Self publishing: Sending your baby out into the world, pt. 3
Aug 07, 2013 | 1319 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Paul Gonzales

Bee-Picayune staff

BEEVILLE – Choosing a self-publishing site depends on what you’re looking for as I mentioned in part 2 on March 16.

It’s been a while, but now we’re here at the end, so no complaining.

The easiest of them all is However, there’s no way to order hard copies of your new novel or short story/poetry collection, but the eBook will be available in a variety of formats just by uploading it to one website, which makes it that much more appealing. And it’s free.

Remember, eBooks are digital versions of your book that can be read on portable devices such as iPads, iPhones, Kindles and nearly all other tablets and smart phones.

Having finally finished and uploaded the short story collection Spooky Love, it turned out to be a breeze, albeit a little time consuming, so set aside a few hours to get it knocked out and let the world read your words.

Let’s begin, shall we?

After you create a Smashwords account, which is free, you’re ready to begin.

First things first; make sure it’s all together in one Word .doc file, that it’s spell checked and your cover is ready to go in .jpg format. The pixel size for the cover image on Smashwords needs be at least 1,400 pixels wide with a height greater than width.

Formatting it is different for every site, but, luckily, has a helpful style guide available on the site for free. You need to follow all the directions to ensure your publication looks good on all devices.

The style guide isn’t terribly long and is a real a lifesaver. Scroll through it with your document open and make all the recommended changes as you go. It’s not complicated and is written for non-computer literate people, too, which makes it easy to follow.

At the end of it all, your document will not look like a book you pick up off the shelf at your local bookstore, but that’s OK. It needs to be converted easily so everything will look simple.

Once you format it according to the guide, it gets sent out to all digital sites including Sony, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and more and is also available for libraries to buy and lend out. It’s also available at almost immediately if it’s formatted correctly. If it’s not, you’ll receive notices on the site and an email, and you simply make the recommended changes and “upload new version.”

Uploading the next great American novel

Once you begin the uploading process, you can set the price or give it away for free. You can also set up a pre-order if you want to build some buzz. Just remember, the cheaper you make it, the more people are likely to take a chance on you and maybe boost your ranking on the top 10 or top 20 listings on all the sites.

You also want to get a short description ready that can be anywhere from a sentence to a small paragraph under 400 words and a long description of 4,000 words or fewer. During the uploading process, they ask you for the two descriptions.

Make sure to give a percentage of the book which will be available for preview. The default is 20% which is fine for a novel but maybe that’s an entire length of a short story in a collection, so adjust accordingly.

Also, already have in mind what genre and subgenres your book falls under. You get a primary and a secondary category so your readers can find you easily.

Then you upload your cover .jpg and your .doc file and click on the publishing agreement, and you’re all done.


Once you’ve uploaded your masterpiece, click on the ‘Dashboard’ link on the top menu and click the ‘ISBN Manager’ link. ISBN numbers contain all the metadata attached to your book, such as your title, your price, your author name and much more.

You can purchase your own ISBN number, but why do that when Smashwords gives you one for free? Simply click on the free ISBN link, and you’re set.

If all goes well, your book should pop up once you click the ‘My Smashwords’ link as well as the front page of the site, where you’ll notice people starting to check out your preview.

Within minutes of uploading my short story collection, four people had already began reading the preview.

Another great benefit of the site is the coupon generator. You can create coupon codes that can reduce the price of your book for a predetermined time or forever and give it out to your friends and family.

Or if you’re running low on holiday funds, give them a code that let’s them download your publication for free. Your book would make an excellent gift, right?

Now, it takes a while for all the formatting to be complete on the other platform sites such as iTunes, Sony and Barnes & Noble, but, as mentioned before, it is pretty much instantly available on Smashwords, so start getting the word out.


Here’s something that most people don’t think about beforehand. How are people going to find your book?

Thanks to social media sites like Facebook, you can easily let all your friends now about your book and even send them all coupon codes to get it at a discount. And up to this point, everything is still free.

But what if you want to reach a broader audience?

Advertise. And most times that’s not free.

The first thing I would recommend is placing ads in any local publication; newspaper, magazine, travel brochure, etc.

Then possibly make some flyers and pass them out at local events or, even though it’s frowned upon, and I wouldn’t really recommend it, place them on car windshields at your local supermarkets or restaurants. Find the nearest bookstore and ask to leave some flyers or posters there. Make a YouTube video trailer or get on the radio.

Be creative.

Advertising is the most expensive part of any publication, so make it count and stretch that dollar. And if your book is good enough, word of mouth will be your best friend, and before you know it you may be an eBook bestseller and maybe one day even a movie seller as well – you never know.

You’ll only go as far as you’re willing to push yourself, and soon you’re going to realize that marketing your book is where all the work comes in.

But look at it this way, you’re finally a published author with a book to promote, so hit the pavement and let people know about it.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King, On Writing
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