Smashwords Author Alerts

Smashwords has added an awesome new feature: Smashwords Alerts. When readers sign up, Smashwords will send them an email alert whenever the authors they’re following publish something new.

To send alerts an author doesn’t need to do anything; they just happen, thanks to Smashwords’ system. To follow and author, readers need to log into their Smashwords account at, then find their favorite author’s page. On the left side, under users who’ve favorited the author,there’s a button to favorite the author and one to subscribe to author alerts. Right now Smashwords has automatically subscribed readers to all their favorited authors, but they can go in and unfollow.



But what if your readers don’t buy books from Smashwords? What if they like Barnes and Noble, or Amazon better? I can’t speak for all authors, but when I publish a book or story on Smashwords, I also publish it on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and all the others, so an alert from Smashwords would still let readers know that a new story was out there, waiting for them on their platform of choice – and I wouldn’t need to harvest their email addresses or send that notification manually.

In a business that increasingly sucks time for promotions, networking, newsletters, and more, any little thing can help! I’m encouraging all my readers to sign up for the alerts. whether they purchase from Smashwords or not, and hopefully that will save me some time and get the word out easier about new stories.

What do you think of the new alerts? As an author? As a reader? Are you planning to make use of them, or do you find it just more email for your inbox?

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For Cover designers and Formatters

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

I know this blog is primarily aimed at authors, but many of us moonlight as cover designers or formatters (such as myself and Stephannie Beman) so I wanted to share this from Smashwords:  (I copied it directly from their site updates page. If you have any questions please contact smashwords as I don’t have the answers. Sorry. )


**Mark’s List open for new applicants**  It’s been over a year since we added a new batch of cover designers and formatters to Mark’s List, our list of low-cost service providers.  For a limited period of time, I’m accepting a small number of applications for new freelancers.  If you’re considering applying, please carefully study the information below.  Incomplete or inappropriate applications will be disregarded.

Background on the list:  I created the list in January, 2011 as a public service for our authors and publishers.  It’s currently available via autoresponder when someone emails  A newer version of the list will be made available on the Smashwords web site.  We don’t charge for listings, and we don’t take a commission.   Every individual is a freelancer.  Each freelancer provides excellent customer service, which is why they continue to be on the list.  We appreciate the great, low-cost services these freelancers provide to our authors and publishers.  We’re also pleased to know that for many of the Mark’s List freelancers, their inclusion on the list has provided them much-appreciated supplemental income.  Some have even made it their full time job.
How to apply:   First, email and study the email you receive so you can get an idea how other service providers are providing and pricing their services.   Apply to only one category, cover designers or formatters.  You must be the person who will provide the services.  We will not accept service provider firms, or individuals who farm out their work to others.  Note that I expect to receive many more applications that I can accept in this round, so please accept my apologies in advance if you don’t make the cut this time.  Maybe next time.
Okay, you’re ready to apply.  Compose an email to me at  Use the subject line, “Mark’s List.”  Answer each of the questions for the category for which you want to be considered (cut and paste these questions into your email and then provide your answers inline):
Cover designers:
  1. Provide me a complete hyperlink to your author/publisher profile page, which you’ll find by clicking “My Smashwords.”  Preference will be shown to Smashwords authors and publishers.  If you’re opted in to all our distribution channels (not counting Amazon), that’s a plus.
  2. Provide a link to your online portfolio.  I’m looking for designers with a track record of producing high-quality, professional covers.  It’s also very important that Smashwords authors and publishers can evaluate your portfolio before they hire you.
  3. Provide me hyperlinks to up to five covers you designed for Smashwords books.
  4. If selected, will you provide all your Smashwords clients a listing in your online portfolio, as well as a live hyperlink to their book’s listing at Smashwords?  Such portfolio listings are appreciated by our authors, and a plus for your application.
  5. What is your design fee, and how many revisions does that include?  Most Smashwords designers are in the range of $35-$100.  If you charge more, that’s fine as long as the price is justified by the quality.  We’re looking for great designers!
  6. Do you agree that you will not try to market or upsell other author services?
  7. Why do you think you’d be a great addition to Mark’s List?
  1. Provide me a complete hyperlink to your author/publisher profile page, which you’ll find by clicking “My Smashwords.”  Preference will be shown to Smashwords authors and publishers.  If you’re opted in to all our distribution channels (not counting Amazon), that’s a plus.
  2. Do you consider yourself an expert at the Smashwords Style Guide?
  3. How many books have you personally formatted that have been accepted into the Smashwords Premium Catalog?  The more the better.  Provide direct hyperlinks to up to 10 of them.  Preference will be shown to formatters who employ smart use of linked Table of Contents, intra-book links (endnotes and indexes), and who provide clean, professional formatting for novels.
  4. How many years have you been using Microsoft Word?
  5. Do you Nuke every project before you begin it?
  6. Do you know how to preserve italics and bolds post-Nuke using CTRL-H wildcards?
  7. Will you guarantee Premium Catalog inclusion for your clients?
  8. Will you perform all the work yourself?
  9. Do you agree that you will not upload client works to Smashwords?
  10. Do you agree that you will not attempt to upsell Smashwords authors to other formatting or ebook design or distribution services?
  11. What would be your approximate rates for a novela, a full-length novel, and a more complex non-fiction book with an extensive linked Table of Contents, or index and endnote links?
  12. Why do you think you’d be a great addition to Mark’s List?
Thanks, and good luck!

