Do you have a question about how to read the ebooks we sell, or about buying ebooks? Then you may want to visit our Reader FAQ instead. If you are an author interested in publishing your ebook, see our guide on how to publish your ebook on Smashwords.

Smashwords FAQ for Authors and Publishers


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions


Looking for information about the merger between Smashwords and Draft2Digital, and what it means for authors, publishers, and customers of Smashwords?  Visit


How to use this FAQ:  This FAQ covers common questions related to publishing, distributing, and selling ebooks through Smashwords.  In March 2023, Smashwords stopped accepting new publishing accounts.   Current Smashwords authors and publishers will retain access to their Smashwords Dashboard and tools, and access to this FAQ, until sometime later in 2024 when we migrate all publishing operations over to Draft2Digital.  The main FAQ on the Smashwords website is now reader-centric, consistent with our transition to becoming an online retailer only.   Thank you Smashwords authors and publishers for your continued support as we work to bring these two companies together to create better futures for all of us, you first and foremost.  

Click the item to find your answers:

Getting Started

How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords

New to Publishing?  Watch our online video workshops!
How Smashwords Works (Introduction to Publishing on Smashwords)
Pricing and sampling
DRM and piracy
Copyright explained
Preparing Your Book for Smashwords (before you upload)
Book cover requirements
Publishing your Book at Smashwords
Preorders (how to set up)
Presales (how to set up)
Multi-author box sets (how to set up)
How to credit multiple co-authors in the metadata
Problems uploading (troubleshooting)
Audiobooks (how to produce and distribute with Smashwords)
Fixing Common Formatting Errors
Fixing the AutoVetter "copyright error" message
Nuclear option/asking for help
ISBNs: Everything You Need to Know
Smashwords Dashboard: Manage Your Book Here
Selling Ebooks at the Smashwords Store


Distributing Via Smashwords (Apple, B&N, OverDrive, Everand, Kobo, Gardners and more)

Correcting retailer listing errors (improper pricing, missing metadata)
Distributing to Apple Books (+ how to find books there)
Special considerations for erotica authors


Author and Book Marketing

Smashwords Affiliate Program

GETTING PAID: Earnings and Payment Schedules

Getting Paid outside the US

Privacy and Security

Other Questions

How can I help support Smashwords and its authors?
How do I change the email address for my Smashwords account?
How do I close my Smashwords account?

Glossary of Ebook Terminology



Getting Started with Smashwords


What's the story behind Smashwords?
Mark Coker came up with the idea for Smashwords in 2015 after co-writing the novel, Boob Tube, with his wife Lesleyann.  Despite representation by one of the most famous literary agencies in New York, publishers refused to buy it.  Publishers were reluctant to take a chance on it because previous novels that targeted the same type of reader - daytime television soap opera fans - had sold poorly.  Mark thought it was wrong that a small number of gatekeepers had the power to censor not only what writers could publish, but also what readers could read.  By 2017, the business plan was complete and development began.  In 2018, Smashwords launched with the first ebook publishing platform allow any writer, anywhere in the world, to self-publish an ebook at no cost.  Since authors needed the ability to sell their ebook, we created the ability to sell in what became the Smashwords Store.

In 2009, after experiencing how poorly our authors' books were selling in a dinky online bookstore with a strange name no one had ever heard of, we decided to become an ebook distributor.  Ingram, the world's largest book distributor, offered ebook distribution to retailers, but only to the large publishers.  Self published authors didn't have a way to get their ebooks in stores.  So we decided to try to become the Ingram of self published ebook distribution.  We laughed at ourselves - at our own audacity to pursue such a lofty goal - and went for it.  By the end of that first year, we had opened up Barnes & Noble to self-published ebooks for the first time, and then Sony.  As soon as our books hit distribution, they began selling. And then along came Apple, OverDrive, Everand (formerly Scribd), and many other great partners we continue to love and support to this day.   So from about 2009 onward, our primary focus became building a great distribution network.  It's fair to say we gave our own little bookstore, Smashwords, short shrift.  Sure, we'd add fun author-friendly and reader-friendly features as the mood struck, but it wasn't our main business, and it's not where our authors were selling the most books.  Despite the neglect, sales started growing as authors and readers alike decided to transact more of their sales at Smashwords as opposed to at other retailers.  Maybe because our store has always offered the industry's highest royalty rates.  Or maybe some of them started earning more at the Smashwords Store than at other "major" retailers.  Or maybe people were starting to discover all our other awesomesauces.  Who knows.  Neverthess, 2022 marked the store's sixth consecutive year of sales growth during a period which has pretty lackluster for other majors because uhm, we would know.  Hmm...  maybe it's time to give this little store some love?

If we transport back in time to March 2022, it was a momentous month; it was the month Draft2Digital, our former competitor, acquired Smashwords.  As part of our plan announced the same day, we shared plans to move all the publishing platform tools now at Smashwords over to Draft2Digital so that Smashwords can become a store-only.

At this writing in March, 2023, the plan is proceeding apace.  Only existing authors and publishers are now allowed to continue utilizing Smashwords' ebook publishing and distribution tools.  Sometime later in 2023, these original author/publisher accounts will move out of Smashwords and over to Draft2Digital.  Such migration will happen slowly and methodically, with advance notice.

Does Mark Coker still work at Draft2Digital?
Yes!  Mark happilly gave up his CEO title and duties to assume the new role as chief strategy officer and board member of the combined companies.  He has two primary responsibilities here:  1.  Long term business planning; preparing Draft2Digital and its authors for long term success.  2.  Overseeing the Smashwords Store; working to make this the most reader-friendly and author-friendly online ebookstore.  Write Mark any time at first initial second initial at smashwords dot com, though please remember he's not a good contact for general support issues.  For general support, click the "?" icon at the top of any Smashwords page.


What is the origin of the name, "Smashwords"?
It's a manufactured name.  It captures the yin and yang (the positive and the negative, both interlinked) of the writing process.  It represents the angst that many writers experience during the creative process of writing, revising and editing.  As any writer will tell you, the writing process can be painful, yet also ecstatically joyous. And finally, after the writer navigates the writing process and releases their finished work, it means "success," such as "Smash hit" or the phrase, "Absolutely Smashing!"



Return to Top


*** *** ***


How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords


How Smashwords Works (Introduction)


How do I publish on Smashwords?
You're already a publisher on Smashwords, otherwise you wouldn't be able to read this.

Is Smashwords' publishing agreement exclusive?
No. It's non-exclusive, so as the original author or exclusive publisher, you maintain all rights to your work and have the freedom to publish anywhere else you like.

Do you pay advances?

Why can't I find any information about what Smashwords costs?
Because we're free!   We work on commission.  We don't charge for our ebook publishing, conversion and distribution services, and we don't sell publishing packages. We earn our small cut only when your book sells through our distribution network. Our commission is only 15% or less of the net, which works out to 10% of the retail price when your book sells at our retailers.  For example, a $10.00 ebook sold at one of our retail partners earns authors $6.00, the retailer earns $3.00 and Smashwords earns $1.00.  The same book sold at Smashwords earns the author about $8.00 since Smashwords pays higher rates than most retailers.

Who can publish on Smashwords?
If you're the original author and you control the digital rights to the book, or if you're the exclusive digital publisher, you can publish and distribute the work with Smashwords. Your work must be original, written by you (or an author to which you have exclusive rights to publish).  See our Terms of Service for more information.

What can I publish?
Smashwords is for finished, complete and original written works only (no drafts, works-in-progress or partial works). It's great for short and long form fiction, personal memoirs, essays, poetry, screenplays or anything else you can write in a word processor.  See our Terms of Service for additional content guidelines.

In Step 3 on the Publish page, it's asking me if my book contains adult content.  What's the definition?
If your book contains language, situations or images that are inappropriate for children under 18 years of age, you can tag your book as having adult content.  This voluntary label helps us protect minors from viewing inappropriate material.  Books labeled as adult will not appear in Smashwords site search results if the customer or web site visitor has activated the Adult Filter.  In the future, this label will also help our retail partners keep your book out of any kid-centric areas of their stores while maintaining full listings elsewhere in their store.  If you tagged your book as adult at the time of your upload, but later decided it's not truly adult by the definition here, you can click to Dashboard: Settings and remove the label.

I uploaded my book direct on Amazon (or some other retailer).  Can I still work with Smashwords?
Yes.  After you publish, click to your Dashboard's Channel Manager and opt out of any Smashwords retail partners you're already reaching direct or through another distributor.  This will prevent us from double-distributing your work.

How do I choose between Amazon and Smashwords?
This is a common question, and the answer is, "You should work with both of us at the same time!"  As an author and publisher, you want to maximize your distribution.  The more stores that carry your book, the greater your opportunity to reach readers.  When you upload to Amazon, AVOID the mistake of enrolling your book in their optional KDP Select program.  KDP Select requires exclusivity, which means you can't sell your book in other stores such as Smashwords and the retailers and library suppliers Smashwords distributes to such as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, Everand (formerly Scribd) and others.  Amazon only reaches ebook readers in about 14 countries, whereas Apple Books reaches 51 countries (and dominates the Australian ebook market), Kobo reaches about 160 countries and the Smashwords store reaches almost 200 countries.

I heard Amazon requires exclusivity.  Is this true?
No, it's not true but this is a common misperception, and it's a misperception Amazon does little to clarify.  Amazon offers two ebook self-publishing options.  There's the regular KDP program, and then there's KDP Select which is the opt-in option that forces you to go exclusive with Amazon.  Exclusivity is dangerous and risky.  It's like putting all your retirement savings in a single Internet stock.  Although there's a chance it works for you, there's also a good chance you cause long term harm to your career.  It's much safer and sensible for you to diversify your portfolio of retail distribution.  Some authors are drawn to KDP Select because they see it as their fast track to success.  The truth of the matter is that for most authors, there's no shortcut.  To make it as a successful author, it can take years.  Each of the major retailers reaches millions of readers that can't be reached anywhere else.  Authors who make their books exclusive to Amazon will have a much more difficult time breaking out at other retailers.  Much of the confusion about whether Amazon requires exclusivity or not arises from the fact that Amazon has designed their KDP platform to make it look like your account setup is incomplete unless you enroll in KDP Select.  At every step of the upload process they prompt you to enroll in KDP Select.  If you enroll in KDP Select, you must commit to make your book exclusive to them for at least three months.  The enrollment automatically renews unless you opt back out.  Authors who enroll in KDP Select are taking a gamble, and they'll miss out on the broader global distribution enabled by Smashwords and its retail and library partners.  KDP Select is also like quicksand.  Once you step into it, it's tough to get out.  Amazon has publicly stated that only 5% of KDP Select authors leave when their three-month enrollment period ends.  It destroys your readership at other retailers, and limits your platform-building.  It makes your earnings entirely dependent upon Amazon.  Learn more about the risks associated with KDP Select in Mark Coker's blog post, Amazon Shows its Predatory Spots with KDP Select.

Who cannot publish on Smashwords?
Smashwords does not accept public domain works, books that advocate hate speech/racism/homophobia, books that advocate illegal activities, or books in which the content includes word-for-word scrapes from Wikipedia or other public domain or content farm sources.  Do not upload content or books that appear elsewhere on the Internet authored by people other than yourself or by other pen names. If we do a query on Google of a random text strings in your book (and yes, we do this to test the originality of your work), and we discover the same content under other author names, or associated with private label article (also called "Private Label Rights or PLR") or ebook licensing systems, your account will be closed without warning and all earnings will be forfeited, per the Terms of Service.  We have a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism, copyright infringement, underage erotica (erotica featuring children under the age of 18) and PLR.

Where will my book be sold?
As an ebook publishing and distribution platform, Smashwords will distribute your books via multiple online channels, including but not limited to the web site, major online retailers (Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, Everand (formerly Scribd), Gardners, Baker & Taylor (operates Axis360, which distributes ebooks to public libraries); Kobo on all mobile platforms) and other online venues. See the Distribution section below for more information on how Smashwords distributes books, or visit our Distribution Information page.

How does Smashwords work with multi-author publishers?
Hundreds of publishing companies publish and distribute their authors' books through Smashwords. Publishers can list an unlimited number of authors and their authors' books in their own co-branded Smashwords bookstore page. The author pages and book pages are all cross linked and connected back to the Publisher account, offering your readers greater serendipitous discovery of all your titles. Learn more about whether the free Publisher status upgrade is right for you by reading the Publisher Account documentation.

How do I sell my books in the Apple Books Store?
Smashwords is one of the few authorized aggregators that distributes ebooks to Apple Books. On the first day of the launch of the iPad in April 2010, Smashwords had over 2,000 books in their store, and today we distribute over 250,000 books to Apple Books in 51 countries including the US, Canada, U.K, Australia, France, Italy, Germany and more.  We've created a handy checklist here of Apple Books store requirements - How to Publish an Ebook on the Apple Books to make it fast, simple and easy to publish your book to the Apple Books Store. To qualify for distribution to Apple, your book must be accepted to the Premium Catalog, and you will need to attach a unique ISBN to the book via the ISBN Manager. Smashwords offers free ISBNs.

How do I sell my ebooks in the Nook store?
The Nook store is operated by Barnes & Noble.  Smashwords has been distributing ebooks to Barnes & Noble since 2009.  Simply upload to Smashwords, gain inclusion in our Premium Catalog, and then we'll automatically distribute you to the Barnes & Noble Nook store.  Smashwords delivers ebook preorders to B&N, and pays 60% list for all prices $.99 and above.  B&N also accepts books from Smashwords priced at FREE.

I live outside the U.S., can I publish on Smashwords?
Yes.  Please see the Royalties section below to learn how to qualify for reduced or eliminated tax withholdings.

What languages do you publish and distribute?
We support most languages. When you upload you book, you'll tag it with the book's language, and this will help us distribute it to retailers that support that language. For example, as of August 2010, our retailer Apple supports English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish. We publish many other books in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, and as our retailers expand their language support, we'll distribute these books to them as well.

What languages does Apple Books not support?
Apple Books store does not support the following languages: Persian, Old (ca.600-400 B.C.), Samaritan Aramaic, Amharic, Arabic, Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE), Imperial Aramaic (700-300 BCE), Burmese, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Arabic, Central Khmer, Lao, and Mon-Khmer languages.

How much money can I expect to make on Smashwords?
You should keep your expectations low because most authors - whether self-published or traditionally published - don't sell many books. Some authors don't sell a single book.  Others sell thousands of books each week.  The ebook market is still in its infancy. Just like in traditional print publishing, book sales depend to a great degree on word of mouth, driven by the quality of your book and your personal marketing efforts (Read our free Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for tips on how to promote your Smashwords book). If readers love your book and tell their friends, and their friends tell more people, you could have a best seller. At Smashwords, we structured our business to make our authors and publishers as successful as possible.  We distribute to the leading retailers, and for these sales you'll earn 60% of the list price you set.  For library sales, the author earns 45% of the list price (library purchases one copy, lends out many times, one at a time).  Royalty rates may differ based on the country, retailer or VAT taxes.  See the Channel Manager page for a fine-tuned breakdown.  In some cases, you'll earn a higher earnings-share rate going through Smashwords than if you were to work directly with the retailer.  Please see the earnings section below for more information, because your earnings will vary from retailer to retailer.

How is price determined?
You (the author/agent/publisher) set the price for your works. The price can be free, any price above $.99, or reader-sets-the-price. You can control pricing country by country as well using our Global Pricing Control feature, accessible in your Dashboard.  In instances where your book is distributed to other online retailers, the retailers do not discount your work. If you select reader-sets-the-price, such books will default to a price of $4.95 at Smashwords' retail partners because none of them support the Reader-Sets-the-Price (RSP) option. If you choose the RSP option at Smashwords and would like to set a separate default price for retailers only, go to Dashboard: Settings.  Once you make a price change at Smashwords, we will automatically notify Smashwords retailers of the price change in our once-weekly updates to them (some retailers receive more frequent updates.  Please allow anywhere from one to three business days for price updates to reflect at retailers (it's usually same-day for Apple Books and Kobo, instant for the Smashwords store, and 2-3 business days at others).

How should I price my book?
This is a personal decision for the author or publisher.  When you sell a book, you receive two benefits.  The first is you get a sale, which means you earn income.  The second benefit is that you gain a reader, and a reader is a potential fan, and a fan will search out and purchase your other books and future books.  A fan is also a potential evangelist who will recommend your book to their friends.  When examining these two benefits, the second - gaining a reader - is actually more important to your long term success as an author, especially if you plan to continue writing and publishing books.  Here are some considerations on price: 1. Your ebook should be priced less than the print equivalent. Customers expect this, because they know your production cost (paper, printing, shipping, middlemen) is less. 2.  Lower priced books almost always sell more copies than higher priced books.  For example, in our 2014 Smashwords Survey, we found that books priced at $3.99 sell three to four times more copies on average than books priced  over $9.99.  At $3.99, thanks to the higher volume, books (on average) earn the same or more than books priced at $10.00+, yet they gain more readers.  3.  The sweet spot for full length fiction is usually $2.99 or $3.99.  The best price for full length non-fiction is usually $5.99 to $9.99.  A longer book deserves a higher price than a short book. 4. Consider the value of your book to the customer. As self-publishing guru Dan Poynter notes in his Self Publishing Manual, for a customer to buy your book at any price, they must believe the value of the book is greater than the cost of the book. 5. Just as over-pricing can be bad, so too can under-pricing. Consider the likely market of your book, and the cost of competitive books, and then price accordingly. 6. A higher price is a double-edged sword. It implies potential value and worth, yet it can also price the customer out of purchasing it. Set a fair list price, and then consider using Smashwords coupons to let the customer feel like they're getting a discount on a valuable product.  7.  If you write series, price the first book in the series at FREE. We've found that series with free series starters earn more income for the author than series with a priced series starter.  Give it a try, you might be surprised!  8.  You can change your price at Smashwords at any time, so feel free to experiment (Apple usually updates same-day, others are generally 2-3 business days).  9.  There are multiple other factors that can influence how your potential readers judge your price.  Click here for an interview with Mark Coker where he examines other factors to consider.  Click here to learn how ebook buyers discover ebooks they purchase (links to the Smashwords Blog).  The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, our free ebook that examines the best practices of the most successful Smashwords authors, also explores different strategies for pricing.

How do I change the price?
Simply go to your Dashboard, click Settings, and then change the price on the next page.   Once you make a price change at Smashwords, we will automatically notify Smashwords retailers of the price change in our updates to them.  If your book is Premium Catalog approved, and it's not pending review, most price updates occur in 2-5 business days.  Apple Books is usually same day, often within hours of the update at Smashwords.

I notice some authors give their books away for free. Do you recommend this?
Yes, if you can use it strategically.  We think FREE has a place in every author's marketing toolbox.  FREE books receive, on average, about 30 times more downloads than priced books.  If you write full-length series, then FREE is an incredibly powerful sales driver if you price the first book in the series at FREE.  Free gets you the most readers because it eliminates the financial barrier that might prevent a reader from taking a chance on you, an author unknown to them.

How does sampling work?
On the Publish page, in Step 2, authors determine what percentage of their book they want to make available as a free sample. If they permit 30%, for example, then the first 30% of the book starting at page one is available for online sampling via one of the Smashwords readers. Our online retailing partners may have sampling practices that differ from Smashwords. Smashwords will make every effort to inform its authors/publishers of the differing sampling practices, and will always give the author/publisher the option to opt out of any online distribution outlet in which the policies do not meet with the author/publisher's approval. Remember, as the author, you're able to view and download your entire book. If you want to view your book as others will view it, click the logout button at the bottom of the screen, return to your book page, and you'll see how the sampling percentage is enforced.

I set a sampling percentage, yet it looks like my entire book is downloadable for free.  Why?
Since you're the author, you're able to download your entire book.  If you log out of your account then return to your book page, you'll see how your sampling percentage is strictly enforced.

What sampling percentage do you recommend?
For a full-length book, 10 percent is generous and usually sufficient. For a shorter book, you should probably choose a higher percentage so the reader can get a good sense of your writing before they buy.  We DO NOT recommend you disable sampling, because that's a sure-fire way to guarantee minimal sales.

