Formatting for Smashwords

If you’re also uploading to Smashwords, use the Save As feature to create a new file. Label it Smashwords eBook or another name by which it’s easily distinguishable from its Kindle counterpart. Make any necessary changes to the Smashwords file, leaving your Kindle eBook intact for future usage.

Ninety per cent of the rules for uploading to Kindle also apply to Smashwords. With both, follow my instructions for removing complex elements from your eBook and setting simple formatting using Styles.

However, there are few differences. These are largely because Smashwords’ conversion machine (The Meatgrinder) has a much harder job to do. Kindle only converts to its own Mobi and KF8 formats. Your Smashwords eBook, in contrast, will be transformed into several formats, used by a dozen or more different retailers.

The main differences are:

  • Smashwords prefers left alignment (a ragged right margin) rather than fully justified (a straight right margin).
  • When saving the document, don’t use HTML or Word .docx (the file format used in Word 2007 onwards). Uploads must be in either EPub or Word .doc format. Of the two, Smashwords prefers a Word .doc file, that is, Word’s pre 2007 format. This is still available on later versions of Word. Use the Save As command and select Word 97-2003 Document from the Save as type drop-down menu.
  • Use the manual method for adding a table of contents, not the automatic one.
  • Page breaks are usually respected but there is a chance some of Smashwords’ distribution partners won’t honour them. So, to distinguish between chapters either dispense with a page break altogether and simply press enter twice or, if using a page break, press enter either side of it. This will ensure chapters don’t merge together if the page break isn’t respected.
  • Images should be in JPEG or PNG format, not GIF. Remove any transparent GIFs you used to position chapter headings.
  • If you wrote Kindle Edition on your copyright notice, remember to change this to Smashwords Edition.

For more information on preparing your eBook for Smashwords, I suggest downloading their free style guide: