Technology is a wonderful thing, it really is. I am typing this blog on my iPad in a hotel room in San Francisco. I just set Sheri’s iPad up so she could use her 3G chip this month while we are traveling around. In a few moments we are going to be heading towards downtown San Francisco and I will pull up the addresses of garages we can park at.
My current writing career is completely fueled by technology (this is using the word career loosely). Without e-books I would have been unable to unleash upon the world my particular brand of madness. I am actually very thankful for that. However, the last hoop I have to jump through in order to get my novel in the iBookstore has been a major pain in the ass.
Yes, I am talking about Smashwords. You see, I can’t put my book on the iPad unless I want to buy an ISBN number. This is an expense I am not quite ready to make. The way around it is to submit to Smashwords and they will give you an ISBN and put you in the iBookstore (as well as Sony’s e-bookstore).
The problem is Smashwords also submits to a bunch of other stores and formats. The way Smashwords handles this is by making you submit your book in Microsoft Word so that they can put it through their meat grinder e-book creator which spits out all the different versions. It is a ridiculous system. I only want to submit to a few stores and I have the knowledge to create my own ePub files. By making me use Word and their meat grinder I am at the mercy of Smashwords that everything will work.
Let me tell you it hasn’t. Don’t get me wrong it produced a readable book the first submission but it added all kinds of weird little errors. The only way to fix these errors was by trial and error. You make a few adjustments in Word and submit it again. You then cross your fingers and hope it works. I think I submitted both my books ten times.
Between my brother and I, we slowly have learned what mucks up the format. I am seriously thinking about starting up a formatting service for other authors. When I put my books on the Nook and Kindle I had nowhere near this problem because I could edit my own e-book file and the code in it. You don’t get to touch Smashwords code. You get to play, “I wonder what will happen if I do this?” instead. It was way too frustrating, especially when I had a working epub file already out there on the Kindle and Nook. Just another learning expereince of being my own boss. It felt like a huge waste of time. Hopefully, we learned enough that the next book won’t be such a chore.