If you’re interested in publishing your short stories as ebooks, you might get confused by the different formatting requirements of the Word document for Amazon and Smashwords. After studying the Smashwords Style Guide, I came up with my own ebook template suitable that require minor modifications for both publishing platforms.
The cover image is 500 pixels by 800 pixels. Since I’m not a graphic artist, my covers are very simple. The top half has a picture I licensed from iStockPhotos that closely matches the short story content. The bottom half has the title, ebook type and author name in Book Antiqua font, with title text in 72 point and other text in 36 point. If the text is too long, you can tweak the text size to a smaller value. But not too small. Your text must still be legible when the cover image becomes a thumbnail.
I start with the Smashwords template. After I remove the template cover image, I load the new cover image and set the cover bookmark. (Your ebook template should have a minimum of two other bookmarks: start and title.) I open the source file for my short story and change the font to Times New Roman, the regular text to 12 point, header text to 14 point and the line spacing to double before I copy and paste into the ebook template. After double checking all the details, I upload this file to Smashwords.
After I finish the Smashwords version, I make a copy of that file to create the Amazon version. Replace all references to Smashwords with the corresponding Amazon reference (i.e., “Smashwords Edition” becomes “Amazon Edition”). I change the font size to 11 point and the line spacing to 1.5. I then change all the header text to 18 point. This usually takes about ten minutes or so. After double checking all the details, I upload this file to Amazon.
I recently started putting my ebooks up for sale on Scribd. Besides being another potential revenue source (the $100 minimum payout will be a long time coming), I can embed the first page or chapter of my ebook on my own author website. You will need to have a PDF version of your ebook. Again, making a copy of the Smashwords template, I change all the Smashwords reference to Scribd references (i.e., “Smashwords Edition” becomes “Scribd Edition”) and make the text more readable (i.e., removing the two line spaces before and after each block of text). On the Mac, I can print to a PDF file. With Windows, you will need a special plugin for Word or Adobe Acrobat to create the PDF file. After double checking all the details, I upload this file to the Scribd store.
The nice thing about creating short story ebooks is that formatting is relatively simple for all the publishing platforms. These templates can be adapted for essays and poetry. If you try to do a more complicated formatting (i.e., hanging indents), you’re on your own in finding a common solution for that.
NOTE (28 November 2012): The cover image size is out of date. Please read New eBook Cover Images Requirements for the new high-definition cover image size. I also no longer include the cover image in the ebook file as both Amazon and Smashwords will automatically include a copy of the cover image in the Kindle version of the ebook. Leaving the cover image out of the ebook file makes it easier to update the cover image without uploading the ebook file again.