What these three have in common is that I have to create a book format for each of these platforms. Amazon, of course, is for the ebook Kindle version. Smashwords has ebook distribution deals with something like thirty retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, etc. And Createspace, owned by Amazon, is for the paperback version.
I went through the grueling process before, and each platform is unique to itself. For Amazon I have to convert my book to an html file. Fortunately for me I know html code. So I’m able to create the CSS stylesheet, plug in my html tags like <p> and <i> and such. But doing this is a grueling process. Thank you Lord for Regular Expressions. Now mind you, I know very little about using Regular Expressions, but I was able to garner enough off the internet to put this feature to use. In simple terms, I used Regular Expressions to search for the start of every paragraph and to automatically plop a <p> there. <p> is html code for start a paragraph. Using the code isn’t too hard in an of itself, but having scour a 250 page document and get all those little tags in the right place is time-consuming. Except Regular Expressions make this soooo much easier.
So having been through the fire once before with my first nonfiction book Curveballs: Sweet & Smokey Down The Barbeque Trail, which took weeks, the process this time around for my 2nd nonfiction book, Note To Self: The Story of My Atlanta Scream, Holler, and Stomp, is much, much easier. To the tune of days rather than weeks.
For Smashwords they want a Microsoft Word document. Not too hard in and of itself, except they have a stringent set of rules that must be adhered to. Don’t follow the rules to a tee and their MeatGrinder program spits you out like bad spinach. And the the error codes are cryptic at best. Fortunately they provide lots of documentation and examples of how to do it. But the documentation can be overwhelming. But when all is said is done what the require isn’t that much, but it takes a lot to get to the point of figuring out that what they want isn’t that much. But once my document makes through their Meatgrinder they do the rest, converting it into ebook formats for each retailer and then distributing those ebooks to them. No fuss, no muss. And the beauty is that if I have to make an editing change I simple make the changes I want to my single document, resubmit to Smashwords, and they take it from there. So in that regard it is truly one stop shopping.
And finally, for Createspace, I have to create a PDF document formatted to their specifications. Again, I have to follow their rules, which aren’t overwhelming, and they provide lots of templates to just plug and play. But again, the first time through the process is painstaking for even though they do their best to make it simple, it is still a process. But the end result looks spiffy. And making changes are easy, although their process is a bit on the clunky side, but that’s the way it goes.
As I said before, I’ve been through this process before with my first book. From that I have access to templates and tricks and shortcuts that has cut my time down from a head scratching weeks to a more than bearable days. Not bad.