Q: I’ve already formatted my book perfectly into separate versions for PDF, EPUB, Mobi and others. Can I just upload my books and bypass the Meatgrinder?
At present, we only accept Word .doc and .epub. In the future, our Smashwords Direct feature may add support for direct uploads of Mobi and PDF, and possibly other formats.
Q: Can I use “drop caps” at the beginning of a paragraph or chapter?
A drop cap is the large initial capped letter you may see in the first paragraph of a chapter in a print book. A drop cap usually extends down two or three lines. If you’re uploading a professional quality .epub file with drop caps, then you can use them. If you’re uploading a Word .doc, you cannot use drop caps, so eliminate all usage of them. A common and attractive alternative to drop caps used by many Smashwords authors is to make the first letter of the first paragraph of a chapter a slightly larger font size, and bold.
Q: Will my finished Smashwords digital book look like my original print manuscript?
Often, it will look different. It’s dangerous to try to make your ebook look like an exact carbon copy of your print book. You want your ebook to be reflowable, which means it’ll read well on any device or screen size. If you carefully follow the Style Guide, you’ll get good results.
Q: I don’t use Microsoft Word. Can I still publish on Smashwords?
Yes, though Microsoft Word is your best option. If you want to ensure the best results for your ebook, and you don’t use Microsoft Word, consider investing in a copy. You can usually find it for around $150 or less. Word will give you the greatest control over your formatting by allowing you to follow the Smashwords Style Guide. If your time is valuable to you, and you plan to publish multiple ebooks with Smashwords, Word is a good investment. If you’ve already got an older version of Word, that’s great. You don’t need the newest.
If your word processing software allows you to save a file as a Microsoft Word .doc file, then it might work for you. There are numerous free Word processors that emulate Microsoft Word or will convert files into Microsoft Word format, but keep in mind they’ll make formatting more difficult, they might introduce corruption into your Word document, and we can’t coach you on how to use them. One free option popular with many Smashwords authors is Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/), which is available for the PC, Mac and other platforms. You can also use Apple Pages to output a Word .doc file. We do not recommend WordPerfect because it caused our authors headaches, which causes us headaches (see next question).