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Managing Front and Back Matter in Scrivener

back matter in scrivener

Scrivener is a wonderful program many writers use to set up and manage their books, screenplays, and research projects. Nearly every aspect of the program can be customizable, from the drafting settings to the export format. But with so many options, many authors find themselves overwhelmed. To that end, we’re posting a blog series on our favorite features of Scrivener. Today, we’re going to cover setting up front and back matter in Scrivener, including some tips and tricks to set you up for success.

Note: The screenshots are for Scrivener 2.0. for Mac. We hear from our friends at Literature and Latte that version 3.0 is coming soon, and when we get access to it, we’ll update this post.

Front Matter Tips

back matter in scrivener: break out into separate foldersEvery book format will have a different ISBN, and occasionally, different front matter, so we separate all of them out into their own folders. For our series, we have a main folder for each book, then separate them down into formats. When it’s time to compile, we select the applicable format (and applicable compile preset) and we’re good to go.

Speaking of front matter, there’s a brand new checklist from the Independent Book Publishers Association that contains the basics of what every self-pub and indie-pub book should have (at a minimum). We use the <$Blank_page> shortcode to keep pages a verso or a recto (that is, on the left or right side).

Back Matter Tips

back matter in scrivenerAs with the front matter, we separate out eBook and physical copy back matter. At the end of your eBook content, you should have a “call-to-action,” or something a reader can do to stay connected. Many authors opt to have a link to a newsletter sign up or Instafreebie. Whichever you chose, aim for the long-term. Otherwise, you’ll be updating your back matter every few weeks.

For the print back matter, we have to fudge a few things. We usually add the section header into the text itself (“Acknowledgements” and “About the Author”) then use Preserve Formatting to retain the chapter heading formatting. Or we’ll mark the entire scene “Compile As-Is.”

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The Matter of Things – All About Front and Back Matter

When coming to the end of a book, you’re often feeling a jumble of emotions. If it’s a romance, you’re feeling the Happily Ever After. A dystopian, probably a little misery mixed in with hope. Across all books of all genres, there’s one thing in common: That all-important book back matter and front matter.

Your book’s front and back matter is, essentially, the stuff that bookends the actual text of the book. The title page, your copyright information, and table of contents goes in the front, your acknowledgements, your also by, and your biography go in the back. If you’re a self-published author, all of these components make for yet another sales avenue.

Front Matter: The Basics

For indies, you’re going to want to have at least three main components to your front matter: Title Page, Copyright, Table of Contents. You could go for the gold and have all the components (half title, series page, title page, copyright, dedication, epigraph, table of contents, etc). However, keep this in mind: Nobody’s buying a book to read the front matter. Especially when it comes to eBooks, where you can display up to 20% of your book to potential customers, you don’t want 10% of that taken up by front matter.

Our general formatting recommendation goes like this:

Print Books:

  • Title page with author and publisher logo (if applicable)
  • Copyright information:
    • Editing by [Editor’s Name]
    • Art design by [Artist Name]
    • © [Year] [Publisher]
    • All rights reserved.
    • ISBN: [ISBN]
    • ISBN: [ISBN:13]
  • Dedication Page
  • (Blank Page, so TOC lands on the right)
  • Table of Contents
  • (Blank Page, so start of book lands on the right)
  • Start of Book

Our eBooks run about the same way, although we don’t add the blank pages. Per the Smashwords formatting guide, we also make sure to add the appropriate text so we pass muster on the Meatgrinder.

A note on Amazon and Front Matter

Amazon’s Look Inside feature allows users to view the interior of an eBook prior to purchasing. For a lot of consumers, that’s how they decide to press that Buy button. Recently, however, Amazon pushed a new standard for eBooks in the Look Inside feature that effectively broke a lot of formatting, especially as it relates to images and text alignment. All of our books, formatted through Scrivener, were victims of this change. If you’re a Scrivener user, try exporting the book to ePub instead of Mobi.