I've written several full-length books. Is there an advantage to publishing more than one book on Smashwords?
Yes, definitely. The more full-length books you publish on Smashwords, the greater the chance readers discover your titles, because all the books are cross linked to one another and to your author and/or publisher profile. Think of each book as a fish hook in the ocean. Smashwords connects the hooks and creates a net by networking the books together. You're casting a wider net.

How do coupons work?
Smashwords authors can use the Smashwords Coupon Generator to create custom coupon codes for readers, reviewers or contest participants.  It's easy to create coupons. You can set coupons for cents or dollars off, or percentage off, free, and also set an expiration date. Coupons are a great way to build urgency for the customer to act. You can promote your coupon codes to your personal mailing list, your website, blog and social networks. Go to your Dashboard to find the coupon generator.  Smashwords Coupons work only at the Smashwords store.

How can I participate in the "Special Deals" merchandising feature on the Smashwords home page?
Special Deals is a continuous, automated merchandising promotion that features books on sale at Smashwords.  To particiapte, visit Smashwords Coupons in your Dashboard, create a coupon for your book, and choose the option to make your coupon "public."  Learn more in this blog post announcing Special Deals.

What is Smashwords Alerts, and how does it work?
Smashwords Alerts is an exciting feature first announced August 24, 2016.  Read the announcement here.  Smashwords Alerts allows readers to receive automated email alerts whenever their favorite authors upload a new book.  It's a great way for readers to never again miss a new book from their favorite authors.  If you're an author, you can encourage your fans to subscribe to your alerts.  Subscribing is easy - the reader simply visits the author's profile page at Smashwords and clicks the "Subscribe to Author Alerts" option.   Authors and publishers can track how many readers are subscribed to their alerts by visiting the Smashwords Dashboard under the "Marketing and Distribution Tools" column.  Please note that due to Smashwords's strict email privacy rules, the reader's email address is never disclosed to the author or anyone else.  The reader is in full control of their subscription and can unsubscribe at any time.

Can you describe the Smashwords Interviews feature?
Smashwords Interviews is a fun author marketing tool that makes it easy to create and publish a Q&A-style interview profiling that helps your readers and prospective readers learn the story behind you, the author.  The interview is cross-linked across the Smashwords site, including your book pages, your profile page, and the Smashwords home page.  You can read the original announcement at the Smashwords Blog.  View other authors' interviews on the Interviews page.  To create your own Smashwords Interview, click to your Account tab, then scroll down to the option that reads, "Create or edit your interview."

How long does it take my book to show up after I upload it?
Depending on the length of the ebook conversion queue, it usually takes about five minutes from the time you upload your book until it appears for sale on the Smashwords home page.  The book goes live on the home page the minute the conversion completes, and then within 10 minutes the book is fully indexed within the Smashwords on-site search engine.  There's no need to watch the spinning wheel on the conversion page.  You'll receive an email the moment conversion completes, and you can always check your conversion status by visiting your Dashboard.

Can I publish public domain books?
No.  If you don't control the copyright, you can't publish at Smashwords.

I publish my book directly on the Kindle via Amazon's Kindle Direct Platform. Should I enable the Kindle format (.mobi) on Smashwords as well?
Definitely! The beauty of Smashwords from your customer's perspective is they can purchase the book once and access it in multiple formats. If they purchase direct off of their Kindle, they only get one format, and that format is burdened with DRM protection. Many Kindle users shop at Smashwords because they appreciate our unique book selection, and they appreciate that all our books are DRM-free. So therefore, you want to make it convenient for them to purchase at Smashwords as well.

What is your publishing policy regarding sexually explicit scenes, profanity or other material?
Smashwords allows the publishing of written depictions of sexually explicit scenes, but we do not allow pornographic images within the books, and we do not allow erotica that depicts minors engaged (willingly or unwillingly) in sexual acts. Fictional scenes of rape-for-titillation are strongly discouraged. We also prohibit the publishing of material that contains hate speech, or material that advocates violence against other people; or material that promotes racism, homophobia or xenophobia; or written materials that advocate destructive or illegal activities. For all matter of an adult nature intended for mature audiences only, all characters depicted should clearly be adults age 18 or over, and the author should designate during the publishing process on the Publish page that the work is intended for adults only. Authors are also well-advised to include such warnings at the beginning of the book so customers are notified before reading further. For more information, please see the Smashwords Terms of Service agreement.

Retailers have cracked down on some categories of erotica. What are the guidelines to ensure maximum distribution of my erotic works?
Please note that these are guidelines only.  Smashwords and every Smashwords retailer maintains the right to carry or remove titles for any reason or combination of reasons.  Every retailer struggles with grey areas, and since erotic fiction runs a spectrum, no retailer can fully delineate the boundaries of acceptability because every work is different, and boundaries may shift over time.  Authors who try to push the boundaries of grey are the ones who will invariably face the most scrutiny, and are the most likely to see retailers penalize their entire list.  At Smashwords, we support legal erotic fiction and want to help our authors maintain maximum distribution.  Unfortunately, the small number of erotic authors and publishers who pushed the line too far have resulted in a general trend toward increased crackdowns against legal erotic fiction at some retailers.  Here are our tips to maintain maximum distribution:  First, carefully review the Smashwords Terms of Service.  If your book doesn't meet the Smashwords ToS, it won't meet retailer requirements.  However, the Smashwords ToS is more permissive than the standards set by some retailers which means that books that might be acceptable to Smashwords' Premium Catalog requirements will not be acceptable to all Smashwords retailers.  For example, not all Smashwords retailers will take erotic fiction where the primary theme is incest or pseudo-incest.  Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble are the most restrictive, so authors and publishers that push the line may be blocked from these retailers.  These retailers don't want incest, PI, or bestiality.  They don't want books where the dominant theme is rape, sexual violence, non-consent or gang bang with unwilling participants.  None (Smashwords included) want extreme taboo erotica.  Barely legal (characters who recently turned 18 years of age), while generally allowed at most retailers, will always receive special scrutiny.  Similar to the Smashwords Terms of Service, no characters can be under the age of 18.  If characters are just 18 or barely over, the book's description should explicitly state that all characters are 18 or over, and the book must remain true to this claim.  Authors who try to push the lines of acceptability will invariably receive extra scrutiny for their entire list, and risk having all their books removed from Smashwords retailers, and from Smashwords as well.  Most stores accept mainstream erotica, but they don't want erotica that pushes the line.  When you upload erotic fiction, Smashwords will present you a supplemental questionaire which asks about the absence or present of certain taboo themes.  You must answer the questionaire honestly, otherwise you risk immediate account termination.  What are examples of pushing the line?  Here are the most common we see:  1.  Barely legal erotica that is really targeted at readers who desire underage erotic fiction.  2.  Excessive profanity or sexually explicit language in book descriptions.  Keep book descriptions PG-13.  3. Cover images where the models appear underage.  4.  Cover images with floppy bits exposed or over-exposed.  5.  Book titles with profanity.  6.  Books that are truly erotic but are misclassified in non-erotic categories.  7. Erotic fiction that contains illustrated or photographic images of nudity or people involved in sexual situations.  Erotic fiction should use words to paint pictures in the reader's imagination, not images.  If it contains images, we consider it pornography, and pornography is never allowed at Smashwords or Smashwords retailers.  Bottom line, act professional and don't push the line.

Can I mail you my book on CD so you can upload it for me?
No. Smashwords is a self-serve publishing service, so you must upload your book from your Internet browser.

Can I publish under a pen name but be paid to my real name?
Yes. Sign in, click Account, then click Edit Account Information. If you plan to use a pen name, be sure when you sign for your Smashwords account that you choose a "screen name" that matches your pen name, because the screen name becomes part of your permanent web address for your author page. For example, the author page for Smashwords' founder, Mark Coker, is  and his screen name is the "mc" portion of that web address.  You can locate your author page's link and screen name by clicking "Profile".

Can I publish under multiple pen names?
Currently, we only support one pen name per account, unless you upgrade to a Publisher account. However, if you only publish two others as a publisher, such as books written by your pen name and by your real name, then you won't achieve the anonymity that is the primary motivation for some authors to write under a pen name. If the anonymity is not important, then upgrade to Publisher. If the anonymity is important, then the current solution is to open up a second Smashwords account attached to a different email address (since each account must be tied to a unique email address).

How do I credit multiple authors for a single book?
Smashwords is alpha testing (alpha is pre-beta) a new feature that allows multiple authors to be linked to a single book.  It's not yet a self-serve option.  Here's how to take advantage of it:  1.  Publish your book in the account of the person who will control the book and receive payments.  At the time you publish, you'll only credit the book to one author, though be sure to include all the author names in the book description, the cover image and inside the book's front matter.  2.  Please contact us to send our support team the hyperlinks to the author pages of all the authors you want attached to the book so their name appears in the "written by" metadata.  It's important to provide the link to their author page, because some authors have multiple accounts. Please also specify which author is the primary author.  At most retailers, this is the author that will appear first in the list of co-authors.  Choose the bestselling or best well known author because this can improve discovery if it's the first author the reader sees (it won't make a huge difference, but every incremental advantage helps).  3.  Smashwords will link each of the authors to the book's "written by" metadata and will then transmit this data in our regular metadata shipments to retailers.

I see my book in my Dashboard, I see my book page, and the status says published, yet it's not appearing in search results
Click to any Smashwords web page and then in the upper right hand corner, check your Filter settings.  If your book is categorizes as erotica and you have an erotica filter activated, it will block erotica titles from appearing in search results.

Will you read my book and tell me what you think of it?
Sorry, we can't do this.  For feedback on a book you're planning to publish, consider joining a local writer's club or critique group.   Also consider working with beta readers prior to publication.  Beta readers are test readers who provide feedback in advance of publication.  Beta readers help you publish a better, reader-pleasing book!  To learn how to work with beta readers, listen to Episode 5 of the Smart Author Podcast (this link also includes a full written transcript).

What was Operation Ebook Drop?
Operation Ebook Drop was a free, volunteer initiative that allowed Smashwords authors to donate free ebooks to coalition and peacekeeping troops. THE INITIATIVE HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED.  The initiative was created by Smashwords author Ed Patterson and was supported by Smashwords. Participating authors used Smashwords' Coupon Generator to create 100%-off coupons they distribute to troops. The initiative was first discussed in the Operation Ebook Drop post at the Smashwords blog. We wish to express our thanks for everyone who participated, and especially our thanks to Ed for his volunteer effort.

What is DRM, and do you have it?
DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, and it refers to schemes in which a digital book is copy-protected, or limited to reading on only certain devices. Books on Smashwords do not contain DRM. However, these works are still the property of the copyright holder, and most are only licensed for the personal use of the purchaser. At Smashwords, we give the author the freedom to specify their licensing statement (see Smashwords License Statement below, which is the most common version used by our authors).

How big of a threat is piracy?
Smashwords is in the business of selling books.  It's the only way we make income.  We don't like pirates.  If someone steals your book, you don't make income and neither do we.  So you might be surprised to learn we don't lose sleep over the fear of piracy.  We believe obscurity is a bigger threat to authors than piracy.  There are three types of piracy that concern authors:  1.  The criminal takes your book and tries to sell it (for profit).  They might slap their own name on it, or they might try to sell it in your name (yes, this happens!  It's very rare.).  2.  Readers upload your book to underground bulletin boards or torrent sites so that other readers can download your book for free.  3.  Ebook buyers sharing your book with their friends.  The first item can cause an author great grief, but it's extremely rare, probably less than one in 2,000 books affected, and the pirates are usually detected before they've had a chance to earn money on their theft because loyal fans report the book.  The second category of swashbuckling black hat pirates stealing and reading your book for free is probably the worst fear of some authors, yet it's important to remember that readers who go out of their way to knowingly steal and download pirated ebooks are not the readers who'd typically purchase your books anyway, so they don't really represent a lost sale.  The third category is more common, but most progressive authors view book sharing among fans as "accidental" piracy, and view it as beneficial marketing.  There are many who argue that illegal piracy of your work actually benefits your overall sales. This fascinating video of author Neil Gaiman might cause you to reconsider how you feel about piracy.  He speaks about his own evolving views on piracy.  We know of other best-selling authors such as Paulo Coelho who deliberately encourage illegal piracy of their works by uploading their books to pirate sites.  They do it for the same reasons cited by Neil Gaiman - they believe it spurs sales. Don't let the fear of piracy paralyze your efforts to reach readers.  Most readers are honest and want to support you.  You can reduce the risk of piracy by making your book easier to purchase than it is to steal.  Maximize your distribution, offer your book at a fair price, and use the recommended "Smashwords Edition License Statement" as described in the Smashwords Style Guide.  The license statement provide honest readers a polite reminder of their ethical obligation to support the author.

What is Smashwords' stance on piracy and DRM?
Smashwords is a strong advocate for author's rights, and the right of authors and copyright owners to receive payment for their digitally published works. Therefore, Smashwords strongly discourages piracy/infringement of author works and encourages customers to purchase licensed copies. However, Smashwords does not publish works containing digital rights management schemes that limit the customer's ability to legally enjoy the author's work. Therefore, Smashwords cannot completely prevent illegal copying of an author's work.  The reality of the matter is that even DRMed content is insecure.  DRM'd books can be reproduced and pirated, just as easily as a printed book can be scanned and digitized (Type "Crack DRM" into Google to see how easy it is to remove DRM from a book). When an author lists the work on Smashwords they are trusting the consumer to honor their legal copyright and abide by the licensing terms set by the author. Many ebook buyers refuse to purchase ebooks infected with DRM. Non-DRMed works often outsell DRMed works by leveraging the viral nature of uninhibited sampling and sharing which can dramatically increase your total audience and sales opportunities.  At Smashwords, we remind customers at sign-up, at purchase and with purchase confirmations that our books are for their personal use and enjoyment only.

What can I do to reduce the risk of piracy?
Piracy is often a symptom of unsatisfied demand:  These readers want your book, but for some reason it's not available or affordable to them.  Most ebooks are read on dedicated e-reading devices (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo Reader) and multi-function devices (iPad, iPhone, smartphones, tablets), and most of these device manufacturers operate their own ebook stores which are closely tethered to their devices.  For customers, it's easier to purchase and read an ebook from the device-maker's own bookstore than it is to search out a pirated copy.  There are several steps you can take to encourage legal purchases and discourage piracy.  First, price your ebook less than printed equivalents, price them fairly (much lower than print), and maximize the distribution of your books. By pricing low and maximizing distribution to as many stores as possible, you make your book more available and more accessible to more readers.  Add the Smashwords License Statement as recommended by the Smashwords Style Guide (you'll find it below in the next FAQ item).  It politely reminds readers of their moral and ethical obligation to support the author.  For more information on how Smashwords helps you prevent piracy, see this post at the Smashwords Blog, Should Publishers Abolish DRM and Trust their Customers Instead?

What is the Smashwords License Statement, and how does it combat piracy?
Following the copyright notice above, we recommend you insert the Smashwords License Statement. Unlike traditional copyright statements that warn readers not to copy the book, or that threaten legal action or fines, the Smashwords License Statement offers a kinder, gentler reminder to the reader that they have a legal and moral obligation to compensate the author for their hard work. It's our belief at Smashwords that the biggest form of piracy is not on underground file sharing torrent sites, it's well-intentioned sharing. If you place the Smashwords License Statement in your book, it acts as a trojan horse. If your book is shared, the recipient is politely reminded of their obligation to return to Smashwords and purchase their own copy. For more of the Smashwords License Statement, see this Smashwords blog post, Are Copyright Statements Copyrightable? Here's the statement, which you'll also find in the Smashwords Style Guide:

Smashwords License Statement
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please visit your favorite ebook retailer to purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Smashwords distributes to Everand (formerly Scribd), which in the past has been used by readers to upload and illegally share pirated books.  What does this mean for Smashwords authors?
Everand (formerly Scribd) is one of the world's largest publishing platforms for user-generated content.  When a site such as Everand makes it easy for the community to upload anything, there's a risk that unauthorized content is uploaded.  It's something every social publishing platform - Youtube, Amazon and Smashwords included - must struggle with.  In December 2013, Smashwords announced a distribution agreement with Everand.  You can read the news at the Smashwords blog.  In addition to representing yet another important sales channel, the agreement has also significantly reduced the risk of piracy and unauthorized uploads atEverand.  Here's how:  To protect the intellectual property of authors and publishers,Everand developed and is continuing to enhance a Copyright Management System (CMS).  Their CMS takes a digital fingerprint of all authorized uploads from Smashwords. Everand uses the Smashwords version as the authorized version of record to prevent unauthorized uploads in the future. Everand also uses the digital fingerprint of your Smashwords edition of your book to trigger automated takedowns of previously uploaded unauthorized versions.  If you ever discover an unauthorized version of your work at Everand, visit the their "Copyright, DMCA, and BookID™" page and provide them a direct hyperlink to the offender's upload. 

What steps can I take to detect piracy?
Go to and create free Google alerts for your author name, your book title, and for short 6-7 word text strings that appear early in your book.  This will provide you an early warning system of where your book is being talked about, sold or distributed. 

Someone stole my book and uploaded it to Amazon (or some other retailer).  What do I do?
This is rare, but but we're aware of a least a dozen instances of this happening over the last few years at Amazon.  If you find an unauthorized version of your book at Amazon, email and provide them a hyperlink to the illegal listing at Amazon, and let them know it's your book and you did not authorize its sale at Amazon.  We've seen it happen at Apple Books too.  But first, make sure it's not a copy you uploaded yourself long ago but forgot about, or that you authorized someone else to upload for you.  Believe it or not, we're aware of more instances where authors accidentally demanded takedowns of authorized copies of their books than of instances where criminals were selling unauthorized versions!  If you follow our immediately preceding tips to detect piracy, there's a great chance you'll be able to detect and remove unauthorized copies of your book before the criminal is able to profit from it.  If you find a copy of your book for sale at a retailer whose name you don't recognize, first check out the list of authorized retailers served by Smashwords, which you'll find on the Smashwords Distribution Information page.  Kobo, for example, powers the ebook stores of multiple retailers around the world.  Gardners powers the ebook stores of hundreds of retailers.  Also be aware that there are many websites out there that act as affiliate sites for Amazon or other retailers where they provide listings of thousands of books but direct customers to authorized retailers (such as Amazon or the Smashwords store).  These sites are actually beneficial to you.  There are also criminal sites out there, often operated out of China, that may be advertising your book for a ridiculously low price.  Often, these sites don't sell books at all.  Instead, what they're doing is stealing the credit card information of foolish readers who should have known better than to try to get your book at a cut rate price from a shady retailer.   Most websites, even the nefarious ones, have DMCA takedown links where you can request your book listing be removed from their site.  If you're ever in doubt, feel free to report the site to the Smashwords Support team and we'll investigate. 

What is copyright, and how do I protect it?
As the author, you own your copyright, which gives you the right to allow others to make copies of your work. Simply by publishing something, you are granted legal protection against people illegally copying your work (though this legal protection alone doesn't protect you against piracy or illegal copying). If you want to go the extra mile, you can file online at the US government's copyright office for an official copyright.  Most authors don't do this, though such a filing can help bolster your case if you ever find a need to press legal action or seek damages against an infringer.  Click here for the US Copyright Office.   For a good overview of copyright, and your rights as an author, see this blog post by Victoria Strauss.

Do I own my copyright if I publish with Smashwords?
You own your copyright. When you publish with Smashwords, you grant Smashwords a non-exclusive right to publish, promote and distribute your book, as well as samples of your book. Because the relationship is non-exclusive, you can publish and distribute via other services, if you wish.



Return to Top


*** *** ***


Preparing Your Book for Smashwords

How do I get my book on Smashwords?
Prior to uploading your book to Smashwords, you will prepare a formatted manuscript and obtain a professionally-designed ebook cover image.  This section will provide basic background information on the preparation process, and will provide links to important resources.

