Publishing on Kindle and Smashwords Part 2

Here’s the second part of my how-to.

What you need to know how to do to publish on Smashwords and Kindle:

Know how to look at the formatting codes of your document.

Why? You need to make sure you know if you’ve gotten rid of all your tabs and junk.

Here’s how: Click the backward P thing on your toolbar at the top of the page, just below the menu bar.

Know how to save your book or story as a Word .doc or .rtf file, OR format HTML.

Why? Smashwords prefers a Word .doc or .rtf file. Amazon’s first choice is HTML, but a Word .doc works fine. Smashwords “converts” your document into many formats, including HTML and plain text.

Here’s how: Open your document. Click on the word File in the menu bar at the top of the page. Instead of clicking Save, click Save As. A dialog box will open, letting you choose where you want to save the file and what you want to name it. Toward the bottom of that window is a place where you can choose the file type. Choose Word .doc. Save it. Ta-daaa!

Know how to modify the Normal template.

Why? Word inserts all kinds of stuff you can’t see. Even if you turn on the Show formatting feature, there are codes embedded. So you have to make “normal” be what Smashwords wants it to be. Or, if you want to, you can set up a Style called Smashwords. But I just modified the Normal style.

Here’s how: Click Format, Style and click on Normal. Normal needs to be Times New Roman, 12 point, flush left, single space. You can change all these and more from this dialog box by clicking Modify, Format then selecting Font (to select Times New Roman, 12 point), Paragraph (to make sure your Indents and Spacing settings are Alignment = Left, Outline level = Body Text, Line spacing = Single and Indentation, Special = First line, By = .3).

Know how to turn off the AutoFormat As You Type feature of Word.

Why? Smashwords doesn’t like curly quotes or em or en dashes. Smashwords likes straight quotes and double dashes like this: — Like you get when you type in plain text, like you do in Notepad.

Here’s how: Open Word. On the menu bar, click Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat As You Type. Uncheck any boxes that are checked. Now select the AutoFormat tab in the same dialog box and uncheck any boxes that are checked. Close the box.

Know how to find and replace curly quotes, curly apostrophes and em or en dashes or ellipses. After you change all these to straight quotes, straight apostrophes and double dashes, save the document under another name or in another folder. I have a folder for Smashwords Version and a folder for Amazon Version. The reason for this is that Amazon’s Kindle DOES like curly quotes, etc., and it’s easier to open a curly doc and uncurl it and then save the uncurly version elsewhere than it is to uncurl a doc and replace the curly one and then have to re-curl it for Amazon. Never mind. Just do like I’m telling you. You want a document with the pretty punctuation for Amazon and a document with the straight punctuation for Smashwords. That’s how it works for me, anyway.

Why? I told you already–Smashwords doesn’t like curly quotes or em or en dashes. Smashwords likes straight quotes and double dashes like you get when you type in plain text, like you do in Notepad and triple-dot ellipses(…) not real ellipses (…).

Here’s how if your document has pretty punctuation and you need to make it plain for Smashwords: Highlight a curly quotation mark then click Edit, Replace. The fancy quote mark should be in the Find what place. Type a quotation mark in the Replace with place. Click Replace All. If this doesn’t take care of the opening quote mark AND the closing quote mark, select the one it didn’t fix and repeat. Do the same to replace curly apostrophes with straight ones and solid dashes with double dashes.

Here’s how if your document has straight quotes/apostrophes and double dashes and you want to replace them with fancy punctuation: Go into Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat As You Type and AutoFormat and CHECK the boxes for “straight quotes” with”smart quotes” and Symbol characters with symbols. Then highlight one of your straight quotes, click on Edit, Replace and type a quotation mark into the Replace with place. Repeat with apostrophe and dash.

DON’T depend on a page break to make a new page. I mean, it’s okay to do that–Kindle will understand–but ALSO hit enter (make new paragraph) a couple of times before the page break. Otherwise, the Smashwords formats that don’t recognize the Page Break command won’t put any break between the last paragraph you want on a page and the first paragraph you want on the next page. Some formats don’t do pages–it’s all one solid document. And they said scrolls were a thing of the past.

DON’T get frustrated if you can’t make your pages look like you want them to. They won’t look the same in the various formats. They just won’t. Just remember to hit enter a couple of times before you insert a hard page break.

DON’T space down a bunch of times to isolate text on a page. No more than four space-downs, or your readers will get blank pages, and they don’t want blank pages.

DO remember, when publishing on Kindle, to click SAVE ENTRIES at each stage of publishing.