How to Get a Cheap Book Cover… UPDATED!

I’ve recently updated my how to book How to Get a Cheap Book Cover by Joleene Naylor. Updates include:

  • A tutorial on how to use Create Space’s cover creator
  • A tutorial on how to make an ebook cover in Paint.Net
  • Fixed broken links
  • Added new links
  • Fixed a couple of typos
  • Updated information on acceptable file types

If you’ve already purchased the book through Smashwords, I believe you can download the updated version for free. I don’t know about the other sites, such as Barnes & Noble, though it will be a few days before the changes filter through the expanded market, anyway.

Here’s what people are saying about How to Get a Cheap Book Cover:

“VERY helpful! I was like a raft adrift on the adriatic and this book was the ocean liner that came to my salvation.” –  Robin Donaruma on March 07, 2012 (on

“I downloaded this book to help me design the cover for my novel, A Military Republic. The book has excellent advice about licensing photos, websites for buying photos and above all an invaluable guide to using gimp for designing the cover. I definitely recommend this to cover designing beginners.” – Haythem Bastawy on Feb. 25, 2012 (on

“This was a huge help when we were creating covers for my husband’s e-books. This is the first time we’ve done any sort of e-publishing, and we were pretty ignorant of even the basics. I especially liked the information on licensing and sources for images.” –  Marjorie Farmer on Nov. 10, 2011 (on

How to Publish on Smashwords

(this is a companion to How to Publish on Create Space and How to Use Create Space Cover creator)

Go to, 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:

Click to see how Smashwords divides up the “profits”

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

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 –

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?

Smashwords to Distribute to Mobile Apps


Raise your hands if you have a smart phone loaded with apps.

Now raise your hands if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Smart phones, tablets and other devices are taking the world by storm, but I know a lot of people who don’t have one. My mother, for example. So I thought I’d take a minute and do a quick run down so that you can understand what Smashword’s new distribution agreement means for you as an author or reader.

Apps – short for applications – are like programs that run on your smart phone (such as the iphone or Android), on tablets (like the apple ipad) and other devices (I imagine all ereaders will  eventually be able to run these, too.) Applications are purchased through the marketplace, a “page” on the device (think like a web page), and they can be anything from wallpaper to ring tones, games, kitchen timers, movie players and yes, even books.

With Smashword’s new agreement with ScrollMotion, the Smashwords Premium catalog will now be available to purchase in the app marketplace – and as an author you don’t need to do anything to opt in. If you’re in the premium catalog already, it will be automatic. Of course, you can always opt out, if you want to. But, with authors getting 60% of the sale price, and with the potential to reach readers who are using Apple, Android, Windows Phone 7 and WebOS, why would you?

What’s it like to read a book on a phone? I read Stephannie Beman’s My Lord Hades using the Kindle app on mine, and it was okay. I wasn’t a huge fan (of reading on the phone, not of the book. I LOVED the book), so I bought a Kindle. But, I know people who not only read on their phones (Or on the much bigger ipads) but love it because their phone goes where they go – meaning their library is always with them, too, and they don’t have to buy an expensive, second device such as a nook or kindle.

