Category Archives: Smashwords

How to Query–and More

My last writers’ group meeting included a long discussion about the book market triggered by an article from Vox that one of my colleagues had brought in. The discussion branched off into familiar territory for aspiring authors: how to get published.

Books leading to a door in a brick wall

I often feel like a Grinch when I respond to these discussions and questions by saying, “Go online. Google ‘How to.’ There are many wonderful people out there providing solid advice and authoritative, expert guidelines.” Yes, there are also scammers, but if you follow the admonition not to pay anyone anything until you have investigated a wide range of options—and to take the same basic precautions you’d take buying any product—you won’t fall into any serious traps.

My point is often that a thirty-minute conversation can’t cover nearly enough ground to do more than point a new author in the right direction. In these groups, I recommend specific sources for follow up, such as Jane Friedman or Victoria Strauss or, for formatting issues as well as other self-publishing help, The Book Designer. For those convinced that formatting their own e-book is an overwhelming challenge, I recommend Smashwords and Mark Coker’s free e-book formating guide, as well as his list of formatters and cover designers.

book with butterflies taking flight from its pages

Sites like these include links to dozens of helpful articles. Obviously, there are many others; these are just the ones that pop into my head on short notice, because they’re stellar.

Today, my feed included a post from yet another site just brimming with the kind of information the people in my group were craving: Anne R. Allen’s Blog . . . with Ruth Harris. So I’m linking here with advice to anyone starting out on this journey: Once you’ve read Anne R. Allen’s clear, direct instructions on how to write a professional query, browse the site. Click on the links. Subscribe.

I found sources like these the way I suspect anyone builds a personal knowledge base, by clicking on intriguing articles and subscribing to bloggers whose advice seemed relevant to my goals. Compilers like Chris the Story Reading Ape have also given me lots of trails to follow.

Comment and turn all of us on to your favorites. To whom do you go for expert advice on the many aspects of publishing, both traditional and indie? I am always up for learning more!

question mark adorned with flowers


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Filed under business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, Finding literary agents for writers, indie publishing, looking for literary editors and publishers, Marketing books, Publishing, Self-publishing, Smashwords, writing novels

6 Basic Tech Skills for Writers

Tech skills for writersHere’s a post about some of those mysterious tech skills that can confound non-tekkie verbal people like us writers. Check it out—whether you need to communicate with editors or with beta readers or if you just want to format your own book for Amazon or Smashwords. I can attest that you DO need Styles, and I’ve found GIMP, a free program recommended by this post, to work wonderfully as a graphics editor. You’ll need this information to format your hard-copy editions as well. Let me know what you think!

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, ebooks publishing and selling, indie publishing, Print on Demand for fiction writers, Publishing, self editing for fiction writers, Self-publishing, Smashwords, Tech tips for writers, Working with literary editors, Writing, writing novels

5 Legal Terms Every Author Should Know…

We never hear this enough! Thanks, Chris!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Extract from an article by Writer and Lawyer Helen Sedgwick:

What is the worst mistake an indie author can make?

A bad book cover? A poorly edited manuscript? A hokey website?

No. It’s losing control over your terms

Pause and Read the Fine Print

Your work is valuable property, just like your car or home. You wouldn’t hand over your car keys to a stranger you met on the internet. You wouldn’t let someone with a slick website move into your guest room. Yet, every day, writers click ACCEPT to contracts with self-publishing companies that take too much control over the author’s work.

Why? Because they can’t bring themselves to read the fine print.

If you are like most people, online contracts with all those legal terms look like 5000 words run through a blender. My goal is to show you where and what to look for, so you can…

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Filed under business of writing, Copyright for writers, ebooks publishing and selling, indie publishing, Money issues for writers, Myths and Truths for writers, Print on Demand for fiction writers, Publishing, publishing contracts, Self-publishing, small presses, Smashwords, Writing, writing novels

Formatting in Word for PC users

Here’s a detailed post by Melinda Clayton from Indies Unlimited on stripping unwanted formatting from your Word document before submitting it to Kindle. Her directions apply to PC users. I use a Mac, and was able to format my books fairly easily following Mark Coker’s directions for Smashwords. In both cases, making sure you have a clean document is essential.

beautiful business woman scared

My InDesign experience is much more complicated. I’m close to submitting to Ingram and will see how it works. More on my crazy journey into InDesign for IngramSpark coming soon!

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, indie publishing, Print on Demand for fiction writers, Publishing, Self-publishing, Smashwords, Writing, writing novels

Almost Everything You Need to Know about ISBNs

Found this on Chris the Story Reading Ape and commented,

Pressed this to Just Can’t Help Writing. I read a post where an expert on indie publishing told readers it would cost more than $300 to get an ISBN. Having gotten mine from Smashwords, I couldn’t help wondering what he was talking about. This article helps clear that up. Thanks for sharing it!


