eBook Preparation for Smashwords.com: Publishing Pro will soon be helping authors prepare their books for Smashwords.com, a publishing and distribution platform for eBooks. We have chosen to work with Smashwords, at least for the time being, because they have been in business since May 2008 (an eternity in this business) and because their publishing model allows you to build one file, a somewhat simplified Word file, that their software converts to usable files for the various eBook devices and platforms (iPhone, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, among others). Having to format individual files for all of these outfits is a burden that only large publishers can tolerate.
The downside of Smashwords, and similar providers, is that the process works best for books with simple formats: novels or non-fiction books without graphics or complicated typography. Still, this covers quite a bit of territory.
In general, authors need to get used to the idea that they do not control how their eBooks appear to customers. That's because eBooks, with the exception of those in the PDF format, are more like websites than books in that appearances are determined more by the device and the user than by the author, publisher, or printer. (This is why printed books will still have their place.)
Smashwords does take a percentage of any sales, though a reasonable one. Competitors--Bookbaby.com, for example--take no percentage but make their money by charging authors for file preparation, corrections and changes, and other services. Both approaches have their advantages. For now, we prefer the Smashwords model because it gives authors more control, especially over the minor (and sometimes not so minor) fixes that they are prone to. It also forces Smashwords to care about your book sales; otherwise, they do not make any money. We rather like that.
At this point, we are completing two test projects: One is my memoir, From Rome to Jerusalem, and the other is Pathway to Freedom: Applying the Teachings of the Buddha by Lucinda Green, Ph.D. We expect to have those up and running this month. After that, we will begin guiding other authors through the initial account setup with Smashwords, much as we do with Createspace, and (when asked) handle the initial file preparation. Goal is to have most customers able to handle their own accounts. File preparation costs will be small, probably $75.00 for books with simple formats. The Publishing Pro.