Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Don't Forget Smashwords

With everyone's eyes on Amazon and the kindle bookstore/platform the other big player in the eBook publishing arena often gets ignored.

This is Smashwords (smashwords.com). Established in 2008 by an author, Smashwords is a digital publisher, or perhaps more accurately a digital publishing house. It has its own ebook creation software known as 'meatgrinder' that takes a single Microsoft Word .doc file as an input and converts this into various eBook formats that are compatible with a range of eBook sellers, including: Apple (distribution to iBookstores in 32 countries), Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith in the UK and FNAC (both powered by Kobo), the Diesel eBook Store,  eBooks Eros (operated by Diesel), Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), Page Foundry (operates retail sites Inktera.com and Versent.com; operates Android ebook store apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus).

Which all sounds rather wonderful (which it is). It's just that, to sell on smashwords (they sell eBooks on their own website) and via their partners you have to create your eBook in Microsoft Word format and export it as a .doc document. Moreover, you have to closely follow their style, as defined in their Style Guide. If you do this exactly as they state, then your eBook will go through the meatgrinder process and will be available for sale at Smashwords.

They then evaluate your book manually (this can take between 1 and 2 weeks). If all is well, the book goes into what they term their 'premium' catalog and they distribute your book to the various retailers named above.

It's a bit of a faff, I will be the first to admit... as you need to generate your eBook twice. For Amazon and for Smashwords (Smashwords are not yet able to bulk upload to Amazon). Also, if you go with Smashwords you cannot have an exclusive deal with Amazon's KDP select...

It's a bit swings and roundabouts. Personally, as a writer of mainly nonfiction I'm currently making more from Smashwords than I am from Amazon and though I did enroll in KDP select for a number of my books (which gave me days I could offer the books for free) Smashwords has proved so good for the books I tried there that I will be opting out of KDP select and putting those other books on Smashwords.

You should also not that, just like Amazon, Smashwords has its own affiliate program so that you can both promote your own boo and get others to promote it for profit (I will be covering affiliate programs in future posts).

So, Smashwords... Is it worth it? For me, yes... But as they say on the smashwords site, very few authors sell lots of eBooks. Some sell none. However, because I sell non-fiction recipe books then I do well out of them (primarily from Apple Store sales, though its early days).

However, your mileage may well vary and it's still fairly early days for me. I will report back in a year!

One other thing to note is that Smashwords provides you with a free ISBN-13 number for the .epub version of your eBook (which the Apple store uses as its ID). I am not going to go into detail about this, as ISBN is a large topic that I will cover in more detail over the coming weeks.

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