You might also try Vellum, which is another eBook formatter (Runs around $200 for eBook only).

Either way, it’s important to check your Look Inside feature every couple of months to make sure everything looks as it’s supposed to.

Back Matter: The Basics

Right after the last page of the book, you need to try to hook your reader to take an additional action, whether it be purchase the next book in the series or signing up for your newsletter, or even leaving a review. The more pages a reader has to sift through, the less likely they’ll hang around, so put your high priority up front.

For paperbacks/hardcovers, we go with the following:

  • Last Page
  • Our heroes adventures continue/conclude in [Book Title]
  • Also By, with a short blurb about each book
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Author

For eBooks, which can include hyperlinks, we switch it up:

  • Last Page
  • Our heroes adventures continue/conclude in [Book Title], followed by the following:

As always, thank you, dear reader, for going with me on this adventure. As an indie author, I rely on my awesome folks like yourselves to help share the word about my work. Please consider leaving a review on your favorite book retailer*. I am so excited to hear what you think—even if it’s a short review!

*Smashwords has particular issues with naming other eBook stores in their books, so keep it generic

  • Free Anxiety Dragon Book, with the following:

Sign up for the S. Usher Evans newsletter and get a free copy of Empath, a standalone fantasy novel about a girl and her anxiety dragon.

  • Also By with links to each book in the backlist, and a notice if the book is also a free download.
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Author, with links to social media

The Importance of Back Matter

If it’s not completely obvious, your back matter is one of the best ways to retain new fans and increase sales of new books as they come out. Whether it’s through finding you on social media or signing up for your newsletter, giving fans a one-click option to get more of your stuff is always important. Especially if you’re giving the first book away as a freebie or newsletter gift, you want to give yourself every possible chance to keep your hard earned fans.

We also recommend linking back to your own website, versus trying to do store sites. In the first place, if you’re using Smashwords or other distributer, you won’t be able to upload a different book for each store. But most importantly, it lets you link to books that might not be out yet. So if you’re planning books 3 and 4 later in the year, you won’t have to update your backmatter when they come out.

That also means that every so often, you should be updating your back matter with information about your new and upcoming books. If you’re a habitual releaser of 4-5 books per year, you can probably get away with once a year for heavy lifting. It’s also a good time to sweep across your paperbacks and hardcovers to make sure everything looks good, too.

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Why Preorders Sell More Books

Preorder Periods

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about how to set up your book in stores–from using Amazon’s KDP to Smashwords to which type of ISBN to choose when publishing the print version of the book. Now, it’s time to move into some release strategies. First up: Preorders and picking release dates.

Why Preorders?

Preorders are exactly that–books available for presale before publication date. Many times, we see authors implement a “write-edit-publish” strategy, meaning: as soon as the book is finished, it’s available for sale. This is a viable strategy for some authors, and we aren’t knocking it, but consider the following:

  • If you publish a book without building awareness early, you’ll be playing catch up.
  • Early reviews help build buzz
  • When talking about books in a series, readers will want to buy the next when they finish a book. Having preorders means you can capture that sale months ahead of release date


Setting Up Preorders

Depending on your distributer, you may have some limitations on when and how you can set up preorders. CreateSpace does not offer them at all, so if you’re looking to have your print books available early, you might consider IngramSpark instead. Amazon Kindle Direct only allows preorders up to 90 days in advance.Preorder periods for eBooks


Smashwords and IngramSpark, on the other hand, offer 12 months advance preorders. Smashwords doesn’t even require you to have a manuscript, simply the metadata. (Ingram does require a manuscript).

When should you set up your preorders, then? We like to start the process around the same time we submit our manuscript for line editing. For our process, that means the manuscript is more or less the final length, which means we can start guesstimating cover wrap sizes.

Tips for Preorder Periods

Just like publishing your book to Amazon doesn’t automatically result in sales, neither does setting your book for preorder result in preorders either. In both cases, you have to do the work to increase both awareness of your book and trust that it’s a book to be paid for.

