Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I've been back from my travels to DC and Tennessee for a little over a week now and am almost caught up with things. I think. I'll journal my travels next week, but first--

My big accomplishment since my return has been to get my short story collection published! It was almost ready before I left--just the cover remained. I guess my subconscious gained clarity while I was away from it because when I got back, I was able to do it.

Tell me if you like it. If you don't, please don't tell me. Same with the stories if you go a step further and get the ebook.

If anyone is thinking of publishing with Smashwords, I'll give a little tutorial here, although they give step by step instructions to get you through most of it. The first thing you do is click on the Publish tab at, which will get you here.

This style guide will tell you how to format your Word doc to send through the "meatgrinder". It answers any questions I could ever think of, even nifty instructions to create a hyper-linked table of contents, which worked beautifully for me. The hypertext works in only some formats, though.

You'll need the document to send through the formatter, a separate document for the cover, and an idea of what to use for an online description. You can also set up tabs to make your book easier to find.

After submitting your book for publication, it's fun to watch your number in the queue go down. That first night, I sat up late, sipping a Scotch, and watching my number decrease until--TADA--I was published!

The cover gave me pause, but I did figure out an easy way to do it. I had a photo I wanted to use for the cover, but it wasn't the right size and I didn't know how to put words onto it. The cover has to be a jpeg file, so it's easiest (and maybe essential) to start with a photograph. Smashwords, in the Style Guide, can suggest places to acquire photos if you don't have one. They suggest a size of 600 x 900 pixels. Mine is 500 x 700 and works well. But how to do that? Irfanview to the rescue. This is a free download that I have gotten SO much good out of. You open the file you want to use, click Image at the top, then select Resize/Resample. Using Set new size, designate "pixels" as your unit and type in the numbers. I also check "Allow sharpen after Resample" and "Resample (better quality)".

At this point you should maybe save a couple three copies so you can mess up and start over. Just do a Save As.

Then, to add words, stay in Irfanview, and draw a box with the mouse (if it's too big, that's OK because the extra will disappear). Then click on the Edit tab and select Insert Text into Selection. If you have a busy photo, like I do, you can select a background color. You type the text and probably want to center it. There are a lot of fonts to choose from, and you can experiment with them, and with sizes, until you have what you want. When you're fininshed, the rest of the text box is there, but it won't be after you save the file.

The Word doc will produce a bunch of different files:
mobi for Kindle
Epub for most other e-readers
PDF for online reading or for printing
HTML for online reading
Java Script also for online
PBD for Palm Pilot and similar devices
LRF which the old Sony format (I don't think it's used anymore)
RTF for word processors
Plain text also for word processors

After you've produced all of these, you should look at them. The first two are easy, just download and look at them on your computer screen. Also true for PDF. You should download the PC version of Kindle if you don't have the device, just to check it out.

You can download Kindle for PC here.

I think this download will let you read an Epub file.

I ended up using the first 7 only. The last two gave unformatted, hard-to-read text. And yes, I published my book, then found some errors--after I had publicized and started selling it. You should NOT do this. Find the errors, then republish, then start selling.

You may get a notice that there are some errors, too, on your first pass. They should be spelled out so you can find and correct them. I only got one, which I am submitting for review because I don't want to change it. To republish, go to your Dashboard and, under Operations, click on "Upload new version".

Smashwords even provides a downloadable marketing guide, which I am just beginning to peruse.

After I pass the review and qualify for Premium Status, my book will appear on Sony after 2 weeks (Kobo would be the same, but I opted out of this one), Barnes and Noble after 8 weeks, Apple after one week, and Amazon "pending meatgrinder update". At the Dashboard, under Distribution Channel Manager, is where you select who you want to carry you.

When my Premium Status is achieved, I can also apply for an ISBN, required for Sony and Apple. If I just wanted to sell on Amazon, I could do that, too.

My price is now $1.99, but I'll raise it to $2.99 when it reaches Amazon to take advantage of their 70 percent deal. I opted out of Kobo because I've heard they keep lowering the price and messing up the Amazon deal. I'll have to keep an eye on the others to see if they do that, too. Seventy percent is a great deal! An author makes more on a $2.99 sale, keeping 70 percent, than on a $12 dollar book keeping the standard 15 percent ($2 versus $1.80).

