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Thread: Smashwords

  1. #1
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    Smashwords

    I'm considering publishing on Smashwords, probably starting with an essay so I can see how the process works.

    Is it worth the effort? Is e-publishing really mature enough yet to anybody other then the odd success to make money?

  2. #2
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    Yes, more than just the odd success story makes money.

    The percentage that make money is higher than trade publishing (because 99% of those who try never get past the gatekeepers.) But the percentage that make any significant money or do it full time is likely no better--some subset of the 1%.

    Odds are you (the generic you) will make very little self-publishing because that's what most make. Most do not have the skills, determination, and persistence to succeed in self publishing any more than they have what it takes to succeed in trade publishing.

    Whether it's 'worth the effort' for you is hard to say. I found it to be almost no effort. I found the process to be exceptionally fun. So it was worth it to me even if I made nothing. The lunch money I've made and the new readers I've gained off stories I already got paid for is gravy.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 52greg View Post
    I'm considering publishing on Smashwords, probably starting with an essay so I can see how the process works.

    Is it worth the effort? Is e-publishing really mature enough yet to anybody other then the odd success to make money?
    I think there are a lot of people making enough to pay a small bill or go out to dinner a few extra times each month. Sure, there are a few handfuls of writers making a lot of money, but I think most writers would be happy to make enough to quit their day jobs and pursue writing full-time. That's been my dream and I'm going full guns starting January 1st.
    [URL="http://www.amazon.com/author/merrihiatt"][SIGPIC][/SIGPIC][/URL]
    I'm a clickable link to Amazon

    [URL="http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/merrihiatt"]Smashwords[/URL] [URL="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/merri-hiatt?store=allproducts&keyword=merri+hiatt"]B&N[/URL] [URL="https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/merri-hiatt/id458595119?mt=11"]iTunes[/URL] [URL="http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Merri+Hiatt"]AllRomance[/URL] [URL="http://merrihiatt.com/"]Website[/URL]

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Nick Russell's Avatar
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    I've made my living as a self-publisher for years and only recently transitioned into e-books. For me, it has been an amazing experience, and I only wish it had come years earlier.

    I sell a few (very few) books on Smashwords, but a lot in Amazon's Kindle bookstore.

    Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Nick Russell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrihiatt View Post
    I think there are a lot of people making enough to pay a small bill or go out to dinner a few extra times each month. Sure, there are a few handfuls of writers making a lot of money, but I think most writers would be happy to make enough to quit their day jobs and pursue writing full-time. That's been my dream and I'm going full guns starting January 1st.
    I wish you much success Merri. I'm pulling for you!

  6. #6
    "We're all mad here" - Cheshire Cat Silver-Midnight's Avatar
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    Is Smashwords really good? I just recently heard of them. I haven't gotten any books from them yet though.

  7. #7
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Depends on what you mean by "good."

    They're honest. They're easy to use. They distribute to pretty much everything that isn't Amazon.

    So, if you're electronically self-publishing you'd be silly to not create a Smashwords version.
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 12-26-2011 at 07:02 AM.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW movieman's Avatar
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    The only reason I can see for not using Smashwords is that if you ever plan to make a book Amazon-exclusive, getting it removed from the sites Smashwords distribute to can take a long time.

    So far I've made about as much money on Smashwords as Amazon, though not very much from either .

  9. #9
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    Smashwords distributes to a lot of places, but they're all far less popular than Amazon. Results vary, of course, but Smashwords has been mostly a waste of time for me as all my sales are coming through Amazon rather than the places Smashwords distributes to.

  10. #10
    "We're all mad here" - Cheshire Cat Silver-Midnight's Avatar
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    I mean I do think it is a great idea, because then I can see if anyone is interested in my work. (Because I do write short stories, and some of them are really short, it'll probably be a few freebies before I start asking for money). I can also hopefully get a few reviews, and see what I need to work on and all of that. I mean I already put a lot of work online, like online writing websites but I still think it would be a good idea. I mean I'm truthfully going back and forth with the idea of publishing. It does seem like a good idea on one hand honestly, but at the same time, I truthfully don't know.

    EDIT: And truthfully, if I do publish, I will probably find a publisher after I see if there is any interest in my work. Simply because self-publishing costs a lot of money that I don't have. No offense to anyone who does self-publish.
    Last edited by Silver-Midnight; 12-26-2011 at 04:43 AM.

  11. #11
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    Thanks, Nick!

