As most anyone can assume, I’m always trying to find new and better ways to market my books. This is not an easy task with the budget I have. The tools that are most precious to me are the ones that are simple and most importantly, free. I recently discovered an article about some of the leading E-publishing sites and discovered that the one that I am using, Amazon Kindle Direct, has a very narrow reach and I thought about experimenting with one with a wider reach. After this revelation, I decided to take the top contenders for a test drive. Here are my results:
Smashwords. The name caught me and what I read about them in the article sounded pretty good. I checked out the website and it seemed on the up and up. Overall, no complaints, until, you begin the publishing process. First, it’s advisable that you download their free style guide. It seems to be very important. My manuscript had already been formatted, so I was able to skim over a few chapters, but when I submitted my file, it came back with numerous errors. That’s fine. We’re all human. We make mistakes. The only problem was that they just tell you what the issue was (i.e. too many hard returns, indent issues). They fail to tell you where in the manuscript the error occurs. My file was 250 pages long. I was in no mood to scour through the whole document in search of these errors and I certainly was in no mood to tear down and re-format my book. No thanks. Another con I discovered was they don’t have a way to build a cover for your book on their site. For those of you out there with the tech to put one together on your own, kudos, but I’m on the budget end of this and I really don’t have the resources to put together a slick, eye catching book cover. This did not work out for me. Unpublish.
Lulu. Now, I’ve dealt with Lulu once before. They are the service I used when I first set off on this soul crushing endeavor. It’s a decent enough site. Easy upload of files and it offers cover creation. It runs a bit slow, so be patient. The cover creator can be kind of hit or miss, but it gets the job done. They now offer e-publishing services as well. I got my file uploaded and into the system, but the only drawback was I couldn’t get workable file out of it. I tried downloading a proof but it kept failing to open. I’m not putting this on them, just saying that after three consistent downloads, I couldn’t get it to open. I even tried opening it on the site. Nothing. Unpublish.
Wordtango. Ah, Wordtango. The last stop on this whirlwind tour. I can’t say too much about this site. It operates as it should, and one thing I did enjoy was if there’s an issue with your file, it will open in an editable window so you can fix the issues right there. It also features a cover creation section too. My issue was with the editing feature on their site. It would show me where the issues were and that was great. What wasn’t great was after fixing every issue, I would click the save button at the bottom of the screen. It would think for a few minutes and then come back, but lo and behold, all the fixes I put in were taken out and the manuscript was once more unable to move forward. I went through this three times. Unpublish.
So, back to Kindle I went. It may have a limited reach and I won’t be able to get my book on the Apple bookstore, but it works. It’s user friendly and it, so far as I’ve seen, has the best cover creator I have yet to experience. If you really know how to format your file to e-book specifications and can put together your own book cover, maybe some of these other services are for you, but for people like me who are still catching up with this tech, Kindle is by far less likely to make you want to throw your computer up against the wall.