Creating Smashwords Ebooks with LibreOffice: 5) Publishing to Smashwords

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This is the fifth post in the Madrid Writers Club series Creating Smashwords Ebooks with LibreOffice. If you haven’t already, check out the previous four posts: 1) Setting up your template, 2) Adding your content, 3) Adding images and 4) Links, bios and contents.

In the past four posts, you’ve learned how to create an ebook that is suitable for Smashwords using the LibreOffice word processor.

The next step is to save your ebook as into DOC format and add it to Smashwords.

Saving your ebook as a DOC

Remember in the first post, how we saved the document as an ODT?

We did that for good reason. However, the Smashwords Meatgrinder doesn’t accept the ODT. Now we want to save it as a DOC.

So, first things first, go to “File > Save a Copy”

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Then, in the pop-up, you want to click next to “Save as type” and choose the document type called “Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP/2003 (.doc)(*.doc)”.

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Click “Save” and you should now have a file called “MyEbook.doc”, or whatever you called it.

Setting up your Smashwords page

Now, hop on over to your Smashwords account and go to the page for your ebook, with the “Publish” tab.

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Now, I won’t go through all the details of filling in this page. The important thing to ensure is that your ebook is published as many of the available formats as possible, otherwise you’re limiting your readership for no good reason.

So, go down to the “Ebook formats” section and select all of them.

We also covered the Cover Image section in the previous post.

The most important section is Section 7: “Select file of book to publish”. Go ahead and click “Browse” and find your DOC file.

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Help! My File’s Too Big!

Yep, it can happen. The maximum file size is 10MB. If your file is over this the most likely culprit are that the images are too big. Try reducing their size or compressing them more. If you need any help with this just post a question in the comments below.

The importance of a pre-launch

Smashwords gives you a choice, right up top in Section 1: “Title and synopsis”. You can either go “For immediate release” or “Make it a preorder”.

Choose to make it a preorder!

This is really important for two important reasons:

  1. You can only preview your ebook (and therefore debug it) once you’ve hit the “Publish” button. If you publish immediately then someone can buy it before it’s ready. You don’t want a crappy version of your ebook to end up in an eager reader’s hands, because you’ll lose that reader forever. You have been warned.
  2. From a marketing point-of-view, you want to drum up some audience “buzz” and the pre-launch phase is the time to do this. Never heard of a pre-launch? You need to read this post from Marketing good-guy Danny Iny.

Submitting to meatgrinder

Okay, so now you’ve set a launch date, you can hit “Publish on Preorder Date” at the bottom of the page.

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Viewing your ebook

If your book has been submitted successfully, go to the “Dashboard” tab on Smashwords.

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Further down you will find the name of your book. Click on the title.

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This will take you to your book’s homepage.

You should be able to see a variety of formats in the section “Download the full versions of this book”. If they are not all there it may be that they are still “Inside the Meatgrinder”. Wait a while and come back later.

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Now, test your ebook!!!

“But how?” you ask. Well I’ll tell you.

Debugging your ebook

To debug your ebook you need to open it in a variety of formats and see if there are any problems.

If you find something wrong (there will always be something wrong) you should:

  1. Change it in the original ODT file in LibreOffice
  2. Re-export the file
  3. Upload to the Meatgrinder again using the “Upload New Version” link you can see on the Dashboard.

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How to view the various book formats

PDF, RTF and TXT: You can just open these with your computer as you normally would.

The Online Reader: Yeah…..well, it’s a bit crap actually. You can try it but don’t get hung up on the fact it looks bad because there’s very little you can do about it.

EPUB and MOBI: These are the most important file formats because these are used by ereaders. MOBI is used by Kindle and EPUB is used by iBooks and most other ereaders. If you have an ereader yourself then you should test your ebook with it as well.

Top 3 Softwares to View EPUB and MOBI

Readium: This is a Chrome extension and is, supposedly, what some professional ebook makers use for testing. Personally, I have some issues with it but basically it works well. It uses Chrome so it’s available on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Adobe Digital Editions: This is quite a good ereader. It accepts the epub file format and does a pretty good job of displaying ebooks as they would be on a physical ereader. It’s available for Mac, Windows and (through Wine) on Linux.

Kindle Previewer: This is a really useful program. It opens MOBI files and can also view EPUBs, through its in-built converter. The best thing about it is that it shows you what your ebook will look like on all the different Kindle devices. The only downside is that it’s only available on Windows and Mac, not Linux.

Get Marketing!!!

Congratulations!

You’ve created an ebook on Smashwords using LibreOffice. Give yourself a pat on the back and pour yourself a coffee.

“A coffee?” I hear you ask. “But my work’s finished!”

Oh, no it isn’t! Your work’s only just starting. Now you need to get out and do a killer pre-launch so that people are champing at the bit to buy your book when that launch date arrives.

Here’s a worksheet to get you started, and the blog post that explains how to use it.

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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