I have regretfully given up on this after finding another e-mail from my agent's office suggesting that my mss. are unacceptable to Smashwords in their current (already corrected several times) format. The instructions for changes do not deal with terms I understand. Furthermore, the formatting destroys title page appearance (like caps, larger fonts, and centering), makes it impossible to center chapter titles, objects to more than 3 or 4 paragraph breaks per page (that also affects title pages), objects to setting poetry apart by indenting or centering.  And what is Dashboard?  Text box? 


I should add that I use the tab key a lot to indent. It has become a habit.


The Kindle project may still be alive.  That is in the hands of someone else.


Initial reports suggested that the formatting can be achieved in about 2 hours.  I've already spent at least 20 hours on this.  I assume that the time quoted does not include struggling with the instructions.


Life's too short.

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Thanks, Dan. Yes, I'm frustrated by this -- especially since we've had members tell us it's simple. In my case the situation is aggravated by the fact that I'm going though an agency staff member who also doesn't know and isn't terribly good at communicating so we confuse each other. I do think that there are people who can do this for a moderate amount of money, though at this point I'm wondering if Smashwords has grown up enough yet to handle anything but the simplest text.
Hi I.J.,

I'm sorry this happened and I can understand your frustration. Just reading your posts on your progress inspired me on that book on writing I was gonna do as a free ebook for Smashwords, but the more you wrote what you had to conquer, I decided not to deal with Smashwords. My book's just gonna be a little free guide book so why waste my time? I'll just put it on my site and call it a day and left folks download there.

Yeah, I have come to find out some folks are blowing smoke when it comes to Smashwords. Maybe you could contact an author who has been dealing with them a while and they could help you, if you still want. But I understand if you just don't wanna deal with it. I am also glad to see your approach which seems more honest than others I've heard about SW.

I think that maybe the ones finding it easy are really, really advanced with technology. I mean I'm good with computers and all but probably not formatting issues that it takes to make your book acceptable on SW. So I think some folks might be telling the truth. It might be easier for "them". LOL! But some folks who claim "anyone can put a book up there", nah. I couldn't even get through the SW manual without getting confused.

Hang in there and keep us up to date!

Best Wishes!

Thanks, Stacy. I'm not really technologically up to par, though I've tried this and that (like designing covers for example) and can stick to it for a considerable time. But I'm lousy at reading instructions, and in this case I just don't want to take the time.
The plan is now to go with Kindle on a one-year exclusive and then explore the other venues later.
Seems kind of restricting to go exclusive with Amazon. I've got mine on the Kindle, Nook, Sony and (sometime soonish) Apple readers. No contracts. But your situation may be different. I self-published a flash fiction collection with no intention of bringing in agents or publishers.
Well, Kindle is supposed to promote. It's only for a year. The main reason was that Smashwords made it so hard to upload the novels.
I'm currently in the "early" planning stages of preparing a novel for e-book, starting with Kindle and then (hopefully?) working my way through. I've read all the comments above and couldn't agree more - Dan, you are spot on with your observations about computer guides that don't communicate the info clearly.

I've always found this in the workplace, and usually I create my own tutorial in my own language. For example, when a work colleague verbally tells you the fifty steps required to complete a simple task on screen, no way am I going to remember past the second step. So I will write the steps out, one by one, in a language I can understand and no doubt sounds like Cat-In-The-Hat to someone else, but hey it's often worked for me.

Whether this will help with e-book formatting remains to be seen.

There is an online "dummies" tutorial you might like to check out, Jill Williamson's How To Submit A Book To Kindle and How to Format Manuscript for Kindle using HTML (this should also work on Smashwords) and thus far I'm finding this the easiest to follow. They're easily located on YouTube and other sites by googling.

Good luck to us all, we're going to need it.
Thanks, Ian. It may be easier to deal with Kindle. Smashwords formats for any number of devices and therefore has some differences, I think.
In my case, the Kindle job is being done elsewhere. I don't think it's free, though.
Good luck!
Thank you, Ian!
Benjamin, where/what is a good source of info for those who need an overview of this whole process? Seems like you've had experience. Thanks! John
I used the Smashwords Style Guide to format everything. I used the files generated there to upload to the retailers that Smashwords didn't cover. Like IJ says, it's not a cake walk to get everything formatted. But it's worth it at the end, since you can use those files anywhere.
Benjamin, my biggest problem with Smashwords is that the result looks really bad. For example, they do not accept centering, object to frequent line changes (as on a title page) and do not want such things as all caps and larger fonts. The result looks like a poorly typed ms.
There are other problems as well. My novel contains poetry. Smashwords cannot handle that. I really think they need to work on their system. And presumably the Smashwords setup will then be translated to all the other platforms.
Sorry I didn't see this thread sooner.

The problem is that ebooks are not like paper books. Every device had a different size and look and a very high proportion of users are visually impaired in some way and will crank up the font size.

Fancy layout is BAD in an ebook.

While Amazon will allow more such things, it's still a bad idea. Kindles may all have a similar size screen (or at least a large enough screen not to matter) but many readers of Kindle books are actually reading on their phones or music players.

I have never had a problem with centering a title, and I only use a slightly larger font size for the title - but my experience with ebook publishing overall makes me feel these are luxuries and I would not complain if I couldn't have them.

But this is why it's good to get a professional to do your formatting. Not just a geek who understands format, or a graphic designer who wants to do a pdf. You need an expert in current ebook formats. (I can find you a name if you want.) It's not hard to do, but it must be done right, and by someone who understands the requirements.

(And poetry has always been a nightmare for e-readers. I don't know that there has ever been a satisfying method, but the very worst method is indenting. Well, the second worst, the worst is what Kindle enforces on you - full justification.)



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