Helpful Tips For Getting Published On Smashwords

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Okay…  So I really like the mug being given away in the current Smashwords blogging contest, and I’m going to try my very best to win one.

How did I publish Reluctant Guardian, A Fine Mess, and The Stranger In My Head on Smashwords?

I’d like to tell you that it was this long, complicated process that took me weeks to figure out.  That I was popping Advil like M & M’s because Mark Coker went out of his way to make the whole publishing process  as difficult as he possibly could.

But I can’t say either one of those things.  Why?  Because using the Meatgrinder couldn’t have been easier.  In fact, it only took minutes (single digit minutes) for each book, and voilà, they were done!


Getting the books ready for the Meatgrinder?  Not quite so easy.

Not that it was all that hard, just very time consuming.  I come from a generation of students who were taught to double space between sentences.  Let me tell you, it’s not an easy habit to break.  But I was advised to change it to single spacing, and so change it I would.  Hmm.  Know what?  Converting a 72,000+ word book took quite awhile.

But wait!

Before you even think of going there, I have an especially great piece of advice.  First choose the nuclear method of getting your book ready.  The process is explained in detail in Mark’s free ebook, Smashwords Style Guide ( ).  In a nutshell, copy your book to Notepad.  It removes any formatting that might give the Meatgrinder problems, and will save you lots of headaches in the long run.

Once you’ve done that, copy the Notepad version back into a new file in your writing program.  I labeled mine ‘Title of the book-Smashwords edition.’

Now look for a fancy backwards ‘P’ located somewhere in your options at the top of your file, and click it.  Don’t panic when you see hundreds of the ‘P’s’ scattered throughout your manuscript.  It’s just pointing out where your paragraphs (or dialog) end.  If there are any dots between the period and the P, backspace to remove them.  And make sure there are no P’s between paragraphs, if you’re leaving a space between them.

Next you need to look to see if there are double dots between sentences.  If there are two, that means you’ve double spaced after each period.  In that case, use your backspace key and remove one.  After each period in your story.

Those are my best tips for publishing on Smashwords.  Like I said, it isn’t hard, it’s just time consuming…and really quite boring.  I suggest putting on some upbeat music and just resigning yourself to getting it done.  Although you might want to limit yourself to thirty minutes at a time so you don’t wind up cross-eyed.

But I can guarantee that if you take the time to do these three things, the effort will make your experience with the Meatgrinder will be relatively painless.

Just check out my author page at to see how easy it was.  Believe me when I say that as far as technology goes, it doesn’t come easy to me.  But this?  This was a piece of cake!

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34 Responses to Helpful Tips For Getting Published On Smashwords

  1. I’m glad it helped. 🙂

    Sometimes the ‘rules’ can be very confusing. What works one time, doesn’t work every time…but it usually does. The meatgrinder just decided it didn’t like one of my files, so I’m having to play with it to fix the problems. Except I didn’t think there were any so…

    It’s an interesting journey, this indie author thing, isn’t it?

  2. “Next you need to look to see if there are double dots between sentences. If there are two, that means you’ve double spaced after each period. In that case, use your backspace key and remove one. After each period in your story.”

    Okay that helps. They list two sample books in their style guide. One of them actually does the double space thing after each period! But that didn’t make any sense to me. Thank you for this post!!

  3. Double space is no good between sentences? I’m frustrated, because I had read the opposite and completely re-formatted my document to ADD the extra space between sentences. What is the final word? Does it matter either way? Just curious. Help!

    • Hi, Elizabeth. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      I was really confused about the double spacing, and really have hated RE-learning something I’ve done since 9th grade, which is hitting the space bar twice after each punctuation mark. It’s taken about a year, but it’s getting easier to remember to only hit it once.

      The consensus seems to be single spacing. Especially for digital copies. For some reason, things like that and indentations (should be no more than 2 or 3) tend to make it look bad on the screens of Kindles, Nooks, etc…

      If you do a Ctrl/f, it will bring up a window. Click on the tab that says something about replace. In the top line (it should say something to the effect of ‘find’), make sure it’s clear, then hit your space bar twice. In the next line (should say ‘replace with’), make sure the line is clear, then hit your space bar once. Then click the button that means the closest to replace or replace all (another window might open offering the replace all option).

