Smashwords is an ebook marketplace and distributor you may not have heard of if you’re new to e-publishing, or if you’ve primarily focused on the Kindle so far. Or maybe you’ve heard of it, but you didn’t get the appeal (or got frustrated with the way ebooks are uploaded there).
In today’s post, I’m going to give some reasons why you might want to check Smashwords out, or give them another chance if you’ve tried and dismissed them in the past.
1. Smashwords can get your ebooks into marketplaces you can’t on your own.
Amazon & Barnes & Noble are very friendly to indie authors, and uploading an ebook to their marketplaces is the work of a few minutes. You don’t need an ISBN or anything to get listed in those stores. Apple is less friendly (ISBN required and hoops to jump through), and, as far as I know, you can’t even get into Borders or the Sony Reader and mobile app stores.
Smashwords can get your ebooks into those places, and you can always opt out of distribution to B&N and Amazon if you want to handle that on your own (I do with one exception–see the “bonus” reason down below).
2. Smashwords pays a high royalty on ebooks sold through their site.
Smashwords gives you 85% of the ebook sales price, which is a higher cut than anyone else offers. Granted, they don’t have the eye traffic an Amazon or B&N gets, but if you actually put forth some effort, you can certainly sell books there, and it’s not as if it takes away from your sales elsewhere.
I uploaded my free short story, Ice Cracker II, there, and have been getting sales from Smashwords ever since. Also, if you’re someone who likes to promote by conversing in forums, the folks who hang out at MobileRead have all sorts of different e-readers, and many of them use Smashwords (I asked in a post a couple months ago), since it provides all the ebook formats in one place. People can even grab pdfs there if they don’t use an e-reader.
Oh, by the way, that 85% applies to ebooks of any price (as opposed to Amazon and B&N, who will give you a smaller 35-40% royalty on ebooks priced less than $2.99.
3. Smashwords lets you upload free ebooks (and distribute them too).
As an indie, you can’t currently upload anything for less than $0.99 at the Amazon and B&N stores, but, as I’ve written about before, giving away a free ebook can be a great promotional tool.
I hardly sold any ebooks at Barnes & Noble before my freebie appeared there, but I’m doing much better there now, and I’m sure that’s helped.
4. Smashwords has a more appealing affiliate program than other bookstores.
In my post, How You Can Make Money Promoting My Ebooks (and other people’s too), I told bloggers how they could make a few extra bucks with affiliate programs. That’s where they get a cut of the sales price for books sold through links on their sites.
On Amazon and B&N, authors have no say as to how much they can offer their affiliates (it’s a flat 5-7% or so). On Smashwords, you can offer anything from 0 to the default of 11% on up to 81.5%. I have all my ebooks set for 75%.
You may be thinking that’s nuts–why would you want to give someone else some of your money?–but keep in mind these are ebooks that wouldn’t be sold at all if not for that “someone else.” You’re giving that person a reason to promote your work on their site and help you get the word out. And, hey, if it’s a Book 1 in a series, the reader might come back and buy several more books for which you’ll get the full cut.
5. Smashwords’ coupons make it easy to give away ebooks.
Whether you’re giving away review copies or freebies to contest winners, it can add up if you’re sending e-gift certificates for your books through Amazon. Also, not everyone is going to be a Kindle owner, so it’s good if you can give away other formats as well. Sure, you can always send the files directly to people, but I’ve run into more trouble than you’d think with that from folks who aren’t sure how to get a file from their inbox to their e-reader.
You can also create coupons that are good for a certain percentage off, which may be something you’d like to try if you have a higher priced ebook, or you’re not looking to give your work away for free.
Bonus reason: If you’re a fan of publishing 99-cent ebooks, you’ll make more from Barnes & Noble sales via Smashwords
I only recently found out about this. On accident, I ended up with my 99-cent Ice Cracker II (and other stories) collection on Barnes & Noble via Smashwords distribution. Instead of getting the usual 40 cents I get for a 99-center uploaded through B&N’s PubIt, I get 60 cents per sale. That’s apparently the across-the-board deal Smashwords has with its partners.
So, if you’re selling a lot of sub-$2.99 ebooks at B&N, meaning they don’t qualify for the 65% royalty, it might behoove you to get them listed through Smashwords instead.
Any thoughts? Love Smashwords? Hate them? Both?