Creating an ebook for Smashwords Pt 1

Smashwords style Part 1    If you want my ‘Template Lite’ —> Smashwords Template.

If you haven’t looked at Smashwords, then I would suggest it’s something you might want to invest some time in. Why? Because it’s a free (and relatively easy) way to get your work distributed to some of the major retailers, including Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor, Gardeners Books, all with the potential to reach tens of thousands of potential readers.

Getting your book on Smashwords is only half the battle. If you really want to get it out to the retailers listed above, you will need to be accepted into their Premium Catalogue. This means following their style guide, which assists you in producing a correctly formatted ebook. Their style guide is excellent, and I would recommend reading it all the way though to maximise your chances of being accepted for the Premium Catalogue. The Guide is over 100 pages long and makes reference to not only how to format your book, but why particular points of formatting are necessary.

If you want to jump straight in, they also offer an excellent template that you can download and type straight into. Again, this comes with a comprehensive description, and the advice is to use this alongside the Style Guide.

In this post, I will begin to share with you my ‘watered down’ version of the guide and Smashwords Template. It is in no way intended as a replacement for Smashwords’ own guides, it’s more of a ‘quick start guide’ for those of you who want to get started straight away. If you’ve previously only ever used word to type your stories into, there will be a little extra work here, but spending time now, will save you time / effort in the future.

The aim is to create a well-formatted ebook, with front matter, a linked table of contents, your hard work, author details, etc. that will look professional on a variety of platforms and functions effectively, with a contents page allowing you to jump to any section of the book.

Where to start

The first thing to do is to create a new document. I have used Microsoft’s Word 2011 (For Mac) for these examples, but there are alternatives (which I won’t be covering here). Other versions of word will be slightly different, but should have similar capabilities. Within that document, you will first need to create yourself some custom styles to use in the document.

Creating Custom Styles

In the image below you will see the styles that are currently in your document (highlighted with the red square). This is where you choose the style of text within your document. To the side, you will see the ‘Manage Styles’ option (Blue elipse).


A click on the ‘Manage Styles’ button will give you a list of all the styles used in your document. You will see some drop-down options alongside the style name (‘Normal’ in the example below). Here you will be able to modify an existing style, or create a new style.

manage stylesClick ‘Modify Style’ to adjust one of the existing styles, or click ‘New Style’ to create a new one from scratch. That’s what we’ll do. We’ll create the ‘Normal Style’, which is what we’ll use for the majority of our text. Select ‘New Style’, and you will see the image below.

new style

In this window, you will be able to choose a name for your new style. Choose a name that will make it easy for you to remember what it’s for, such as ‘CenteredText’, or ‘ChapterHeadText’, for example. ‘Style Type’ should remain as ‘Paragraph’, and keep “style based on’ as ‘Normal’. ‘Following Paragraph’ style can be changed to whatever you want. This simply tells your document that once you’ve finished a paragraph of this text style, what you would like the next paragraph style to be.

As you can see from the previous image, you can customise a variety of elements within each style, accessed by clicking the drop-down menu at the bottom. For our purposes, we will only need to alter ‘Font’ and ‘Paragraph’, which is what we’ll look at in part 2.

Let me know if I’ve missed anything!  Part 2 coming this weekend.





4 thoughts on “Creating an ebook for Smashwords Pt 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s