(this is a companion to How to Publish on Create Space and How to Use Create Space Cover creator)
Go to smashwords.com, log in and click the Publish option in the overhead menu:
(You’ll notice I have a “requires attention warning – this is because I have a “test” book that is archived and unpublished that I use to test files before upload, so I haven’t given it an ISBN number. If you have this warning and don’t have something similar then it means one of your books needs an ISBN assigned.)
You will be taken to a new page. Here you will enter all the information on your book. First up is title and the short description.
You’ll see that there is a 400 character limit for the short description (not words, characters – aka letters, spaces, punctuation, etc.). This is one of the reasons I say it’s good to have several of different length ready to go. Something to consider for shorter works: though Smashwords has the word count clearly posted on each book’s page, not all their distributors do, so it’s best to put Short Story, Novella, Short Work, etc. at the beginning of the description to avoid angry reviews on Barnes and Noble and other sites.
Now comes the “long” description. If it’s the exact same thing as your short description then it’s up to you if you want to bother with it or not. However, if you have a good hook written up that was too long for the short description above then plug it in here.
Choose the Language of your book and whether it has adult content or not. (A note on this. Smashwords has changed its policies and when you first visit the site, or visit it without being logged in, all books marked with adult content will not show up. You now have to remove the “adult content” filter instead of having to activate it. While I understand this change, it’s not one I’m happy with as most of my books don’t show up for a casual visitor. But, don’t try to be sneaky and skip marking it as adult content if it really is. It just hurts everyone in the long run.)
You can also see there are pricing choices. Free is obvious – your work is free for others to download. Is this a good idea? There are blogs by the thousands that tackle that topic, so I’m not going to.
The next option is Reader Sets Price. My advice on this option is to only use it on a book you would have otherwise marked free because most people’s determined price is free. However, once in a while you run into someone who pays more (I has someone pay 10$ for one of my books when I had this option set.)
Lastly is to set your own price. Type a number in and suddenly these magical pie charts will appear:
These show you what percentage of the price that everyone is getting from your book. Again, there are articles galore on ebook pricing, so I won’t get into that here. I will say this; there are probably people out there who will pay $10 or more of an ebook (there’s at least one person!) but they are the minority.
Once your price is set determine how much sampling you want by changing the numbers. If your ebooks is free (mine is), then this will be grayed out.
What is sampling? Go to any smashwords book page (in a new window!) and scroll down past the description and you’ll see a table that looks much like this:
See where it says 50%? The author has chosen to share a 50% sample, or half the book, for free. It’s up to you how much you want to share, but I do recommend making at least the first chapter available.
Now it’s time to choose the categories your book fits in.
You’ll initially have one box and, as you choose subcategories, new boxes will appear. Find the best fit for your book. For instance, there is no vampire category (sadly) and though this particular story doesn’t really have any horror in it, the other stories in the series do, so I chose Fiction>Literature>Horror so that it is in the same category as the rest of the series.
Now add some tags
Use words that you think someone would use if they were searching for your book. As you type them in they will appear above the box. If you decide you don’t like one – or you have a typo – then use the “remove” to take it off.
Now you need to choose what file types you’d like your book to appear in
Rule of thumb is the more formats, the more potential readers, however, some books just don’t work well in all types. For instance, plain Text means text only – no images. If your book needs pictures then you should uncheck this option.
Now we’re ready to upload the files!
Use the Choose File button to get a pop up box and find your book cover on your computer. As the box says, it must be a .jpg, .gif or .png and needs to be at least 600 pixels tall. I prefer to use high res images, myself, but it’s all a matter of choice.
Now upload your pre-formatted document. (For help with formatting see some of our previous posts).
Check over the publishing agreement and hit the happy publish button!
Usually my browser window will sporadically pop back up to the middle of the page and stare at me for a few moments. If this happens to you, don’t panic. First, check the bottom left of your browser window and (depending on your browser) you will likely see something that says “Uploading” and has a percentage. This means your files are uploading – it can take a moment. If you don’t see that, then scroll through the page to make sure there are no red errors. If several minutes pass and still nothing has happened, then check your dashboard in a new tab to see if the book is listed. If not, then hit the publish button again or refresh the page and redo the forms.
Once the files are uploaded a new page will appear that says something like:
Your number will be different. As it says, you can leave it opened or close it out. I prefer to leave it opened.
