Indie Publishing for International Writers, Step 4: Format Your Story

This is the fourth post in my continuing series INDIE PUBLISHING FOR INTERNATIONAL WRITERS, a step-by-step guide to getting your stories into (digital) print. I’ll be doing each step with you, learning as you do, because I’ve never done this before either.

Step Four: Format Your Story

All those different e-readers and devices use different software to display e-books, but there are a few industry standard file formats. What we are going to learn today is the digital equivalent of typesetting, known as formatting.

While you are waiting for your final edits or your cover, I recommend that you start learning how to format. You won’t be able to begin on your e-book until you have everything ready, but it’s good to get some practice in now.

Formatting 101

E-readers can do things that printed books can’t, but these features make formatting a little tricky. For one, e-books have no ‘pages’ as such.

Each user has their own default fonts, font sizes, and other display options, and your e-book must be set up so that it all displays correctly on their screen, and that your text flows and wraps correctly when they zoom in and out.

If you do it right, it looks really neat, and you can do all sorts of things like add weblinks, photos, even audio and video.

There’s no easy way to tell you this, but I am going to have to ask you to do something, and you are not going to like it. But if you want to publish your book, there is no way around it. You are going to have to do a teeny tiny bit of computer programming.

Alright. You got me. There is a way around it. You can pay someone to do it. But it will cost you a minimum of $100 per short story to get it done right. And will cost you a minimum of $200 per novel too.

Add more if it’s non-fiction, and more again if it’s super-long, has lots of images, or has any other visual/layout quirks that you want to incorporate.  Then, add more again if you are interested in publishing to more than just the Kindle (and you should be).

If you are still thinking about going this route, remember that’s more copies of your book you have to sell to cover your costs, longer time until you break even. And remember, all your costs are sunk costs, once you cover those, everything after that is profit. And you want to get to that point as quickly as possible.

Anyway, we are here to learn. When you get to the point where your time is too valuable, and should be spent writing instead, great, then outsource it. Until that time, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to format.

Guido Henkel’s Guide to Formatting

Self-published author Guido Henkel has produced an amazing document on how to format your e-book, and how to do it well. It’s a nine-part guide (but you get through it quite quickly as most of it is just patient explanation rather than actual steps you have to take).

If you are serious about doing this professionally, you have to go and read it when you are done here. I’ll summarise the key points below, but this summary is not a substitute for reading his guide.

Guido Henkel is the author of the Jason Dark series starring a ghost-hunter in Victorian London. As I mentioned a few days ago, digital publishing is allowing a lot of people to experiment with different lengths.

He has written a series of novellas, about 25,000 words each, or about 100 standard book pages, reviving the tradition of dime novels and penny dreadfuls.

They are old-fashioned Gothic horror stories, and I mean that in the best sense of that phrase, i.e. they are more about unbearable tension and creepy atmosphere than cheap thrills or gore.

They are a cut above that kind of slasher story, with all sorts of historical detail and references which really bring the story alive and give it depth and colour.

The books are excellent: top-notch production and great writing.  He just released the 10th book in the series – Curse of Kali – and to kick you off, you can buy the first book in the series – Demon’s Night – for the low, low price of $0.99.

Guido Henkel has provided this formatting guide for free, and if you find it useful, I suggest that you consider purchasing a copy of one of his books to show your appreciation.

Even if it’s not your genre, I recommend it. It’s a great read. And besides, if you really want to know how to format a book, you should look at one that is done perfectly.

If you don’t have a smartphone or e-reader, go to Amazon right now and download Kindle-for-PC (there’s a link at the bottom of that page to download a Kindle reader for all other systems/devices).

It’s free, and you will need it anyway to check the formatting on your own stories. Once you have installed it, you can sample Kindle books for free (and see how the formatting looks).

The Basics

1. There are no shortcuts. You might hear about shortcuts, and think that I didn’t know about them. But if you try, for example, just to export an e-reader ready file from your manuscript in Microsoft Word it will be an unmitigated disaster. Trust me.

2. There really are no shortcuts. You might also hear about programs which can create the Kindle-ready file straight from your Word file. These can leave problems in your formatting, and won’t give you all the files you need for all the sales channels anyway, so you are just adding an unnecessary step which may cause you problems.

