PDA

View Full Version : eBook on Smashwords



Writers Choice
12-01-2015, 01:51 AM
Does anyone have any experience working with Smashwords on their eBooks? I have two questions:

(1) How hard was it to format your manuscript? (Mine is in MS Word)
(2) How were your sales? (Anyone have experience on KDP & Smashwords?)

Thanks!!

Milenio
12-01-2015, 08:56 AM
I have published the vast number of exactly one book in Smashwords for a client of mine. Formatting the manuscript wasn't difficult, but you have to read the instructions and follow the steps as given. Because it was my first attempt, it took me about three tries before it was perfect. My next attempt will be quicker.

I found all the other things you have to do a bit more time-consuming, but those are all once-offs and I used it as a learning experience. The agreement I have with my client is that he has to do his own marketing - I just set up the means for him to sell online. So the sales aren't great because he's not too active with his marketing. I'm thinking of offering the marketing as part of a package but then I would have to up my skills with Twitter and Facebook and all that other grownup stuff, and it isn't something I relish.

I think Smashwords is a great platform for self-publishers and if you put in the time to get it right, you will have great success selling your eBook. They have many "distributors" so they cover a great section of online presence.

Old Hack
12-01-2015, 12:00 PM
This is a question about self published books, so I'm going to move it from General Publishing Discussions to Self Publishing.

CathleenT
12-01-2015, 12:12 PM
Okay, I have nine days of experience with Smashwords, but I can answer one question. If it's formatted in Word, it's ready. Smashwords accepts doc files. And btw, Amazon takes Word rtf. I paid for file conversion on Fiverr, and it was a complete waste of money. Word docs work in CreateSpace, too.

And Smashwords has a formatting guide that's wonderful: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52.

It really has very little to do with Smashwords in particular. It's all about formatting an ebook in Word. I would have saved myself phone calls to KDP if I'd know about that guide first.

Writers Choice
12-01-2015, 05:09 PM
I think Smashwords is a great platform for self-publishers and if you put in the time to get it right, you will have great success selling your eBook. They have many "distributors" so they cover a great section of online presence.

A few of the eBook authors on this and other forum said they sold next to nothing on all the other sites where they've had great success on Amazon. I'm debating if I want to do the whole KU thing for my next book or go rogue and try Smashwords.

Writers Choice
12-01-2015, 05:12 PM
Okay, I have nine days of experience with Smashwords,

CathleenT, Since I have zero days of experience with Smashwords, how are your sales?

On Amazon, I was able to give away about 120 free copies on a two day weekend but sold zero. :cry: Depressing, one actual sale would have been nice.

Milenio
12-01-2015, 05:39 PM
A few of the eBook authors on this and other forum said they sold next to nothing on all the other sites where they've had great success on Amazon. I'm debating if I want to do the whole KU thing for my next book or go rogue and try Smashwords.

It all comes down to marketing your own book. Smashwords can only do so much - they aren't an author's personal marketing agent. Whereas Amazon's marketing (if you call it that) is more robust, they also dictate (as I understand it) the price of your book and whether you have to give forced freebies (please correct me if I'm wrong).

So, in terms of my one client, he hasn't had any sales through Smashwords but it is because he hasn't done any of his own marketing. Smashwords is also very adamant about the need for self-marketing and they give great guidelines (free eBooks) on how to go about it on social media. I have the guides saved away so that I can read them at leisure when I get the time, or when I'm ready to publish my own. In addition to social media, you could market "you" by doing readings at schools or reader groups, hosting talks, etc.

What I like about Smashwords is that they have heaps of information and they really want to help authors by telling them how to do it themselves.

Milenio
12-01-2015, 05:48 PM
Okay, I have nine days of experience with Smashwords, but I can answer one question. If it's formatted in Word, it's ready. Smashwords accepts doc files. And btw, Amazon takes Word rtf. I paid for file conversion on Fiverr, and it was a complete waste of money. Word docs work in CreateSpace, too.

Not 100% accurate. They DO accept Word files, but they have to be totally stripped of certain formatting characters (the hidden ones). They cannot publish the file if it has bugs in it.


And Smashwords has a formatting guide that's wonderful: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52.

Yes they are. I like how they share information and knowledge.


It really has very little to do with Smashwords in particular. It's all about formatting an ebook in Word. I would have saved myself phone calls to KDP if I'd know about that guide first.

Yep. Once it's formatted according to the Smashwords specifications, you can easily upload it to any format. My first attempt was rejected for the correct KDP format. Only THEN did I read the instructions properly *blush*

CathleenT
12-01-2015, 08:15 PM
I'm the wrong person to ask about sales since I'm giving my book away. Sorry.

But you can do Smashwords and KDP both, just as long as you don't enroll in in the Kindle select program.

veinglory
12-01-2015, 08:25 PM
There is very little doubt that the vast majority of people will sell more on Amazon Kindle than Smashwords per se. You may or may not benefit from using Smashword to distribute to some of the other sales sites rather than going for the lending earnings from an exclusive Kindle select option. IMHO draft2digital seems more popular these days.

Smashword's file converter is called "the meat grinder" for a reason. Try a plain world file with minimal formatting, it will probably be okay. Disable any formats that come out scrambled. I find the rtf and plain text versions never work. I personally used a paid service to format because I could not get the front matter to work properly myself.

WriterBN
12-01-2015, 08:59 PM
I've used both Smashwords and D2D, and I much prefer D2D. I hand-code my own ePub files, so Smashwords didn't really offer any benefits for me (other than one distribution channel that's now dead). Compared to D2D, they are slow, have more hoops to jump through, and customer service is...meh.

