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So, I have been reading all sorts of primers in anticipation for formatting my book.  I never imagined there would be so many nuances to publishing.  For example:  Do not use the tab key.  Single space after a sentence.  Do not go above 14 pt. in font size.  I am SO glad I know about these tips before hand because I violate ALL of them.  LOL! 

Just curious, what advice or tips do you offer to someone just learning the technique?
 

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Pfft, I still double-space after sentences.  I prefer the appearance.

My tip?  When you first format your file, do so with an RTF file.

That RTF file can be produce the Smashwords file with a simple "Save As".

It can be imported into Calibre and converted there to produce the Amazon file.

Moreover, Calibre can convert an RTF file into EPUB and other formats you'll need for other vendors.
 

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My advice is stay away from Smashwords and don't try to publish there since it is difficult.

Instead use Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, which is a lot easier.
 

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Carradee, are you saying that you submit an rtf file to Smashwords instead of of a doc file and it goes through their checking system better?
 

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The most important consideration is preparedness.  Are you truly ready to publish?  When your book is published, will it meet every quality standard of a major traditional publishing house?  Does your writing indicate on every page a full command of basic English grammar, spelling, word usage, punctuation usage, and syntax?  Has the book been meticulously proofread and professionally edited?  If you are writing fiction, do you have the proper mix of dialogue and narrative?  Has your story been critiqued, not by family or friends, but by honest, independent critiquers?  Has the book as a whole been beta read or reviewed, again by honest, independent readers?

I can churn out a novel in less than 30 days.  I wrote my first novel, "Trinity," in just over three weeks.  At 328,000 words, I thought it was a masterpiece.  After having it critiqued a few times, I realised it was unreadable.  It took five years to beat that novel into something people could tolerate.  It will take a few months more to render it suitable for publication.  I generally spend about a month writing and another five or six months editing, seeking critiques, and soliciting input from readers for final edits.

Writing and publishing are the least difficult parts of a long process.  It's all the stuff in between that requires the highest level of effort.
 

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Franklin Eddy said:
My advice is stay away from Smashwords and don't try to publish there since it is difficult.

Instead use Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, which is a lot easier.
Do you want to do what's easier for you of best for the readers? As an international buyer I always prefer Smashwords and rarely buy anything from Amazon. The reason for this is, that Amazon charges international eBook buyers way more than they do others. For example, for a 99 cent book I'd have to pay $3.44. The extra goes into Amazon's pockets, not the author's. Doesn't really seem fair now does it? And why wouldn't you want to use Smashwords even if it takes a bit more for you to learn to do it properly? Don't they give you more in royalties? I realise Amazon is where your main sells are, but still, think a bit of the international readers also and don't dismiss Smashwords just because you don't want to learn something that seems a bit trickier for you.
 

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I agree with Franklin. Smashwords is way too picky and the number of subsequent sales not even worth the hassle. Although, to be honest it's not that hard to publish on Smashwords. Just remember what everyone else said on here (86 all tabs/spaces/returns/large fonts/characters who sigh too much, etc...) and put your book into a '97-2003 Word doc. Smash won't accept a docx/HTML. The thing is pickier than my ex-girlgriend.

But concentrating on the US & UK Kindle and Nook is where the majority of your sales will come from.
 

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Make sure you actually download a copy and read it on your own kindle.

(Sounds like silly advice, I know -- but you'd be astonished by the number of times I forgot to do this and got bit by it.  Never, never, never trust the auto-formatters to do their job.)
 

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Advice to a newbie re: formatting? Double check EVERYTHING. if you have the capability, view your ebook on every format it can be published to. For example, if you're publishing to Amazon's KDP, get ahold of a Kindle, an iPhone/iPad/both, the PC version of Kindle etc and look at the file on all of them. Same with Nook. Be sure your indents, any hard-returns and other formatting issues are dealt with on all versions before pressing "Publish". I have no experience with Smashwords so can't help you there.
 

