Uploading your manuscript for sale

I’m no expert on this, but since I’ve been writing about e-publishing lately, one of my posters suggested that this would be a good topic for a blog post.

(If any of you have experience e-publishing, please comment away on what I’ve missed or on how to make the process even easier.) I’ve mentioned Smashwords specifically because it seems to make e-books available to all the major e-book retailers, but if you have other suggestions, please put them up!

Smashwords is a free service that leaves your copyright intact in exchange for a commission on sales: royalties are paid quarterly. (Warning: you must have copyright. )

The document has to be in Microsoft Word format and Smashwords has certain stylistic guidelines you need to follow. (Not sure that anyone there follows up on that, but that’s what they say — and if you don’t follow them, your formatting will come out looking garbled. We don’t want that, do we?)

First, create a cover image and save it as a jPeg for uploading. Then create a Smashwords account, log in and click ‘publish.’ The book is uploaded into nine different ebook formats so that it can be read on virtually any e-book device. Smashwords will include your book in its Premium Catalogue which is shared with all the major ebook retailers (at no charge).

The cool thing about Smashwords is that if you are the exclusive on-line publisher for two authors, you can become a ‘publisher affiliate’ and get paid higher royalties. I’m sure there’s a way to team up on this stuff and take advantage of that bonus. Maybe it applies to those of you who write under different pen names. Worth a try!

Do you want to upload your e-book to one of the major platforms so that you can start selling it from your website instead?

You may want to first convert your manuscript using Adobe Acrobat to a PDF format which will stop others from changing it. (You can also do this in some versions of Microsoft Word.)

You write in the name of the online store, click ‘link’ icon in the toolbar, highlight it with your mouse to hyperlink it, click Edit URL, and paste in the URL of the online store. That’s it, you’re done!

If you’re using Microsoft Word rather than a PDF format, open the e-book in Microsoft Word. Write the name of the online store or product in the appropriate place on your website as above. Highlight the name with the mouse, and select the ‘insert’ tab. Click ‘hyperlink’ in the Links group. Type or copy the exact URL for the online store into that field. Click ‘ file’ and save.

The procedure is pretty much the same with EbookPro or other e-book software. Really, what you’re doing here is creating a hyperlink on your website, the same as you do if you’re blogging and adding a link.

Alright, everyone, it can’t be that simple. What did I miss?

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21 Responses to Uploading your manuscript for sale

  1. Missy Maxim says:

    Hi. I’ve been using Smashwords over a year. Yes, there are format guidelines, and when your file is being checked for inclusion in the Catalog, errors will be flagged and you need to fix them and re-upload. The jpeg for the cover has to be a minimum of 600 pixels tall, as well.

    You can have the .doc pass through on the first time with a couple very simple steps in Word – set up 1″ margins, then indent with the ruler at the top (no tabs!), use a min. of 1.5 line spacing, and never more than 4 blank lines in a row in the .doc. Leave one blank line between the last line of text and a page break. The free Style Guide tells how to code a Table of Contents in Word, which is needed for e-books with multiple stories in them and book with multiple chapters.

    If you write under multiple pen names, the Publisher account is applicable, and then the single author controls ghost accounts for the pen names. Very simple.


  2. Anne Devereux says:

    Once again, Peggy Blair with her finger on the pulse! I did quickly check out the Amazon Kindle, and it seems ludicrously simple to upload e-books for sale on that. I didn’t actually go through the process of course!

    I’d also be interested in the how-to’s of creating cover art. I assume it has to be stock or otherwise public domain photos? Are there photo sites that (specifically romance authors) typically use that are copyright-free? I’m fairly handy with Photoshop, so all I really need to know is where to get images that I won’t get sued over.


    • Peggy Blair says:

      My daughter created cover art for The Beggar’s Opera (yayy, plug, Jade) which Penguin turned over to their art department to look at. I think you can use whatever you like if there’s no copyright issues. But over to you, romance writers, to answer Anne’s specific question about those steamy pictures of nearly naked men and women and where one can find them in the public domain!


  3. Brian French says:

    I’m pretty much decided on self-e-publishing, having read of your adventure, Peg. I’m not writing to win a Giller, just to add my perspective to the world’s knowledge and entertainment base. It’s not self-help, nor celebrity profile / bio, nor chicklit. It doesn’t even display a lot of angst or self doubt or record a tragic life. So let’s face it… nobody will publish it in the traditional way.
    Am curious what really is the best way to do this – with Smashwords (which seems impressive), direct to Amazon or obooko or something else.


  4. H.D. Timmons says:

    I’ve posted on Smashwords and found it very easy. I do like the feature of being able to list your pub for sale. I’ve also tried Feedbooks. While this site does not allow you to put a price on your self-published work it does have a larger worldwide audience. They also have a great “stats” tool where you can see what countries downloaded your work. Cool! Anyone know of another site where you can sell your work? I know Barnes & Noble have a site called “PubIt.” Anyone have any experience with it?