Although Smashwords tells you to enter the price of your book giving the example $0.99USD, DON’T enter it that way. Enter 0.99 or 1.00 or 5.64 or whatever you want to charge, without the dollar sign and without the USD.

Well, that’s about all I can think of. It’s really pretty easy. I mean, if I can do it, you can do it. If there’s anything I didn’t cover and that wasn’t covered by the Amazon and Smashwords FAQs, ask about it or share your answers.

WRITING PROMPT: A character gets a new Kindle and downloads some random free and inexpensive books. When he/she opens one to read it, the book is startling or alarming or infuriating. Why?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Publishing on Kindle and Smashwords Part 2

  1. Stacy Juba

    July 26, 2010 at 9:03am

    Marian, this is an amazing post. Having just published on Smashwords and Kindle myself, I can say that this post will be extremely valuable to anyone considering it and will greatly help them through the process.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 26, 2010 at 9:38am

      If you have any tricks and tips you learned in the process, I’d love to pass them on! Let me know if you do a post of your own on the subject, leave your additions or amendments in the comments here, or do a guest post for me. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Nancy Williams

    July 28, 2010 at 1:50am

    I know you said this is easy, but it sure looks like a headache to me. I’ve spent over a week on my manuscript with a fine tooth comb and I think it will take another two weeks to get this done. Well…the good news is, once I learn I should know it.
    Thanks for going into so much detail.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 28, 2010 at 8:56am

      Nancy, you’re exactly right! It is a headache, and it does take a long time to find all the glitches, but it’s like picking burrs out of the cat’s fur: it isn’t difficult, but it takes time and patience and attention. You’re also right that, once you’ve got a handle on all the things that need to be attended to, it’s easier every time. 🙂

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  3. Stephen Tremp

    July 28, 2010 at 8:05pm

    I’ll save these two blogs to my Favorites. I’m not very good at formatting with Word so this is a big help. I’m sure I’ll include these links in future blogs of mine conserning Smashwords and Kindle.

    Stephen Tremp

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 29, 2010 at 8:21am

      Hope it’s of some value. I wish Word had a better window into it’s behind-the-scenes formatting, like WordPerfect did, back when I had WordPerfect. It really helped, being able to SEE, in detail, what that little backward P included, and be able to change that right there on the screen. The dear, dead days….

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  4. Bob Sanchez

    July 28, 2010 at 9:22pm

    Thanks for the informative posts, Marian. It’s excellent info.

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  5. Sharon Henegar

    February 28, 2011 at 10:34am

    Thanks a heap for these two great posts. I’m giving a talk about ebook publishing at a literacy conference on Saturday, and it’s been a few months since I published my own book. I’ll be sharing your clear and good-natured instructions, since my brain had gratefully let go of all the details!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 28, 2011 at 11:03am

      Thanks, Sharon. Please do pass around the instructions. I hope they’re of some help. I know how daunting it is to read the instructions and not know what they’re talking about, let alone how to follow them. 😉

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  6. Earl Staggs

    May 8, 2011 at 7:24am

    Gee, Marian, I wish I’d seen this wonderful information before I spent a bazillion years doing Smashwords by the trial and error method. (Kindle was a slice of pie in comparison.) I thought I’d die getting through Smashwords, mainly because I didn’t know the lingo. (What the heck is a pixel anyway?!) Now I’m ready to take on CreateSpace. If I don’t survive this challenge, it’s been nice knowing you.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 8, 2011 at 9:16am

      Earl, it’s the lingo that gets you, isn’t it? That’s why I went pretty basic with these posts. I was trying to explain to a friend how to format for Smashwords, and her eyes glazed over and I realized I might as well have been talking Martian (in which I am quite fluent, by the way). And a pixel is something like a fairy, Ithink.

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  7. Lakshmi

    July 3, 2011 at 1:39pm

    Very informative post. I wish I knew it before publishing my work at smashwords. I could have saved some time.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 3, 2011 at 1:58pm

      When I was going through the Smashwords instructions, it occurred to me that I was lucky I understood what they were talking about, because some of the instructions assumed knowledge that not everybody has had to learn. So I thought it might be a kindness to explain things to people who have never had to “look under the hood” of Word before. I’m glad you found it a useful piece.

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  8. Holly Jahangiri

    November 27, 2011 at 2:02pm

    “Backwards P thing”?? Marian, seriously – what writers out there don’t know that’s a paragraph symbol?

    ::groan:: OK, please don’t answer that. It was a rhetorical question.

    VERY helpful post. Ever considered a career as a tech writer?

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 27, 2011 at 3:01pm

      But how many writers know it’s also known as a pilcrow, paraph, alinea, or blind P?

      Tech writer…. Maybe on Llannonn.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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