Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TUESDAY TIP @Smashwords Ketchup + Beans: Of Images + ISBNs #pubtip #selfpub #indie #apple #ipad @markcoker

Mark Coker's recent announcements about changes coming to Smashwords (effective July 14th) are reposted here as a Public Service Announcement :)

Also, please note, the Webbiegrrl Blog shall be on hiatus (closed) while Webbiegrrl moves her real-life residence. The Webbiegrrl Blizzard shall resume on or about Monday, July 9th, with another chapter in the Immutable Laws of Branding (for Indie Authors) series.

Book Cover Image Requirements

Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords, blogged about this upcoming change here.

The gist of it is you're going to have to start making your cover images bigger and better. If you want to "fix" your existing image files, you'll have to do a little work (or hire a professional << advised).  Here's a quote from Mark's blog (with a few typos corrected and sentences rearranged / edited for clarity but generally verbatim from the link above).

Starting in August, Apple will require that your cover image be at least 1400 pixels wide. Apple previously required a minimum height of 600 pixels. Since Smashwords requires vertical rectangle (height greater than width) images, please start planning accordingly. A new recommended ebook cover might be about 1600 pixels wide by 2400 pixels tall, which means your height is about 50% more than your width. Pull out a ruler and measure just about any print book and you'll get a ratio close to that.

A few months ago, I noticed Amazon started recommending larger covers too. They recommend a 1.6 ratio (height 60% more than width), and their recommended height is 2,500 pixels. Some of this is personal preference. If you aim for the height to be 30% to 60% greater than your width, it should look good. Do what you think looks best, but aim for the width to be greater than 1400 pixels.
Why is Apple making this change? We can only speculate, but it's probably safe to assume we can expect iPad, iPhone and Mac screens will continue to enjoy higher and higher resolutions in the future. Since we think the Apple and Amazon guidelines are reasonable, Smashwords will adopt Apple's requirements as our new minimum standards for cover images.
What happens next?

Apple's new requirement applies to new books, and cover updates made from July 15th forward. If your book is already in the Apple iBookstore with a smaller cover image, you're grandfathered in--unless or until you want to update your cover image, at which point, you'll need to make the new cover update conform with the new standard.
Smashwords will make the 1400-pixel minimum width a Premium Catalog requirement starting on or around July 15, 2012.
Like Apple, we'll apply the standard to new books and cover image updates. The Smashwords FAQ is now updated to reflect the new recommendations and requirements and I'll update the Smashwords Style Guide in the near future, so one month from now this won't come as a shock to people.

If we previously shipped your smaller cover to retailers, we won't require a new cover image be provided unless you want to update the content of the image.
NOTE: The minimum dimensions do not apply to the cover image (or other images) inside your ePub file. The cover image you insert into your Word doc should actualy be as small a file (low a resolution) as you can manage without losing visual quality. Every pixel takes away words from the length of your free sample.
CAUTION: Don't simply use a photo or image editing program to "stretch" out the size of your image. Changing "image size" without correctly increasing the image depth and resolution, will cause pixelation (blur).

Let me just add that hiring a professional graphics designer to take your original image source file and "adapt" it to the new size requirement is quick, easy and probably won't cost much more than $10 per image. It's totally worth paying a small fee to not have the hassle, isn't it?

If you don't find any of the designers on Mark's list to your liking, I can recommend a few--or I can do the job for you myself! I'll take the image and after you send $10 to my paypal, I'll send it back to you via email. If you prefer, I can even log into your Smashwords (and Goodreads) book page and update the image file there. I have Librarian status on Goodreads but for Smashwords, you'll have to reset your password to give me temporary access to your book page but then you can reset it once the image update is done. Minutes of effort that keeps it quick and easy, guaranteed.

Just email webbiegrrlwriter at the gmail dot com account and attach the highest resolution image (JPG) you've got to the message. I can turn an image around if not same day, within 24 hours (probably depends more on paypal sending me your $10 payment than anything else! LOL) I'll reply via email once I have your image and tell you where to paypal the fee. I'm not thinking I'll make oodles of money at this, just so you don't think I'm trying to drum up business. I just don't see myself working for free with my multiple plates as full as they already are but this is an easy thing to do and IMO a community service to help expedite it! High-res eBook covers are going to help us all sell more books!

ISBNs at Smashwords
Mark said: ISBNs are now listed on Smashwords book pages.
To which I say, About freakin time!