How do I prepare my book for upload to Smashwords?
You have three options for formatting your book as a Microsoft Word .doc file by following the step-by-step instructions in the Smashwords Style Guide.  The Style Guide teaches you how to professionally design your book to meet retailer and library requirements.  We cannot distribute your book if it is not formatted to the Style Guide.  : 

1.  Do it yourself for free with a word processor - Most Smashwords authors and publishers prepare their manuscript by formatting it as a Microsoft Word .doc file.  They follow the simple step-by-step instructions in the Smashwords Style Guide, the world's most popular ebook formatting guide (over 400,000 downloads!).  Advantage:  It's free, and if have the patience to carefully follow the step-by-step instructions in our our Style Guide, it's not difficult.  Formatting can even be fun because this new skill will give you greater flexibility over the design and updating of your book.  We encourage all authors and publishers to do their own formatting, if they're able.  Disadvantage:  If you're not proficient with word processing, or you don't own Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer (a good, free word processor), an improperly formatted book will prevent or delay the distribution of your book.

2.  Hire someone to create a professionally formatted Word .doc - Check out the formatters on Mark's List.    Advantages:  The books formatted by formatters on "Mark's List" almost always get approved for the Premium Catalog on their first attempt.  This means faster distribution to retailers, and less formatting headache.  A good choice if you don't have the time, patience or ability to implement the Style Guide on your own.  Disadvantage:  It costs money, usually $30-$100 (the formatters can provide you a quote beforehand).

3.  Smashwords Direct - If you already have a professional-quality .epub version of your book (EPUB is an open industry ebook standard managed by the IDPF) and the file is formatted to the best practice requirements documented in the Smashwords Style Guide, you can upload your EPUB directly to Smashwords.  Be aware that Smashwords Direct is in beta, and there are limitations to its usage.  Carefully read the Smashwords Direct online documentation and The Smashwords Style Guide before uploading a direct .epub.

Can I hire someone to upload my book for me?
We do not recommend this.  It's really easy to upload and manage your own book at Smashwords!  It's also important that you manage your own account so you can control the privacy of your sales and payment information.

What file types do you accept?
You can upload your book as a Microsoft Word .doc file or as an .epub file. We recommend you start with a Word .doc file. The advantage of Microsoft Word is that it's the most common word processor used by authors, and if you follow the suggestions in the Smashwords Style Guide, you'll get predictable, high- quality conversion results in multiple ebook formats.  If you upload only an EPUB, you won't benefit from multi-format conversion, which will limit the devices upon which your book can be read.  A direct .epub upload also won't generate online samples, which are important for sales at the Smashwords store.  If you're considering uploading an .epub, please read our online documentation for Smashwords Direct first.  Even if you have a prepared .epub file already, consider uploading a Word .doc file first to get multiple formats, then use Smashwords Direct to replace the Smashwords-generated .epub with your own .epub (but only do this if your EPUB is of higher quality, otherwise there's no point in uploading your own).

Which versions of Microsoft Word work best with Smashwords?
Any version will work.  Word 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2010 work very well, even though they're older.  Over the years, Microsoft has added a lot of unnecessary gunk into Microsoft Word, so these older version have less gunk and are easier to use and more reliable.  Word 2007 and later versions also work very well, though be sure to save and upload your file in the .doc format, as opposed to the default .docx format.  In Word 2007 onward, .doc is also referred to as "Word 97-2003."  To save your manuscript with a newer version of Word, click File: Save As: Word 97-2003.

Should I upload my Word document as a .doc or .docx file?
Please upload only a .doc file.  If you're working with Word 2007 or later, Microsoft Word will automatically try to save your file as a .docx, so at the moment you go to save your file, click File Save As: Word document: Save as Type: [then select the option that ends with "*.doc", or select the "Word 97-2003" option]

Can I use Open Office?
Yes, though if you have Microsoft Word we recommend Word.  Save your files as Microsoft Word .doc files prior to upload.  The caveats?  The Smashwords Style Guide provides limited instructions for Open Office, and we cannot support you if you have Open Office-specific questions because we're not Open Office experts.  In other words, you're on your own to make sure your file conforms to the requirements in the Style Guide which reflect our retailers' requirements.  Although many Smashwords authors are successful with Open Office, please note that Open Office often introduces errant formatting into the files, especially with line spacing. In May, 2011, we developed a workaround in Meatgrinder that enables us to auto-fix Open Office's bug that creates corrupted line spacing.  This is good news for OO users.

Can I upload my book as a PDF or .EPUB?
No to PDF, but yes to EPUB.  We require Word .doc files or .epub files that have been formatted to the Smashwords Style Guide.  Our Meatgrinder technology will automatically convert your .doc file into eight different ebook formats.  In the years since we launched Smashwords, we have continuously enhanced our Meatgrinder conversion technology.  Meatgrinder-produced books often rival or surpass the quality of expensive, custom-designed ebook files.  Smashwords ebooks support reflowable narrative, images, linked Tables of Contents, hyperlinks and advanced styling.  Meatgrinder also produces an NCX file (advanced navigation, like a Table of Contents) for EPUBs.

What is Smashwords Direct?
Smashwords Direct is the direct EPUB upload option introduced by Smashwords on December 31, 2012.  the option allows authors to upload their own professionally designed .epub files.  Before you consider this option, please study our online documentation page for Smashwords Direct.  View the original blog post announcing Smashwords Direct here


Do you require I have a professionally produced book cover?
For inclusion in the Smashwords Premium catalog (Smashwords books distributed to online retailers), book covers are required. If you do not want your book distributed to major retailers and you only want to distribute it on Smashwords, then book covers are optional, but strongly recommended.  Books uploaded without a cover image will not appear on the Smashwords home page as other newly published books do. Book covers are important to many readers because they're a visual representation of the book, and your most important advertising. A good book cover image adds to the reader's enjoyment of the book. An ugly book cover, or no book cover, sends the message to the prospective reader that you're amateurish, lazy, or sloppy. You spent hundreds of hours (or a lifetime) writing your book, so don't skimp on the cover.  We do not accept 3D covers (like where the book appears tilted sideways, looks like a cube, or shadowed).  See  "Mark's List," our list of low-cost cover designers.

What are the requirements for my cover image, and how do I create one?
In mid-2012, Smashwords increased the dimensional requirements of ebook covers to satisfy the recommendations of Apple and Barnes & Noble.  The new requirements, along with visual examples, can be found by clicking here to the Smashwords Blog.  Book covers must be uploaded as image files (files that end with .jpeg, .jpg or .png), not as PDFs for Word documents, and must include the book title and the author name. The cover should show the front of your book only, not the back cover you use for print. It must be two-dimensional, not 3D or pseudo-3D.  Cover images must not contain web addresses on the front cover (some retailers will reject them for this reason) or promises of products not included in the book (such as, "Comes with a free CD!"). They should be vertical rectangle-shaped (the height is greater than the width), not squares, and must be a minimum width of 1,400 pixels. A recommended size is approximately 1,600 pixels wide by 2,400 pixels tall (the proportions of most paperback books in the USA, which have height 1.5 times greater than their width). To view the pixel dimensions, right mouse click on the image and click properties. There's room for personal preference.  Aim to make the height approximately 30-60% greater than the width and the book should look good.  When Smashwords or our retail partners receive your cover, it will often be converted to multiple smaller sizes, so don't make your title text or author name too small, otherwise it'll be unreadable when it's shrunk down to thumbnail size. If you're creating your own cover image, you will use a graphics program. Several Smashwords authors use and recommend Gimp, which is a free but full-featured graphics program (the covers for the Smashwords Style Guide and Smashwords Book Marketing Guide were both created in Gimp). Other free programs are (avoid clicking on the confusing advertisements masquerading as download buttons.  Instead, scroll down the table and download from the DOTpdn links) and Editor (sorry, we cannot answer support questions about how to use these programs). Covers that have mostly text and sharp lines are best saved in PNG format. Covers that contain photographs are often too large when saved in PNG and these will need to be saved in JPEG (JPG) format (make sure that you use a high-quality setting so that the text doesn't come out fuzzy). If you do not have the technical or artistic ability, or the time, to create a professional-looking image, see "Mark's List" of fellow Smashwords authors you can hire to create ebook covers for prices ranging from $40 to $100 (a deal!). Smashwords does not earn a commission, and cannot warrant the quality of their work. However, they're only on the list because other Smashwords authors have been satisfied, and most have online portfolios so you can check out their past work.

How do I update my cover?
Update your cover image any time by clicking to our Dashboard, then click Settings, and then you'll see the option to update your cover on the left side of the page.  If you originally uploaded a Word .doc file for your book, when you upload your cover we'll automatically regenerate new ebook files for you since .epub and .mobi files embed the cover image at the start of the book.  If you uploaded a direct .epub using our Smashwords Direct feature, then after you upload a new cover image please also remember to upload a new version of your .epub file as well, otherwise it'll continue to use your older cover image.

How do I add navigation to my ebook?
Step 20 of the Smashwords Style Guide shows you how to create a linked Table of Contents.  The Linked ToC is what our Meatgrinder conversion engine will use to create a linked ToC inside your ebook, and an NCX file (an external table of contents) that readers can use on nearly any e-reading device or in any app.  See our helpful tutorial video at Youtube, How to Add Navigation to a Smashwords Ebook or read the blog post on the same topic (which also includes the video) at

  • Mac users:  If you're using Micosoft Word: Mac 2011 or later, the bookmarking and linking is performed differently.  Similar to the instructions in the video and Style Guide, Word for Mac users will still create the the bookmarks (where you want to link to) before you link the items in your Table of Contents to their respective bookmarks.  How to create bookmarks in Word for Mac:  In Word for Mac, the menu ribbon along the top is slightly different from the PC versions.  At the very top of the screen in Word, you'll see "Insert".  That's where you'll click to create and insert bookmarks.  You'll click Insert then click Bookmark.  How to hyperlink your Table of Contents to your Bookmarks in Word for Mac: To create a hyperlink in your ToC that links *to* the bookmark location, highlight the line item's text in the ToC, click Insert at the top, then click Hyperlink, and here the menu gets very different from the PC version upon which the video is based.  In the middle of the page after clicking Insert: Hyperlink, you'll see the options for Web Page | Document | Email Address.  Click Document.   Next, under the Anchor heading on that same window, click Locate, and then click the down arrow for Bookmarks.  There, you can view and select your bookmarks.

Should I add the cover image inside my book?
If you uploaded your own .epub file, we recommend that it also include the cover image inside.  However, if you upload your manuscript as a Microsoft Word file, it's not necessary into embed the cover image because we'll automatically insert it into the .epub and .mobi files we create for you.  However, it won't insert the cover image into the PDF version we create for you. If you want to ensure your cover image is in all the versions that support images, then open your Word document and use Word's Import: Picture: From File function to import your book cover image, which you should place on the very top of your book. Next, right mouse click on the image, click Format Picture, then click Layout, then click In Line With Text. This will fix your image in place so your text doesn't wrap unpredictably around the image. Next, click the image then click the Word's center button to center the image on your page. Next, return to our Dashboard and click "upload new version." Please note that if the file you upload includes the image, then Meatgrinder will attempt to detect this and not insert a duplicate image. This detection is unlikely to be 100% accurate, which means worst case you'll have two images in the front of your book. If this happens to you, then you're probably best off to remove your image and re-upload your file via the "upload new version" link again.

Should I compress my images? How?
Yes.  If your images are too high resolution, they will be very large, and can cause the file size of your ebook to balloon.  Smashwords supports a maximum files size of 15 megabytes for the Microsoft Word document you upload as your ebook source file.  By compressing your images, you'll give your readers a smaller, quicker-to-download file, and it'll also allow your book to incorporate more images if necessary.  Although our ebooks support images well, if your images are too high of resolution, such as is common with images originally designed for print production, then the file size will be too large.  Print-quality image resolutions are also not supported by e-reading devices.  This means the extra quality is unnecessary because it is lost on them.  Microsoft Word contains a great image compression feature called "Compress," which you'll find in Microsoft Word versions 2003 and later (though not in Mac Word 2004).  The Style Guide's Step 13 shows how to compress your images.  Another great option is to download the free program mentioned earlier, Paint.NET at  To compress or resize an image in Paint.NET, open your image in Paint.NET, click "Image," then select 96 pixels per inch to compress.  Once the image is compressed, open your manuscript in Microsoft Word and click Insert: Picture: As File.


Return to Top


*** *** ***


Publishing Your Book at Smashwords


How do I upload my book to Smashwords?
First, make sure your book is prepared to the requirements of The Smashwords Style Guide (more on this in the next item), and also make sure you have a proper cover image prepared (see below as well).  Once you have the necessary items, log into your Smashwords account, click "Publish" and then follow the simple on-screen instructions.  Smashwords accepts Word .doc files (preferred and recommended) and .epub files (a new option called Smashwords Direct, now in beta) that have been formatted to the best practices requirements specified in the Smashwords Style Guide. 

What happens after I click "Publish" and upload my book to Smashwords?
After you click Publish, Smashwords will first check to make sure the Publish form is filled out completely.  If it's not filled out completely, it'll bounce you back to the Publish page and tell you which areas or items need to be completed.  If your page is filled out completely, your Web browser will pause for a few seconds as it uploads your ebook, ebook cover image, and book information to Smashwords.  Once we receive the information (usually takes about 30-45 seconds), we'll display the ebook conversion page where you can watch in real time as our Meatgrinder technology generates the multiple ebook formats for your book.  Ebook conversion usually takes anywhere from one to three minutes.  Once the conversion completes, our AutoVetter technology will instantly analyze your book and report back to you if it identifies any potential formatting errors. We call these errors "AutoVetter errors." Whether you have errors or not, the next page you'll see is the conversion confirmation page to tell you the conversion is completed.  If the conversion completed, we'll provide you a link to your new ebook page at Smashwords, where your book is available for immediate sampling and sale!   If we detected any possible formatting errors, the conversion confirmation page will alert you.  At the same time, following completion of the conversion, we'll send you an email confirmation.  If there were any AutoVetter errors detected, the confirmation email will summarize the errors, and provide you instructions on how to fix.  It's very important you fix AutoVetter errors, because these errors will prevent or delay your book's distribution to the major retailers (where over 90% of your sales will be earned!).  Don't fret, most AutoVetter errors are simple to repair, especially if you've already studied the Smashwords Style Guide.

How do I fix AutoVetter errors?
The confirmation email you receive after the completion of your ebook conversion will contain a summary of AutoVetter errors, if any.  There are about a dozen potential AutoVetter errors, so it's important you quickly repair any errors you discover.  The email will contain instructions on how to repair each error.   You'll find additional information about repairing the most common AutoVetter errors on the Distribution Information Page and in the Smashwords Style Guide.  After you repair the errors in your manuscript, click back to your Dashboard, then click "upload new version" to update your book.  You'll then proceed to the live conversion page, and will then be instantly informed if you successfully repaired your AutoVetter errors.  If you have difficulty repairing the errors, carefully follow the instructions in the email you receive, which will likely refer you to specific sections of the Smashwords Style Guide.  If you find yourself unable to repair the errors, contact our support team via the contact us form, or consider hiring a low-cost formatting freelancer from "Mark's List."

I don't have any AutoVetter errors (or I fixed them all!).  What happens next?
Once your book completes conversion, it will appear for sale on the Smashwords home page.  Yay, your 15 minutes of fame!  Assuming there are no AutoVetter errors (or you have repaired them), your book will go into a queue to be reviewed by our Vetting team.  During this time, your book will appear in your Dashboard as "Pending Review."  Reviews typically take one to five days.  Our vetting team will open your book and check it to make sure your book is formatted to the requirements of the Style Guide.  The Style Guide's requirements closely mirror the requirements of Smashwords retailers.  Simply by meeting the requirements of the Style Guide, you'll satisfy all the requirements of each and every one of the retailers to which we distribute.  We're looking primarily at your book's mechanical characteristics.  We're looking for quality formatting, a quality cover image, a valid copyright statement, and functional navigation (linked Table of Contents, NCX).  We're also on the lookout for illegal or disallowed books, such as PLR, public domain or underage sexual situations (please review the Smashwords Terms of Service for a complete discussion of publishing requirements).   Assuming your book meets our retailer's requirements as outlined in the Style Guide, our Vetting team will approve your book for our Premium Catalog.  Once your book is approved for the Premium Catalog, it will be distributed to the Smashwords retail distribution network, which includes major retailers such as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Everand, and library platforms such as OverDrive and Baker & Taylor Axis 360.  Visit the Smashwords Distribution Information Page for complete distribution information.

After you upload, you'll receive a confirmation email with further instructions.

Can I upload my already-formatted manuscript in PDF, or Adobe InDesign or Quark?
No. We don't accept these files, because our Meatgrinder system cannot convert them into multiple DRM-free ebook formats. The recommended upload format is Microsoft Word .doc. If you use another program, either save the file as a Word .doc file or as an RTF file, and then open the file in either Word or a free program such as OpenOffice and then format the manuscript by following the suggestions in the Smashwords Style Guide. Save your finished document as a Word .doc.  If you have a professionally designed .epub file, you can upload the .epub with our Smashwords Direct feature

Setting up a preorder
Yes! On July 27, 2013, Smashwords first announced support for preorder distribution to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. On June 17, 2015, we expanded our preorder support to include Assetless Preorders (aka "Metadata Only" preorders).  A preorder allows you to distribute your book in advance of its official "onsale" publication date. Readers can purchase the book in advance, and download a teaser sample, but they can't download the full book until its official release date, which you set. There are multiple advantages to preorders. First and foremost, you accumulate orders during the preorder period, and all those sales credit on day one of your onsale date. This can help your book spike in genre and store-wide bestseller lists. Another advantage is that you can ensure that your book goes onsale at multiple retailers on the same day. Learn the many other benefits of preorders, as well as strategies on how to maximize your preorder success, by reading our original announcement of the preorder feature on the Smashwords Blog, and by visiting our Preorder Help page.  Also check out Episode 4 of the Smart Author Podcast, where you'll learn to become a preorder expert in under 30 minutes.

How do I set up a preorder at Smashwords?
It's simple.  From the Publish page,  you have two options.  1.  Upload the full manuscript and cover image.  You'll select the preorder option, select the release date, and upload your manuscript and cover as you normally would.  2.  If you don't have the final manuscript, set up an Assetless Preorder.   Before you set up a preorder, study the Preorder Help page to learn how everything works.  For ideas on how to improve the success of your preorder, study our blog post on preorder best practices, How to Reach More Readers with an Ebook Preorder.

Setting up a presale
Presales enable customers to purchase and read a book early, before its general release date. Smashwords Presales is our patent-pending book launch tool that allows you to set up and run custom presale events. Before you can set up a presale, you must first place your upcoming release on preorder. You can start and stop your presale at any time in advance of your book's public release date as determined by your preorder date. You'll find the Presale Dashboard in the upper right corner of your main Dashboard, where you'll learn 7 reasons to run a presale and you can also view our Presales FAQ.   Check out our launch announcement at the Smashwords Blog.

