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Doing It Write Now Posts

>New Story

>I added a new short story to A Little Girl In My Room & Other Stories on Smashwords. I’m not sure if it shows up in the sample but the code for a free copy during March is EF96D if you would like to read it.

I’m procrastinating…I’m pretty sure I’m only writing short stories this week to avoid working on my novel. I hate editing something I’ve written.

*sigh*

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>Info Dumps

>Yesterday was pretty interesting. It was a bit of a blah, I don’t wanna do a thing sort of day but I discovered some new things rather serendipitously. That’s always nice. And all I’m going to say on the indie vs. trad argument today is, some writers write for the readers. Make of that what you will. We all have a different agenda and endgame and one size does not fit all. Hush, puppy.

Moving on. Contrary to popular belief, not everything I write is dark and black and screwed up. Maybe a little screwed up… But I actually write a lot of super soft nice things, some of which are even suitable for children. Pinky swear. In fact, I mostly write Y/A novels. And just about everything full length is dipped in fantasy.

I know short stories aren’t that popular. (By the way, I read a fantastic one yesterday and am now jealous I hadn’t thought of it – must find it again and link). I don’t even write short stories that often because I can’t force myself to. I can make myself write a novel, funnily enough. But short stories are just out of my reach. Every now and then I get an idea and go with it but who knows how long it will take for the next idea to come.

Yesterday, I got stuck into a wee sci-fi tale but I’m still not sure if the first couple of paragraphs amount to info dumps or not. I should really post it here to force myself to look at it again but it’s hiding away in one of my folders, pretending it isn’t there. I have a love/hate relationship with the short ones (and I’m massively in awe of good flash fiction writers) – they are harder to construct, harder to balance, harder to end in a satisfying way, more of a challenge. I like to be vague, I like things to be open to interpretation but of course, most people aren’t like me. I like to be bothered by the ending for days afterwards, it’s an affliction really. Needing to dwell on things.

So here I am. Dwelling. On info dumps vs. necessary back story. I know this post has turned into a bit of an info dump but I’ve come to the conclusion that I am blind when it comes to my own words.

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>Submitting to Smashwords – Part Three

>I’m going to assume that you are happy with your book. (As happy as a writer can be about their own work). That it’s been edited a million times, spellchecked and meets the standard you want to put your name to. You’ve formatted it according to the Style Guide and now that it’s practically perfect, you want to upload it to Smashwords.

Log in to Smashwords, click the Publish tab and a form will appear. The first section includes the Title, Synopsis, Language and Adult Content option. Pick a relevant yet catchy title. Clunky titles with no thought don’t appeal. All of this information can be updated so don’t panic if you think of a better name later. Select the correct language and tick the relevant option on adult content.

The Synopsis is a huge deal. Aside from the cover image and the title, the synopsis is the one that will entice readers. A well-written synopsis could encourage readers to download a sample of your book or better yet, buy a copy. The synopsis is also the part that can repulse a reader so work hard on this one. It should be relatively concise and intriguing – don’t give too much information away but lead the reader to the best points in your story. Make them want to read more. This is the bit that fails the most when I am looking for a new book to read. There are quite a few poor efforts on Smashwords (like I can talk) that are doing a disservice to good writers who just don’t have a clue what a synopsis should be. It has to be well written and engaging because it’s technically a quick sample of your writing. If it’s boring, readers will assume that the same goes for your whole book – be aware and be careful!

The next section is pricing and sampling. You have three options in pricing. Either make the book free, allow your readers to determine a price or set it at a price you are comfortable with. You have to set a price to be considered for the Premium Catalog, as far as I know. But you can generate coupons with 25%, 50% or even 100% off. These coupons have time limits and you can see which coupons, if any, each sale used.

Sampling is a difficult one. You don’t have to enable it but I personally think it is worthwhile. I wouldn’t risk spending money on an unknown writer if I hadn’t read a sample of their work first. You can set it to a certain percentage and this is where a lot of writers differ in opinion. You have to give the reader a good taster of your work but when is it too much? If you have a novel, could a long sample give too much away? Or, could it be that the reader is so close to the end that they make a purchase because they are desperate to know what happens next? That’s up to you to decide.

The next two sections are categories and tags. You can choose up to two different categories, including the sub-sections. If your book teeters on the edge of genres then you can include both. Handy. The tags are there to help people search for relevant material. Think about what you would search for if you were looking for a book like yours. The tags are very useful and probably undervalued by some people. There are a lot of books on Smashwords, give yours the best chance possible at being discovered.

The next section gives you the option of selecting various different formats to convert your book into. The more you choose, the more options your reader has. Choice is always a good thing. The more versions there are available of your book, the wider the potential audience could be.

The final sections are the cover image, the book file and the publishing agreement. The cover image is optional but you want to catch the eye of people searching for books. Manuscripts can be uploaded by word document or rich text file. If you update your manuscript at a later date, people who have already downloaded it will still have access to the old version. By clicking publish you are automatically agreeing to Smashword’s publishing agreement. Clicking publish takes a few moments because of the time it takes for the file to convert. Providing you followed the style guide, there will be no need for further adjustments.

That’s it. Your book is now online at Smashwords and available for sale.

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>Submitting to Smashwords – Part Two

>One of the most important parts of formatting your book to prepare it for Smashwords seems to be the copyright page. It’s mentioned in the guides a number of times. Books won’t be accepted into the Premium Catalog without one. It’s important to claim your work as your own and also make clear what your policy is regarding sharing and/or distribution of your work.

