This weekend I published a short story to Smashwords—an aggregator that distributes to a wide range of formats and Kindle Direct—the self publishing branch of the Amazon Kindle Store.
These publishers have strict guidelines that must be applied to a manuscript before submission and failure to do this will result in rejection of the manuscript.
Through the Meat grinder
The first submission was to Smashwords and I followed the formatting exactly—a word processing document with the .doc extension. The process was tedious; but, it went smoothly and I completed the formatting of the 8,100 word document in about 45 minutes.
I filled out the submission form at my Smashwords author page, uploaded the document and cover image. I was number 32 in the que for the Meat grinder conversion process; in about ten minutes the process was complete and the automatic error verifier confirmed that there were no initial problems with the document. What a relief.
The story is available in various formats at Smashwords now; however, it is being reviewed for submission into The Premium Catalog before being submitted to Sony, iBooks and Kobo.
The Kindle Direct submission
The process of formatting the manuscript for submission to Kindle Direct didn’t go smoothly. I had to follow the formatting requirements: add an internal table of contents, add a high-resolution cover image, save as an .html document and compress the files in a .zip folder. I noticed that the conversion from .doc word processor file to .html file had changed the dimensions of the images in the document—the cover image scaled was down by 60% and the About the Author image was scaled up by 25%. I opened the .html file, adjusted the dimensions, saved the file and re zipped the images and .html file.
I submitted the zipped files and an external marketing cover image. I’m waiting for updated account information to come through before the story will be published to the store.
Kindle uses a proprietary format known as .mobi and has specifications that relate to the embedded technology in their reading devices. This proprietary format is a hybrid of the open source .epub format. The .epub format is constructed like a small scale website that uses .xhtml files for the display contents and .xml files to support the .xhtml files and communicate with reading devices.
In the Kindle version this structure requires code to be added to the .xml files that is specific to their devices. The Kindle reader has an internal link to a cover image and an internal link to a table of contents.
I think that I will probably have to build the required files and resubmit them. I won’t know for sure until the account information is verified. If that is the case I’m considering exporting the master manuscript to .html through Multimarkdown, formatting the document in an HTML editor, transferring the contents to an .epub project generator, validating the .epub, running the .epub through the Kindle Gen command line tool and submitting the resulting .mobi file directly. This is the method used by many professional formatters.