Continued from Part 1

So.

Just how the frigging hell do I go about getting self-published?

Fortunately, half the battle is already won. I have over 50 completed stories that I believe are good enough to publish; a couple of dozen stories close enough to completion to finish in short order; and several dozen stories in various stages of completion. On top of that, I have something like six novels I've been working on as well, two of which are near completion.

So I have plenty of stories I can publish, and that's crucial: obviously, without stories, you can't publish.

But how do I publish them?

There is an online service called Smashwords that can convert DOC files into several formats:

EPUB -- for Apple iPads and iBooks, Sony Readers, Kobo Readers, Nook, and others

MOBI -- for Kindle, Windows PCs, and many handheld devices

PDF -- for handheld e-readers, PDAs, and computers

LRF -- for older Sony Readers

PDB -- for Palm Pilot devices, PalmOS, Symbian OS, Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Smartphone, desktop Windows, and Macintosh

HTML -- for web browsers

RTF -- for word processors

and Plain Text

Once created, the files in these formats are made available for immediate sale or download on Smashwords.

The formats that look and work the best are EPUB, MOBI, and PDF. LRF is next, but it does not permit the use of links to external URLs. PDB is not as good, and it does not support any form of linking whatsoever. HTML and RTF look and work as well as EPUB and MOBI, but require special programs to be read. The plain text file has no formatting. The more sophisticated formats can handle images as well. You can select which formats Smashwords will produce when you publish.

The service is free; in fact, I cannot find any hidden fees. Even the basic manuals, including detailed how-to books on marketing, are free.

These format files are only available on the Smashwords site. However, they have an additional service called the Premium Catalog which is also free. eBooks listed in the catalog are distributed to online retail outlets such as:

Apple iBookstores, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith, Livraria Cultura in Brazil, the Diesel eBook Store, eBooks Eros, Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), Page Foundry (operates retail sites Inktera.com and Versent.com; operates Android ebook store apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus), Stanza, Aldiko, Word-Player, FBReader, and Inkmesh

Smashwords has a number of rather strict requirements to get into the catalog. Among them are:

** the manuscripts must conform to the Smashwords formatting style guide and terms of service;

** they must have copyright pages;

** the books must have professional titles and descriptions;

** they must be complete works, not samples or works-in-progress;

** they must have covers, which have their own requirements (a professional cover is only reasonable, in that a good cover is an effective marketing tool in and of itself);

** they must have ISBNs (especially if you want your book offered by Apple, Sony, and Kobo)

Additionally, as a courtesy, the books cannot contain links to specific retailers (though linking to the Smashwords author page is permitted). The reason is natural: since the book is distributed to many different retailers, they don't want to see links to their competitors. Also, you should at least select EPUB publication, because that has become the industry standard (except for Amazon), and the majority of modern readers use EPUB.

Smashwords can provide a free ISBN for your book. That will make Smashwords your publisher, but you still retain all rights to your work.

None of these requirements are particularly onerous, and Smashwords provides a detailed style guide and manual free of charge that will walk you through the process of preparing your manuscript step by step. As long as you follow the guide carefully, you should have no problem. I have the added advantage that I am trained as a graphic designer, so I can create my own covers (with the help of an artist friend, Lon Ryden, who provides the artwork while I do the layout and typography), but Smashwords can provide a list of low-cost freelance cover designers free of charge.

I should point out that Smashwords is not a vanity press, or even a POD service like Lulu. In addition to charging no fees for any part of its service, Smashwords pays 85% of net sales through the Smashwords store and 60% of the list price through retailers.

I should also point out that ebooks can be published through Kobo Writing Life and Kindle Direct.

Continued in Part 3
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Published on June 15, 2013 07:20 • 92 views • Tags: self-publishing, smashwords, writing

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Songs of the Seanchaí

Kevin L. O'Brien
Musings on my stories, the background of my stories, writing, and the world in general.
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