This week my friend, Matthew Farmer, published his first novel, The Girl From Out Of Town. The first store it was launched through was Smashwords, and it is in the process of being distributed through other retailers. It has certainly been an exciting time for Matt, and it has also been exciting to watch the process.
Matt has a unique ability to bring the Smashwords website down. He announces a release date, and then Smashwords just dies. His teaser for the book – launched February 14 – coincided with such a catastrophic website meltdown that it was delayed for two days. It was unfortunate, but did provide him with some interesting dialogue about the delayed work that probably gained more interest than it lost.
His second release date, this time for the full novel, was scheduled for Sunday. This time he was slightly more careful in his release date advertising but, when everything was finalised and ready to go days before the planned date, he got cocky. He said something to friends and family, and somehow the internet gremlins heard about this. They made their way to the Smashwords website, and lay in wait.
Sunday came, and the gremlins struck. Every few hours he tried to upload the novel, and every time he would get through the process only to watch his file die halfway through the upload. His browser mocked him with unfairly taunting error messages. I mocked him with messages that it must be him and his ability to kill Smashwords.
Monday came, and I decided to be helpful. It was still giving him problems but, unlike the previous website meltdown, there was nothing on the Smashwords site to say they were aware of issues. I offered to upload the novel for him. After a few more hours of trying, he agreed to give it a go.
Unlike Matt, Smashwords apparently likes me.
It was fascinating to work through the process where I can be relaxed about the outcome. There were more decisions to be made than I had anticipated, and completing the form has given me a lot to think about with my own works in progress. There were marketing decisions, such as the percentage of the novel that can be freely read before purchase is required. There are financial decisions, such as the royalty breakdown for various sales channels. There were design considerations to make a single file compatible for conversion to multiple formats.
My internet connection had no difficulty with the upload process, so it really must be Matt. He was a lot happier to be teased about this when his novel went live. It was rewarding to watch his expression on Skype as I worked through each section of the upload, and hilarious to take sneaky print screen photos of his expression when we reached critical stages of the process. Then there is the personal satisfaction of seeing a novel that I helped to edit be completed. I’m looking forward to reading the final version.