Since Amazon allows us to upload 90 days in advance, we generally call that the “Preorder Period,” and focus our efforts on raising awareness for a particular series. If we’re releasing the first in a brand new series, we’d actually recommend starting the awareness effort even earlier than 90 days, because you’ll be starting from scratch with your audience (yes, even if you have an established audience).

  • Obviously, first you want to let your readers know that you have a book. Run a 1-2 day ad blitz using your newsletter, social media, and blog/website.
  • Expand your reach outside your own social circle by posting the book to NetGalley using a Co-Op or paid service for reviews (keep in mind schedules fill up fast)
  • Seek out book bloggers in your genre and ask if they’d like to read your book and/or participate in a blog tour. (Although by the time you’re here, you should have already been building relationships)
  • Schedule regular, fresh content about your book, from teasers to behind-the-scenes blog posts to character aesthetics.
  • Make sure your author website is up-to-date and all your links are working to the sales sites
  • Establish or check on your author page is ready on Amazon Central, and don’t forget to add the preorder book to your list of books (you’ll have to do that every time).

Later on this year, we’ll have a more in-depth discussion on how to use social media for book-brand awareness.

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Your Book’s Unique Identifier: ISBN

Last week, we talked a little about IngramSpark, and spoke briefly about ISBNs. The International Standard Book Number is your book’s unique identifier, how we know that your The Island is different from her The Island. For each format of book, you technically need to have a different ISBN, although the rules are bending in this new age of self-publishing.

Do I need ISBNs?

Print books need ISBNs, eBooks published through Nook, iBooks, and the like (Smashwords) need an ISBN, but Amazon doesn’t require them for .mobis. That’s led to an interesting new phenomena where a large swatch of eBook purchases aren’t tracked/reported by the traditional mechanisms (but that’s a post for another day).

Bottom line: The only time you won’t need an ISBN is if you’ve decided to go exclusive with Kindle Unlimited, and you won’t be publishing physical books.

Where Do I Get ISBNs?

You can either pay for ISBNs through Bowker or you can get them for free on Smashwords and CreateSpace. Why would you buy for ISBNs at all? It all comes down to what you’re looking to do.

When it comes to eBooks, ISBNs are less important. As we said above, Amazon doesn’t even require them, and Smashwords offers them for free. There really is no downside to using Smashwords’ ISBN, except that Smashwords will be listed as your publisher on the eBook distribution.

Free vs. Paid for Print

For your print books, there’s a little more to consider. CreateSpace does offer free ISBNs, but if you decide to use them, you become limited in your expanded distribution and ability to sell books in bookstores (We wrote about it in more detail here). For our money, we like owning our ISBNs for our print books. CreateSpace doesn’t offer hardcovers, so we have to buy them anyway, and we like IngramSpark’s expanded distribution.

ISBNs are How Much?

Many bookstores won't accept books that aren't returnable. You can only make books returnable at IngramSpark, and IngramSpark requires a Bowker-provided ISBN.That was the first thing we thought when we saw the prices on Bowker. True, one is $125 (yes, WHAT?), five are $250, and you can get a whopping 100 for $575. So which should you pick? Again, this all comes down to what your goals are as an author/publisher.

If you’re like us, and have at least 50 books in the ol’ pipeline (remember, you’ll need a different ISBN for print and hardcover), then the $525 makes a lot of sense. But if you’re a one-shot wonder with your magnum opus, then we’d actually recommend going with CreateSpace’s free ISBNs.

The one thing we’ll caution is that if you have any plans to potentially sign in a bookstore like Barnes and Noble, consider that many won’t accept books that aren’t returnable. You can only make books returnable at IngramSpark, and IngramSpark requires a Bowker-provided ISBN.

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Getting Your Book in Print: IngramSpark

Ingramspark: Getting your book in print

Last week, we talked about Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and how we get our books into paperback. This week, we’re going to talk about the other tool: IngramSpark.

