Thus far, Smashwords – a free epublishing and ebook distribution service – has been the ideal tool for converting ebooks to multiple ereader formats as well as creating an instant presence on the web for a newly published ebook. The service is fast and simple – provided you follow the formatting instructions provided. The formatting is truly the only heavy lift here, and the initial formatting for my first ebook (11 page short story) took me over an hour.
However, the second book took only a few minutes. I was trying to follow the instructions letter-by-letter and by doing so, created a ‘normalized’ template in MSWord that I could go back and use for follow on ebooks. The whole process of epublishing took under 5 minutes, from uploading a word doc and cover to completing the required form to waiting for the ‘meatgrinder’ to convert to multiple formats to seeing the ebook on the front page of Smashwords.com. AS LONG AS EVERYTHING IS PROPERTY FORMATTED!
We also found that – by downloading the .MOBI formatted version of my ebook created by Smashwords – we can save time by submitting that version to Amazon’s Kindle rather than try to re-format a word doc to Amazon standards. We’re going to look at advanced Amazon Kindle formatting (which allows page breaks and some other functions that aren’t recommended in Smashwords formatting) – stay tuned for a future post once we figure it out. Smashwords formats the books to PDF, web, RTF, and basically all known ereader formats: Kindle, KOBO, Sony, Palm Doc, Stanza, and iPad/Apple devices, which is awesome.
As the author, you can pick how much you want to charge for the book. We opted for free ebook listings at this point. We want to compare what the free ebook experience is like vs. the ebook with a price. I’ve published three free ebooks, and the first one has over 110 downloads in about 36 hours.
We also posted free ebooks so we could maybe create a fan club early on, or at least, offer a free sample of my work so people can decide if they’re interested in future ebooks, even those with a price. Those who like it will hopefully follow me on this site, Twitter, Facebook, and so on, as I slowly build my library during the 12-12 Challenge!