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Pay a professional to edit your book. My book passed through the hands of several friends, early readers and family members. They all caught a ton of errors, and I caught even more in the early stages of my book's release. Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of it. Amazon readers (over the next few months) kept reminding me (via reviews) that the book was still full of errors. Impossible! One reader volunteered to re-read and keep track...he forwarded a list of 82 errors, all missed by the previous proofers. I finally took the plunge and paid a professional editor (one that does this for a living) and she cleaned it up. Yes, there were still plenty of errors. 159K words is a lot of opportunity for mistakes. Do yourself a favor, and have the book professionally edited. It will be one less thing to worry about before your novel's debut.

How Pearson Moore wrote 328K in 30 days is amazing (earlier post in this thread)...however, it took him 5 more years to fix the manuscript. 10K words a day? Amazing.  
 

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Sean Thomas Fisher said:
I agree with Franklin. Smashwords is way too picky and the number of subsequent sales not even worth the hassle. Although, to be honest it's not that hard to publish on Smashwords. Just remember what everyone else said on here (86 all tabs/spaces/returns/large fonts/characters who sigh too much, etc...) and put your book into a '97-2003 Word doc. Smash won't accept a docx/HTML. The thing is pickier than my ex-girlgriend.

But concentrating on the US & UK Kindle and Nook is where the majority of your sales will come from.
You're talking about one book. Once you get it through Smashwords, Smashwords can distribute it to Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple, and other platforms. Don't you think it's worth the trouble to figure out how to do get it up on Smashwords? We're not talking a 40 hour task or anything like that. And once it's up, it should stay up for months and months, maybe years and years.
 

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Franklin Eddy said:
My advice is stay away from Smashwords and don't try to publish there since it is difficult.
swolf said:
My best tip is for newbies to ignore this advice.
Best advice ever... Seriously ignore the advice about ignoring Smashwords, doing this you are closing the door on 6 (7 if you count Smashwords itself) fairly hassle free distribution points. All for the sake of ten minutes of following a style guide that will actually helps make your book more readable anyway. Then just take your reformatted file and put it up on KDP and Pubit.
Arigato,
Nick Davis
 

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Franklin Eddy said:
My advice is stay away from Smashwords and don't try to publish there since it is difficult.

Instead use Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, which is a lot easier.
By this logic, you could also say: "Life is difficult, don't do it."

Use both and cherish the experience that will hopefully last the rest of your life. It's going to be a long haul with lots of ups and downs.

Other than that, my advice is to write more and enjoy the adventures in the words. :)
 

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I found the Smashwords style guide helpful and it took me about 10 minutes a file to convert all my kindle books to Smashwords format and they all got into the premium catalogue on the first go.

The most important thing is to remove all the tabs and set the paragraph indent using the word paragraph formatting option.

As a UK author it makes it easy to get onto the Nook and iBooks (I noticed I now have 6 books in the ibook store as of this evening).

As people have said, ignoring distribution channels is silly when it is straightforward to get the formatting right and then you get it wrong Smashwords tells you what to change...

Mike
 

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I don't have just one tip, I have several:

1. make sure your book sparkles. Ahem, I inadvertently had a bit of trouble with this recently. It can lead to a lot of trouble. So make sure you use a reputable editor and perhaps reread your edited work. Just a suggestion.

2. Stay away from reviews. All of them. Don't read them and be very, very careful writing them. It didn't take me very long to realize how quick reviews can lead to trouble. Reading them can kill your passion for writing and writing them can put you in a weird position because people may then either:
 a. start e-mailing you to solicit reviews--hey, you wrote so-and-so one, why not me, too?
 b. if you give anything less than a glowing 5, some, not all, but some, people think you're a jealous author trying to hurt someone else's book sales--this ends badly. On the flip side...
 c. if you ONLY give good reviews, people either discredit you or gripe because you only give good reviews--there really is no winning in this situation

3. Another thing on reviews NEVER, EVER respond to one. If you do, you lose. Don't thank people for them, don't ask them to elaborate, don't defend yourself, don't ask their advice, just DON'T go there. (And don't ask a friend to do it for you, either.) If you comment by a review, you lose all credibility. Just let it be. If another reader jumps to your defense, great. But don't you dare do it.

