That’s the sound of the man working on the ebook chain gang

I spent a little time last night working on getting my short ebook, “The Biggest Man in Lilliput,” ready for the Smashwords bookstore.

“The Biggest Man in Lilliput” is a science fiction short story that I uploaded to Kindle and Nook just before Christmas. It’s my first published fiction, so I’m excited about it. (Buy it here for Kindle, Buy it here for Nook.)

The plan is, and always has been, to manually upload versions for the Amazon Kindle store and Barnes & Noble Nook store, then let Smashwords handle all the other formats and bookstores.

I want to do Kindle and Nook myself because I expect them to be the overwhelming majority of sales, and Smashwords takes a 15% cut, on top of the 30% that the bookstores themselves charge. That’s likely to be pennies on the rate that “Lilliput” is selling, but — who knows? — maybe “Lilliput” will be a runaway hit, and that 15% would become significant money.

I’m reminded of advice an old boss gave me: Plan for success.You can work so hard and do so much planning to get an enormously heavy boulder to the top of a steep hill that you might realize, when you get there, that you have no idea what to do next. And that you didn’t even expect to succeed. And what if the hilltop is higher and easier to reach than you anticipated? What will you do then?

Smashwords has an automated software engine for converting to ebook formats, with the delightful name, the “Meatgrinder.” The Meatgrinder is very fussy about the kinds of files it accepts, with a significant amount of mindless labor required to get there, changing fonts and changing to double-spacing and such. That’s fine, I’m not complaining. Yet.

There’s a style guide to get you through, but I find the style guide has two significant problems:

It’s written for an older version of Word on Windows XP. I’m using Word 2011 on Mac. So the illustrations don’t do me much good.

Also, It’s too verbose and explains to much. I found that helpful when I was reading the guide to familiarize myself with it. But now I just want to follow the guide mechanically.

What I’m looking for is a guide that’s written with illustrations for Word for Mac 2011 and as short as possible — no explanations, just do this, do that, do the other thing, as though an idiot was executing it. AND NO JOKES ABOUT HOW AN IDIOT IS EXECUTING IT!

I did about a half-hour of work on the manuscript last night, and I’ll keep working on it.

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