The Red launch blog tour continues today over at Kristen Lamb’s place where I’m talking about how the warning implicit in the tale of Red Riding Hood applies to social media.
So earlier this week I received a comment in the moderation queue of my blog on my Self Publishing Is Not Hard post, where I, quite obviously, state that self publishing is not hard. This comment, which I chose not to approve because I found it contentious and, quite frankly, rude, basically accused me of perpetuating a fallacy. I was ordered to “…stop putting about misinformation that it is easy, start admitting that it needs a little programming and say that it can be done if enough time, effort and attention to detail are expended.”
I thought a while about whether I wanted to respond to this or not. And yep, I’m still annoyed, so here I am.
Nowhere did I ever say that self-publishing (by which we really mean formatting stuff for self-publishing) requires no work. I never said it didn’t require programming. I never said it didn’t require effort.
What I said is that IT IS NOT HARD.
And by God, I stand by that statement. It ISN’T hard.
What it requires is that people actually do something really freaking radical and READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS (not something the general public is great at if my students are anything to go by). If people screw things up because they were lazy sods who couldn’t be bothered to READ SOMETHING and educate themselves, that does not make the process hard. That makes them lazy.
There are tutorials all over the place. I’ve written several myself. To recap those:
The very best FIRST STOP resource is the Smashwords Style Guide, provided by Smashwords founder Mark Coker (who is da bomb) for free on the website here.
Start there, read it from cover to virtual cover, and you will learn all the things you, as a writer and word processor user, are doing wrong on the front end (which will save you a lot of time on the back end for future projects), and how to fix it. Which then leaves your book in nifty shape to move on to the Kindle and Nook versions, which I explain in great detail how to do here for Kindle and here for Nook.
There are very CLEAR and SIMPLE, STEP by STEP instructions for every single point in this process. All you have to do is READ and APPLY THEM. Does this process require attention to detail and some effort proofreading and checking things. Hell yes. You should take enough pride in your work that you make that effort to make sure that you’re putting out a product that doesn’t look like a 3 year old’s scribbles with bathtub chalk.
But I’m right back to the beginning that it IS NOT HARD.
Now, this particular gentleman evidently reads a lot of non-fiction with charts and navigation that simply don’t exist in fiction. I can’t speak to how easy it is to format those other things. I’ve not done it. But I’m sure there is some equally helpful individual out there who has done it and has written a clear tutorial explaining how to do that as well (and now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure there are detailed instructions in the Smashwords Style Guide referenced above). Regarding internal navigation–Table of Contents are a ridiculous thing to have in a fiction ebook. Normal fiction books don’t have TOC. Why should ebooks? It annoys the mess out of me as a reader when there’s this multipage TOC I have to navigate past to get to the frigging book.
All I can assume is that this guy and others out there like him who believe I’m telling lies are of the school that anything that requires you to read the instructions first is hard. I don’t know at what point this moved beyond a sexist thing that we make man jokes about and into the realm of normal for LOTS of people of both genders. But I’m inclined to think that if you’re not willing to read the instructions, you have no business publishing anything in the first place and deserve to settle at the bottom of the muckpile reserved for the poorly formatted.