Friday, April 27

Self publishing on Smashwords


Of all the publishing platforms, Smashwords is my favorite.

I'm not saying you'll earn the most through it, the jury is still out on that one, though the race seems to be between Smashwords and Amazon.

One of the reasons I like Smashwords is because they give your ebook a great marketing boost by putting it on their front page. Granted, this lasts only for a minute or so, depending on the number of writers publishing their ebooks at the same time, but -- and this is coming from a gal addicted to Google Analytics -- that's enough to give your digital baby a nice introduction to the world. It's difficult to build a platform even if you're willing to spend a lot of money, and Smashwords is offering offers writers a helping hand, and for free.

But that's not the number one reason I like Smashwords, this is: they are, hands down, the best distributor of e-books in the world. They will distribute your intellectual property through literally dozens of channels.

The following is from Smashwords Distribution Information Page.
Once your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog, we automatically distribute it to major online retailers such as 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), and other distribution outlets coming soon.
Atom/OPDS Catalog (Reaches Major Mobile App Platforms): This catalog contains all the books for sale at Sample distributors include Stanza on the iPhone and Aldiko on the Android mobile device platform. These two e-reading apps alone reach millions of readers combined. The catalog is also distributed to the Word-Player and FBReader apps, and to the Inkmesh ebook search engine.
Of course there are conditions. You have to get your book into the premium catalog at Smashwords, but that isn't hard to do. Just make sure it's formatted property, has a decent cover, and doesn't violate any of Amazon's content guidelines. I've published a few books through Smashwords under pen-names and haven't had any difficulty getting all of them into the Premium Catalog. If you'd like to read more about how to get your book into the Premium Catalog, I've put some links at the bottom of this article.

Amazon's KDP Select Program
One more thing. KDP Select is a program available to folks who have elected to publish through Amazon. It's the name for Kindle's lending library. In 2012 a fund of about six million dollars will be divided up between the authors of books that were lent out.

The advantages of KDP Select are clear: if one enrolls in KDP select one gets some money, one's book is still for sale in the Kindle store, and your books gets exposure through the lending program that it wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Now, for me, the idea of having my book in the library, any library, sends me into fits of ecstasy. Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but only slightly. Like many writers, when I was a kid my local library was my hang-out and the school library was my refuge. Knowing a new generation of readers was borrowing my book from a library would mean the world to me. AND I might get some money from it . What's not to like?

Here's the catch: If you enroll your book in KDP Select you must sell your book exclusively through Amazon. This is from the KDP Select website:
When you choose KDP Select for a book, you're committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital.
In other words, you can't publish your books through Smashwords and, by so doing, take advantage of their mammoth book distribution system.

The 60,000 dollar question: How much more money would an author make by publishing their book with Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Amazon, Sony, and so on, than if they only published through Amazon?

I don't have any answers. I haven't been able to find statistics on this, but I am doubtful that the average author would earn enough through the lending library to justify signing the exclusivity clause with Amazon. That said, if anyone reading this has information to the contrary, please let me know. I'm willing and eager to be proven wrong.

Thanks for reading, your comments are always welcome.

Further Reading
How to Self-Publish an Ebook with Smashwords: 32 Authors Share Their Tips and Tricks
Publishing with Smashwords
Self Publishing on Amazon: Kindle Direct Publishing
How to self-publish on Barnes & Noble

Smashwords Premium Catalogue
Amazon KDP Select
Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author, by Zoe Winters

Photo credit:

"Self Publishing on Smashwords" copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward 


  1. KDP Select also gives you the option to make the book available for free for 5 days during the exclusive period.

    You can make a change to your book, upload it anew, and take advantage KDP Select a second time. Been there, done that. (The change I made was in the list of publications at the back. I did not change the story.) Have not done a third time yet.

    After the exclusive period expires, you can publish elsewhere. I have one book for which the period has expired. I have been lazy and not uploaded it to Smashwords. I suspect Amazon banked on me and others doing so.

    Thanks, Karen.

  2. Shoulda said, "Skid Row 'Bots" is available for free from Amazon until 23:59, 30 April 2012.


Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies. I do appreciate each and every comment.