Thursday, June 16, 2011

Indie-curious? Self-publishing made easy

As promised, here’s my easy peasy step-by-step guide to self-publishing.
(note: Do not buy an expensive ISBN or set of ISBNs before starting.)

Before you start, make sure you have a finished, professionally edited manuscript and a professionally designed cover. These two things will make or break your career.

For editing perspective, please see my post Who Should See Your Book Before You Self-Publish?

Also invest in a professionally designed cover. Not only will it look great, most designers will deliver final content in fortmats needed for Smashwords, PubIt, Amazon Kindle Direct, and your preferred Print on Demand (usually Create Space or Lightning Source). Find some indie covers you like and ask the authors who did their cover.

On to Self-Publishing DIY

I found the digital formatting process pretty detailed, but simple. But there are some great, reasonable services that will deliver finished, ready to upload formats, like Formatting 4 U.
·         Download Smashwords Formatting Guide
o   Follow the guide step-by-step (all 68 pages)
o   Don’t do nuclear formatting method unless you have a ton of rogue html code or unfixable formatting issues.
o   Save as MANUSCRIPT_SmashwordsEdition.doc
·         Make Smashwords account
o   Upload MANUSCRIPT_SmashwordsEdition.doc to Smashwords & wait for confirmation of success.
o   Smashwords will generate in multiple forms including Epub (Nook compatible) mobi (Kindle compatible)
·         Download Kindle for PC and NOOK for PC
o   Download (Kindle) and check formatting
o   Download MANUSCRIPT.Epub (NOOK) and check formatting
·         If you find formatting errors, fix and re-upload to Smashwords
·        Go To Smashwords Dashboard > Distribution Channel Manager
o   Opt out of Amazon and B&N distribution
o   Yes, really – Opt out of Amazon and B&N distribution!!!
              (Make sure you follow the final SW "opt out" step above.)
·         Download MobiPocket Creator
o   Open MANUSCRIPT_SmashwordsEdition.doc
o   Delete “Smashwords” from copyright page (2 or 3 places – covered in SW formatting guide)
o   Replace “Smashwords” with "Kindle" & "Amazon"
o   Save as MANUSCRIPT_KindleEdition.doc
o   For copyright page example download THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN free excerpt.
o   Open Mobipocket Creator
o   Upload Cover (do not add as first page of MANUSCRIPT_KindleEdition.doc or it will show up twice on Kindle) 600x800 min. pixels for mobi discussion thread here
*Amazon recommends a 1.6 width/height ratio, and their recommended height is 2,500 pixels.
Upload MANUSCRIPT_KindleEdition.doc – Mobipocket Creator will create a .mobi file
o   Save as
·         Make Kindle Account
o   Upload your Manuscript cover
o   Upload

(the easiest one)
·         Make B&N Pubit Account
o   Upload Manuscript Cover
o   Upload MANUSCRIPT.Epub (downloaded from Smashwords earlier – I didn’t worry about uploading a version w/o “Smashwords” on coverpage since distribution is typically much smaller at B&N.)

·         NOW YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT Amazon     Barnes & Noble AND   Smashwords!
·         Stop and pat yourself on the back

·         Continue to check Smashwords Dashboard to confirm MANUSCRIPT is approved for premium status (2—3 weeks)
o   Once approved – get Smashwords ISBN # (Follow SW ISBN Manager on Dashboard) – Must have ISBN to be eligible for Sony (eReader) and iBookstore (iPad/iPhone/iTouch) catalog distribution.
·         Create Author Page on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, & LibraryThing (minimum)
·         Add purchase  links to your email signature:  Buy THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE GUARDIAN (a 2010 RWA Golden Heart® finalist for young adult fiction) at Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Smashwords    coming soon to iBookstore Turn your computer into a free eReader: Kindle for PC  NOOK for PC
o   more information at
·         Use Smashwords Dashboard to generate discount and free coupons. Free codes can be used for giveaways, ARCs, and review copies. SW allows recipient to choose whichever form is compatible with their eReader or PC software.

NEXT THURSDAY: Print copies – Are all Print on Demand Providers Created Equal?
Don’t forget the Kindle Indie-pendence Contest ends on July 4th. Win you kid a Kindle loaded with hot YA and MG titles.
YOUR TURN: What tips or questions do you have about digital publishing?


Vanessa Barneveld said...

Wow, you really have made it seem so easy. Thanks, Carey!

I know very little about self-publishing, so I'll ask a question instead. :P With regards to Smashwords, why do you recommend opting out of Amazon and B&N distribution?

Lorie Langdon said...

Excellent step-by-step guide, Carey! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Melissa Landers said...

Wow. I can't imagine anyone trying to pull that off without a how-to guide like the one you've provided. Isn't the internet an amazing place? And filled with such supportive authors willing to share their experience to benefit others!

