02 December 2011

Smashwords, AutoVetter and the Premium Catalogue

Once you've written the very best book you can, edited and polished it until it shines and then had it professionally edited, and either created or had someone else create a cover, you're ready to start the process of publishing it.
After logging into your Smashwords Dashboard you click on the menu item Publish.   On this screen you need to insert the title of your book, and then a short description.  This is basically the blurb on your back cover, but you don't have a lot to play with, just 400 characters.  I had a fairly lean blurb but even so I needed to cut it back.  You then have an optional long blurb of up to 4,000 characters, and I put my slightly longer description in that area, though it was nowhere close to the 4,000 character limit.
On this screen you also select the price of your book, and whether you want to enable sampling.  I chose to do this as I feel it's the same as looking through a book in a bookstore, and if I can't look through some of an online book to get a feel for it, then I'm not going to buy it. 
Now you select a category for your book.  There isn't much choice, but in the next area you can add tags.  For these you need to consider the words or descriptions that people might type into a search engine to bring up your book.
The next option is the formats in which you'd like your book available, and there is a list of about seven different formats. 
Then we come to the upload stage.  Firstly your cover, and then your precious manuscript.
I must have uploaded it while the rest of the world slept as I was lucky 10 in the queue, and Lives Interrupted uploaded as I was watching, but depending on how busy it is you may need to wander away from your computer and find something else to do, and await an email confirming that the upload was successful. 
About 24 hrs later I had another email saying there weren't any AutoVetter errors, and the book was now in the queue to be checked by the vetting team for the Premium catalogue.  Having your book in the Premium catalogue means wider distribution channels which includes the Apple store, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo.  It doesn't cost you anything other than making sure you've followed the Style Guide and produced the very best book you can, and why wouldn't you want to do that.
At this point, basking in the glow of no AutoVetter errors, being busy with work, and formatting and uploading to Amazon, I forgot to check my Smashwords Dashboard for a few days.  When I did remember to log onto the site to see if I had passed the review and was in the Premium Catalogue I saw that… oops it hadn't.  

I had downloaded a copy as soon as I could and checked to make sure the formatting was good, so what could be the problem.  The reason given was that my Table of Contents was incorrect, but I hadn't put a table of contents into the manuscript! 
I understand the point of a table of contents for non-fiction books in any format, and for print novels if the chapter headings are meaningful, but Lives Interrupted has short sections with headings that are the name of the POV character, so I didn't seen any reason for including a table of contents. 
But if a table of contents is required for the Premium Catalogue then they could have one.
I decided against creating one that included every section as there are about 90 (as I said most are very short) and decided to go for a link to the start of the book (bypassing the copyright stuff), one at the beginning of Part Two, another at the author's bio, and a final link for the sample short story.
Creating these links is simply putting a Word 'bookmark' at the exact points you wish each link to go to, and then typing up these headings at the beginning of the manuscript and hyperlinking them to your bookmarks.  The style guide explains each step, but if anyone would like a bit more info I'm happy to email them.
Then it was back to the upload screen.  Again I received the no errors AutoVetter email, but this time there was no basking in the glow.  I logged onto the Smashwords site most days until the 'Under Review' status changed to read 'Approved'.  Yay another milestone reached.

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