Smashwords has some stringent rules that one must follow to publish through their site. It’s free, but you have to prepare your manuscript as carefully as you can. Oddly, the cover is actually a separate file. You need one to publish on Smashwords. The first thing that they tell you to do is make a backup of your book. That’s only good sense. The second thing is to activate show/hide markups marks – this shows the invisible characters like the tab and carriage returns. Then you turn off autocorrect, which can be somewhat unpredictable. Then you eliminate any text boxes. They can cause unpredictable results as well.
The next step is to save the document as a plain text file. This gets rid of all extraneous items the word process adds to the file that pad it. Then you open it in Word (or other word processor) and select all the text in your manuscript, and select the normal style. This ensures that everything is uniform. Set all paragraphs to either block or automatically indented. Be sure not to mix the two, as it looks bad when translated to some eBook formats. Define and set your line spacing so that it is uniform throughout the file. Don’t use tab or spaces for indenting your paragraphs, when not using block style paragraphs. Carefully position any images within the texts – I didn’t have any so I am not truly familiar with this portion of the work. Standardize how you handle text that you want to be centered, font size, and the style formatting for glyphs and symbols, if you use them. I didn’t.
Ensure that you don’t use more than four carriage returns in a row. Set your headers and footers. Set your margins consistently through the work. Be consistent with your heading styles for your chapter headings – it just looks better. Build navigation – this often means creating internal links to the chapters from the front of the file. This means that you can put in the chapters as bookmarks, with a way to return to the table of contents should the reader want to do so. Check each link in your manuscript, those that go to other places in the document as well as those that are external. Add in any blurbs, like a short synopsis or about yourself as the author, or what have you. Then at the front of the piece, place the copyright notice. This is important. Review and double-check everything. You are now ready to upload your book. This process takes only a few hours and can make your publishing process smooth. You will have to wait for Smashwords to review your book before they include it in their premium catalog – that’s what they send to the online booksellers. It’s important to be included as it gets you into more venues where people can buy your book. Once it’s published, check it over again, and make sure that it looks exactly as you want it to look. It’s as simple as that. Then you have to market it, but that’s another blog.