Ingram vs. CreateSpace

Ingram is the largest print book distributor in the world, and is what the big-dogs use to distribute their books. IngramSpark is their indie-publishing arm, which has lowered the barriers for small fries like us to get our books in the same places as the big pubs. Unlike Amazon, Ingram isn’t used to dealing with customers, so their user interface leaves a LOT to be desired. Once you figure out how to do the things you want, it becomes easy to navigate.

Getting Started

IngramSpark doesn't offer ISBNs for free, and you won't be able to use a Createspace ISBN on IngramOnce you’ve got your account set up, you’ll need to start creating your titles. Unlike with CreateSpace, if you go with Ingram, you’ll need to create an imprint name and bring your own ISBNs. Ingram does not offer ISBNs for free, and you will not be able to use a CreateSpace ISBN on Ingram.

Let’s repeat that:

If you create a book on CreateSpace with a CreateSpace ISBN, you will not be able to use that same ISBN on Ingram and will have to have two ISBNs for your book.

However, if you bring your own ISBNs to both CreateSpace and IngramSpark, you will be able to use the same ISBN. It’s a small distinction, but important when deciding how you want to approach ISBN acquisition.

IngramSpark also will allow you to create an eBook, although we at SGR-Pub prefer to go direct to KDP and use Smashwords. If you want to use Ingram for eBooks, you’ll need to remove them from other shops, like iBooks or Nook.

When you’re setting up your title, you’ll need to have the same information as with CreateSpace, like description, ISBN, and BISAC number. In addition, you’ll need to select your size, page number, and print type. You’ll want to make sure these match if you’re using CreateSpace and IngramSpark together.

You can upload the same cover and interior for IngramSpark as CreateSpaceThe good news is that if you’ve been using CreateSpace to proof your book (and they share ISBNs), you can upload the same cover and interior for IngramSpark.


One of the main reasons we use IngramSpark is they offer preorders for up to a year in advance. We’re firm believers that preorders mean more sales, and having a landing page on Amazon 3 or even 6 months ahead of publication date is a big leg-up. You’ll also be able to order books before the sale date in case you want to fulfill orders early. CreateSpace, on the other hand, doesn’t let you order books until you’ve approved the book, and made it available.

Creating a Hardcover

If you’ve gotten to the title stage, you’ll see that IngramSpark does, in fact, offer hardcover versions. Our view is: If you’re already formatting and creating for paperback, why not go for the gold? Having your book available in multiple formats increases the potential for sales. Keep in mind, you’ll need to create a new cover with a full-wrap (including those fun inner flaps). Also, Hardcovers are much more expensive to purchase, so you’ll want to consider your sales price.

Returnable Books: Pros and Cons

When you’re creating your book, IngramSpark will ask you to set the retail price and also determine returnability. What that means for you is if a store buys 40 of your books and sells none, they will ship them back to Ingram, and Ingram will either ship them to you or destroy them, while charging you for the cost to print and ship them. Or, you can set the returnability to “no.” This setting isn’t available in CreateSpace.

Why would you want books to be returnable? Most brick-and-mortar stores won’t stock books that aren’t returnable, although you can find occasional stores with exceptions to this rule. For them, it’s a low risk: they can purchase books and not have to eat the cost if they don’t sell. If your sales goals include these kind of stores, checking “returnable” is probably a good option.

Keep in mind that if you do get a big, fat box of books, you can still sell them on your own to make back the cost.

Buying in Bulk

As we said above, CreateSpace doesn’t let you buy books before they’re officially “on sale,” whereas Ingram does. However, apples-to-apples, Ingram is the more expensive Print on Demand service. For our purposes, we purchase direct from CreateSpace when we can, and when our books are only available for preorder or in hardcover, buy from Ingram.

IngramSpark: Why you should use IngramSpark for Print on Demand

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Getting Your Book in Print: CreateSpace

CreateSpace: Getting Your Book In Print

It’s every author’s dream to hold their book in their hands, right? Well, just like KDP and Smashwords are platforms, CreateSpace is a tool you can use to help put your formatted PDF or .doc into a printed book. It’s kind of our favorite part of the process, you know?

