Here’s what you need before you start to publish:
• A book description. Smashwords requires a long and short description, so have both ready. (I usually combine the short and long descriptions in my Amazon publication).
• A list of seven keywords. I recommend checking Google to research common keyword searches used to for the type of book that you use. For example, “science fiction” is fairly broad and will probably put you on page 1,000,000,000 or lower. However, “alien invasion colonization” will narrow that down and put you higher on a search list – and yes, people do search that way. You’d be amazed at the keywords they use.
• A book cover. If you’re blessed to be more savvy with graphic arts than I am, then you can buy images from iStock or Shutterstock for this. MorgueFile has free images available, but I would recommend asking the photographer’s permission to use their photo for a book cover, as a courtesy (I’ve done this a couple of times and they’re usually flattered to allow it, if you send them a free copy of the book). If you’re like me and your skill is limited Amazon Argentina, then you can hire it out. Check Smashwords to get a list of reasonably priced graphic artists who can help.
Once your novel is complete, get a copy of the Smashwords Style Guide, by Smashwords founder Mark Coker. Go to Smashwords to create a free account to download the eBook. I highly encourage you to follow their formatting steps carefully, as it’s critical to get through their “meatgrinder” process for inclusion in their Premium Catalog. This is an intensive evaluation process to make sure your book is going to appear correctly on ereaders and ereader apps, and the guidelines are strict. Don’t be discouraged if you get declined a couple of times and have to reformat – it sometimes takes me several reformats and downloads through the process to be approved for the Premium catalog. Inclusion in that catalog distributes your book to pretty much everybody but Amazon. There’s a different process to publish on Amazon, but it’s easy. I’d recommend publishing through Smashwords first, because if you get through their process and get accepted for the premium catalog, then you can rest assured that it will appear on Amazon without a hitch. Set up a Smashwords account to publish, and go to “Dashboard” to start the publication process.
The process to publish through Amazon is easier. I recommend reading Make a Killing on Kindle 2018 Edition: Without Blogging, Facebook or Building a Platform, by Michael Alvear. It gives tips on categories and keywords to enter while publishing so your book will be “seen” by more people searching for it. To publish, you start by going to Kindle Direct. If you have an Amazon account, then you can use your Amazon login to enter. From here, they walk you through the process. It can take up to 72 hours for your book to publish, but my experience has been that it’s up for sale on Amazon within 24-36 hours.
The best news is that publishing this way is free.
Here are a few more notes on self publishing to make the process smoother:
• I suggest having your manuscript professionally proofread by somebody who doesn’t know you personally. Of course, if you know somebody who you feel is willing to give it an objective read-through then go for it. If not, you can check Goodreads for beta and proofreader groups that might be able to point you in the right direction of a proofreader for your genre. Be forewarned, this process can be a bit expensive, but once you get in with someone then they’ll usually lock you into a lower rate.
• A price point between $0.99-$2.99 is standard for eBooks, and usually generates the most sales. $2.99 allows you 70% royalties, however, I found that my book sales increased when I dropped the price to $1.99 for my full length novels. I usually price long stories or novellas at $0.99.
• You can’t enter your book in KDP Select if you also publish through Smashwords. The KDP Select program is only for books that are published through Amazon and nowhere else. It’s up to you if you choose to only publish through Amazon. While most of my sales are there, I also get a fair amount of sales through the Apple iBooks store and occasionally through Barnes & Noble, so I don’t want to alienate those crowds.
• If you publish on Amazon, you’ll also need to set up an Amazon Author Page. Again, you can use your regular Amazon login, and they pretty much guide you through the process. You’ll need to go to this site to claim your book once it publishes – that isn’t automatic.
• If you’re on Goodreads, you’ll also need to claim your book there. I recommend claiming it on your Amazon Author Page and Goodreads at the same time, so you’ll have all the ASIN number from Amazon to enter on Goodreads so they can link it.
• If you don’t have a PayPal account for book royalties, set one up before you publish. Both Amazon and Smashwords can transmit your royalty payments quick and easy through PayPal. Be sure to get the app for your phone so you can process those payments quick and easy (I use a personal account).
• I also recommend converting your manuscript to a PDF so you can download it for your copyright and to send as a review copy to reviewers. Do a search online for “Free PDF Converters.” Most of them will allow you to convert a few documents a day for free.
• If you want to formally apply for a copyright for your book, you can do so by going to . It costs $35, and you have to publish the book first. Be sure to have a credit card handy, and to be ready to download a PDF of your manuscript for them. Don’t be surprised if it takes 6 months or more to get it – they’re slow.