      That should replace every double space in your manuscript. 🙂

  4. Abigail says:

    On the same idea of doing find and replace for double spaces, some programs do allow you to find and replace paragraph breaks. (In appleworks p meant paragraph break.) So Find: [space]p Replace: p. Tada! I’d be done with all that in about five minutes. (Learning how to power-use find/replace is very useful as a writer. Just saying.)

  5. thebiblestop says:

    You can use find/replace to remove double spaces between sentences. Saves much time.

  6. June Holmberg says:

    As a retired secretary of more than 15 years, I learned long ago to always work with the Ps on. I also learned to only put 1 space between sentences. So this sounds like it will be easy for me! Good! 🙂 I did want to say that there is a “find-replace” built into Word that would make this editing so much easier for people. You can find the double-Ps and turn them all into single ones by learning to sue this lovely little editing tool. Go to “Edit” to find the tool, click on “replace” and you should be able to figure it out from there. Ps and spaces are “special” things in this tool, so have a look and see how quickly this becomes. 🙂 Hope that helps people with their editing!

    • June Holmberg says:

      Hahaha! I should have edited this better. Don’t “sue” the editing tool… “use” it. LOL

    • What? You mean I can’t sue the editing tool? LOL…I’d like to sue the grammar check once in awhile, like when it suggest that I change a sentence from (example) “I am tired,” to “Me am tired.” I don’t know what’s up with the whole ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ thing, but it makes you wonder about the other suggestions it offers.

      Thanks for the double-P info. Someone else posted about the find/replace option and it helped me a lot. I hadn’t ever heard of it before this past summer, even though I’ve used Word writing programs exclusively for about 14 years. Thanks for sharing even more good information for all of us! 🙂

  7. Charles Sarlanis says:

    Did what the Style guide suggested and managed to rid my ms of all the tab and space bar indents. Likewise with the double dot period endings but ended up with six little black squares fairly distributed three to chapter titles and three to paragraph starts. No mention in the Guide so looked to the web where it was suggested I check FORMAT for the answer.

    Clicking on the highlighted culprits showed a HEADING STYLE (Normal-Centered). I highlighted each individually, clicked NORMAL – 14 -Centered and they vanished.

    My first submission is as ready as I can make it so take what I have said with the proverbial grain of salt. I do not trust ‘Correct All’ at any time or for any reason because it makes robotic changes which you can only find by reproofing your ms. I do them all one at a time as I did for the chapter headings.
    Charles Sarlanis

    • Hi, Charles…
      Wow…I sure hope I don’t run into that problem! Getting the MS ready is enough work without dealing with that, too! And I know what you mean about not trusting ‘Correct All.’ I’ll use it, but I’ll still check for the second space on my proofread after it’s finished. As far as I’m concerned, once you think you have everything right, you really need to go through it one more time….just to make sure. 🙂

  8. Bea says:

    Hi Kristy:
    A great description of how to use Smashwords – I really enjoyed it.

    Like you, I was a total beginner and even though the style guide is very simple, there were a few times I bounced it off the walls (I ran a hard copy of it)- but then picked it up again and read the bloody thing over and over until I had finally got the idea. (Technically, I’m as thick as two planks). I can’t say that I used the Nuclear method. Came close to it at one time but thought it looked like a lot of work.
    I found that getting my paragraphs in the proper structure was (fairly) easily removed by using the “Replace” option in the Edit fuction (I use Word 3 BTW). I simply used was “Find” .^p^p and “Replace” with .^p. Did this a number of times – saying something like – Find “^p^p and replace with “^p or Find ?^p^p and replace with ?^p. Literally thousands of my paragraphs ended up properly. (Note the use and placement of periods, quote and question marks!)
    Until now, my books have been collections of stories – generally about 57,000 words. What has been giving me fiits is the TOC. I follow all of those bloody rules – and I STILL can’t fathom out what I’m doing wrong. I should add that one of my collections has been approved – on Digital Adobe it shows perfectly and the links all work. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I can’t get another two to work correctly on that software. (I’m honestly not whining here – one of my major problems was pure laziness – I did NOT do as the Guide recommended in removing the Hidden Bookmarks. Mea Culpa. I just wish I could find out why two books seem to differ.)
    Much success with your books.

