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Category: ebooks distribution

>First Shipment To Apple

>The first shipment from Smashwords to Apple has already gone out.  A lot of people had mistaken errors on their books so I expect there will be another shipment relatively soon.  It will be interesting to see what the sales will be like across the board.  I hope that at least a few of the really good Indies have a lot of success.  I’m wondering how the sales will compare to Amazon and if there will be an initial burst of purchasing or will people wait it out a little before splurging.  I’m curious to see which genre will come out on top.

Apparently this new distribution deal has made Smashwords seem more desirable to writers because they reported record numbers of books being published as well as an unprecedented amount of traffic.  I can only imagine the queues when trying to update or upload a book – Smashwords has been growing increasingly busy over the last month and now everyone has been trying to get on board in time for the first shipments to Apple. 

Sorry if this post is full of mistakes, I can barely keep my eyes open and it’s only 10am . . .

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>Updates at Smashwords

>I’ve been working on paper all day so only read the email from Smashwords a while ago.  First of all they have signed a new distribution agreement.  From the 1st of April, their premium catalog will be sent to Apple for inclusion in the iPad iBookstore.  On the 31st, we’ll have to select the option to opt in but no worries there.  They must have a unique ISBN attached.  Prices must end in .99 so if yours don’t, they will probably adjust them automatically to the nearest .99.  Get on it, if you want control of your own price.  Royalties are 60% of the list price.  The eBooks have to cost less than the print versions.  Crack-a-lacking as it should be.

Smashwords are providing ISBNs as of now.  Even if you live far, far away.  They are providing free ISBNs – the catch being that Smashwords are listed as the publisher.  This is not a problem for me right now but I know plenty of people have a problem with this.  Fear not, they also offer ISBNs for under a tenner and you can list yourself as the publisher and Smashwords as the distributor.  You can pay for this out of your future earnings, if any.  Freebies can’t use this option at the moment.  And if you already have an ISBN (a brand new one that has not been used) you can assign it to your eBook on the site.

I’ve been over there, the ISBN newness occurs immediately if you choose an option.  Also, note that these particular ISBNs are only intended for the e-pub versions of your manuscripts.  Different formats may require further ISBNs in the future.  For now, these ISBNs will ensure inclusion in the shipments to Sony and Apple.  I am pleasantly surprised by how quickly this has been settled in the end and we’re all included in the joy.  And don’t forget, an ISBN means your book is included in Books in Print.

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>Smashwords ISBNs

>I knew it wouldn’t bode well for me.  So, there is a survey in the site updates section of Smashwords asking things like do you already have e-ISBNs, what would a fair price be if Smashwords sold you an ISBN and if you would prefer for the fee to be taken out of future sales at Smashwords.  And they said they can’t provide ISBNs for people outside of the States.  And you can’t use the ISBN that was used for the print version if any.

Ebook ISBNs are going to be required to be part of the Premium Catalog at Smashwords even for free stories.  They mention that they can’t ship to Sony without them.  I was interested if there was a way Smashwords themselves could provide them but now that’s gone (for people like me) then there isn’t a lot Smashwords can do for me.  I hate when things get messy and complicated.  ISBNs are great as long as someone is buying in bulk.  I can’t exactly do that.

I see that they have to fall in line and all that but once again, I feel like I’m going to be punished for my location.  I liked that my stories, even the free ones, were in the Premium Catalog and in line to be distributed to other sellers like Barnes & Noble.  Some of my work has already been sent to Kobo (apparently) but if things are changing then will everything that has gone before be removed? 

I’m not sure if I’ll keep adding my work to Smashwords.  I’ve gotten a lot more of a response elsewhere in comparison and nowhere else requires me to have ISBNs – yet.  The main thing holding me there were the coupons, the distribution options and the lack of need for ISBNs.  Now that one is on its way down and another soon to follow, who knows what will come next.  I like change but change that I can be a part of is preferable.  I would rather change to come in the form of quality control.  I suppose Smashwords was just too good to be true, or at least to stay true for long.

