Easy Formatting for Smashwords #WriterWednesday #Selfpublishing #Smashwords

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.

smashwords-logoToday’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:

  1. 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.
  2. Copyright page. Smashwords requires you to include the fact that this version is the Smashwords edition in the copyright page.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
    1. Delete the table of contents you’ve made for Amazon
    2. Make (and title) a new table of contents page. Type out the chapter titles. Yes, by hand.
    3. Add a bookmark to each actual chapter. I just use chapter1, chapter2, etc. There are no spaces allowed when adding a bookmark name.
    4. Go back to the table of contents and add an internal hyperlink to each chapter title to each bookmark.
    5. You can add a return to TOC link under each chapter, but I don’t. I find it disruptive as a reader.
  5. 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.


14 thoughts on “Easy Formatting for Smashwords #WriterWednesday #Selfpublishing #Smashwords

  1. Stevie Turner says:

    Reblogged this on Stevie Turner, Indie Author. and commented:
    I must admit I’ve given up on publishing books through Smashwords. One of my manuscripts has had 8 rejections so far, and I consider that life is too short to bother with it any more. However, thanks to D.E Haggerty for this info. Publishing on Smashwords obviously can be done, but hey….

    Liked by 1 person

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      It really depends – way to go with the lawyer answer, Dena! I have a few books on Amazon available through Kindle Unlimited. I admit they sell well, but I have a problem giving exclusivity away. I don’t feel like I get enough out of the promotion deals from Amazon to give them exclusivity for everything. But that’s just a personal opinion. Also, I’m okay with doing the 3 hours work to format the books for Smashwords.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. anderskermod says:

    I don’t use Smashwords myself: I’ve uploaded directly to iBooks and used Draft2Digital for Kobo etc. However, I am very familiar with Word a lot from my day job (which incidentally involves providing services to lawyers) and I’ve had a few thoughts about speeding up the process described by DE.

    If you’ve used extra Returns between paragraphs to insert the additional space (I call them empty paragraphs), this little macro will get rid of them in short order:

    Public Sub RmvEmptyParas()
    Dim myPar As Paragraph
    ‘ Get rid of extra whitespace before and after paragraph marks
    With Selection.Find
    .Text = “^w^p”
    .Replacement.Text = “^p”
    .Format = False
    .MatchWildcards = False
    .Wrap = wdFindStop
    End With
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory
    Selection.Find.Execute FindText:=”^p^w”, ReplaceWith:=”^p”, Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    ‘ Remove paragraphs which consist only of a Return
    For Each myPar In ActiveDocument.Paragraphs
    If myPar.Range.Text = vbCr Then
    End If
    Next myPar
    End Sub

    If the extra space is built into the paragraph styles, it’s even easier to remove it. Also, it would be straightforward to write macros which could amend your hyperlinks and reconstruct your ToC using bookmarks. That would just leave the copyright page to be dealt with manually.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      If you use extra returns to create space between paragraphs, the formatting of the ebook is wonky – to say the least.

      You’ve got me beat on word knowledge 😳


      • anderskermod says:

        I’ve been using Word a very long time but I almost never use it for my writing. I have Word for Windows only and I do my writing on the Mac. It’s nice to run into a lawyer who has had training in the use of Word. Judging by many of the documents I see, it’s all too rare.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Phillip T Stephens says:

    Reblogged this on Wind Eggs and commented:
    The one thing I can say about Amazon: They make it easier to deliver your book as an eBook every year. Smashwords formatting is as painful as it was when I posted my first book. Plus, I always forget picky sh… stuff between books, like the proper way to create hyperlinks for footnotes. (If you don’t name each link exactly right, it disappears in the final file).

    D.E. Haggerty offers a few tips to get you started.

    Liked by 1 person

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