How to Self-Publish Your Book to Smashwords

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.19.39 PMSmashwords, personally, is my least favorite retailer/dashboard, for various reasons—so I thought I’d do a little walkthrough, podcast-style, for my peeps at The Book Lounge!

Once again, this is another of those “I’ll come back in later and type out instructions” (gotta save my wrists where I can, which are aching pretty badly tonight and I still need to do some actual writing). Thanks for putting up with my ultra-tired, overworked babbling. 😉

Show Notes:

This tutorial walks you through:

  • step-by-step instructions to publish an ebook on Smashwords
  • how to assign a free ISBN to your Smashwords ebook
  • how to opt in or out of “channels” (AKA retailers)
  • creating a series on Smashwords

Resources:

EDIT:

Do make sure that, if you choose to distribute to libraries, you go into Dashboard > Pricing Manager to set the price for libraries

Also, if you are writing under multiple pen names, see this help article.

And a correction: Smashwords does not accept .rtf files.

Shout out to Chelsea Barnes for teaching me all about the benefits of getting your ebook into Overdrive!

As always, if you feel the need to leave a tip, you can buy me a coffee via PayPal or pick up one of my books. If you’re as strapped as I am, though, a heartfelt comment is plenty.

Free free to ask any questions in the comments or via email; there is no comment too “stupid.” I am here to help!

Please share with your author friends! We’re all in this together and sharing is caring.

How to Self-Publish Your Book on Kobo

Here’s another tutorial for my friends in The Book Lounge. I decided at the last minute to publish direct to Kobo (rather than distributing through Lulu, Smashwords, or Draft2Digital), because they have a lot of promotional opportunities for indie authors and I didn’t want to miss out. Plus, their monthly statements give breakdowns of income by book, so it wouldn’t be hard at all for my math-challenged brain to calculate percentages for my creative team. 😉

I love Kobo. Before I got accepted to the small press I was with from 2015-2016, I was an indie author and Kobo was my most productive “honeypot”—my moneymaker. So I was pretty bummed when I found out that my publisher didn’t distribute to Kobo. Now that I’ll be back in the indie world, I’m excited to have those books available on Kobo again.

To get started with Kobo, you’ll need an account with Kobo Writing Life (also known as KWL). (They also have an extremely helpful blog under the same name, as well as a kick-ass podcast—both of which are packed to the brim with marketing tips for indies.)

Once you’re logged in and have submitted any required account, payment, and tax information, it’s time to get your books rolling.

Go to the eBOOKS tab in your dashboard. Your books will be organized by pen name, if you have any. Click on the green “Create New eBook” button.

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Step 1: Describe Your eBook

This will take you to the first of four steps toward publishing your ebook. This is pretty self-explanatory; Kobo has the slickest dashboard, publishing process, and user interface of all the ebook retailers. I can’t sing their praises enough.

The first screen is all of your book’s information: title, cover, series name (if applicable), blurb or description, etc. There are two sections you’ll need to pay close attention to.

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Is this the first time you’re publishing your book? You’ll want to choose the yes radio button and select the original publication date—only if you’re re-publishing, of course. If you’re publishing a new book, you can leave the default no selected.

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Edit categories. This is where you’ll choose your book’s genre(s). Kobo allows you to select up to three. This is important because later, when you’re submitting to promotions, you’ll want to make sure your book’s categories match the promotion you’re submitting to.

Step 2: Add eBook Content

Now it’s time to upload your actual ebook file. Kobo is pretty flexible and accepts a wide variety of formats. Personally, I prefer ePub ebooks, formatted using Vellum. That’s a whole other post, though. You can even upload a properly formatted .doc or .docx, if you’re more comfortable with using something like MS Word.

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After you’ve selected your file, hit the green Upload button. Kobo will validate your file for you, making sure it will work properly with the Kobo e-reader or app.

If you don’t have any issues, go on to Step 3. If there are issues, read the information that Kobo provides carefully. Usually it’s a quick fix on your end, but you can also contact them and sometimes they can help, depending on the issue.

Step 3: Choose Content Rights

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You are given the option of enabling DRM, which basically locks down your ebook; readers won’t be able to transfer it between devices. Some people use DRM because they are concerned about pirating. Personally, I don’t think DRM stops pirates. It does, however, hinder genuine readers, so I don’t enable DRM. You can do a Google search to research the pros and cons.

You can also choose where to distribute your book. Kobo has an extremely enthusiastic worldwide customer base. I’m usually selling books in countries all around the world, like South Africa and Canada, which is incredibly exciting. Kobo does really well globally, whereas I’ve noticed Amazon (KDP) is hit or miss.

Step 4: Set the Price

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This part can get a bit tricky. It can be a huge pain in the butt to convert currencies. I don’t like to use the automatic conversion, because currencies change very rapidly and your book could end up listed under a weird price point, like 407 yen. That’s not an attractive price to customers. 399 or an even 400, for example, would be better.

The method I use is pretty simple. I enter my book’s price in US dollars, leaving the override price switch off. Then I go down the line, taking each automatically converted price into account. I switch override on and get as close as I can to the converted amount, but at a more retail-friendly price.

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For example, if my book is $4.99 USD and converts to $6.54 in Australian dollars, I override it to $6.99 AUD. (In a recent podcast, Kobo’s Mark Lefebvre [AKA Mark Leslie] explained that Australian customers are used to paying higher price points, so it’s best to round up rather than down. My initial instinct might be to round down to $5.99 AUD, but I’ll test using Mark’s advice; I can always change it later if I’m noticing the book isn’t moving.)

