Smashwords, for all its good points (and they are many), suffers from a singular lack of support for open formats where their Meatgrinder software is concerned. This has caused a hue and cry from those of us who prefer to author our own epub and mobi files, and from those of us using OpenOffice and attempting to translate the style guide from MS Word to OpenOffice.

After much experimentation, I’ve come up with a template that works very reliably for passing muster both with the Autovetter and with the Premium Distribution channel. As the other templates I discovered online are not especially helpful for creating a book with pretty titles and extra front/back matter, I’ve decided to offer my own for the use of anyone who likes it.

So, I’m releasing my template into the public domain (here’s a version for MS Word). Download and use with OpenOffice, then save the properly formatted book in .doc format, and it should get you through the process painlessly. Needless to say, I make no warranties beyond saying “it’s worked very well for me,” but I hope all of you that wish to use it find it useful.


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  2. Thanks for the template, I’ll give it a try.

    The ironic thing is — from what I deduced a few months back digging into the process, so this isn’t gospel — Smashwords runs their meatgrinder on Linux and one of the first things it does is convert the .doc file to .odt (OpenOffice) format.

    However, I can kind of understand their desire to keep things simple by insisting on a single input format. At least they’re not asking for it in SGML.

  3. Alastair —

    SGML? *shudder*

    Still, I’m definitely looking forward to the day when they’ll be willing to at least take html, if not e=pub. SO much easier to make a good-looking book that way, particularly if we’re talking about a nonfiction book with diagrams and footnotes.

    Ah well–for what it is, it’s a great service. And hopefully, it shall continue to improve as it has thus far!

    Hope the template works well for you

  4. Import it into the template manager, then when you open a new doc, specify this template (see the openoffice documentation for how to do these things, or check out the tutorials on Once you learn how to use templates, it’s easy peasy.


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  6. Dan,
    Template use is a step in the right direction. You should write a piece about the importance of creating and using styles based on Normal, because that is the main reason for failing auto vetter. I find Atlantis Word processor isn’t as hiccupy as MS Word but have never tried it for Smashwords. It will however create epub files. Worth the $30 it costs. I used .odt in my tertiary education digital publishing job, found it more stable than Word, held styles, etc. Thank you for the odt document. I’ll give it a whirl for my upcoming novel.

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