I love Smashwords. It’s free, they give you step-by-step guides for how to do things and they distribute my stuff to most of the other retailers so I can manage my eBooks from a single interface.
Their meat-grinder (the way they turn your eBook into all the different formats various retailers require) is a bit clunky. I’ve learned so much over the last couple of weeks of mass uploading children’s’ anthologies, and I thought I’d share five of my favourites:
- Do not use the words ‘Prologue’, ‘Chapter’, ‘Part’, or ‘Epilogue’ in any of your headings unless you really want a page break.
It turns out children writing 2000 word stories really like breaking their work into parts and chapters, which makes a total mess of the eBook, so this year I am outlawing all of these words in their section headings.
- The auto-generated table of contents doesn’t work.
Apparently the meat-grinder will only accept manual TOCs, built with hyperlinks and bookmarks. This process makes up about half of my total formatting time, but there you have it.
- Word your bookmarks carefully
Any special characters will break your bookmarks (e.g. * ( ‘ etc). Also, the bookmark won’t work if it is too long. Some children like very long titles, and I’ve had to chop a lot of them down to four or five words at the most.
- Be careful with pictures!
Make sure you make them ‘non-wrapping’, or they will mess with your formatting.
- There is no obvious way to include additional authors in the eBook metadata, so I’ve been including a list of authors and their stories in the long description. (This is still an open question for me – is there a better way of tagging the authors included in anthologies?)
If your interested in reading the children’s’ anthologies, they’re available free here at Smashwords (or at your favourite eBook retailer).