Creating Smashwords Ebooks with LibreOffice: 3) Adding Images

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This is the third post in the Madrid Writers Club series Creating Smashwords Ebooks with LibreOffice. If you haven’t already, check out the previous two posts: 1) Setting up your template and 2) Adding your content.

Last post we set up our chapters and copied our text into the ebook.

Now, we will look at adding images. For our anthology, we had some great drawings from artist Lance Tooks. These were full page images, placed before each of the stories.

The problem with ebook images

One of the biggest issues with ebook images is that ereaders are all different sizes. If you look at this comparison of ebook readers you’ll see that the pixels range from 600x800px up to 1600x1200px.

Unfortunately, there’s no perfect image size which will look great on all devices. For best results across all ereaders, you’re going to have to choose the smallest image size.

When image sizes are important

If your book is heavily image-dependent, and images have to be specific sizes, then you’re going to have to create a “fixed layout” EPUB yourself. I recently did this for the ebook English Idioms Illustrated, by fellow Madrid Writers Club “alumni” Aidan Potts.

Fixed layout ebooks are a whole other kettle of fish, and way beyond the scope of this blog series. You can find some pretty good tutorials at Fantasy Castle Books.

What size to pick

Based on the image sizings in this post you want your images to be a maximum of 5 inches width and/or 6.9 inches height.

This means that for an image of 72 dpi, we’re talking 360 x 496 px for a “full page” image. I know, it’s small, but if you want everyone to be able to see the image it’s best to go for a smaller image than have half of the image off the screen.

Get ready to fiddle

Later, when we’ve uploaded the file to the Smashwords Meatgrinder, we’ll be able to fiddle around with the image size to see what works. For example, the images in our anthology were 350 x 525 px in the end, which is a little bigger in height than anticipated.

Resizing your image

To resize your images, you can use whatever software you like. I use the gimp but you can also just use Microsoft Paint or even a simple online image resizer like this one.

Whatever you use, you want to resize the image so that the longest edge, either the width or the height depending on your image, is within the defined pixel sizes.

Adding the image to your ebook

First things first, to put your image in the book you want to set your cursor where you want the image to go and then go to “Insert > Image > From File”. Choose your image file.

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As you can see, the image has been placed in a slightly strange place.

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But, never fear, you can sort this by right-clicking on the image and selecting “Anchor > As Character”

This means that LibreOffice will treat the image as though it were some text, which will mean it behaves properly.

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Centring the image

If you want to have the image centre justified, then you can just set the Style to Centredtext, just as you would to centre justify text.

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Customising your image placement

If you want your image to have its own page to itself, you will have to make a new Style by right clicking on Centredtext and selecting “New”.

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Give your new Style a name, such as ImagePlacement. Then go to the “Text Flow” tab and click to “Insert” a page break before the image.

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Then just apply your new Style to the image to make the image start on a new page.

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Front Cover

The most important image in your ebook is the front cover. In Smashwords, you don’t add the front cover to the .doc file itself but instead upload it separately.

Smashwords requires that your cover image has a width of at least 1400px and that the height should be greater than the width.

You can upload the cover image on the Smashwords settings page for your book.

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Until next time…

Now you have all the necessary tools to add images to your ebook. Remember, that Smashwords ebooks shouldn’t be too dependent on images because of the range of different ereaders that your book may be viewed on.

To recap, in this post we have:

  1. Learned about image sizing for Smashwords ebooks
  2. Resized and added our images
  3. Uploaded a cover image to the Smashwords website.

In the next post we will look at creating a Table of Contents and other internal links.

About Alex Owen-Hill

Alex is a freelance writer of non-fiction articles on various subjects, including gastronomy, technology, science, language learning and creativity. He joined the Madrid Writer's Club right back when it was born, and is thrilled how it's grown. In his spare time he is a short film maker, amateur cook and musician. He also has a PhD in robotics, but we don't talk about that.

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