The dream for most of us who pour our heart into fiction works is seeing them perched on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. The first time I finished a manuscript this was all I thought about. My days became consumed with searches for agents, queries, and preparing submissions. For a time, I could not work on a new book, because I was so consumed with sending the first book out. The hurdle of writing a query letter alone took weeks, and I never did feel comfortable with the final product. Agents and publishers want a condensed version of your work no longer than a paragraph or two that knocks their socks off. Of course, this is subjective and with the downturn of the economy, you could spend your life trying to perfect this art. Can you think of any other industry where the artist is expected to perform such a Herculean task?
It occurred to me, the only thing I genuinely wanted was a place to share my work – somewhere I could develop a readership. Ultimately, the most pleasing thing in the world is someone reading your work, and saying, “Wow! When is your next project coming out?” We want fans, people who are excited to read our next creation. The world of publishing is changing, and a lot of writers are beginning to question the way we go about getting our work to the world.
Enter SmashWords.com. Smashwords is a dream come true for Indie writers, and here’s how it works. The website allows you to download your manuscript, and the only immediate requirement is following the “Style Guide” so your work is formatted properly for eReaders, and computers. The Style Guide hits on copyright issues and ISBN numbers. If you have any questions, there is a contact page where you can email the developers of the site.
After your initial download, your work goes through what they lovingly call “the meatgrinder.” The meatgrinder will kick the file back to you, if the formatting is not right. Of course, the meatgrinder only catches the basics, if your work covers the general requirements it immediately posts to your personal page. The formatting is not difficult. You will need to set up a Table of Contents which has hyperlinks to the beginning of each Chapter, delete any erroneous spacing, and create a title page.
At this time, you can price your book. The website allows you to charge as much as you want, or nothing at all. Additionally they allow you to create coupon codes, which means you can put a price on your work, and then give discounts to anyone you choose (mine are $1.99 for instance, but I have given discounts up to 100% to increase readership).
Once your work is posted, it will be submitted to the Smashword Team. This is when a human finally takes a look at your manuscript. The Smashwords team does not edit, or read your entire book, but they do decide if it’s a fit for the premium catalogue. The premium catalogue is sent to Barnes and Noble, Koko Books, Amazon, Apple, and Sony. Each of these websites will post your work in their eReader stores if it is included in this catalogue! (The steps are simple – all of mine have been included).
Smashwords is another place to develop your readership, and expose the public to your brand. There is no better feeling than getting an email announcing that one of your books has been purchased. If you are unsure you can check my site out at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MOJAMES.
Are you an indie writer? How do you publish your work?