Uploading your manuscript to Smashwords and Amazon is easy -- thankfully. I've done it a dozen times with Death By A Dark Horse. No need to feel hesitant, or fearful about mistakes. The world isn't going to see what you put out there until you hit the "publish" button, and even then it will take a little time -- a couple of days for Amazon -- for your book to hit the catalogs.
You already know I recommend scouring your manuscript using the Smashwords Style Guide. My totally arbitrary choice was to upload to Amazon first. You don't have to do it that way.
Once at the dtp.com site I signed in (I already have an Amazon account, if you don't then create one) and followed the super simple steps to create my author account and upload. Don't worry if you mess up. There's very clear prompts that direct you back to the area you need to fix.
First, I uploaded the manuscript, then the cover (they're separate uploads), waited briefly and, when prompted, clicked on the "Review" option.
Yes. Review Every Last Page in the Kindle mock-up window.
"But," you say, "I've already done multiple read-throughs, had a content editor, copy editor, and beta readers go through it. Why am I doing this AGAIN?"
Because Odd Things Can Happen in the conversion process.
I feel somewhat compelled to repeat that -- how about you just read it again. I'll wait.
So, lets talk about what happened to me that caused the multiple uploads to Amazon I mentioned in the first paragraph. I might be able to save you some frustration.
The first couple of pages looked great, then…whoops. A small section had odd margins -- like a chunk of text had the left margin moved a number of spaces to the right…and…oh dear, there was no paragraph break for the second character's dialog.
And the further I got into the manuscript, the more frequently the peculiar margin problem and paragraphing problem happened.
What a mess.
No way could I release this gobble-d-gook to the world.
I checked the Word Doc for anything that might have snuck in. Nothing.
I paced, ate chocolate, and stared at the screen. About then I noticed Amazon's instructions about downloading the HTML document created when I uploaded my manuscript. The instructions were to examine the HTML doc, fix the problem, and resubmit the HTML doc. How hard could that be, right?
I must have stared at the screen for two solid hours trying to make some sense out of the pointy brackets, slashes, and plentiful-but-terse (and incomprehensible) coding. Never mind there were multiple colors. At long last I began to see a pattern. The same lines of code appeared before each of the oddly formatted sections and nowhere else. I tried an experiment -- how much worse could it get, right? I took out the errant lines of code and replaced them with the code that appeared regularly where there wasn't a problem. Just to be safe -- like a controlled scientific experiment -- I changed only one section. Then I resubmitted the HTML file and…
Non-techie me fixed the problem! All I had to do was replace each occurrence of bad code with good code and I was golden!
Five hours later (seriously, FIVE hours) with dinner hastily prepared and bolted, I was at my computer still exercising the search and replace function.
"What are you doing?" my husband asked.
I didn't take my eyes off the screen or my fingers off the keys as I answered. "I'm fixing this freaking HTML file of my freaking book so the freaking margins won't look like some freaking cat half digested my freaking book and freaking threw it up. I'm only one sixth of the way done, I have a freaking headache that starts in my freaking lower back and to be honest I just really don't feel like freaking chatting right now."
"Why don't you just make a new HTML file?"
"I'd have the same freaking problem."
"Use a different HTML generator," he said.
"A different one? That would fix this?"
I didn't believe him. He booted me out of my chair and ran the clean Word doc file through a different HTML generator…one on my computer. I didn't know I had it. I thought I had to use what Amazon created.
In less than five minutes we were uploading a new HTML file to Amazon. The peculiar lines of code (which I learned were obsolete HTML) were not there. To be honest I didn't think the problem would be solved. But…it was!
I don't know how the antiquated code got there, except that it obviously wasn't in my Word doc file and had to have been injected by the conversion process. I've heard that the conversion process has not been perfected yet. Guess it's true.
The moral of the story is: Check your uploaded book carefully. If you have problems like I did it may just take creating your own HTML file and using that to upload to Amazon. I hope they have the problem fixed soon. This kind of thing could get real discouraging.
Sorry about the long post. I was going to divide this in half, but I figured you'd want to know right away how I fixed the problem -- especially if you are experiencing the same thing yourself.