(S)mashwords: A guerrilla writer’s tool in launching his/her career

The main reason I love Smashwords.com: it allows self-publishers to distribute their books to places previously only available to Big Publishers.   As you all know by now, all my books are FREE.  I pay nothing for everything Smashwords does for me, though they should charge me for harassing their I.T. folks with stupid questions.

Smashwords is a free site that formats your ebooks into multiple formats, distributes to all major eReader stores, and allows you to track your royalties and distribution from one easy-to-use interface.

There are no upfront costs with Smashwords.  They operate off royalties, so they take money out of each sale you make, then return the rest of the $ to your account.  As long as you can format the interior and exterior of the book on your own, you will never pay a dime up front! 

 The advantages of Smashwords:

– If your books are free and you epublish through Smashwords, you never pay a cent.  My books have cost me nothing to distribute to all the major ereader stores. 

– They’ll give you the option of a free ISBN. 

– They distribute to all the major ebook reader libraries (Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Sony, Apple, etc)  People really don’t realize how important this is – but only major book distributors can get into some of these places, like Apple, and no one else does it for a self-published author FOR FREE.  Smashwords does.

– It’s pretty simple to use and has awesome, awesome customer service.  (On twitter, you can follow @smashwords and @markcoker, the founder of smashwords.)

– They format it into all the different formats you need, so you can direct anyone interested to their site while you wait for Smashwords to distribute to all the major ereader libraries.

 The disadvantages of Smashwords:

– They can be a bit slow.  It can take 2-3 wks to see your books in all those libraries.  If you’re in no rush, it’s worth waiting, because you can only have free books on sites like Barnes and Nobles if you go through a book distributor. Otherwise, you have to charge.

– They don’t have a distribution agreement with Amazon, so you’re better off uploading to Amazon yourself.  The good thing here is that you can use a PDF for Amazon, and it takes a few days.  The bad thing about posting it yourself to Amazon: you can’t post it for free.  If you post it for .99, Amazon keeps 70% of the book sale.  If you post it for 2.99 or above, YOU keep 70% of the book sale.

– For Smashwords, there’s a double whammy: the store they go through AND smashwords will take a cut, but their cuts combined are still LESS than what any other distributor charges for paperbacks.

– The Meatgrinder – Smashwords’ ebook format conversion tool – can kick your butt the first time you try to submit your book.  Smashwords has really detailed formatting instructions, and if you don’t get them 100% right, the Meatgrinder will kick them back.  There are people who will format your books for you for $25/hour, but my suggestion is to learn to do it on your own.

Interested in more?  Visit Smashwords or post a comment, if you want to know anything about my experience with them!

7 thoughts on “(S)mashwords: A guerrilla writer’s tool in launching his/her career

    • It was the best free option we found. We operate on a shoestring budget, so we couldn’t afford to hire some of the companies that advertise the same type of work at Smashwords. Before we went with Smashwords, we found a few places charging 800+ just to epublish a book!! I have a lot of projects, and we couldn’t afford 800 for one book let alone the 12 I want to release this year. It ended up being as much about cost as it was about quality – my books are everywhere, and we’ve gotten so much feedback, which has been absolutely priceless! 🙂

  1. Thanks for all of your great advice. When you’re trying to start out, it can all be a bit overwhelming. By sharing such great info, you really make it easy for those of us who otherwise would have absolutely no clue where to begin or how to go about things. Thanks so much!!

    • Woohoo, thanks, Dafeenah! My IT Sherpa and I spent weeks reading about epublishing, so when we started to figure things out, we decided to post our lessons in the hopes that other indie writers could learn from them, too! I’m glad you find them helpful! 🙂

    • Hi Nutschell! Yeah, I definitely recommend them. We looked at a few services, and this was the only one that didn’t charge you a zillion dollars up front, just to use them! And they’re really responsive in terms of customer service! 🙂

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