CreateSpace vs. KDP’s New Paperback Program

Recently, KDP offered a new system whereby authors can turn their Kindle book into a paperback through KDP. They’ve continued to add features, such as offering printed proofs for authors, but still lack some of the better features of CreateSpace. Over time, this tool will replace CS and continue the consolidation of Amazon’s publishing platforms into a single entity.

For now, we’ll focus on CreateSpace and revisit Kindle’s paperback publishing when it becomes a robust tool.

Getting Started

CreateSpace is one of the few platforms that isn’t integrated with your Amazon single-sign on, so you’ll have to create a new account. Once you’re there, you’ll be taken to your dashboard. For first-time publishers, and for folks who like to see the process in a step-by-step fashion, we recommend doing the guided process.

CreateSpace doesn't support preorders, so don't press that approve button until you're readyKeep in mind that CreateSpace doesn’t support preorders, so don’t press that “Approve” button until you’re ready.

In order to publish, you’ll need the following:

  • Manuscript in .pdf (sized correctly, more on that below) or .doc (free-flowing)
  • Wraparound Cover in the right size
  • ISBN: We’ll have a discussion on ISBNs in a few weeks, as there’s pros and cons to using CreateSpace’s free ISBNs versus buying your own
  • Various other metadata like the BISAC code and Description

Formatting Your Book

Much like KDP and Smashwords have guidelines for uploading files, CreateSpace also has formatting requirements. The easiest solution is, of course, uploading a .Doc Word document and using the autoformatter. You can find more information here.

However, we prefer to have a little more control over what is uploaded, so we create a .PDF file and upload that. In this case, we have to make sure we have the right document size on the PDF (so 6×9 or 5×8). We’re the world’s biggest Scrivener fan, for drafting and also for formatting, so we’ve set up a template for each size, and use that for easy exporting. We can also format for you, if you just don’t want to fool with it.

Getting Your Cover Right

While we’re always proponents of DIY, when it comes to covers, this is one area where, like plumbing, unless you absolutely know what you’re doing, hire a professional. Your cover is your first impression. Along those same lines, your graphic designer will be able to calculate the width and sizing of your wrap-around cover. For our money, we use Ingram’s calculator, but we’ll talk about that next week.

ISBNs: Buy Your Own or No?

If you think you'll primarily be selling books on Amazon, save some cash by using a CreateSpace ISBNWe’ll go into more depth about this in a few weeks. Bottom line: If you’re using a CreateSpace-provided ISBN, your book will not be available for purchase by mortar stores (for the most part). So if you think you’ll primarily be selling books on Amazon or at small bookstores that will allow you to bring your own stock, save some cash by using CreateSpace’s ISBN. If you’ve got aspirations of big signings at Barnes and Noble, then you might be better off buying your own.

But if you bring your own, CreateSpace won’t allow expanded distribution, so you might want to look into augmenting with IngramSpark.

How We Proof

For our own books, we use a hybrid approach between CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and have our own ISBNs. We use CreateSpace to create our proofs for final QA checks, then upload the finished manuscript to IngramSpark and make it available for preorder, then, on publication day, return to CreateSpace to approve the final draft. Purchases direct on Amazon go to the CreateSpace dash, purchases everywhere else go to Ingram. Our books also can be bought and stocked in bookstores, should they be requested.

Createspace: why publish a paperback along with ebooks

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The Smashwords Meatgrinder: Not As Scary As It Sounds

You’d think that Smashwords would’ve come up with a less grotesque name for the system used to convert .doc into the various formats they sell, but here we are with Meatgrinder.

If you joined us last week, you read all about Smashwords and how we think it’s a good idea to diversify your eBook distribution outside of Amazon. While there are other services you can use (such as Draft2Digital or going direct to the vendors themselves), we’ve stuck with Smashwords. Inevitably, that least to the following question:

How do I deal with the Meatgrinder?