    Self-publishing doesn't have to cost a lot of money. I hear a lot of writers say they simply can't afford to self-publish and I'm not sure where that idea comes from. It might be from folks who don't think they can format a Word document themselves or make a decent cover using stock images, so they believe they will need to hire someone to do these things for them. Both take time and a bit of a learning curve, but they are both doable.
    [URL="http://www.amazon.com/author/merrihiatt"][SIGPIC][/SIGPIC][/URL]
    I'm a clickable link to Amazon

    [URL="http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/merrihiatt"]Smashwords[/URL] [URL="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/merri-hiatt?store=allproducts&keyword=merri+hiatt"]B&N[/URL] [URL="https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/merri-hiatt/id458595119?mt=11"]iTunes[/URL] [URL="http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Merri+Hiatt"]AllRomance[/URL] [URL="http://merrihiatt.com/"]Website[/URL]

  12. #12
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Merri, I think the view that self-publishing costs a lot comes from people who want to get their work professionally edited before it's published, and who would prefer a professionally designed cover rather than a home-Photoshopped one, and so on.

    Yes, it's possible to stick your work up on Smashwords without paying a penny; but it's not always the wisest option.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Merri, I think the view that self-publishing costs a lot comes from people who want to get their work professionally edited before it's published, and who would prefer a professionally designed cover rather than a home-Photoshopped one, and so on.
    Exactly.

    Some things the author can handle themselves, but even though that saves money, it costs in time. (Time that could be spent writing more books.) I've self-pubbed a collection and a stand-alone short story, and though I didn't need an editor--these were all previously published--I still spent a lot of time with designing the covers, and copyediting, and double-checking the different versions.

    To answer the OP's question--adding Smashwords to your list of venues makes good sense, but only if you add your book to their premium catalog. So far, I've sold equal numbers of my collection through Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, but the majority of my Smashwords sales have been to the Sony and Kobo stores.

    For anything you plan to give away, you can either join Amazon's special program and give them exclusive rights to distribute the work, or you can make the item available there for 99 cents, and for free on Smashwords. That's what I'm doing with my short story, and so far, I've sold a dozen or so on Amazon, the same on B&N, but have had over 300 downloads through Smashwords.

    The one thing I've learned so far is that it can take a while to build momentum, and to do that, you need to have several works at each venue. I had slow erratic sales on my collection, but when I added the free short story, sales picked up for both.

  14. #14
    probably needs counseling Sue_L's Avatar
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    So am I to understand that Smashwords doesn't distribute to Amazon? I could have sworn I've seen "Smashwords" listed as the publisher of some kindle books I've seen on Amazon, so now I'm confused. I've been looking into Smashwords recently because I wanted to offer a self pubbed freebie story and thought Smashwords would be the way to go...but if they don't distribute to Amazon, I might have to rethink this. Can anyone help clear my confusion about Amazon and Smashwords?

  15. #15
    Smashwords does not distribute to Amazon.

    They do, however, create Kindle files with their conversion program. (Along with all the other e-book file types.) So what you likely saw was someone who took the Kindle output and uploaded that directly to Amazon. It's against the Smashwords terms of service, but some folks don't seem to care.

    If you want to distribute a free story, use Smashwords and Amazon together. Amazon will insist that you charge 99 cents, but you can point them to your free Smashwords offering and see if they'll make the Amazon listing free as well. Meanwhile, your story appears for free on Sony, Kobo, iTunes, etc.

  16. #16
    probably needs counseling Sue_L's Avatar
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    Thanks eqb, you've been so helpful! I've also noticed some authors (particularly those who write smutty stories) pay the extra Smashwords fee so they can be their own publisher. I have then seen those stories published on Amazon under the same publisher name. Sometimes several authors get together to do this. I take it that it's also against Smashwords policy to use the kindle file they give you to put on Amazon even if you've paid for their premium service? And if so, doesn't Smashwords ever catch people doing this?

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Sue_L View Post
    I've also noticed some authors (particularly those who write smutty stories) pay the extra Smashwords fee so they can be their own publisher. I have then seen those stories published on Amazon under the same publisher name. Sometimes several authors get together to do this.
    Using the same publisher name is perfectly okay. That belongs to the author, or group of authors, and doesn't automatically mean they are using the same file. It's entirely possible they created the Kindle file themselves.

    I take it that it's also against Smashwords policy to use the kindle file they give you to put on Amazon even if you've paid for their premium service? And if so, doesn't Smashwords ever catch people doing this?
    I have no idea. I suspect they don't want you using their free conversion program for venues other than theirs. (And I don't really blame them.) If they catch you, they can delete your account, but I don't know how much effort they make to check.

