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Author Topic: epub experience
micmcd
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It was requested in my publication announcement, but i thought this belonged in writing discussions - I wrote up a blog post in the immediate aftermath of going through the self-publishing process. A few people had asked about the experience and what all it took to actually get stuff up.

I published on Smashwords and on Kindle with decidedly different experiences in each one - Kindle let me leverage my tools better, but Smashwords has a massively kinder user interface for dealing with your works and much better documentation.

KDW - hope this one is in the right place; I know we have a long recurring thread about "epub, your experience," so it seemed more logical to put it here than in the pubs & reviews board.


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Natej11
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Thanks micmcd. Can't wait to look through this.
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hteadx
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why didn't you publish directly with Barnes and Nobles? It's much faster than waiting for Smashwords to do it.
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micmcd
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@hteadx - Short answer: you get paid more on Smashwords if you aren't in the magic $2.99-$9.99 range, thanks to a deal Smashwords has with all the distributors. I'll almost certainly be switching my Kindle version over to Smashwords if they work out a similar deal for their distribution.

Second short answer - It's easier to keep track of it in as few places as possible. The format for Kindle (copyright pages, rules about links, etc) are different than the formats for Smashwords, and both are different from the format for Nook, and probably for Kobo as well. From a software guy's point of view, every time I make a new format, I have to "branch" my source work. If, in going over my Kindle version, I discover an edit that needs to be made, I need to make sure to merge that edit back up to the source and then back down to all other branches and then update the book in all of those locations. This actually did happen while I was mucking around with the Kindle edition. Fortunately, I can basically use my "trunk" in Scrivener as my Kindle edition, and from there it was moderately easy to merge the change down to the Smashwords branch and update the book.

In any case, it felt like it was worth the wait (about a week or two) for distribution. Shelter From the Storm will be just as relevant in a week or two as it was yesterday.


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pdblake
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Is there a drastic difference between Smashwords and Kindle?

I have the Kindle generator and previewer and have tried a dry run with that. The html document I used would seem to fit Smashwords as a .doc file.

Is there a Smashwords generator/previewer to muck about with?


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micmcd
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That I know of, there is no smashwords previewer. Actually, that would be incredibly helpful as well - the ability to download a Meatgrinder-simulation app that shows what all of your changes do in epub (I'm assuming they'd like to keep some of it hidden, since it's their ace-in-the-hole).

The best way to "check" is to publish, then update, update, update...

On the plus side, the update process is extremely fast (though the final vetting for premium distribution is not).


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micmcd
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Forgot to answer the original question - yes, there is a pretty drastic difference between the two. Particularly if you have .mobi generation down to a science. I posted in my blog about how this is the one glaring weakness of smashwords, the inability to use your own (easier) tools instead of mucking about with a Word document.
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Crank
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quote:
...this is the one glaring weakness of smashwords, the inability to use your own (easier) tools instead of mucking about with a Word document.

I picked up on the Smashwords method via Word rather quickly, and with no problems at all. Still...I might publish one of my upcoming stories through a different method, just to see if I find it more workable. Less time spent prepping is more time writing.


quote:
you get paid more on Smashwords if you aren't in the magic $2.99-$9.99 range

Paid amount is one reason I chose Smashwords, but I'm sure somebody will come along and find a way to make it more profitable to go through them. I'll just add that to my list of market trends to keep an eye on.

S!
S!


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MartinV
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quote:
you get paid more on Smashwords if you aren't in the magic $2.99-$9.99 range

What's wrong by pricing your stuff in that area? I was going to offer my novel for 4$.


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Foste
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As I understand it you get different profit cuts for different price ranges.

Or it's because micmd is awesome, and smells of fresh cookie dough.


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micmcd
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@MartinV - that is a price that will get you the maximal revenues I mentioned. Amazon lets you "choose" to get 35% or 70% royalties, but you can only choose the 70% if your price is between 2.99 and 9.99. Same with Nook (though I think the percentages are off by about 5, in your favor). Smashwords has a variable price range through all its affiliates, but if you're in my shoes, not pricing within the golden range, you make more money through them.

They have a nice feature whereby you can enter your price and it instantly shows the revenue you'd make through all the various affiliates, so you can try out putting in different numbers and seeing how the percentages change. I think I got a lower percentages on smashwords pricing it at 1.99 than 0.99.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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micmcd, this topic is fine here. (It could go in the Markets for Our Writing area, too, I suppose, but this is a good place for it.) Thanks for starting it--useful information.
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micmcd
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quote:
I picked up on the Smashwords method via Word rather quickly, and with no problems at all. Still...I might publish one of my upcoming stories through a different method, just to see if I find it more workable. Less time spent prepping is more time writing.

It isn't the world's worst thing to have to do the formatting in Word. The only real difficulties I had were

  • Recovering all of my italics after committing the nuclear option
  • Getting page breaks to look right (and I didn't really succeed at this one).

The former can be avoided if I just bravely go in without nukes and check the formatting style on every single paragraph in my work (at least I get to keep the italics that way...), and the latter is supposed to be a non-issue. They suggest three or four paragraph returns followed by a centered symbol (I used "****" - and that's not a starred-out curse word), followed by three or four more paragraph returns. I did three returns, stars, three returns. What I don't like about this is that it's not interpreted as just "page break," because they say that doesn't happen. I say BS. My epub files generated with Scrivener were fully capable of accepting page breaks and interpreting them correctly. I want a chapter to end a page, and not because I have a bunch of blank space pushing off the next one. If that doesn't work perfectly with the HTML version of the book... well... I don't really care. I don't think the eBook market is big on HTML except for samples, in which case I don't mind if the page breaks aren't perfect. They say that epub and mobi are the formats that are weak at this, but I can generate mobi files just fine - the version you can buy on Kindle has page breaks and works. And all my tests with epub have worked well with this too.

It may be the case that 75% of my frustration with them was over the page break thing. I tried hard to make that work, and was only half-pleased with my results.


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pdblake
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I might stick to Kindle to start with in that case. I really want to see what the book will look like before it gets published. It seems pretty stupid to not be able to do a dry run.
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pdblake
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Just as an addendum to my last post.

I actually went the other way around and published on Smashwords first. I found the process to be pretty simple in the end, and very fast.

I went this route because the seem to be much more helpful that Amazon, especially in regards to non-US writers who may eventually need a ITIN.

I will still go the Amazon route though as well, though that now means doing a second version to their tastes.

I will try my damndest, for future books, to make the two as near the same as possible, so I only need to do minimal tweaking.


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WouldBe
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Calibre is a mature, open source e-book formatter and previewer. Might be worth looking at.

http://calibre-ebook.com/about#features


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