Monday, August 15, 2011

Smashwords and Amazon Kindle

Story continued from 8/12/11.

After two weeks passed without Smashwords approving Godspeed Inc. for the Premium Catalog (which would allow distribution to Kindle, Nook, Sony, and so on), I began to get nervous.

What was happening?

I searched online about delays with Smashwords, and I saw that other authors had similar concerns.  Then I found one author who recommended using Smashwords for distribution to all the other ebook outlets except Amazon Kindle.  Dealing with Amazon was easy and a pleasure.  She'd also tried dealing with Barnes & Noble's Nook directly, but she found that to be impossible.  Her advice:  let Smashwords deal with Nook and everything else except Amazon Kindle.

Meanwhile, while I was waiting, another (mainly) SF writer-friend, Joy V. Smith,  became interested in publishing an ebook using Smashwords.  So with my newly developed Smashwords skills, I helped to help guide her.  She was able to conquer all the formatting parts, except she didn't have a simple photo editor to create a picture for the cover (a vital part of ebook publishing).  Her picture was simple enough--a house, since her ebook chronicled her experiences remodeling an older house.

I used a simple editing program called Lviewpro to crop her picture and add her name and title.  She even gave me credit as the book cover designer.  I highly recommend visiting the Amazon page for her book:

 Joy also regularly writes three blogs.  Two are listed here:

 Finally, Godspeed Inc. was approved for the Premium Catalog (about two days after I emailed Mark Corker who let me know his team was backed up) and appeared several days later at Barnes & Noble for Nook.  But more weeks passed, and it still didn't appear on Amazon.

Then I found another author who also advised opting out of distribution to Amazon via Smashwords and to use Kindle Direct. So, I did.  At first, I had to list Godspeed for $.99, but once Amazon listed it as free, downloads took off like a rocket.  I marveled at 20 to 50 downloads in an hour. I started obsessively refreshing the numbers page just to see the download number increase.

I realized that Smashwords was never going to distribute Godspeed to Amazon because generally Amazon did not handle free ebooks (but was happy to reduce prices to zero if other outlets priced an ebook that way).

Amazon is a monster with hundreds of thousands of Kindle readers looking for free ebooks.  For a few days, Godspeed Inc:  A Naomi Kinder Adventure was even listed as Number 1 on the Bestsellers in Science Fiction Adventure free category on Amazon.

Here's Godspeed's link on Amazon:

 I still have to tell about the importance of reviews and my novel:  Rescuing the Future:  A Naomi Kinder Novel.


To be continued.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ebook Programs Abound for PCs and Smartphones

Don't have a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, or iPad?  You can still read ebooks on your PC or smartphone. Both Barnes & Noble and Amazon have free programs for your smartphone and PC that are also called Nook and Kindle.  And those programs mimic the features of their more expensive electronic siblings.

So now without buying a Kindle, Nook, or Sony Reader, you can download hundreds or thousands of books, many of them free. And there's more:  other programs such as Stanza and e-reader also allow you to download and read ebooks. Many free ebook sites allow files to be downloaded in pdf, rtf, or html formats.

I use the Kindle, Nook, and Stanza programs on my iPhone. Are they as good on my iPhone as on an actual Kindle or Nook?  No, but okay--I don't always want to carry around my Nook, but I almost always have my phone.

My advice is to download the free ebook programs to at least see what you are missing.


Smashwords and Mark Corker

In June, my adult children gave me a Nook for my birthday, and I quickly discovered two free ebooks by Mark Corker:  Smashwords Style Guide and Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.  These books opened up the world of free ebook publishing to me.

For months, I'd been trying to interest several agents and two science fiction publishers in my sf novel Rescuing the Future, but without success. No one wanted to read the novel.

Corker's books gave me an idea:  first publish a prequel novelette called Godspeed Inc. as a free ebook (on which Rescuing the Future was based). I'd gain experience working with Smashwords and since Godspeed was really a reprint, I had nothing to lose. Then if that worked well, I could try to sell Rescuing as an ebook.

I followed all the formatting instructions and used a simple photo program to create a cover for Godspeed.  Since Naomi Kinder is the main character of both works, I decided to subtitle Godspeed Inc. with A Naomi Kinder Adventure, and the subtitle had to appear on the cover. Doing that gave me some branding to link the two (and prepare for two subsequent novels in the series).

Within a matter of minutes of uploading the file and cover picture, Godspeed was published on Smashwords.  Now, according to Corker, distribution to other outlets, including Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook, should follow in about a week after Godspeed was reviewed by Smashwords staff and achieved Premier Catalog status.

But then two weeks went by.  To be continued.

To see Godspeed from Smashwords go to

Vin Miskell