How do I set up a multi-author box set at Smashwords?
A multi-author box set is when multiple authors, usually in the same genre or category, collaborate to publish multiple full-length books or complete short stories in a value-priced bundle.  Multi-author box sets represent a great sales, marketing and audience-building opportunity for authors.  The magic of a multi-author box set is that each author promotes the box set to their respective fan base.  Each participating author benefits from the aggregated promotional effort of all the other authors.  It's a great opportunity for fans of one author to discover similarly great authors in the same genre or category.  At Smashwords, we love multi-author box sets.  We have post at the Smashwords blog post titled, How to do a Smashwords Box Set for Audience-Building, Charity and Profit with full details.  Here's a summary of how to set up a multi-author box set:

  1. Choose your collaborators, and work out your business terms - Decide amongst yourselves who will upload the book, and how you plan to price the book and split the proceeds. Smashwords cannot split the proceeds, so to this will be the responsibility of the author or publisher who uploads the box set.  Some authors collaborate to raise money for charity. If you have questions about any potential year-end tax implications, please talk with your accountant.
  2. Create your cover image - As instructed in the Smashwords Style Guide, Smashwords cannot accept cover images that are 3-D or pseudo-3d (the cover image is a digital rendition of three dimensional physical box).  The reason is that Apple Books will not accept these because they correctly believe that a small number of customers will be confused into believing they're actually purchasing a physical box set, which they are not.  All authors should be listed on the ebook cover image.
  3. Formatting with a linked Table of Contents - You'll combine multiple books into a single ebook file.  Although not a requirement, we strongly recommend that you create a linked Table of Contents for box set.  This way, each author's book can be listed in the table of contents and easily visible in the ebook file's NCX navigation.  It's a good idea to list the books in the ToC as "Book Title by Author Name" without the "quotes" and then underneath each title listing create another link to a section below each author's book labeled "About Author Name" in which you provide a short bio on the author.  You can also list and link to other author-specific sections, such as "Other books by Author Name" or "Connect with Author Name." To learn how to add navigation to a Smashwords ebook, see Step 20 in the Style Guide, and/or see Mark Coker's blog post and video, How to Add Navigation to a Smashwords Ebook.  You'll find some addition tips there on box set navigation.
  4. Upload - Once the book is formatted to the Style Guide, upload it as normal from the "Publish" page.  At the end of Step 3 of the Publish page, click the box under the "Box Set" heading to designate this book as a box set.  This will aid in merchandising so we can make your book more discoverable at Smashwords and our retailers.  After the conversion completes, download the .epub file to confirm the formatting looks great and the navigation works as expected.  If you need to make any corrections or updates, click to Dashboard: Upload New Version to upload the new file.  The person who updates the book will be the controlling user. 
  5. Special tips for the book description - It's a good idea to list all the books and authors in the book description.  This will improve discoverability at retailers, and will also help make the book more desirable to readers.  Do not mention price in the description.  It's okay to mention the bundle is "value-priced," but don't write something like, "A $49.00 value, yours for just $.99!"  Prices are never allowed in book descriptions because Smashwords books are distributed to a global audience, and sold in multiple currencies.  For a customer who purchases in Euros or Yen or Pounds, a USD price is confusing and inaccurate.  If the box set is raising money for charity, do not write in the description, "All proceeds go to charity," because that's not exactly accurate since the retailer is not donating their proceeds.  It's more accurate to write, "The authors will donate their proceeds from the sale of this box set to XYZ charity."
  6. Giving multiple authors credit in the "written by" metadata - Upon upload, the only author credited in the "written by" metadata in the book listing will be the author who uploaded the book.  That's not good, because you want all the authors credited in the metadata, and retailers require that all the authors credited on the cover image should also be credited in the metadata.  To give all authors credit in the metadata, click the "support" link at the bottom of any Smashwords web page to contact our support team.  Provide us a direct hyperlink to the author profile page of each contributing author.  If the author doesn't yet have a Smashwords account, please ask them to create one.  It's free!  If your account has been upgraded to Publisher or Agent status, you can create "ghost" accounts for each contributing author.  This option is only recommended for publishers because once you upgrade your account to publisher status, it's a permanent change.


How do I give my co-author(s) credit in the metadata?
As a first step, it's a good idea to name each author in the book's book description. This will improve discoverability at retailers.  Smashwords can also credit multiple co-authors for a book in the metadata (the "written by" data), and we will deliver this information to our retailer partners. Each retailer has different capabilities when it comes to listing co-authors.  Apple Books will typically list up to two.  B&N will list up to four, though if you supply more than four all will be indexed at B&N (and therefore discoverable) if a reader searches on author name in their search engine.  To provide your co-author(s) credit in the metadata, so the book appears as "written by" each of you, contact the Smashwords support team (click the "?" at the top of the page or the "Support" link at the bottom of the page) and provide us the following information:

  1. A hyperlink to the book at Smashwords.

  2. A hyperlink to the Smashwords author profile page for each co-author.  

  3. Special options for Publisher or Agent accounts at Smashwords: If you previously upgraded your account to Publisher or Agent status (an option for publishers and agents that control multiple pen names at Smashwords), when you contact Smashwords support you can specify the order in which each co-author is credited. Typically you'll want to give the biggest-name author first-billing because this will provide the book the greatest discoverability advantage at retailers.  You'll provide us hyperlinks to each contributor's Smashwords author profile page per steps 1 and 2 above.  As a publisher or agent, you can create "Ghost" accounts if these authors don't already exist in the system (see the Publisher documentation)


Audiobooks (How to produce and distribute with Smashwords)
In 2018, Smashwords entered the audiobook market via an audiobook production and distribution agreement with Findaway Voices.  Our partnership with Findaway makes it really easy to produce and distribute an ebook.  To produce an ebook, click to your Dashboard, then click the option under Marketing & Distribution tools labeled, Create Audiobooks. This will allow you to transmit your ebook to Findaway, at which point Findaway will recommend professional narrators you can audition. If you already have a professionally produced audiobook file, you can provide that to Findaway for distribution. You'll find the technical specifications for author-supplied audiobooks in the Findaway FAQ (opens a PDF).   Learn more about the Smashwords/Findaway partnership at the Smashwords Blog.


Troubleshooting: I click "Publish" and nothing happens - it just bounces me back to the same page
After you fill out all the data to upload your book and click publish, the first thing that happens is that your web browser uploads your book to Smashwords. You'll usually see your browser pause for anywhere from 10 to 90 seconds, depending on the speed of your Internet connection and the size of your book and cover image files. If the process is successful, the conversion page appears with a spinning wheel that tells you your file is now being converted into multiple formats. If you see the spinning wheel, your conversion will probably succeed. You do not need to watch the page. If, however, you never see the spinning wheel and your browser just bounces you back to the Publish page, it means the system rejected your upload due to an error in your form (look for the error messages!). Here are the most common reasons the system will bounce you back:

1. Your book's file size is over 15 MB (or over 20MB if a Smashwords Direct EPUB). See the Style Guide for tips on how to shrink internal images using Word's "Compress" feature
2. Your book is not in the proper format of Microsoft Word .doc . No PDFs!
3. One of the numbered categories isn't filled out (price, book categories, etc)
4. The cover image isn't in an acceptable image format. Should be a JPEG image.
5. When you selected the book category, you only selected the first column. There are actually one to two additional subcategories you must select.
6. The Internet connection was interrupted during the upload process.

Here's how to solve the problem: Look for the error messages in bold red type. Before you click Publish, double and triple check that everything is filled out, and that the file types are correct. Next, click the Publish button, then wait. If you get to the page where the wheel spins, then you're on the road to success. That means we received and accepted the file, and are converting it. Note that each time you get bounced back, the form will forget the location of your file attachments. This is a security feature to protect you. Remember to re-select the file in the form.

If you never see the wheel and it bounces you back to the Publish page, then before you do anything carefully check for error messages. In red type you should see a note, like "file size to large," "price option not selected," etc.

I'm getting an error that my short book description is over 400 characters, yet I know it's not
Please note this is "characters" not words.  If you're trying to take your description all the way to 399 or 400 characters, you may get this error, because if you're copying and pasting your description from Word, and you have smart (curly) quotes enabled, then a cut-and-pasted smart quote counts as more than one character. Solution: Copy and paste your description first into Notepad or a similar text editor, which will strip the smarts out of the smart quote, and then copy and paste back into the book description form.  We also offer long descriptions in the "long description" field, so use that for descriptions of up to 4,000 characters.

I'm getting an error that my book file is not a valid Microsoft Word .doc file
First, check to make sure you saved your file as a Microsoft Word .doc file.  In most versions of Microsoft Word, click to File: Save as: File type:  Word 2003-2007. If you're sure it's a .doc file, yet you're still getting that message, it's possible your browser is miscommunicating the file type to our servers.  Try uploading using a different web browser.  So, for example, if Firefox doesn't work for you, try Internet Explorer or Google Chrome as an alternate.  If this still doesn't work, contact the Smashwords Support team and we'll be happy to help you diagnose the issue.

After my book completes conversion, I'm getting an AutoVetter error message. Why?
After you upload your book, AutoVetter analyzes portions of your book to identify potential problems that may prevent your book from getting accepted into the Premium Catalog. When AutoVetter flags potential problems, it does not mean Smashwords "rejected" your book. Your book is still listed at Yet if you ignore AutoVetter's messages, it will prevent you from gaining inclusion in the Premium Catalog, which is what we ship to major online retailers. The secret to overcoming the AutoVetter messages is to carefully study and implement the Smashwords Style Guide. Each AutoVetter error also provides you tips on how to fix.  The email confirmation you receive after publishing will also list any AutoVetter errors.


Return to Top


*** *** ***



Return to Top


*** *** ***


Fixing Common Formatting Errors


I published my book but I lost my indents. Why?
If you made your indents using the "tab" key, or by inserting spaces at the beginning of each paragraph, this will cause you to lose your indents. To make proper indents that will remain in all the different ebooks formats, follow the instructions in the Smashwords Style Guide, which will show you how to modify your paragraph style in Microsoft Word to define special first line paragraph indents.

The sentences overlap each other in the HTML Reader, EPUB and MOBI formats.  Why?
If your lines are smashed on top of one another and overlapping, it means the line spacing in your paragraph style is incorrectly defined, or it means the font size for the underlying paragraph style is smaller than what you defined directly on-screen.  See Step 7 in Style Guide for how to manage your paragraph styles.  Make sure the underlying style (usually "Normal") defines the font and font size you want, and your line spacing is set to "single" and the "at" field is blank. If your lines are overlapping, most likely you have an "at" set to 5pt or something similar. The Smashwords Style Guide's Step 7 has simple step by step instructions on how to fix the problem.  In most cases, even if you have improper line spacing defined, Meatgrinder will auto-correct it for you.

How do I fix the "Copyright Error" message AutoVetter is giving me?
This AutoVetter message refers to your title and copyright page, which you'll place at the top of your manuscript's Word document.  Please note:  The use of "Smashwords Edition" or "Published at Smashwords" or "Distributed by Smashwords" is recommended but not required.  The Style Guide's Step 21b shows some acceptable examples. Here are three examples (see more in the Style Guide):

Book Title

FirstName LastName

Copyright 2010 by FirstName LastName

Smashwords Edition



Or, this is a good short one too



Book Title

FirstName LastName

Copyright FirstName LastName 2010

Published at Smashwords



Or, if you're a publisher, this is a good one



Book Title

FirstName LastName

Copyright FirstName LastName 2010

Published by CoolCats Publishing at Smashwords


The fonts and sizes are inconsistent in the HTML Reader, EPUB and MOBI formats. Why?
This is a common error that usually indicates you didn't carefully follow the Smashwords Style Guide, or it can indicate corrupted styling in your source document.   The problem is often caused if you use multiple, inconsistent paragraph styles for the body of your book. Behind each paragraph style, Microsoft Word has certain coding that defines the font, font size, font styling, line spacing, indents, etc., so even if you directly modify the text on-screen, the defined styling doesn't change. So, for example, let's say you're using the Heading style. On screen, you can (incorrectly) highlight Heading text, change the font size or style, and make it look the way you want. Yet behind the scenes, Word thinks the Heading style is coded differently. Another example: You're using the Normal paragraph style for your book, and you have manually changed the font to 11pt Garamond. Yet if you open up your styles menu (see Step 7 in Style Guide) and view that paragraph style's coding for the font, you might discover that the Normal paragraph style is coded for Times New Roman 12 point. If your on-screen formatting doesn't match the embedded coding (Go to Format: Style to view how different styles are coded), you'll pass conflicting instructions to the Meatgrinder converter. Solution: unify your styles. One quick way to do this is type CTRL-A to highlight the entire document, then select the Normal paragraph style, then apply it to all. Next, clean up the formatting (you may have lost centering, bolds or italics, so reapply where necessary). Next, go to Format: Style: Modify and check to make sure the style is coded how you want it coded.  Additional tip:  Be wary of the default "Body Text" style.  Don't use it.  Use Normal instead.  If you're using both "Body Text" and "Normal" in the body, you will get poor results.  The Smashwords Style Guide has multiple screen shots in Step 7 to help you manage paragraph construction and styles.

Everything is centered in the HTML Reader, EPUB and MOBI formats. How do I fix this?
This is a rare form of corruption in your source file, but we do see it occasionally. It usually occurs when you're using multiple paragraph styles or when your Word template has multiple style definitions. Here's how to fix most of the time: First, make a backup of your file in case you completely screw up the instructions that follow. Next, open your document, highlight everything (press CTRL-A), then change everything to Normal paragraph style. Next, center your title and copyright pages (for aesthetic reasons only), then add indents to your body text per the instructions in the Smashwords Style Guide (if you want indents, otherwise follow the Style Guide's instructions for making proper block paragraphs). Next, delete all the superfluous unused styles (which is where the corruption may be coming from). In Word 2000 and 2003, click Format: Styles (and then delete all the styles you can other than "Normal" and your Heading styles). For Word 2007, see the Style Guide for a screen shot showing how to modify styles. Next, if you're using the Heading style for your chapter headings, go ahead and apply that to your headings. Next, clean up any other visible formatting anomalies that you notice, and then go to your Dashboard and click "upload new version" to replace the current Smashwords version with your new version. Next, click the HTML Reader to check if the centering problem is fixed. If this doesn't fix your problem, then you'll need to follow the Nuclear method, described below.

I'm looking at my book in "Night Mode," and the text is invisible
The cause of the problem is usually that your underlying paragraph styles somewhere define a color other than "automatic," such as "black."  Solution: Type CTRL-A to highlight your entire book and then right mouse click on the text, choose font, then choose "Automatic" as the font color.  Also make sure none of your paragraph styles contain something like, "shading: pattern: clear white"  That's bad.  See Step 7 in the Style Guide to learn how to easily manage your paragraph styling.  Also, if you begin your formatting with the Nuclear Method, as recommended in the Style Guide, this invisible text issue will never happen.

I'm losing my centering
First, make sure you're not using tabs or space bar spaces to align text on the page.  Next, the best way to assure centering is to create a special paragraph style (you might call it CENTERED) that defines centering within the style, then apply the style to the text you want centered (such as your title/copyright page, or centered headings).  The Style Guide has tips on how to do this.

I'm reading my book in the HTML Reader and on the iPhone and I have many blank pages
The second most common formatting error made by authors is when they use many successive paragraph returns (made by repeatedly hitting the "Enter" key on their keyboard) to designate page breaks, or to separate blocks of text. This creates blank pages in your ebook. Per the recommendations in the Smashwords Style Guide, never use more than four or five paragraph returns in a row to separate text, otherwise you'll have this problem. It's important to remember that ebooks MUST be formatted differently than print books, because you want the text of ebooks to flow continuously without page breaks. The reason is because different ebook reading devices display a different number of words on each screen, so you can't predict where the page will end. Ereading devices also allow readers to change the font size or style, or the change the line spacing, and this can further exacerbate the occurence of blank pages.

I'm seeing yellow-bracketed text in my EPUB and HTML versions that I didn't put there.  Why?
This is a new problem we've observed recently with newer versions of Word, and it's caused by a feature in Word called SmartTags.  Here's Microsoft's FAQ on SmartTags.  The feature has apparently been in Word since Word 2003, but we've notice more and more files that have the feature activated so we suspect some of the recent versions of Word might have it as a default option.  SmartTags try to automatically identify names and places within your Word document, and then it brackets the text.  You should make sure the document you upload to Smashwords does not have SmartTags enabled.  To disable them, go to Tools:  [for Word 2007 forward, click Word's round Office button in upper left, then click Word Options, then click Proofing), then click AutoCorrect Options, then click the SmartTags option, and then uncheck everything and turn it off.

The numeral "1" is in front of the book title in my ebook conversions.  How did it get there, and how do I get rid of it?
This is caused by a hidden field code, often automatically inserted at the top of Word documents that were originally created in WordPerfect.  To fix, try this:  In Word 2007 and later, click the Office button (round button at top left), click Options, click Advanced, then click the box for "show field codes instead of their values." Then go back to the top of the first page and you'll probably see a field code that appears as "{SEQ CHAPTER h 1}.".  Once it's visible, you can delete it.

My .epub, has unintended page breaks (often in front matter and near chapters).  Why?
Open up your Word .doc source file, and check the paragraph styling of the paragraphs following the page breaks.  The most common cause of unintended page breaks is when you over-use one of Word's Heading styles, because Meatgrinder will auto-insert preceding page breaks before each instance of a paragraph that uses the Heading style.  It will also auto-insert a preceding page break if you're using a custom paragraph style that is based upon a Heading style.  Step 7 in the Style Guide shows how to view and manage your paragraph styles.  When you open up the paragraph styles menu, then click modify, at the top of the screen under "properties" you can view whether or not your custom style is based on a Header.  It's safest to base your custom styles on Normal.  Final tip:  As we suggest in the Style Guide, using the Header style sparingly, usually only for chapter or section headings.

My entire book is in red font (or some other unintended color) in HTML, epub and MOBI.  Why?
This is a sign of corruption, and it's fairly simple to fix.  See Step 7 in the Style Guide which shows how to open and view your underlying paragraph styles.  At the lower right of the screen (after you open up the styles), click Options which will open up a box titled "Style Pane Options," then under "Select styles to show" select "All Styles."  Next, search for paragraph styles that define red font.  They'll most likely show up labeled in red, since for post Word 2007 versions, the display of the styles match the underlying styles.  Either delete the styles that define red, or click "modify" and redefine the styles so the color they define is "Automatic," which will get you black font.


When nothing else works, either use the Nuclear Option or Get Help
Sometimes, a Word document can become so corrupted you can't fix it. You might have hidden formatting or styling in the document that cause styles to conflict, or that pass inconsistent formatting instructions to your paragraph styles or to our converters. If your document seems downright possessed by the devil, and you've already tried the options above, then you have two easy and reliable options remaining:

1. The Nuclear Option. Make a backup of your book (so you're not working on your original). Copy the book into Notepad, or another text editor. This will strip out all formatting. Close Microsoft Word. Reopen Word to a fresh, new empty document. Highlight the Notepad text (CTRL+A is the shortcut to highlight everything), then copy and paste your Notepad text into a fresh new Word document. Then follow the Smashwords Style Guide from page one to re-apply necessary formatting. Time-saving hints:

A. Minimize your use of different Paragraph styles. Try using Normal for all body text, and if you want to using a heading style, maybe something like Heading 2 for chapter headings (don't over-use Heading styles, because the Heading style will cause page breaks to be automatically inserted in your EPUB and MOBI versions ahead of each Heading).

B. Pay careful attention to the section in the Style Guide on how to modify your paragraph style. This will allow you to modify your styles from within the style's coding (such as defining proper line spacing, proper first line indents, font style and font size). This will save you a lot of time as you reformat. A complete reformatting need not take hours. If it's taking you more than an hour or two, stop, and save yourself the grief. Hire a fellow Smashwords author instead - see next step.

2. Get Help. If you don't have the time or patience or skills to do the above on your own, consider hiring a fellow Smashwords author to do it for you. Rates are affordable, starting at only $20/hr. You pay the author, not Smashwords. Smashwords doesn't earn a commission. These folks know how to format for Smashwords, and they work quickly. Here's "Mark's List."


Return to Top


*** *** ***



ISBNs:  Everything You Need to Know


Will Smashwords assign me an ISBN number?
Starting March 2010, Smashwords added support for ISBN-13 numbers with our new ISBN Manager feature. We offer two ISBN options: 1. You can attach your own ISBN number to your book; or 2. You can obtain a free ISBN from Smashwords that registers Smashwords as your publisher.  Although it registers Smashwords as the "publisher" in the Bowker record, Smashwords is not your publisher.  YOU are the publisher.  You control all the rights associated with this and all versions of your book.  For publishers outside the United States, click here for a list of international ISBN agencies

Can I use a Smashwords ISBN elsewhere?
We do not recommend this.  Smashwords ISBNs are provided as an exclusive service benefit for authors and publishers who utilize Smashwords' distribution services.  To use a Smashwords ISBN elsewhere, or to utilize Smashwords as a free vending machine for ISBNs, goes against the spirit of why we make this benefit available to our authors and clients.  To do so would also potentially create situations where your book is listed incorrectly.  If you plan to utilize an ISBN outside of Smashwords distribution, it's best to go to ISBN registrar and obtain your own.

Do I need an ISBN to publish on Smashwords?
No, you don't need an ISBN, though your book will be more successful if you have one because you'll enjoy broader distribution.  Why? If you don't attach an ISBN through the Smashwords ISBN Manager, Smashwords cannot distribute your book to Apple or Kobo.

Which retailers require a book to have an ISBN? Apple; Baker & Taylor Axis360; Kobo; Library Direct; Overdrive; Gardners; and others.  Which don't require an ISBN? Barnes & Noble, Inktera (formerly known as Page Foundry) and Everand.

