<puts on new age music and starts deep breathing exercises>

Nope, not working.

What’s wrong, you ask? Well, I decided to put my book up on Smashwords, figuring that the extra exposure couldn’t hurt. Easy enough, right? I’ve been through this ebook formatting thing before. Easy peasy.

So, after allowing my Kindle exclusivity to expire, I set about updating my Smashwords page and uploading the new and improved version of Black Clouds. Having already formatted the file for Amazon, it wasn’t much work to get it cleaned up and ready for the Meatgrinder. As expected,  everything converted and we’re golden. Just had to wait for the Premium catalog bit.

Which is when the “fun” begins.

Epub validation? This is new, for me at least. What is this evil thing that is red-flagging my precious creation and barring it from millions of potential readers? I follow the instructions, downloading the epub and running it through their recommended third party validation app (with the discomforting words BETA emblazoned across the top of the page). After a minute or so of my macbook staring blankly back at me what I get back is nothing more than an protracted list of arcane html nonsense. Hidden within this jumble of foreign babble are a few recognizable terms like image, extension, and not found, along with a shopping list of entries that could have been pulled from NASA’s Kepler planetary naming conventions guide for all I know. Needless to say, I’m lost.

Adding to this frustration is the fact that the bloody file works as it is! I tested it in Apple’s iBook reader (supposedly the company responsible for this whole validation thing to begin with) and the book reads fine. So after an stressful hour of scouring help sites, the best I can determine is that there is some problem with my chapter heading images, which despite the error code insisting that they are png files, are in fact gifs (or were before Smashwords turned them in to hamburger). Making matters worse, these supposed “issues” are buried within thousands of lines of code that may as well be written in Alpha Centauran. It’s overwhelming to say the least.

Now I’m a fairly bright gal and I’m sure that I can figure this out given enough time and Google searches on how to do it. The question is: Is it worth it? I realize that getting the book out on sites like Barnes and Noble and Kobo might improve sales. But frankly, I’m still struggling to get sales on Amazon at this point so I’m not sure that spending hours or days on this issue is worth the effort at this point. While I rip my hair out stressing over this, I’m not writing the next book, which is far more detrimental than getting the first book out on a handful of other publishers. At least I think so.

Self-publishing is certainly not for the feint of heart (or people with full-time jobs apparently.) Marketing and social media are hard enough, especially for us hopelessly introverted folks. I don’t need this extra stress.

<whew> Ok, I’ve now blown through almost an entire CD’s worth of itunes tracks and I’m still searching for that happy place. Might need to mix a drink before I hit that next chapter. Maybe this problem will look less stressful after that.

I think we’ll try for an artsy post tomorrow. Yeah, that would be nice. G’night folks.

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