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View Full Version : Formats - lost and confused in the shuffle



BenPanced
03-16-2015, 04:09 AM
I'm looking into getting two orphaned titles self-pubbed but as the thread title states, I'm getting lost and confused in the shuffle. For the widest possible coverage, I'm looking at getting them released in the most common formats, including hard copy/paperback. Which service I need to do this in is what's doing me in. Lulu offers epub and paperback, Smashwords offers epub, Kindle, and other electronic formats, Createspace offers Kindle and hard copy...

Every time I think I have an answer, I get confused and lose focus. I'd hate to have to go through two different vendors for two different formats, i.e. Lulu for paperback and Smashwords for electronic. Am I making this more complicated for myself than it needs to be?

Norman D Gutter
03-16-2015, 04:20 AM
For all of mine I do:

KDP at Amazon for Kindle ebooks
Smashwords for all other ebooks
CreateSpace for print books.

I've never tried it, but those who have say CreateSpace's conversion of print books into ebooks produces an ebook that is inferior quality. Better to use KDP.

While Smashwords offers Kindle format they don't distribute to Amazon.

I'm not aware of any one vendor who does all three formats with distribution to all major retailers. Although, I suspect youcould find any number of for-fee services who would do it all for you.

PortableHal
03-16-2015, 04:21 AM
While I love Mark Coker, Smashwords is not my friend. I'm glad it works for Norman, but the meat grinder leaves me pulling my hair out.

Unless you refuse to use Amazon directly, you are making it tougher than it needs to be. If your manuscript is formatted correctly for Amazon, you can use that same manuscript for Amazon, Draft2Digital (who will provide an e-book for almost everyone except Smashwords) and then for Createspace -- if POD works for you. I don't know why the direct-to-Createspace copies are iffy for Norman, but mine look swell.

That's my two cents.

raelwv
03-16-2015, 06:22 AM
For all of mine I do:

KDP at Amazon for Kindle ebooks
Smashwords for all other ebooks
CreateSpace for print books.

I did the same, except I used Draft2Digital for the non-Kindle ebooks. However, once I had the KDP version formatted (in Word), I used it for the D2D versions as well. Didn't have any issues.

The Createspace formatting was easier than I thought it would be. I downloaded a template from their website, plugged in the various bits (title, front matter, ToC, etc.) and went from there.

M. H. Lee
03-16-2015, 05:58 PM
If I were trying to do this as simply as possible, I would start with Draft2Digital. Upload your Word or whatever doc, let them format it for the .mobi, .epub, and whatever their third option is. Download each of those for use on other platforms. Let D2D do the paperback as well (which will be through Createspace). Then you check all the boxes with them, upload the .mobi file from them to Amazon, upload the .epub and .pdf files to Google. Upload the .epub and .pdf files to Smashwords (If you want to go everywhere you can. I don't pub to Smashwords because of their interface.)

However, I don't think that's the best way to do it. It's the simplest, but not the best. I would go direct with Createspace. (Or whoever you choose for print. I think I've heard that Ingram will do a hardcover. Createspace does paperback only.) Download their formatted template and work on the layout for your specific book. I have to tweak page breaks and paragraph spacing in each book to make it look nice and always find that the table of contents needs some attention as well. I also replace section breaks with either nice symbols or a double space. If you're going to put out a paperback, it'll take a little extra time to make it look nice. (And I suspect I'm still an amateur even with what I do.)

WriterBN
03-16-2015, 07:05 PM
My process, for what it's worth:


Write and edit in Scrivener.
Output as HTML, clean up, add customized CSS, save as ePub (using Sigil). Convert ePub to mobi for Amazon KDP, upload ePub to D2D for everywhere else.
Copy draft from Scrivener into InDesign, format/typeset, save as PDF, upload to Createspace.

J. Tanner
03-17-2015, 06:22 AM
Every time I think I have an answer, I get confused and lose focus. I'd hate to have to go through two different vendors for two different formats, i.e. Lulu for paperback and Smashwords for electronic.

You're going to have to go through MORE than two different vendors for different "formats" in the way you're using the word... assuming you want wide distribution.

I recommend starting with creating an ebook for Amazon. That's north of 90% of sales for many (most?) self publishers. (The format in this case will be a MOBI file, which isn't used anywhere else, which is why it isn't really useful to be calling "electronic" a "format".)

From there, it tends to be a pretty simple conversion to EPUB which can be used at the remainder of the large ebook retailers: iBooks, KOBO, B&N. Draft2Digital is the simplest way to hit those 3 big markets.