Yeah, I've been waiting for this one. So glad it's here at long last. Most consumers don't search for books via ISBN, but most book sellers do! In addition, your book might come up in Google search results for an ISBN. Here are some of the tricks and observations Mark made in his newsletter on this subject (quoted but edited  again):

1. If you enter your ISBN into the Smashwords search box and click search, it'll jump to your book page.

2. Your book page URL (web address) can also be constructed using your ISBN. Enter http://www.smashwords.com/isbn/[your book's ISBN here] and you'll get the book page. For example, my RomCom/Jewish Inspirational Dicky's Story has an ISBN (9781458062734) so its web address is http://www.smashwords.com/isbn/9781458062734

Try it out yourself with your own books. The ISBN shows up on the book page right underneath the word count and language.

3. This will be useful for a new distribution partner Mark / Smashwords is negotiating with because (as Mark noted) all he has to do is supply them ISBNs and they can create buy links to these pages (or the pages of our retail partners who make ISBNs searchable). Yet another reason to get your free ISBN from Smashwords.

If you aren't already using this free service, (a) you're not eligible for distribution to the Apple Store / iTunes and missing out on those sales and (b) your book won't be eligible for the Premium Catalog so (c) you won't be included in all of the new distribution opportunities Mark's negotiating all the time.

You can get a free ISBN by visiting your ISBN Manager. Go to Smashwords and log into your account. Click "Dashboard" and on the left side of the screen, click "ISBN Manager" then Click "Assign ISBN" to get a number assigned. After you assign an ISBN to a book, you will receive an email confirmation.

After Smashwords "ships" your ISBN to retailers, it cannot be changed. The free ISBN you get from the ISBN Manager is not to be used for the print edition of your book--nor can it be the same number as the one you may have gotten elsewhere. It's a unique number that identifies this as an eBook being distributed by Smashwords.

What's Next....
I am shutting down the blog for 2 weeks so that I can move my residence in real life with a lower level of stress than I'm currently piling on trying to "do it all" at once. The regular blog entries will resume on Monday, July 9th with the next entry in the Immutable Laws of Branding (for Indie Authors) Law 8: The Law of Category. Hope to see you then!

During the interim, please follow @webbiegrrl on Twitter for links to past blog posts and series, as well as random news as I find time to tweet it. The Webbiegrrl Writer Facebook Page is probably going to stay pretty quiet until after I move but be sure to "like" it (and then click "liked" and select "show in newsfeed") or even better, subscribe via Networked Blogs, so you can receive the posts when they start flowing again. The new changes to Facebook Pages are really getting annoying, but where else is there to go?


Anonymous said...

Do you know where I can find the link to assign an ISBN in smashwords? Or do I have to publish my uploaded book first? I'm at a list after hours of digging...

Webbiegrrl Writer said...

Hi Shep,

Yes, I do know and yes, you do need to publish a book prior to requesting an ISBN for it.

1) After you have published your book, go to your Dashboard (you need to be logged into your Smashwords author account at this time to access the Dashboard).

2) On the Dashboard screen, there'll be a menu on the left, which should be something like the following list:

Total books sold: xxx
Account balance: $x.xx

Sales & Payment Report >
ISBN Manager >
Pricing Manager >
Channel Manager >
Coupon Manager >

Affiliate settings >

3) Click on ISBN Manager and read the instructions carefully. When you know what kind of ISBN you want to choose, scroll down to find your book and select the appropriate radio button then submit your choice.

4) Smashwords will immediately email you confirmation of the ISBN assignment, including the number so you don't have to 'save the page' or anything like that. You'll have it in email--or you should.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this. Got it sorted now - just wish that SW made it clearer. Now I just have to make my ePub file parse... seems to want to be version 3 but Still only supports 2. Ggrrr!

Webbiegrrl Writer said...

I don't even know what that comment (Now I just have to make my ePub file parse...) is supposed to mean but I can tell you that ALL problems start -- and are SOLVED -- in the MS Word Source Document. If your document is not in compliance with the Smashwords Style Guide before you submit it to the Meatgrinder, it is literally IMPOSSIBLE to get anything but garbage out of the Meatgrinder. (a little rule called GIGO, Garbage In, Garbage Out).

If you don't know how to properly format your Word doc, I SELL those services for a per-word fee. I would be happy to consider taking on your project to do the cleaning and preparing of your document for the Smashwords Meatgrinder upon payment via PayPal. If your document is quite long, however, and needs a lot of cleanup, it might not be worth your while to pay someone else--plus you won't learn how to do it right by paying someone else. Let me know if you just want to throw money at the problem. I can definitely enjoy having money thrown at me to solve a simple problem like correctly formatting a Word doc. ^)^