What is an ISBN number?
An ISBN is a unique number that identifies your book. Many ebook retailers require an ISBN number in order for them to stock your ebook on their digital shelves. It's how they keep track of orders of your book so they can report these orders back to Smashwords so you can be paid. It's also how they keep track of the book inside their own systems. For example, there could be two different books with the same title, like "How to Grow Tomatoes," but if they have different ISBNs the retailer will know they're really different books, associated with different authors. The number is registered with the international ISBN agency and in theory it helps customers and sales outlets (retailers, libraries, distributors) discover your book and differentiate it from other books. In reality, however, customers search for books by title, author or topic, and rarely by ISBN.  If you want to learn more about ISBNs, or you'd like to purchase an ISBN directly from Bowker (the US ISBN agency) visit their site.  The quantity one purchase price is $125 (this is why we recommend our FREE ISBN - We buy them in bulk so you don't have to pay anything).

After I add my ISBN, do I need to add it to the copyright page and re-upload my book?
It's not necessary since you'll attach your ISBN on our ISBN Manager page. However, if you do list your ISBN in your book, note that your one source file will be converted into multiple ebook formats, and the International ISBN agency strongly advises that authors and publishers do not use the same ISBN for multiple ebook formats (so, a different ISBN is required for EPUB, MOBI, PDF, etc.). The ISBNs issued by Smashwords are currently for the EPUB version of your book only. Therefore, if you list the ISBN inside your book, you should designate it as the ISBN for the EPUB format.

If the ISBN Agency recommends different ISBNs for different formats, will Smashwords provide me additional ISBNs for every format?
No.  Since we only distribute the .epub version, it's not necessary for us to assign ISBNs to our other formats, such as PDF, MOBI and HTML.

Can I locate my book on Smashwords with the ISBN?
Yes.  If you enter your ISBN into the search box without dashes or spaces, your book page will come up assuming you properly registered your ISBN in the Smashwords Dashboard's ISBN Manager tool.  You can also locate your book's book page by using this URL trick (a URL is a web address):    The web address formula for any book's book page at Smashwords is[PLACE ISBN HERE]   So if your ISBN was 9781452300030 (this is the ISBN for The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide), then the book's book page address can be reached at which when clicked will resolve to the book's actual book page address of

I just uploaded an updated version of my book.  Do I need a new ISBN?
As long as the changes are not substantial, you don't need a new ISBN.  If it's a minor modification, such as cleaning up your formatting, fixing typos, or modifying your marketing links (such as other books by this author), and customers would consider it the same book, then there's no need for a new ISBN.  Our retailers are unable to change the ISBN after your book is distributed to them.

I didn't read the instructions and gave Smashwords the wrong ISBN.  Now what?
If your book has not been distributed to retailers yet (check your Channel Manager), then contact us immediately via the "contact us" form and send us a hyperlink to the book page.  We can remove the ISBN for you.  However, if the book has already shipped out to retailers, we cannot remove the ISBN, it's too late.  If your book achieves full distribution, then you can ignore the problem.  If it prevents full distribution, contact us and we can try to work with retailers to untangle the mess.  Please carefully read the simple instructions on the ISBN Manager before you attach an ISBN.

Can I acquire an ISBN from Smashwords if I'm not a Smashwords author?
No. We issue our free ISBNs only as a publishing and distribution benefit for Smashwords authors.

I already have an ISBN for my print book. Can I use it with Smashwords?
No. The International ISBN agency is very clear that you should not use a print ISBN on an ebook. Your Smashwords ebook ISBN should be unique to that book.

I previously acquired 10-digit ISBNs from Bowker, yet Smashwords retailers require ISBN-13s
A Smashwords author who faced this issue discovered that if you contact Bowker, they will provide you a free upgrade to a thirteen digit ISBN you can use with Smashwords.

I already have an ISBN for my ebook published elsewhere. Can I use it with Smashwords?
If the ISBN is attached to the .ePub version of your ebook, then yes. If it's attached to your Kindle version, or your PDF version, or any other ebook version,  then Bowker and the International ISBN Agency strongly recommend you get a new ISBN. We at Smashwords also strongly recommend you assign a unique ISBN to your Smashwords books, because it will ensure you have a clean and accurate ISBN and will help prevent distribution delays.  The ISBN at Smashwords is attached to your .ePub version. See the ISBN Manager to learn more at

I'm a Canadian author. Do I still get my ISBNs from Smashwords?
You can choose our FREE ISBN which lists Smashwords as your publisher, or, better yet, as a Canadian citizen, you can get your ISBNs for free at 


Return to Top




*** *** ***


Smashwords Dashboard: How to Manage to Your Smashwords Book


How do I upload a new version of my book?
If you want to replace a previously published book with a new version, go to your Smashwords Dashboard, and if beside the title of your book it reads "publish" then click publish, and that will put your original version back into the system. This is a necessary step before you can upload the new version. Next, within the same Dashboard screen, click "upload a new version" then scroll down the page and click "Continue", then click the "Browse" button to locate the new file on your desktop. Once you locate it, double click on it in the browse window to select it. Then just click "Upload" and then wait a couple minutes while it uploads your new manuscript.  NEVER NEVER return to the original Publish screen to re-enter and re-load all your book information.

My book disappeared and I can't find it. Where did it go?
If your book suddenly disappears from the site, it usually means you either unpublished it by accident from the Dashboard, or you accidentally archived it. To retrieve a book from your archive, click here to view your archive.  Also check the upper right portion of the home page to make sure you have not activated the "Adult Filter."  If the Adult Filter is activated, and you labeled your book as containing adult content, then the book may not be visible in all search results for you.  Deactivate the Adult Filter if this is the case.

What are "Retailer Tickets"?
Some retailers will manually review every book before they list it in their store.  If Apple rejects a book, they generate a "ticket" which they pass on to Smashwords.  In December 2013, Smashwords integrated these tickets into your Smashwords Dashboard.  If you have a ticket, click the link to learn the problem.  After you repair the problem, Smashwords will reship your book to Apple.  In the future, if other retailers begin sharing tickets with Smashwords, those tickets will be integrated here as well.  Learn more about tickets on our Ticket Help page.

What does the "In User Libraries" entry mean in my Dashboard?
Consider it an expression of interest in your book. These are Smashwords users who have added a hyperlink in their library to your book page, often done by those who are considering sampling or purchasing your book.  Every Smashwords book page contains a linked labeled "add to library." Readers click that link which adds a hyperlink to the book in their Smashwords Library.

How do I upload a new cover image?
From your Dashboard, click Settings.

I've been asked to crop my cover image. What does this mean, and how do I do it?
If the cover image you uploaded contains white space outside the perimeter of the book cover, this will cause your image to appear too small on Smashwords, especially when we create the thumbnail images (smaller versions) for use on your book page, and for what we send to major retailers. The solution is to crop your image, which means you will trim the image so that your cover perimeter defines the outer edge of your image. How you do this depends on your image eding software. Microsoft Paint, which is a free accessory with all Windows PCs, supports image cropping.

I've decided to change my Pen Name.  How to I change it without de-listing my book at retailers?
It's easy to change your pen name without removing your books from distribution.  Here are the three steps to follow (follow them in this exact order):  1.  Create a new ebook cover image with your new name, then upload the new cover image at Dashboard: Settings.  2.  Go to Account: Edit Account Information and change your name there.  3.  Update the name in your manuscript then click to Dashboard: Upload new version to refresh it.  If you follow the steps in this order, it will cause all the retailers to automatically update your information without interrupting sales of your book, and will preserve your sales rank and book reviews.

How do I change the price?
You have two options:  1.  From your Dashboard, click Settings, and then you'll see the option to modify pricing.  2.  Click to your Dashboard, then click Pricing Manager.  The Pricing Manager feature allows you to view up to 50 titles at once, and manage both retail pricing and library pricing.   At least once per week, we automatically transmit price changes to retailers.  Please allow 3-5 business days for them to update the price (Apple Books is usually same day, seven days per week). 

How do I change the sampling percentage?
From your Dashboard, click Settings.

How do I change the title of my book?
To change the title, you'll change it in three places, and you'll do it in this order:

  1. Update your cover image, then upload the new image at Dashboard: Settings.
  2. Next, at Dashboard: Settings, update the title in the metadata
  3. Next, update the title inside your manuscript's Word .doc file, then go to your Dashboard and click "upload new version" to regenerate the file.

How do I change the categorization?
From your Dashboard, click Settings. From here, you can also choose a second set of first/second/third categories to describe your book.

How do I change (add/remove) ebook format outputs?
From your Dashboard, click Settings. Click the check boxes to add or remove an ebook format.

How do I add/remove/change my tags?
From your Dashboard, click Settings. Enter only one word or phrase per tag, then click the "Add Tag" button.  Don't enter more than ten tags per book.

How do I add a YouTube video to my book page?
Before you can embed a video to your page, you must first produce and upload the video to YouTube. Visit YouTube for instructions on how to upload a video to YouTube.  After you upload the video at YouTube, below your video you'll see a button labeled, "Share."  Click that button, and it will reveal for you the embed code, which is a hyperlink.  Copy and paste that code into the Smashwords form you'll find by clicking to your Dashboard, then click Settings, then you'll see an option under Videos to "Associate a Video with this book."

How do I add hyperlinks to where my customers can purchase a print version of my book?
From your Dashboard, click Settings, then you'll see an option under "In Print Links," then click, "Manage links to this book." Add link. Notice how the box already pre-populates with the first part of the web address, the "http://". Therefore, when you add the web address, don't add the http:// in there again. Also be sure to use the exact web address. For example, don't just add Go to your book page at Amazon and in the address location of your browser, cut and paste the complete (and longer) web address.

How do I use the Dashboard's archive feature?
The archive is where you'll put unpublished works that you never want to republish, or maybe you think it'll be several months before you have a new revision ready so you want to move it to the archive for safe-keeping so you can return to it later and update it. Sometimes, an author's book will disappear and they later learned they accidentally moved it to the archive. If you want to return a title in your Archive to your Dashboard so you can update and republish it, click the Manage Archived Books link in your Dashboard, also available here - - and then click the link under the Status column that reads "Return Book to Dashboard." Next, return click to the Dashboard and beside the title, you'll see "Unpublished!" in red, and below that you'll see a link that reads, "Click to republish." Click that link and your book is live in the system again. To update the book with a new revision, click the "upload new version" link in your Dashboard.

How do I track how many readers have favorited me or subscribed to my Author Alerts (Smashwords Alerts) for my new releases?
From your Dashboard under the "Marketing and Distribution Tools" column, you can see at a glance how many readers have favorited you or subscribed to your alerts.


Return to Top


*** *** ***


Selling at the Smashwords Store

How is the Smashwords Store Different from Distribution?
Although Smashwords' primary business is ebook distribution to major ebook retailers, we also operate our own ebook store at  The store is small but growing.  Many ebook readers prefer to shop at Smashwords because they pay one purchase price and gain access to an ebook in multiple ebook formats, readable on any e-reading device.  Many Smashwords authors and publishers use Smashwords as their primary sales platform because Smashwords pays among the industry's highest royalty rates (85% of net sales).  Although the Smashwords store is growing quickly, please remember that you should still expect it to account for a very small percentage of your overall sales.  90% of your sales will come from the retailers and libraries to which we distribute.

How do I locate my book in the Smashwords Store?
Within five minutes of upload, your book will appear for sale or download on the Smashwords home page.  The easiest way to locate your book is to click to Profile, and then click on the book listing.  Once you're at your book's page, you'll see in your browser's address field the web address for your book.  The address will look similar to this:  

How can I increase the conversion rate of samplers to buyers?
Obviously, this starts with a great book, great book description, compelling cover image and proper categorization. Make sure you encourage your fans to leave starred reviews of your books. Some other tips: If it's a long book (over 50,000 words), consider limiting your sample size to 25% or less, operating under the assumption that many customers purchase books they intend to finish but don't. Review your marketing efforts, so you focus your efforts on the target readers most likely to purchase your book. If you wrote a book on how to grow tomatoes, become an active participant in online gardening forums and message boards. Download the free Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for more marketing ideas.  To learn the best practices of the most successful Smashwords authors, download our free ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.

On my Dashboard's Stats page, I see more sales downloads than sales.  Why?
A single customer can download your book multiple times, and in multiple formats.  Some customers will visit your book page each time they sit down to read your book, and will download it again for each sitting. We track these downloads in your Stats page.  Other customers may download in multiple formats to determine which format works best for their e-reading device, or possibly they purchased a new e-reading device and want to move your books there.  This ability to maintain a true library of purchases, combined with the ability to download multiple times and in multiple formats, is why so many customers prefer purchasing books at Smashwords.  Smashwords offers a much better customer experience than, for example, selling downloads one by one over an author website.

How can I be sure that my sales are being properly recorded?
Sales at are reported to you instantly in your Dashboard, and via instant email notification.  Sales at our retail partners are reported to you days or weeks later.  You're welcome to audit your transactions at any time. Here's how: To audit Smashwords sales, just ask a friend to purchase your book. Upon their successful purchase, they'll receive an emailed purchase confirmation, and you'll receive an email alert (if you don't, check to make sure your communications preferences are properly configured to email you purchase alerts).  You'll see the sale recorded in your Sales and Payments report from your Dashboard.  Or, to save your friend the money, issue them a 100%-off coupon using the Smashwords Coupon Generator in your Dashboard. The coupon redemption will be recorded as a sale. To audit our retail partners, purchase your book there (Remember, it can take several weeks for the purchase to appear in your Sales & Payments screen.  Also note that some retailers report sales by day or by month).  If you discover a sale was not reported, contact us. We and our retail partners stand behind the accuracy of the reporting, but if you discover a bug or error we want to know!

I'm watching my sales ranking rise at the retailers, yet these sales aren't being reported to me. Why?
Retailers use complicated and often-secret algorithms to compute sales rank in their stores, and these algorithms may consider factors other than sales, and of course each book's rank is relative to the sales and sales timing of other books.  This means there's not always a direct correlation between sales and sales rank.  This also means your sales rank can and will fluctuate even if your book isn't selling, just as it's possible for your sales in to increase why your rank decreases (or increases).   The sales reporting from retailers back to Smashwords is typically delayed anywhere from a day to several weeks.  The Smashwords Daily Sales chart in your Dashboard reports same-day and next-day preliminary sales reported from the Smashwords Store, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and OverDrive.  A retailer's final audited sales - upon which your  earnings and payments are based - are often not reported back to Smashwords until a couple weeks after the end of each calendar month.

Why do the transaction fees for sales at the Smashwords store sometimes vary?
For sales that take place at, there are two potential reasons. 1. The transaction fee can vary based on the number of books in the customer's cart (more books = lower transaction fee per title). This is because PayPal charges a fixed fee per shopping cart transaction (approximately 33 cents), regardless of the number of books in the cart, and then adds a percentage fee based on the overall price. When multiple books are in the customer's purchase, the 33 cent fee is spread across multiple books, so, if the customer bought 33 books, it would be about 1 cent per book plus the percentage. This is why on the Publish page, at the time you set your prices, we notify you that your actual proceeds from the sale might be higher depending on the number of books purchased in the cart.  2. If the sale was originated by an affiliate marketer, then your earnings-share rate goes to 70.5% of the net, and Smashwords' earnings share is 18.5% (vs. the ordinary 15%).

Why do I sell more books at Amazon than Smashwords?
Amazon is about 2,000 times larger than Smashwords, so for the time being at least, if you list your book in both places, you'll probably see more sales at Amazon. This is starting to change for some authors, however, especially as Smashwords expands its worldwide distribution network. Our primary benefit to you as an author is our broad and growing distribution network.  You upload one book to Smashwords and we distribute it to multiple major retailers, including the Apple Books store, Barnes & Noble, Everand, Kobo, and others.  Over 90% of our authors' sales come from our distribution network.  As an author, your objective is to maximize the availability of your book by getting listed in as many retailers as possible, and this is where Smashwords is so valuable as your ebook distribution partner. We are constantly building out our distribution network, all with the goal of helping you reach more readers.  To learn the best practices of the bestselling Smashwords authors, download a copy of our free ebook, the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.


Return to Top


*** *** ***


Distributing with Smashwords


What is the Premium Catalog, and how do I get my books included?
Smashwords is the leading distributor of indie ebooks.  To receive distribution, you want your book accepted into our Premium Catalog. The Smashwords Style Guide shows how to easily get your book accepted into the Smashwords Premium Catalog. Once books are accepted into the Premium Catalog, they receive distribution to Smashwords retail channel partners such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Everand, Kobo. See the Distribution Information page or your Channel Manager for the latest updates.  You want your book in the Premium Catalog because approximately 80% of all our sales come from our retail partners.

My book is in the Premium Catalog, but I don't see it listed in all the online retailers yet. How long does it take?
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. Some retailers list new books quicker than others, so your book may appear faster or slower than the range estimated above.  Other than Apple Books which lists our non-erotic books the same day we deliver to them, most other retailers require two to five business days to process and list the books. 

How do I check to see if a retailer is carrying my book?
First, check your Channel Manager to make sure the book has shipped to a retailer.  Most non-erotic books appear at Apple Books the same day we ship to them.  Assuming your book has shipped, and understanding that it generally takes most retailers three to five business days to load your book after we ship it to them,  click on 'Retailer Links' on the right side of the Book Summaries in your Dashbaord.  The next page will provide you with links to your book at each retailer.

Here's another trick you can try:  Let's say your book was The Smashwords Style Guide, and you want to find the book at Apple (or any other bookstore).  Go to Google and type in your book title followed by 'Apple Books' or 'Barnes & Noble', etc.

Here are the web addresses for each Smashwords retailer:


Apple Books - If you have an iPad or iPhone, download Apple's free Apple Books app (if it's not already native on your device), and then search for your book there.  If you don't have an Apple device, see the section below, "How do I locate my book at Apple Books."

Barnes & Noble - Visit the B&N Nook store at

Kobo - Kobo has various free "apps" you can download for virtually any device, including the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and more.  Or, visit them on the web at

Does Smashwords distribute to libraries?
Yes!  We have two methods of distributing to libraries:  1.  Via library aggregators.  Library aggregators, such as OverDrive and Baker & Taylor's Axis360 service, allow libraries to purchase books.  Smashwords is working with multiple library aggregators, and is in the process of signing up additional aggregators.  2.  On August 7, 2012, Smashwords announced Library Direct.  This distribution option allows libraries and library networks to acquire and host Smashwords ebooks on their own servers.  This option is only available to libraries who place large "opening collection" orders, typically in the range of $20,000-$50,000, and the libraries must have the ability to host and manage the books, and apply industry-standard DRM to manage one-checkout-at-a-time borrows.  To learn more about these library distribution options, visit your Dashboard's Channel Manager.

A Smashwords retailer is listing my book incorrectly. How do I fix?
Don't contact the retailer.  First, check your Channel Manager screen to see if we've shipped your update to the retailer. If your book just recently appeared at a retailer, it's possible they're still loading your information. If, for example, your cover image is missing, or it's missing the book description, the retailer will probably recognize the omission and fix it on their own. If after a week the problem persists, please click the customer support link at top of this page and send us a direct hyperlink to the retailer's listing with a clear explanation of the issue, and we will expedite the correction for you.  We ship updates to retailers multiple times per week, and most retailers process these changes within one week of receipt. 

How do I get my books distributed to the Apple Books?
After your book is in the Premium Catalog, make sure you have attached an ISBN to your book via your Dashboard's ISBN Manager. Also make sure your book passed EPUBCHECK (see next item below). For a helpful checklist of to-do items, see our page, How to Publish and Distribute to Apple Books.

My book hasn't shipped to the Apple Books. Why?
First, make sure your book is Premium Catalog-approved.  You can check your book's status under the "Premium Catalog Status" column in your Smashwords Dashboard.  Next, make sure you assigned an ISBN to your book.  Next, check to see if you have any "Tickets" in your Dashboard.  If Apple's Quality Assurance team finds errors in your book, you may find a ticket here with instructions on how to fix.  Finally, if you write extreme taboo erotica, Apple Books may decline to list your book.  If you're unable to pinpoint the issue, please contact our support team via the "support" link at the bottom of any page.

