28 April 2014

Distributing through Smashwords

a guest post by Andrea Scovel (@AndreaScovel1) 

For the past week I have been exploring the Smashwords website and am really excited to share what I have learned with all of you authors and aspiring authors alike. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Smashwords is the world’s “largest distributor of indie ebooks.” FYI: Smashwords only offers publishing for ebooks. I suggest you visit the site and have a good look because they have a lot to offer. I was both impressed and intimidated by the wealth of information on Smashwords; there is everything that an indie author needs to know about publishing their own ebook. For this post, Sione and I had some questions that we wanted answered and we thought that you may be interested in their answers too. 

Why distribute through Smashwords?
  • It’s free!
  • They provide tools to help you market your ebook.
  • Smashwords has relationships with top ebook retailers.
  • They have the know-how when it comes to publishing quality ebooks.
  • Smashwords offers high royalty rates!

So how can you publish your book on Smashwords?
  • Create a free account.

What exactly are the royalty rates that Smashwords offers?
  • Authors earn 85% of their sales minus the fee for paypal transactions (.85) at their retail location, Smashwords.com.
  • Authors earn 60% off the list price for sales from major retailers.
They also have an affiliate program that allows third parties (i. e., bloggers, authors, publishers, etc.) to promote Smashwords books by linking to it off of their site. Not only can Authors earn 70.5% for sales through the affiliate program but they can also join the program as affiliates and earn the 11% commission rate. 

What retailers does Smashwords work with?
They have 3 catalogs that authors can be entered into that determine the retailers that they will be distributing your book to.
  • The Premium Catalog distributes to some top major retailers, to be specific: Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Diesel ebook store, Kobo, and Baker and Taylor’s Blio.com. The Premium Catalog is the most desired catalog that an author can be entered into. So what does it take to get into the Premium Catalog? Well, glad you asked, it takes following the directions of the free Smashwords Style Guide to a tee. If you don’t have the time or patience for the formatting, you can find vendors at low rates on Mark's list.
  • The Standard Catalog is the catalog that meets the Smashwords standard for formatting, which are outlined in the Style Guide. Authors in this catalog are sold on Smashwords.com.
  • Authors in both the Premium and Standard catalogs are also added to the ATOM/OPDS catalog, which reaches the major mobile app platforms.The only qualifier to get into this catalog is that you follow the Smashwords terms and services.  

You said that Smashwords offers free ISBNs. Why would I need or want one?
  • Yes. Smashwords offers free ISBNs to authors in the Premium Catalog.
  • The reason that someone would obtain an ISBN is so the retail store/library/customer can positively identify your book. Smashwords uses the example of 2 books having the same name; with the ISBN number, you can make sure that you have the book you are looking for.
  • Also, if you don’t have one, then Smashwords cannot distribute your ebook to Apple, Kobo, or Sony.
Is it possible to get my ebook in a public library?  
Yes. Smashwords does that. They currently do distribute to libraries, and this could be very beneficial for your ebook. If there are a lot of holds on your book while the one copy is checked out, the library orders more to keep up with the demand. 

Can I distribute through Smashwords if I’ve already uploaded through other platforms? 
If you have published through someone else (such as Amazon) you may still publish through Smashwords, but on your “Dashboard Channel Manager” in your profile you will want to indicate which retailers you are already being distributed to so that they don’t over distribute. Also, you must publish your work under the same name as you published it under previously.

As my research has come to a close, I find myself wondering if there is anything in the ebook/indie publishing industry that Smashwords doesn’t do!  It’s an amazing resource, and publishers and agents are welcome to utilize the site as well for their clients, which I thought was pretty interesting. It seems any question that you may have, Smashwords has a ready answer in their FAQ section, including video workshops and free downloadable guides. So definitely check Smashwords out if you have any interest at all in indie publishing.

About the contributor

Andrea grew up on the Oregon Coast and moved to the Portland area 12 years ago. She and her husband have 3 kids and a cat. She is currently attending Marylhurst University and majoring in ELW with a concentration in Creative Writing. She aspires to be a freelance writer and novelist. Right now, she is working on a children's book with her husband and kids and also has a couple of other small children’s books in progress. 

Andrea would love to connect with you via Facebook, Twitter, her website or email, andrea (dot) scovel (at) marylhurst (dot) edu.

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