Smidget for Smashwords (and MS Word)

My post on how to add social media and review links to your ebook has remained one of my most popular — no surprise, when every author and publisher (and author/publisher) is trying to make it as easy as possible for readers to share what they think about the book!

Someone asked recently if it were possible to use the same technique in a Microsoft Word document that was going to be uploaded to Smashwords and put through the dreaded Meatgrinder. The answer, of course, is yes!

Here’s how you do it:

The first thing you need to do is find images for the buttons. In most cases, the stores/social media companies have such icons available for the purpose on their sites. In my case, my own site (like just about every site out there) has a line of such icons across the bottom of every article; I right-clicked on each icon (that’s control-click on a Mac) and selected Save Image as…, downloading each of the icons to my computer as an image file — in each case either a JPEG file or a PNG file, either of which will work in an ebook.

The larger Amazon and Goodreads images I found on their websites. You could just do a web search for “Amazon icon” or “Goodreads icon” and find the ones that you want. (If you’re uploading to Smashwords, however, don’t include the Amazon icon and link — they’ll kick the book back to you. The only links they’ll allow are back to your own page or to Smashwords.)

To get them into your Word document, go to the Insert menu, and select Photo and then Picture from File…. (I’m using Word for Mac 2011 — I believe it’s the same in most versions of Word created in the last decade.) Find the image files wherever you downloaded them to, and hit the Insert button. The images will now be loaded into your Word doc.

You can play around with formatting them however you like — in a single row, in a tower, in a pyramid, whatever.

Now select each image one by one. The easiest way to do that is to place the cursor down right next to the image, then hold down the Shift key and the left or right arrow key. The icon will now be highlighted (on my computer, it turns bright yellow). Now go up to Insert menu again and select Hyperlink… (or hit Command-k on a Mac or control-k on a Windows computer). Take the hyperlink for that site that you’ve created using the directions I gave above, and then paste them into the field provided in the dialog box and (once again) hit the Insert button. Voilà! You should have a working link.

Now try clicking on the link you’ve just created. Does it behave the way that it should, creating a dialog to post a Tweet, update or review? If not, double-check the code and make sure that everything is as it should be. (The sites all occasionally change their code, and so some of these links may not be workable in a year or five — but they all work now.)

Repeat that for each of the icons, and you should have a working widget. Upload to Smashwords, and watch the book start to sell itself.