Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

Independent

Publishing Part 1

This week, I’d like to start covering Publishing, but it turns out I have more to say about it than I thought, so I’ve broken it down into separate posts.  Maybe you’ve already begun looking into how you wish to publish, or maybe that day is still so far off you figure you have time to do that boring, time-consuming step later.  Hopefully I can help cut some of the dullness and time down for you here, while advising you not to wait until the last minute.  For this first part, I’m only going to talk about:

SMASHWORDS

The #1 Indie Publishing site in the world. If you’re still unfamiliar with their services, allow me to reveal what I know so far.  In essence, Smashwords is a one-stop platform that does all of the work for you.  Before I go any further, this is very important: You CANNOT successfully upload your book to Smashwords unless it meets their formatting and book cover criteria.

Fortunately, the CEO has put together a step-by-step walk through on exactly how to format the interior layout of your book (this can also save you $$$ on paying someone else to do it) with this Smashwords Style Guide.  He also went a step further and created “Mark’s List” of professional formatters and cover designers that follow their specifications, if you feel better not going the DIY route.

Formatting aside, you have 3 immediate options with Smashwords:

  1. Assetless Preorders: For up to 12 months in advance, you can create a link for readers to preorder your book without having to upload the manuscript or book cover at all.  This gives you an additional 12 months of possible sales on a book you’re not even done writing yet!
  2. Regular Preorders: This is where your book is already finished and you upload it and your book cover exactly as you would for normal Publishing, only Smashwords allows you to choose “Preorder” and then has you set the future date of publication.  For however long that is, your book is not only available for early buyers, but up to 30% of your content is available as a Free downloadable sample – which potential readers love more than just a blurb. (It’s the equivalent of the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.) I don’t know about you, but I use that feature quite a bit.
  3. Direct Publishing: Publishing on the day your book is scheduled to be released. *NOT RECOMMENDED!* And this is why:

The first thing Smashwords does with your book is send it to their Meatgrinder to check for formatting errors.  This lists your book as “Pending Review” for their Premium Catalog.  That beautiful list is what allows your book to be distributed to their retail associates (i.e. Kobo, Barnes&Noble, iBooks, etc.), so you want to make sure you check your Dashboard for “AutoVetter” notices and fix them right away.  The sooner your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog, the faster it reaches all of those other retail sites.

So, choosing to wait until the exact date of your book’s release is taking the very real risk that your book isn’t even going to be available for sale anywhere other than Smashwords until they’re through approving it.  I would advise using one of the Preorder options, so your book is already approved prior to the publication date, plus it gives you a jump start on both sales and exposure!

Here are even more reasons to love Smashwords:

  • They assign an epub ISBN number to your book for FREE, if you don’t already have one.
  • You upload your book once, and they send it out to all of the retailers for you. (They only send out the epub version to retailers, that is why you only get the one ISBN number.)
  • Nothing is written in stone:  With their Dashboard feature, you will never have to ‘Republish’ your books.  Found a better cover? Just update your book from your Dashboard.  Realized your book had proofreading errors? No worries, just upload the corrected version of your book through the Dashboard and it’s taken care of – Smashwords will instantly send out your updated files to all of the retailers for you!

Here’s what Smashwords will NOT do for you: Distribute to Amazon.  Unless your book sales have reached $2,000 and even then, I think there is a waiting period or selection process that doesn’t guarantee you a spot.

More on Amazon next time!

Recommended Reading: Smashwords FAQ page. They have to have the easiest FAQ page to read and navigate that I’ve ever seen – and very thorough about answering any question you might have.

Publishing fun fact: Did you know that ePublishers don’t require you to have a literary agent and that you can submit to them directly?  Did you know that most brick & mortar Publishing houses have jumped on board that bandwagon and now offer their own ePub services that also don’t require you to have a literary agent?  Harlequin is one of them and you can find their non-agented ePub site here.

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