My book shipped to Apple Books but it's still not showing in the store. Why?
Apple manually reviews some books prior to listing them in their store.  This review process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.  There are several situations that could further delay or prevent the book from appearing:  1.  Check for Apple tickets in your Dashboard.  If Apple rejects the book, they give a reason and you'll see the reason in the "Retailer Tickets" column of your Dashboard.  Once you repair the problem, we can reship the book to Apple.  Click here to learn more about Apple Tickets2. If the book is erotica, it may be subject to a manual review by the Apple Books store before it appears. The review may take up to six weeks, possibly longer. Apple accepts most erotica, though if your book advocates, celebrates or encourages illegal behavior, they will not list it (and neither will Smashwords, so check the Smashwords TOS if you're wondering if is qualified for Smashwords). Smashwords has zero tolerance for underage characters in erotica, a sentiment shared by all Smashwords retailers.   3. Nudity isn't allowed on covers, and especially profane book titles are subject to editing with asterisks. 4. If you uploaded a greyscale book cover image, Apple won't list your book. 5. If the book has multiple sections or chapters, and doesn't have a working NCX (see Step 20 in the Style Guide to learn how to create a good NCX) and Apple believes the book would benefit from an NCX (If your book has multiple well-delineated sections, it can benefit from an NCX), this can prevent listing.  6.  If you or another distributor previously tried to upload this book directly to Apple using the same ISBN number, the book will be automatically blocked.  If this is the case, please contact us so we can investigate.  7.  Failure to follow the Style Guide.  If your book contains formatting errors that you and the Smashwords Premium Catalog vetting team overlooked (yes, it happens, we're human!), this can prevent listing.  8.  Poor book covers.  If your cover image is pixelated or of poor quality, this can prevent listing.   9.  If your book cover lists a price, or promises something not included in the book (such as "Free CD included"), they'll reject it.  10. Each Apple Books store is geographically focused. Smashwords books are currently distributed to Apple Books stores in 51 countries. Other stores are forthcoming. If you're trying to access your book from a country in which we or the Apple Books store are not yet activated, you won't see the book. To view your book in the other Apple Books stores, see the July 30, 2010 tip in the Smashwords updates or see the tip above.

How do I locate my book at Apple Books?
The simplest way to locate your book is to download the free Apple Books app on your iPad or iPhone, and then search by author name or book title. Keep in mind that Apple operates the Apple Books Store in multiple countries, so if Apple isn't yet distributing our books to a specific country's store, then you won't find the books there. Apple distributes to 51 countries including the U.S. If you don't own one of these devices mentioned above, you can check the book availability country by country using your web browser. Here's how:

How to Locate your Smashwords Ebook in the Apple Store:

Take a look at this (study the URL before you click):

                    country code ^                ^ISBN ^

It's the hyperlink to the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide in the US Apple Books Store. Let's deconstruct the URL ("URL" stands for "Uniform Resource Locator," a fancy word for "web address") so you, too, can find and link to your books at the various Apple Books stores around the world.

The link begins with followed by the two letter code for the country. The US is "us," Canada = CA, UK = GB, France = FR, Australia = AU and Germany = DE. After the country code, add the "/book/isbn[then enter your ISBN without dashes. To find your ISBN, click to your Dashboard's ISBN Manager.

The Google Method:  Simply go to Google and type in "booktitle authorname itunes" without the quotes and you'll usually find your book.

COOL TOOL MAKES ISBN SEARCH EASIER:  Smashwords author Russel Phillips has created a cool tool that makes the above process even easier.  Simply visit his Tools for Authors page, enter your Smashwords ISBN once, and it'll generate all the direct hyperlinks to each Apple Books store that Smashwords distributes to.

How do I view my book as local customers will see it in each of Apple's 51 different countries?
Here's a neat trick. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can visit each of Apple's 51 different Apple Books stores around the world.  This is especially useful if your book is selling well, and you want to see how it's ranking in the different bestseller lists.  Let's say you live in the US, and want to view your book in the Australia store.  Here's how to check another country.  1.  Click to open the Apple Books app (of course, if you don't have the Apple Books app, download it for free from the App Store).  2.  Swipe down to the bottom of the screen.  You'll see a button, "Sign in."  Click it.  3.  The screen will pop up a message asking if you want to "Use an Existing Apple ID," or "Create a New Apple ID."  Click the latter one, "Create a New Apple ID."  4.  Next, it'll ask you to select the country or region.  The default you see is the country you're registered for, which is likely the country you live in.  For me, it says United States.  If I want to view Australia, I select Australia, then the blue "Done" button.  Next, click the "Next" button.  5.  The next page shows the agreement.  Ignore that, and click the "Cancel" button in the upper left portion of the screen.  A pop up box appears, asking if you're sure you want to cancel the creation of a new Apple ID.  Click "Yes" to cancel.  6.  Voila, you're in the Australian store!

My book once appeared at Everand (formerly Scribd), but then it disappeared
As a subscription service that allows unlimited reading for only $8.99 per month, Everand (formerly Scribd) must closely manage the costs associated with the books it makes available to subscribers.  Since most indie authors typically price under $5.00, most indies will see their books listed and available toEverand subscribers.  However,Everand maintains full control over which books it includes in its catalog at any one time, which means the most likely cause of a book disappearing would be a price increase from the author/publisher.  If you recently raised your ebook price, this may be the reason your book disappeared fromEverand.

What is the earnings share for sales via the Premium Catalog?
Smashwords generally pays you 60% of the list price for your books from the retailers.  For stores that sell your book with the VAT tax included in the list price, your percentage is 60% of what's left after VAT is deducted.  Please see your Channel Manager for complete details.

How do I get my books included in the Premium Catalog?
It's easy. First, learn more about the Premium Catalog and its requirements on the Smashwords Distribution Information page. Next, carefully study and implement all the recommendations of the Smashwords Style Guide. If you don't carefully follow the Style Guide, you will delay or prevent your acceptance into the Premium Catalog. Please help us help you by following the instructions. We want to help all authors gain inclusion in the catalog. Like all Smashwords services, it's free!

How do I monitor my Premium Catalog status?
Go to your Dashboard, where you'll see a column dedicated to listing the "Premium Status" of every book you publish. Click on the status hyperlinks for more information, especially if the link reads,"Requires Modification" or "Requires Submission." Whenever you make changes, remember to resubmit your book for consideration. If your status reads "Pending Approval," then you've done what you can do and you just wait for us to review it. It typically takes up to seven days, give or take a couple days, for your book to be reviewed. Visit the Distribution Information page to learn how we review the books.

My book was previously accepted to the Premium Catalog, and then I made a change and it's asking me to resubmit it for consideration. Why?
For any change to your book other than price, your book must be manually reviewed again before the new changes will ship to our retail partners.This is to ensure the changed book and its associated metadata still meet the requirements of the Premium Catalog. During the time that your book's status reads, "Pending Review," the previously approved version will continue to ship.

My book was previous approved for the Premium Catalog, but now it has been flagged even though I didn't change anything - From time to time, a previously approved book might get flagged for modification.  The two most common reasons for this are as follows:  1.  The most common reason is that we may have previously approved your book in error, but then we later discovered the problem during a subsequent review, or maybe the issue was flagged and ticketed by the retailer.  We apologize if this happened, but please know that our #1 interest is to help you solve all problems so you can put forward a professionally formatted ebook for your readers.  If you're not sure why your book was flagged for modification, please don't hesitate to contact our support team by clicking the "?" at the top of every Smashwords page.  2.  From time to time, retailer requirements may change.  For example, back in 2010, an ebook cover that was only 600 pixels wide was acceptable to retailers.  Then in 2012, the requirement increased to a minimum of 1,400 pixels.  For a period of time, older covers were grandfathered in, but then in 2014 Apple began refusing further updates to such grandfathered titles.  Similarly, a retailer may decide that a book that was acceptable two years ago is no longer acceptable.  For example, some retailers have cracked down on certain categories of erotica that were once considered acceptable. Please don't hesitate to contact our support team if you need help.

How do I track my retail sales, and how and when am I paid?
Your sales made at are reported instantly to you via email. Sales via our retail partners are reported on a completely different schedule. Most of our retail partners do delayed sales reporting, and then they pay us one to two months after the reporting date. Once they provide this information to us, we will provide it to you via your Dashboard. The retailer pays Smashwords and Smashwords redistributes the money to you and your fellow Smashwords authors once per month.

How can I be certain the retailers are properly tracking and reporting my sales?
We have complete confidence in the honesty and integrity of our retail and library partners.  The ebook market is built on trust.  Unlike in the print book world where an author or publisher delivers a known physical inventory of so many copies of a book, and it's easy to determine if a book sold or not (it's either in the store's inventory or it was sold, lost or stolen), ebooks are different.  Smashwords transmits a single copy of your ebook to each sales platform we support.  The sales outlet uses this information to merchandise and sell your book.  Each time they sell a digital copy of your book, they make an authorized copy of it to provide to the customer  When they earn a sale, they report the sale back to Smashwords usually within a day or two (your Dashboard's Daily Sales tool, for example, reports same day and next day sales drawn from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive and the Smashwords store.  Most sales channels will remit payments back to Smashwords within one to two months of the actual date of the sale, after which your proceeds are sent to you per the terms and schedule outlined below and in the Terms of Service.  Although we vet our partners carefully and only work with reputable sales outlets, we understand how many authors can grow concerned that their sales are being underreported when friends say they purchased your book at XYZ retailer yet you never see the sales reports from said retailer.  Or maybe you think it's simply impossible that your book is selling so poorly (reality check: as we mention elsewhere here on this page, most authors sell poorly, even authors of great books).  If you need a confidence boost in the veracity of a retailer's sales reporting, here's what we suggest:  play secret shopper.  Once or twice a year, visit your retailers and purchase a copy of your ebook.  Make a note of the time, date and price, and hold on to the store's sales receipt.  Within 24-48 hours of a sale, you should see it appear in your Daily Sales report, as well as in your Dashboard's Sales & Payments report.  In the extremely unlikely event that you discover a retailer underreported your sales, we and our retail partners want to know!!  Please forward your information and receipts to the Smashwords service team by clicking the "?" icon at the top of the page so we can have our retail partners conduct an audit.

I made a change to my book. Do I contact the retailers to ensure the change is reflected?
Definitely not!  Smashwords retailers ask you not contact them directly, since many of the changes and corrections can be made faster and more efficiently by Smashwords.  Their "Go through Smashwords" policy also protects your book from being removed or modified without your consent.  After you make the change at Smashwords (such as a new book description, a new price, a new revision to your book), Smashwords will inform the retailer of the change. You control all of this at Smashwords. It may take several days, or even up to a week, for a change to filter through to all our retail partners. 

The retailer is listing my book in the wrong category. Should I contact the retailer?
No, you should make your category selections at Smashwords. If the retailer manually changes your category, and then Smashwords re-ships them the old category you selected at Smashwords, the retailer will see this as an update and may switch batch to the Smashwords category. If you feel the Smashwords category doesn't accurately reflect the true category for your book, contact us. Often, if we're missing a category we can add it for you, especially if the category conforms to BISAC codes. BISAC is the industry-standard book categorization system.  For more on BISACs, see the Glossary of Terms at the bottom of this FAQ.

How do I track my sales?
From your Smashwords Dashboard, you have a couple options.  To view daily sales reports from our largest retailers, click to Daily Sales, where you'll find next-day and same-day sales from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive and the Smashwords Store.  We announced Daily Sales on June 11, 2014.  Please note that this is trending data and unaudited.  For audited sales (ie, the retailer has reported the sales as payable), click to your Dashboard's Sales and Payments report.

I haven't sold any books on Smashwords. What's wrong?
The primary benefit of using Smashwords is to utilize our distribution services which get your book listed for sale at the leading ebook retailers and library ebook aggregators (Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo,Everand, OverDrive, etc). Although our primary business is ebook distribution, we do run our own small retail operation at as part of our publishing platform. Most Smashwords authors earn most of their sales from our retail distribution network.  Although some Smashwords authors sell books at Smashwords within minutes or hours of uploading to us, some Smashwords authors never sell a single book.  To help you market your book, we created the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, filled with over 30 book marketing ideas, all of which are free to implement.  Also be sure to read the free Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, which shares 30 best practices of the most commercially successful indie authors.

Why doesn't my book appear in mobile ebook apps such as Aldiko?
If your book is not free, and you have chosen not to provide a sample, it won't be available. If your
book is not available in EPUB format, it won't be available. Solution: make sure you have sampling enabled and you're offering your book in EPUB format.

How do I suggest a new retailer for Smashwords to distribute to?
We're always looking to add more retailers to our growing network of retail partners. To suggest that we form a relationship with a new retailer, click the customer support link at the top of any page, and provide the retailer name, web address, and contact name if known. Thanks!



Return to Top


*** *** ***


Author and Book Marketing

Can you give me tips on how to marketing my book on Smashwords?
Yes! Please read our free Smashwords Book Marketing Guide

What are the secrets of the bestselling Smashwords authors?
Thanks for asking!  In March 2012, Mark Coker published The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.  This free ebook examines 30 best-practices of the most commercially successful Smashwords authors.  If you want to become a more successful, more professional publisher, this book is a must read.  Don't forget to share these secrets with your fellow authors!  Your fellow authors are your partners, not your competitors.

What marketing tools do you offer authors?
Smashwords offers multiple author marketing tools, for use by the author, to promote their book to potential readers. These tools include author pages with bios and listings of published works, individual book pages for each work, Smashwords Coupons, support for embedded YouTube videos so the author can promote the book in their own words, member contributed reviews, author favoriting, new release notifications for readers via Smashwords Alerts, and integration with social bookmarking and social networking sites. In the months and years ahead, Smashwords will provide even more tools to help authors reach their readers. Learn more about how to promote your book on Smashwords by reading our free ebook, the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide

How do I post YouTube videos?
First produce your video and upload it to YouTube. Once your video is published at YouTube, look for the "Embed" area. Below embed is a box of code. Highlight all the code with your mouse, then copy it into your browser's memory (type CTRL-C or select edit: copy from your Web browser's menu). Next, click to your Dashboard's "settings" link and you'll see an option to add a video to your book page. On the next page, you'll be able to give your video a title, enter a description, and then paste the embed code.

How do I find the exact hyperlinks to my author/publisher page and my book pages?
Click Profile at the top of this page. That will take you to the unique web address for your author or publisher page. To find the exact hyperlinks for books, click on the book's title, which takes you to the book's unique page. When you're marketing your book, it's smart to link directly to your author page or book page. This saves your readers the hassle of searching for you from the home page.

Do you offer interactive widgets?
Yes!  From any Smashwords book page, right under the pricing box, you'll see a button you can click labeled, "Create Widget".  The cool tool allows you to create attractive, customizable widgets for use on blogs and websites.  In addition, several independent web developers have developed free widgets you can use.  For WordPress blog users, check out:   Also check out one of the first independent widget developers for Smashwords:    If you have developed free, interactive widgets like these above, contact us and we'll share the link here!

What are the best practices of the most successful authors on Smashwords?
Please check out our blog post titled, The Seven Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.  It also includes an online presentation.  Learn what separates the authors who sell from the authors who don't.



Return to Top


*** *** ***


The Smashwords Affiliate Program

What is an Affiliate Program?
An affiliate program allows third party bloggers, web site operators, authors, publishers and Internet marketers to promote Smashwords books simply by hyperlinking to Smashwords pages. Affiliate receive 11 percent or more of all the net sales derived from the visitors they direct to Smashwords. The books of Smashwords authors and publishers are automatically enrolled in the affiliate program, and therefore are eligible for affiliate promotion.

How does the Smashwords Affiliate Marketing Program Work?
All Smashwords books are automatically enrolled in the affiliate program, and are therefore eligible for promotion by affiliates. Authors, publishers and affiliate marketers can also sign up to earn commissions as affiliate marketers. Affiliates must first register as Smashwords members. Existing Smashwords members simply go to their Account page and follow the link to the Affiliate Management page.

What is the "Juicing" feature?
Smashwords authors and publishers are able to "juice" the affiliate commissions for their books by giving affiliates a portion of their earnings. Authors and publishers do this to motivate affiliates to promote their books more heavily.

How do the enrollment periods work?
All Smashwords books are automatically enrolled in the affiliate program for recurring one month periods. On the first of each month, the period renews. Once a book has been enrolled in the affiliate program for more than 30 days, when authors and publishers make certain adjustments to their participation, such opting out of the program, or reducing their juicing rate, these changes don't become effective until the first day of the next month. However, authors and publishers can increase their juicing rates at any time.

Do I need to Juice my rates to attract affiliates?
No, not necessarily. At 11 percent, the standard default affiliate rate is generous.

Is it possible to remove my books from the affiliate program?
Yes. We strongly discourage authors and publishers from opting out of the affiliate program. Titles that are not part of the program will not receive the same level of promotion as titles that do participate. However, because we believe authors and publishers have the right to control how their books are marketed, we allow opt-outs. To opt out of the program, click on the Affiliate System Management link in your Account page, then proceed to your settings where you'll find a link that allows you to opt out, title by title.

When are affiliate earnings paid?
Monthly, on the same schedule as earnings.


Return to Top


*** *** ***


Your Earnings - Getting Paid

How are earnings calculated?
Smashwords usually pays the author, or the author's designated publisher, 85% or more of the net sales proceeds from the work. Estimated proceeds are clearly presented during the publish process in a pie chart, and are calculated as follows: For sales at the retail store,  (Sales price minus transaction fee) multiplied by .85 =proceeds to author/publisher. The earnings-share rate for sales originated by affiliate marketers is 70.5% net. For most retail distribution partners, Smashwords pays the author/publisher 60% of the suggested list price you set for your book. These rates vary by retailer for sales outside the US.   Apple and Barnes & Noble are 60% of retail price, though for Apple's UK, France, Germany and Australian bookstores, Apple deducts a Value Added Tax (VAT) from your sales price, so your actual earnings share = 60% of (Retail price - VAT). Kobo is also 60% for books priced between $.99 and $12.99 for US and Canadian dollar-denominated sales. Sales in other currencies at Kobo are at 38% list.  For the Baker & Taylor Axis360 library platform, libraries purchase a single copy at list price, for which the author/publisher earns 45% of list, and then the library is allowed to lend the book multiple times, but only allows one checkout at a time (patrons who want to check out a book that's already checked out have option to purchase the book).  The Smashwords Channel Manager page summarizes how earnings are calculated for each channel.

How often are my revenue shares paid?
Monthly (prior to 2017, it was quarterly). Although our Terms of Service states that authors' earnings will be paid within 40 days of the close of each calendar month, we usually pay in about 30 days. To qualify for payment, accrued earnings must be over USD $75.00 for U.S. authors who want paper checks, and $0.01 for all authors who want electronic payment via PayPal. All authors and publishers outside the US are paid via PayPal (click here for a list of countries served by PayPal). Unlike sales transacted at, where you receive instant notification and account credit, sales at retailers are reported back to Smashwords on a delayed basis, and there's a lag time between the end of the month and the time we receive the reports and the payment. Once we receive the reports, we will reflect this data in your Dashboard. For each revenue period, you will be paid your share of all payments received from retailers as of the last day of the period. Considering that all retailers pay on a delayed schedule of 30-60 days, this means that often, your Dashboard's retail sales reports and payments will only include the previous month's receipts, as well as all previous receipts. (Prior to 2017, Smashwords paid quarterly; the quarters were Q1 (January/February/March), Q2 (April/May/June), Q3 (July/August/September) and Q4 (October/November/December), so Smashwords issued payments approximately one month after the end of each quarter.  This meant we usually processed payments the last two days of January, April, July and October.)   To be paid, your Payment Settings page (under the Account tab) must be filled out completely and reviewed by the tax compliance team. 

I wasn't paid.  Why not and what happens now?
Nothing makes us happier at Smashwords than to put money in our authors' and publishers' pockets.  Read this FAQ to prevent payment delays.  If you do miss a payment for one of the reasons below, the funds will automatically credit back to your account for the next payment round. 

The most common reasons people miss payments:  

  1. Your end-of-period balance owed did not meet the threshold of $75 for paper checks.

  2. As of the 15th of the payment month, your Payment Settings page (under the Account tab) contained incomplete or inaccurate information, such as an out-of-date mailing address (for paper checks), an incorrect PayPal address, or an incorrect TaxID.  Proactive solution:  As we recommend on your Payment Settings page, prior to the 15th of each payment month, make sure that your payment settings are correct.