(Note: In the Kindle dashboard, I would round down for a book being sold in India, as Indian customers are used to paying less in rupees for ebooks.)

Publish

Finally, choose the date you’d like your book to go live. You can also allow pre-orders (if your book is being published on a future date). For example, you can set the calendar to June 1st. Your book will appear in the Kobo store but won’t actually be available until that date. In the meantime, you can collect pre-orders and, once it’s been approved, you can set a promo price.

A Word on Kobo Promotion

EDIT

A correction: Kobo’s promotions are currently in beta, and actually aren’t available to all indie authors. I apologize!

You can still run sales by lowering your book’s price as you would in KDP (Amazon), then advertising it everywhere. I strongly recommend doing a $0.99 or free promotion across all retailers, then advertising with places like BookBub.

You can do a week-long promotion, advertising with a different place every day. Do a Google search for places you can advertise with, or stay tuned for my list!

When I first started out on Kobo, a select group of indie authors were on an exclusive promo opportunity list. Eventually, Kobo rolled this out to all indie authors. You can now access and submit to upcoming promos under the PROMOTIONS tab.

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Every month, Kobo’s merchandising team lists upcoming promotions you can submit to. Some of these are site-wide and open to all indie authors; you just submit your book and Kobo takes care of the rest. Others are more selective and have specific criteria you must adhere to. Read each promotion’s information carefully before submitting to save yourself time.

There is no longer an email alert with upcoming promotions, so it’s up to you to check this tab regularly.

You can also organize your own sale. Once it’s live, there’s a big gray “set promo price” button under your book’s Set the Price section. You can choose your book’s sale price in all currencies and how long the promo lasts.

You can also access the promotions tab under the Promote Your eBook section after your book is live.

Kobo ebook ducks in a row! All of my ex-Booktrope books will be available in the Kobo store on June 1st.
Kobo ebook ducks in a row! All of my ex-Booktrope books will be available in the Kobo store on June 1st.

♦♦♦

I hope this tutorial was helpful to you. Please comment below and let me know if you have any questions. If you’d like to leave me a little tip for my time (it took me about two hours to put this post together), feel free to buy me a coffee or buy one of my books. If you’re strapped for cash but would still like to thank me, a heartfelt comment is plenty! 😊 Feel free to share this post, too.

Thanks for reading. See you next time!

How to Write a Business and Marketing Plan

via Unsplash
via Unsplash

This is for everyone at The Book Lounge. I’m super strapped for time, trying to get my books formatted and ready to go come June 1st, but I also really wanted to get something up to help my fellow authors get going. I recorded this as a podcast thingy just to get it done (and save my poor wrists, yay arthritis), but will come back and actually write out a step by step guide when I have the chance.

Around the 38 minute mark, there’s a sort of long pause; my husband came home from work and I paused to make him something to eat. (Poor guy has a nasty migraine. We’re just one big medical experiment in this house.) I apologize for the background noise and my rambling and occasional backtracking, etc. It’s late and I’m tired.

Business Plan Table of Contents

  • Career Goals
  • Annual Budget
  • Catalog
  • Production Schedule
  • Monthly Sales Goals
  • Marketing Tools
  • Marketing Plan, by Book

Please note that the numbers shown in these screenshots are for demonstration purposes only and do not necessarily reflect my personal finances. I started to reset everything back to zero or plug in example numbers, then just got tired and screenshot as it was. I’m doing this on a very thin shoestring of a budget, and do plan on sharing numbers eventually, but not tonight! 😉

Things I mentioned:

  • NetGalley co-ops—There are several out there but I think I’m going with Patchwork Press’s co-op. They’re a bit more expensive but it seems like they check out readers before they approve, and they handle everything. There’s also Pikko’s co-op, which is cheaper but it seems like they’re not quite as selective. Do your research and talk to others who have used any co-op before you commit. Big thanks to Chelsea for teaching me about NetGalley!
  • Promo sites to advertise your books—There are many, many of these. Someone on Kboards was kind enough to put together a list. I’m not sure how up-to-date it is, so make sure you check things out before you buy any ads. Bookbub is the holy grail, but it’s also not your only option. I’ve had great results from some of the cheaper, smaller ones. Always plan your promos in advance and over several days. And for the love of books, don’t sale price at $1.99. That is a dead zone. Discount to $0.99 or free.
  • Some ideas for a book launch—The Writers’ Cafe on Kboards in general is awesome for advice, how tos, etc, but I’ve read that one, this one, this one, this one, and several others, and implemented elements into my own plan. I highly recommend you sign up for Kboards and lurk the Writers’ Cafe regularly.
  • How to get started with self-publishing—I wrote a monster post on my author blog when the big news first dropped, and a lot of people said it was helpful.
  • Reader incentives for reviews—This the rewards system I was talking about.

Finally, there are a lot of “how to” guides for business plans out there. I like to keep things simple and organized without too much fuss. I spend about an hour writing my plan for the year up and then readjust as necessary, usually every quarter. This should at least get you started. Feel free to tweak as needed!

I think that’s everything I wanted to mention. Leave a comment or email me if you have any questions!

If you’d like to tip me for this information, you can pick up some of my books or buy me a coffee via PayPal. Thank you!