Sample chapter: publishing your book at Scribd


Here’s a review copy of the shortest chapter in my e-book (released today) called “Publishing and Marketing Your Book by Ancillary Publishing.” The book explains key facts, tips, and the submission process at all seven ancillary publishers: Lightning Source, Lulu, CreateSpace, Blurb, Kindle, Smashwords, and Scribd. For more details and a purchasing discount, please see


Scribd sits a bit at the side of the other (ancillary publications) because it primarily deals in documents and short books—average length publication is 43 pages (13,640 words). Charging for your document or book also seems to be at least tacitly discouraged—or maybe just not much encouraged. Their selling mechanism also seems the weakest of the seven.

They seem big on sharing information. Scribd provides the platform to write and make your words available, I guess to draw readers to your area of expertise and thus validate you as the authority. You write, upload, and either make the text accessible or sell it through the Scribd bookstore, which is also rather hard to find. But if you do sell something, your profit ratio is high—80%!

What will they accept? Information, novels and novellas, factual essays, poetry, newsletters, original sheet music, resumés, corporate reports, presentation slideshows, recipes, and more. They don’t seem to care if the cover is a plain old black-and-white term paper front page or fancy and multicolored. Nor is an ISBN an issue or whether you are sending the same text to other publishers.

Most ancillary publishers accept your book in just one format (or two), but Scribd excels in taking your offering 19 different ways: Windows .doc, .docx, .ppt, .pps, .pptx, .xls, xlsx; Open Office .odt, .sxw, .odp, .sxi, .ods, and .sxc; Adobe .pdf and .ps; wPub; all OpenDocument formats; .txt, and .rtf.

Getting it posted could hardly be easier, though if you want to change items (like a cover, which is the first page of your submission) you must resubmit the entire manuscript or document; and once a copy has been sold, that’s it, no changes. The original will remain posted, and you can then submit new versions.

As different as this publishing vehicle is. you can’t just dismiss it. Scribd claims to be the largest social publishing company in the world, visited by 60 million viewers a month. Begun in March, 2007 in San Francisco, it includes items in 90 different languages and has posted more than 35 billion words. A hidden plus: they don’t care if you link back to your own newsletter or blog site. 

I posted four items at Squibd on 6/4/09: two free, two for $3 each. I put “101 Niche Marketing Ideas” (which is one of three reports I send free with my newsletter) in two categories. In about six months 645 have opened it at business/law and 308 at how-to guides and manuals. The two paid items have lured in only 195 and 93 viewers—but not one sale, at $3! How could 60 million monthly have missed such gems?

My conclusion, comparing all seven ancillary publishers and having additionally dabbled with Squibd, is that the better your description is here (and almost everywhere else too), the better you will fare. The title had better grab the wandering eye too. Otherwise, there’s a mountain of free things for the picking at Squibd and it’s easy to get lost or overlooked. The point: see other titles and descriptions and work hard to make yours as appealing as possible.

I’ll give you the submission details in a moment, but if you want a good model for a short book that I liked, see Sr. Genaro Medina Ramos’ Náhuatl course book (that’s the language spoken by the Aztecs). Complete, concise, full of content, and well supported with explanatory information.

Here’s the submission process:

1. Open You’re in when it has Home, Community, Explore, and Upload along the top line.

2. Go to that upload button. There will be two options. The blue upload is for sharing or uploading items. If that’s your choice, there are two checked boxes: Standard and Public. They are probably what you want. If not, you might explore Enter Text or Single File. (The HELP TOOLS on the bottom will guide you well too.) Then just follow that path…

3. Above the blue choice is the yellow shaded box telling you that that’s the road to the Scribd Store uploader. Click the “Seller’s Guide” link and you will see five reports. Browse the first two, if you wish, but the third (Signing Up), the fourth (Preparing Your Content), and the fifth (Publishing Your Content and Configuring Sales Options) will walk you through the process for items you want to sell. The first two have short but excellent You Tube videos that tell you what to do.

4. In the first of the three, Signing Up, you must open a Scribd account to sell there. Fill in the usual stuff—all the asterisks. If you have a PayPal account, they pay you that way. Or you can be paid by check. You are reminded that your work must be original—but that doesn’t mean exclusive.

5. In the second, Preparing Your Content, some of the advice is standard e-book stuff: avoid numbering the pages, 12-point type minimum, keep your margins consistent, and strive to make the content clear and attractive. To keep the final viewed (or downloaded) document consistent with what you see on your computer, they prefer you use .pdf, particularly with artwork and if color is used (which they advise against since monitors see colors differently). Shorter documents are best done in list format (8.5 x 11 is fine) but longer books (read side by side) work better with narrower layouts (try 4 x 7). Very important: test all hyperlinks first since only active links will work in your final e-book. Remember to fill in all title and author metadata. Finally, no passwords or encryptions permitted.

6. The third, Publishing Your Content and Configuring Sales Options, leads you backward to the yellow box you went to in #3 above. Where it says “Click to Chose Files,” do that, then find the e-book file you want to download in Scribd. (This is what we prepared in “Writing Your Own Book for Ancillary Publishing.” It is most likely your Magic File #3, in pdf.)

7. But don’t upload that file yet because in Scribd the first page of the file is your cover! So you must, in essence, put Magic File #5 (the cover) in the document as page one, add the text (File #3) next, resave it all as one file in .pdf, and that becomes your special Scribd file.

8. This cover will be seen as a 1” x 1.5” thumbnail. If your regular cover is fancy, simplify it, keeping these things in mind: (a) color is fine but keep it sharp, unmuddled, (b) use lettering that is clear and easy to read; use a bold sans-serif type font (I like Arial), no script, and (c) avoid a drop shadow or special effects but put a thin line outline around the cover.

9. Now, when you browse, find your special Scribd book file, click OK, and a white field will open to the right side of your screen. Follow the instructions there. When you are at the end of several sections in this white window, up will pop your file downloaded and ready to sell!

10. The first section is the download. It will also ask you to pick a price (or let Scribd do it; nothing for less than $1). Close that section.

11. Copyright verification will appear. Tell it how you happen to be selling the copy and give it an ownership reason (like, “I wrote it!”). Hit continue, and in the third section you give the book or item a category, as many metatags as apply, and a description. It will suggest a “discoverability rating” so those 60 million monthly will see you. If it’s “low,” keep adding legitimate tags and more description.

12. When you leave that section, you are published! Your e-book (or e-document) is ready for instant selling or sharing.

13. This is the oddest, quickest to use, and most likely the least profitable of the ancillary publishing sites. But being a published author could hardly be easier. And who knows how many of those viewers will wander over to your website and buy one of everything you sell?

For the full e-book from which this section is extracted, please see “Publishing and Marketing Your Book by Ancillary Publishing.” I also address this topic regularly at and at my free monthly newsletter.

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