Smashwords Direct

Overview

The Smashwords Direct feature allows you to upload your own professionally designed EPUB file to Smashwords. You can use Smashwords Direct to replace a Meatgrinder-generated EPUB with your own EPUB file, or you can use it when uploading a new title (simply upload the EPUB rather than an MS Word DOC file). We support both EPUB2 and EPUB3 files.

If your book is already distributed via the Premium Catalog, your direct-uploaded EPUB, once approved by our Vetting Team, will automatically ship out to the retail partners you have selected in your Dashboard's Channel Manager. If for some reason your new EPUB doesn't meet the Premium Catalog requirements outlined in the Style Guide, your previously approved Meatgrinder-generated EPUB will remain in distribution until your custom EPUB is ready to replace it.

Should You Upload a Word .doc or an EPUB?

Most of our authors and publishers are usually best-served by uploading Word .doc files. Please carefully study the information below before making the decision to upload a custom EPUB file using the Smashwords Direct option.

Many of our authors and publishers choose to upload Word .doc files in order to take advantage of Meatgrinder, our automated conversion program. Meatgrinder generates high-quality ebooks in a variety of file formats. With a single Word .doc upload, Smashwords can create multiple file formats including EPUB, MOBI for Kindles, PDF, plain text and HTML. This makes it possible for customers of our store to purchase the book once and enjoy it on any of their devices.

Meatgrinder is fast, free and flexible, making it easy to update and maintain your books. Meatgrinder works best for straight narrative books (fiction, narrative nonfiction) and books that are mostly narrative with some images. In other words, Meatgrinder works great for the majority of what readers are purchasing at online bookstores. Also, unknown to many writers, Meatgrinder automatically repairs many common but pesky formatting and EPUBcheck errors that can prevent books from being listed at retailers.

Despite the advantages of uploading your manuscript as a Word .doc, there are some instances in which a custom-designed EPUB file is a good option. Most commonly, it’s because the book requires more sophisticated formatting - such as a fixed-layout or drop caps - which are above and beyond what Meatgrinder and Microsoft Word are capable of generating consistently in a variety of file formats.

Do you have any tips for those uploading direct EPUBs?

  • Cover Image: Be sure that you include your cover image at the beginning of your EPUB file. The cover image you upload separately is used for the thumbnail image of your book on retail listings.
  • DRM: You should not attach DRM to your EPUB file. You can read more about our DRM policy in the relevant section of the FAQ: https://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq#drm
  • EPUBCheck: Please validate your EPUB file prior to uploading to Smashwords in order to ensure that it passes EPUBCheck.
  • File Names: Be sure that any file names in your EPUB archive use standard alphanumeric characters (i.e., 0-9, a-z, A-Z). Whitespaces (e.g., img 001.jpg) and characters with diacritical marks (e.g., ã, ç, é) are not supported in file names.
  • Fixed Layout: If you're uploading a fixed layout EPUB, be sure to test and ensure the file is optimized to support major e-reading platforms. We do not recommend fixed layout unless it’s absolutely necessary for the readability of your book.
  • Metadata: You must ensure that the metadata within your EPUB is correct; e.g., if you created your first EPUB and simply named it "My First EPUB", that will be what readers see in their ereading apps and devices. Make sure the EPUB's title and author match what you've entered at Smashwords.

Do you accept uploads of other ebook file formats, such as MOBI or PDF?

Currently, we only accept the upload of EPUB and MOBI files. That said, as the EPUB format is the only file format we review and distribute to our retail partners, it is the most important file format for your book. We hope to add support for the upload of PDFs in the future.

How it Works

  • New Books
    • On the Publish page, you would select the EPUB file you want to upload. The rest of the process is otherwise exactly the same as if you uploaded a Word .doc.
  • Replacements
    • On your Dashboard, click ‘Upload New Version’ and select the relevant EPUB file.
    • If you later decide you'd like to go back to using a .doc-based, Meatgrinder-generated EPUB for your book, navigate to your Dashboard and select ‘Upload New Version’. After selecting your .doc, you will be presented with a prompt allowing you to choose whether you want to keep or replace the custom EPUB with one generated from your .doc by Meatgrinder.
    • Please note that when you replace a Meatgrinder-generated EPUB with a custom  EPUB, the custom EPUB will not update the ebook samples that were previously generated with your Word .doc file. Remember to also upload a Word .doc if you want to update your non-EPUB file formats and samples.

Limitations, Requirements and Troubleshooting

The following sections detail the limitations and technical requirements of Smashwords Direct EPUBs, as well as troubleshooting problems that may arise.

Limitations

  • If you upload your own EPUB file, it will not be converted to a variety of ebook formats like a Word .doc would be, nor will any samples be generated.
  • File size cannot exceed 20MB. If you have an image-heavy work, be sure that images are compressed in accordance with the guidance found in Step 13 of the Smashwords Style Guide.

Technical Requirements

In addition to passing EPUBCheck as all books are required to, our various retail and library partners often have their own technical requirements for EPUB files. While these are not a concern with Meatgrinder-generated EPUB files, they are requirements you should be aware of in case you decide to upload your own EPUB file:

Apple

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

  • Recommends against overuse of fixed-layout formatting. If your book isn’t a children’s book, graphic novel, or similar work; you should instead upload a reflowable EPUB. 
  • For additional reference, please see: https://github.com/kobolabs/epub-spec

OverDrive

  • Will not list any EPUBs receiving EPUBCheck warnings, not just failures like with other retailers

Scribd

  • Does not support any sort of encrypted content in EPUB files, including embedded fonts.

Troubleshooting

  • Due to the number of different EPUB creation tools, each with their own quirks and limitations, we can offer only limited assistance in correcting formatting or EPUBCheck errors in custom EPUBs. We recommend referring to the documentation of the program you used to create your EPUB as a starting point to correct the issues with your EPUB.
  • The official W3C EPUB 3.2 guidelines are here: https://www.w3.org/publishing/epub3/epub-spec.html
  • The MobileRead forums are a community centered around discussion of the finer technical aspects of ebook creation: https://www.mobileread.com/