Polenth
12-01-2015, 11:57 PM
I sell more on Amazon than on Smashwords. When I've done free promotions, more copies go on Amazon than Smashwords. It's not really about what individual authors do. It's because Amazon is huge.

RedWombat
12-02-2015, 11:57 PM
I sell a couple copies a month on Smashwords. I sell a couple hundred copies a month on Amazon. (Literally maybe 1% of total sales are on Smashwords.)

I've given up using them to get onto the various sites and gone to Draft2Digital, which pays monthly, has a less painful upload process, and which gets everything uploaded to iBooks/Kobo/etc in days instead of weeks. Smashwords was industry standard a few years ago, but they haven't kept up, and now there's sleeker, more efficient competition.

The only reason I continue to upload there is for the very few readers who have Smashwords accounts and want a version that is not proprietary to any device. I don't want to leave them out in the cold--I know a few of them personally!--but it's pretty much for their benefit, not mine.

Writers Choice
12-04-2015, 06:11 AM
I sell a couple copies a month on Smashwords. I sell a couple hundred copies a month on Amazon. (Literally maybe 1% of total sales are on Smashwords.)

I've given up using them to get onto the various sites and gone to Draft2Digital, which pays monthly, has a less painful upload process, and which gets everything uploaded to iBooks/Kobo/etc in days instead of weeks. Smashwords was industry standard a few years ago, but they haven't kept up, and now there's sleeker, more efficient competition.

The only reason I continue to upload there is for the very few readers who have Smashwords accounts and want a version that is not proprietary to any device. I don't want to leave them out in the cold--I know a few of them personally!--but it's pretty much for their benefit, not mine.

What you're saying is what I have heard from several established indie authors; but a handful swear up and down Smashword is better than Amazon. They claim they sold more on Smashwords - of course, there is no way for me to verify the validity of their claims.

Polenth
12-04-2015, 08:52 AM
What you're saying is what I have heard from several established indie authors; but a handful swear up and down Smashword is better than Amazon. They claim they sold more on Smashwords - of course, there is no way for me to verify the validity of their claims.

I'm sure it must happen occasionally, though the only person I know in that category chose not to promote their Amazon links... and probably lost sales due to people thinking it wasn't available on Amazon. But it's a little academic anyway, as you can put your book on Amazon and Smashwords and see what happens.

veinglory
12-04-2015, 08:10 PM
Also they are probably not talking about sell from Smashwords, but using them to distribute to Nook, Apple and Kobo. The number of people who actually go to Smashwords to buy ebooks is tiny relative to any of these large etailers. You can access the non-Kindle markets in many ways ranging from directly (maximising profit) to other distributing hubs, author coops etc. But it would be a very rare writer who sells better on all combined than on Amazon.

WriterBN
12-04-2015, 10:18 PM
The only authors I've heard who "sell" a lot on Smashwords itself (as opposed to the channels through which they distribute) are writing erotica and making it free.

NateSean
12-05-2015, 12:34 AM
For me it's becoming more of a comfort zone than a guarantee of sales. I know the Smashwords formatting guide well enough to be confident with it, so I don't have to rely on anyone else to get my book from point A to point B. Point C on the other hand... Well, like I said, I need too much help with the other stuff and Smashwords worked because I followed the guide as closely as I was able.

As to the sales, I'm just going to have to brush up on my marketing skills. I'm not convinced that you wouldn't have to do that with Draft 2 Digital as well. And as for Amazon, I don't know, but at least they have more options to make a large advance once in awhile. I just have a certain mentality that makes it difficult to learn a system that comes more easily to others, so Amazon may not be an option for me.

morrighan
12-05-2015, 04:31 AM
As far as formatting goes, Smashwords isn't bad IF you read the guide first and understand how they style their formatting of body text, chapter headings, etc. To me, that's all it is, in addition to the margins but most of it hinges on the style guides they require. Because we're so used to the default styles in Word, we don't think much about it...until we come up against a specific style, i.e. Smashwords.

It took me a few tries and since I work on a Macbook and don't use Word by default (I use Pages for Mac), it was tough to get to the styles till I started using my Word program again. Plus, I could create the chapters pretty easily for the table of contents now ever since Pages took away that feature to create the table of contents the way Smashwords requires it. They used to have it - until I updated my software and then it was gone.

As far as sales, Smashwords sales is so-so compared to Amazon, but then that's comparing apples to oranges for me. I like that Smashwords distributes to iBooks, Kobo and Barnes and Noble, and Scribd, and I think they're adding certain libraries as well now, too, though I haven't looked into that yet. I sell a lot more copies on iBooks through Smashwords and also made some money on Scribd before Scribd removed romance titles from their library. The key to making money on Smashwords, whether both as a distributor of your books or as a marketplace is marketing. If you don't market, no one will know you've got books to sell.

I used to only tweet that my books were available on Amazon and so most of my sales are from Amazon, more so when I was on Kindle Select (and made way more money with KU/KOLL, something I learned after I opted my book out of Select to distribute it again everywhere else 2 weeks ago). Whenever I specifically tweet that my book is now available on Kobo, iBooks or B&N, I see a few sales there, so at least there's some correlation.

Between Kindle Select and Smashwords (as distributor to all other channels), right now I can say that I made way more money through Kindle Select in 90 days but I can't really know if I can make the same amount out of Select unless I try it, which is what I'm doing. So that means I've got 90 days to see if having my book everywhere is as good as going exclusive. In the meantime I figure I need to write the sequel pronto and get the marketing going again.