Saturday, 15 March 2014

Publishing at Smashwords

I consider myself to be a writer, and not a salesman.

Does expecting to write some stories, put them up online, and expect everyone to flock to them like JK Rowling has just released Harry Potter 8 make me naive and arrogant? Probably. Okay definitely.

So, in an effort to be more salesman-like, I have registered The Werechicken on Smashwords. As those of you in the self-publishing community know, Smashwords is the biggest Indie-publishing website, and acts as a gateway to sites like the Apple iBookstore, and the stores for Kobo and Nook. It ensures listings on a lot of High-Street (or Main Street if you're in the USA) retailers' websites, which would be seriously challenging to get onto otherwise.

So there you go, I'm being businesslike with my writing. As I said, I'd much rather everyone else made the effort to find me, so I don't have to find them, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

So what is the Smashwords process? Well, let me tell you:

First, as you would expect, you have to write a book. Smashwords are very good at providing assistance. Unfortunately, there's little they can do to help you with the content of your book. So that part is all down to you.

Next, you register with Smashwords. It's a simple step. If you've ever signed up to anything online before: Amazon/ Reddit/ Porn websites then you already know how to register with a company online.

Next, there is an option to make a profile page. This is recommended. If someone reads something you have written and thinks 'what kind of jerk writes trash like this?', then they can go back to the site, click on your profile and see EXACTLY what kind of jerk you are! Ah, the internet age…

Next there's the hard part. The formatting. Smashwords are on their game here. They know that publishing a book in a format that works great on a Kindle may look like shit on a Nook, so they have the solution: The Smashwords Style Guide. The Guide will ensure that you format your book document in such a way that you can download it on any device, and what comes up on the screen is what you intended.

The Guide is detailed, and uses features of Microsoft Word that you likely have never even heard of.

Oh Essjay, you loveable n00b, I've been using Microsoft Word for years, and I think I know my way around it; my novel - The Great Heffalump - will hardly need any formatting changes at all, I hear you say. WELL YOU'RE WRONG! Unless every time you want something centred on a page you've been assigning a different paragraph style, then you're going to have to do some editing.

That being said, although there are complex steps to follow, they are all explained in a mostly idiot-proof way. Even better, for the REALLY complex bit: creating a chapter-table at the start which links to the chapters in question, there is a video to show you what to do.

So, the end result? Thankfully, once the fourteen-thousand steps in The Guide have been followed, your book will actually look pretty damn professional.

So there you go, that is Smashwords author-handholding process to try and make them a bit of cash.

I'll let you know how it goes.


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