Like most self-published authors, I use two platforms to publish my works: Amazon and Smashwords. Like it or not, if you want to sell books, you need to be on Amazon. And truth be told, their platform is the most user-friendly of the bunch. But Amazon is not the end all be all. If you also use the Smashwords platform, your book will be distributed to all the remaining major booksellers: Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, etc.
A lot of writers have trouble with formatting. As a lawyer, I’m intimately acquainted with Microsoft Word. Not what you expect, but it’s true. Lawyers are always writing documents, and we use a lot of formatting in those contracts you hate. My former law firm once had one of our clients (we specialized in IT) come and give us a class in Word. I’m not exaggerating when I say we knew more about Word functions than the so-called expert.
Today’s blog is not about my stellar Word capabilities. Nope. This blog is a down and dirty guide to formatting for Smashwords. I always write my manuscripts in a Word template that is set up to Amazon standards. This guide will show you in just a few steps how to format that Amazon template into a Smashwords document. It’s easy. Annoying, time consuming, and boring but easy. Here are the only five steps you need to take:
- Spacing between paragraphs. Smashwords doesn’t allow spacing between paragraphs. (If you want to get nitpicky, you can have spacing in Smashwords but not if you indent the first sentence of each paragraph.) You’ll need to go chapter by chapter and remove the spacing. Like I said – time consuming.
- Copyright page. Smashwords requires you to include the fact that this version is the Smashwords edition in the copyright page.
- Hyperlinks. You probably have links to all of your books at the end of your book. You’ll need to change these to Smashwords links. In fact, check to make sure any and all links in your manuscript do not link to any competitor to Smashwords. Linking to a competitor is an automatic rejection of premium catalog status.
- Table of contents. Frankly, this is a bitch. I don’t care what Mark Coker says. The standard table of contents in Word is super easy – unlike making a table of contents for Smashwords. This will take several steps:
- Delete the table of contents you’ve made for Amazon
- Make (and title) a new table of contents page. Type out the chapter titles. Yes, by hand.
- Add a bookmark to each actual chapter. I just use chapter1, chapter2, etc. There are no spaces allowed when adding a bookmark name.
- Go back to the table of contents and add an internal hyperlink to each chapter title to each bookmark.
- You can add a return to TOC link under each chapter, but I don’t. I find it disruptive as a reader.
- MS 97-2003 doc. Once you’ve done the above, save the document as an MS 97-2003 doc.
I’m not an expert or anything (despite the above bragging), but if you follow the above steps, you’ll find your manuscript is accepted by Smashwords for the premium catalog without issue.
Next week, I’ll tell you how to alter your ebook Word document into a paperback version for CreateSpace. Exciting stuff. Sarcasm intended.