Saturday, December 29, 2012

Smashwords asks for EPUB files for testing

At the end of 2011, Mark Coker, Smashwords' founder, CEO, and Chief Author Advocate, promised that they would be accepting EPUB files by year's end. Yesterday, in the Site Updates section of the Smashwords' website (you have to be signed in to see it), there was an announcement:

December 28, 2012 - Smashwords Direct alpha testing underway. We're preparing to launch Smashwords Direct, our direct .epub upload option. One year ago in my 2011 annual year-in-review over at the Smashwords Blog, we made a commitment to launch SWD in the second half of 2012. We're working to fulfill that commitment. We're nearing completion of a beta version of SWD. The first iteration will enable those of you with professionally designed .epub files to replace your current Smashwords-generated .epub with another .epub. It'll also allow authors to upload .epub files instead of Word .doc files. We're inviting people with custom epubs to email them to us...

This is huge news. Although Smashwords is a major ebook vendor, especially for self-published books, many authors and publishers have been reluctant or unwilling to either create their books in Word, or submit them to the “Meatgrinder”, Smashwords' terrifyingly-named and woefully-limited EPUB conversion program. The new Smashwords Direct program will allow authors to upload professionally-designed EPUB files and thus give us absolute control over what the EPUB looks like.

So, let's email them some books and help them get this up and running!

Thanks, Smashwords!


  1. This is great news! I'm hoping Smashwords will eventually have an ftp upload for ePubs that are too big to email.

  2. It would be great if they supported EPUB3 with MathML for equations! This would be essential for self-publishing teachers and professors in academia.

  3. This is marvelous!

    Smashwords has had to come at the tail end of my current publishing queue after print (LSI & CreateSpace), the iBookstore, and Amazon because the former those can get files from the same InDesign source. For Smashwords I've had to export that document to Word and laboriously reformat it. That's a miserable grind. Now it is no more. Yeah!

    There is a major catch to epub only submissions described this way in their documentation:

    Limitation: If you upload an .epub file for a new book, that will become the only available format (so no HTML, .MOBI or PDF versions), and there will be no sampling (see "Limitations", below).

    No MOBI generation doesn't matter to me, since I use the Kindle plug-in within InDesign and upload directly. And it matters little to most authors since very few Smashwords books currently get taken up by Amazon.

    But the lack of a sample is more serious. Perhaps Smashwords can allow us to upload our own ePub samples. Apple does that and it's much better than simply grabbing a fixed percentage at the start. For my Hospital Gowns and Other Embarrassments: A Teen Girl's Guide to Hospitals, I made sure the sample included chapters that'd benefit teen girls even if they didn't buy the book. I'd actually prefer that option to their promise to add a sampling feature later.

    For those doing this using InDesign, keep in mind this requirement: "We do not support DRM at Smashwords, so your EPUB must be DRM-free when you upload it."

    InDesign's DRM is a bit sneaky. You have to turn off font inclusion in ePub export or Adobe automatically adds DRM. The iBookstore rejects epub files for the same reason.


More of my books