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>Submitting to Amazon – Part Two

>Next step is to Confirm Content Rights.  You tick a box to say that you have a right to upload the material. On a side note, if there is any suspicion on this then Amazon will email you and ask to confirm that that you are indeed the author or you own the rights.  You need to select whether you have worldwide rights for all terrorities or individual ones.  If it is the latter, you can select each country/territory.  Click save when you’re ready.

It moves on to the next step which is to upload your book.  The format must be MS Word, HTML, or PRC format.  This should only take a few seconds.  A little message will appear saying the document was successfully converted.  You can now preview it as it would appear on a kindle.  Always do this, it shows exactly how well (or poor) the conversion and formatting has worked out. 

The final step is to set the retail price.  It cannot be lower than .99c – at least for independently published writers.  Publishing houses are able to contact Amazon and set an Ebook as free for marketing purposes.  This can be a bit of a setback for indie writers but there are other sites that allow you to set your price as free, such as Smashwords.  I should point out that anyone who purchases a kindle book outside of the U.S. has to pay an extra $2.50 or so which means even a free book will cost something.  A .99c (a bargain in the U.S.) will be $3.51 for anyone purchasing outside of the U.S.  No longer an impulse buy, this takes a chunk out of the market for Indie writers so bear this in mind when you are pricing your work.  It has a value but building up a readership is vital for a new Indie writer.

Next you save the entries and then press publish.  Amazon will inform you that your work is being processed – I forgot to copy the exact text the last time I used it – but it has to be accepted before it can be published.  This takes a few days.  If it is accepted then it will say Publishing “Your Book”.  Your content is being published.  Most titles take 24 to 36 hours to become buyable.  Apparently this is because it takes time to set up a dedicated page and all of the information that goes with it.  Once the book is available to buy, it goes live and you can either edit it or click on the link to see the official Amazon page.  Remember that any updates will take the same amount of time to become available again.

You should seriously consider creating an Amazon Author page to link up with your books.  It makes it easier for people to see information on the author.  You can add photos, a bio and even a blog feed or you can blog on the author page itself.  It’s another handy marketing tool, take advantage of it, it’s free.

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>Smashwords Premium Catalog

>Today, I noticed that my book, A Little Girl in my Room & Other Stories was accepted into Smashwords Premium Catalog. I was surprised by how quickly that happened, I had been expecting to wait for weeks and I didn’t think I would be accepted without making some changes. I had planned to list that particular book as free on Smashwords but I was under the impression it had to have a list price in order to be accepted to the Premium Catalog but I’ll have to double check that now. Take a quick look at how Smashwords distributes Ebooks for a little more information.

The Premium Catalog is basically a list of Ebooks that are sent to some major online retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sony and Kobo. The requirements seem to be based on formatting and including a correct copyright page but I’m not sure if the books are reviewed manually or not before they are accepted onto this catalog. Now, what happens to the books after they reach these retailers is another thing, it could take months to actually be listed on their site and I’m not even sure if this is guaranteed but I don’t think it hurts to be part of this especially if the buzz around Ebooks continues to grow.

If you update your book, you may have to be reviewed again to remain a part of the Premium Catalog. Likewise, if the formatting requirements are altered in any way, then books that don’t update to include these changes could be taken off this list. It’s worth keeping an eye on.

I think some people might be wary of Smashwords overall. But, personally, I’ve found it slightly more author friendly than say Amazon. The rules are clearer and the royalty rates contrast drastically in Smashwords’ favour. Of course, Smashwords doesn’t have the huge client base that Amazon boasts but I imagine that a lot of the people who self publish ebooks on Smashwords support their peers here. People who are specifically looking for cheap or free Ebooks are more likely to have success on Smashwords than Amazon.

On that note, Amazon’s policies and rules are very unclear. My book was approved for Amazon too but I updated it to contain the changes I made specifically for Smashwords. I thank Smashwords for that learning curve because a lot of their common sense formatting rules were things that I hadn’t even thought of. My book looks much better than before because they had a set list of requirements. As opposed to Amazon – I’m not even sure why my book was accepted in the first place or why the price was increased dramatically. Still, the whole process has been an interesting one and it will (hopefully) make things easier for me when it is time for a full length novel of mine to appear.

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