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When I began to write the Vergrinn War books, I decided that I would go ahead and self-publish in eBook format so that I could let folks read and comment on the books and make a tiny amount of money on the side.  I knew that you could self-publish with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others.  After having now tried it on Kindle and Nook both, I am going to give you one author’s perspective on self-publishing for Kindle and Nook.

When I first published, I went with the Kindle Direct Publishing for Amazon.  I chose them because they are the biggest player.  Their interface was straightforward enough and within a day or so of me going to their web site and starting the process, my book was available for sale.

Based on a comment by a reader of my blog, I decided yesterday afternoon to try to make my book available for the Nook through Barnes and Noble.  The interface and process were both similar to Amazon’s, and I had great hope when I started.  When I clicked the “upload and preview” button, it hung for a while (think hours) and when I killed the browser and re-did it, the same thing happened.  I tried uploading the cover picture with similar results.  At this point I gave up and went about doing other things.

I returned to B&N today and saw that it had two entries for my book, neither of which apparently had a book or a cover.  I deleted one entry and was able to successfully upload a cover for the other.  I clicked the “upload and preview” button for the book, and lo and behold it said it worked!  It gave me the option of viewing the book in their “preview” tool.  It said that sometimes page breaks and other things didn’t look good, but that you could download the Nook formatted ebook and view it in your own Nook or Nook viewer to validate the formatting.

I downloaded the book and the Nook viewer, and the formatting still looks bad.  They give two options for fixing this: 1)  “Take a look through our Formatting Best Practices to learn more about how best to format your source document, make some changes, and then upload your fixed file and reconvert.” or 2) “Download the ePub file and make changes to it. Note that knowledge of HTML and ePub are necessary to tweak your ePub.”  Those both sound reasonable, but they each have a problem: 1) nowhere in their “Formatting Best Practices” does it say anything about page breaks and 2) the ePub file is a binary document that is not editable (I opened it in a binary/text editor – I am a software developer by profession and am quite comfortable looking through binary files), and you can’t really find anything that looks remotely like something you might edit.

For now, it is uploaded to B&N in its terribly formatted style (but when it will become available for purchase there is another question).  I am working on the formatting, but I don’t want to invest a great deal of time on this right now.  I am fourteen chapters into book two and I had a great idea for how chapter 15 and 16 will go and need to spend some time on them. (and for anyone keeping track – book one was a shade over 26k words and book two is currently over 29k words with 6 or 8 chapters left to write).