I spent a good deal of the last couple months researching and reading about posting ebooks. I read a lot of pros, cons, and instructions. Some of the instructions were a year or two old on the internet and didn't really serve a purpose anymore. I decided to stick to new ones. I downloaded the Smashwords Style guide which is a long book-like document and read a few bits of it. This is a case where everyone seems to have a different idea and you eventually have to pick one and try it.
Ultimately, someone on a forum was testing a video that they put on youtube of how to format your book. It's only a 5 minute video, so I invested the time. It's from an author CJ Lyons: How to Format your Ebook Video.
I found the video easy to follow and clear. It was helpful to see what she meant on screen in Word rather than just read it. Normally I'm a read it and do it person because that is often faster for me. I thought it was helpful and a doable process that did not take hours. Of course this is a short story. I'd have to spend more time eliminating some formatting in my novel (coming soon!) but it does not seem out of reach. I have been a graphic designer in a former life so maybe this stuff is easier for me, but personally I'd recommend trying to do it yourself before you hire someone.
Another tip that was very helpful was to have certain things prepared and ready before you go to upload. I got this tip from John Kremer at this helpful blog. ebook-publishing guide
This was the list I found helpful but he's got lots of other information there too and other links.
Book (preferably in.doc format) – See detailed formatting guidelines below.
Cover picture (in JPG format, max 1200 pixels high)
Short book description (400 characters max)
Proper book description (up to about 2,500 characters)
About the Author summary
Book categories (i.e. Young Adult, Fantasy, etc.)
Decision on selling price of book
Barnes and Noble's Pub It gets the prize for the easiest and most pain free upload-my-book (short story) process. Amazon is a close second but slightly more cumbersome at their kdp website that was hard to find.Find it here. Smashwords I almost skipped because they are a much smaller share of the market (Kobo, Sony, Indies) but they do epub for ibook which meant I needed it if I wanted to see my finished story on my ipad, so I got on board. It was the most cumbersome, the most fussy not liking my formatting etc. They do however have a way to do a coupon so you can give away the book.
I did not see immediately any way to have a free book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It must be there and I will investigate further.
I downloaded my book from Smashwords since the ipad is the only reader I've got. Looks really good -- except for 2 sentences that seem to be in a different font (and they weren't) -- and it appears to be bold face throughout which it also was not. So a little more investigating to be done, but overall a good look I'm pleased with for a start. Waiting on a friend with a Nook and a Kindle to tell me how they look there and then I will take another look at the formatting.