Smashwords' Style Guide

I stayed up until 3 this morning reading Smashwords' 72-page style guide, written by Smashwords' founder, Mark Coker. I didn't know what to expect, and was surprised after reading it. The first shock was that, despite this PDF being 72 pages long, I read it in only an hour or so. The second was that the material contained therein was very easy to comprehend and, I think, apply.

Smashwords is, of course, the leading ebook publisher in the World. When you sell an ebook there, you upload a word document with certain styling particularities (Coker recommends Microsoft Word, but I'm going to attempt this with Open Office). One example is not using the shift key to indent a paragraph. It's all fairly easy to do, and I think it's made easier that I have some experience with HTML, which isn't used here, but which I have used with documents, giving me experience with documents. It's neat.

Once a properly formatted word file is uploaded, Smashwords creates several files from your document using its "meat grinder" technology, which is the reason the formatting process is so particular. Smashwords is trying to streamline a rather complicated, time intensive process, all for free. Some of the new files Smashwords creates are PDFs, RTFs, and Epub. This allows them to sell an ebook through Smashwords itself, or Amazon, Sony, Apple, etc.

At first it was a little daunting. But I took my time and absorbed most of what was said, and even practiced a little on a short story I've written. I like that Smashwords rewards good formatting by allowing only perfectly formatted (or nearly perfect) into their premium catalog. This must (my first impression) separate those authors with an attention to detail—which should certainly show up in their writing—from the rest.

So Smashwords isn't like Scribd, which is practically drag and drop and you're done, but as it was explained to me by my friend, Rodney C. Johnson, Scribd is only selling in word files and PDFs, while Smashwords is doing all of the major distribution formats. In short, Smashwords will hook you up!

I still have questions, but only experience in the process will answer most of them.

I hope to publish my short story, “The Witch Blackstone” on Smashwords this week. It is currently free to read on Scribd and Facebook. I'm not yet sure if it'll be free on Smashwords. I'd like to see how the buying/selling process goes. More experience. But at 1,600 words, it'd be as inexpensive as Smashwords would allow me to have it—or simply free.

Rodney has been a big help to me. He has offered both knowledge and encouragement. Feel free to check out his blog; The Falcon's Crag. If you see a bunch of babes, just scroll down a ways—even if slowly.

Click to read "The Witch Blackstone" for free on Scribd, or find it on Facebook to send me a comment.

If you have any advice on Smashwords, I'd love to hear it. “I r noob” =)

Have a great week!


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7 Responses to Smashwords' Style Guide

  1. Thanks for the info Nova n I m waiting for ur short story!!


    Love
    Mani

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  2. I too await your short story. I hope all goes well and thank you for the info. <3<3<3 Jan

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  3. You are filled with so much information...

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  4. If you don’t use the shift key to indent, what do they recommend?
    And… why are you using Open Office instead of Word Doc. – Just curious about this because I’ve read a number of manuscripts that use the former, as you do. Personally, I like Word. Doc.

    All the best with our writing and publishing!

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  5. Thank you, Debra!

    It said to use the "indent" feature. The "meat grinder" won't read the shifts but it'll pick up the indentation if it's part of the file.

    I don't own Microsoft Word, and I've never had a problem with Open Office, so I've never been properly motivated to upgrade :D

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