By Colin Dunbar
Special thanks to Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords for his permission to use the material in this post.
Front Matter and Back Matter
The front matter for your Smashwords ebook is simpler than the front matter for hard copy books, but is nevertheless important.
The following from the Smashwords Style Guide: “Try to keep your front matter brief. Most retailers only make the first 5-10% of your book available as a free sample, so if your front matter is long, it might prevent readers from getting a free sample.”
NOTE: Front-of-the-book blurbs (testimonials) are not required for inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. In fact, there’s a potential downside to this step. If you add too much testimonial content to the front of your book, it can actually decrease readership because the reader doesn’t want to scroll multiple pages to start reading. If you add blurbs, keep them brief (see example below). IMPORTANT! Remember that many retailers have less generous sampling percentages than Smashwords, so if you add too much blurb content up front, a sample of your book won’t include any of your book’s content.
If you add blurbs, put them at the very front of the book, before the Title & Copyright page. If your book has received rave reviews from readers, consider adding a couple short snippets on the first page, so readers who sample your book will feel more inclined to purchase it. These should be real, honest reviews. If you falsify the reviews and your reader feels tricked, they may seek retribution by giving you a bad review on Smashwords or at the retailer’s store. Nothing kills a book faster than bad reviews.
These are blurbs in Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles:
Title and Copyright Page (REQUIRED)
On the first page of your book (unless you add the blurbs above), insert a Title and Copyright page. This page will look best if you center it.
This page is required to publish at Smashwords. The copyright portion should be in English, even if the rest of your book is written in another language (it’s okay to list it in the book’s language too).
On this page you identify yourself as the author and claim copyright ownership of your book (if you’re not the original author, or you’re not the exclusive publisher or distributor of this book, your book does not belong on Smashwords. Public domain books are not allowed unless you are the original author. Private Label Rights articles and other similarly scammy works are not allowed).
TIP: Your title/copyright page is the first impression you make on your reader. Make it look professional. Center the title and copyright page (see this post to center the text). If you’re centering the text on this page, do not use any first line indents. Also base your text on Word’s “Normal” paragraph style (or a custom paragraph style based on Normal), and don’t use more than two different font sizes.
Your ebook is published by you (the author or publisher) at Smashwords. It should say either Smashwords Edition on the copyright page, or “Published by [Authorname] at Smashwords,” (remove the quote marks), or, if you’re a multi-author publisher, Published by [the name of the publisher publishing it on Smashwords] at Smashwords. Although some Smashwords authors consider Smashwords their publisher, we consider you the publisher. Smashwords is your ebook publishing and distribution platform (see examples below).
Avoid long copyright pages. Shorter is better because it allows the reader to start reading your book’s content faster.
A title/copyright page requires the following:
Example Title Page
Second Example Title Page
IMPORTANT! Do not write “Kindle Edition” or “Ebook available in the Apple iBookstore;” otherwise it won’t qualify for the Premium Catalog. This is your Smashwords Edition. Also don’t write, “Printed in the United States,” because this is your Smashwords ebook, not your print edition. Don’t confuse readers.
As a courtesy to ebook retailers who promote and sell your Smashwords Premium Catalog titles, please restrict your hyperlinks to only your Smashwords author page and book pages, or your personal home page or blog. Do not add hyperlinks to online ebook retailers that may compete with current or future Smashwords retail distribution partners.
It’s not considerate, for example, to advertise your Kindle or Apple ebook in your ebook if it’s sold at Barnes & Noble. Such advertising will only alienate your retail partners, confuse your customers, and will cause a retailer to remove your book from their catalog.
If your book is also available in a print edition, rather than naming retailers, just write: “This book is available in print at most online retailers.”
Add a Smashwords License Statement below Copyright Page
All Smashwords books are sold DRM-free, without copy protection or encryption. This means you’re trusting your customers not to pirate your books. The following from Smashwords: “In our experience, the vast majority of customers are honest. Yet without proper education and reminders, a well-intentioned customer might feel inclined to share your book with someone else.”
To minimize this accidental piracy, Smashwords encourage their authors and publishers to add the Smashwords License Statement to their book. The Smashwords License Statement is an original creation of Smashwords, and it has been widely adopted by thousands of ebook authors and even some competitors. The Smashwords License Statement acts as a Trojan horse. Even if your book is accidentally copied or shared, the recipient of the book is gently reminded of their legal and ethical obligation to compensate you for it.
To use it for your book, add the following text to the title page or copyright pages of books that carry a price:
Smashwords License Agreement
If your book is free, it should still have a license statement. It’s up to you. Do you want to grant readers the right to redistribute the book for non-commercial purposes, or do you want to restrict the book to their enjoyment only and invite them to ask others to download the book on their own at Smashwords? Here are two potential suggested license statements for free books:
The End of Your Book
Most authors end their book with a period, and then give the reader nothing more. Don’t squander this opportunity. If your reader makes it to the end of the book, reward them!
First, add a ### centered on the next line to signify the end.
Next, consider adding a personal message. Put yourself into the mind of the reader.
They just finished your book. They loved it. They think the author (that’s you!) is absolutely fabulous. They want to read more of your material. This is an opportunity to connect with the reader. You have various options. How about adding:
* Remember to make the hyperlinks “live” by highlighting the text you want to hyperlink, right-mouse click on the text, then insert the http:// hyperlink. Link directly to your personal book page at Smashwords. Make it easy for your readers to learn more about you.
The following errors may prevent your book from gaining inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog:
- more than 4 consecutive paragraph returns in a row (creates blank ebook pages)
- tabs (eliminate all tabs, which you created by pressing the “Tab” key)
- extra paragraph returns between paragraphs in an attempt to create a blank line
- exotic fonts (instead stick with Times New Roman, Garamond and Arial; these are time tested fonts and you can’t go wrong with them)
- large font sizes (11 or 12pt is best, 14pt is a recommended maximum)
- indents made with space bar spaces or tabs (the most common bad habit of all authors)
- text in columns (Smashwords don’t support columns)
- text in tables (Smashwords don’t handle tables. Import tables as images)
- text in text boxes (Smashwords don’t support text boxes.)
- multiple text or paragraph styles for your body (for example, don’t mix Normal style with Body Text style)
- automatic footnotes (Smashwords don’t support automatic footnotes – may cause the conversion to fail)
- text wrapped around floating images (instead, right-click on the image, choose the Format Picture option: Advanced: In Line with Text, then use Word’s center button to center)
- and finally, to avoid the copyright error, carefully follow steps for the Copyright page
Be honest, that wasn’t so tough, was it?
“Congratulations! You’ve carefully studied and implemented the formatting instructions in these posts, and now your formatting fun comes to a close. Now you turn your attention to final preparations as you prepare to unleash your masterpiece upon the world.” – Smashwords Style Guide.
That takes care of the formatting of your book: the hard copy, PDF ebook, Kindle, and your Smashwords ebook.
Starting with the next post we look at uploading your book to the main online publishers: CreateSpace, Amazon, and Smashwords.
Take a break – you’ve earned it.