May 192010

In an attempt to get the eBook version of Lifeliner out to more markets without paying iUniverse a fortune, especially since they are non-responsive to author concerns other than filling up the inbox with marketing e-mail, I’ve decided to use Smashwords.

Smashwords will take your MS Word document and convert it to many eBook formats, such as HTML, Java, PDF, ePub, Mobi, etc. They will make your eBook available on their own website as well as distributing it to Amazon, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and eReading apps for all mobile devices from iPhone to Blackberry to Android. The cost to do this is zilch. Author royalties range from 85% of net sales on Smashwords; 70.5% elsewhere. The catch: you have to go through the extremely tedious process of ensuring your manuscript conforms to Smashwords style guide. I am just about comatose from the process. Chocolate helped revive me, sort of, by this afternoon.

Although my brain injury necessitated reading and rereading the style guide over a period of weeks in order to absorb it, reviewing the steps and writing down which ones apply to me, setting SMART goals to get it done, being methodical in making each change, the process is a good one for anyone to follow because the task is tedious, and tediousness can lead to errors. I used to do this back in my consulting days when programming databases and debugging them. I’d look for one type of error or do one formatting thing at a time. For Lifeliner, I went through and fixed the double paragraphs and spacing (that is, look for double spaces, spaces at end of paragraphs) all at one time, then changed all the paragraphs as per the style guide, then worked on the exceptions, then changed the headings, and lastly changed the style of each chapters’ first paragraph. Because I used the NUCLEAR OPTION — I had only a PDF as the final version with all the proofing changes done, which I had to convert to basic text — I had to put back in all the italics and bold and centring. I did italics first, bold second. That way you don’t lose track of what you’re doing if you try to do italics and bold all in one go. The last thing I did was follow the steps for creating a linkable Table of Contents. My head hurt doing that, but the links worked when I tested them!

I have absolutely no idea if my methodical way has produced an acceptable DOC, I have yet to acquire a new eBook ISBN for it and submit it to Smashwords Meatgrinder, but at least I know the errors should be small (I hope!), I understand the process a little bit now, and I am one step closer to being able to create my own ePub. I will no longer be at the mercy of publishers when it comes to eBook versions of my work. Also, I used to do desktop publishing pre-injury; this is a natural extension of that work. I am not as interested in it as I was (in fact, not), but being able to do it is a good skill for an author to have.

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