I recently finished the Smashwords formatting on Whistling Woman. It took me a long time, but I’m happy to say I received this email from Smashwords within a half hour of submitting the book:

Congratulations! There were no AutoVetter errors! Your book is now in the queue for review by our vetting team.

So, Whistling Woman is available on Smashwords but it’s waiting on the Premium Catalog approval. Not too shabby for a first time effort but I have to be honest and tell you, it wasn’t an easy thing to do–even with the free Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker. Still, there were no Autovetter errors and I’m told that’s a really good thing.

The thing is, I’ve been reading quite a few free books on my Kindle and though I haven’t tried any yet, I plan to check out some of the free offers on Smashwords. That is, if I can bring myself to do it. I love free books but…I absolutely hate the quality of some of the ones offered for no cost. Because, they aren’t really free, some of them come with a price. Not a monetary one, but an emotional one. Too many–and if you ask me more than two or three is too many!–left me frustrated and in a few cases downright angry because of the time I lost reading them. Not that they were all bad, there were a lot of really good ones out there, but some of them were full of typos, grammar errors, and yes, bad writing in the form of repeated words, missing words, words that have no business being where they are in the book, cliches–yes, I know, my love for cliches is well-known, but come on, there’s a reason “too much of a good thing” is a cliche–historical inaccuracies, implausible events, TSTL characters…the list goes on and on.

And that doesn’t even touch on the worst of all–formatting errors. When I see a book that isn’t formatted properly, the first thing that comes to my mind, especially if it’s a self-published book, is this author doesn’t take pride in their work.

That’s not a good thing because there are plenty of books, many of them free on Kindle or Smashwords, that walk you step-by-step through the formatting. All you have to do is follow the books and you’re almost guaranteed to have a, well, maybe not perfectly formatted, but at least nicely formatted book. You know, one that doesn’t make the reader want to slam it up against the wall immediately delete it from their reading device and never purchase another book by you again.

So, please, if you’re an author, self-published or not, and thinking of putting your book(s) up as e-books on Kindle and/or Smashwords, grab a little pride! Get yourself a copy of these books, read them, and more importantly, follow them!

Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing (Put out by Amazon.com. It doesn’t really walk you through the formatting steps, but there’s a lot of valuable information in there and it’s free.)

How to Publish Your Kindle Book on Amazon for Free and Make Money From Home by Ron Taylor (I haven’t read this one yet so don’t know how much help it is. It’s free for Prime members and only .99 for everybody else.)

How to Publish an Ebook on a Budget by Stephanie Zia (This one’s no longer free)

Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker (Free and a must-have if you’re going to publish on Smashwords. You can also view it or download a copy on Smashwords.)

Also, if you do click on the links for these books, check out the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” box just below the book cover. Lots of other books there that not only deal with formatting, but with marketing and writing too. Plus, if you’re thinking of publishing on Kindle, there are lots of good tips and advice on the KDP forums and help pages.

And finally, check out Jinx Schwartz’s blog post DYI Kindle e-books, I did it and so can you. Ms. Schwartz just reposted this and if you’re going to publish on Kindle, it’s a must-read!

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