To read this article, click on the link or photo of Author Laurie Boris below: almost-everything-you-need-to-know-about-isbns/

Source: Almost Everything You Need to Know about ISBNs

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, indie publishing, Money issues for writers, Myths and Truths for writers, Publishing, Self-publishing, Smashwords, Writing, writing novels

#Bloggers Beware: You CAN get SUED for using Pics on your Blog…

Chris the Story Reading Ape posted this link; it’s important reading. For the record, the pictures I’ve begun using are from stock photo sites that state expressly that they can be used for blogs, book covers, web sites, etc. These sites use the terms “resale and distribution” in ways that I find confusing; for example, depositphotos, which I have used quite a bit, says that the regular license is fine for book covers, but then says this license is only appropriate for ebooks if the photo file plays “a minor role” in the product. Since many of the book-cover designers on Mark’s List at Smashwords use sites like this, it would seem to this non-lawyer that the images are available for such use in ebooks just as in regular books.
In any case, I have found the sites I’ve used to be easy and inexpensive. You can buy images for as little as $1.00. The article this post links to lists a number of free sites, including Creative Commons sites. When I checked out Wiki Commons, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the selection there; the pay (royalty-free) sites seemed to have a larger selection of what I was looking for.
Perhaps others can share their experiences and expertise on this topic!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Further to an update from my blog partner

Professional Editor Susan Uttendorfsky

Dun Writin’—Now Whut?

Sharing Content, Copyrights, and Permissions

54 Part 1 and 55 Part 2

also apply to using photos

See this blog post of a blogger who was sued over using a copyrighted photo,

even with a disclaimer:

By clicking on the image or link below:



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Filed under blogging, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, indie publishing, Self-publishing, Smashwords, writing novels

A New “Amazon Kindle Direct” Report

Amazon Pricing

After creating considerable confusion earlier about how I could sign up for a 70% royalty rate for my two books, I returned to my site to change my settings to the higher rate. I seem to have succeeded, but not without a further bit of confusion, which I now hope I have clarified.

This time, more intelligently, I queried the support team via the email option, and received a  helpful and timely reply. (One of my hoped-fors for my online ventures: a quick “help” response process.)

Who, exactly, is”?

Here was the problem: When you pick “70%,” you receive a chart showing in which sales territories you will earn 70%. For some (e.g., Brazil, Japan), a small box informs you that in order to earn the higher amount in these countries, you must enroll in Kindle Select, which, you may know, requires you to give Amazon an exclusive for several months. Because I had already uploaded to Smashwords, I couldn’t easlly make this choice, and I’m not sure I would want to.

The confusion for me arose because sales made at “” were shown as paying only the lower rate of 35%. So what sales, specifically, were these? In my idiom, items bought at “” include books bought by U. S. buyers. Did this chart mean that books bought in the U. S. would never earn more than 35% royalty?

Here’s the reply to my query:

You’ll receive 70% royalty for books sold to U.S customers from
However, customers outside of the U.S. often purchase books on the Kindle store. The books sold to customers outside of the applicable sales territories will be calculated at 35% royalty rate.
The 70% Royalty Option is only applicable for sales to customers in these sales territories:

[I’ve cropped the long list of the countries in which the 70% option is available.]

*70% Royalty in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India: Digital Books enrolled in KDP Select are eligible to earn 70% royalty for sales to customers in these countries as long as the 70% List Price requirements are met. Otherwise, you will earn 35% royalty.
Sales to customers in all other locations will receive a 35% royalty and are recorded separately in your royalty reports at the 35% rate.
For more information, please visit our Help Page:
I hope this helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP. Have a nice day!”

Therefore, it looks as if I was successful in making the change, and as if I’ll earn 70% in most cases.

Questions I had about Logging into Amazon Direct Publishing

I had some difficulty figuring out exactly how to return to my KDP account. When I signed in using the account I had created to associate with the books, I could find no links to my KDP account. The customer-service representatives with whom I initiated a chat for help had no idea what to tell me. Finally they directed me to the “contact us” link for KDP, which is apparently a separate section of Amazon. I know now to log in at, where I then sign in with the email address I created.

I hope this help others easing into the process. I assure you, the Smashwords process was less complex, almost certainly because of the complex royalty and distribution components of Amazon.

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon pricing policy, ebooks publishing and selling, Self-publishing, Smashwords, writing novels

Amazon Pricing Confusion Resolved!

Brittneysahin (below) got it right (unless I am misreading again :-))!

Here is the text:

“But if you choose the 70% Royalty Option, you must further set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book.”

Obviously the operative word here is “physical” edition. In other words, a book can be priced the SAME as a DIGITAL edition at any other sales channel. The 20% reduction is only necessary if you have a print edition (I assume this includes POD editions but that is not clear).

In my defense for missing this word, I was taking in a lot of information at once and was probably not attuned to the idea of a physical versus digital edition, since “physical” versions of my books are out of print. Of course, they’re being sold by used book dealers at all sorts of prices, but presumably this is not relevant since I earn nothing from these used book sales and have no control over them.

If you’re tempted to buy a copy of the old paperbacks for like $0.01, or some such price, let me know and I’ll send you a Smashwords coupon for a cheaper (yes!) edition. Both books have been revised, Blood Lies a fair amount.

Thanks so much to Brittneysahin and others for input on this. If anyone gets any new information via direct communication with Amazon, thanks in advance for letting us all know. And I’m going to change my royalty rate to 70%.


Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon pricing policy, ebooks publishing and selling, Money issues for writers, Self-publishing, Smashwords, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson, writing novels

Off to Upload to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK LAUNCH DAY at Smashwords! And the day I bite the bullet and upload to Amazon! So far it looks a lot more complex than uploading to Smashwords. If any of you have been through this process and have any advice for me, please let me hear from you! In the next day or two, I’ll report back on my own experiences. King of the Roses coverIn the meantime, you can now order the books at in addition to ordering them through any of your favorite ebook retailers, including Barnes and Noble and iBooks. Blood Lies coverLet me know if you run into problems. I may not be able to help, but I will try! Also later today I will post some direct links on my web site,

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Blood Lies, ebooks publishing and selling, King of the Roses, Self-publishing, Smashwords, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson, writing novels