thinking outside the tank

Archive for December 2009

Smashwords doesn’t suck after all – it is I

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I asked the question recently: Will Smashwords suck? I thought they were slow to respond to my request for support.

It had been a week since my email to them and I hadn’t heard anything. I was about to post a new blog entry to the effect that they certainly would suck if they didn’t reply soon. Before hitting SEND, I thought I’d better check my remote mail server that acts as my first line of defence against spam. Sure enough – oops – there were two very timely responses to my emails in the mailbox; they simply hadn’t been forwarded to the mailbox I normally use.

Conclusion: Smashwords are fine and I receive my doctorate in sucking (summa cum laude) next week.

It looks as though Smashwords are uploading books at a great rate. This has the effect that one’s own work is very soon difficult to notice as it slips down the initial date-related presentation.

The online book industry badly needs trusted reviewers to help people find their way among the rapidly growing quantity and highly variable quality of ebooks.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2009


Written by netkingcol

December 12, 2009 at 10:51 am

Will Smashwords suck?

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I’ve taken to heart my reading of Jeff Jarvis’s book ‘What Would Google Do?’ in which he documents how his interactions with Dell concerning hardware and communication problems led him to an understanding of the new internet-based business landscape.

I posted yesterday that I had uploaded a second book – The Stones of Liverpool – to Smashwords, a digital publishing business. Their automated conversion process generates a wide range of formats for the text, one of which is the IDPF’s EPUB. When I downloaded the book in this format, I found that it crashed my version of Adobe Digital Editions. The first book I uploaded – Mus musicus – converted correctly and doesn’t crash Digital Editions.

I emailed Smashwords support this morning. The question is: are they listening? I’ll let you know.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2009

Written by netkingcol

December 5, 2009 at 9:34 am

The Stones of Liverpool at Smashwords

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See this book at SmashwordsFollowing yesterday’s successful upload of Mus musicus, I have now uploaded The Stones of Liverpool to Smashwords.

In 2020-Liverpool, John, Andy, and Lily discover that the Jewel of Liverpool is more than a medallion worn by the mayor. It’s a dongle that allows its owner to surf the timespace web.

With the help of a timespace-traveller, they have to stop a gang of pirates from pillaging civilisations across time and space who take their plunder to a well-hidden timespace bubble in 16th century Rome.

The trick will be to do it without Liverpool crumbling to dust.

Written by netkingcol

December 4, 2009 at 7:24 pm

First impressions of Smashwords

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Yesterday I went through the process of publishing my story Mus musicus as an ebook on Smashwords. I’d read about them from my LinkedIn group ‘Tools of Change for Publishing’, which drew attention to their recent acquisition of the New Zealand-based digital book publisher BookHabit.

Smashwords Registration
The registration process was straightforward, requiring minimal initial details. This is followed by the arrival of an activation email to prove ownership of the email address.

Once logged in I was able to change a wide range of information about me and my account: personal profile, how I want to be contacted, how I want to be paid (most interesting), how much of my royalty do I want to share with affiliate members etc.  Most of these I’ve only just started to explore.

Read the Style Guide
The first thing you need to do is to read the Smashwords Style Guide which tells you how to prepare your ebook for submission. Essentially, you need to simplify your text in terms of its formatting and layout. The point is that ebooks don’t have page layout; the devices on which they are read need to be able to flow the text smoothly, screen by screen, and since these devices have screens that range in size from the largest computer monitor down to the smallest mobile phone, you can’t impose a page size on your book. It’s the same separation of content from presentation that makes CSS and XML so valuable.

The benefit you get from this is that Smashwords can deliver your text in the widest range of formats, making it available to the largest number of potential readers. The downside is that it’s advisable to keep a separate copy of the work if you want to preserve formatting for distribution through other channels. Editing multiple source documents is a nightmare. If I felt that Smashwords were the place to be then I would write new stories with the Style Guide in mind in order to minimise the rework. Mus musicus is about 25,000 words; I wouldn’t want to start from scratch preparing The Lord of the Rings. Read the rest of this entry »

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