Is Smashwords smashing words? I have discovered a lot about Smashwords. It’s a great tool for indie authors and many probably don’t use it or understand it.

I fell into that last category at one time. In fact when I started out as an indie author knowing nothing. I did try it out in the early days but gave up. I was bamboozled and frustrated by the ‘Meatgrinder.’

The ‘Meatgrinder’ is the means by which Smashwords converts your source document, must be Word .doc not .docx, into other formats such as Mobi, ePub, and PDF.

There is a Smashwords Style Guide available for free on the website. It is invaluable so I suggest you go back to the link now and download it. It will help you correctly format your manuscript to avoid heartache.

It is written by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, and carries this mission statement:

I’m Mark, founder of Smashwords. Our mission is simple: we want to create the world’s single best ebook publishing and distribution platform for our indie authors, publishers, literary agents and retailers.

Like many indie authors, I was initially baffled by Smashwords. I persevered and now love it.

I have come to the conclusion it makes no sense at all to restrict my marketing and sales channels to Amazon alone. Amazon is wonderful for many things and the revolution in the self-publishing industry was started by the ‘Big A.’ So, thank you Amazon.

I also have issues with Kindle Select. The fund pays less and less to us authors and I have had enough. Besides, the ‘page reads count’ in Kindle Unlimited is unfathomable to me. It seems like my books are being read for free in a virtual library but my reward is negligible… and diminishing constantly.

By October 15, 2017 all my ebooks will be available through Amazon and Smashwords.

The image above is Smashwords home page. Look at those stats!

Words Published: 16,554,156,251
Books Published: 465,175
Free Books: 73,565

They not only distribute your ebooks but also sell them on their website. How cool is that? Not too sure about the 73k free books. Yes, I am! What is it with authors who offer up a free book on a permanent basis? I don’t get it.

Smashwords distributes to these sales channels AKA online book stores:

  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Baker & Taylor’s Blio.com
  • Aldiko – Aldiko is the most popular e-reading app on Android, which is the operating system that drives millions of smart phones and tablets. If you have an Android device, download the free Aldiko app from the Android store.

I hear you mention libraries. This is what Smashwords says about that:

Does Smashwords distribute to libraries?
Yes! We have two methods of distributing to libraries: 1. Via library aggregators. Library aggregators, such as OverDrive and Baker & Taylor’s Axis360 service, allow libraries to purchase books. Smashwords is working with multiple library aggregators, and is in the process of signing up additional aggregators. 2. On August 7, 2012, Smashwords announced Library Direct. This distribution option allows libraries and library networks to acquire and host Smashwords ebooks on their own servers. This option is only available to libraries who place large “opening collection” orders, typically in the range of $20,000-$50,000, and the libraries must have the ability to host and manage the books, and apply industry-standard DRM to manage one-checkout-at-a-time borrows. To learn more about these library distribution options, visit your Dashboard’s Channel Manager.

I had to dig a little deeper to find out more detail about Smashwords’ distribution channels, both primary and secondary as they call them. It’s best I quote what they say on that subject:.

1. Premium Catalog (Reaches Global Retailers and Libraries): Once your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog, we automatically distribute it to major online retailers. Notable retailers in the Smashwords distribution network include Apple (operates iBooks stores in 51 countries), Barnes & Noble (US and UK), Scribd, Kobo, Blio and Inktera (formerly Page Foundry). Our industry-leading library distribution reaches OverDrive (world’s largest library ebook platform serving 20,000+ libraries), Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Tolino, Gardners (Askews & Holts and Browns Books for Students), Bibliotheca CloudLibrary (3,000 public libraries) and Odilo (2,100 public libraries in North America, South America and Europe).

Partners that power multiple stores: Some of our partners mentioned above power, supply or operate additional digital storefronts. For the sake of clarification, the distribution partners above are “Primary” partners, and if they operate, supply or power other stores, the stores are “Secondary” stores. These secondary stores further extend the reach of the Smashwords distribution network. Please note that the stores operated by our partners change frequently. If you’re opted in to one of the primary stores above, your books may automatically flow to any secondary stores they launch, supply or power. This is a good thing assuming you have world rights to your books, as most self-published authors and publishers do (if you do not have world rights, or if you need to block distribution to certain territories, please contact the Smashwords Support team for instructions on how to block by territory). Although we will endeavor to update the listings below from time to time, please note that the list may be incomplete. Here’s a summary of secondary stores.