You can place your copyright information on your title page or you can dedicate a page for this alone. I personally prefer to flick through as few pages as possible before reaching the beginning of the story itself so I like when this all fits on the one page together. I also dislike images in Ebooks so avoid these also. If you are going to create an Ebook then I would advise you to read a couple – it won’t take long before you see what kinds of things could be irritating to a reader.

The copyright section – which looks better if centred – should contain something like “Published by (author name/publisher name) at Smashwords” or alternatively, “Smashwords Edition.” You can say something like also published on Kindle (or wherever) but you should always name that particular copy as published on Smashwords. You are allowed to mention if it is published in print.

Some people like to link to some other books they have published on Smashwords, to their author page, their website or their blog. A lot of people seem to put this on their copyright page. Others show this information at the end of the book. If people enjoy your story then they may be keen to read more of your work so it is a good idea to give them some kind of contact information. Obviously, Smashwords aren’t keen on people linking to their competitors.

If you aren’t sure how to hyperlink to other web pages in your document, this is how I did it. I copied the website address, typed the title of it into the document (for example, my blog) then highlighted this title, right clicked and selected hyperlink then pasted the web address into the space provided. It looks much nicer and more professional than using a full web address.

Now you need to add a license statement to your copyright page. Smashwords books are DRM free so they have no copy protection or encryption. DRM can be a pain for purchasers but without it, you’ll have to trust people not to pirate your work. Adding a license statement is a bit of hint to prevent accidental piracy. There are two statement examples in the style guide, one for authors who don’t want people to share their work and another for those who are open to people sharing the book with their friends. You can use either of these statements or adjust one of them to make it personal.

Follow the style guide as much as possible, there is so much information (as well as examples) that formatting your book for submission won’t be as complicated as it may sound.

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>Code for Free Ebook

>Smashwords are having some technical difficulties with the 100% off promotion code for Read an Ebook Week. While they are working on it, I’ve generated an additional code that can be used to purchase A Little Girl in my Room & Other Stories for free.

Type EF96D into the space provided before checking out and this Ebook will be free.

If there are any other books you would like to download for free but are having trouble with, just give it a few hours or try again tomorrow. I’m sure the issue will be sorted asap.

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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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>Read an Ebook Week

>Today is the first day of Read an Ebook Week. To celebrate, a promotion is now running on Smashwords. Lots of books are at a discount or completely free (like mine) so make the most of it and get downloading. Check out the 100% free books on Smashwords and see what you think.

A Little Girl in My Room & Other Stories is just one of many books that are free this week. Take advantage of the special offers and stock up on some ebooks this week. And if you find a new great read then please share!

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>Submitting to Smashwords – Part One

>I decided that the best way to learn about the process of self publishing an ebook was to take part. I threw together a small collection of short stories to use as my first “experiment” and decided to upload it to both the Amazon Digital Text Platform and Smashwords. As the Amazon one takes a few days to be accepted or rejected, I’ll focus on Smashwords today. This post is pretty general but I’ll be going more in-depth in certain areas with later posts.

First things first, I made an account at Smashwords then clicked on Publish in the tab list. (I also checked out their terms and conditions and various other bits of information but more on that some other time). You can fill in all of the information straight away and upload but you are advised to check out the Smashwords Style Guide. This is very useful and although the information seemed daunting at first – purely because there is so much of it – it is very readable and clear. It is designed to avoid poorly formatted books on the Smashwords site.

The book advises you to try and format your document yourself but if you’re unable to, they provide lists of people who will do it for cheap as well as a more expensive option. I don’t think you should pay for this at all – it is so easy to do once you take it a step at a time. It might be a little time consuming the first time but you might as well learn what is involved for future reference.

Moving on to the actual formatting. The Smashwords Style Guide lists the six most common formatting mistakes. They include improper indenting, too many paragraph spaces, overly large fonts, multiple paragraph styles and a complete lack of paragraph spacing. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with any of these but I know that other people like to have their writing laid out in certain ways. This doesn’t always work for a document that is about to be converted into numerous different files. It has to remain readable for each mode so plain and simple is the way to go here.

Some of the common mistakes that cause a book to be rejected from the Premium Catalog involve the Index/Contents page and the Copyright page. Basically, you can’t show page numbers on the Index because page numbers completely change when the document you upload is converted. You also can’t include page numbers or headers and footers in your document. The copyright page has to include certain information but they give you samples to use – it isn’t hard and it takes minutes to make these adjustments. It’s worth taking the time to do it right.

There is a lot of good information in the Style Guide. It devotes some pages to the limitations of their conversion methods. For example, charts and tables are unreliable and may not appear as intended. Moving on to the book cover reveals that it cannot be square shaped but it is recommended to upload one. They offer to send you a list of people who will create a cover for a low amount but they also recommend a free picture editing program to try out. I used this – it was very easy to change the royalty free image I used, to add text and to change the size to the Smashwords requirements.

Next time I’ll concentrate on the copyright page and linking to your blog/other work/Smashwords author profile within your book.

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>Free Book Promotion at Smashwords

>From the 7th of March for one week only, my collection of short stories will be available for free at Smashwords! At the checkout stage, simply type in the promotion code RFREE and get the whole book for free.

The collection is a group of grim, grisly and supernatural tales. Download a free sample now or wait until the 7th to download A Little Girl In My Room & Other Stories for free.

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