Smashwords was founded back in 2008 by Mark Coker, after failing to publish his own book, he wanted to create a platform which would give indie authors more control (and freedom) when it came to getting their own work published. Since then Smashwords has grown from just a handful of authors to hundreds of thousands of authors, it’s even had some of its titles go on to become New York Times and USA Today best sellers, not bad.
The main thing you will notice if you consider using Smashwords is that they just publish eBooks, (so if you are looking to publish in print then you will want to look elsewhere), their books can be read using online eReaders or downloaded to you own device such as a Kindle, Nook and iPhone (along with other devices too).
They do distribute to Apple books, their website states that this is to 51 countries, B&N, Kobo, some public libraries (via OverDrive), Scribd, Libri, Gardners, Baker & Taylor and of course their own Smashwords library too.
Smashwords also offers some free services for their authors, things such as ISBNs, an author profile page, eBook conversion from a Word document, unlimited updates to your book and its meta data, sales reporting, and a host of marketing tools.
How much will it cost?
Currently Smashwords is free to use, they pride themselves on having no hidden fees, listing fees, setup or conversion fees (they make their money from a commission from each sale of your book, which is fair enough).
So, how much will you be compensated?
Authors and Publishers earn 85% or more of the net proceeds from the sale of their works through Smashwords.com, authors receive 70.5% for affiliate sales, sales through retailers (such as Apple, B&N etc.) earn 60% of the list price, sales in libraries via OverDrive give 45% and sales via Library Direct (which Smashwords claim is where the majority of their library sales come from) is at 70% of list price.
Your book will be published via Smashwords through a non-exclusive license, this means that you retain all of the ownership rights to your book and are free to publish your book elsewhere if you want to.
How about marketing via Smashwords?
They do offer their authors several marketing tools for free, an Author’s profile page where you can upload details about yourself along with a headshot, there’s Smashwords interviews, where they allow you to tell the story behind your book. Smashwords Alerts, this keeps readers up to date with new releases etc., presales which allow you to run public and private presale events up to 12 months before launch, Audio book production and distribution, with access to Findaway Voices, you can recruit a narrator for your audio book and then distribute via Apple iTunes, Audible, Kobo, OverDrive and more.
Smashwords also has their ‘Smart Author Podcast’ which gives you a step by step guide to publishing and marketing your book, which is well worth a listen (especially if you’re a new author).
Is it worth using Smashwords?
Ultimately this is of course up to you, also, you may want to check the exclusivity of anywhere else that you may be published currently (or want to publish in the future, just because Smashwords is non-exclusive doesn’t mean that other publishers are not).
However, they are free to use, offer great returns on sales and have grown well over the past few years since 2008, their distribution is good too. So with this in mind, you may want to give strong consideration to Smashwords for your eBook.
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