Eight things I learned in publishing MERITH’S SWEETS on Smashwords

Merith’s Sweets

Social outcast Sami Dawson won’t let his physical handicap keep him down. He’s going to ask a beautiful girl on a date and prove he’s as normal as any other guy. But as secret curator of the gate to Fairy Land, Merith Sweets isn’t normal. In fact, she isn’t even human. The town’s “dwarf” is about to learn the flaws that make him a dud in one world can make him the perfect date in another.


So, 2011 rolls in…

and I’m sitting at my computer looking at my first attempt at self-publishing and thinking.  Is that me?  Is that my story?  Heck, when did I ever work up the courage to tackle this project, let along tackle all the other stuff that went with publishing a story at Smashwords.com?  And when I mean “stuff” I mean the pros and cons I waded through in making this decision to publish on my own.  I’m not Dean Koontz or J. A. Konrath.  I haven’t got a large audience camped out in front of their computer screens waiting to toss money in my direction.  I’m just a small time author, working my way into the business one story at a time.

So why choose this road?

I did not choose it because I had no other options.  “Merith’s Sweets” won 3rd place in the fantasy category in the 2010 Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Contest.  That’s not shabby.  I could have sent it out to various markets.  Instead, I chose to allow this story to be my trial and error child.  In doing so, I lost the option to submit to a publisher as well as potential check in the mail.

BUT, I gained so much in return.

Eight things I learned  from publishing at Smashwords.com

1.     Sitting on the Smashwords Style Guide will not led to instantaneous absorption of the rules for proper formatting.  Nor will pressing the guide against my forehead while assuming a variety of different positions in the chair.  I  have to open the damn thing and read it.

2.     I can read directions if properly motivated.  I’m the customer who rips the gadget out of the plastic, plugs it in and then starts pushing buttons. (I almost screwed up my Christmas eBook doing this.  You’d think I’d know better by now.)

3.     The “Show and Hide” button is an amazing little button that I will use from now on BEFORE submitting my work.  I never realized how the process of editing a work can screw up spaces and paragraphs.  When I converted my short story into this format, my manuscript was riddled with a proliferation of extra spaces and returns that put me to shame.  I immediately went through the story and fixed them.

4.     The length for the synopsis which appears beneath the cover of  the book/short story on the display page is not 400 words, it is 400 CHARACTERS.  Duh, on my part.  It only took me about twenty minutes of swearing, hitting the submit button,  stomping my feet, and accusing Smashwords of being in league with Satan to figure it out.

5.     While Smashwords makes it easy to download a book cover, it’s up to me to make sure the quality of the cover is up to standard.  If the cover sucks, it’s my fault, not theirs.  (By the way, you can fix that cover right away if you discover that it isn’t as good as you thought.)

6.     Just like in any home project, it saves time, money, and hair if I do the prep work before I act.  Loading the manuscript was easy.  I checked my dashboard constantly to see whether the Auto-Vetter would kick my story back with  a dunce message telling me to start over.  Didn’t happen.  The story is in “still pending” mode right now, but according to the chart, it has successfully converted to the formats I selected.  Very cool.

7.     Self-publishing requires that the author be the editor, proof reader, cover design artist, and marketer at the same time.

8.     Publishing is only one step in the process of self publishing.  The next is getting the word out that my story is available to readers.

And on that note, I invite you to watch my teaser on the novel that my short story “Merith’s Sweets” is based upon : “Spells and Tells.”


Last Updated (Wednesday, 05 January 2011 19:02)

3 Responses to “Eight things I learned in publishing MERITH’S SWEETS on Smashwords”
  1. Nick says:

    Forget Koontz and forget his book “What the Night Knows” (a ghost vengeance story, been there, done that), instead read a book that’s been BANNED like “America Deceived II” by E.A. Blayre III.
    Last link (before Google Books bans it also]:

  2. joni says:

    Well well well! You’re moving up or should I say clawing your way up the ladder?

    Way to go Missy Raven!

    I’m really proud of your accomplishments and I will get to say, I knew you when…

    Congrats on all you do and Good luck on all that you will achieve! 🙂


    • ravenlaw says:


      You will always have the dibs on being the loudest voice in my cheering section. 🙂 I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are back at the desk at WVU.

      be well!


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