When I first decided to publish my own book, I investigated Smashwords and liked what I saw. Then, feeling a little intimidated, I went with Amazon.com’s KDP program instead. I did well at Amazon and am very pleased with their program, but really wanted to branch out and see what else was available for Indie authors. So when my KDP Select 90 exclusive with Amazon expired for Elementary Magic I decided to try Smashwords as well.
I can’t say enough about how incredibly easy it was to format and publish on Smashwords! Because I had read their formatting guide before I completed my final edit on Elementary Magic, I did what they called a “Nuclear Format” and wiped out all of my formatting – INTENTIONALLY – then went back and followed their formatting guide and redid my book while I edited it. This was the version I uploaded to Amazon (without the Smashwords front matter) and my formatting on Kindle was good because of this. I was way ahead of the game for formatting on Smashwords because of this and I did a final format in about 2 hours last weekend in preparation for uploading it today. I even followed their instructions for hyperlinking my chapters and “about the author” section and it worked (go, me!) on the first shot.
I was so inspired by the ease of the Smashwords format that I reformatted for Amazon and uploaded the HTML file this morning to fix some of the annoying formatting issues I found when I downloaded my own book to my Kindle. Amazon has a great program, but I think it should be clearer that if you upload an HTML file it’s much cleaner and it doesn’t automatically indent quick dialogue sections in HTML like it does when you upload a “.doc” file. I discovered that on the Kindle boards and a HUGE shout out to those other authors who recommended the HTML trick!
So here’s my advice for the newbie author who’s a little nervous about clicking the button: Download the Smashwords Formatting guide (it’s free) and set up your documents according to their suggestions (chapter headings, first line indents, font, etc.) and write away. Then, when you’re finished editing and you have a good cover design, save two copies of your book. Name one Amazon Format and one Smashwords Format. Try Amazon’s KDP program and get some good feedback about your book. Then definitely put it on Smashwords and don’t be intimidated. Both companies are simple, fast, and offer support through their own sites that will have you up and downloadable in no time.