Pay Me, Bug! vs. Smashwords: Round One

Putting Pay Me, Bug! on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com was only the first step in my Plan For World Domination. The next step is to try to get it on Smashwords.com, because Smashwords can also distribute it to other outlets–specifically the iTunes ebook market, but also Kobo and a few others where I don’t currently reach.

But Smashwords is a pain in the ass to use.

I spent a month of my life figuring out how to publish PMB! as an eBook, and I did a damn fine job of it, if I do say so myself. It looks good on a Kindle, it looks good on a Nook, and if your ePub reader supports enough of the ePub standard, it’ll look good on that too. Smashwords doesn’t care–they want you to send a text document so your ebook can be pushed through a custom piece of software they lovingly call “The Grinder” so they can create the various formats themselves.

That alone annoys the hell out of me, but I can sort of understand it, since they offer a huge amount of formats, including text, PDF, and even a palm reader format that you can publish to. But what really gets me is that they require it be sent in Microsoft Word.

Sigh.

Anyway, I put it off for a long time because everything about this process screams “mind-numbing hassle” to me, and I really didn’t need that during NaNoWriMo. I don’t need it now, either, but what they offer is genuinely useful and I want to use them, so I took a deep breath and made the plunge.

Pay Me, Bug! vs. Smashwords: Round One — Point to Smashwords

The eBook creation program I use is called Jutoh, and it kicks ass. It lets you build a book and compile it into a number of different formats, including ePub, mobi, and something they call “Smashwords ODF” which saves your ebook in an OpenOffice/LibreOffice ODF file formatted in the way Smashwords wants it.

I did that, saved the ODF to .doc, uploaded it, and let the conversion begin.

Success! so I thought. it converted correctly, I downloaded the epub, and it looked pretty good. You can see the Smashwords page for Pay Me, Bug! here.

So then I tried to submit it to the various distribution channels. Immediately the Smashword pages screamed at me “NO NO NO YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG AND WE WILL REJECT YOU WHOLLY AND UTTERLY YOU CRAVEN FOOL.”

Well it didn’t actually do that. It simply said it found a few problems: it didn’t like the way I gave my copyright notice (not on the title page, but on the following page, which is really the traditional way I’ve seen it done but THEY DON’T CARE) and they didn’t like that the word doc had inserted a .04″ bit of padding between paragraphs.

So… the book is for sale on Smashwords (it’s good enough for their own store, apparently) but will not be available for iTunes and Kobo and other markets until I fix this issue and it is vetted accordingly.

Which means I will have to use another precious ISBN (the number that is used to track book sales) in order to put this eBook out, because I’m going to have to change the way the book is organized by moving some copyright info to the title page. This makes it a different “edition” of the book (in fact Smashwords recommends putting “Smashwords edition” under the copyright notice) and you need a new ISBN for each “edition” you publish.

So currently:

Barnes & Noble ePub: unique ISBN
Amazon Kindle: unique ISBN
and now “Smashwords edition” (in multiple file formats, including ePub and mobi): unique ISBN

Anyway, it’s up at Smashwords now… and in a day or so will be replaced by the new version with the new ISBN that hopefully does everything its supposed to do to make a Microsoft Word document palatable to iTunes as an eBook.

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