Smashwords – Yay or Nay?

smashwords-logoI had someone ask me the other day on Instagram if I recommended publishing on Smashwords.  I’m going to cut right to the chase and tell you that my answer was a straightforward unabashed unqualified YES!  YES YES YES!  I’ll be honest…right now I’m selling more books through Smashwords than through Amazon.

So what IS Smashwords?  It is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks!  They distribute to Barnes&Noble, eBooks and Kobo (and technically to Amazon, but you don’t want to go that route since Amazon “isn’t able” to receive Smashwords’ entire catalog, uh-huh), in addition to many other channels AND libraries.  If you’d like to read Smashwords’ About Us, you can find it here!

Big benefit: you’re reaching more markets, more readers, not just putting all your books in one basket and hoping you’ll be noticed on Amazon.  Downside (I literally only have one): if you’re participating in Amazons KDP Select, you won’t be able to sell during that time via Smashwords.  That’s obviously a downside for KDP Select (it’s not Smashwords’ fault), but if you’re doing well through Amazon’s program, you’ll have to postpone selling on Smashwords.  There’s a great article here that goes into this a little more.

I think the reason that many indie authors don’t use the service is because we’re currently swimming in the culture of Amazon, even though the company that cut its teeth on books sales is focusing less and less on selling books these days.  They figure that once on Amazon, they’re good.  Another protest is that “it’s hard”…honestly, it’s easier and faster than Amazon’s KDP platform.  If you’ve survived KDP, you’ll be left staring at your monitor in shock asking yourself Is that it? when you complete the quick and easy Smashwords process.  It’s not hard, it’s probably just unfamiliar.


Still wondering if you should try it out?  Here are a few more points:

  • If you’re taking your writing and publishing seriously, that means you’re already doing a lot of self-promotion and marketing.  If you’re already putting the work in, why would you want to ignore another avenue to get your book out there?  Why bother bleeding your heart into Word or Scrivener day after day, dissecting engagement stats and writing an author bio if you’re not going to make yourself MORE available as an AUTHOR?
  • There are people who really really don’t like Amazon, and choose not to support it.  Give them another option.
  • iBooks.  I almost fell out of my chair the first time I looked at my sales report and saw what I’d sold through iBooks, with absolutely no additional promotion or work on my part (vs. how many webinars, articles and books about gaming the Amazon system we’ve all digested).  I was especially thrilled when I snatched up my iPhone and searched for Sub Rosa…it was shockingly far up there in the search results, exponentially farther up than the same search on Amazon.
  • It’s free to publish, they take a commission when you sell just like Amazon does.
  • They have an affiliate program (again, just like Amazon), which I strongly encourage you to join.

In case you’re wondering what it looks like, here is the page for Sub Rosa.  Clean, simple, lacking in the visual migraine that Amazon pages have turned into.  I love it.

Have I talked you into trying it?  Are you already killing it on Smashwords?  Let me know in the comments!


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    • Twintype Books

      Hello! I tried KDP Select and didn’t see results that made the exclusivity worth it, for me, especially since I do a lot of marketing and advertising myself, including offering free sample chapters in excess of the 10% (I believe it is) that Select allows you to distribute elsewhere.

      If you’re already doing well via KDP Select, you certainly may find that it’s worth it to stay with Amazon only for now. If you’d like to compare the two, maybe a 90-day KDP Select period, then a 90-day Smashwords period? Or if you have more than one book, keep one in Select and publish the other one in all the other avenues available, then compare?

      Let me know your thoughts!


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