If anyone wants a few good short stories, visit A PATCHWORK OF STORIES by yours truly. A sneak preview of two and a half stories if free. My Agatha nominated story is included, but not in the preview.


  1. Great job, Kaye! Thanks for taking the time to do this. Takes a lot of the fear out of the process.

  2. Thanks, Susan. After I was all done, I decided it was fun. :)

  3. Kaye, thanks for the instruction. You've taken the mystery out of another aspect of the writing/publishing labyrinth.

  4. I glad if I've shed a little light, Kathy.

  5. What a useful post. Thanks for all the info. Love your cover too. Seems perfect for a collection of short stories.

  6. Thanks, Sandy. I'm very proud of my cover!

  7. It is a beautiful cover and congrats to you for putting all this information together. Great stuff!

  8. If this post can help someone publish something, it'll be cool! Thanks, Alli.

  9. This is terrific, Kaye. I copied and saved it. One of these days soon, I'm going to follow your lead and Smash some of my shorties. This will be a big help. Thanks much.

  10. Kaye, I put the first book in my mystery series on Smashwords and Kindle but needed to pay someone else to create a cover. I've been wanting to learn to do it myself. Thank you so much for telling us how to do it.

  11. Earl, I'm so pleased I can do something for you after all you've done for me!

    Good luck, June. Once you have a photo, it's not that hard. Once you know how. :) Let me know if this works for you.

  12. Congratulations, Kaye. May I make a suggestion?

    You should publish your ebook on Amazon, too. You'll make many, many times the sales there that you will on Smashwords. (I'm speaking from direct experience on this.)

    I've written a series of posts about ebook publishing that started with this one:

    Also, I suggest you check out Joe Konrath's blog at He's like the Wizard of Ebooks.

    And, not to be negative, but short story anthologies are a much harder sell than novels. Again, I speak from direct experience. I have a novel and an anthology published as ebooks. The sales of my novel have topped 10,200 downloads. My anthology sells a tiny fraction of that amount.

    Anyway, good luck! If nothing else, you'll pick up exposure and pocket change. :)

  13. Thanks for the post, midlistlife. I'm a follower of Konrath and took this step, in part, because of him. My collection will migrate to Amazon, soon, I hope! I fully intend to take advantage of that market.

    I'm not intending to breakthrough with this little collection. It's just something I've wanted to do and hope a few people are interested. What I really want to sell, are my novels! But every place I have my name helps, right?

    It's selling better than I ever thought it would at the moment. I'll check out your blog.

  14. OK, I read your blog entry and have a question. Why did you publish separately on Amazon? You can just opt in through Smashwords and you'll be there, as well as on many other markets, including Barnes & Noble, Sony, etc.

  15. Kaye, thanks for doing this. I learned all this, like you, the hard way. Others shouldn't have to.

    As my contribution, Mark Coker used a short book of mine as one of his two examples of perfectly formatted texts. It's up there, and it's free, so use it all you like.

  16. I used your example for my template, Gerald. Many thanks to you! That made it easier.

  17. Thanks, Lina. I think I'll count up the favorable comments I've gotten on my cover. They far exceed those on the stories. :) I should go into cover design?

  18. I uploaded my first three books separately on Amazon and Smashwords. The very first step I went through in formatting the manuscripts was to change the ms. to a plain text document (.txt format). That gets rid of all the style codes that might cause errors in processing. It also gets rid of special formatting like italics and page breaks, so you must be prepared to spend several days reformatting each document per the specifications of Amazon and Smashwords.

    Suzanne Adair

  19. Hm, sounds easier to just let the Smashwords Kindle version migrate over to Amazon. Smashwords uses a Word doc for input, so I didn't have that many problems preparing my stories. It took me a little over two hours to get my 9 stories into the right format.

    Why wouldn't you just put the Kindle version Smashwords produces on Amazon, Suzanne? Am I missing something?

  20. Fascinating - as is your background.