Your book is written, formatted, edited, proofread again and again, ad infinitum. You’ve written and honed your blurb. You’ve found the perfect cover. All your ducks are in a row, and you’re ready to publish.
This part isn’t that hard once you’ve done all the groundwork. I’ve published at KDP (Amazon), Smashwords, and Nook (Barnes and Noble), and it’s pretty much the same procedure. The publishing pages walk you through it, step by step. Generally they start with entering your title, your name as author, picking the categories you want your book listed in (the number you can choose varies from site to site). You upload your cover, and then your manuscript (more on that in just a bit). You set your sale price, which determines your royalty amount, you swear on a virtual stack of Bibles that you own all the rights to your manuscript, you click on something that says Publish or some variation of that, and then you wait for your book to go live. The length of time that takes depends on where you are publishing it.
Now here are a few extra details about publishing on the three venues I mentioned.
KDP: I think I read somewhere that Amazon sells 60% or more of the eBooks out there, so it’s definitely the place you want to be. Publishing on them is pretty straightforward. However, after you upload your manuscript, there’s a bit of waiting time during which they will tell you that you can proceed to the next page and select your royalty. DON’T DO IT, at least not then. If you go ahead to the royalty page, you cannot go back to look at the preview of your book at that time. You can back and look at it, but not until it has gone live, which can take 12 to 24 hours. If you check it at that time and see there is something you want to change, when you upload the corrected version, it will take another 12-24 hours for that version to go live. Now you’re probably thinking, I did all that proofreading, how could there possibly be a mistake in my manuscript? But it might not be your mistake. Sometimes when the manuscript is converted from a Word doc to mobi, it will make some things look strange. Italics might not always come out right, the system might throw in a blank page or two at the end of the chapter, and sometimes you do spot one more little typo you missed. If any of that happens, you go back to your original doc, make the correction, and reload the book.
Another caveat about viewing the previewer is that you can’t always get the previewer to work if you’re on line via Internet Explorer. This too is a mater that comes up frequently on the forums. I usually use IE, but when I’m ready to publish on KDP, I go on line via Firefox, and the previewer works fine.
NOOK: The strange thing that Nook requires is a SECTION BREAK between each chapter, not a page break like the two other publishers (or whatever KDP and Smashwords should be called; I know they make a point of saying that the indie author is the publisher as well, but what do you call them then?). If you don’t put in a section break, just a page break, all your chapters will just run together. You might not think that sounds bad, but I downloaded a book without breaks between the chapters, and it was very weird reading it.
Nook has a very nice and easy to use previewer for your book. If you check it and find a mistake, like you left out a section break, just go back to your original manuscript, fix it, and resubmit.
SMASHWORDS: A lot of people avoid publishing here because of the meatgrinder, because they’ve heard getting your manuscript through it is an awful experience. Personally, I’ve formatted my books the way I described and have never had a problem with the meatgrinder. The only problem I had there, and this was just recently, was with the table of contents. Word will put ‘hidden booksmarks’ in your list of bookmarks; you click on ‘hidden bookmarks’ in the bookmark box and it will show them. You delete them there, and everything’s hunky dory. Unless Word decides to put them back for some unknown reason (I don’t even know why they’re there in the first place). Apparently if your TOC has hidden bookmarks, it won’t work on Smashwords and you won’t get premium distribution. The only way they notify you of this is in a little box on your dashboard, and in my case, that didn’t show up until several days after publication. After you make the correction and resubmit, it goes to review again for premium distribution.
The nice thing about Smashwords is that they email you every time you make a sale or someone leaves a review. With the other sites, you have to look up your sales yourself. KDP has a new feature which they also call a dashboard that gives you a graph-like chart of your sales, and another feature that breaks the sales down by book. Nook also has a mini-graph that shows your sales by month. With both KDP and Nook you have to look at your sales page to see if anyone has left a review.
And there you have it in six easy parts (an I thought it would be a one-shot entry), how to go from idea to published eBook. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I might not know the answer, in which case, that’s what I’ll tell you.
BTW, I recently got a new computer and just downloaded Office 2013 to it. It turns out the feature I mentioned, Windows Picture Manager, which allowed you to resize your cover to the correct number of pixels, is no longer included in the Office suite. Boo on them!