Adventures in Self-Publishing – Part 2: Smashwords

Posted: May 8, 2013 in Mutterings

In part 1, I explored the trials and tribulations of publishing on Wattpad.

smashwordsThis time, I published my short story,  Less Of Her, on Smashwords.

Smashwords, is all about publishing your work in various e-book formats. The website itself isn’t quite as slick and easy on the eye as Wattpad is (except there is a lot less of that hateful orange, so it’s got that going for it) but it’s still pretty tight and easy to navigate around.

First things first, set up your profile. It’s a doddle, and lets you add all your social media contact points.  Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to add your magnum opus. On the face of it, it seems pretty simple – Microsoft Word 97 document goes in, various e-reader formats, PDF, html and plain text versions come out. If only. Between your word document and all those shiny e-reader friendly formats is the Meat-grinder.


Beware – this is not as straightforward as it seems. Badly formatted word document goes in, incomprehensible mess comes out – capiche?

Thankfully, there is an excellent, well laid out, step-by-step guide to formatting your great work so that it eases through the Meat-grinder like… like… You know, I can’t come up with a metaphor here that isn’t disgusting. Let’s just assume I did and proceed. Let me put this in bold to emphasis how really, really important this is.


Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Corker

You Must Use  the Smashwords Style Guide to Format Your Word Document.

Not only does this document tell you how to make your work look the best in all formats, it also helps you with how to layout the copyright page, authors page, acknowledgements, everything. And when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of getting Microsoft Word to behave, it does it in fine detail, in simple clear instructions and with diagrams.  I want to say fool proof but I know that fools are really very ingenious.

Once you’ve got your word document in perfect Smashwords format, you’re good to go. You will need an International Book Serial Number (ISBN) to publish to some of the formats, such as for the Sony e-reader. Fear not, Smashwords will let you use one if you already have it or give you a free one!

You press the button. It sends you an e-mail when your precious baby has been through the meat-grinder (really, it was genius to call it such) and then you can click and download to your heart’s content.

As you may imagine, since you have to put your whole manuscript through the meat-grinder, you cannot publish your work a chapter at a time, unlike Wattpad. It’s all or nothing on Smashwords.

As with Wattpad, having a nice, eye-catching front cover is important. They recommend a humongous resolution, at a minimum your cover must be 1,400 pixels wide. The recommended resolution is 1,600 wide by 2,400 high. Luckily, when Rafido Francavilla did the cover for ‘Less Of Her’, he know what he was doing. At the time, I did wonder at the huge size.

When publishing you have various options for setting the price of your e-book.

  • Free, as in beer
  • Customer pays what they want
  • Fixed price

With the latter two, you can set a percentage of the book you want to allow them to sample, which can be done right there on the site in HTML. If you insist on charging, your payment comes either as a paper cheque or paypal, in the States, or just paypal if you live outside the US of A.

“What about the finished product?” I hear you ask.

Well, the PDF and HTML versions look okay. Plain text is plain text. I only own an Amazon Kindle, so I can only really vouch for that e-book format but, I can honestly say, it looks awesome! (I may be slightly biased).


Stories are displayed with cover art and all relevant information (see above). As the author, not only do you get a download count, you also get a nice little stats page showing how many people visited your e-book’s page and how many people actually downloaded it.

So, which one is better: Wattpad or Smashwords?

Really, they are complimentary, if you are publishing for free, as they cater to different readers and different ways in which people can read your work. Go for both if you want maximum attention whoring potential.

This concludes my adventures, so far. If your still looking for something to read, can I suggest a certain short story

  1. […] Adding a new book listing to goodreads is child’s play, simply search for any book title and you can find links to either import books or manually add a book in the right hand corner. I chose the latter and merely filled in the details, including the ISBN generated when I originally published ‘Less Of Her’ on Smashwords. […]

  2. […] Re: Self Publishing? For e-pub, smashwords is fairly effective. Probably not what you are looking for in regards to children's books though. I have blogged about the experience, if you're interested: Adventures in Self-Publishing – Part 2: Smashwords | Welcome To The Verse […]

  3. […] Adventures in Self-Publishing – Part 2: Smashwords […]


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