E-book Adventures: Triumphs and Challenges

I think it would be too much to hope for things to go smoothly in my first attempt to tackle the e-book world. On the bright side, some things did go well right out of the gate. Other things…not so much. But I learned a lot along the way. Here’s a brief re-cap of my journey.

Amazon: We’ll start with the good news first. Uploading the Raggedy Chan e-book onto Amazon was a snap. E-book was up on Amazon in less than 24 hours. Process was flawless.

Barnes & Noble: This started out well. The Pubit process is very straight forward and easy. Yet after 72 hours—the designated wait time—the book still wasn’t up. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and waited another few days, and still the book didn’t show up. I checked the dashboard, which showed status as “Processing.”

I finally emailed B&N to see if I could find out why the book wasn’t up. I got a reply a few days later stating I should have received an email from them (which I never did). The email went on to say there was something wrong with the information I uploaded and that I needed to call a 1-800 number.


I called the next day. It was difficult to get a live person. There’s no “hold for next available operator” option. If no one answers, you’re put into a voicemail box. I kept calling until I got a live person, who explained that the address I had entered did not match the records of the IRS.

By this point, I was pretty frustrated. 1) This whole time, Pubit dashboard still showed my book as “Processing.” It would have been nice if that had changed to “Error,” or something else to let me know there was a glitch. 2) For such a simple thing as an incorrect address, it would have been nice if the person who sent the email response to my query had told me that was the problem, rather than sending me off to a 1-800 number.

I had a PO Box listed for my address, so I switched it to my physical address, thinking perhaps that was the issue. Another 72 hours went by, and still my book wasn’t listed. By this point I was second-guessing myself. (I mean, I was pretty sure I knew my address, so why wasn’t the book processing?) I swapped out my TaxID for my SS#. Another 72 hours, still no go. It seemed pointless to go back and keep switching stuff out just for the sake of switching things.

Time to call the magic 1-800 number again. Still a pain in the butt to get through to a live person, but by this time I know the drill so I keep calling until I get through. The fellow on the other end explained that the automatic acceptance process hiccupped because of the initial glitch. He said he would send the information onto a real person to verify.

72 hours later, Raggedy Chan was finally up on B&N. Not the smoothest process, but in the end everything was resolves. I do appreciate that there was a live person to talk to.

Smashwords: Of all the places I uploaded my e-book, this was by far the most challenging of them all. On the up side, Smashwords is totally free. For those of you want to learn more about Smashwords, read my post here.

 In an effort to keep Smashwords free for all authors, founder Mark Coker provides the Smashwords Style Guide, a 70-page how-to-manual for all authors wishing to use Smashwords. The Style Guide provides step-by-step instructions for correctly formatting your Word.doc file for conversion. It’s a tedious process, but ultimately doable.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t hit a few stumbling blocks. I followed the instructions of the Style Guide, but my book still looked a bit wonky when I previewed it. I contacted L.K. Campbell, who converts Word.docs for Smashword authors. She found some embedded formatting code and removed it for me. This time when I uploaded the book, all the formatting looked as it should. L.K. Campbell was quick and professional and I would definitely use her services again.

At the end of this whole process, I am reminded that I am not a computer programmer. I appreciated the learning process with the Style Guide, but next time I will outsource this part of the process. 

If you’re considering using Smashwords and want to hire someone to format your document for you, I still recommend reading the Style Guide for the following reasons:

1) I learned some neat tricks with Microsoft Word.

2) I found the specific formatting requirements (such as including reviews in the front matter, whereas in my other formats I include them in the back matter) and copyright information (ie., the phrase “Smashwords Edition” is required on the copyright page). I wouldn’t have known about these things had I not read the book.

3) I gained a better understanding of how Smashwords works.

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As with anything new, my adventure into the world of e-books had its share of hurdles. In the end, I was able to successfully get my book uploaded into three different places. I’m looking forward to publishing my next e-book, hopefully with less hiccups.

I’d love to hear about e-book challenges and triumphs from other indie authors out there.