Smashwords store

For Cover designers and Formatters

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I know this blog is primarily aimed at authors, but many of us moonlight as cover designers or formatters (such as myself and Stephannie Beman) so I wanted to share this from Smashwords:  (I copied it directly from their site updates page. If you have any questions please contact smashwords as I don’t have the answers. Sorry. )

 

**Mark’s List open for new applicants**  It’s been over a year since we added a new batch of cover designers and formatters to Mark’s List, our list of low-cost service providers.  For a limited period of time, I’m accepting a small number of applications for new freelancers.  If you’re considering applying, please carefully study the information below.  Incomplete or inappropriate applications will be disregarded.

Background on the list:  I created the list in January, 2011 as a public service for our authors and publishers.  It’s currently available via autoresponder when someone emails list@smashwords.com.  A newer version of the list will be made available on the Smashwords web site.  We don’t charge for listings, and we don’t take a commission.   Every individual is a freelancer.  Each freelancer provides excellent customer service, which is why they continue to be on the list.  We appreciate the great, low-cost services these freelancers provide to our authors and publishers.  We’re also pleased to know that for many of the Mark’s List freelancers, their inclusion on the list has provided them much-appreciated supplemental income.  Some have even made it their full time job.
How to apply:   First, email list@smashwords.com and study the email you receive so you can get an idea how other service providers are providing and pricing their services.   Apply to only one category, cover designers or formatters.  You must be the person who will provide the services.  We will not accept service provider firms, or individuals who farm out their work to others.  Note that I expect to receive many more applications that I can accept in this round, so please accept my apologies in advance if you don’t make the cut this time.  Maybe next time.
Okay, you’re ready to apply.  Compose an email to me at listapp@smashwords.com.  Use the subject line, “Mark’s List.”  Answer each of the questions for the category for which you want to be considered (cut and paste these questions into your email and then provide your answers inline):
Cover designers:
  1. Provide me a complete hyperlink to your author/publisher profile page, which you’ll find by clicking “My Smashwords.”  Preference will be shown to Smashwords authors and publishers.  If you’re opted in to all our distribution channels (not counting Amazon), that’s a plus.
  2. Provide a link to your online portfolio.  I’m looking for designers with a track record of producing high-quality, professional covers.  It’s also very important that Smashwords authors and publishers can evaluate your portfolio before they hire you.
  3. Provide me hyperlinks to up to five covers you designed for Smashwords books.
  4. If selected, will you provide all your Smashwords clients a listing in your online portfolio, as well as a live hyperlink to their book’s listing at Smashwords?  Such portfolio listings are appreciated by our authors, and a plus for your application.
  5. What is your design fee, and how many revisions does that include?  Most Smashwords designers are in the range of $35-$100.  If you charge more, that’s fine as long as the price is justified by the quality.  We’re looking for great designers!
  6. Do you agree that you will not try to market or upsell other author services?
  7. Why do you think you’d be a great addition to Mark’s List?
Formatters:
  1. Provide me a complete hyperlink to your author/publisher profile page, which you’ll find by clicking “My Smashwords.”  Preference will be shown to Smashwords authors and publishers.  If you’re opted in to all our distribution channels (not counting Amazon), that’s a plus.
  2. Do you consider yourself an expert at the Smashwords Style Guide?
  3. How many books have you personally formatted that have been accepted into the Smashwords Premium Catalog?  The more the better.  Provide direct hyperlinks to up to 10 of them.  Preference will be shown to formatters who employ smart use of linked Table of Contents, intra-book links (endnotes and indexes), and who provide clean, professional formatting for novels.
  4. How many years have you been using Microsoft Word?
  5. Do you Nuke every project before you begin it?
  6. Do you know how to preserve italics and bolds post-Nuke using CTRL-H wildcards?
  7. Will you guarantee Premium Catalog inclusion for your clients?
  8. Will you perform all the work yourself?
  9. Do you agree that you will not upload client works to Smashwords?
  10. Do you agree that you will not attempt to upsell Smashwords authors to other formatting or ebook design or distribution services?
  11. What would be your approximate rates for a novela, a full-length novel, and a more complex non-fiction book with an extensive linked Table of Contents, or index and endnote links?
  12. Why do you think you’d be a great addition to Mark’s List?
Thanks, and good luck!
~Mark
Categories: Book Covers, Book Formatting, Smashwords store | Tags: ,

How to Get a Cheap Book Cover… UPDATED!

