Friday, October 8, 2010

To Smash Or Not to Smash

I’ve been looking into Smashwords about getting my suspense novel, Tangled Webs, into ebook format. I thought it would be easy — just hand over my manuscript and plug in my iPad. Not quite so.
Each ebook “reader” (Kindle, iPad, B&N Nook, Sony Reader, iPhone) has its own set of parameters that must be met. And if you don’t format your manuscript properly, it won’t translate into one of the many formats in use today — with more coming down the pike!
The amazing thing is that someone (thank you, Mark Coker!) has been able to take all these disparate protocols and create a program that takes your manuscript and puts it into these different formats so that authors can reach the widest possible audience. And he gives us an amusing ride along the way with his ingenious program names: Meatgrinder (such a reassuring name) grinds up and spits out your baby in a multitude of unrecognizable formats (that magically become recognizable when you turn on your reader device); the Autovetter vets your manuscript for inclusion in The Premium Catalog, no human input necessary (another reassuring concept) Just reading the Smashwords style guide is great good fun — and understandable (mostly), too.
There is no cost to the author. And you don’t have to be a computer genius to figure out how to format your manuscript, though it does help to have either a Computer or Word Guru on call if you’re technologically challenged like me. Or just like your hand held along the way, never a bad idea when mixing technology with anything. Follow the step-by-step instructions and they’ll format your masterpiece eight different ways, and list vetted works in their Premium catalog. It’s a writer’s distribution paradise.
It’s not hard, but it’s not all that easy, either. It’s a fairly steep learning curve to switch gears from traditional print format to e formatting; a whole new way of thinking about publishing. It throws one from college back to kindergarten — not necessarily a bad thing, because learning keeps us young and knowledge is power. However I, for one, am glad it’s kindergarten. After a few hours of e formatting research, I’m ready for some milk and cookies. And a nap. Anyone seen my blankie?
Post total: 375 words
Week 2 Running Total: 905 words
1,000 - 905 = 95 words still needed

Running Blog Totas: 1,905 Words


  1. Useful information about Meatgrinder and Autovetter! I know there are services where they will do this for you, but for the computer savvy, it sure would save money to so the formatting yourself.

  2. Susan, This post was unbelievable. I'm so happy to have this information. It would be nice to share with NW's, but I'm not sure how many people would take advantage. Thanks so much.