    • Peggy Blair says:

      Thanks for that, H.D. Anyone used PubIt? Or any of the other e-publishers? I’d love to know how well it worked out for you.


      • Brian French says:

        What about direct to Amazon??? Smashwords requires exclusive distribution (as I read their TOR). This would seem to reduce income (both they and Amazon will want a piece) and providing a another gap between the book and the buyer. With Amazon an ISBN number is needed, but this is perfunctory. No?


        • Peggy Blair says:

          I think if you want your books sold anywhere, they pretty much need an ISBN, don’t they? I know that you need one for library sales (which are increasingly e-book, according to our Ottawa Librarians, who I met last week while doing a panel on ‘the perilous route to publication). Smashwords must get one assigned in order to ‘sell’ your book for you.

          It looks like Smashwords is stepping into a distribution and publication role, but that’s a good point, Brian. I suppose the benefit is that you still get more of your royalties than you would in a traditional model, and that you get broader distribution than you would through Amazon directly. I’m hoping we’ll hear from Simon Royle, one of the pioneeer e-published indies, as towhat he thinks about all of this — I’ve invited him to guest-blog.


        • Peggy Blair says:

          Re. the ISBN, I’ve just checked (I’ll do a blog post on it) but it identifies the publisher. They all need one: it’s how the publisher is identified for purposes of sales and royalties. But if you go with an e-publisher that gets it for you, and then want to self-publish elsewhere later on, you’ll have to get another ISBN and your book will have two associated with it which can be confusing, particularly if the book is priced differently by the two publishers.


  5. Hi Peggy,
    I self-pubbed a book through Amazon and let them choose their own ISBN but after reading your post, I can see the confusion.
    Have you been able to find out if Amazon lets you input your own ISBN? Looking forward to your answer. I’ve added you to my blogroll by the way!


    • Peggy Blair says:

      Thanks, ML! I do believe that Amazon lets you use your own ISBN, if you have one. Just remember: any time you make significant changes or revisions, you’ll need to get a new one. Cheers, Peggy


  6. Edina Hadnagy says:

    Dear Peggy! I would like to ask you whether international self publishers can also sell their books on amazon . I would also like to ask you regarding prices, I have seen many books for one dollar price . What is the reasonable price for a first sell? Kind Regards. Edina


    • brian french says:

      Hope Peggy won’t mind.
      Hi Edina,
      I’ve published on smashwords, createspace, lulu, amazon and kindle.
      amazon.ca does not currently connect to createspace (another google company) so you cannot upload your book there for Canada but you can sell your book on amazon.com to Canadians – but the shipping to buyers is fairly expensive. They also have platforms for Germany and UK. They don’t allow new sales on amazon.ca because they haven’t figured out ways of confirming copyright. Createspace is nice because you can buy copies of your own book very inexpensively (much cheaper than you could print yourself with a job printer). You also get a much bigger share of the sale if you use createspace for your “author’s bookstore”. Createspace publishes in all formats except mass market paperback. Lulu does this, but it’s very expensive.
      Lots of considerations to make on pricing… A trade paperback will retail in the high teens .99 at a bookstore. These would typically be full sized novels – say 80,000 words plus.
      You might wish to stay within this and maybe a little lower ($14.99 and under) to compensate for shipping costs.
      Novellas or shorter novels – under say 60,000 words – are usually priced significantly lower – down to 4.99 or less. Books priced for $0.99 are usually very short.
      You are responsible for layout – but you all the platforms have fairly good interactive programs to do this (lulu is the worst).and the platforms wont accept your upload if it’s not done correctly.
      You also need to supply a cover design – again – they have an app to help you do this using your graphic or standard ones.
      One problem with web publishing is that it is not as effective in selling itself as it is on a bookshelf.
      Even then, to ell in a book store it needs profile. For whatever reason, booksellers tend to mostly showcase best sellers. So they will put 3 piles x 20 50 shades of dumbness but put other ones showcasing their spine in the stacks alphabetically.
      All the search engine optimization in the world will not create the impulse sale by selling the book by the cover. When stores have put mine face up – they’ve sold out immediately. But they motly won’t do this.


    • Peggy Blair says:

      Don’t know about Amazon; you’d have to check as there are different Amazon’s (eg. amazon.uk, amazon.fr, etc). Re price, this is subjective. Personally, I wouldn’t sell it for 99 cents, as to me, that kind of discount smacks of a cheap book not worth buying. I’ll probably price Getting Published somewhere between $ 5.99 and $ 9.99 once I get around to uploading it, but have some free giveaways. Good luck!


      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Peggy..I’m from Malaysia. I have been writing a lot of children stories. If i were to have it upload, is smashword a good place to start. I’m just a beginner after all but I really like to try.tq


        • Peggy Blair says:

          I have never used smashword so I don’t know. CreateSpace caught my interest, though, and seemed like a good place to self-pub if I ever went that route. Good luck! Cheers, Peggy


  7. Maria Veronica says:

    I have my own manuscript of a book entitled ” Betrothed and also Cleopatra ” I wish to sell them how can I get helped.????


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