3. Microsoft Word is not your friend. All those bells and whistles they have added over the years, the automatic indenting, the ‘smart’ quotes, and so on, are about to cause you extreme pain.

4. You are going to have to get into some HTML, there is no avoiding it. If you are smart enough to write a book, you are smart enough to do this. Don’t fret. It’s not that bad if you take your time and follow the instructions exactly.

5. You will need some new software. Don’t worry, it’s free and simple to use. In Guido Henkel’s guide he recommends TextMate for the HTML, but if you have a PC, I recommend Notepad++.

The Nitty Gritty

As I mentioned before, there are various sales channels for your e-book, and to maximise your revenue, you should upload to as many of them as you can.  There are some restrictions, and I won’t be able to guide you on exact process of uploading to B&N because they don’t let international authors publish their work directly.

Instead, we have to go through Smashwords.  But if you can upload direct to B&N, I can at least show you how to produce the file that you will need. Essentially, what you need to produce are three separate documents:

1. MOBI file – this is what you need to publish on Amazon

2. EPUB file – this is what B&N require (and it’s useful for Xinxii).

3. A clean Microsoft Word document for Smashwords (this is the only file kind they accept), which they will then convert themselves into all the files needed for the channels they distribute to.

If you follow Guido Henkel’s step-by-step guide, you will end up with the MOBI & EPUB files. It took me a few hours to do a 4,000 word piece, but I can see it going a lot quicker in the future – even with much longer work – now that I know what I am doing.

Smashwords

The clean Microsoft Word document you will have to do yourself. It’s a frustrating process, essentially about taking out all the styles and formatting that Microsoft puts in automatically, and re-entering them a different way.

If your editor is familiar with the process, this is something they could do for you, or at least get you part of the way along the road. Again, this is something that you will get much quicker at in the future, once you realise how to set up a document in the first place.

Smashwords have a style guide, available free here, to guide you through the process. Read it all. It’s no page-turner, but you can get through it in less than an hour and it’s essential to having your documents accepted there.

How quickly you can work through the style guide and convert your document will depend on your level of familiarity with Word.  My document took me less than an hour, but only because my editor had cleaned a lot of it up. At worst, it will take you a day – the first time.

Sales on Smashwords aren’t big, but it’s the only way to get onto Kobo, Sony, Diesel, and the only easy way to get into the Apple iBookstore, as well as the only way for international authors to get onto B&N. It’s worth the hassle.

Upload Your Work

Now that you have all the documents ready, you should upload your work to the various sites: Amazon, Smashwords, Xinxii (new European site), and PubIT (B&N) if you are in the US.  With Smashwords extended distribution channels, this means that your work will be for sale on Kobo, Diesel, Sony, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Xinxii, as well as all of the international Amazon sites.

Your e-book will take a few days to appear across the various sites (Amazon is usually 48-72 hours, Smashwords is longer).

Once your story appears, congratulate yourself, you are now a self-published writer. But, under my mother’s definition at least, you’re not an author yet.  To earn that title you need to sell some copies.

To do that, you need to let people know it’s there.  Next up, Step 5: Market Your Story.

As I mentioned above, Guido Henkel has provided this invaluable guide to formatting your story free of charge. If you found it useful, I suggest that you consider purchasing one of his novels.  I just bought the first in the Jason Dark Series, Demon’s Night, and it is excellent. I recommend you do the same. After all, it’s only $0.99, and if you follow his steps, he will have saved you hundreds of dollars. At the very least, please leave him a note in the comments on his website thanking him for his work. Spread the love at www.guidohenkel.com.

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
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69 Responses to Indie Publishing for International Writers, Step 4: Format Your Story

  1. JB Toner says:

    Another great post, David. Can’t wait to get started. Is there a typo in here (should the first can read: can’t)?

    “Instead, we have to go through Smashwords. But if you can upload direct to B&N, I can at least show you how to…”

    I haven’t found a cover designer yet. I send 2 emails to Carl Graves (Joe Konrath’s man) but got no answer. Can you recommend someone?

