Self-publishing on Smashwords

Self-publishing on Smashwords

Guest Post by J.Q. Rose

With the advent of this new age of e-book technology, you can publish your writing easily and quickly at Founder Mark Coker describes Smashwords as a distributor because the e-book you publish on Smashwords will be distributed to the world’s largest retailers. It costs you nothing to produce the e-book or to have it distributed. You do give up a percentage of the e-book sales for the privilege of having the book available for purchase on Smashwords.

I chose to self-publish my non-fiction e-book for middle grade girls, Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, with Smashwords because the e-book is published on-line in many different formats and available to readers all over the world. I also wanted this e-book about careers to include hyperlinks so readers can immediately access information about the woman I interviewed and about her career.

Once the formatting meets the standard for Smashwords, the title becomes available for sale on Smashwords. I chose to wrestle with formatting my e-book, but Smashwords maintains a list of providers who will format your book for forty or fifty dollars. If you want to have wider distribution to other online booksellers such as Kobo, Apple, B & N, and Sony, your book will have to pass strict guidelines in order to deliver the best product to online booksellers. I have heard some authors say not to use Smashwords because they are too particular. I can only ask, “Don’t you want to deliver the sharpest book you can to your readers?” I do.

Before publishing, I suggest you download the Free copy of founder Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide.( Everything you need to get your book through the “meatgrinder” is included in the book. The meatgrinder is the lovable name Coker calls the process of turning your finished manuscript uploaded as a Word file into the many formats necessary for the various e-reading devices now available to readers.

I studied Mark Coker's extensive Style Guide and followed each step carefully in my manuscript.  When I was ready to upload the file, his constant warnings about remembering to do this and don't forget that rattled in my brain. Taking a deep breath after filling out the form for Smashwords, I clicked on "upload the file" and crossed my fingers. I was told I was #16 in the queue.  I checked email and Facebook and surfed the Internet to get my mind off the fact that I had dumped my pure and perfect word file into the Smashword meat grinder.

When I returned to the screen on my Smashwords dashboard, a list of problems appeared that needed to be "fixed" before they could okay the e-book for sale. Actually they were easy fixes--more than four returns on the title page, using a table which is a no-no for this publisher, and a few stray tabs I'd missed. I re-submitted the file and jumped for joy when I saw conversion complete. It was available for sale on Smashwords.

I have to admit I had a difficult time passing the review to get into the premium catalog because I could not get the Table of Contents to link correctly. A linked Table of Contents, a helpful addition in non-fiction works, is a plus only available in e-books. Readers can click on a link and jump to the chapter they want to read.  I finally discovered the error after I downloaded the Adobe Digital Reader and checked the e-pub version.

After publishing, Smashwords allows authors to assign coupon codes to be used toward discounts or giveaways of your e-book to reviewers, fans, and for promotions.

When you’re ready to share your writing with the world, Smashwords is a good way to go to dip your toe into this vast and wonderful world of self-publishing.

BIO: After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her first published novella, Sunshine Boulevard, released by Muse It Up Publishing in 2011. With Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women she returns to her first love, writing about real people.  Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at
Girls Succeed blog
J.Q. Rose blog

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Stina said...

The only problem as a reader with smashbooks is that I haven't figured out the instructions on how to download a book on my iPod when I win a copy. My friends have complained the same thing. So when I win books, I don't bother with them. I did tell one author this. She was nice enough to pay for the Kindle version and send it to me.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Stina, I don't have an iPod, but with the Kindle you plug in your kindle to the USB port. Download the mobi format for kindle. Open the download and click on show file location. It will highlight it, then drag the highlighted file over to the kindle port and drop it into documents. I imagine this is similar to downloading to an iPod? Thanks for visiting today.

Margaret Fieland said...

Thanks for the very helpful post. I'm planning to make the book of poetry that goes with Relocated, "Sand in the Desert," available in more ebook formats, so this post is especially timely.

Karen Cioffi said...

Great information, JQ. You're probably right about how to upload a SmashWords gift ebook onto an iPod. I don't have one, but I download PDFs from my computer to my Kindle all the time.

Thanks for sharing with us!

Kathleen Moulton said...

JQ, this post really helped me sort through everything available out there. Sometimes I think I have to have it all figured out before I move forward. I can do this. Thanks for giving me some guidance.


J.Q. Rose said...

In Mark Coker's Styleguide, he gives you guidance on how to format poetry so the page will turn out the way you want it to look. Best wishes with your poetry book.

J.Q. Rose said...

You're welcome, Karen. Thanks for hosting me today!

J.Q. Rose said...

Kathleen, So happy to hear the information was helpful. Yes, you CAN do this!! You are welcome.

Magdalena Ball said...

Thanks for sharing this information JQ. I have used Smashwords before and they have some great promotional tools.

J.Q. Rose said...

Magdalena, it does seem Mark Coker is sincere in trying to help authors get the word out. Thank you for visiting.

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