When I first realized I wanted to be an author, I found that I was easily overwhelmed by the extreme learning curve I had before me. And it wasn’t just stuff you had to learn, but also execute every day after that. To keep from getting ulcers (jury is still out on that) I told myself that if I could just learn one new thing a day, I would be okay and I wouldn’t get so stressed out that I wanted to quit.
Well, that kind of worked. Ha! But I thought I would share some of the things I learned along the way on this blog.
Sh!t I Learned Today: How to Smash Words
For those of you who don’t know what Smashwords is: It’s a publishing platform that will distribute your work to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, etc. It’s basically a one stop shop for everything BUT Amazon.
I knew that Smashwords was a good tool to use, but I avoided it because I thought the formatting would be hard and I told myself I didn’t have the time. I was seriously intimidated, because you format within a Word Document and then upload that document to Smashwords. The Word Doc is then converted into all the needed file types by the different retailers.
As anybody knows, Word is pretty tricky especially if you are trying to remove formatting. But after a few hours of reading the style guide and implementing its step-by-step process, I formatted my first book! Then I did the second and the third book. So far, I’ve uploaded all of them without any major issues.
Here’s some of what I learned:
- NEVER EVER EVER use the “Tab” button.
- Use the Style section in word to do all the major formatting. By not using the easy buttons at the top of your Word document, you are basically formatting from the ground up and your changes will “stick” throughout the conversion process.
- Before you start formatting, copy and paste your entire book into Notepad. It’ll strip it off all the formatting so it’s “clean.”
- I tend to do a space before I hit Enter for the next paragraph. I don’t know why but I do. If you do that too, you can easily remove them or any other errant spaces! Just do a Find and Replace using Find: SPACE (don’t actually type space but hit the space bar)^p. And replace with just: ^p. That “^p” signals a new paragraph. So you can adjust the number or places of spaces to reflect what you need to fix.
- Always have the Show/Hide button on. So you can see all the weird formatting stuff. It helps!
I’m still waiting for Premium Catalog status, which gets my books into the other retailers besides Smashwords. So far, everything is going smoothly, so that just goes to show you that following the Style Guide will really work!
All in all, it wasn’t an awful experience. It was actually pretty empowering as an author to tackle and learn how to do it on my own. I’m still not formatting for Amazon or Createspace, but I’m one step closer to getting there!