    Like

    • Not a typo no, but maybe it wasn’t the clearest. What I meant was that US writers can upload direct to B&N, and they need an EPUB file, and while I can’t speak to the process of uploading to B&N (because they won’t let me), I can at least show them how to generate the file that B&N require (EPUB).

      Re. cover designer, mine is not able to take on any projects right now. If you send a blank email to list@smashwords.com they will send you a list of cheap designers. Make sure to ask for samples of their work (and re-read the post on designing your cover). Also, check out the Absolute Write Forum, in their Self-Pubishing area, they have a sub-forum for covers, and you can ask for recommendations. That might be your best bet.

      You could also try getting a student to do it for free to build up their portfolio, just make sure they are aware of the ins and outs of cover design as described in my previous post.

      Like

    • I should have also said that KindleBoards (a forum), have a Yellow Pages which has a list of recommended providers, including editors, formatters, and cover designers. Go to the “Book Bazaar” section, then the “Writer’s Cafe” sub-section, and it should be a sticky at the top. You can view it as a guest, you don’t need to register.

      Like

    • JB – you might also want to check out these cover designers recommended by David Glen Larson: http://www.davidglenlarson.com/

      Like

  2. This information is really helpful. I’ve hired someone to do my first novel, but I am going to practice and learn to do this myself. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • I might hire someone when I get around to doing my novel, but it’s always good to learn to do it yourself too, especially if you have to correct anything in the future. Try practising with a short story, or the code that Guido Henkel lets you play with on his site, just to get a feel for it.

      Like

  3. Nice post. The only thing I’ll take issue with is that you have to get into HTML. If you run into problems, you may be forced to do that, but I’ve formatted all my books with OpenOffice and uploaded in .doc format and gotten kudos from reviewers about the formatting.

    One day I’m sure I will run into one of the quirks and I won’t be able to fix it in OpenOffice, and I’ll have to edit the HTML.

    Like

    • Hi Ed,

      While it’s true that many people can just do as you say, just as many others run into problems – you only have to look at the average self-published book to see what I mean. Also, I’m guessing you know your way around your word processor pretty well. Many people aren’t quite as proficient, and their documents won’t be as clean. They will have all sorts of styles in the background, will do common things like using the Tab key, and have all sorts of gunk that Word can put into documents. I think it’s best if you are learning from the start, to have the best habits, so that if you ever run into a problem, you know exactly what to do. It can be difficult the first time you do it, but after that it’s a breeze, and experienced operators can do an e-book in fifteen minutes.

      Dave

      Like

      • I started a longer response and then stopped. No sense getting into an argument that will have no satisfactory resolution. We can agree to disagree on this I suppose, especially the idea that you can get from a typical author created document to formatted ebook in fifteen minutes. At some point I will get around to writing a guide with exactly what I do to create the Word document.

        Like

      • Sorry Ed,

        I may have been a little glib in my response. It takes time, for sure, and you will need a lot of experience before you can do it that quickly, but for a short story, once you know what you are doing, it is possible, and a novel, under an hour.

        Don’t think that I am criticising your approach – far from it – if you can create well-formatted documents from .doc files, then you are onto a winner. But for the average author, with only a rudimentary knowledge of their word processor, who is probably using Word, and who may have worked on their document on a number of different computers, they could run into trouble.

        Dave

        P.S. I would be interested to see what you do with the Word document, if there is an easier way, I am all for it.

        Like

  4. Aonghus Fallon says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this post for a while, Dave. Needless to say, it’s lived up to expectations.

    In the meantime I’ve ordered a kindle and tried formatting my word document using one piece of software picked – more or less at random – from a list on wiki. It’s called ‘dropbook’ and the resultant format is PDB. That was when I discovered I’d have to do some programming. Ouch.

    I’ll definitely be checking out Guido’s article as I’m clearly only scratching the surface in terms of what needs to be done, and I may well buy one of his books too – I’m going to buy some e-books anyway, as I want to get a sense of what a properly formatted e-book looks like. Also my novella will be approximately the same length.

    Keep up the good work!

    Like

    • Hi Aonghus,

      I haven’t heard of dropbook, but there are a lot of options out there. I found Notepad++ simple to use, others prefer jEdit or Compozer. But the output file that you want is a simple HTML file that you can view in your browser. That way you can tinker with it and see the effect of your changes before you compile it into an e-book. For that second step I would only recommend Caliber.