However, books are expected to be delivered to the app marketplaces later this month, and I’m going to have to check it out. From what I understand, unlike the Kindle app, each book will be an individual application, meaning you will download and install each book without having to also install the program to read the book. Is that going to take up more of the precious phone space, or less? I’m not sure yet, but when they become available I intend to find out.   

You can read more about App ebook distribution on Smashword’s official blog, including all the numbers; how many people have these gadgets, how many are projected to buy these gadgets, etc.

Smashwords has big news!!

In fact, it’s so big that rather than tell you myself I’m going to just send you to their blog!Smashwords BIG announcement!*

Book photograph with flipping pages.
Image via Wikipedia


*hint – read ALL the way to the end & Happy April 1st 😉


More on Smashwords

This is a post in response to Ruth’s post of 2/6 re: Pricing and Smashwords. I’m not addressing the pricing but would like to share my experience about SW’s. It seems more appropriate to do it as a post here than a comment there so here it is:

My experience with Smashwords has been quite different from what it seems has been shared in Ruth’s post and subsequent comments. From the beginning, my goal was to qualify for their Premium Catalogue.  If your book qualifies, SWs provides a free ISBN. I didn’t much care if the ISBN was free or not in that $9-10 is not a deal killer for me but since the goal was to be in the PC I just decided to see what happened and see if January Moon qualified, which it did. Unlike Ruth, however, I believe in ISBN’s for my purposes so I would have bought an ISBN if necessary (if January Moon wasn’t placed in the Prem Cat).

[OOOPS! Stop! Editorial insert for a correction here! (Is there such a thing?) Ruth didn’t say there was a time lag between uploading on SWs and seeing the book go live for sale. Someone did somewhere but it wasn’t here. She was only referring to the delay in re: the Premium Catalogue. Sorry for the confusion; please blame it on the Nyquil.]

So, anyway, January Moon qualified for the Premium Catalogue, was given an ISBN, and that part is history.

However, when I uploaded my book to Smashwords at the very end of September the book was almost immediately visible on SWs site as a new book. I don’t think it took any more than 12 hrs. So, I’m clueless as to why anyone would wait days or weeks to see their book on SWs. That seems odd to me. Has something changed? Perhaps someone needs to write to Mark Coker and ask him. I’m a big fan of SWs because I’ve found Mark Coker to be the singularly most responsive businessperson in the world.

Anyway, my dashboard told me that the book’s acceptance into the Premium Catalogue was “pending” approval; however, even as it was pending acceptance into the PC I could clearly see that January Moon was available for sale on the SWs site. I checked back several days in a row and then probably 3 or 4 days later I saw January Moon had been approved & placed in the Premium Catalogue. If I waited even as long as a week I’d be very surprised; I honestly think it happened within days — 5 tops.

I opted into ALL of the distribution channels. Almost immediately I saw when the book would be sent to those channels or when it was sent. There was no undue lag time.

I made several changes to the ms and watched how they were handled. The distribution chart clearly indicated when each new “version” would be re-sent to B&N, Apple, Sony, etc. It was very efficient and clear cut. I uploaded new versions that weren’t really new documents at all — the exact same ms each time — and I watched what happened each time. Each time I uploaded a new ms I was told it once again had to be approved for the PC but sometimes this “approval” happened within hrs, once or twice a few days but never more. Then I’d see how it changed on the distribution flow chart; I could see the date each version was sent to B&N, Apple, etc. I could see the last time a version was sent. Again, it was very professional and easy to follow. Testing it as I did made me really understand the process and establish confidence in it.

I opted into Amazon right from the getgo but after several months watching SWs still fail to resolve what they called the “meatgrinder” issue I decided to opt out and go over to Amazon directly and using their DTP program I uploaded January Moon to Amazon. I don’t think their program is as easy as SWs but it wasn’t necessarily terrible. (Warning here: you CANNOT use the same document you use @ SWs for the upload to Amazon or the formatting will be screwed up. I’ve already written about this and will mention it again at another time but consider this the heads up.)

