Friday, 26 August 2011

How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords

How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords

I currently own two coffee mugs. Okay actually there are half a dozen in my house, I just only use two (and before you go eww, I do so wash them!) One is my 'working' coffee mug. It is a normal everyday mug, dark blue with white speckles which are bright enough I can spot the cup in the dark, which is useful for when I am writing furiously and night falls and I am too lazy to flip on the light switch, I can still fill the mug. I have had it for years.

The other is my travel mug. I have also had this one for years. It is huge, holds about three regular sized cups of coffee, an insulated travel mug which will never fit into any standard size cup holder, or any of those fancy 'installs in seconds!' coffee holders you can buy. I have also had this one for years, my father bought it for me when I was twelve. We were driving cross country and 7-11 had some promotion, buy the mug for 4.99 and get a free refill whenever you brought the cup into a 7-11, so he bought a mug for each of us and we filled up whenever we passed through a town for gas that weekend.

Unfortunately, I have had it for years, and I've noticed the last few times I've used it (okay, the last dozen times at least) the seal where the lid screws on is leaking, which I've been reminded of the hard way once or twice. Clearly, this mug needs to be replaced. Or um, I can't travel?

Okay, before I say anything else, despite the title, this blog is actually being posted for one reason and one reason alone. I want a new coffee mug, I want one that is shiny silver with actual real silver used in the ink it is decorated with. This blog post should be titled something more along the lines of: I want a new coffee mug.

You see, smashwords is offering coffee mugs if you post a blog about how to publish an ebook through them, because clearly, someone who likes caffeine decided to spend their advertising budget, and the direction of their energies, into getting a whole bunch of coffee mugs.

If you are reading this I am sure you know, but smashwords is one of those do-it-yourself internet based ebook publishers, which exists for those of us who can't get mainstream publishing but still have something they want to get out there for everyone to read and enjoy.

So here is a quick little post about how to publish on smashwords, quick, easy, without any muss or fuss. Before I go into that I will just point out I am not much of a blogger, because I really don't understand people's fascination with sharing every boring moment of their lives, so don't expect too much of me.

But, here are the (I'll insert the number in a moment) five (yes, there's the number) five secrets to putting a book on smashwords in a short amount of time.

1) Set up an account at

It is free, easy and takes very little time. Quite painless even if you know little to nothing about computers (like me) I promise. It is so easy I actually have books on smashwords, (warning, self advertising!)

Here's my profile on smashwords (nothing special I warn you):

As for my books...

You can take a look at them here:

This one is free:

This is the first one I put on smashwords:

And this one here is an adaptation from one of my screenplays:

Oh, and here's a picture for you to enjoy, because like I said, smashwords spent their advertising budget on coffee mugs (which I want!)

2) Write a book. If you have already done that, make sure you have a computer based file of it, preferably saved in either .rtf or even better, Microsoft word .doc format.

3) Download the smashwords style guide here:

Again it is free, quick and easy to read and follow. But make sure you have Adobe or something similar.

4) Read the style guide and follow the steps in it religiously. This will ensure your file has less (not none, never none I'm warning you) but less trouble with the smashwords conversion program, which someone thought it would be fun to call meatgrinder (see, I warned you, never none!)

If you follow the style guide exactly, and you don't have anything fancy in your book, you should have your work published in under an hour, from setting up an account to having something people can buy.

5) You can sit back and wait, or you can promote yourself though blogs, facebook whatever else takes your fancy.

Okay, really that was four secrets with an extra one at the end for what you can do when you are done. If you want some real tips and secrets read this carefully. Make your .doc file from scratch, no copying and pasting from say, an upload to lulu you had elsewhere, use the original, clean I hope, file. You would be amazed what gets tagged into a file from other sources, which will mess up your .doc file. Use no more than two or three different styles in your document, I would suggest one style for the text and another for chapter headings. And make sure you have no headers or footers. They mess meatgrinder up but good.

If you must use pictures remember to use the 'insert picture' tab on your writing program, instead of anything weird. And even then, be ready for disappointment.

So in conclusion, I really really want a coffee mug Mark!

(I really really do!)