How to Format Your eBook for Smashwords
What is Smashwords?
Smashwords is the primary distribution outlet for ebooks, besides Amazon’s Kindle. The format it uses is epub. Once on Smashwords the ebook is automatically disbributed to the other channels besides Amazon: these include Kobo, Apple iBooks, and Barnes and Noble.
The third major distribution channel besides Amazon/Kindle and Smashwords is Google Play, but it has the disadvantages of a reportedly clunky interface, and the right to set its own sale price for your books. The limitation of Kindle if you enroll in the KDP Select program, which allows free and countdown promotions, is that it demands exclusive rights for the 3-month period, meaning if you start with Kindle to build exposure, you have to wait at least 3 months before publishing to Smashwords. That is the sequence most recommended.
Title and Copyright Page (required for first page)
Copyright 2014 Author Name
It’s not necessary to place your ISBN inside your ebook. But your book does need an ISBN assigned to it, either one you have obtained or one Smashwords assigns to it (free).
Add a Smashwords License Statement below the copyright (optional but recommended for books that carry a price:
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Use 12-pt font for the body, and 14-pt font for the book title on the cover page, and for headings.
Instead of using the center button to center text, it’s more reliable to use a centered paragraph Style in Word.
Avoid using more than four consecutive paragraph returns to arrange text on the page.
Chapter and Section Breaks
If you use manually inserted page breaks, be sure to enter a paragraph return or two before and after the break, so that if your page break disappears, your paragraphs don’t smash together. A manual page break isn’t essential since it will often appear automatically before a chapter heading. You can search in Word for manual page breaks using the shortcut ^m.
Remove all section breaks from your document. They can create unnecessary blank space in your ebook. Search in word for section breaks using the shortcut ^b.
To create a chapter break, insert a consistent number of paragraph returns (three or four); or, use a combination of a two paragraph returns, followed by centered text characters such as “~~~~” or “* * * *”, followed by a two more paragraph returns and a chapter heading.
Images should be embedded in your Word file via Insert: Picture: As File (.jpg or .png).
Format: Layout picture In Line With Text. Width should be 500 pixels or less. Center, without indent.
If you want a page break inserted before an image, click on the image and give it a Heading style.
Add a ### centered on the next line to signify the end of the ebook’s body text.
“Please remember to leave a review for my ebook at Amazon” is bad, but “Please remember to leave a review for my book at your favorite retailer” is great. “Buy my books on my web site” or “Buy my books at Smashwords” is bad, but “Visit my Smashwords author page at [insert your author page address]” or “Favorite my Smashwords author page at [insert your author page address]” or “Visit my web site at [insert address]” are fine.
If the book is also available in a print edition, rather than naming retailers, just write, “This book is available in print at most online retailers.”
About the author
Insert a short bio, possibly a photo, optional link to Smashwords interview.
Other titles by Authorname. List as plain text. No affiliate links, competitive retailer links, or links to PDFs.
Add Social Media contact links.
Table of Contents (ToC)
Manually construct a linked ToC using Word’s Bookmark feature, not the automatic ToC feature.
- First, tag the chapter or section headings in the body of your document as Bookmarks (Insert: Bookmark; shortcut Ctrl-Shift-F5).
- Highlight the text of your ToC item, usually a chapter heading. Right-click, choose Hyperlink, Link to: Place in this document, Bookmarks. Choose the appropriate bookmark.
- Check for and delete hidden bookmarks. To find them, click Insert: Bookmark, then click the checkbox beside “Hidden Bookmarks,” and delete the unwanted ones.
Click the “Publish” link from the main menu, anywhere on the site. Do not click this link if you want to upload a new version of a book you previously uploaded (instead, go to Dashboard: “Upload new version”). Select 15-20% sampling.
To check the quality of your EPUB file (very important), download and install the free Adobe Digital Editions reader software from Adobe. Once you install it, simply visit your book page and click on the link to download your full EPUB. If your book fails EPUBCHECK, click here to learn more.
There’s also free online validator that will help you learn more about your EPUBCHECK errors. Simply download your EPUB file to your computer’s desktop, and then upload the file to this free validation service: http://validator.idpf.org/
If you need more help with formatting your Word document for ePub conversion for Smashwords, email me to discuss your needs.