NOWHERE TO HIDE is in the chute at the various e-stores. The process isn’t immediate, so it’s not everywhere yet. Recently, Kobo has opened its “e-doors” to authors, so I’ve decided to give that a try with this book.
When you’re traditionally published, your publisher handles things like cover art (you saw the process I went through with my cover artist on this blog last week). They also deal with creating the book itself, be it print, digital, or both, and they handle distribution.
As an indie author, you have these responsibilities. You can hire out, or you can do it yourself. I’ve been in the do-it-yourself camp, and this means spending time with formatting and uploading. And, just as you can’t read a Kindle book on your NOOK, you can’t simply create a file and click ‘publish’ on these sites. Each has its own special rules.
Cover art dimensions will be different. Luckily, Dave will provide me with any size cover I need as part of his package; it’s just being sure you put the right file on the right site. Likewise, the manuscripts aren’t one-size fits all. Smashwords, for one, has specific “front matter” it requires in its books, which can serve as a template for other versions, but you don’t want them to say “Smashwords.”
One thing e-books permit is internal hyperlinks. This means that you can add links to your website, social networking sites, email, etc. to your book and readers can click on them and get there. Likewise, you can create these hot links to your other books, so if a reader enjoys your book and wants to buy more, they can do it in one click. But you don’t want a Kindle book to send someone to Barnes & Noble.
Then there are some internal formatting rules. Kindle wants page breaks between title page, copyright pages, and between chapters. They also like you to upload a “filtered html” file rather than a Word doc. (Don’t panic. When your Word doc is finished, just do a “Save As” and choose Filtered web page in the file type, and that’s all there is to it.)
Barnes and Noble use e-pub as their format. They give options of whether you upload a word doc and let them do the conversion, or you can upload a Word doc and let their software convert it. But page breaks aren’t recognized in epubs, so you have to take your manuscript with the page breaks and substitute section breaks. (For whatever reason, Word 2003 won’t allow a ‘replace’ with section breaks, so it’s a manual process.) If you want to submit the book as an epub file, Calibre is a free program that will convert the file. You start with the filtered html format and follow some simple directions, and you end up with an epub.
Smashwords takes only Word docs, but its “Meatgrinder” doesn’t like section breaks at all, and suggests using extra paragraph returns between sections and chapters. It allows page breaks, but doesn’t guarantee that they’ll translate properly in all formats, so they also suggest that you add a couple of paragraph returns on either side to keep things from running together.
All Romance eBooks doesn’t do any file conversion, so I have to do those on my own. Again, most are easy: Word lets you create a PDF (it’s in the “print” command, though, not the “Save As”), html, and rtf. The others I can do with Calibre, although I don’t do all of them.
Fortunately, most of these sites have instructions. The very best is the Smashwords style guide. If you follow it, your manuscript should translate well. Just remember that if you’re going to be uploading to all these bookstores, you’ll end up with many versions of your book file. I keep a “Master File” which is the book itself, the acknowledgments, “about the author”, links to my website, blog, email, etc. Then I can add the requisite front matter to each file, along with links to my author page at that particular store, as well as a list of my other books with links, as appropriate. (Since I use Smashwords to distribute my books to Apple, Sony, etc., I don’t link specific titles in that version, since someone buying from Apple won’t want a link to Smashwords.)
I’ll end up with lots of files, but I managed to get it all done over the weekend, so it’s not really that time consuming. (Plus, I’ve got hamstring tendinitis in my right knee, so I’m supposed to be off my feet anyway.) However, unlike traditional publishing, you can’t really schedule a “release date.” Some sites upload very quickly; others take longer for who knows what reason.
As I write this, NOWHERE TO HIDE has been uploaded to Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and All Romance e-books. At All Romance e-books, I’m discounting it 50% for one week.There’s also a shortcut to all the e-stores at Backlist eBooks. I’m waiting for it to show up at Kobo and Amazon. For more about the book, check my website.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society