Saturday, June 30, 2012

How tough is it today to put your book on Smashwords?

I uploaded my second book to Smashwords recently, so I thought I’d give a report on how well that process went. Here’s the summary:

It’s about as slick as greased glass.

OK, if you are as anal as I am, you sweat the small stuff. In my case, I took between 3 to 4 hours to get the book content ’just so,’ which is not to say that the process calls for grueling, painstaking steps that you must grind through that whole time. Not at all.

You see, I’m a bit of a perfectionist (the nice way to refer to someone who’s anal). I want my product to be spiffy and top notch. I don’t want errors or inconsistencies, no matter how slight. I want it to shine. Which takes time. It takes checking and rechecking. It takes grumbling over how a paragraph looks or how a story intro meshes with the opening sentence. It takes tweaking the layout and adjusting the overall flow. It takes imagining yourself as a reader holding a Kobo, Kindle or Nook.

This is the responsibility and work of a publisher. In the case of Smashwords, that’s you. You make the decisions on how it should look and feel. Once you’re happy, you push it to market. But it doesn’t end there. You can go back anytime and make changes, add content, improve the product. You are the publisher. You decide how it will be. The power rests in your hands.

So that’s all fine and good, but... getting back to the Smashwords process... just how tough it is these days?

If you have your document polished, your cover art image ready, and you can follow some step-by-step editing guidelines, you can do it in 2 – 3 hours. No sweat. Smashwords provides aspiring authors a decent instruction set that takes you through the process, including what gotchas to beware of and what to do when things don’t go as well as they should. In short, this is a process that demands attention to detail, but don’t let that scare you. This is not rocket science or black art. You can do it. Honestly, if you just don’t want to be bothered with the effort, you can even hire someone to tackle this, possibly for as little as $50. Bottom-line: if you’ve got a book ready to go, you should press on and do it.

Just a couple of brief observations:

  1. Be sure you have your book cover ready to go. Smashwords just upped their requirements on the image dimensions. It now should be no less than 1,400 pixels wide, ideally a bit larger. The height should end up being a multiple of the width by like 1.3 or 1.4. This is considerably larger than the old requirements they’ve used.
  2. Before diving into the Smashwords Style Guide process steps, take the time to refine your manuscript file to make it as polished as you can. Once you start the publishing process steps, you won’t want to be detouring to deal with beefing up your manuscript format, not if you can avoid it.
  3. Check out the Smashwords publish web page and especially review the meta data you’ll need to provide at the time you upload and publish your book. I recommend you think about each of the inputs and prepare your information in advance, ready to cut-and-paste into the fields on the Smashwords web page. That approach is a lot better than waiting until the moment you publish your book’s file and rushing through entering the meta data. It matters. Think like a publisher would, because that’s you.
If you’re sitting on the fence about publishing via Smashwords, I hoped I’ve convinced you to take the plunge. With a little effort on your part, you can be selling your book in just a few hours.

Good luck!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Slow Blogging Writer

I'm a slow blogger.

Duh, you say. A quick peek at my blog post calendar reveals that big secret.

I suppose I should have said that I've made a conscious decision as a writer not to spew forth volumes of word-spray across the various social media streams one is supposed to use to reach one's audience and fans. It's all summed up nicely by Anne R. Allen in this blog post.

Which flies in the face of plenty of tribal advice urging authors to post more, not less. After all, more content pushed by an author equals more chances to make impressions, more prospective readers to touch with at least one post / one thread, more of your noise drowning out the surrounding din. Hopefully.

It's folly though.

Think about it. In a connected world chock full of endless streams of infotainment of all stripes, do you find yourself craving even more variety, more ways to fritter away one of the most precious commodities you have: your time? I don't. I have too many already.

So I heartily agree with Anne R. Allen's points regarding slow blogging. She's spot-on and makes a strong case.

I'm going to add my own spin though, invoking something that's the bane of every entertainer. Most in the business try hard to connect with their audience, drawing an emotional reaction from them, informing them, challenging them, amusing them, or generally touching them in some tangible way. An entertainer tries to never, ever bore the audience though. That's the kiss of death.

This, then, is what worries me regarding pounding my thoughts out through social media channels. The harder and more frequently I do so, the faster my decent into the pit of boredom and irrelevance.

Brrrr. What a terrible thought.

I'll stick with slow blogging.