Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Challenge Thee... To a Duel!

Day 13 of the Author Blog Challenge. Today's prompt, brought to you by the letters MF... Where did your mind just go? Shame on you! 

What has been the most challenging part of your book process: writing, building the book, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.? What do you wish you'd known before you began? 

Marketing and Formatting have taken the cake for being the most challenging part of my book process. Smashwords also provided some frustrations. Allow me to provide you with a few guides. 

Formatting: Now, formatting an e-book is easy cakes if you've done it before. You understand that you should never ever ever tab at the beginning of a paragraph and every space after a period should be single. You know to compose with a normal paragraph style in word and not to have auto formatting turned on to parse hyperlinks or correct errant spelling errors. That being said, if you don't know those thing to begin with, formatting an e-book is a royal pain in the arse.

Why? Because you have to undo all those things that typing class taught you in high school. Ugh.

Another problem with doing it yourself is allllll the different formats that every e-reader uses. NOOK wants an epub file, KDP wants an html document, and Smashwords wants you to add returns at every page break so the meatgrinder can find where your pages split. If you're publishing a print version? .doc or .docx along with a PDF of the cover file is what you'll need.

Easy steps that I can advise that will take you far:

Make sure your manuscript is ready for publishing. Period. If it's not, don't bother doing any of the things below because you will have to re-do them all if you change something.

Follow the Smashwords Style Guide. You can download it via the link provided. It tells you how to get rid of tabs, apply different formats, create a table of contents and erase errant hyperlinks. Even if you aren't publishing with Smashwords, I recommend you pick up a copy now. It's free, why not?

Install the Calibre e-book management tool. You'll thank me later. It takes an .rtf file and makes it into an epub file with lots of cool options and little boxes to tick check-marks into. 

I know, I know, I'm so informative! It's only because I love you all. 

Now, after you have followed The Style Guide (without the extra returns between paragraphs or little cutesy icons) take your final file from word and save it as:
Make a folder for each site. Mine look like this:
and so on, and so forth.
Remember to open the original file every time before saving it out as something different. Obviously, use your title and the current date.

Revise the Smashwords version to be happy with the meatgrinder as instructed. Open Calibre and turn the .rtf into an epub. Save that as:

Make sure your cover follows each site's requirement for size and save each cover with the same extensions. Let your cover designer know where you are going to publish your book and what size your print version will be.

When/if you upload to Smashwords, go and opt out of distribution to NOOK and Amazon. Now, go upload your files and be HAPPY! 

Yes, it's a lot of work but you're working for yourself and things will be the way you want them to be. No better reward than that, in my opinion. 

Marketing is it's own beast but my best advice is to participate, network, and offer assistance to others. Above all else, have consistency. My name will always appear on my book in the same font, in the same place. Keep that in mind when working with a designer. Make it BIG. Your name is a selling point. No time to be shy now.

Another tool for marketing is Goodreads. I always publish a print version of my work and offer a giveaway on that site because it's just good business sense. You gotta get your book into the hands of people that will read it.

Now, for my frustrations with Smashwords. They took a while to approve me for premium distribution and send The Abigale Chronicles to iBooks and NOOK. I ended up opting out for Amazon distribution and doing it myself just last week. I am impatient. I opted to do both Amazon and NOOK myself in my second release. A little more work, to be sure, but I'm a happier camper for it. NOOK is still not showing the cover for Abigale but iBooks got it quickly after approval and it looks gorgeous there.

Sorry this was long winded but I hope you got some useful information out of it.

That's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. OMG! This is me, quaking in my boots (OK, my gladiator sandals) at the thought of tackling all this schmutz! Thank you for all this great info... "Im not worthy... bow.... bow... bow"

    1. Thank you for the comment (and the bows), Sandi! Just trying to help another wayward soul :)

  2. Thank you! I will try this with my book. Smashwords formatting was freaking my out. Quick question, what if your book is loaded with images? (Am I screwed?) LOL Thanks again!

    1. No. The Smashwords Style Guide goes into that as well. Just add them to your document as images and put in a page break. Easy peasy :) Thanks for the comment, Liberty!

  3. Sandi, I'm with you! I'm 25K into my new manuscript...go back and make changes? Or keep on trucking? The mere thought of taking out all the double spaces after periods makes me queasy.

    Thanks for the info!

    1. If you're planning an e-book, go take them out now and try not to do it while writing the rest. You'll save yourself a lot of headache later. :)

  4. I tried commenting this morning from my iPhone - frustrating. I'm here on my laptop now. I've been typing for nearly 50 years and - I am NOT going to do this formatting myself. No way! I'm glad I had the heads up (in case I ever get as far as writing a book) so I can find someone who can do a nice, professional job for me while I concentrate on the writing part. One challenge at a time.

    1. Sorry you were frustrated by my blog.

      I don't blame you for seeking professional help. Jo Harrison does it for a living, you may look her up when in need :) Thanks for the blog love!!

  5. This is the best post, Jo. I am going add the link to this on my blog because I think it has such valuable easy to follow information thank you :-)

    1. Thank you SO much, Merlene!! And thanks for the comment! I love blog love.

  6. Brilliant post, Jo - there are so many people all over the world reinventing the wheel every day in this regard, so it's great to see someone sharing their knowledge. And you're so right - start with the simplest of all rules: NO TABS!! :)

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I do try to be informative. Thanks for the blog luv, too!


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