Smashwords Formatting


Amazon might be the first name when someone thinks of eBook distribution, but Smashwords is still a major entity worth pursuing. Making use of their system, Meatgrinder, our team will format a Word document to the standards of Smashwords, so you can then upload your book on all other non-Amazon markets.

Should I do both Smashwords and Amazon?

Amazon is the biggest distributor of eBooks on the market. Likewise, Kindle is the top eReader on the market. It makes sense that you want your book on Amazon, but should you also do it on Smashwords?


I won’t tell you whether you should (or shouldn’t) opt into KDP Select. Just know that if you do, you cannot release it on Smashwords. If you don’t, you can release it on both.

Why release it on Smashwords if Amazon is such a giant? Because not all of your potential readers will have a Kindle. Some will have a Nook, others will have an iPad. There are many kinds of readers out there, and Smashwords distributes to the following retailers and libraries:


There is bound to be someone using one of these sites that wants to read your book. Wouldn’t it be great if they could find your book?

What do you need from the writer?

To design your story for Smashwords and to be featured on the Premium Catalog, we need you to format a Word document that shows how you would prefer it to appear in an eBook. After receiving your document, we will calculate our fee, and send you a Service Agreement.

Once we receive your signed Service Agreement, we will then format your Word document to the Smashword standards. Given the nature of eReaders, your story may not appear exactly as you want it across different devices, as they each have their own way of displaying the same information.

More than that, there are some best practices that we will do for your eBook, such as having a space between each paragraph and not using a tab for each paragraph. If you prefer the tab, then we remove the space between each paragraph, though we’d recommend not using tab for eBooks.

You can also send us your cover image, but you are not required to. Part of this service will ensure that your cover is configured to the standard of Smashwords.

How much does it cost?

After Editing and a getting a Cover for your book, we know the last thing you want to do is spend more money. For this reason, we offer this service for as low as we can. Once you have finalized your book (whether it was edited by us or a third party), we will charge $0.50 per page of your book for formatting. If your book is 100 pages, then it’ll cost you $50. This will be reflected in your Service Agreement.

There is an additional fee for images. While your book cover is part of the fee up above, if you have images used throughout your book, we have to do additional steps to make sure the book flows correctly. The difficulty with eBooks is that a user can resize the book how they desire.

Small to medium images will cost $0.25 each.
Large images will cost $0.50 each.

You can also make use of Flourishes for your book, but for eBooks, they start at a price of $0.25 each.

How should I format my cover image?

For Smashwords, it requires a JPEG image format, no larger than 5mb with an image resolution of 1600×2400.

For us to properly configure for both Amazon and Smashwords, it is best to send us an image at 2820×4500.

That seems quite big, but it is necessary to cover all the different kinds of readers on the market. Ever try taking a small image and blowing it up a large size? It’s not pretty.



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We will ensure that the file size for your cover is as low as possible, without compromising the quality, in order to reduce the download size for the formats you can get on Smashwords.

If you do not have a cover image, we do provide a service for that.

Why don’t you hand code an epub file like you do with mobi files?

As much of a big deal I make with hand coding *.mobi files, you would think that I would prefer to do the same with *.epub files. Truthfully, I would want to hand code *.epub files, but it’s not that simple.

*.epub is quite different than *.mobi. *.mobi was designed by kindle to work on their devices only. *.epub is an open standard that many different devices use. Unlike *.mobi, *.epub requires validation from a tool called Epubchecker. However, due to it being an open standard, there isn’t a single solution out there on how to make *.epub files, and even the Smashwords Style guide isn’t a great deal of help. Often, the Epubchecker comes up with errors. Some errors are easily solved, others are quite difficult to understand.

Many have tried to create an *.epub file to pass the checker and Smashwords, but very few have succeeded. Even big publishing houses have difficulty. Due to this difficulty, it is often better to use a Word file. As I mentioned on the Amazon Formatting page, Word has a tendency to add extra content to a document. In order to fix those invisible edits, extra steps are required by us to make sure the document is exactly as you need it to be.

There’s another reason to use a Word document. As mentioned above, Smashwords distributes to many retailers and libraries. Not all of them use *.epub. If you upload using just *.epub, then you miss out on distributing to some of those who don’t use that format. By using Word, Meatgrinder can distribute to all markets.

Couldn’t I just format my own Word document for Smashwords?

Yes, you can. You can get a guide and do it yourself. But like hand coding an eBook, it is a tedious process. You literally have to go line-by-line to make sure that the entire document is formatted the way Smashwords needs it to be. It’s quite a bit of work to do, especially when you are trying to prevent Microsoft Word from adding extra elements to your document that can interfere with your final product.

If you wish to save money on this, feel free to try it yourself. However, it is time consuming and if you feel your time is better spent with another aspect of your writing career, I would urge you to consider hiring us to do this for you.

Can you include page numbers or specialized font?

You technically can, but you shouldn’t. The way an eReader works, any book can be resized and use whatever font comes with that particular reader. Since the size of words can change, it can relatively increase, or decrease, the total number of pages of your book. So any page numbers you have would be useless. More than that, the page number wouldn’t always appear on the bottom of the page.

You may desire to use a special font for your book. The font may not be available for the eReader. Even if the font is available, a reader may dislike that they are forced to use a font that they don’t particularly like, and stop reading your book. This is why it is best to let the reader decide how to display your book.

If I make changes to my story (or find errors) after you format my eBook, can you still update it?

Yes. That’s not too difficult to do.

If, for instance, after you release your book, you find that you need to add something (or take away something), we would be able to take the file and edit the parts you need us to. However, we will only edit 1% of the book within the first 45 days after giving you the file. If your book is 200 pages, then we will only change up to two pages worth before charging you.

Why 1%? This 45-day offer is only meant for touch-ups. When we say two pages worth, we’re actually counting total words. For us, we measure a page as 300 words. So two pages worth, is 600 words. If we are only doing minor corrections here and there, then you will most likely not reach 600 words. Anything more than that, we are basically doing a rewrite of your eBook.

Whether we are removing words, or adding words, it counts towards this total.

If you discover a mistake we made, you have up to 30 days to let us know, and we can correct it free of charge. We recommend that you thoroughly look through the file when you first get it to verify it is exactly what you want. If, however, you forgot to tell us something that you initially wanted, this doesn’t count as our error, as we had no way of knowing that.

Additionally, if Smashwords tells you that your upload has an error on it, we will fix that for you. You should know within the first week, but sometimes they can get backed up. We would need a screenshot of your book with the error they have listed, along with any additional information they provide. We will look into it and determine if this was an error on our end or not. If it is, we will fix it.

I use the phrase ‘if this was an error on our end’, because it is possible that if you receive the file from us, open it up and then save it, Microsoft could add something to the document. While we encourage you to look through and make sure we got everything we need; we STRONGLY encourage that when you upload to Smashwords, you upload the file we gave you, only. Download the file again from your email and then upload that to Smashwords as a precaution.

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