What the Smashwords Style Guide Didn’t Mention

House of the Blue Sea CoverHave you experienced the “pleasure” of trying to create an ebook file for Smashwords? I had already created a nice, clean Word doc and uploaded successfully to Amazon, Draft2Digital, and Kobo with relatively few repeat performances required. But then (da, da, da) I met the Smashwords Style Guide.

When I read the instruction: “open your file in Word, copy and paste it into Windows Notepad (or some other simple text editor that strips out all formatting), close Microsoft Word, then reopen Word to a fresh new Word document, then copy and paste the book from Notepad back into Word, and then carefully re-apply the minimal necessary formatting…” I nearly cried. Minimal necessary formatting? I use italics throughout my novel for foreign words and characters’ thoughts, and I did not want to go through my 300-page book and reapply all of the italics in the right places once Notepad had stripped them out. Nope. No way. Not happening.

epub-fileWhen I read that I could upload an ePub file directly, I was thrilled! I already had an ePub file created through Draft2Digital. I uploaded it to Smashwords and it was perfect! What I didn’t realize, at first, was that this ePub file wouldn’t be converted to the other Smashwords file types and I would still have to upload a Smashwords-friendly Word document if I wanted Mobi or other formats.

Before making any changes to the Word file I’d used for every other ebook generator, I uploaded it to Smashwords and waited for the conversion process. Not surprisingly, the result was ghastly. The Smashwords output of the Mobi file had the font shifting style and the line spacing changing from paragraph to paragraph creating a very messy looking book. With a bit of sleuthing, I discovered that the font was changing whenever the paragraph contained italics or started with a quotation mark. The Smashwords style guide says that hitting the italics button should work just fine but…not so much in this case. And why the quotation mark was causing the font type to change … no idea.

Wordpad-iconI almost gave in to the lengthy and tedious strip everything out and reformat process, but then I decided to try Wordpad instead of Notepad. I copied the text from my Word file and pasted it into a Wordpad file. The Wordpad file looked identical to my original, italics right where they were supposed to be. I copied and pasted the Wordpad text into a new Word document, uploaded it, and voila!, the pesky problems were gone, no more fluctuating font style and spacing, and the rest of my formatting was intact.

Happy publishing!