Restless Spirits is my first guinea pig in this whole self-publishing experiment, so I thought I’d share some of the things I learned about the process.
- Formatting is easy and relatively painless. Smashwords has an excellent style guide, and after I prepared my manuscript according to their instructions, I only had to make a few very minor tweaks to get it ready for the Kindle.
- Publishing is also easy and painless. With Smashwords, you just upload your Word doc and they generate the various formats in under five minutes. They also distribute it to the Apple iStore, Barnes & Noble and other e-book retailers who aren’t Amazon, so that’s handy. For Amazon, which you have to publish to separately, you have to download and install Mobipocket Creator and use it to turn your HTML Word file into an EPUB file, but the software is free and the extra step only takes a few minutes.
- Don’t use Google Chrome when uploading your book to Amazon. I don’t know for certain whether this is just a coincidence, but I was using Chrome last night when I kept running into "Unknown error" messages every time I tried to upload my book. Today it occurred to me to try a different browser, so I uploaded it through Firefox and it worked fine. Which brings me to…
- Amazon is a little slow to process your book. I uploaded it about twenty minutes ago and was told that it takes a day or three to finish processing and become available for purchase.
- None of this cost me a dime. Of course, it helps to have a background in both graphic design and copy editing (as well as sharp-eyed beta readers), so I didn’t need to hire anybody to help me in those areas. I enjoy designing covers, and I enjoy editing when I haven’t looked at a story so many times it makes me go blind. They are time consuming, though, so maybe in the future, if this venture is successful, I’ll outsource those tasks, although it’s more likely that as I get better at it I’ll be trying to get people to outsource those tasks to ME. For now, though, this is a total DIY effort, and it’s comforting to know that if the book doesn’t sell, I won’t have lost any money on it.
- Nothing is set in stone. Unlike print books, with e-books, if you see something you’d like to change you can go ahead and change it. Which is good, because I just discovered that I misspelled my niece-in-law’s last name in the acknowledgments. Speaking of which, I’m posting them here so that those who have already read the book and given feedback won’t have to buy a copy to see what I wrote about them. And if you offered feedback to one of the older incarnations of this book and I left you out, first, I’m so sorry, and second, let me know and I’ll be sure to add you. Ditto if I botched your name.
A book never gets to the finish line on its own. Thank you to Erin Palette, Stevie Puckett, Angela Garniss, Julie Pavey, Jamie J. aka themournfulduck, Helen Gialidakis and anyone else I might have lost track of who has provided invaluable feedback since I first drafted this novella three years ago. Big thanks are also owed my BFF, Tessy Smith, for being my biggest cheerleader and favorite reader. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to David Michael for inspiring me to try my hand at e-publishing in the first place. And of course to Matt, for putting up with my writerly quirks, for endless encouragement, and for showing me the kind of love that transcends this mortal coil: there is not enough gratitude in the world.