    • Hi, Bea…
      Thanks! Those were the most important keys for me, but I’m going to take note of your paragraph replacement technique. Anything I can do to save some time in the editing department! I’d much rather spend that time reading for typos and sentences that aren’t quite right.

      I can relate to the problems you’re having. Out of the three books I’ve published so far, two have gone through both Smashwords and CreateSpace with NO problems. The third, however, has been nothing BUT trouble. And I just don’t get it. I wrote them all in the same program, and am publishing them to the same sites. The other night I was so frustrated I was ready to to my monitor right out the window, lol. Maybe we would be bored if everything went according to plan?

      Hope you have great success with your books, too. 🙂

  9. Sara says:

    Kristy, I had the same problem with the extra spaces. I almost gave up because there were so many. I didn’t learn that little trick John mentioned until I was almost through with the editing! Now that I know what I’m supposed to do, I format my new work the correct way from the beginning so hopefully, I won’t have to do too much when I get ready to publish my second work. Good luck with your book sales. I wish you all the success. I’ve just published my book so I’ve yet to generate much sales, but I’m hopeful that will change soon. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    • Hi, Sara…
      Oh I know what you mean about being ready to give up! I’ve been dragging my feet on a couple other books I have ready just because I was dreading that chore (and I do mean chore!). Doesn’t it figure that you didn’t learn the easy way until you were almost finished? I wish I’d figured it out at any point during the three I had to do. LOL…John is going to be my hero now. 🙂

      I wish you much success with your book (s), too. Marketing makes plotting and writing look like the easiest things in the world. But if you stick with it, you should do just fine. 🙂

  10. I’m so glad I ignored the woman in my critique group who said I needed to double-space after each sentence. Jeez, that sounds like a headache.

    I hate to ask this, but can you use Search and Replace to find any instance of double space and replace it with a single space?

    • Hi, Emily…
      For some reason this isn’t showing up on the blog, but hopefully you’ll get this answer. John Anchor (a previous poster) shared how to get rid of the double spaces after periods…and it worked! I’m in love with him now (lol…not like because I don’t even know who he is…but just as someone who will save me countless hours of tedium).

      Regarding the double spaces after a period; there is an easy way to accomplish it. Open “Find” (Ctrl + F) and click on the Replace tab. In the Find entry point, tap the space bar twice; move to the Replace input box and tap the space bar once. A “Find All should make the changes in seconds.

  11. John Achor says:

    Good coverage of Smashwords publishing. Regarding the double spaces after a period; there is an easy way to accomplish it. Open “Find” (Ctrl + F) and click on the Replace tab. In the Find entry point, tap the space bar twice; move to the Replace input box and tap the space bar once. A “Find All should make the changes in seconds.

    • John, please don’t take this the wrong way but…I think I love you! Thank you SO much for explaining this to me. Whatever I read when I started the whole publishing process, I clearly didn’t understand. I was hitting the space bar twice in the under the ‘Find’ tab, then hitting it once in the ‘Replace’ tab…and getting frustrated because it wouldn’t work. But reading the directions written the correct way (as yours are), no problem whatsoever. So thank you again. You have saved me countless hours on three more editing projects I’ve got coming up. 🙂

      • Gloria says:

        If you’re using MS Word, you can also use Ctr+H, and it takes you directly to the Replace tab. You can click on the button More, and it will also give you additional options to add or remove special characters, punctuation, etc.

