November 21, 2012 by onetiredmama
Last week, I talked about how to get a book (or short story or novella) ready for publication. I discussed ISBNs, your small business setup, editing, cover art, etc. This week it’s where you publish.
Where I Self-Publish
I live in the US so I have access to direct upload options that some authors won’t have. I know folks outside the US have to use Smashwords to upload to Barnes & Noble. You’ll need to check out your specific territory restrictions.
So I upload books directly to Amazon via their KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) platform and Barnes & Noble via their PubIt! platform. I also upload directly to Kobo but use Smashwords to distribute my work to Apple, Sony, Diesel and some other smaller retailers.
I don’t have a Mac so I can’t use the software required to upload to Apple directly. I’m considering purchasing one next year. It may make more sense for my growing business to do so. But–there are also a few companies, Author EMS, for example, who will upload your books to Apple for a fee. After your books are uploaded, you can access the dashboard without a Mac.
Because I write super sexy romance, I also set up an account as a publisher via All Romance eBooks. I don’t see huge sales there but I bring in a respectable amount every month.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords will accept a cleanly formatted Word .doc version of your book. (Some folks use the Open Office version.) Basically, you create a file that will meet the “meat grinder” standards of Smashwords and upload that file to the other retailers. I know some authors who have hit the NYT and USA Today Bestseller lists who use this method. I know a couple of writers who write their books in Scrivener and create their epub files that way. (This is something I have my eye on at the moment.)
Me? I sort of hand-code my books to create clean epub (the file version that B&N and Apple and Kobo want) and prc/mobi (the version Amazon wants) files. I use Nadia Lee’s guide (buy it here at Smashwords) to format my books. Most of my self-published work is novella or short story length so I find it very quick to do. There are other guides out there (Guido Henkel comes to mind) to help you. (I see he also formats books for a very reasonable price.)
Or you can do what a lot of folks do and hire someone to format. It’s surprisingly inexpensive to hire a formatter. LK Campbell is highly recommended. Iron Horse Formatting is another company I hear very good things about on a regular basis. I’m sure there are more formatters out there. Again, Kindle Boards or the Indie Romance Ink loop are great places to ask questions like this.
Formatting for Smashwords can be kind of a nightmare. Like, no fucking joke. It’s the most inefficient process imaginable. The helpful hints? Don’t ever use the TAB key when writing. Ever. Just don’t do it. When you open your new shiny Word doc, click Paragraph–>Special–>First Line–>By–>0.5. Or 0.3. Whatever. Choose an indent and leave it the hell alone. Just hit ENTER/RETURN at the end of every paragraph and voila! A magic, beautifully clean new indented paragraph appears. Stay away from weirdo formatting. Use your basic italics or bold or underlining and nothing else. Really, you don’t need anything more than italics in a fiction piece–and even then, use it sparingly. (See what I did there?)
You’ll have to create accounts at the various places you intend to upload your book. You’ll need things like your SSN or EIN and bank info handy. A few places will pay via PayPal. Most will do direct deposits into your account. Choose that over paper checks whenever you can or else you may be waiting a long time to get your hands on your money.
Uploading is fairly simple.You’ll paste in your blurb, choose some keywords, choose your price, upload the book and cover and hit publish. Rinse. Repeat at various distributors. Wait 24-72 hours for your book to appear for sale!
That’s really all there is to self-publishing an ebook. It’s a fairly simple and straight-forward process. As I wrote this, it occurred to me that a post on writing catchy blurbs or choosing keywords or deciding on a pricing structure might be useful. Hey! I think I just found my post idea for next week’s Writing Wednesday. Until then…