May 2, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Velda Brotherton

Thanks so much Sarah, for inviting me to host a blog here today. Since I've been working for the past few weeks on editing, formatting and uploading short stories to Smashwords for publication on all e-book readers, I thought maybe that would be a good subject to write about.

So here goes: Please remember that I'm not an expert, either with a computer or formatting and certainly not on Smashwords. I'm a pretty good editor, since that's what I did for ten years with a local newspaper. Being city editor of a weekly newspaper isn't exactly the big league, but it taught me a lot about catching mistakes, even in my own work. This brings up an important point. If you are publishing previously unpublished work, that is it hasn't been professionally edited, get that done. You don't want to present work that needs editing.

For everyone interested in becoming a publisher of e-books, there are certain steps that have to be taken. First you should decide where you want your stories published. I opted for all e-book readers, which means there's only one place to go to make that easty, and that's Smashwords. This program will take your upload, grind it up (they call it the meat grinder) and spit out a version for each and every reader. But only if you give it the proper format.

You can publish directly to Kindle, Nook or a number of other e-readers, but this calls for a separate formatting and uploading process for each one. Smashwords is free going in and they take a very small percentage of sales. However, I am considering publishing only to Kindle for some of my work which would do well in that market.

The best way to get started is to download Smashwords Free Guide from the website. Like anyone else giving us "dummies" instructions, there's a lot of trivia that we don't need, and some info left out. The first thing I did was mark, copy and paste the actual steps, leaving out all the excess fluff, and make myself a document I could print and place next to my computer. Follow it and you should turn out a usable product.

My first mistake, and I made a few going in, was to presume that a page on my document was a page in the e-reader. It isn't, and they don't explain that. The formatting must continue to flow, ignoring the pages in your document. The proper formatting is simply set up by paragraphing. No more than two or three between pages, or you'll create a blank page on the e-reader.

Every story, article or book uploaded to Smashwords must have a jpg of your cover. You need to make sure it's at least a bit professional. I opted to use Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, but you can use Corel Draw or the paint program on Windows. Photoshop is a difficult program and I kept my first covers simple. Time for showing off later. As if that'll ever happen.

A writer friend, who has published a lot of her backlist books helped me out. (Here's her blog which has tons more information on the process: Her advice: There are two ways to go on this. Learn to do it all yourself and reap all the profits or pay someone to do it for you.

This is a steep learning curve, and there were times when I alternately wanted to torch my computer or tear out my hair. I even thought of hitting the sauce a few times. Poor hubby took the brunt of my frustrations as I plopped down in my recliner at the end of the day and brought him up to date. In the end I succeeded in getting two e-books uploaded, published by Smashwords and in line for publication on all e-readers despite being a dummy where computers are concerned. I priced them at 99-cents. (Here's a link to those stories: and the other number is 56441 at the end of the link)

Once you have gotten this far, you want to be sure to check your finished product. This is important. Download two programs to your computer: Kindle for PC and Adobe Digital Editions, both free. Then when your story or book is published online, you can download it to each of these to make sure it looks the way you want it to on these most important readers. Readers who want to read your books and don't have an e-reader, can download one of these programs to their computer and then read them there.

Next step, and one I haven't really begun yet is promotion. Everyone in this business agrees that promotion takes 60% of your effort if you want to do well in this market. It's important to have a good story and easy-to-read formatting, but if you can't get anyone to read it, none of it matters much. So I figure it's time to begin to collect promotional information. It's easy to publish promo information to your Facebook profile and to your blog, so I've started there.

Here's a few sites which I haven't investigated yet, so I can't vouch for how much good they'll do. Check them out for yourself.

It's also wise to check out the blogs of some writers who have experienced a lot of success with e-books like J.A. Konrath; Amanda Hocking; Cait London. And if you'd like check out my blog on which I've been publishing my experiences with e-book publishing for the past few weeks, you can find it HERE. There's a lot more helpful information there.

Also, here's my website: 


Amy said...

Good stuff, Velda. Sounds like a lot of work. I've seen authors sell their works like this. Can you tell me why you only charge a dollar? It seems like you worked so much harder than that! Great post!

Anonymous said...

Today the market is tough. You'll find many books for 99-cents to push them higher on the sales and get attention. My books will probably sell for more, or so I hope.
You have to remember ebooks have a worldwide market to a possible millions of people so once we get a following, the income can be great.
Glad you enjoyed the post.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Grimm said...


Great information! Thanks for sharing it with us!