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.
Focusing on paperbacks and eBooks has been good for KDP, but they have lagged behind other POD services with regards to hardbacks, for long time most author’s first option would be either IngramSpark, Lulu or a smaller independent printer, and this is fine, but it always felt like KDP were missing a trick not offering the service themselves.
So, if we go back over the past 12-18 months they started a beta service for hardbacks, selected authors were offered the opportunity to print their book via KDP as a case-wrapped edition, numerous authors took them up on the offer and now the service has been rolled out to everyone, at last.
If you want to publish your book via KDP as a hardback, here’s a few things that you should know.
Firstly, the book is a case wrap and does not have a dust jacket, this means that the cover gets printed onto the boards of the book itself, we’re not sure if KDP will eventually bring out a service offering dust jackets, but currently it’s just for case wraps, paperbacks and eBooks.
You will need a new ISBN for your hardback edition (as always, it’s one per edition of your book).
The sizing options for a hardback is a little limited at the moment, currently they are offering the following five trim sizes:
There are also some restrictions on page count with the minimum at 75 pages and the maximum at 550 pages, they support 34 languages for hardback and have the capabilities for both left to right and right to left text.
The book cover for your hardback will differ slightly from that of your paperback edition, technically the artwork gets wrapped around the edges of the boards and so it has to extend out further than that of a paperback. If you look at the diagram below, it shows the specifications for a book to be printed as a hardback.
You’ll see that the template they offer does have a similar feel to the ones used for their paperbacks.
For distribution, currently they offer their hardbacks via Amzon.com - .co.uk - .de - .es - .fr and .it however, it’s not available via expanded distribution at the moment.
The costs for printing is of course more expensive than that of a paperback, so you will need to factor in a higher market price for your hardback edition, if you check out KDP’s cost calculator you can see the cost for your exact book, based on page count, interior paper and format, this is incredibly helpful to ensure you price your book correctly.
Now that this service is live, it’s a very similar process to setting up a paperback within the KDP author’s portal, you should see the option within your bookshelf and be able to add a new title, choosing hardback as the format.
It's worth taking a look at, and if you have a well established book already you should certainly consider publishing it in hardback too.
Book cover designers.
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