Monday, 21 March 2011

Publishing To Smashwords, Kindle, Apple and More...


 So you’ve published your novel for Kindle, but what about selling it in the Apple Store or on Barnes and Noble? One way of doing this is to republish the book to Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/).

To do this you may need to reformat your Word document slightly. As with Kindle publishing, you will have fewer problems if you keep the format very simple. So avoid fancy fonts, don’t use tables, don’t use hard tabs, and don’t do anything fancy such as columns or wrap-around graphics. And do read the Smashwords Style Guide which highlights the DOs and the DON’Ts of formatting for Smashwords.

Once your Word document is ready to go (it needs to save saved as a .DOC file rather than .DOCX), you are ready to upload it. Unlike when formatting for Kindle, you don’t have to do any file conversion first – so no need to save as HTML and run it through the MobiPocket Creator. Once it’s uploaded, Smashwords runs your document through what it calls the ‘meat grinder’. This is a program that converts your Word file into a number of different documents formatted for Kindle, EPub (for Apple devices), PDF and several other formats.

If the meat grinder finds any problems, it warns you and you should go back and fix them before re-uploading. For example, when I uploaded my book, it objected to my Table Of Contents. As I’ve explained previously, when preparing a book for Kindle, you can use Word’s automated TOC generator to create a hyperlinked Table Of Contents. Unfortunately, Smashwords doesn’t like this. If you want a TOC, you have two options: either you can create named bookmarks one at a time for each chapter and then create hyperlinks to them or you can name each chapter ‘Chapter 1’, ‘Chapter 2’ (etc.) and leave Smashwords to auto-detect your chapter headings and generate a TOC based on them. The former approach gives you more control, the latter approach is a great deal easier. Suffice to say, I went for the latter. The ins and outs of this are explained in the Style Guide so be sure to read it.

Anyway, it’s to your benefit to try to avoid these formatting problems before you upload your book. Once uploaded, your book goes into a queue behind, potentially, hundreds or thousands of other books waiting to be processed. In my experience it can take about twelve hours or so between uploading your book and having it processed by the meat-grinder. If you need to make any changes, you’ll have to go through the whole process (and the twelve hour wait) all over again.

Assuming all is well, your book will now be published on the Smashwords site and it will be submitted for ‘Premium’ distribution. And that’s where things start to get really interesting.

If your book is accepted for the Premium Catalogue it will be distributed, at no cost to you, to a number of retailers including Apple, Barns and Noble, Sony, Kobo (and others). So now your potential readers are a) not restricted to buying from Amazon (I’m assuming you have already uploaded your book to Amazon as explained in previous blog posts) and b) not restricted to reading it on a Kindle or via Kindle-reader software. They can read it on iPads or other reader hardware if that’s their preference.

At any rate, I’ve just uploaded my book (it’s page is HERE) and I am now waiting for it to be manually reviewed to see if it is accepted for the Premium Catalogue. More on its progress soon...

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