To avoid the Smashwords Meatgrinder, upload a finished ePub fileBack in the olden days (read: 2014), Smashwords only allowed authors to upload manuscripts in .doc formats. Then they used a proprietary conversion software to turn that Microsoft Word file into a .mobi (for Kindle), .epub (everyone else), .pdf and more. The problem was this software required the .doc file to be clean and formatted properly.

Now, if you’re someone very familiar with Word, you know all about paragraph settings and headings, and how to create a table of contents. If you’re not, the Meatgrinder was a huge barrier to entry.

Nowadays, Smashwords allows authors to upload an .ePub file directly, which is what SGR-Pub does when we have a tricky manuscript with difficult formatting, such as the Razia series. Since most vendors accept ePub, this makes it easy. Our recommendation for those authors who have their manuscript in .ePub format is to just upload that, making sure that it passes all ePub checks. Most files created with Scrivener will pass this with flying colors.

(Need a formatter? Check us out.)

What if I want a .Mobi?

Smashwords says that .mobi (Kindle) is one of their most popular formats on the Smashwords direct store, so some authors may still want to deal with the frustration of the meatgrinder in order to have .mobi file available for sale. Smashwords has a Formatting Guide that you can download, but here’s our top trip-ups that we’ve encountered.

  • Tables: For our Razia series, we have tables for bounty posters and whatnot. For both the .ePub file and the .doc files, we have to create “images” where the tables are. Luckily, our formatting program of choice, Scrivener, allows us to create images from tables in the Compile settings. Otherwise, you’ll have to individually create the images from your tables.
  • Paragraph settings: Many authors add 5 spaces or a tab in front of each line. There are a few reasons why this is a bad idea, but the biggest is that it doesn’t pass Meatgrinder specifications. Check out this handy article for how to create paragraph settings in Word.
  • Table of Contents: Related to paragraph settings, the Meatgrinder wants your table of contents to link to Chapter Headings. Therefore, instead of making each chapter title 24pt and bold, you’ll create a new Heading Style, and apply it to all your chapter headings. Then, you’ll be able to create your Table of Contents.

The Style Guide has more in-depth discussion of all these topics, so download it!

Why All This Formatting Stuff?

Think of your manuscript like a web page and the Meatgrinder like your web browser (Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc). In order for the browser to render the web page correctly, the back-end coding has to be correct and free from extra spaces and errors. The same goes for the Meatgrinder: In order to render the book the right way, the back-end code needs to be right.

What back-end code, it’s just text, right? Well, not really. Line spacing, tabs, and weight, italics, and size of font are all coded into the Microsoft Word document. You don’t see it because Microsoft gives you buttons and pop-up windows, instead of expecting you to know all the coding. So when Smashwords asks for a clean manuscript, they want all of that to be system-generated, instead of user-generated.

Other Things to Know with Smashwords

Smashwords is a great distribution service, although it is persnickety. Take care in your front and back matter to not mention Kindle specifically (i.e.: if another book is available through Kindle Unlimited) and also to not link to other stores. Back matter sells books (we’ll write a blog about that soon), so it’s important to use verbiage that won’t trigger a flag on your book. We recommend something like “This book is available for eBook, paperback, and hardcover” and a link back to the book page on your website.

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Smashwords: Your KDP Companion

Smashwords: Distributing your book beyond Amazon

While some authors choose to put all their eggs in one basket with KDP, many others find more success by “going wide,” or making their books available on Barnes and Noble, iBooks, etc. One option is to create accounts on each of these sites and upload directly (but yikes, who has the time). Another option is to use a distributer like Smashwords or Draft2Digital.

For our business, we’ve been a Smashwords user since the beginning. If we could do it all over again, we might actually break things up just to capture a bit more money per sale. Since we’re invested, we’re sticking with it.

Why Go Wide?

