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A Writer On Writing: Getting To Grips With E-Publishing

Sally Jenkins takes her first steps into e-publishing.

Last week I went to an E-Publishing seminar with the lovely ladies (and one gentleman) from the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelistsí Association. http://www.rna-uk.org/ It was run by one of our members who has been successfully publishing her erotica in e-book form for the last 12 months (unfortunately we didnít have time in the seminar for her promised session on erotica - so that treat is still to come!).I came away with my head buzzing with jargon such as .mobi, .epub, Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/ , US Tax Identification Numbers and lots more. I was tempted to throw up my hands and pay a professional to format, design a cover and distribute the modest project that I have in mind.

But Iíve decided to have a go myself for three reasons -
ē I doubt that Iíll earn enough from the book to recoup the costs of a professional
ē E-publishing is definitely the future and therefore as a writer I ought to get to grips with it
ē Iím a computer programmer by day, so if other people can master e-publishing Ė why canít I?

So the other day I started. The first thing I did was download the Smashwords Style Guide to my Kindle. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52 This is the e-publishing Ďbibleí and, as well as giving lots of background information, it describes how to format a Word document so that it is acceptable to Smashwords. This is supposed to mean that the format will be acceptable for Amazon Kindle too.

Although Amazon still has the largest share of the e-book market, itís important to make your work available on Smashwords as well. Smashwords sell e-books directly to the public and they also distribute to many of the other e-book retailers such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple.

I found the Smashwords Style Guide very useful. It shows how to get first line paragraph indentation correct (get rid of those naughty tabs and spaces if youíve used them), how to ensure that the whole document is the same style and how to do a linked table of contents . One thing slowed me down Ė the Guide gives instructions for different Word editions up to 2007 but doesnít mention 2010, which I am using, so sometimes I had to play around for a bit until I found what I was looking for.

Now I have my document formatted (I think Ė I wonít know itís right until I try to upload it), so itís time to do the cover. Iím feeling nervous about this. The Guide recommends hiring a professional cover designer (and will even send you a list of low-cost cover designers) because first impressions of a book are important. But our wonderful seminar leader does it herself and gave us lots of tips.
So thatís my next step Ö

By the way, if anyoneís got any e-publishing tips, Iíd be most grateful!


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