C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers: How to Publish on Smashwords (by Guest blogger Rebecca Senese)

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Firstly, thanks to Robert for allowing me to do a guest post on his blog. This is my very first guest post and I’m thrilled to “be” here!

This is an exciting time to be a writer, full of opportunity and scary possibilities. It’s easy to become paralyzed. I know I felt like that for some time over the past year as I watched the e-book market explode. I knew I wanted to start putting up my back list of pre-published short stories but I wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. I decided to jump right in.

One of the sites I decided to post my work on was Smashwords. According to their website, they claim over one billion words published. That’s a lot of typing!

Of course, the very first step is to create a free account at Smashwords. Make sure to print out and read their publishing agreement. This is true for any site you wish to publish on. When you load up your work, you are effectively acting as your own publisher and need to know what kind of agreement you are making with the site that is acting as a distributor. Take the time to print and read the contract before putting anything up. Remember to take responsibility for your own writing career.

Next I downloaded their free style guide. This guide, written by Smashwords founder Mark Coker, provides a step-by-step manual for formatting your book to meet Smashwords’s requirements.

Once you’ve completed the proper formatting, Smashwords takes your single format file, processes it through their Meatgrinder software and outputs it into approximately 10 separate ebook formats, including ePub, PDF, Mobi (Kindle) and RTF among others. There’s no trying to figure out how to do it yourself. Smashwords’ Meatgrinder does it for you!

I created my cover page and formatted my first short story according to the style guide and I was ready. From the top menu, I choose Publish. This took me to the upload area.

Section 1 “Title & Synopsis” included Title, Short Description (400 characters allowed), Long Description (4,000 characters allowed) and Language of Book with a part for adult content.

Section 2 is Price and Sampling. Unlike Amazon, Smashwords allows for free content, readers set the price (with a note that Barnes & Noble no longer accepts books with this option), or with a price set from a minimum of 0.99 cents or up.

Sampling allowed me to choose the amount of my work available for a reader to download to review before buying. I chose 40% as an option, to give readers a good chance to read my work. I have downloaded e-book samples that don’t even go past the table of contents page before the sample is done. I never got a chance to even taste the author’s writing. That’s not a book I would buy. Sampling is the equivalent of being able to pick up a book and crack it open to take a look at the writing. It’s a good idea to give readers a real opportunity to see if they like your work and also to get hooked on your story. Give them enough to really get into it and they’ll want to buy to find out what happened at the end.

Section 3 is Categories which open up to the right, from general categories to more specific subjects.

Section 4 is Tags that I used to tag my e-books.

Section 5 is eBook Formats and the default is set for all of them. I left all the defaults in place. My thinking is that the more formats, the better for a reader to find one that works for her.

Finally, Section 6 Covers and Section 7 Select File of Book to Publish are where I was able to upload my cover and my e-book file. Section 8 is the Publish button. Once I pressed this, my file was uploaded for processing.

My first e-book took about twenty minutes to upload. Others have taken as long as four to five hours. It seems to depend on how many other books are being uploaded at the same time as yours.

After uploading my first ebook, I created my Smashwords author page under My Smashwords tab. Here I uploaded a photo, a small bio and was able to link to my website, blog, Twitter account, Facebook and LinkedIn. On this page, all of my uploaded e-books are listed with a tag cloud at the bottom of the page.

Smashwords includes a Dashboard tab where you can obsessively track your sales or sample downloads. As one writer suggested online, the best thing to do with e-books is to publish and forget it. It’s very tempting to check on the Dashboard every day or every few hours and become disappointed when you aren’t rivaling Amanda Hocking’s sales. The best cure is to keep writing and keep publishing. The more e-books you have available, the more chance you give the readers to find you and like your work. When that happens, they’ll look for more.

That’s my plan as I continue to move forward into this new world of publishing. And I’m sticking to it!

Rebecca M. Senese is a writer of Horror, Science Fiction & Mystery. Now that you’ve read about how she uploaded to Smashwords, complete your research and go by her stuff!

rebecca_senese

Website: http://www.RebeccaSenese.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/RebeccaSenese
LinkedIn: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/RebeccaSenese
Blog: http://RebeccaSenese.wordpress.com

Filed under: authors, DIY, ebooks, publishing, self-publishing, Useful writing links, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Writers: The short form is roaring back

Ernest Hemingway's Grave

Image by gharness via Flickr

I met The Fab Rebecca Senese (I think of her as TFRS at all times) at the Writers’ Union symposium. We went to Tims and went through that excited decompression phase. You know the one. It’s where you are packed with new information to mesh and meld with your old data and you talk fast to get it all out and solidify new, useful neuropathways.

She made an observation that really got my attention:

Amid the hubbub, TFRS said that e-books were a sure opportunity for the short form to make a strong comeback. Got a short flight or need a distraction over lunch? Read a short story or two. If you just want to gulp down a tale but don’t have time for a whole book, enjoy a novella after work.

Makes sense to me. I love short fiction. For instance, it’s a mystery to me why people say they love Ernest Hemingway‘s books, but I do like some of his short stories very much.

Short stories have been relegated to the back of the bus (read: unread literary journals.)

Until recently people have been buying books by weight, so publishers laughed at their puniness and demanded big doorstops they could sell. Length is an issue with paper, constrained as it is by the strictures of the printing press and bookstore manager’s expectations.

Novellas are ignored by many professional critics who often don’t take it seriously because they think the short punch packs less heft behind it. As if we all feel that way all the time.

A good short story takes talent to write and in some ways is a different skill set from the novel. (These critics must be those same twits who scoff at Twitter just because they can’t put together one clever coherent thought in less than 140 characters.)

Now with e-books, the answers to those objections are: Who needs publishers for that? What’s a professional critic and what is this “newspaper” thing you’re babbling about? And lit journals? What’s that? Is all this stuff available online?

Click this link to see  Rebecca Senese’s short fiction.

Please do take a look.

Filed under: authors, blogs & blogging, Books, ebooks, self-publishing, short stories, Twitter, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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