To me, paper or smaller ebook markets are sort of a tossup and neither is absolutely required if you're trying to maximize your coverage, and minimize the time and costs.

From your post, it sounds like you're leaning toward including paper. In that case, I recommend CreateSpace to get the optimal experience on Amazon, and good-enough support for other retailers through their Expanded Distribution. Formatting for paper is a completely separate process from formatting an ebook. The only significant point of crossover is if you're hiring a cover designer you probably want to get them to do both variations of the art at once.

If you want to extent to the smaller ebook markets, then Smashwords is the easiest way, but isn't exactly easy. You will be able to upload the same EPUB you used at Draft2Digital.

Interfaced
03-18-2015, 04:35 PM
Thanks for putting this query out - it's something that I'm in the midst of trying to figure out myself...

KDP and D2D for eBooks is decided, along with CreateSpace for paperbacks.

I was interested in getting some hardbacks produced (mostly for vanity copies to myself, family and friends) - is Ingram Spark the way to go?

Also, everybody mentions that Smashwords is a pain to use but I haven't seen an explanation as to why...what makes them so difficult?

Norman D Gutter
03-18-2015, 04:40 PM
I've found Smashwords fairly easy to use. I read through their style guide, and started formatting my manuscripts in Word according to that guide. So there's really nothing to do, once I'm ready to publish the e-book, insert the type of page breaks Smashword wants, create a TOC if applicable, and upload the Word document. I suppose, however, if your document file is full of stuff Smashwords doesn't like, it could be a problem. I imagine my first Smashwords upload took some time, but that was long ago in buried memory. The last ten went quite smoothly.

M. H. Lee
03-18-2015, 05:23 PM
One of my issues with Smashwords is that you don't get to preview your file after you upload it and before it's live. As someone who wants to present a professional product, that makes me highly uncomfortable especially given all the horror stories I've heard about files going through the Grinder and coming out mangled. Because of that, I only uploaded the .epub file from D2D on Smashwords for the one title I published there.

Other issues that I didn't personally run into but have been mentioned often enough that I believe them are that it's very challenging to deal with them when there's a customer service need and it takes a long time to publish titles to some of their sales channels and sometimes up to six weeks or more to remove a title from their sales channels once published there. Compare that to D2D who seems to manage to get titles up and down within 24 hours on some of the same sales channels.

I also just had a general dislike of their user interface. Weird things like where you have to go to log off just rubbed me the wrong way and gave me an overall negative feeling about the site. *shrug*

WriterBN
03-18-2015, 07:17 PM
Also, everybody mentions that Smashwords is a pain to use but I haven't seen an explanation as to why...what makes them so difficult?

I don't know if they're a pain necessarily, but I wouldn't want to trust their Meatgrinder with my carefully formatted epub file. I've heard horror stories as well. If you're just using Word and you follow their style guide, you're probably okay.

D2D is just much quicker in terms of reporting and customer service, so it was an was decision for me to go with them.

Dennis E. Taylor
03-18-2015, 07:44 PM
I've used createspace, D2D, and kindle directly. My source file for all 3 has been a WORD document, preformatted to my paperback page size. That gets stripped out by D2D and kindle.

I've found 2 things to be difficult, and they're both with createspace:

1. They want your cover image in PDF format. WORD can produce a PDF of an image, but it's a bad way to go, because it's 200 DPI maximum. I ended up finding a website that would convert an image and produce a nice 300 dpi result.
2. The formatting of the cover is not well documented on createspace. It's actually not complicated once you figure it out, but I think they explain it poorly. But once you've got it figured out, it'll never be a problem again.

J. Tanner
03-18-2015, 08:52 PM
I wouldn't want to trust their Meatgrinder with my carefully formatted epub file.

If you upload an EPUB, Meatgrinder doesn't touch it. You give up a few (unnecessary IMHO) options like online viewing. Minimal sacrifice to ensure no formatting surprises.

Meatgrinder is used when you upload a Word DOC.

WriterBN
03-19-2015, 07:50 PM
If you upload an EPUB, Meatgrinder doesn't touch it. You give up a few (unnecessary IMHO) options like online viewing. Minimal sacrifice to ensure no formatting surprises.

Meatgrinder is used when you upload a Word DOC.

Ah, I didn't know that. Last time I checked into Smashwords was a year ago, and they required it. Thanks for the update; I may consider them for future books.

BenPanced
03-20-2015, 06:20 AM
Thanks for your suggestions and opinions, everybody. You've helped me figure out how I'm going to go (Smashwords, Createspace, KDP) and what I need to do next.