Jennifer McAndrews said...

Carey -- great info! I'm pre-caffeine here so please forgive this likely clueless question. If Smashwords creates a .mobi, why download the MobiPocketCreator? Is this primarily to upload the cover?

Jenn Stark said...

Carey, awesome guide! You do make it seem easy. :) I look forward to hearing more of your success in this venture... and to book 2 (ahem. hint.) :)

Clover Autrey said...

Thanks so much for this. I've been researching indie publishing and this was great. Why mobi instead of just a word doc though?

Shelley Coriell said...

Wow, Carey! What a concise, useful guide. Looking forward to your POD info. Thanks!

Carey_Corp said...

Q: With regards to Smashwords, why do you recommend opting out of Amazon and B&N distribution?

A: Hi Vanessa! Rather than have Smashwords distribute to the two largest eBook vendors, and take a piece of your earnings, you are uploading directly to B&N and Amazon.

Q: If Smashwords creates a .mobi, why download the MobiPocketCreator? Is this primarily to upload the cover?

A: Hi Jen! Merging the cover within the document is an import part of why I make a .mobi file. The other part for me is changing the copyright page - not having “Smashwords Edition” in my “Kindle Edition.” I only did this for Kindle because they represent the largest share of eBook sales. I did not change my B&N Epub version from “Smashwords Edition” to “Nook Edition.” 

Q: Why mobi instead of just a word doc though?

A: Welcome Clover! Is your question regarding the version I upload for Kindle? Because Kindle eBooks are .mobi, using Mobipocket Creator to create a .mobi, will give you an accurate impression of how your formatting will look. You can actually view your on your Kindle for PC. If you use a word doc, you could have hidden HTML code or other formatting errors that would not be visible until after you’ve uploaded to Amazon. Making a .mobi is simple and it gives you’re the best quality control.

Veronica Blade said...

Very nice!!! I will bookmark this and reread it when I get to that point with my book. Right now, it's just revisions, revisions, revisions. It's nice to know that I don't need to panic when I get to the Kindle/Smashwords/B&N point.

Thanks so much!

PJ Sharon said...

Thanks for doing the leg work, Carey. I've just finished the process of uploading my book and cover to CreateSpace. I'm waiting for my proof copy. They have distribution channels to Amazon and others. Should I opt out of thier distribution process and do it all individually as you did here or do you know what the difference is?

Carey_Corp said...

Hi P.J. - Congrats on where you are in your journey. So exciting!!!

Let me ask a clarifying question... Are you using CreateSpace for digital or Print? From your email, it sounds like print.

CreateSpace is Amazon affiliated, so if it is print, you definitely want them to distribute to Amazon and others! Amazon is going to be your main source for print sales.

If you are talking digital, then it would depnd of whether CreateSpace takes an additional chunk of funds.

If you are talking print, I'm curious about the CreateSpace process. Was if easy or difficult? How much formatting was involved? Uploading my book is on my TO DO list this weekend. :)

Bev Pettersen said...

This was great, Carey. Much appreciated. I'm going to work with CreateSpace next week--after your next blog. Good luck.
(BTW, Canadians can't get an account with B&N so we need to use Smashwords BUT we do receive free ISBN's.)

Clover Autrey said...

Thanks for answering my question, Carey. Appreciate it. I'm probably going to upload my first in a series this coming week--once I get my cover!

Um, another question: I've heard of createspace, but not iBookstore. Maybe another post on tips for taking the digital books to PODs?

And again, thank you, this is so helpful.

Chris Eboch said...

Good advice. I did Kindle and B&N first, and then went to Smashwords. I wouldn't do it in that order again.

I also made my books available in print through CreateSpace. For formatting, you need a PDF of the interior that's exactly as you want it, with the right page size, leading, margins, etc. I did it in Microsoft Word, and that took a while to figure out how to get everything the way I wanted it, but it is possible if you don't have or know how to use a formatting program such as In Design. CreateSpace has a layout and typography guide available. You also need separate cover art, which is one piece of art that includes the front, spine, and back cover.

Chris Eboch
The Eyes of Pharaoh: a mystery in ancient Egypt
The Well of Sacrifice: a Mayan adventure
Read the first chapters:

Carey_Corp said...

Thanks Bev, & Clover. I'm working on Create Space this week and should have some interesting details to share on Thursday.

Hi Chris. Congratulations on your books. And thank you for sharing your advice. I have such respect for authors who actually accomplish digital and print processes.

I've got my manuscript uploaded, but cover art is giving me fits. *grr*

Amy L. said...

Thank you, this is great advice! Bookmarked and returning for more!

I'm going to do my own cover(s) - I guess I can upload my artwork, no biggie right?

Judi Fennell, said...

Hi Carey! Thanks for mentioning me and providing the link for I appreciate it!

Wishing you TONS of sales!