Most writers who have books on Pronoun have probably already transferred them to new distributors, but not me. A wedding (my wedding, to be exact), a ten-day migraine, and two weeks of flitting around the country will do that to a person.
If you’re also in the “too busy to deal” camp, here’s my quick-and-dirty guide to the essential information you should download from Pronoun before the site ends distribution on January 15. (Previously, MacMillan had promised to keep account information accessible through February 15, and even after distribution shut down, but I can no longer find this promise on its site.)
Update on January 14: I got a vaguely worded email this morning from Pronoun implying that it will be shutting off access to the editing interface TODAY, not tomorrow. Since the editing interface is how one gets access to all the book info discussed in Option 2 in this article, that means even less time to take these steps.
So stop whatever you’re doing and DOWNLOAD YOUR STUFF NOW.
Exporting your books from Pronoun: Option 1
The email did not make clear whether Pronoun will continue to make its quick download option available. Called “Migrate Off Pronoun,” it’s available through your Books page (this link will only work if you have a Pronoun account and are logged in.)
You click on Migrate off of Pronoun and are brought to this page:
Simply click Email Me My Assets and you’re done. In a few seconds or minutes, check your email and you should get something like this, which says, “Your assets may be downloaded here: Click to download.”
Clicking on the link will start an immediate download, so I recommend clicking it only on a desktop, not on your tablet or phone (unless you’re in the habit of storing large files there).
Benefits to Option 1
It’s quick. It’s easy. It sends your book files in perfect condition.
Downsides to Option 1
It sends most of your metadata (tags, book blurb, author name, collaborator names, ISBN, etc) in one text file that looks like a jumbled mess if you’re not used to reading code, and it does not include category information in the file. Here’s what the metadata for my book Falling Hard looks like:
On the other hand, all that code will be useful for some retailers, like Amazon, which let you put HTML markup in your product description. It won’t, however, help you on Smashwords, which does not consistently support HTML. You’ll need a clean, non-marked up version for them and some other distributors.
So here’s another option….
Exporting your books from Pronoun: Option 2
There’s another option that’s a little more time-consuming, but will get you cleaner-looking metadata. Here are the steps (you can pick and choose steps, for example downloading your books via Option 1 and most metadata, but getting your description and categories manually via Option 2):
- Download your book.
- Copy your categories.
- Copy your tags.
- Copy your description.
- Take note of your price and retailers.
Step 1: Download your ebook
It’s good practice to keep copies of your ebooks on your own hard drive in case anything ever goes awry with your distributors. In case you don’t, now’s the time to download them. You will need, at minimum, the epub version in order to distribute your ebook to other retailers.
Go to your Pronoun Dashboard and select a book. Here, I chose my book Pacific Rimming:
Select “Edit Book, and you’ll come to a page that looks like this:
Select Progress in the upper-left corner of the screen and you’ll come to this page:
Select Upload Manuscript. You’ll come to this page.
Just double-click on the hyperlink to download the epub version.
Do the same thing to download the Kindle version, then return to the Progress menu.
(Note: You may have the option to also download a Microsoft Word version, if you used that format to upload your ebook to Pronoun originally. If so, a link to download it will appear under the Kindle link. Go ahead and download that, too.)
Step 2: Copy your categories ()
All retailers and district leaders use categories to sort their books and help readers find what they are looking for. Copying this information will make it easier for you to find the right categories when you upload to new venues.
Select Choose Categories. You’ll come to this page:
Use your mouse to highlight your categories. Then right-click on your mouse and select “Copy” from the menu that appears:
Open up a Microsoft Word document and paste your text by right-clicking on a mouse and selecting “Paste” or by using keyboard commands. (You are free to use any word processing software that you like, but these instructions refer to specific features of Microsoft Word.)
If pictures show up along with text, you can easily get rid of them by clicking on the clipboard that appears at the bottom of the pasted section.
This will bring up a menu with several options. Select “Keep text only.”
Once you’ve done that, go ahead and delete any extraneous information you don’t need to keep for future reference. For example, you might delete “TOTAL BOOKS 24,391 TOP RANKED BOOK 250” so you have only the categories listed in your document, like so:
Return to your browser.
Step 3: Copy your search terms ()
Search terms, or “tags,”are used by many retailers and distributors to help them categorize books. Copying this information from Pronoun means you will have it at the ready and will need to come up with new tags from scratch when you upload your book to a new distributor.
Click on Select Search Terms. That will bring you to this page.
Highlight your search terms, then copy them using the same method you used to copy the categories (right-click, then select “Copy”).
Paste this text into your Word document
Step 4: Copy your description, or synopsis ()
Return to the Progress menu and select Write Description under Marketing.
You’ll end up on this page:
Highlight and copy the entire description (aka “the synopsis” or “the blurb”).
Paste the description into your word document
If the formatting is odd (e.g., yellow background), click on the clipboard icon and select “Match destination formatting”
You’re done! You now have the information you’ll need when uploading your book to new distributors.
Step 5 (Optional): Gather more details ()
If you like, you can also copy and paste the following information from your Pronoun account:
- Your book prices
- Your ISBN
- The retailers you’ve distributed to
I consider this information less essential for various reasons.
- With price, it’s because any time you are considering a new distribution options for your book is a great time to also look at your pricing strategy. It may be time to consider a lower higher price for your book depending on a number of factors.
- For ISBNs, if you were given a free ISBN through Pronoun, you cannot use it again. You will need to acquire a new ISBN through your new distributor or purchase one on your own. However, you may want to take note of it for record-keeping purposes. If you use your own ISBN that you purchased independently, it is portable. But you should already have a record of this ISBN through your account at your national ISBN agency, so copying it from Pronoun isn’t necessary.
- A list of retailers that you distributed to through Pronoun can be helpful if you want to make sure you continue to distribute to the same venues. I already keep this information in a masterlist elsewhere, so I didn’t need to copy it today.
I hope that helped! Let me know if you have any questions below.
And if you’re ready for the next step—distributing through new sites—check out my guide to publishing ebooks on Smashwords.
Also, check out this post on preserving your book’s Amazon ranking and reviews: https://kdp.amazon.com/community/ann.jspa?annID=1397.