Other than that, find your niche and try out every different marketing tool available to you to reach them. Facebook, twitter, blogging, guest blogging, ads, whatever it takes.

Best of luck.
 

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Steven's advice is sound, IMO.  A professional editor is necessary, not only for the inevitable typos, but for the correction of basic errors in grammar and sentence structure and so on.

And, yes, Steven, I really did pound out 328,000 words in about 23 days--about 15,000 words per day.  But I had been dreaming about the story for five years--I had the thing in my mind.  It was an expository mess, and completely unreadable.  The CIA could have used it to make the most hardened terrorist confess ("No!  Don't read another page to me!  Anything but that!  Pull out my fingernails!  Attach electrodes to my privates!  Anything but another page of that horrible novel!").  It's easy to pound out something no one will read, quite another to write something people enjoy reading.  The best I've done lately is about 7000 words in a day.  My 7000-word essay on Bran Stark (Game of Thrones), for example, got done in a marathon session from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.  A typical day is 2700 words.
 

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Don't ignore Smashwords. You probably won't get many (if any) direct sales, but once you get into the premium catalog (and yes, it will take a few weeks) and get shipped to the third-party sites, you may make some decent money through the distribution to Apple, Kobo, Sony, Diesel. Many readers buy from these sites, and don't want (and WON'T) buy from Amazon.

So while your biggest single audience is likely to be Amazon (although it's B&N for some authors), if you ignore these other sites, you'll miss out on money and readers.

Besides, Smashwords makes it really eays to send out review copies for free. Simply generate a 100% off coupon. Voila. Done. It doesn't cost you anything (as opposed to Kindle gifting, where you must buy your own book).

As for advice, do not publish until your book has been edited, either by a professional or through significant rounds of critiquing and a proofer. Do not assume you can do it on your own.
 

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I get a kick out of those authors that take pride in being able to get a book on Smashwords.  I take pride in it myself since I have one there.  I just don't think it is worthwhile for a newbie to worry about doing something that difficult.  The time would be better spent writing a new short story or novel or proofreading one in preparation for publishing.

I might change my mind if I heard authors saying that they were getting rich from Smashwords, but they seem to be saying the opposite.

So my advice for newbies is still the same.  Put your effort in something worthwhile and stay away from Smashwords since it will be frustrating and time consuming.
 

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Franklin Eddy said:
I get a kick out of those authors that take pride in being able to get a book on Smashwords. I take pride in it myself since I have one there. I just don't think it is worthwhile for a newbie to worry about doing something that difficult. The time would be better spent writing a new short story or novel or proofreading one in preparation for publishing.

I might change my mind if I heard authors saying that they were getting rich from Smashwords, but they seem to be saying the opposite.

So my advice for newbies is still the same. Put your effort in something worthwhile and stay away from Smashwords since it will be frustrating and time consuming.
I'm sorry, but I disagree.

I actually know someone who HAS made more from SW and their channels than Amazon. It did take them a little over a year to do it because of all the time it takes for the books to be sent out and for the reporting/payments to SW, but in August they can already expect a check for 35,000 (and they've already been paid 40K from the two checks they received in Jan and April). This 35K that's already waiting for them is just based on what has already been paid to SW by their channels, not including what has been reported, but not paid. Also, this person has strictly .99 books, that by the time those distributors and SW take their cut, the profit back to this author is roughly 50cents/book. So, selling 70K books ($35K profit worth) in a three month span is nothing to sneeze at. The thing about SW and their channels is it takes time. It really does. That's why I think it's important to get things going at SW ASAP because it takes longer to see anything from them so the sooner you get started the sooner you'll see money.

Also, an idea for a way to drive traffic to your books in the stores that SW distributes to is to make a direct link to that book from your website. As someone else said, some people just won't buy from Amazon, so if you make it easy for them to find your book at the place they'd prefer to buy, the more likely they'll be to buy it.
 
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