I’ve recently updated my how to book How to Get a Cheap Book Cover by Joleene Naylor. Updates include:

  • A tutorial on how to use Create Space’s cover creator
  • A tutorial on how to make an ebook cover in Paint.Net
  • Fixed broken links
  • Added new links
  • Fixed a couple of typos
  • Updated information on acceptable file types

If you’ve already purchased the book through Smashwords, I believe you can download the updated version for free. I don’t know about the other sites, such as Barnes & Noble, though it will be a few days before the changes filter through the expanded market, anyway.

Here’s what people are saying about How to Get a Cheap Book Cover:

“VERY helpful! I was like a raft adrift on the adriatic and this book was the ocean liner that came to my salvation.” -  Robin Donaruma on March 07, 2012 (on Smashwords.com)

“I downloaded this book to help me design the cover for my novel, A Military Republic. The book has excellent advice about licensing photos, websites for buying photos and above all an invaluable guide to using gimp for designing the cover. I definitely recommend this to cover designing beginners.” - Haythem Bastawy on Feb. 25, 2012 (on Smashwords.com)

“This was a huge help when we were creating covers for my husband’s e-books. This is the first time we’ve done any sort of e-publishing, and we were pretty ignorant of even the basics. I especially liked the information on licensing and sources for images.” -  Marjorie Farmer on Nov. 10, 2011 (on Smashwords.com)

Categories: Book Covers, Smashwords store | Tags: , , , ,

How to Publish on Smashwords

(this is a companion to How to Publish on Create Space and How to Use Create Space Cover creator)

Go to smashwords.com, log in and click the Publish option in the overhead menu:

(You’ll notice I have a “requires attention warning – this is because I have a “test” book that is archived and unpublished that I use to test files before upload, so I haven’t given it an ISBN number. If you have this warning and don’t have something similar then it means one of your books needs an ISBN assigned.)

You will be taken to a new page. Here you will enter all the information on your book. First up is title and the short description.

You’ll see that there is a 400 character limit for the short description (not words, characters – aka letters, spaces, punctuation, etc.). This is one of the reasons I say it’s good to have several of different length ready to go.  Something to consider for shorter works: though Smashwords has the word count clearly posted on each book’s page, not all their distributors do, so it’s best to put Short Story, Novella, Short Work, etc. at the beginning of the description to avoid angry reviews on Barnes and Noble and other sites.

Now comes the “long” description.  If it’s the exact same thing as your short description then it’s up to you if you want to bother with it or not. However, if you have a good hook written up that was too long for the short description above then plug it in here.

Choose the Language of your book and whether it has adult content or not. (A note on this. Smashwords has changed its policies and when you first visit the site, or visit it without being logged in, all books marked with adult content will not show up. You now have to remove the “adult content” filter instead of having to activate it.  While I understand this change, it’s not one I’m happy with as most of my books don’t show up for a casual visitor. But, don’t try to be sneaky and skip marking it as adult content if it really is. It just hurts everyone in the long run.)

You can also see there are pricing choices. Free is obvious – your work is free for others to download. Is this a good idea? There are blogs by the thousands that tackle that topic, so I’m not going to.

The next option is Reader Sets Price.  My advice on this option is to only use it on a book you would have otherwise marked free because most people’s determined price is free. However, once in a while you run into someone who pays more (I has someone pay 10$ for one of my books when I had this option set.)

Lastly is to set your own price. Type a number in and suddenly these magical pie charts will appear:

Click to see how Smashwords divides up the “profits”

These show you what percentage of the price that everyone is getting from your book.  Again, there are articles galore on ebook pricing, so I won’t get into that here. I will say this; there are probably people out there who will pay $10 or more of an ebook (there’s at least one person!) but they are the minority.

Once your price is set determine how much sampling you want by changing the numbers. If your ebooks is free (mine is), then this will be grayed out.

What is sampling? Go to any smashwords book page (in a new window!) and scroll down past the description and you’ll see a table that looks much like this:

See where it says 50%? The author has chosen to share a 50% sample, or half the book, for free. It’s up to you how much you want to share, but I do recommend making at least the first chapter available.

Now it’s time to choose the categories your book fits in.

You’ll initially have one box and, as you choose subcategories, new boxes will appear. Find the best fit for your book. For instance, there is no vampire category (sadly) and though this particular story doesn’t really have any horror in it, the other stories in the series do, so I chose Fiction>Literature>Horror so that it is in the same category as the rest of the series.

