Getting Started with

by | Mar 22, 2010 logoAfter listening to Scott James at the recent Get Published! Workshop, I really wanted to get familiar with, the document-sharing website that had partnered with him in launching is second novel, The Sower. James had talked about the massive, dedicated following there, and how people were learning new ways to use the service.

I realized I had the perfect document to experiment with, my report on Creating a PDF for Lightning Source Print on Demand in Adobe InDesign CS4. I give this report away to anyone who wants it, and on I could offer it to a much larger audience.

Since my goal was to get it to as many people as I could who would profit from the step-by-step instruction through the maze of the LSI instructions, Scribd seemed like the perfect choice.

What Is Scribd? upload

Click to enlarge

Scribd is a document sharing site with some social media functions added. I set up an account, which is free, and filled out my profile with all the usual information. (As an aside, it’s always a good idea to fill out the profile forms on websites or community sites you join. Each usually has a link to your website, a biographical text you can enter, and an avatar.)

The interface at Scribd, although it features brown, one of my least-favorite colors for the web, is well thought-out and remarkably easy to use. The developers ease your way into Scribd by making it ridiculously easy to start uploading documents right away.

It was a matter of a couple of minutes after signing up that I had uploaded my PDF to the site. Clicking the big Upload button gives you the option to upload one file, many files, or to create a document right on the spot by typing into an Enter Text window. If you have a lot of documents to upload you can download their Desktop Uploader, which makes the process very easy.

Once you select your topic the document uploads right away, and you’re taken to a screen where you can change the title, set up the category the document will be filed under, and add tags and a description. This will help people find your document when using Scribd’s search function.

Each document is given its own unique URL, so you can point to that web address anytime you want to reference the document. In the accompanying screen shot, you can see I’ve uploaded a 2-page instruction sheet I wrote on freewriting. This explains what freewriting is, gives some pointers on how to do it, and has a number of useful links at the end.

Neat Scribd Tricks

As a brand new user, the first thing I wanted to know was how I could access these documents, now that I had them on Scribd. I opened my first PDF and clicked on the “share” button, and found there options to:

  1. email the URL, along with a message if I liked
  2. share the document with status updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Delicious, Stumbleupon and other social media sites
  3. embed the entire document in a blog post or website by simply clicking a button to copy the html required
  4. add a comment to the document, called a “Scribble”

I grabbed the embed code with one click, and pasted into this blog post here:

Creating a PDF for Lightning Source Print-on-Demand in Adobe InDesign CS4

If you have a few minutes, you might like to explore this embedded document, and see the powerful choices Scribd gives you even remotely. You can see the three viewing options in the Scribd viewer by changing the selections in the bottom left corner, from “Scroll” to “Book” to “Sideshow”. You can also:

  1. download the file right from this window
  2. print the document or view it full screen
  3. search the document or access any of the other sharing commands

The Power of Scribd

When you start to think about how to use this simple and powerful service, you can see why organizations like Microsoft, UNICEF, the International Red Cross, many book publishers, and 50 million other people use Scribd. Here are just some ways you could use Scribd:

  1. Make marketing documents available to media
  2. Store product manuals for customer access
  3. Share documents related to projects with other people
  4. Safely store important documents (you can mark any document “private” so you don’t have to share)
  5. Get exposure to search engines
  6. Post an easy-to-share version of sample chapters from a book
  7. Use instructional guides as a way to promote your business, your blog, or your services
  8. Distribute course materials to students or enrollees

The list just goes on and on. You can also use Scribd, as Scott James did, as an integral part of your platform. He described his Subscribers on Scribd as his “platform” in his talk at BAIPA, since he has over 34,000 followers in his Kemble Scott identity, the name under which he writes his novels. That’s a powerful part of any writer’s platform. When you release a new document, all your subscribers are notified.

I can’t possibly cover all the ways that is being used but it’s obvious with even a small exposure to the site that it can be massively useful, and I intend to post more documents there as they are developed. Because Scribd also provides statistics on your documents, I can tell you that since I uploaded the PDF yesterday, it has been read 19 times. I’ll explore some of the other capabilities of Scribd in a future post, so watch for it.

If you’ve already made use of this site, what do you like or dislike about it? Has it been effective? I’d love to hear from you.

Takeaway: is a document-sharing service that’s free, fast, effective, flexible, with tens of millions of users and a dizzying number of possible uses. Check it out.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. modesta enriquez

    may Scribd help me in my honest attempt to share my simple works…thanks

  2. Weight Loss Infopedia

    Scribd looks great and I plan on selling my weight loss pdf/eBook with them. Thank you for your great post/advice, Joel … much appreciated!
    Keep up the good work!
    Catherine Haensen

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  6. Roger C. Parker

    Dear Joel:
    Thanks for the comparison and information.

    I especially liked your list of Dear Joel:
    Thanks for the comparison and information.

    I especially liked your list of 8 things. I had never considered #4, storing important documents hidden from the public.

    Scribd is also great for old white papers.

    Are you going to expand this post into a Scribd versus comparison? I’ve used Issuu and was pleased with it’s ease of uploading and embedding. Are there any SEO pros and cons to either?

    Most important, if you post the same PDFs at both, are there any “duplicate content” problems?8 things. I had never considered #4, storing important documents hidden from the public.

    Scribd is also great for old white papers.

    Are you going to expand this post into a Scribd versus comparison?

  7. Jacqui

    Another plus to Scribd is their store. I sell my ebooks through Scribd since mine are in pdf format (I have too many tables and pics for the small screen of an epub doc). Scribd handles all transactions, provides me an accounting and takes only 20%–less than the 30% Amazon Kindle takes for those digi-docs.

  8. Joel

    Thanks, Suzanne. I’ve been thinking of ways to use Scribd since I did this article. It’s a great service! Look for an article on BookBuzzr coming up soon.

  9. Suzanne Murray


    Thanks for the great explanation of Scribd. I will definitely check it out. And BookBuzz too. Best, Suzanne

  10. Joel

    Vikram, thanks for the input about BookBuzzr, and your thoughtful comment..

    And Freya, thanks for the link. I think that’s an excellent idea and I would love to feature BookBuzzr, which has become wildly popular with self-publishers in a future blog post. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Freya

    Vikram missed out on the link to BookBuzzr –

    Thanks for the post Joel, I found it immensely educative about Scribd. I hope you do a post on BookBuzzr soon :)

    Twitter – @BookBuzzr

  12. Vikram Narayan

    Thanks for the great post.
    If you’re an author, it may also be worth looking at BookBuzzr. While Scribd is for all kinds of documents (test papers, reports, court documents etc.), BookBuzzr is focused on authors and their needs. The BookBuzzr widget can also be shared by authors and their fans on various social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc. with one click. The BookBuzzr widget and book reader also allow you to bundle information about the author, book, where to buy etc. And BookBuzzr also sends out tweets to your followers once a week or so informing them about the number of times your book-sample was viewed etc.

    Hope this helps.



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