With every new eBook project, it seems like I stumble across a new Smashwords formatting snafu that I hadn’t ever before encountered, or even considered. My recent upload of my newest book, F-ing Freddy Fisher, was no exception. It usually doesn’t take me long to figure out what I’m up against, but this time, when I received an email telling me that my manuscript had been rejected due to the lack of an NCX file, I was stumped.
Like any true worrier, my head immediately whirled with panicked questions. What the heck was an NCX file? Was this something new? Was I going to have to give up on Smashwords for good because they had finally managed to make it too difficult for me to figure something out?
Like any true procrastinator, I then put off thinking about it until I had an entire free afternoon to focus on nothing but this problem. Luckily, it turned out all the panic was for naught.
So, what is an NCX file? Well, NCX stands for Navigation Control file for XML. Sounds scary, right? It’s actually not. All the NCX file does is add navigation to your eBook so readers can jump to specific sections (usually chapters) of your book without having to flip through every single ‘page.’
It turns out this NCX thing wasn’t anything new at all. It was just something that integrated so well into the Smashwords Meatgrinder contraption that I had set up my prior manuscripts so that this file auto-generated without me even realizing I was doing it. By labelling my chapters in my last novel, “Chapter 1,” “Chapter 2,” etc., I had automatically tipped the Meatgrinder off as to how to generate the NCX file. This didn’t happen with F-ing Freddy Fisher simply because I hadn’t labelled my chapters this time with the word “Chapter” followed by a number.
Upon reviewing the section of the Smashwords guide that covered this portion of formatting, I found that there were a few different ways that I could go about fixing this issue. Some were, of course, harder than others. I ended up going with the simplest, which was to just add explicit chapter headers at the start of each new chapter. This took all of about five minutes, followed by two-five minutes of crushing my updated manuscript through the Meatgrinder. Within a few hours, my eBook had been approved for premium distribution, and F-ing Freddy Fisher is now all set to release on Smashwords October 8!
Unfortunately, Smashwords still does not allow for pre-ordering, but you should be able to add this title to your library now so you don’t forget about it.
Or, you can pre-order on Kindle for the lowered price of just 99 cents (for a limited time!) My goal is to get 500 pre-orders through Amazon by the time the book releases on October 8 so I can generate a sales spike on release day, so I would appreciate it if you could share the Amazon link with all your friends and encourage them to throw 99 cents at a struggling author to help her make some headway!