ePublishing Step Two: Look before you leap


So … have you purchased my short story yet? It’s only $.99, and you’ll laugh a lot because it’s based on a true story.

Can't Take My Eyes Off You by A.C. WilliamsFor Amazon Kindle Can't Take My Eyes Off You by A.C. WilliamsFor Other eReaders
(on Smashwords)

I decided to try my hand at ePublishing this fun little short story (7,000 words). It’s goofy and heart warming, and I thought it would provide the perfect learning opportunity for me to figure out how the world eBooks functions.

I am among the ranks of Kindle owners, and I love reading books that way. Granted, I still love actual physical books too, but I’m old school.

Last week, I posted about the first step to ePublishing, which is making sure you have a story worth telling. Because you can format your Word document all you want, and if your story isn’t any good, nobody will care. And if it’s full of typos, people will think you’re an amateur (and even if you are, there’s no reason to give people a reason to think it).

This week, I want to talk about the next step

 

The second step to ePublishing: Look before you leap

A lot of unexpected things will come at you the moment you decide to ePublish, but a vast majority of them don’t have to be unexpected if you prepare yourself for them ahead of time. Most ePublishers have detailed examples of what they need from you, what they expect you to do, how they expect you to format your work, etc. etc. etc. It’s all usually in plain sight on their web page.

But we creative types, when we are seized by the moment, we just want to get it done! Right?

Don’t. Squelch the urge to blast past the fine print, and read it!

Smashwords has a phenomenal style guide that tells you (in detail) exactly what you need to do in order to be listed in their premium catalog. We’re talking step-by-step instructions, here, on how to format your document and get it ready for their platform. This is vital information! Don’t skip over it because it’s everything you need to be able to market yourself on Smashwords.

Amazon is no less specific, but they actually ask you follow a lot of the same formatting guides. Cover images are slightly different sizes, but everything else is pretty much the same. If you upload a Word document, you’ve got to make sure that you remove all tabs and strange characters and so on and so forth.

And take your time with it!

If you rush through it and miss things, you’ll have to go back and do it all over again. It’s the same concept as proof reading. If you don’t do it right, you’ll come off looking like an amateur. And even if you are an amateur, you don’t want to give people a reason to think that you are.

Both Smashwords and Amazon offer lots of information on marketing and other user forums to help you know how to market and where to market. This is also important information. Why? Because if you don’t help yourself stand out, you’ll get lost in the flood of other eBooks that are overloading the market.

I have!

Which is why I’m putting another plug for my eBook right here!

Can't Take My Eyes Off You by A.C. WilliamsFor Amazon Kindle Can't Take My Eyes Off You by A.C. WilliamsFor Other eReaders
(on Smashwords)

Another reason for ePublishing was seeing how much marketing I was actually going to have to do, and I can tell you right now, what I have done isn’t enough. My hope was to build enough momentum in word of mouth that it would spark some interest … but that didn’t happen. Or at least, it hasn’t happened yet.

So don’t miss the opportunity to learn about all the different types of marketing and promoting you can do. Don’t overlook the resources that Smashwords and Amazon provide!

But remember: it’s not up to Amazon or Smashwords to promote your work. That’s your job.

And talk to people who have ePublished (successfully). Talk to people about how much effort it takes, about how much upkeep it requires, about how much time you have to sacrifice. I will admit, getting my 7,000 words formatted correctly was more tedious than I was expecting. If I had been trying to do a 90,000 word novel, I probably would have poked my own eyeballs out. What’s nice is that Smashwords also talks about some services you can pay to format your manuscript for you! If I ever attempt a manuscript longer than 15,000 words, I’ll probably hire someone.

So do your research. Know as much as you can about what you’re getting yourself into before you jump into ePublishing. No, you can’t be prepared for everything, but you can at least have a concept of what is expected of you (and what you can expect from your ePublisher) before you invest a ton of time.

Next time: Get creative … within reason


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