    And really, why not make your own file?

  18. #18
    "We're all mad here" - Cheshire Cat Silver-Midnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Merri, I think the view that self-publishing costs a lot comes from people who want to get their work professionally edited before it's published, and who would prefer a professionally designed cover rather than a home-Photoshopped one, and so on.

    Yes, it's possible to stick your work up on Smashwords without paying a penny; but it's not always the wisest option.
    Well, I had an idea those things were optional, but I saw that it was "advised" I have someone make a cover for me to use. I mean if I honestly thought I could do it, and I think I can at least make a decent one with Printshop, then I would probably go for it.
    I just know that it costs to use stock photo images, and as of right now, I can't even really throw a few dollars for that.





    I do have a question though. Which one do you think is better SmashWords or Amazon? And exactly how many words is a $0.99 book?

  19. #19
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    There is no reason to use only one, use both. And a 99c book is exactly as long as the author makes it.

  20. #20
    Today is your last day. FOTSGreg's Avatar
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    Smashwords will also provide you with a free ISBN which you can use elsewhere simply by listing Smashwords as your publisher. If you look at my Kindle page you'll see I have Smashwords listed as the publisher for many of my stories. I get the free ISBN and still publish for the Kindle (and Sony, Kobo, Stanza, etc., etc.m etc.).

    Nobody, neither Smashwords nor Amazon, seem to care one way or the other.

    Find my books on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/fotsgreg
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  21. #21
    Writing! Writing! Writing! Requiescat In Pace
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    Thanks Old Hack and eqb. Editing can be very expensive, as well as the other services if you are paying out of pocket for them.

    I did not think ISBNs were supposed to be used elsewhere (i.e., a Smashwords ISBN should stay with Smashwords, not to be used anywhere else other than sales channels Smashwords sends your book to).
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    [URL="http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/merrihiatt"]Smashwords[/URL] [URL="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/merri-hiatt?store=allproducts&keyword=merri+hiatt"]B&N[/URL] [URL="https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/merri-hiatt/id458595119?mt=11"]iTunes[/URL] [URL="http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Merri+Hiatt"]AllRomance[/URL] [URL="http://merrihiatt.com/"]Website[/URL]

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by FOTSGreg View Post
    Smashwords will also provide you with a free ISBN which you can use elsewhere simply by listing Smashwords as your publisher....Nobody, neither Smashwords nor Amazon, seem to care one way or the other.
    To quote the Smashwords FAQ:

    Can I use a Smashwords ISBN elsewhere?

    We do not recommend this. Smashwords ISBNs are provided as an exclusive service benefit for authors and publishers who utilize Smashwords' distribution services. To use a Smashwords ISBN elsewhere, or to utilize Smashwords as a free vending machine for ISBNs, goes against the spirit of why we make this benefit available to our authors and clients. To do so would also potentially create situations where your book is listed incorrectly. If you plan to utilize an ISBN outside of Smashwords distribution, it's best to go to ISBN registrar and obtain your own.

  23. #23
    Today is your last day. FOTSGreg's Avatar
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    Yup, yup. But Smashwords is listed as my publisher (there and on Kindle) and I distribute through them to all other channels except Kindle. When either party starts griping about it I'll start worrying about it.

    In addition, the ISBN is for my electronic editions only. I'd have to obtain another ISBN for different print editions.

    I'm sorry, but I don't see any conflicts here. Kindle accepts the ISBN Smashwords provides or they substitute their own ASIM number (whatever that is). It's certainly easier than having a different ISBN for each and every platform I'm trying to market to.

    Find my books on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/fotsgreg
    Find my books on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/G.W.-Ellis/e/B...805&sr=1-2-ent
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  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver-Midnight View Post
    Which one do you think is better SmashWords or Amazon?
    I'm not sure how to determine which is "better" except perhaps by sales. Most self-publishers make between 50% and 99% of their money through Amazon. So I'd prioritize that but unless you plan to use KDP Select which requires exclusivity there's no reason not to do both.

    And exactly how many words is a $0.99 book?
    There's no specific amount. In general 99 cent novels sell better than short stories but they're also more work. If the book is shorter than novel length it should be clearly stated in the description so the reader is aware.
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  25. #25
    I'm not a fish PamelaCaves's Avatar
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    Out of curiosity, why would anyone go exclusive with Amazon? Just wondering about the benefits.

    For my experience, I sell A LOT more ebooks on my Smashwords distribution to Barnes and Noble than I do on Smashwords and Amazon combined. But that seems to be just me.

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