Do the admin

Lesson Progress:

Before going any further there are a few steps that you need to have completed to make sure that the upload of your book to Smashwords is as smooth as possible.

You need to make sure that you have prepared the following steps in a document from which you can easily cut and paste to fill in the Smashwords online form more easily. The following guidelines are adapted from the Smashwords guidance given in the online form. You can download an MSWord version of the information below here.

1. Title and synopsis


Title My title is:
The full title of your book cannot be more than 250 characters. The title you give here must match the title inside your book and on your cover.
The release date My release date will be:
Select ‘For immediate release’ or ‘Make it a preorder’. If you are a first-time author we suggest that you select ‘For immediate release.’
Synopsis: Long description My long description:
Write a long description about your book that is not more than 4 000 characters. This will be used to market your book. Have a look at examples on the back covers of printed books to give you an idea of the style.

Do not:

  • use all capital letters
  • enter email addresses
  • use hyperlinks
  • include book prices
  • include promotions.
Synopsis: Short description My short description:
Write a short description. This must be a single paragraph that is not more than 400 characters. Use complete sentences. Do not use line breaks or paragraph breaks.

Do not:

  • use all capital letters
  • enter email addresses
  • use hyperlinks
  • include book prices
  • include promotions.
Language of the book I have written my book in:
Indicate the language in which your book is written.

2. Pricing and sampling


What price do you want to charge? The price of my book is:
What price do you want to charge?

Before you decide on your price read the section on Marketing.

Think about the pricing of your book. Do you want to make your book free? Do you want to let your readers decide on the price? Do you want to charge a specific amount? It is recommended that you publish your first book at no cost to the reader to encourage readers to read your book.

The minimum price is set at $0.99 USD on Smashwords. Smashwords uses American dollars to make it easier to work with across the world. At the moment, $1.00 is about R16.00. The price that you set in Smashwords is exclusive of VAT.

Smashwords pricing survey

The 2017 Smashwords pricing survey reveals that

  1. free ebooks had about 33 times more downloads than books that had a price.
  2. the highest number of unit sales were for books costing $3.99, $4.99, $0.99 and $2.99 (in this order).
  3. the most common price for self-published authors was $2.99.

For more information you can read the full survey for 2017 here.


Sample The percentage people can read as a sample is:
A sample is the first few pages of your book (from page 1) that the reader can download free to see if they want to buy your book. If you are not going to make your book free, it is a good idea to offer a free sample. Decide what percentage (how many pages from the beginning of your book) people can read as a sample before they have to buy it. We suggest you choose a sample of 20%.

3. Categorisation


What is the genre/primary category of your book and what is the secondary category? Jot down your category and sub-categories. For example, if you are submitting a drama (stage play) to WritePublishRead you will select Fiction as your genre/primary category, then Plays & Screenplays > African as your sub-categories. Here are some more examples.

Genre (Primary category) Sub-category 1 Sub-category 2
Fiction Poetry African
Fiction Romance Regency
Fiction Plays & Screenplays African

There are many sub-categories to choose from. You need to select the most appropriate sub-categorisation for your book from the lists as they appear below each other. In the example shown here from Smashwords, you will notice that some categories have a “greater than” symbol (>) next to them. When you click on these categories you will see further sub-categories that are available to choose from as you can see in the short clip of the Plays and Screenplays sub-categories shown here.

When you are uploading your book to Smashwords you will also need to indicate whether your material contains adult content or not to protect minors from viewing adult content.

Genre (primary category) My genre is:
Sub-category 1 My first sub-category is:
Sub-category 2 My second sub-category is:
Do I have any adult content? Yes/No?
Box Set Are you uploading a box set? Yes/No?
Box sets are multiple full books that have been bundled into one volume.

If you are planning to submit your manuscript as part of the WritePublishRead Assisted Self-publishing programme for previously under-published languages remember that the genre or primary category that you need to write under is Fiction (and with no illustrations or other images inside the book).

4. Tags


Here you will add keywords or tags to make your book more findable. Think about the words that your reader might use to find your book. For example, insert the language of the book and a sub-category, for example: English, Novel Historical Romance.

Tags My Tags are:
What are the keywords that will help readers find your book? Don’t add more than 10 tags.

Time to go online


Now that you have prepared all the information that you need, you are ready to go online and fill in the form.

You can watch this short clip which shows you how to fill in the online form below. You can press pause at any time and then press play to continue.



Once you have pasted all the information into the form, you will need to give some more information. This is explained here.

5. Ebook formats


Tick the checkboxes for all of the options provided so that you have many formats available.

Do not select “pdf format” if your book is written a language that has diacritics (e.g. Tshivenḓa).

If you forget to do this don’t worry. Test it and see. If the pdf doesn’t look good you can deselect it later.

6. Cover image


Here you select and upload your cover image. Remember, you must upload your cover at the same time as your book so that your book will appear on the Smashwords home page for approximately 15 minutes.

7. Select file of book to publish


Here you select and upload your manuscript. It must be a Microsoft Word .doc file.

8. Publishing agreement


Read the Smashwords Terms and Conditions. In Appendix B you will find a copy of this document with some notes we have written to help you understand these.

Once you are satisfied, check the “Yes, I agree.” checkbox to agree to the Smashwords Terms and Conditions. Once you have done this you can publish your book immediately!