  3. We haven't processed payments yet.  Although our Terms of Service promises payment within 40 days of the end of each period, we always strive to process payments earlier than that, and historically have paid out between 20 and 30 days after the end of each period. If you are to receive a paper check, please allow several days beyond that for the mail to arrive.

  4. If you entered an email address in your Payment Settings page for PayPal, but you haven't yet set up your free PayPal account, you'll receive an email that we paid you. If you don't create your free PayPal account and claim your funds at PayPal within 30 days, the funds will bounce back to Smashwords and we will credit your Smashwords balance and it will be paid in a future payment round. 

  5. If you received a notification from PayPal that we paid you, but you never saw the money, it usually means that you're signing into the wrong PayPal account.  Check the Payment Settings page to learn the PayPal address you provided us, then log into PayPal with that address. 

  6. PayPal from time to time will update their terms of service, and will require you to click "I agree" to the new terms.  If you don't often use PayPal, it's possible you missed their message.  PayPal will refuse to accept payments in some such cases if they deem your account not current.  Proactive solution:  If you rarely use PayPal, then at the end of the month, log in to your PayPal account to make sure that your PayPal account is in good standing.

  7. You're outside the United States and it has been more than 3 years since you certified your tax status.  Per the IRS, all non-US persons or entities must recertify their tax status every three years by submitting a new Form W-8BEN or Form W-8BEN-E.  To update your tax status, go to your Payment Settings page and re-enter your information. 

  8. Your Payment Settings page information, updates or corrections were not completed until after we began processing payments.  As we mention on the Payment Settings page, the deadline for making changes to your Payment Settings page is 15th of the payment month, otherwise you may miss your payment. 

  9. You live in a country where PayPal payments are not accepted.   See below.

  10. Your account was disabled because you committed a gross violation of the Smashwords Terms of Service, such as publishing PLR content (Private Label Rights), or publishing stolen content, or publishing underage erotica, or publishing content that appears elsewhere under other authors' names.  If your account is disabled, you will not be able to log into your account, and your books will disappear from the site and from Smashwords retailers.

Common reasons PayPal payments may not go through:

  • Typos in PayPal email address for the recipient.
  • The recipient hasn't completed setting up their PayPal account or confirmed their email address.
  • Recipient hasn't begun the process of setting up a PayPal account.
  • Settings on the recipients PayPal account that blocks certain types of payments.
  • Recipient lives in a country that does not accept PayPal payments.
  • Unforeseen issues when payment is sent which may require further research.
  • Often times PayPal requires users to agree to an update in policy or terms of PayPal's users agreement. If the user doesn't use their PayPal account often the requirement can go unnoticed for some time and the PayPal account can become restricted and there won't be any funds allowed in or out of the PayPal account. Once the user agrees to the updates their account will be able to function as normal again.


I live in a country not supported by PayPal.  How do I receive payment?

Unfortunately, at this time we are only able to pay international authors where PayPal payments can be received.  After we merge our accounts to the Draft2Digital payment platform, other payment options will be available.  Please check in with customer service for further details.

How do I track my accrued and expected earnings? 

 Click to your Dashboard's Sales & Payments Report (the report is on the left side of your Dashboard) for a full accounting of all sales across all retailers.  Click the year to see sales for a specific year.  You'll also find additional information there on how sales are tracked and reported.  To view daily sales from our top retailers, click to your Dashboard's Daily Sales tool, where you'll find charts and graphs of recent sales performance.

Do you offer year-end tax reporting?
Yes, visit our tax reporting page at to download your tax documents.

When are affiliate earnings paid?
If you're an affiliate marketer, your earnings are paid on the same schedule as author earnings.

I live outside the United States. How do I get paid?
We pay via PayPal. PayPal is available in most countries.  For a list of countries served by PayPal, click here.  It's free to sign up for the PayPal service. Visit PayPal at

Are there tax withholdings on my earnings if I reside outside the United States?
If you reside outside the US, your Smashwords earnings are subject to a 30% tax withholding, mandated by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Luckily, most Smashwords authors reside in countries that have special tax treaties with the US, and these tax treaties can allow you to claim full or partial exemptions from tax withholding, depending on the country. To view countries with tax treaties, see or this PDF file: Here are some of the withholding rates for some of the most common countries representing Smashwords authors: Canada - 0%; United Kingdom - 0%; Canada - 0%; Australia - 5%; New Zealand - 5%; India - 15%; South Africa - 0%;Germany - 0%. Be sure to check the list above, because these rates are subject to change by the IRS.

How do I apply for reduced tax withholdings?

To request reduced tax withholdings, you will need to complete the "Claim of Treaty Benefits" section on the online Form W-8BEN or Form W-8BEN-E when you set up your Payment Settings.  When you go to your Payment Settings page, you will be prompted to answer questions that will determine which form you need to complete.  

How do I get a US tax identification number?

You are not required to obtain a US EIN or ITIN if you can provide a foreign tax identifying number on your Smashwords Payment Settings (line 6 for individuals and line 9b for business entities).  A foreign TIN is the tax identifying number issued in your country of residence or incorporation on your tax filings.  Foreign authors and publishers may contact the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for assistance in completing the W-8BEN or W-8BEN-E with their foreign TIN.  The IRS offers an international hotline for this purpose:

What if I am a US citizen living abroad?

If you are a U.S. citizen living abroad, you can submit your Payment Settings to show that you are a US person.  Check the "My address is not in the US" box, and enter your foreign address into the fields provided.

Why do the transaction fees sometimes vary? 

For sales that take place at, there are two potential reasons. 1. The transaction fee can vary based on the number of books in the customer's cart (more books = lower transaction fee per title). This is because PayPal charges a fixed fee per shopping cart transaction (approximately 33 cents), regardless of the number of books in the cart, and then adds a percentage fee based on the overall price. When multiple books are in the customer's purchase, the 33 cent fee is spread across multiple books, so, if the customer bought 33 books, it would be about 1 cent per book plus the percentage. This is why on the Publish page, at the time you set your prices, we notify you that your actual proceeds from the sale might be higher depending on the number of books purchased in the cart.  2. If the sale was originated by an affiliate marketer, then your earnings-share rate goes to 70.5% of the net, and Smashwords' earnings share is 18.5% (vs. the ordinary 15%).


Return to Top


*** *** ***


Privacy and Security

What is your privacy policy?
At Smashwords, we honor the privacy of our members. We don't spam and we don't sell or rent your personal information to third parties. To read our complete privacy policy, click here. When you sign up for Smashwords, you're automatically signed up for our member newsletter, which goes out very rarely. If you sell a book, we will send you an email to notify you when the book is purchased, or when the book is reviewed. If you are an author, we will occasionally send you author update newsletters. Click on "Account" to adjust your communications settings, or click here:

Are my purchases revealed to other members?
No. Your personal library is personal. At Smashwords, we go to great lengths to protect the personal privacy of our readers and our authors.

Is my credit card information safe with you?
At Smashwords, we do not store or capture your credit card information. Your credit card info is passed directly to our payment processor, PayPal, a trusted company that is owned by eBay.

Is my social security information safe with you?
We take your security and privacy very seriously. Due to US tax law, Smashwords is required to collect the tax ID information from our authors and publishers. This information is stored securely using public key, private key encryption technology. It's very secure. Your social security number is more likely to be stolen out of your home mailbox.

How do I log out (signout) of my account?
The log out link is at the bottom of every page. Unless you're working on a shared computer where you don't want others to receive access to your account, there's no reason to signout. We have found that when people sign out, they often forget their password, and then to sign back in they need to create a new password (which they're even more likely to forget).

I forgot my password.  What do I do?
Click the "Forgot your Password?" link under the sign-in box on the home page.


Return to Top


*** *** ***


Other Questions


How can I help support Smashwords and its authors?
At Smashwords, our mission is to help independent authors and publishers around the world publish, promote and distribute their ebooks. We're often asked by authors and readers what they can do to help support Smashwords and our authors. Here's how you can help:

  1. Purchase books from your favorite authors! - Each time you purchase a Smashwords book, 85% of the net proceeds go to the author and 15% go to Smashwords.
  2. Spread the word - Most people learn about Smashwords through word of mouth from friends and via social media (Twitter, Facebook), or through news and feature stories in blogs and traditional media. Add links from your blog or website to Smashwords. If you're reading a blog post or news story and you think the writer or journalist would enjoy knowing about Smashwords, leave a friendly comment or write them an email.
  3. Invite all the authors and publishers you know to publish with Smashwords! - Every time a new author or publisher joins Smashwords, the entire community benefits. Each new author and publisher brings with them new readers who can then discover and enjoy the books of all Smashwords authors.
  4. Invite readers to join Smashwords - We treat readers right! One price gets them permanent multi-format access to their book.
  5. Volunteer - If you're a web developer, volunteer to make widgets that Smashwords authors and their fans can use to promote their books on websites and blogs. If you're multi-lingual, volunteer to help translate Smashwords pages into another language. Do you have other ideas? Contact us! We reward volunteers with good karma and public recognition. Although Smashwords is a for-profit company, when you volunteer you're directly helping indie authors everywhere because they receive 85% of all net profits.


Does Smashwords provide phone support?
No, sorry. In order for us to keep the Smashwords service free for all authors, we only provide email support. Between this support page, the Smashwords Style Guide and the other important links you'll find on the How to Publish at Smashwords page, you'll find 99% of your questions clearly answered. If you cannot find the answer, please contact us. All support inquires receive high priority. We aim to respond within 48 hours during normal business hours, not counting weekends.

I would like to invite a Smashwords representative to speak to my group. Whom do I contact?
Contact Jim Azevedo at firstname at you know where dot com.

I would like to do a Q&A interview with Mark for my blog
Contact Mark at first initial second initial at you know where dot com. Send your questions via email and include your deadline, a hyperlink to your blog or website where the interview will appear, and he'll do his best to respond quickly. It doesn't matter how large or small your audience is, though we do ask that the interview be made publicly available to anyone at no cost. Once your Q&A is published, send us the link and we will link to it in the Smashwords press room.

How do I opt-in or out of emails from Smashwords?
Click the Account tab above and you'll see the option. Or click here to go straight there.

Why do my sales and download counts appear to visitors of my profile page?
They don't. Authors and publishers see these statistics because they own their page, but visitors to your page do not see these stats. Similarly, authors and publishers can download their entire book for free when they're logged into their own account, because it's their book. To test either of the above two features, log out of your account and then visit your profile page and you'll view your page as your visitors view it.

How should I link to my books at Smashwords?
We recommend you provide your fans a direct hyperlink to either your author page or your individual book pages. This is better than providing a link to the Smashwords home page, because at the home page readers may get distracted by the other books, and if they don't enter your author name correctly into our finicky search option, they'll have difficulty finding you. For the link to your Smashwords author or publisher page, click Profile and then link to the address you see on screen. It'll look like where the last part of the address is your unique screen name.

What is your reviews policy?
At Smashwords, we allow readers to write reviews. All free books can be reviewed by any Smashwords member.  Books with a price can be reviewed by paid customers, or by customers who redeemed an author-provided coupon (authors: visit your Dashboard's Coupon Manager to generate free coupons for your reviewers).  If you're asking a friend or fan to review your book at Smashwords, ask them for an honest review.  If real customers feel mislead by overly effusive reviews, they are more likely to leave a negative review.  We expect reviewers to maintain civility. If you don't like the book, don't attack or insult the author. Instead, provide constructive criticism and feedback. If you like it, say why (but don't spoil the ending!). If you don't like it, say why. Don't write, "This is a crappy talentless writer not worth reading." Instead, suggest how the writer might improve their craft. Reviews that are simply attack pieces will be deleted. Reviews must also remain on topic. If the reviewer engages in behavior counter to our Terms of Service, their account may be closed without warning.  Review Gaming.  It's a violation of the Terms of Service to attempt to artificially inflate a book's review rankings by creating sock puppet accounts to leave fake reviews, or hiring or bartering with others to do the same.  Authors who engage in review gaming face penalties ranging from the removal of all reviews up to and including immediate account closure without warning.  Don't game reviews.  It's not fair to readers, and it's not fair to your fellow authors and publishers.

How do I review a book?
Visit the book page for a given title, and then below the table of different available file formats, you'll see a link to review the book if you're personally eligible to review a book. For example, if the book is free, anyone but the author is eligible to review it. If an author looks at their own book page, they won't see the review option because authors can't review their own books. If the book requires purchase, then the review link will only appear to people who purchased it.

Should I publish in print?
This is up to you.  Print publishing is more complicated, costly and time-consuming than ebook publishing, and although print books still account for the majority of book industry sales, many self-published authors sell more ebooks than print books.  Why?  Self-pubbed print authors don't enjoy the same brick and mortar bookstore distribution as traditionally published authors.  This means most indie authors are selling entirely through online bookstores.  Since indie authors usually price their ebooks significantly lower than their print prices, this helps drive more sales toward ebooks.  If you're selling a lot of ebooks, you might consider experimenting with print.  If you're not confident there's a large commercial market for your book in print, you might want to hold off on print until you see how your ebook performs.  If you do use print, consider a free print on demand service so you can minimize your risk and expense (we don't advise filling your garage with thousands of printed books!).

Can I publish in print with Smashwords?
No.  We don't offer print services.

How do I change my email address?
Log in to your account, click on the "?" link at the top of any page and send us your current email address and your new email address. 

How do I close my Smashwords account?
Very carefully. If you're a reader, if you close your account you will lose access to your Smashwords library. If your only intention is to modify your email subscriptions, click to your communications preferences. We honor a strict no-spam policy.

If you're an author or publisher, we encourage you to first ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish. Why would you deliberately want to limit the distribution of your book? Several Smashwords authors have mistakenly asked us to close their accounts, only to later realize their original reason for requesting closure could have been addressed differently. Some only wanted to change their email address (solution: contact our support team via the "support" link at the bottom of the page and we'll do it for you); upload an updated version of their book (solution: click "upload new version" from your Dashboard); or they wanted to unpublish their book (solution: click "unpublish" from your Dashboard); or they only wanted to remove their books from our retail channel partners (solution: click the Channel Manager link in your Dashboard and then opt out of a specific channel).

If you're sure you still want to close your account, please send a request to our Service Team via the customer support link at the top of any page.

The above Q&As don't address my question. What now?
Click the customer support link you see at the top of any Smashwords page. We try to respond within 48 hours to all inquiries Monday through Friday. All support inquiries receive high priority. If we don't respond within 72 hours, please feel free to pester us again. We process hundreds of inquiries each day, and sometimes an email can slip through the cracks.  Please also make sure "" is on your email system's "safe list" so our responses don't go to your spam folder.


Return to Top


*** *** ***


Glossary of Ebook Publishing and Reading Terms


Making sense of ebook publishing jargon, gobbleygook, acronyms and Smashwords terminology


Affiliate - Affiliate refers to an affiliate marketer, which is typically a person who enrolls in the Smashwords Affiliate program.  Smashwords affiliates earn shares equal to 11% of the net proceeds or more of all ebook sales.  Many authors also participate in the affiliate program.  To enroll, click the Account tab and then scroll down.  Affiliates are not retailers.  Affiliates market and promote Smashwords books, and then direct buyers to the Smashwords web site to complete the purchase.

Aggregator - Another word for book distributor.  For example, Apple Books refers to Smashwords as an authorized aggregator because we're authorized to distribute ebooks to Apple Books.  A distributor aggregates the books from hundreds of (or in case of Smashwords, over 100,000) authors and publishers and distributes the books to major retailers.  See the defintions below for "distributor" and "retailer."

Author page - Every Smashwords author has their own author page, which is kind of like a mini bookstore featuring a listing of their books, along with a biography, social media links, a headshot and last but not least, links to their books.  If you're an author, you want to send your fans directly to your author page.  The direct address for your author page is found by clicking "Profile."  Note that your author page looks different to you than it does to your fans.  Since you're the author, you can see your email address and sales & download statistics.  Customers cannot see this information.  To see our page as customers see your page, click "logout" at the bottom of your page.

AutoVetter - AutoVetter is Smashwords' technology that automatically scans a newly uploaded ebook and reports back to the author/publisher potential formatting problems.  AutoVetter helps authors/publishers quickly identify formatting issues that can harm readability and prevent distribution to retailers.  Authors/publishers can click the hyperlink under their Dashboard's "Premium Status" column to learn if their book as AutoVetter error messages. Additional information is contained below the AutoVetter message listing.  The Style Guide contains detailed instructions on how to repair AutoVetter messages.  The Smashwords Distribution Information page also contains helpful information.

BISAC - BISAC (stands for Book Industry Standards and Communications) is the standard book category coding system. Authors select categories for their books at Smashwords using plain English words or phrases in our category selector, and then Smashwords automatically maps these categories to corresponding BISAC codes. We then communicate this code to our retailers and the code tells them, for example, that a "FIC027120" title should be listed in the "Paranormal Fiction" shelf at the retailer. In other words, BISACs make your book discoverable in category searches at retailers.  Smashwords allows you to select two different categories for each book (do this at Dashboard: Settings).  Learn more at the BISG BISAC FAQ.  Click here to view the different BISAC codes.

Block Paragraph - When paragraphs are not indented, and are separated by  a space between the paragraphs, that's a block paragraph.  The block paragraph method of paragraph separation is an alternative to the first line paragraph indent method.  Block paragraphs are usually used in non-fiction titles.  To create the separation between the paragraphs, the best method is to define "after" spacing inside your paragraph style.  See the Style Guide's section on managing paragraph styles.

Book page - The moment an author or publisher publishes a book at Smashwords, Smashwords automatically generates a custom book page for the book.  The book page showcases the book cover image, the book description, social media links, a shopping cart, and a table of multiple download options.  Book pages also feature reader reviews.  Each book page is cross linked back to the author's author page, or the publisher's publisher page.  A book page also provides links to other books by the same author.

Cloud - This is a fancy term, often used in the context of "in the cloud"  or "cloud computing," which means simply a service on the Internet where you can store your files and books.  For example, your Smashwords library of purchased books is stored "in the cloud," meaning somewhere on the Internet, always accessible to you through from anywhere you have Internet access.  Some cloud services, such as Smashwords, give you the option to both store your files in the cloud and download them to your computer at any time.

Copyright - A copyright is the exclusive legal right, usually held by the author or creator of a work, to copy, adapt or distribute their creation.  In some instances a publisher will control it.  In order to publish at Smashwords, the book must contain a valid copyright statement where their author or publisher asserts their right to publish the book at Smashwords.  For a great overview of copyright, and your rights as an author, see this blog post by Victoria Strauss.  Wikipedia has an extensive discussion of copyright here: and a discussion specific to authors' rights here:'_rights

Discovery - Discovery is an important term in ebook publishing.  The concept of discovery describes how findable your book is.  Discovery helps make your book findable to people who are looking for it, but more important, discovery makes your book discoverable to people who aren't looking for it.  For example, proper categorization is important for discovery.  If a reader is looking for historical fiction, and your book is historical fiction, you want to make sure your book is properly categorized so when the customer looks in the historical fiction section at an online ebook retailer, they can stumble across your book there.  Availability is also important to discovery.  If you book is not distributed to every retailer where readers are looking for books like yours, they won't find your book.  Most of your sales will occur when readers find your book, not when you reach out to readers.

Distributor - Not to be confused with retailer (see below for definition of retailer).  A distributor distributes a book to retailers, libraries and other sales channels.  Smashwords is a distributor.   The primary reason authors and publishers use distributors are time savings, simplicity, and reach.  With a single upload to your distributor, you can reach multiple sales outlets, including many outlets that are only reachable via a distributor.  Distributors provide consolidated management and control.  At Smashwords, for example, you can centrally manage all aspects of your book across multiple retailers from your Smashwords Dashboard.  If you want to change the price of your book at all retailers, it's a couple clicks at Smashwords and you're done.  If you want to view aggregates charts of your sales performance, you can view it from a single screen.  Distributors provide consolidated sales reports, payments and tax filings, further simplifying your publishing business and saving you time.  Most distributors (Smashwords included) take a small cut of your earnings as their fee.  At Smashwords, the fee works out to 10% of sales at the major retailers.  In a unique twist, although Smashwords is primarily a distributor, Smashwords also operates a small retail store.  It's unusual for a distributor to operate a store.  Our store is a vestige of the early days at Smashwords before we became a distributor.  Today, however, over 90% of our sales come from our distribution network.