Kobo powers the ebook stores of multiple ebook retailers around the world. Simply by distributing to Kobo via Smashwords, your books may also reach WH Smith in the UK, FNAC in France and Portugal, Livraria Cultura in Brazil, Angus & Robertson Bookworld in Australia, Bookworld in Australia, Indigo in Canada, Collins in Australia, Feltrinelli in Italy, bol.com in the Netherlands, Paper Plus in New Zealand, Play in Great Britain, Rakuten in Japan, Buy.com (now Rakuten) in the US, PriceMinister in France, Crossword and WHSmith in India, Eason & Son, Ltd in Ireland, Mondadori in Italy, The Paper Plus Group in New Zealand, National Book Store in the Philippines, Pick ‘N Pay in South Africa, La Central in Spain, Dogan in Turkey, participating Booksellers Association Stores in the UK, and participating American Booksellers Association stores in the US, and Orbile in Mexico (Orbile is a partnership between two large Mexican book retailers, Porrúa and Gandhi).

Inktera operates retail site Inktera.com and powers multiple apps across iOS and Google Play including Athanatos, Book Bronco, Caffeine Nights, Cricket Books, Digital Pretium, Digital Turbine eBooks, EverAfter, IndieReader, Inktera Books, MediaRewards, Morgan Rice, Oasis eBooks, OneClique, TribBooks, Versent Books, and EverAfter (app for romance); and operates Android ebook store apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus.

Baker & Taylor operates Blio, an ebook store and also operates Axis360, a major supplier of ebook checkout systems to public libraries.

Gardners, also mentioned above, powers hundreds of small white label ebook stores; operates Hive.co.uk which powers ecommerce operations for hundreds of physical stores; operates Askews & Holts, a large supplier of ebooks to public libraries in the UK and other countries; and operates VLeBooks which powers ebook checkout systems for academic libraries.

Tolino is a powerhouse in Germany, powering various retailers that account for approximately 50% of the German ebook market. The retailers served by Smashwords’ distribution agreement with Tolino include Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel / ebook.de, Buecher.de, Mayersche, Osiander, Libri, Standaard Boekhandel and IBS.

If you use Smashwords, I believe it is important to ensure your eBook is approved for the Premium Catalog. In that way it will reach all those primary and secondary platforms.

In general, I like what Smashwords are all about and best summarized by what they say:

FOR AUTHORS, PUBLISHERS AND LITERARY AGENTS, Smashwords offers quick and easy ebook distribution to most of the world’s largest ebook retailers. We provide free tools for marketing, distribution, metadata management and sales reporting. At Smashwords, our authors and publishers have complete control over the sampling, pricing and marketing of their written works. Smashwords is ideal for publishing novels, short fiction, poetry, personal memoirs, monographs, non-fiction, research reports, essays, or other written forms that haven’t even been invented yet.

FOR RETAILERS, Smashwords offers a catalog of over 400,000 vetted, well-formatted ebooks from over 100,000 authors and publishers. We work with our retail partners to help them efficiently ingest, merchandise and sell our titles.

FOR READERS, The Smashwords Store provides an opportunity to discover new voices in all categories and genres of the written word. Once you register, the site offers useful tools for search, discovery and personal library management. Most of our books are affordably priced and multi-format. Over 60,000 of our books are priced at free.

The “free tools for marketing” is the phrase that really grabs me. I like to market my books actively and I have found some helpful tips already especially in this free marketing guide.

One of the other really cool thinks I like is they operate an affiliate scheme. This can not only boost sales of your own books but you can earn some money by promoting the books of other authors. The remuneration is far superior to that of an Amazon Associate. I was impressed so I joined.

This is how it works. I am not suggesting you will or ought to buy this book. It is an example and I grabbed it from the top of the Smashwords’ bestseller list. If you do buy it using my link, then great! I have earned $4.60 🙂

That is the book at the top of the bestseller list on the Smashwords home page. I got to it by clicking on “bestsellers.” The image below shows a message for me at the bottom of that same page. Note I am logged in.

You will see my affiliate code at the bottom. I simply copy and paste that into the link above. Someone clicks on it and my affiliate code is logged for 48 hours (a cookie). If that someone purchases using my link, I earn 11% of the net sales price. That does not affect the price paid by the customer at checkout.

You may choose to “juice” the affiliate commissions on your own books. For example, with one of my books I have chosen to split the commission on a 50/50 basis.

This is done to try to encourage the likes of book bloggers, reviewers, website owners, and eBay affiliates to promote that book as they will earn a bigger slice of commission than normal.

It’s also possible to create a widget to promote a book containing your affiliate code. Here is such a widget below featuring one of my books.


So far I am impressed with Smashwords. I will review it after one year.

Let me make it clear, Smashwords is for eBooks only. I will use it as an additional distribution channel to that of KDP. I did research other platforms such as Draft2Digital and Pronoun.

The former actually needed no research as I have used D2D before. It is well laid out and so easy to upload manuscripts. I decided not to go with them again as Smashwords has way more website traffic than D2D and has better marketing tools.

I was tempted by Pronoun and set up a free author profile on its site. The thing I do not like about it is they want to publish in their own account. I cannot countenance such a loss of control. It doesn’t work for me.

Yes, Smashwords is more than smashing words though the ‘Meatgrinder,’ AKA the auto-vetter, has a reputation for smashing words!

 

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