Smashwords continues to kick goals in self-publishing. In an increasingly crowded market, I just don’t think you can beat Smashwords for ease of use, price (you can’t do better than free), and distribution. Fling your words to Smashwords, and you’ll quickly end up with an ebook in multiple formats, playable on all devices, and distributed to iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store. Soon they’ll be adding Amazon to the already impressive list.
The website could use prettying up, but this offering is the best one-stop-shop free solution out there.
NB: As an experiment, soon I’ll be self-publishing something I have up my sleeve, and monitoring both what distribution channel sells how much, and whether ebook beats pbook. More on that soon.
2. Pages ePub export via iWork
Last week, Apple updated its popular iWork suite of applications, allowing self-publishers to export their words in ePUB format from its Pages word processor. It was a small update – iWork 9.0.4 to be precise – but potentially an important one for publishing. There’s even a Pages template for use in creating an ePub document that you can get here.
Given that Pages can now give you ePUB and PDF, this means you can spread your work everywhere, including Amazon’s Kindle Store (via their Digital Text Platform, above).
Liza Daly, of digital publishing consulting firm Threepress Consulting, has a very thorough review on her blog. In it she delves all the way down into the CSS it creates and the OPF file. I suspect that not all that many self-publishers will want to go that far, but she says she got good results out of the box, without tweaking anything:
“I had a few random Pages documents lying around and I got decent ePub output from them too, even without using the styles found in the best-practices template. Those styles should be used on content of any length or complexity, if only to get the critical XHTML automatic chunking.
Overall I’m quite excited that there’s finally a commercial tool for normal humans that produces one-step valid ePub output.”
If you have a WordPress site, (or, possibly, you know someone who does and can persuade them to post your words for long enough), Anthologize (note the “z” if you are searching for it) is a new plugin that will convert words on a blog to ePUB and PDF formats.
It’s free and open-source, having been developed by a brains trust of kind-hearted boffins as part of the “One Week, One Tool” program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in the US.
From the Anthologize site:
“Anthologize is a free, open-source, plugin that transforms WordPress 3.0 into a platform for publishing electronic texts. Grab posts from your WordPress blog, import feeds from external sites, or create new content directly within Anthologize. Then outline, order, and edit your work, crafting it into a single volume for export in several formats, including – in this release – PDF, ePUB, TEI.”
Images can be included in your ebooks, and – I find this part sooo exciting considering this is a free tool – multimedia is said to be coming soon. Speaking of multimedia – there’s a video of team talking about the project right here. And here’s a shot of the resulting ePUB ebook that the Anthologize folk made from their blog post being read in the iPad.