      Looking at properly formatted e-books is crucial – look at everything – the copyright notices, the layout, author’s notes etc. – you want it to look exactly like a commercially produced e-book. Download some free samples of stuff done by the trade houses too, as well as self-publishers. It’s good to compare.

      Dave

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    • Guido Henkel says:

      Dropbook is actually used for Palm-formatted eBooks only. It is quite another can of worms but I’ve found that once you have a solid HTML source file it is easy to get all the other eBook formats fairly easily and quickly.

      I use Dropbook, too, and it typically takes me no more than a few minutes to convert my HTML file into the file needed for Dropbook, as it’s all just a series of search-and-replaces that can be fully automated.

      Like

  5. JB Toner says:

    Dave,

    Are you going to cover the topics of copyright and ISBN’s in future posts?

    JBT

    Like

    • Hi JB,

      Neither of those are really my area, but it something all authors should know, so I expect I have some research to do. At worst, I will cover them briefly and point to good resources on the topics, but I hope to do better than that.

      In short, you don’t need to purchase an ISBN if you are only publishing in e-book form. It can be desirable for some, but you don’t absolutely need it. Amazon doesn’t require one, and Smashwords provide you with one for free. Print is a different matter altogether – and I will be getting to that topic as a whole when we have covered all the e-publishing basics.

      Re. copyright is a huge area, and not very exciting for most, but there are certain things everyone should be aware of. Was there something in particular you wanted to know, or were you just looking for an overview?

      Keep all the suggestions coming, it’s helpful for me as I am running through my initial list of article ideas quicker than planned.

      Dave

      Like

      • Guido Henkel says:

        The thing with ISBNs is this, if you get one through Smashwords, Smashwords will appear as the publisher of your books. I don’t know how you feel about it, but for me that is simply not acceptable.

        Having an ISBN is ALWAYS a good idea. It will help get your book get entered in various catalogs for libraries, book dealers etc. which can increase your exposure and interest. In addition, there are numerous eBook distribution channels that do require an ISBN, such as Apple’s iBookstore, Kobo, etc.

        I recommend people buy their own ISBNs. They are easy to obtain through the official issuing agency (https://www.myidentifiers.com/) – takes about 5 minutes – and cost $25 apiece if you buy them as a pack of 10. That way you have full control of you book and you own the ISBN, which means you or your legal entity will be listed as the publisher.

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      • Guido has a point, and it’s certainly the way to go if you have a backlist of titles, or you have plans for quite a few titles in the near future. If you only have one title planned, and you are not doing a print version, then I would suggest holding off, unless the cost is no issue – it’s $250 for the pack of ten, but more expensive ($99 I think) if you buy them one-by-one. Remember also that you will need a fresh ISBN for each edition of your book, so you can’t, for example, use the same ISBN for the e-book and the paperback, even if the content is identical.

        If you are just starting out, and you are publishing a digital edition of a short story, then I don’t think it’s worth it, but you should consider it for any collections you release. Weigh the benefits and the costs and decide for yourself. I hope to write a post in the near future going into this in a lot more detail.

        As Guido says, if you are uploading directly to Apple or Kobo than you MUST have an ISBN.

        Like

  6. JB Toner says:

    Thanks, Guido and Dave.

    In response to Dave, I was not all sure of the significance of ISBN, and I’ve heard it said that everything I write is automatically copyrighted to me (?) but I’m sure that copyrighting is essential to protect our IP.

    I bought Guido’s first book, Demon’s Night, and I see several pages of admin stuff at the start, including copyright banners, names of editors and so on. I see no ISBN, however. (Guido?)

    Like

    • Hi JB,

      Copyright and ISBNs are two separate things. Guido knows a lot more about this than me, so maybe he can give you a more detailed answer, but here’s the basics. An ISBN is a unique identifier for that edition of that book which will denote the publisher. If you own the ISBN it will denote you as the publisher. Otherwise, it won’t. This is very important for some people, and it could be argued that you aren’t a true self-publisher if you don’t own the ISBN.

