Self-Publishing 101: Smashwords

Today we’re talking about one of (in our opinion) the most under-appreciated and valuable self-publishing sites out there. Smashwords.

Now, there are two main things you should know about Smashwords.

  1. They publish everything. If you’ve written some hard core erotica that Amazon refuses to publish, it’ll find a home on Smashwords. Some people might find this fact objectionable and in fact, we’re sure that some people avoid Smashwords simply because of this fact. Personally, whether or not we approve of all of the content Smashwords publishes, we believe they are a tremendously valuable resource and you should use them (unless you’re going to go with KDP Select).
  2. They have specific requirements about your book’s formatting that you need to consider and implement if you want to take advantage of their services. These requirements include including “Smashwords Edition” in your book’s copyright notice. Not only that, but you can’t upload a print-ready PDF to Smashwords. You need to upload a Word doc.

Now that we’ve got those little things out of the way, let’s talk about the benefits of Smashwords.

  • Publishing is easy and quick once you get a formatted file. You can have your book up for sale within fifteen minutes of starting the upload process.
  • Your book will be available in a wide variety of formats: mobi (Kindle), ePub (Nook and Kobo), PDF, RTF, and you can make the full book available for online reading (after purchase). We love the flexibility of the formats.
  • It’s incredibly easy to put your book on sale through the use of a coupon. Through Smashwords’ Coupon Manager, you can generate a coupon that readers can use to get a discount on your book. You can set any percentage of discount: 10%, 25%, 50%, or even 100%. You can also set an expiration date for these coupons.
  • You can make your book available for pre-order. This is a great way to build buzz about your book and get some advanced sales (note: you don’t actually get the money for these sales until your release date, but knowing that on your release day X people will have their book delivered to them is pretty cool).

But by far the biggest benefit of using Smashwords is inclusion in their Premium Catalog for distribution to other sites.

With a single upload to Smashwords, your book can be made available for sale on the following sites:

  • Sony
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Diesel
  • Page Foundry
  • Baker & Taylor Blio
  • Library Direct
  • Baker-Taylor Axis 360
  • Flipkart
  • Oyster
  • Scribd

The channel we’re most excited about is Apple. You can make your book available in the iTunes store without doing a single thing beyond uploading a properly formatted file to Smashwords.

Of course, you can certainly go to all of these sites directly. You’ll have to create an account, go through the setup, upload your book’s file, set your price, and create a description, categories, etc. But why? Why not just let Smashwords do it for you?

The only reason not to do this is royalties. If you go through the individual sites, you might make a slightly higher royalty (70% as opposed to 60%). But on a book that’s selling for $3.99, that’s a difference of $0.50 per book. If you’re a new author and you don’t know how well your books are going to sell on these other platforms, let Smashwords do the work for you. If you find that your book is selling well on iTunes, then you can go through the process of making your book for sale directly there and pull it out of the Smashwords premium catalog.

You can opt out of every one of these channels on a per-book basis.

And there’s our take on Smashwords. Have you used Smashwords before? What was your experience? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Oh, and don’t forget…we’re currently open for submissions. If you publish with us, we’ll help you through the Smashwords process.

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