Download/Upload - To upload a file means that you're sending a file "up" to a service on the Internet, such as, "you upload a file to Smashwords."  Download means that you're pulling a file from an Internet service "down" to up.  So "upload" means to send "up" to somewhere, and "download" means to pull down to you.  If you you're publishing a book at Smashwords, you upload the book via the "Publish" page, or via your Dashboard's "upload new version" link.  If you purchase a book from Smashwords, you download it to your computer.

DRM - Stands for Digital Rights Management.  DRM is copy protection technology that makes it difficult for a book customer to print or duplicate an ebook, ostensibly designed to prevent illegal piracy.  While most of us would agree that piracy is bad thing, DRM actually does little to prevent piracy because it's easy to crack (break) and more worrisome, it harms the ability of law-abiding customers to enjoy a book on multiple devices.  DRM adds unnecessary complexity and expense to books.  Customers don't want to have to enter passcodes to "unlock" their books, and they don't want their books tied to a single e-reading device.  Smashwords is a staunch opponent of DRM.  We're in the business of selling books and making book buyers happy, so we wouldn't offer our author's and publisher's books DRM free if we didn't believe it helps us sell more books and make customers happy.

Ebook - An ebook is simply a digital book.  Ebooks are books read on screens.  These screens can be a personal computer, a smart phone, or a dedicated e-reading device.

EPUB - EPUB is an open industry standard ebook format.  No single company controls EPUB.  The standard is managed by the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum), which collaborates with publishers, distributors, educators and libraries to evolve the standard to make ebooks more accessible to more readers.  All the major ebook retailers sell EPUB ebooks with the exception of Amazon, and most ebook reading devices and mobile phone apps (Aldiko) with the exception of the Kindle support it.  To read EPUB files on a personal computer, you can download Adobe Digital Editions, a free ebook-reading app.  EPUB is one of the many formats Smashwords produces. 

EPUBCHECK - EPUBCHECK is an EPUB validation tool designed to automatically determine if an EPUB file is compliant with the EPUB standard.  Smashwords retailer Apple requires EPUBCHECK compliance on all files.  Multiple factors can cause an EPUB file to fail the validation test.  The most common cause is errant styling instructions hidden in your Microsoft Word source document.  The Smashwords Meatgrinder conversion engine performs a lot of magic behind the scenes to automatically correct many EPUBCHECK errors, though we're unable to correct them all.  See the Style Guide for tips on how to correct EPUBCHECK errors.  Also see our new EPUBCHECK HELP page (  Prepare to be frustrated.  Mere mortals (i.e. those of us who are not software engineers) are challenged to decipher EPUBCHECK errors.  One sure-fire solution for eliminating EPUBCHECK errors is to reformat your book using the Nuclear Method.  The brave of heart can learn more about EPUB at

FAQ - Stands for "Frequently Asked Questions."  An FAQ is a collection of common questions and their answers.  This page is the Smashwords FAQ.  By studying all the items on this page, you'll understand virtually everything there is to know about Smashwords.

First Line Indent - A reader's eye requires subtle visual cues to help identify where one paragraph ends and the next begins.  The most common cue is the first line paragraph indent, where each new paragraph's first line is indented, usually between .2 and .5 inches.  To create a proper first line paragraph indent, see the Style Guide.  The most reliable method is to modify the paragraph style in question to define it.  If you open up your paragraph styles, click modify, then click paragraph, then select "special" "first line indent," then enter .2 for example.  Each version of Word is different.  See the Style Guide for instructions.  NEVER use the TAB key or the space bar to create first line indents.

Format - Format is both a noun and a verb.  As a noun, it refers to a specific ebook format.  Smashwords produces nine different ebook formats.  Each format is a different type of ebook file, often designed for particular ebook reading device, or a particular style of reading.  For example, PDF is a format, and it's most commonly used for reading an ebook on your computer.  EPUB is the ebook format used by the iPad, Barnes & Noble Nook, the Sony Reader and the Kobo reader.  Our MOBI format is for reading on a Kindle.  As a verb, format is often used in the context of "formatting," which usually refers to how you prepare and lay out your Microsoft Word source file prior to uploading it to Smashwords for conversion.

Hyperlink - A hyperlink is a clickable link that takes the reader someplace else.  In an ebook, there are two types of hyperlinks:  1.  An internal hyperlink - points to a destination within the book.  Commonly used in a linked Table of Contents, or with footnotes or end-notes.  2.  External hyperlink - points the reader outside the book, such as to a web site.  An external hyperlink will usually cause the reader's browser to open a new screen.  To create a hyperlink inside your book, highlight the text you want to hyperlink, then right mouse click, then click hyperlink.  Next, decide if you want an internal link or an external link, and then select that option using the panel Word displays on your left.  If you're linking externally, all addresses should begin with http://   If you're linking internally, you'll link to a bookmark or a heading.  See the Style Guide for more instructions.

Indent - Indents are commonly used in fiction to provide the reader's eye a visual cue that one paragraph has ended and another paragraph as begun.  Typically only the start of the first sentence of a paragraph, commonly called a "first line indent." The Smashwords Style Guide shows how to create proper first indents.  First line indents are the most common form of paragraph separation.  The second most common form, used often in non-fiction, is the block paragraph method.  This entire FAQ is organized as block paragraphs.  The reader can tell when one paragraph ends and the next begins because of the space between the paragraphs.  In your ebook, you generally do not want to use both first line indents and block paragraphs because it creates unnecessary separation between paragraphs, and is not consistent with professional best practices for paragraph construction.  It's also common that the first sentence of the first paragraph of each chapter is not indented.

Indie Author - Indie stands for "Independent."  An indie author is someone who has decided to become their own publisher.  The term indie author is often used interchangeably with "self-published author."  Although the terms essentially mean the same thing, authors who self-identify as foremost as indies are often making a statement that they are self-published by choice, not necessity.  Many indies have turned their back on traditional publishing and decided they no longer aspire for the blessing or validation from an agent or a publisher.  They're publishing direct to their readers so their readers can decide the value of their work.  Only a few years ago, self-described self-published authors were ridiculed by most corners of the publishing industry.  They were viewed as failures - they were the authors who couldn't get a traditional publishing deal, or at least so went prevalent conventional thought.  In the last few years, however, the professionalism of self-published authors has increased dramatically, and self-published authors have gained new respect.  Whether you identify yourself as indie or self-published makes no difference.  The distinctions, if they exist at all, are inconsequential.  At Smashwords, we use both terms interchangeably.

Initial Caps/ALL CAPS/lower caps - Initial caps refers to sentences or phrases in which the first letter of each word is capitalized, but articles (words like the, this, and) and prepositions (anything a rabbit can do to a tree stump, like under, over, on) are not capitalized unless they're the first word.  Book titles, author names and publisher names should be initial capped.  So, "The Smashwords Style Guide" is good, but "THE SMASHWORDS STYLE GUIDE" and "the smashwords style guide" are bad.

ISBN - Stands for International Standard Book Number.  It's one of the least understood terms in publishing.  Some people think it connotes ownership of a book (not true), or protects copyright (not true) or think it lends credibility to your book (not really).  An ISBN is simply a digital identifier that helps supply chain participants (ebook publishers, distributors and retailers) accurately track and identify your book, and communicate about your book. An ISBN is a unique number, and in theory, no two ISBNs should ever be alike.  ISBNs are of primary benefit to retailers, because it allows them to track everything related to your book (metadata, sales, updates) by connecting everything to the book's ISBN.  Learn more about ISBNs up above in our ISBN FAQ, or in your Dashboard's ISBN Manager.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) - KDP is Amazon's ebook self-publishing platform that allows authors to sell books in the Amazon Kindle store.  Amazon offers two ebook self-publishing options.  There's the regular KDP, and then there's KDP Select.  KDP Select requires exclusivity, which means if your book is enrolled in KDP Select, Amazon won't let you sell it anywhere else.  At Smashwords, we recommend all authors have their book in the regular KDP.  They should avoid KDP Select.  To learn why we think exclusivity is a bad idea, see Mark Coker's blog post here about KDP Select from 2011 (unfortunately, many of the bad things he predicted have come to pass).

LRF - LRF is an older ebook format which was proprietary to Sony, one of the early manufactuers of ebook reading devices.  Sony has since switched over to the open industry standard EPUB format for its newer e-reading devices.  For the benefit of users of Sony's older devices, Smashwords produces the LRF format.

"Mark's List" - Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, maintains a list of low-cost Smashwords ebook formatters and cover designers.  They're all independent contractors, not employees of Smashwords.  You hire them to format your book to the specifications of the Smashwords Style Guide, or to design for you a good-looking ebook cover.  If you don't have the time, patience or skills to do your own formatting or create your own cover, it's worth a look.

Meatgrinder - Meatgrinder is Smashwords' automated file conversion technology.  Once you upload your Microsoft Word .doc file, formatted to the Style Guide, Meatgrinder takes the file and automatically converts it into nine different ebook formats.  This means that you simply upload one Word .doc to create multiple ebook files, making your book readable on virtually any e-reading device.  Meatgrinder is composed of various virtual "blades," and each Meatgrinder blade specializes in creating a different ebook format.  Meatgrinder even produces a special custom version of the EPUB file to match Sony's unique requirements.  Over the last three years, we've continually enhanced Meatgrinder to produce better quality ebook files.  Today, if you format your book to the Style Guide, your Smashwords ebook can look as good or better than the ebook files produced by some traditional publishers, and it usually looks much better than files produced by other automated conversion options. The advantage of our Meatgrinder technology is that it's fast, reliable, predictable and free.  The downside of Meatgrinder is that if you feed it a poorly formatted file, it'll spit out hamburger.  Don't upload a book to Smashwords until you've carefully studied and implemented the Style Guide!

Metadata - Metadata is data about your book that describes your book.  Metadata makes your book more discoverable by giving search engines something to latch on to when readers are searching for your book, or searching for books similar to your book.  When Smashwords ships (transmits) your book to retailers, we also transmit all the data associated with your book, including the book cover, book title, your author/publisher name, your ISBN, your book description, bio, price, category information, etc.  As you might imagine, there's a tremendous amount of metadata associated with your book, and the Smashwords platform helps you centrally manage this data across all retailers.

MOBI/PRC - MOBI is the ebook format used by Amazon's Kindle device.  PRC is another name for the same type of file.  To load a MOBI file on your Kindle, see the section above, how to download to a Kindle.

NCX - Step 20 of the Style Guide discusses the NCX (and shows a picture).  NCX stands for Navigation Control file for XML.  It's a fancy acronym to describe the table of contents (TOC) summary attached to your EPUB ebook.  Think of it as a TOC that sits beside your book, pointing back into the book.  It might list your chapters or chapter headings. It's an important feature of the EPUB format, and more and more e-reading devices are taking advantage of it.  If you construct your book and Table of Contents correctly (see Step 20 in the Style Guide), then our Meatgrinder conversion system will automatically create the NCX for you.  Watch our Youtube video which teaches you how to add NCX navigation to your Smashwords ebook.

Net Sales - Smashwords pays 85% net for most sales.  For example, if you sell a book at the Smashwords store, you receive 85% net.  But what does that mean?  Net for Smashwords sales equals the selling price that you set, minus PayPal credit card processing fees, multiplied by 85% which is what you earn.  Another way to think of net is that it's all proceeds from your book collected by Smashwords after the credit card fees are deducted (only for sales at the Smashwords store) or after the retailer such as Barnes & Noble takes their 30% of list price commission.  85% of the net proceeds go to the author.  So, for example, if your book is priced at $10 and it sells at Barnes & Noble, the retailer will take 30% of the price as their commission, and pay Smashwords $7.00.  Of this $7.00, Smashwords will pay you $6.00 (if you pull out a calculator, you'll find that 6 divided by 7 actually yields you slightly more than 85%).  For simplicity and precision, Smashwords will often communicate the author's royalty percentage as "60% list price for sales through Smashwords retailers."  It's more precise than 85% net.  If you click to the Smashwords "Publish" screen, you can enter any book price and get a rough approximation of your proceeds from the sale at that price point.  In your Smashwords Channel Manager you'll find additional details about how your percentage may vary due to price points, channels or VAT taxes.

Nuclear Method (a.k.a. the Nuclear Option) - Many Smashwords authors, publishers and professional ebook formatters use the Nuclear Method as their first step in formatting an ebook for Smashwords.  Microsoft Word is a multi-headed hydra, and it has a tendency to collect hidden, conflicting and corrupted formatting instructions.  This is especially true if a manuscript has touched multiple versions of Microsoft Word, or if it originated in another word processor or book design program.  The Nuclear Method allows the author/publisher to strip out all the formatting and return the book to its plain, original text.  After "nuking" a file, the author/publisher can then add-in all the essential formatting to create a clean file for Smashwords.  You'll find detailed instructions about the Nuclear Method in the Smashwords Style Guide.

PDF - Stands for Portable Document Format.  The PDF format was created by Adobe Systems, and by the late '90s it was one of the most popular ebook formats.  A PDF is usually a fixed layout format, so it will immaculately preserve the layout of a book and the positioning of words.  PDF's strength is also it's weakness, however -- it is generally not a reflowable format.  If a book isn't reflowable, you can't press a button on your e-reading device to have the font increase the pages repaginate.  PDF remains a popular format for reading on personal computers, and it's generally good for complex books that require a fixed page layout.  PDF is one of nine file formats offered at Smashwords.  It's generally a poor format for reading fiction or other books that are primarily straight narrative.  To read a PDF file on your computer, download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (if you don't have it already. Most computers ship standard with it.).

Premium Catalog - The Smashwords Premium Catalog represents a subset of Smashwords titles that comply with the formatting and metadata requirements of Smashwords retailers.  Most of the formatting and metadata requirements are purely mechanical, such as  a proper ebook cover, clean metadata, and quality formatting per the Smashwords Style Guide.  See the Style Guide or the Distribution Information page for more information on how authors/publishers can fast-track their acceptance into the Premium Catalog.  If you follow the instuctions, it's easy.  If you're finding it difficult to gain acceptance into the Premium Catalog, it means you're not following the instructions.  Ask for help!

Preorder - A preorder is a book that is listed for sale at an ebook retailer in advance of its general "onsale" or "release" date.  Customers can place their advance order, but their credit card isn't charged until the book is released to them on the onsale date.  For authors, there are multiple advantages of listing a book for advance preorder.  At Apple Books, for example, all accumulated preorder orders get credited on the day of release, which can cause a book to spike in the store's bestseller lists.  Another advantage is that the author can ensure that their book is delivered in advance to all retailers so that when the release day hits, all fans can purchase the book at the same time at the retailer of their choice.  For more on preorders, see our Preorder Help page, or the announcement of the Smashwords preorder feature.

Presale - Unlike a preorder which acts as an order reservation tied to the book's future general release date (the customer places the preorder but must wait for the book's general release date to read the book), a presale allows readers to purchase and read the book early, before the general release date.  Smashwords launched Smashwords Presales on December 3, 2019.  This exciting, first-of-its kind book launch tool enables authors to thrill their most loyal fans.  The technology, methods and systems behind Smashwords Presales is patent-pending.  To learn more about Smashwords Presales, see our Smashwords Presales launch announcement at the Smashwords Blog, or read our special Presales FAQ.  Authors can set their presale events from the Presale Dashboard found in the main Smashwords Dashboard.

Reflowable text - With print books, every word appears on the page exactly where you want it.  Ebooks are formatted differently than print books. Ebooks have reflowable text.  When text is reflowable, it can attractively shape shift across any screen, whether that screen is small like an iPhone, medium like a Kindle3 or Nook, larger like an iPad or Kindle DX,  or even larger like a computer screen.  Reflowable text enables readers to customize the presentation of the text to suit their reading preferences.  Most e-reading apps and devices allow the reader to click a button to increase the font size, or change the font style or the line spacing.  When the reader does this, the text repaginates (reflows).  The Smashwords Style Guide provides simple step-by-step instructions for how authors and publishers can design their books for optimal reflowability.  At Smashwords, all our ebook formats are reflowable except PDF, which is a fixed format like print.

Retailer - An ebook retailer sells ebooks.  Although Smashwords is primarily an ebook publishing and distribution platform, we also operate our own small retail operation.  Most Smashwords authors and publishers earn the bulk of their income by taking advantage of the Smashwords distribution network, where we distribute to major ebook retailers such as the Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others.  In exchange for helping to sell our books, the retailers earn a well-deserved sales commission which is usually 30% of the list price.  To utilize our distribution services, your book must be accepted into our Premium Catalog.

RTF - Stands for Rich Text Format.  One the many formats produced by Smashwords.  RTF files can be opened and read in any word processor.  Like PDF, they're a good format if you want to read on your computer or if you want to print, and unlike PDF it's a good format if you want to modify the font size or style prior to printing.

Sideload - Whereas "download" implies pulling a file down from an Internet service, and "upload" implies sending your file up to a service, sideload refers to copying a file from your computer over to an e-reading device.  So, for example, if you're pulling a file straight from down to your your Kindle which is attached to your computer via the USB cable, that's a download.  Alternatively, you can download the file to your computer and then sideload it to your Kindle (or Kobo, Nook, Sony Reader, etc.).  So download means pulling from the Internet, and sideload means pulling from your computer.

Smashwords - Smashwords is an ebook publishing and distribution platform, which is fancy speak for "ebook distributor."  Our free service helps you centrally manage the publishing and distribution of your ebook to multiple major retailers.

Smashwords Satellites - Smashwords Satellites are what we call a collection of about 30 narrowly defined ebook sites, all owned and operated by Smashwords, that help make Smashwords books more discoverable to readers.  The satellite sites feature some experimental ebook discovery options.  Each site has it's own focus.  For example, if a reader is interested only in low cost books, they might visit our satellite, Cheap Lit.  If they're interested in Spanish language ebooks, they might go to Ebooks Español.  For a complete listing of Smashwords Satellites, visit the Smashwords Labs.

Smashwords Style Guide - The Smashwords Style Guide is the formatting bible for Smashwords authors and publishers.  It captures ebook formatting best practices and presents formatting steps with simple, step by step instructions.  If an author or publisher carefully follows the Style Guide, they'll produce a higher quality ebook and will gain faster access to the Smashwords Premium Catalog for distribution to major retailers. Click here to download it.

TOC/Table of Contents - TOC = Table of Contents.  A TOC is typically located in the front matter of your book and provides the reader a summary of your chapters or sections.  The Style Guide's Step 20 shows how to create a linked Table of Contents.  A linked Table of Contents allows the reader to navigate directly to the chapters or sections of interest.

Upload/Download - To upload a file means that you're sending a file "up" to a service on the Internet, such as, "you upload a file to Smashwords."  Download means that you're pulling a file from an Internet service "down" to you.  So "upload" means to send "up" to somewhere, and "download" means to pull down to you.  If you you're publishing a book at Smashwords, you upload the book via the "Publish" page, or via your Dashboard's "upload new version" link.  If you purchase a book from Smashwords, you download it to your computer.

Virality - Virality is a term with biological origins that refers to how books spread from one reader to the next via word-of-mouth, both in the physical world and in the virtual world of online social media such as Facebook, Twitter and online forums.  If your book touches the reader's soul and inspires the reader recommend your book to others, viral growth can occur.  Virality is how nearly all books go on to become best-sellers.  The best books market themselves via the passionate reader's viral word of mouth.

URL - This important acronym stands for Universal Resource Locator.  It's a fancy word for "web address" or "Internet Address."  When you type a web address into your web browser (Such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome), your browser uses that address to take you to your desired destination.  Most addresses start with "http://" and then are followed by ""   So the URL for Smashwords is  If you're a Smashwords author or publisher, you want to send readers and fans directly to your author page (click Profile and the URL in your browser is the address for your author page) or your book page (click to your book, and the address is in your browser).

Glossary suggestions?:  Are we missing a vexing term that has you flummoxed and exasperated? Contact us to suggest a new addition to the glossary.  There's no such thing as a dumb question!


Return to Top


*** *** ***