      Regardless of whether you own the ISBN or not (or even whether you publish your work or not), you are still the copyright holder. Your work is automatically copyrighted as soon as you create it. Again this is an area where I don’t know enough to feel comfortable saying more than that, but you can read the basics here: http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/copyright/

      Like

  7. Guido Henkel says:

    The ISBN is not part of the “book” per se. It could be printed in the front matter but for some reason I never felt compelled to do so. The ISBN is part of a book’s meta-data, not the actual content.

    As for copyrighting, you are correct, your work automatically has a copyright. There is no need to register it. However, your copyright is limited in that you cannot sue for damages if someone pirates your books.

    If you should decide to register your copyright, which costs $30 per book, this will extend your rights and allow you to sue for damages in the case that you find someone who actually sells your books illegally.

    Like

  8. Aonghus Fallon says:

    This is a really informative thread – many thanks to Guido for clarifying the exact function of drop-book. I only tried it out to get some sense of what I was letting myself in for. I reckoned Dave would deliver the goods re the most appropriate software!

    I’ve been wondering about copyright too. Thirty bucks doesn’t sound like a lot. I’m assuming that if somebody was flogging a pirated version of your ms, you’d simply have to inform Amazon, who would then block it, which would be something.

    Like

  9. Aonghus Fallon says:

    In any event, Dave – I thought you were all in favour of piracy! Won’t it help boost your sales?

    Like

    • I never said I was in favour of piracy. I was against the measures the industry has taken to combat it. I said some authors think it can boost their sales. I’m not 100% convinced but they might have a point.

      In any event, piracy is one thing, someone taking my work, uploading it to Amazon, claiming it as theirs, and selling it, is another.

      Like

  10. JB Toner says:

    I’ve got as far as Guido’s Part 6, and I’m stuck. I downloaded Notepad++, JEdit and Calibre. I have the text of my story ready to go, but I can’t find jEdit (or Notepad++) in my list of “all programs”. Help?

    Like

  11. JB Toner says:

    I wasn’t sure whether Notepad++ was a Programming Editor like jEdit. I would be happy to use that, but I can’t find it either in “All Programs”.

    Like

  12. Aonghus Fallon says:

    Fair point, Dave. Re copyright. I notice – after quickly googling his titles on Amazon – that Guido specifies his works are only available to UK readers. Is this for copyright reasons?

    Like

  13. JB Toner says:

    Apologies, I have found Notepad++. Back to the drawing board. Thanks, Dave.

    Like

  14. Aonghus Fallon says:

    No hang on – I’m guessing he has the same titles available on Amazon.com?

    Like

    • Exactly. They are available everywhere – its Amazon UK that only let UK people download Kindle titles – the rest are sent to the US – the strange thing is that only happened to me AFTER I downloaded Kindle-for-PC

      Like

  15. Aonghus Fallon says:

    Thanks for this, Dave.

    Like

  16. JB Toner says:

    Does Notepad++ have a function to “Convert Selection to Entities exclduing Tags”?
    If not how do I do this step in Notepad++

    Like

    • Not that I could find. But, on the plus side, it automatically kept all my curly quotes, em dashes, and ellipses when I just cut and paste from word.

      Check it out yourself by saving the file as HTML (you should do this anyway), then opening it in your browser. It’s good to do this as you go along to monitor changes.

      Don’t worry about how it looks in the browser – it looks a lot better as an e-book – but it gives you a fairly accurate picture of your spacing and bolds and indents and the rest.

      Like

      • Guido Henkel says:

        Even if it keeps the curly quotes etc you HAVE TO make sure you convert them properly to named entities! It is imperative if you want the eBook to properly display on all and any devices.

        If your editor does not have a conversion macro, you can do it manually, simply search and replace all opening quotes with “& ldquo;” (without ” marks and spaces – WordPress converts it otherwise), all closing quotes with “& rdquo;” (without ” marks and spaces) all single quotes with “& rsquo;” (without ” marks and spaces) all ellipses with “& hellip;” (without ” marks and spaces) and all em-dashes with “& mdash”(without ” marks and spaces)

        If you have other special characters you will have to replace those as well.

