Format Book in Word: Publishing to Smashwords

By Colin Dunbar

Self-publishing your book to Smashwords is very easy. It takes a few minutes to fill in your details and upload your files. Your book is then immediately available in the Smashwords store. To have your book available at the retailers, Smashwords says: “We ship to most retailers seven days per week, and many receive multiple shipments daily. Once we ship your book to a retailer, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a week before it appears on their digital shelves.”

Before you open the Smashwords site, you should have the following readily available:

  • Your formatted Word file (maximum file size 10 MB)
  • Book title (250 characters)
  • Your cover image (maximum file size 20 MB) JPEG or PNG
  • Your long book description (4000 characters or less, including spaces)
  • Your short book description (400 characters or less)
  • Know the category for your book (or have a good idea)
  • Keywords (choose up to ten); Smashwords combine 2-word keywords, e.g. self-publishing becomes selfpublishing.
  • Your financial information (for your royalty payments)

Have the above in a text file, then you can just copy and paste when you upload your information and files.
There are 8 steps to upload your ebook files to Smashwords.

The steps are…

  1. Title and synopsis
  2. Pricing and sampling
  3. Categorization
  4. Tags (keywords)
  5. Ebook formats
  6. Cover image
  7. Select file of book to publish
  8. Publishing agreement

Got all the goodies?

Let’s publish…

Create your free Smashwords account here:, or if you already have an account, log in to your account.


After you sign in, the Smashwords home page will display.

Click the Dashboard link to open the dashboard.


On the Dashboard page, click the Publish link.

This is where you are going add the details of your book, and upload your book files.

1. Title and synopsis


Type (or copy) your title in the Title field.

If your book is ready to be published now, click the first radio button (For immediate release).

If you going to make use of the pre-order option, click the second radio button (Make it a preorder)


The next section (Synopsis) is your book descriptions.

Type or paste your Long description and Short description in the relevant text boxes.


If your book is in a language other than English choose the language from the drop-down menu. If your book is written in English, you also have the option of choosing a specific dialect.


2. Pricing and sampling

Next you choose the price of your book.

If you choose a fixed price, click the radio button adjacent to Charge a specific amount for my book. Three graphs will display indicating the different royalties that you will earn, based on the price of your book.


The last part of this section is the sampling percentage you want to offer your prospective customers. This is the amount of your book they can read free, before buying it.

Note this: “Sampling is a requirement if you want your book distributed in major mobile app catalogs such as Aldiko, which collectively have over 5 million users.”


3. Categorization

The categorization section is where you choose the category(ies) for your book.

Choose the Primary Category.

When you click the first category option, further categories display. Choose from this list by clicking on the category name.


And then at the end of the list, there are further choices.


You then also have an optional Secondary Category.

And that works the same as the Primary category.


The last part of this section is to indicate whether your book contains adult content or not. Click the relevant radio button.


4. Tags (keywords)

Click in the field adjacent to the Add Tag button, start typing your keyword, and a list of suggested keywords will display (see below).

Add all 10 keywords.

If all your keywords are on the list, you can click the keyword in the list, and it will be added.


5. Ebook formats

Choose the formats you want to publish your ebook in. I usually choose all the formats, as Smashwords advises: “The more formats you allow, the more choice you allow your readers.”


6. Cover image

Click the Browse button, select your image on your computer and upload it.

Heed the advice from Smashwords: “Do not upload your book without a professional cover image.” Your book will be judged by its cover :o).

When your file is uploaded, the file name of your image will display adjacent to the Browse button.


7. Select file of book to publish

Click the Browse button, select your book file (Word .doc) on your computer and upload it.

When your file is uploaded, the file name of your book file will display adjacent to the Browse button.


8. Publishing agreement

All that remains now is to click the checkbox, that you agree to the Terms of Service, and then click the Publish Immediately button (unless you’re making use of the pre-order option).


You’re done.

The screen will display. Depending on the file size of your cover and book file, this may take a few minutes.


When your book is successfully uploaded, the following screen will display.


You can now view your uploaded book, and check to see that everything is as it should be.
Your book is published to Smashwords!

Feels great, hey?

If you view your uploaded book, a screen similar to the following will display.


Even if you have your ISBN in your book, you will need to add your ISBN at the Smashwords ISBN Manager. This is done easily – click the ISBN Manager link, and follow the steps on the site.

If you have followed the steps on formatting your Smashwords ebook closely, you should not have any errors. If there are errors, fix them in your Word file, and re-upload the file, using the Upload new version link (see below).


You will receive an e-mail from Smashwords within minutes of uploading your book files.

The subject line will be similar to this (it’s quite a long mail):

Book Conversion Results: The Little Book of Encouragement for Aspiring Self-Publishers

If you had errors, corrected them and re-uploaded your file, you will receive another confirmation mail, with the same subject line.

And lastly, if you added an ISBN, you will receive another mail confirming this. The subject line will be similar to this:

Smashwords ISBN Assignment Confirmation: The Little Book of Encouragement for Aspiring Self-Publishers

We’re getting close to the end… you’re nearly done formatting and uploading all three versions of your book: Hard copy, Kindle, and Smashwords.

How does it feel?

See you next time for uploading to CreateSpace.

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