When it has finished converting you will get an email with the conversion results – including any file errors – and the page should change. If you have no errors it will look like this:
Click on the “View this page’s Smashwords page” link.
An aside. I said the page SHOULD change. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes it will say “complete” next to all the files and just sit and stare at you. If that happens then 1- be sure to check your mail to make sure the conversion has no errors and 2 – go to your dashboard and access the book’s page from there.
Check the page over – make sure your synopsis is correct, that the book cover looks right, etc. Then scroll down to the table of download options and save the epub version to your computer (I throw mine on the desktop).
In a new tab head to http://threepress.org/document/epub-validate
Choose file (make sure it is the epub version you just downloaded and NOT the doc you used for smashwords!) and then hit the validate button.
It may take a few minutes, but if there are no errors you’ll get a screen like this:
If so, then you’re done. Share your new Smashwords link with the world and revel in your accomplishments!
But, what if you have errors? There are too many possibilities for me to cover in this blog, so if you have errors, either in the epub or with the meatgrinder, be sure to check Smashwords FAQ at – http://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq
Assuming you have no errors, pop back to smashwords and go to your dashboard and then your ISBN manager (or if you have that handy warning on top of your page just click it!)
There is a LOOONG article describing the different types of ISBN numbers. Read it and choose the option that is right for you (I use the free ones).
When you’ve decided you’ll find, at the end of all that text, a table listing all your books and telling you whether or not you have ISBN numbers – as you can see Benjamin does not have one (and neither does my test book)
Click Assign ISBN.
You’ll go to a new page where you make your selection:
Make your choice and click “Review Order” (don’t let this scare you – it does not mean you’re paying for anything .)
You will get a new page detailing your choices (and I assume payment options if necessary). Check to make sure it is what you want and press Confirm.
And then – congratulations – a new page will appear that will list your title, ISBN, etc. on it. Save the info to your records (if you do that) and then go back to your dashboard.
Now we need to double check the distribution, so go to your Distribution Manager
Scroll down to your book and make sure that it is opted in – and out – of everything that you want. If not, make changes. (As of this posting Smashwords is still not distributing to Amazon, however, I recommend adjusting the settings for this so that when they do you’ll be ready).
And that’s it. There’s nothing else to do until your book is approved for the Premium Distribution (you can check the status on your dashboard at any time.) It takes a few days, and even after it is approved it takes some time to ship. I uploaded Ties of Blood on September 10th and it has still not shipped a month later, despite being approved, meanwhile, the last story I uploaded shipped within two weeks, so I think it depends on volume at the time of your upload. Either way, be patient and, if it seems to be taking too long, file a ticket through the help at the top of the page.
And that’s it! Pretty easy, huh?
I’ve published eight books on Smashwords and have never validated through Three Press. That sounds like a great idea, though, because it makes sure you have a clean epub file. Thanks for the tip!
I didn’t use to use it, either, until I started formatting for other people. It’s saved a lot of headaches, so has having a test file.
Joleene, Will Smashwords let you get an ISBN number before you get your Premium Distribution approval? They always make me wait. Thanks for your helpful articles. You should put them all into a book and make a little money from them. 🙂
Yeah, I got mine for this story before I was approved anyway (Benjamin is still waiting premium approval, LOL!)
I just uploaded Portal To The Stars and applied for an ISBN number as soon as it was up on my author page. It gave me one, so I’m not sure what they are doing at Smashwords. Maybe you can get it if you apply right away.
Yeah, I agree. The information is great!
The innards of my book was designed by a graphic artist. My original document looks nothing like my book, is there a way I can submit the PDF to smashwords.
Nope, right now smashwords only takes .doc files (they won;t even accept the .docx of the new word) What you can try is to find a pdf to document converter and see if that will convert it from the pdf to a word document – hang on lemme see if I can find a link (i had one bookmarked at one time)
use the free online version – it’s on the upper left – and see if that works. 🙂
After it is converted you will probably want to go into it and check for styles/tabs, etc. That might get it rejected.
Ok. This is great info. Thanks a lot for doing this.
Hi Jo, this is a very clear and nice tutorial about publishing in Smashwords. Most of the authors I work with publish in CreateSpace but Smashwords would be a good choice for authors who are into eBooks. Thanks for posting these instructions.
All the best to your site.