        Let me stress again, however, that is is essential to replace special characters with named entities! It may look right on your computer or device, but there are other devices and platforms where your book will look garbled if you don’t.

        Like

      • I hope you don’t mind Guido – I had to edit your post or else those named entities would be converted by WordPress (sorry it looks a bit messy, for some reason wrapping code tags didn’t work).

        I will have to go back and convert all mine now. It looked perfect on computer, Kindle, iPhone and the ePub reader, but I don’t want to take the chance.

        Thanks for pointing this out.

        Dave

        Like

    • I realise the original post is quite old, but for those that may find they’d still like a “convert to named entities” tool with notepad++, since the original post someone seems to have kindly developed a working plugin (the link to that is: http://sourceforge.net/projects/npp-plugins/files/HTMLTag/)

      The only issue is that it does NOT exclude existing tags, so you will have to then do search and replace on some of the HTML tags (which if you are following Guido’s method will only be the paragraph tag by the time you come to converting the text to named entities)

      Like

  17. JB Toner says:

    Brilliant!

    Yes, I’ve replaced all quotes (single and double), ellipses and emdashes, cutting and pasting the offending symbols from Word to insert on Notepad++ for changing.
    I sometimes use a triple-length dash — not sure what that’s called. Anyway, we won’t worry about that for the moment.

    The whole process is pretty frightening (and I have programmed in lots of computer languages in the dim and distant: Basic, Fortran, RPG, Cobol, Dibol, Pascal, etc. etc.). Also, I think my wife may be filing for divorce.

    Like

    • Great – just make sure you keep checking in HTML as you change things, that way you know where you went wrong – as you go wrong – so you don’t have to start from scratch.

      One thing Guido doesn’t mention (which is obvious if you know HTML) is the
      tag for putting spaces between things like on your copyright page

      Like

  18. JB Toner says:

    It looks great in IE.

    My first html file. Woohoo! Thanks for your help, Dave, and thanks Guido for fantastic, clear instructions. Mind you, I’ve still got parts 7-9 to do.

    Like

  19. JB Toner says:

    Hi Dave,

    I created a small .png file to add to my short story, and I have it in there, centred and everything. It looks great when I open the html file in Internet Explorer. I’m wondering, though, how this small file is going to be transported to the Kindle file. I’ve put a comment in Guido’s blog – part 8 – but it has spent the last 12 hours awaiting approval. I think he must be away from his desk.

    As I’m typing this, it occurs to me that maybe Calibre takes care of these small files.
    I’ll move on to part 9 and see what happens.

    Thanks for your help.

    Like

    • JB,

      Putting an image inside the e-book is optional (as you upload the image that appears in the listings separately to Amazon). However, I recommend it because it looks a lot more professional.

      But don’t do it manually – take it out of your HTML file. Caliber will do it automatically for you.

      Remember this: a PNG file is fine for inside your book, but you need to save it as a JPEG or TIFF for the separate file you upload to Amazon.

      Dave

      Like

  20. JB Toner says:

    Another suggestion for a topic you might cover:

    The IRS and their arrangements with other countries. I believe there’s a form to be filled in.

    JB

    Like

    • Hi JB,

      I plan to do something on that. I haven’t covered it yet because you can’t do anything to resolve your tax situation until your stuff is up for sale on Amazon and Smashwords. With Xinxii, you don’t need to do anything – they automatically deduct VAT from your royalties (if the purchasing consumer is in the EU).

      Dave

      Like

      • Matt Bone says:

        As a UK-based writer, I’d be very interested to find out more about the tax details (and forms) involved with selling on US Amazon, Smashwords, etc. I have a feeling it’s going to be a pain.

        Like

      • Hi Matt,

        I will be doing a post very shortly on all the practicalities like copyright, ISBNs and taxes. I haven’t done the tax thing yet, but I have a link here somewhere which is a step-by-step guide written by a US tax consultant for us foreign types. I’ll dig it out in a minute.

        Dave

        Like

      • Matt Bone says:

        Brilliant, thanks David. Will look forward to the practicalities post. If you haven’t filled out the forms yet, I take it the US sites are currently withholding 30% of your profits?