After I went to Amazon I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t do the same for B&N (and use their PubIt! program). I had no real reason to do this since SWs was sending January Moon there already but I decided to explore the options. That was an unmitigated nightmare. B&N is one of the most internally confused companies I have dealt with and, trust me, I’ve dealt with many. In brief, PubIt! is not as user-friendly as Amazon and NOWHERE near as easy to use as SWs.  If you have a problem — well, fat chance you can even locate the department responsible for handling it. After none of their emailed answers even addressed my question I spent hours on the phone trying to track down a human and when I finally located one — who assured me the problem would be fixed instantly — I learned 10 days later it wasn’t resolved at all and whomever I had spoken to had given me completely incorrect information and getting that bit of info took another 2 maddening hours trying to slug through the byzantine corridors of B&N’s many departments (none of whom wanted to take responsibility for anything and none of whom interact with one another; I actually spoke to someone in marketing who knew nothing about PubIt! She thought it was owned by Amazon!).

If things goes well for you and B&N, God bless. If you have a problem, however, be prepared to wallow in Corporate Hell.

After that experience I RAN BACK to SW’s and decided that forever and a day they can deal with B&N. I discussed it with Mark Coker and one of the things about allowing SWs to distribute to B&N for you is that you then can turn the problem over to SWs. If they can’t solve your problem, trust me, you never would be able to solve it. SWs, one assumes, has some leverage. You? Honestly, I don’t think Dan Brown could get any satisfaction. There is a BIG reason that company is in financial distress and it’s not all due to the vagaries of the marketplace. They’ve given new meaning to the term “User UN-friendly.” 

SWs of course takes a small fee to distribute your book to B&N, Apple, Sony, etc. To me,  it’s a small and fair price to pay to have them serve as my advocate, accountant, and distributor. All my records re: B&N, Apple, Sony etc. are now consolidated with SWs and I can tell exactly how many books I’ve sold at each of those retailers in only one glance at my SWs report. 

I already have Amazon to track for the ebook and CreateSpace for the paperback so what the hell? Do I really need to also track B&N, Apple, Sony etc. if there’s a company like SW’s to do it for me.

I think not.

One more thing about B&N and SWs: I saw that B&N had some significant online advertising about ebooks for $2.99 and less. Mine wasn’t listed. I looked more closely and saw that no INDIE books were listed. I was pissed. I emailed Mark Coker. He was already talking to them about this and it seems they are now working out some concessions where B&N claims they will highlight indies in the future in some special ad campaign.  If you’re being distributed to B&N via SWs or are their yourself having used their PubIt! program you might want to pay close attention to this and work with me to keep the pressure up.

Amazon is the 900# gorilla in the business and I don’t know what control we as individuals have over them. Perhaps we need to form a collective of independent authors; dunno. It might be a good thing to look into w/the AiA.

The times they are a’changin’… 

Hadrian extolled his fellow Romans to rebuild Rome “brick by brick, my fellow citizens, brick by brick…”

I say to you we’re rebuilding the history of publishing “indie book by indie book…”

Have a nice day; ~mick

PS: This was bashed out in a huge hurry, no time to proof, miserable head cold, over tired, and drugged with NyQuil. You can either be charitable toward me or… well, I don’t give a damn about the altnerative. I’m a very nasty person when I’m sickie-pooh.  😦

Just a warning… 🙂

Some Handy Formatting Tricks

Ruth Ann Nordin recently did a four part series called Publishing 101. In post four she touched on formatting and I thought, since I’ve done formatting for both myself and other authors, I would take a moment to explain some of it.

I’ll start by saying that I know very little about PDF formatting; I do all of my work in Word and then make the document into a PDF as is. So, if you’re looking for PDF tips, I am not your girl. Except that on shades of Gray the margin was too big, so I saved it as a 6 x 9.25 page size in word, and then cropped it to 6×9 in the PDF program. End my PDF tips.

(All screen caps are in Word 2007)


If your manuscript has little or no italics or bold, then a really easy way to remove all the unwanted formatting (such as stray tabs, odd tables, page breaks, etc) is to copy the document and paste it into Notepad. Yes, I said Notepad, that archaic little document program. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you will probably find it under Programs>Accessories>Notepad.


Use the shortcut keys Ctrl+A to select all of the original document, then just copy and paste.

Yes, that removed ALL formatting.


Now save it as a .txt file (Notepad’s default) and then open in word.