        • Thanks, Gloria! I’m always happy to find out new things about MS Word. I clearly haven’t spent enough time trying to learn everything there is to know about the program. Although before I looked into self-publishing, there really wasn’t a need for knowing much of this stuff. 🙂

  12. mtmc2 says:

    Hi Kristy, Yes I was in the same boat, went to Mircosoft works and saw all those p, annoying, looking for a shortcut, come on Mark I know there is one. But then again cleaning up the “P” can see one’s errors better, maybe that why there is no hint, lol. Excellent blog. Much success with your book.

    • Kristy says:

      Hi, mtmc2…
      Seeing all of those ‘P’s’ caused me to almost faint. This was before I decided I needed to do the nuclear method. All I could think was my pretty little MS was ruined! But you’re correct in that seeing them, and having to take the time to fix the errors, is a great way to learn. LOL…but it still hasn’t stopped me from putting two spaces after periods. I am more conscious of it while writing though. Maybe someday…

      Thanks for the compliment and well wishes. Much success with your book, too! 🙂

  13. Kristy—you write well. Good luck in the future with your books.
    One thing that has bugged me every time I send something up for conversion is, I use MSWord2010–meatgrinder is about three years behind in this respect and does not like 2010. 2007 with MS97 it likes (.doc.) but mine comes to it with page numbers ( ugh) and some tex boxes. So, I have to convert to 97. Now THIS process ( so far as I can see) corrupts the NCX files. (sigh) but all in all, we finally get a “congradulations” email. It just takes some effort–thought I’d menton this if others are having a prob with meatgrinder and are using MS2010

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks, Actionwriter2020! I appreciate your kind words. I’m sorry you had such a tough time getting the Meatgrinder to accept your manuscript. And even more sorry that I will likely experience the same thing since winding up with Word2007, instead of the 2003 version I used to publish my other three books. Guess it’s time to figure this puzzle out. 🙂

      And much luck with the success of your book!

  14. Hi Kristy
    Hi Brian,
    Kristy, this was an awesome post, quick, clear, not too much to sink in and not scary to read
    I totally agree with you, if I can do it, anyone can do it..I second your piece of cake
    I’m not like you guys, my husband is the author, but I did the editing and the meatgrinder stuff. I think your little ditty s/b of great help to anyone and I shall forward it on to my friends that are interested.
    also, Brian, I’ll tell the author man about fonts and tabs.
    Keep it up you guys
    good job

    • Kristy says:

      Hi, Gayle…
      Thanks! When I first started the whole Smashwords thing, I scared. Fortunately I took the time to read Mark’s guide and realized there was no reason to be. And I wanted people to know that it’s easy. 🙂

      Thanks again…and much luck with your husband’s book!


    • Helen Putre says:

      Hi, Gayle.

      You’re the first person I’ve come across in the same situation I’m in, i.e., husband is the author and you do everything else. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I’m just getting started with Smashwords and am really excited about the possibilities.

      Good luck to you and your husband in your publishing venture.

  15. Kristy says:

    Thanks, Brian! And thanks for the reminder about the font and tabs. I’d forgotten about those. 🙂

    • Hi Kristy I have a question that you may not be able to answer – I am looking at publishing my Employability tips on how to get back to work (not the working title). Most of it plain text but there is a portion on how to do CVs (or resumes) which carries examples of CV documents. These are quite distinct with their formatting and from what I have read, this might not work. I also am of the old school of double spacing after a full stop and for paragraphs and my CVs and cover letters are very precise for layout.
      I am also using text boxes in some of the data. Will this work or will I re-write the whole thing?
      Many thanks
      An authoress in the process.
      Veronica Woolf

      • Hi, Veronica…
        I’m sorry your post isn’t showing up here anywhere, so I’m answering from the email notification.

        I wish I could advise you on your CV documents, but I’m not sure how that works. I think no matter how you try to put it in digital format, it will not come through correctly.

        CreateSpace (through Amazon) might work better for you. I could be wrong but I think that things tend to stay where you put them better that way. And I don’t believe you have to worry quite so much about the double spacing issues.

        Good luck!

  16. Great Post. Also look out for Tabs too. The meatgrander doesn’t like them. Also keep your title to max 18 font.
    Yes it really is that easy.
    Brian Lawrenson
    28 eBooks for travel lovers

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