        Like

      • Well, my first title only went on sale a month ago, so I won’t see any money for another little bit. But yes, they will withhold 30% until you clear your tax status. Depending on what country you are from, you will get most or all of that back (Ireland, UK, Canada, they get all of it back). Amazon & Smashwords will hold on to that 30% until the end of the tax year (must check that date). After that, they pass the money to the IRS. You can still get it back at that point, but it is more hassle.

        The good news is that you only have to do this once.

        Like

      • Matt Bone says:

        Makes sense. Handy to know you have some time to put the claim in – there’s enough to keep you (annoyingly) busy with your home country’s tax rigmarole to begin with.

        Like

      • I should also point out that you can’t do it before your books are up there. I vaguely remember something about having to wait until your first sale, or until your first sales report is generated (which is on the 15th of the proceding month), but I have to check that.

        Dave

        Like

  21. Pingback: Indie Publishing for International Writers, Step 5: Market Your Story Part 1, Websites & Blogs | David Gaughran

  22. antares says:

    Well, I’m late to the party, but here goes —

    “You can pay someone to do it. But it will cost you a minimum of $100 per short story to get it done right. And will cost you a minimum of $200 per novel too.”

    Rob Siders at 52novels.com formatted my novel (93,000 words) for me — mobi and epub — for $180.00. (That is his flatrate. He does not charge by the word.) He delivered when he said he would. He is pleasant to work with.

    For short stories, I use Amazon’s free formatter; cost is $0. I attach my story in .doc format to an email and send it to @free.kindle.com (’cause I want to pay nothing, download the file to my computer, and then upload the file to my Kindle) or @kindle.com (for those times I am impatient or stupid and want to pay to convert the file and have Amazon deliver it to my Kindle).

    I proof my work on my Kindle and note errors, typos, and such as I read. Kindle organizes my notes, and that makes my editing go at lightspeed.

    Like

    • Hi Antares,

      I hadn’t tried out the free formatter. I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to learn the formatting myself, especially as I figured I would want to do updates to all the files at some point (for typos, adjusting layout, and adding links to new books as each one comes out). And in any event – I like generating my own EPUB and MOBI files, they are handy to have.

      Thanks for the tip re. Rob Siders at 52novels.com – I have heard very good things about him too, and if anyone is looking to pay someone to do formatting, I would recommend him also.

      Dave

      P.S. Don’t worry about being late to the party, a lot of people check out this post.

      Like

    • Guido Henkel says:

      Any free formatter or automatic formatting software that uses a DOC file as an input is something you should run away from. The number of errors they typically introduce in your ebooks is staggering! Please read this blog entry real quick to give you a rough idea why using word processor files as sources for eBook is generally a very bad idea!

      http://guidohenkel.com/2010/12/take-pride-in-your-ebook-formatting-part-ii/

      Just a quick note also, that I am offering eBook formatting as a service. I currently charge $100 for a flat conversion of a manuscript to an HTML source file. This does not include special formatting or insertion of graphics etc, which I charge extra for. Most of the client projects I handle end up costing about $150 and I’ve been doing formatting projects for best-selling authors.

      So, please feel free to ping me if you need help or want your eBook formatted professionally.

      Like

    • Mike says:

      Hi! I have a novella at 28,000 words. How much do you think that would cost? You said formatting is free at Amazon… but I used Open Office which is free word processing software that does not convert into Word that I know of. Since I have little or no money I’ll go the Amazon route. What do you mean “I attach my story in .doc format”? Is that actually MS Word? Also there’s a step where you use your Kindle and I don’t have one of those. There’s a neighbor I kind of know who does have one. Was that phase of it easy, that’s if I were to borrow her Kindle? I really want to do editing on my own computer first… or do you mean through the transfer to Amazon creates inevitable editing?
      Thanks! Mike

      Like

  23. antares says:

    Re: Rob Siders at 52novels.com

    Rob has my business as long as he wants it. He delivered on time, on budget, and with humor [humour to you, Dave] and courtesy. I shall go back to that well again.

    Like

  24. Jolien says:

    Did you know you can sell your books/ magazines straight from your own (WordPress) website without any cost with the Peecho WordPress plugin? http://wpthemeroundups.com/peecho-wordpress-plugin/

    Like

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