets published. I started out last fall by writing and selling my cookbook on this and my former cooking blog. Then I wrote the Guide to Having it All and published it the same way. I received encouragement from Annie at Annienygma.com and Francine at missminimalist.com to try Smashwords and Kindle, respectively. In my usual low-tech way I experienced brain freeze at the prospect, and waiting until Steve had a chance to take a look at things for me.
Amazon has been around for a virtual forever, so everybody knows it, and knows what Kindle is, too. A first attempt a few months ago to publish the cookbook on Amazon turned up layer after layer of frustrating problems, so the project was more or less abandoned for a few weeks. Then after seeing Annie popping one ebook after another up on Smashwords (af), I asked her what was involved, did a little rummaging around, and of course handed it off to Steve when words like “format” started to appear.
Smashwords, however, turned out to be just the thing for learning how to format, what’s involved, learning how to fix problems, and, in short, it is worth its weight in gold for the would-be author. All of the information you need for formatting your ebook is available when you sign up for Smashwords, and in incredibly complete detail. And it’s free. Oh yes–free.
The Smashwords guide is technical, but not overly so (I’m just a wuss). In fact, some parts of it are absurdly over-simplified, and the more technically-inclined amongst us might experience impatience after reading sixteen cheerful paragraphs while looking for the one sentence holding key information. But the point is, the information is there, and it is free for the downloading.
When you upload your ebook into Smashwords, it goes through a vetting process to see if it is formatted correctly for all the different publishing platforms, the ones used by, say, iPods, Nooks, Kindles, and different sorts of readers for computers and other devices. If there is a problem, you are notified, and given some idea what the problem is. There are usually instructions available as to how to fix it.
The neatest thing about publishing to Smashwords is the is a very clear and systematic process for checking the quality of your ebook at every step of the process, and very little time is lost. Amazon/Kindle, on the other hand, is a nightmare. You are not given the opportunity to proof your formatted copy before publication, and there is a long downtime between uploading your book and seeing if it is even readable. You can’t see it until it is published, when everyone else can see it, too. This sets the author up for a fall–a customer purchasing the book before the author can withdraw it for revisions is not going to be inclined to leave a good review for something that was difficult or not visually pleasing to read.
The Smashwords process greatly improves the odds of creating a document that will look good on Kindle, because that is one of the many platforms it creates formats for when you upload your ebook. Smashwords not only has its own store, it distributes to Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple iPad iBookstore, Kobo (and Borders) and the Diesel eBook Store. It is also in negotiation to distribute to Amazon and Google. This distribution thingy is also worth its weight in gold. And it’s free. Oh yes. They take a percentage, but there are no upfront costs.
So what does this mean for me and my readers? I’VE GOT THREE EBOOKS UP ON SMASHWORDS AND AMAZON!!! You already know about my cookbook and my Guide to Having it All, but I also did a compilation of posts from this blog called The Minimalist Woman, which is available for 99 cents. The Minimalist Cooking book is available for $4.95, and the Guide to Having it All is still available for free or “set your price” on Smashwords and 99 cents on Amazon (we’re still working on making it free there).
Anyway, I am all happy about that, and it inspires me to keep writing ebooks. But evidently the process does not stop with getting published in any of these formats/platforms. Something else needs to happen to enable the books to be found by readers: reviews. Even short ones. Positive ones are obviously better than negative ones. Reviews let the Great Publishing Machines know that you are legit, that you are cross-list worthy.
I’d like it very much, dear reader (pretty please with a cherry on top), if you could leave a review of any or all of my books on Smashwords (af) . You can also do the same on Amazon (here for Guide to Having it All and The Minimalist Woman, and here for Minimalist Cooking), but Smashwords (af) is such a pleasure to use and has such friendly support, I really prefer it at this time. If you have books of your own up on these sites, I will be happy to reciprocate!
By the way, Smashwords sells Kindle-ready ebooks, too; I love the way they look on the Kindle Reader on my laptop. Also, Steve said to tell you all that if you have any questions about the process, he would be happy to answer them in the comments, or shoot us an email via the contact form.
Now I’m off to brainstorm for my next tome…. Have a great weekend!