In the first place, why should you nix KDP and go wide? This is a question only you, as the business owner, can answer. Some people find great success in sticking with KDP-Select, which means their books are exclusive to Amazon. Others, like us, find that the exclusivity brings little to no benefit. Our book Empath received exactly 28 downloads over a one-year period (then saw a bump in sales once it was taken out of KDP-S).

As we discussed previously, there’s a benefit to not keeping your eggs in one basket. When you rely solely on Amazon, you are at the mercy of their adjustments to algorithms for discoverability. There’s also the great big world outside the US who read books on devices other than Kindles.

Our advice, as always, is to test and measure, then devise the best option for each book.

Why Use a Distributor?

If you decide to “go wide,” then you’ll have to pick a distributor. The obvious benefit to using one versus going onesie-twosie to each storefront is that you won’t have to worry about multiple tax forms come tax time (oh yeah, you have to worry about that stuff). The other benefit is distributors like Smashwords have agreements with unique storefronts, like libraries. With the YA crowd, having eBooks available in libraries is a huge profit opportunity.

But when you go with a distributor, you have to pay a percentage to them. It’s normally 10%, which isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things. Again, that’s your decision.

Why Smashwords?

We prefer Smashwords because that’s where our books are, and we don’t have many complaints about them (although we’ll talk about formatting next week). Smashwords provides us a clear accounting of what books were sold when, what’s our cut, and a daily summary of sales and downloads. Surprisingly, we think it’s a bit superior to Amazon’s KDP dashboard because it provides more granularity.

Smashwords also offers a direct-sale option, which doesn’t get used that much, but offers a full 74% of the price, which you can’t get from Amazon (70%) or even here on the website via PayPal (although we get the funds MUCH faster). You can also use coupons to help drive direct ad-to-sale traffic. And Smashwords tracks the biggest selling books through Publisher’s Weekly (though it’s mostly romance).

Next week, we’ll talk a little bit more about our tips and tricks for wrestling down the Smashwords Meat Grinder (or their formatting program).

Smashwords direct uploading: What's the benefit?

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All About KDP

All about KDP: Using keywords and metadata to boost visibility

If you’re going to self-publish, familiarizing yourself with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is probably pretty high on your priority list (right behind getting the manuscript written and edited). When you first arrive, Amazon tells you that your book will be in front of millions of people. The truth is, it will be, but along with the millions of other books Amazon has in its catalogue. So how do you get yours to stand out?

That’s a loaded question!

Let’s talk a little bit about what KDP does for you, what they don’t, and how you can maximize your book’s visibility.

What KDP Does For You

Publishing your book on Kindle Direct Publishing will make it available for sale within 12-24 hours. In a few select cases, such as when the print version is available before the Kindle version, that timeline might take a bit longer.

KDP will also display your author name (you have the option to make changes to this page via Author Central, which we’ll talk about in an follow-on post), the description of the book, the information such as ASIN (Amazon’s unique identifier, different from an ISBN) and more. Amazon will also allow users to add reviews of your book–whether or not they’ve read it.

What KDP Does Not Do For You

Amazon will not edit nor format your book (although you can hire them as part of a separate service). Amazon will not promote your book, unless you meet a specific set of criteria within their search algorithms (the automated process that determine what meets your search and what doesn’t). You’re also on your own for cover design, pricing, description, keywords, etc. Basically, KDP is a platform, not a service.

How To Maximize Your Visibility

Relying solely on Amazon to promote your book is not recommended. Although Amazon owns 80% of the eBook Market, owning so much of a market means small changes have big impacts to large sections of the market. A simple tweak to their search calculations could move thousands of books from the front pages of search results. As with most things in life, it’s better to have a varied approach to your advertising to absorb the shock from changes in the marketplace.

Within Amazon, the number one way to maximize your visibility is to utilize the keyword field. This field is how your books are categorized outside of the BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications, the official, standard genre descriptions) and into Amazon’s unique lists, such as Coming of Age or Norse Mythology. Use keywords in your book description as well, especially if the genre is saturated.

Should you enroll in KDP Select?

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