The most dismaying thing about my Smashwords experience is that my first version of their .epub file was unreadable, after that file passed their Meatgrinder, Autovetter and Epubcheck systems. Their first version of my .mobi file had no paragraph breaks, but was otherwise readable. Oddly, the other Smashwords files (.pdf and text variants) came out perfectly formatted on the first try.
Then, I can make an .epub file in Calibre, send it to Barnes & Noble PubIt, and the Nook file will match my upload.
(and you get to preview your uploads at Amazon and B&N, unlike Smashwords)
After that, I can go to Booktango and get my book on the “other guys” (Apple, Sony, Kobo, Google, etc.) You can also do Amazon and B&N Nook e-books on Booktango if you don’t wish to upload to those two companies directly.
On Booktango, you upload an .epub or .doc file directly and preview it. The best part is that you can edit your uploaded file online, after you’ve uploaded it. 😀 Booktango offers a litany of paid services to choose from as well (formatting, cover design, press releases, etc.)
Compare all this to Smashwords. No previews, and my first version .epub was unreadable after it passed their vetting programs (which I could only found out after I downloaded it).
My summary: Smashwords may have the indie cred, but Booktango is everything Smashwords should be. I’ll choose modern uploading functionality (matching or surpassing Amazon/B&N) over hours of editing that produced an unreadable file (passed by their systems!) that you couldn’t preview.
Update: After another week’s labor on my part, I finally created a file that produced decent, usable .mobi and .epub files on Smashwords.
My experiences above still argue strongly for paying an expert to format your file for Smashwords. Look at all the time I spent on it. $20 paid would be a real bargain.
And after all that, the Smashwords files lack the Table Of Contents customizations I made to the other versions. The glossary and playlist pages are appended after the concluding chapter, rather than directly accessible in the TOC (as on the Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Booktango versions).
Another argument for Booktango: You create your own chapter headings in the online editor (in fact, you have to!). If you want to use one service to distribute your work, keep in mind that Booktango’s online editor lets you make sure your document looks correct, and has the chapter headings you want (and where you want them), before you publish it. Booktango also distributes to Amazon, whereas Smashwords generally does not (unless you’ve sold over $1000 of books on their site).