Now that life has settled down- the grand-nephew was born, the novel was published, I've watched "The Machinist" (fascinating movie)- I'll tell you what Smashwording has been like for me. (He he, I just created a verb.)
It's a wonderful experience, even the bumpy bits. I'll offer some tips that may help make it less rough for those who'd like to embark on the Smashwords journey. Some of these can apply to other epublishing paths.
Note: This is just my experience and my tips. I do not speak for Smashwords. I'm just a happy author who uses it.
1. Read the dang style guide. Read it again. Look at the sample manuscript they link to. Read what others have published on Smashwords.
2. Write your manuscript using Microsoft Word. If you haven't done that, without haste, go perform the nuclear option described in the Smashwords style guide. It's not difficult. I did it and I have a pea-sized brain. (Except it didn't clear up my problem. More on that later... No, wait, I'll tell you about that now.)
2a. I began writing my MS in Word Perfect. That was eons ago and I'd transferred it over and thought it was fine, but the format was bad for a couple of the versions at Smashwords (html and one of the others). The technical term for my problem was, "The first line indents were stripped out." Mark, the super nice Smashwords guy worked with me and he finally solved it for me. He had to do something magical beyond the nuclear thing. I'm in utter awe of him. And mind you, he did it in the middle of the night on a weekend!
I can't guarantee you'll get the same service. Maybe he was just feeling very generous. I think it was a special weekend. My niece was in labor... well, he didn't know that, but maybe he sensed it.- that particular baby magic in the air. Um... you probably don't need all of these particular details for your own publishing plan. Just know that this man is awesome!!!
3. Upload a practice story. I put up a short story, complete with a nice photo cover. I offered the story for free.
This did two things: It allowed me to check out the procedure and make sure my format was right (admittedly, that would have worked had I used the same word processor for both items) and it populated my site so I didn't look like such a newbie.
I chose something that wasn't entirely unlike my novel. An even better choice would have been a cute spin-off story with the same characters as the novel which would have really whet the reader's appetite. Oh well, live and learn.
In my profile I mentioned that I had a novel coming out soon, where I'd published before, and my blog.
Be prepared to wait after you upload it. You are put into a queue. So, don't plan a party for the moment it appears. You don't know if it will take an hour or hours. But you don't have to babysit it. It's there even if you click off the page.
Better yet- If you are pre-announcing the launch date, upload it a day or two before. That way you can work out any bugs that crop up. You have the option to unpublish a work after it's uploaded into the system. It's visible right after it's uploaded, but if you watch it, you can right away hide it. Then, take a GOOD look. Check for centering, margins, white spaces, indents, italics, etc.
Check whatever formats you can- html, pdf, mobi, etc. If you have a friend with an e-reader device, see if you can check it out on theirs.
Be aware that it won't be in the premium catalogue for quite some time. This means it isn't allowed in the Apple Store just yet. I plan to ramp up the marketing of Syzygy when/if that happens. (They aren't all allowed in .)
*Know what? I couldn't put my short story in the Apple Store, though it's in the premium catalogue, because it is free.
5. The Fun Stuff!!!
Smashwords is associated with Wordclay, a print on demand place, and Podiobooks, an audio book site. I'm considering audiobooking, though that's a big project. They allow you to post in segments. Smashwords also allow you to add a link to where your book is already available as an audio book or in print. That is very nice of them. :)
Smashwords lets you to link in a video to promote your book. (Going to work on that with Jasmine, my art lady, soon.)
After you're uploaded, you get to make coupon codes which you can pass on to people so they can get the book for free or a at a discount.
Don't forget to do a blog tour. Yeah, I gotta plan that. Anybody interested in doing an interview or reviewing Syzygy? You'll get a free ecopy! And I'll reciprocate.