So you’ve heard about how eBooks are making a splash and you’re wondering how you can publish your manuscript as an eBook. I’ll briefly outline the steps most indie authors use today. This procedure assumes that you’ll publish your eBook at Smashwords.
- Have your manuscript professionally edited and/or have a couple of beta readers give you feedback and revise accordingly.
- If your manuscript is a Word file (.doc), great. If not, you’ll need to convert it to a Word file. Use your favourite search engine to figure out how to convert your file format to a Word file. It could be as easy as loading whatever you have into OpenOffice and saving it as a .doc file.
- Once you have a Word file, head over to Smashwords and download its style guide. Make a copy of your Word file. Format the copy by carefully following the instructions in the style guide.
- Sign up for a Smashwords account.
- Set up a new title, upload your file, and let meatgrinder do its thing. Once it’s finished, you should have your work in PDF, ePub, and MOBI/Kindle formats. You’ll have other formats too, but the former three are the most important. Don’t publish your eBook on Smashwords just yet.
At this point, you’ll have to decide where you want to sell your work. For the typical indie author with only one or a handful of titles, there are two popular options.
Sell through Smashwords and its premium catalog
Smashwords has distribution agreements with Amazon, Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. If you publish your work to Smashwords, and your eBook is approved for the premium catalog because you followed the instructions in the style guide, then your eBook will eventually appear on all the major eBook retailer sites. If you’re happy to let Smashwords distribute your eBooks for you, sign into Smashwords and publish your book. Opt-in to whatever distribution channels you want to use. You’re done.
Sell through Smashwords, but don’t use some distribution channels
You don’t need Smashwords to publish to some of the major online venues. Amazon, Apple, and Kobo all accept eBooks from self-publishers. Some authors use Smashwords to reach Sony and Barnes & Noble, but opt out of the other distribution channels. You can also pick and choose. For example, you can opt out of Amazon distribution but use Smashwords for everywhere else.
I’m not going to explain how to publish to the individual venues. Visit the sites, read the instructions, read the forums, and then decide whether you’d rather use Smashwords or publish directly yourself.
Kindle uses the MOBI format; Kobo and Apple use the ePub format. If you converted your file at Smashwords, you’ll have your eBook in all these formats, but do not upload them to other venues. Doing so would violate Smashwords’ terms of service. There are companies that will convert your Word document for you (for a fee, of course!), or you can check out one of the many conversion tools that are springing up.
Before you opt out of a distribution channel, make sure you won’t have a problem dealing with a vendor directly. Apple accepts eBooks from self-publishers, but you need a Mac to use their publishing interface.
One other thing…
Barnes and Noble is supposed to be opening up its eBook doors to self-publishers this summer, but unfortunately it will require an American bank account. Good news for American authors. For the rest of us, go Smashwords! More info: B&N’s PubIt.
Now go forth and publish!