(You may get a pop up similar to this, just hit Okay)


Your new document will have no formatting at all – no centering, no tabs, no bold, and no italics.


The first thing I do after that is set the tabs.


East definitions: Tabs are something you put in manually by hitting the tab key, and an indent is something the program puts in. AKA Indent = good. Tabs = Bad.

Highlight all of your document (Or the section you want to have tabs, for instance the copyright info and title page shouldn’t have tabs on them) and then make sure that you have rulers visible (This will be in a different menu in earlier versions of Word, but it works the same after that):


On the left side of the ruler you’ll see two little arrow like things. The BOTTOM one determines your left margin and the TOP one sets your indent, which is what we want.


Grab that top “arrow” and drag it to the right. When you let go, you’ll see the text “magically” indent itself:



You can go back and “undo” this for parts of the manuscript you want perfectly centered, or that you don’t want an indent in. You do this by first highlighting the text to be “un-indented”, then grab the TOP arrow and move it back to the starting position:


Again, make sure to highlight any text that you want to adjust, or else nothing will happen.


you can go through your stripped document and manually add in any centering, bolding, italics, etc that you want. One way to do that is have the original document open (You can use side by side view if you like), and then go to find/replace and choose the More button:


Now go to the format button and choose font:


You’ll get a pop up box. Choose what you want; in this case we want to find italics:


Hit okay and use the Find Next to find the instances of italics In your original document. When you do, you can then use the find feature to find it on the unformatted version (after first using the format to choose regular text again because there are no italics in the new document). Then, highlight any word that should be italicized and italicize them:


Alternately, if you don’t like having to flip back and forth you can keep a running list in notepad and then italicize all at once, like so:


You will see that I copied more than just the words that needed italicized so that I could insure that I found the correct instance of those words. Also, I out *’s around the portion that is meant to be italicized. You don’t have to use notepad, of course. You can use word, or you can write it in a notebook or even on the back of an envelope.

This also works for bold, and any other kind of formatting.

If you have a lot of formatting, then you may find this method tedious, but for a document that has a lot of weirdness going on, it can still be a time saver.


If, for instance, you use the title Jumping beans do America by Jillian Bilford several times in your document, but might not have italicized it every time, there’s an easy way to do this.

Open the find dialog box and go to the replace tab. Paste in, or type in, the text you want replaced, and then fill the same into the replace box (As I have no mention of that title, I’ll go with my character’s name for the example). Make sure the cursor is in the Replace With box, and choose the More button:


As in the above example, go down to the format button and choose font, then italics. Hit okay, and then you can either use “replace” to see each instance before it’s replaced, or, if you feel lucky, “Replace all”.



Different authors do different things. However, I just use a couple of enters and a few twinklies, like so:


An easy way to make these uniform is to use the replace technique. When you initially format your document, use only 2 twinklies at each “break” and then use the replace all to replace with a row of them like so:


Now, every “page break” will have the exact same number of twinklies, and look more uniform and professional. Or, as professional as rows of twinklies can look. You can also use the format button to center your twinklies the same way that we applied italics to everything. Only, you need to choose the Paragraph selection instead:


Then choose center:


Make sure that the new formatting is under the Replace With box, or it won’t work!!



If you’re sure you have no weird formatting, (excessive tabs, tables, sty;es, weird spacing, etc)then there’s no need to use the notepad method. I’d suggest that you double check to make sure that there are no tabs hiding in your document, though, by going to Find and typing in


(the ^ is the symbol on the 6 key)



If there are, of course, just backspace them out.


You can go to bar at the top and hit that little P looking thing. This will make all your formatting show up:


As you can see by the row of dots after “One”, I have a bunch of extra spaces there. Smashwords can reject books for too many of those, so delete the bad boys.

This will also show you where your page breaks are, so you can see if you’re using too many, and make sure that you’ve used the same number between your chapters.


And, if you find that you have a lot of extra spaces – maybe you have several instances of five or more – the use the find/replace box. Type in the number of spaces in the Find what box and then leave the replace with box empty. Yes, this will look like a blank search, but it works.

And that’s about all that I can think of. Do you know of a better way to do this? If so, please share it in the comment below. Conversely, do you have any questions about these steps, or about something I didn’t feature here? If so, please put it in the comments too, and I will do my best to answer it.