Sunday, February 24, 2013

Following Directions

So, Smashwords is a big bunch of meanies.

There, I said it.  You saw me stamp my foot, right?  Well, I did it, whether you saw it or not.

You're probably wondering why I just called the largest multi-platform free author sales resource on the planet a "big bunch of meanies," right?  Especially when that phrase hasn't seriously escaped my mouth--or my fingies--for decades?

They're making me follow directions, that's why.

Remember that whole thing yesterday about authorpreneurship being hard?  Complex would've been the better term, really.  It's not hard to read and follow directions, honestly.  Keeping in mind that everybody you work with has different directions?  Still not hard, just complex.

Here's the specifics.  Back when I began this self-publishing wizardry, I successfully loaded Cataclysm up onto Smashwords.  No problem, really.  Then I successfully unloaded it when I found out about the opportunity presented by KDP through Amazon and its one requirement--that the book not be available anywhere else.

See how often I use the word successfully?

Fast-forward to now, with Married to Mars going up.  It's the boxed set of the three novels plus a little bit extra.  I have no desire to put it up on KDP, really, so it's going up on Smashwords, too.

Smashwords, though, rejected it.

What?  Reject me, an experienced authorpreneur?

I fixed the problem and resubmitted.


That's when I got serious and read the rejection note.  Smashwords, being a good partner, gives you very specific feedback on why they're saying "no, thank you."  It directs you to a specific spot in the well-written formatting guide.  Step 20, to be specific.


See, after I published Cataclysm the first time, I was urged to put tables of contents in the books.  Many readers never use them or expect them in ebooks, but others do, and those who don't use them won't be offended if they're there.  Thus, from a customer service standpoint, they're a Really Good Idea.  And by the way, the easiest way to put a ToC in, if you're using Word, is via the Table of Contents generator and styles.  That's the method I used to teach, in fact.  

Kindle likes that method.

Smashwords doesn't like that method, though.  Why?  Because they're generating multiple formats for the ebooks, not just one.  Their auto-generator needs some fairly basic, plain text to work with.  Word's ToC generator, meanwhile, uses some awfully funky field codes to do its dirty work. 

No, Smashwords wants you to use hyperlinks instead.  Hyperlinks are more universally understandable without the proprietary field codes.  And if I'd read the directions, I'd've known that the first time.


Big meanies, right?

Some day I'll be an expert at all this.  Then--well, then, I'm sure they'll change it.


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