Now add some tags

Use words that you think someone would use if they were searching for your book.  As you type them in they will appear above the box. If you decide you don’t like one – or you have a typo – then use the “remove” to take it off.

Now you need to choose what file types you’d like your book to appear in

Rule of thumb is the more formats, the more potential readers, however, some books just don’t work well in all types. For instance, plain Text means text only – no images. If your book needs pictures then you should uncheck this option.

Now we’re ready to upload the files!

Use the Choose File button to get a pop up box and find your book cover on your computer. As the box says, it must be a .jpg, .gif or .png and needs to be at least 600 pixels tall. I prefer to use high res images, myself, but it’s all a matter of choice.

Now upload your pre-formatted document.  (For help with formatting see some of our previous posts).

Check over the publishing agreement and hit the happy publish button!

Usually my browser window will sporadically pop back up to the middle of the page and stare at me for a few moments. If this happens to you, don’t panic. First, check the bottom left of your browser window and (depending on your browser) you will likely see something that says “Uploading” and has a percentage. This means your files are uploading – it can take a moment. If you don’t see that, then scroll through the page to make sure there are no red errors. If several minutes pass and still nothing has happened, then check your dashboard in a new tab to see if the book is listed. If not, then hit the publish button again or refresh the page and redo the forms.

Once the files are uploaded a new page will appear that says something like:

Your number will be different. As it says, you can leave it opened or close it out. I prefer to leave it opened.

When it has finished converting you will get an email with the conversion results – including any file errors – and the page should change. If you have no errors it will look like this:

Click on the “View this page’s Smashwords page” link.

An aside. I said the page SHOULD change. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes it will say “complete” next to all the files and just sit and stare at you. If that happens then 1- be sure to check your mail to make sure the conversion has no errors and 2 – go to your dashboard and access the book’s page from there.

Check the page over – make sure your synopsis is correct, that the book cover looks right, etc. Then scroll down to the table of download options and save the epub version to your computer (I throw mine on the desktop).

In a new tab head to http://threepress.org/document/epub-validate

Choose file (make sure it is the epub version you just downloaded and NOT the doc you used for smashwords!) and then hit the validate button.

It may take a few minutes, but if there are no errors you’ll get a screen like this:

If so, then you’re done. Share your new Smashwords link with the world and revel in your accomplishments!

But, what if you have errors?  There are too many possibilities for me to cover in this blog, so if you have errors, either in the epub or with the meatgrinder, be sure to check Smashwords FAQ at – http://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq

Assuming you have no errors, pop back to smashwords and go to your dashboard and then your ISBN manager (or if you have that handy warning on top of your page just click it!)

There is a LOOONG article describing the different types of ISBN numbers. Read it and choose the option that is right for you (I use the free ones).

When you’ve decided you’ll find, at the end of all that text, a table listing all your books and telling you whether or not you have ISBN numbers – as you can see Benjamin does not have one (and neither does my test book)

Click Assign ISBN.

You’ll go to a new page where you make your selection:

Make your choice and click “Review Order” (don’t let this scare you – it does not mean you’re paying for anything .)

You will get a new page detailing your choices (and I assume payment options if necessary). Check to make sure it is what you want and press Confirm.

And then – congratulations – a new page will appear that will list your title, ISBN, etc. on it. Save the info to your records (if you do that) and then  go back to your dashboard.

Now we need to double check the distribution, so go to your Distribution Manager

Scroll down to your book and make sure that it is opted in – and out – of everything that you want. If not, make changes. (As of this posting Smashwords is still not distributing to Amazon, however, I recommend adjusting the settings for this so that when they do you’ll be ready).

And that’s it. There’s nothing else to do until your book is approved for the Premium Distribution (you can check the status on your dashboard at any time.) It takes a few days, and even after it is approved it takes some time to ship. I uploaded Ties of Blood on September 10th and it has still not shipped a month later, despite being approved, meanwhile, the last story I uploaded shipped within two weeks, so I think it depends on volume at the time of your upload. Either way, be patient and, if it seems to be taking too long, file a ticket through the help at the top of the page.

And that’s it! Pretty easy, huh?

Categories: Barnes & Noble store, Publishing Basics, Self-Publishing, Smashwords store | Tags: , ,

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