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Publishing and Promoting > Anyone use Smashwords?

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike Ellsworth (mellsworth) | 11 comments I’ve published via KDP and am thinking of publishing on Smashwords. Does anyone have any experience with this platform? Any advice,? Does it conflict with publishing via KDP?

message 2: by Eric (new)

Eric Westfall (eawestfall) | 187 comments KDP is just one of apparently many platforms to self-publish. Everything I've published is on AMZ, and part of it is at Smashwords.

The sole reason for "part" is that I haven't gotten around to doing the reformatting of the underlying Word doc to the way SMW wants it. You'll need to get the formatting guideline they provide for free, to know what you need to do.

If you're familiar with Word what you need to do should be understandable fairly quickly. If you're not real familiar with it, the guide offers you a step-by-step process (with images) to walk you through it.

Hope this helps.


message 3: by Mike (new)

Mike Ellsworth (mellsworth) | 11 comments Thanks, Eric. Yes, I know there are many platforms and I’m looking at the intersection of what KDP distributes to and what Smashwords and Draft2Digital cover.

Also looking for success stories on either platform.

message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 22 comments I use both KDP and Smashwords and see the two as complementary, not conflicting.

KDP gets your ebook into the Amazon stores. If you want to go wider, the first thing to check is that you're using plain old KDP, not KDP Select which ties you in exclusively to Amazon.

Smashwords formats and distributes to, well, pretty much anyone who isn't Amazon. e.g. iTunes, Kobo, B&N, Scribd, as well as Overdrive which distributes to libraries.

I can't boast success stories on either platform, so I'm clearly not an authority here, but I would say most of my (few) sales are through Amazon and many others report the same. With that in mind, a lot of authors reckon it's worth the benefits of going with KDP Select and committing exclusively to Amazon. Personally, I prefer to have my books available on multiple platforms, but this is really down to personal goals and choices.

I also concur with what Eric said about formatting. The Smashwords style guide is daunting because it's a lot of pages, but that is because it steps you through the formatting in very easy steps. They can be pretty much summarized as - get rid of all the funky formatting that either you added to make things look pretty, or that MS Word might have inserted without you knowing.

message 5: by Mike (new)

Mike Ellsworth (mellsworth) | 11 comments Ian wrote: "I use both KDP and Smashwords and see the two as complementary, not conflicting.

KDP gets your ebook into the Amazon stores. If you want to go wider, the first thing to check is that you're using ..."

Thanks, Ian.

message 6: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Chanticleer (rachelchanticleer) | 3 comments I know many readers are Kindle Unlimited subscribers, but I decided to make my series available on as many platforms as possible. ☺ I've seen readers occasionally post that when a title is limited to Amazon and they don't use Kindle, they feel left out. That had the book been available on the eReader they actually use, it wouldn't have been a lost sale.

Smashwords formatting and their "meatgrinder" can be a bear, though. I found the Style Guide almost to have too much information, and searched for shorter tutorials to reference instead and so far everything was accepted without issue. Some folks even have step-by-step videos on YouTube.

Best of luck!

message 7: by Robert (last edited Jul 07, 2018 12:01AM) (new)

Robert Zwilling | 8 comments Actually the meat grinder is't difficult to use if you print it out. If you use the meat grinder for smashwords ebooks, then take the results and run them through kindle creator from amazon, you will have most likely ironed out any problems in formatting. Amazon has the added feature of pointing out misspelled words in an easy to see list.

Then you can take the results of that and dump them in the amazon paperback book creator and at that point, you are ready to put out a good looking paperback with little effort. Of course you already spent the time on the smashwords and amazon books so you will have put the time in. Now you have kindle and paperback on amazon and smashwords provides ebooks for Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and to various library platforms.

You need the Amazon Kindle format because Smashwords only sends your Smashword Kindle format to Amazon if you can move large numbers of your book. One advantage for having a copy on smashwords is that you can send a free copy of your book to anyone anytime you want.

If are just starting out you might have a much better chance of being seen on smashwords than on amazon. You can run a book for free as long as you want, or whenever you want.

message 8: by Luna (new)

Luna Claire (lunasaintclaire) | 59 comments I am interested in this post because I am getting ready to publish the next book. From what I have researched Smashwords takes an additional 10% of your net sales. Amazon pays out a royalty of 70% on all Kindle titles priced between $2.99 to $9.99. For eBooks priced below $2.99 and above $9.99, Amazon pays out only 35%. When you upload directly to KDP you keep that 10%. If you believe that Smashwords helps you sell more books then that would be the only reason to go to Smashwords. I used Book Baby for additional distribution to IBooks, B&N, and other retailers, but I don't really sell very many books on those retailers. Also when I found Amazon had drastically lowered the price without my knowledge, I learned that they automatically matched the price offered by Google Books. Google Books can price your book at whatever they choose, so I dropped that distribution channel. You can also send a mobi file and epub file to readers free as you get to keep the files.

message 9: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 223 comments You can publish to both KDP and Smashwords at the same time, but if your book is enrolled in KDP Select, you are under contract to have your books exclusive with Amazon during the enrollment period.

I would say that the Smashwords platform is fairly user friendly when setting up a title. You need to purchase your own ISBN to publish there vs. having one provided by Amazon. You also need a specially formatted file for it to be approved for publishing. This seems to be the part where many authors run into trouble with publishing to Smashwords because the formatting can be tricky.

My books were exclusive for almost 2 years with KDP Select. I tried wide distribution earlier this year with Smashwords as my distributor for the big ones like BN and Apple. I also published directly to Kobo and Google. I arranged a full month of paid promotions for my books. Less than 10% of my total sales that month were from the non-Amazon channels combined (Smashwords, BN, Apple, Kobo, Google). It wasn't enough to gain a tail of residual sales in any one of those channels, so my books went weeks without any wide sales once the promotion was over. The same books sold in high numbers on Amazon that month and had a tail of residual sales. I was never able to get decent enough traction to keep sales coming on the wide channels, so I unpublished my books everywhere except KDP and re-enrolled in Kindle Select.

message 10: by John (new)

John Hunter | 3 comments Just got off the bus and new to writing ebooks, but YES, I have used Smashwords. Was intrigued that the founder was himself a frustrated indie writer. Moving along the learning curve, I now prefer D2D (Draft2Digital).

message 11: by John (new)

John Hunter | 3 comments @Marie Silk. Can you offer any explanation as to why KDP Select is more effective for you than going wide?

message 12: by Pat (new)

Pat (patdunlapevans) | 1 comments I echo @Marie Silk. I went wide with one of my novels and had zero sales or pages read outside of KDP. So I went back to KDP Select. However, I am told that if you want to do a Book Bub partner deal, you will have a greater chance of being chosen if you have your book wide and also free. A writer friend just did a freebie with a BookBub promo and had 25,000 downloads on her freebie, with $5,000 in residual sales when she raised her price to $.99 after the freebie promo ended.

As for the Smash Words meat grinder, you can send them a professionally formatted EPUB. I use Vellum to format my novels for EPUB, MOBI, NOOK, etc. I highly recommend Vellum.

Pat Dunlap Evans
Pat Dunlap Evans

message 13: by John (last edited Jul 19, 2018 09:54AM) (new)

John Hunter | 3 comments @Pat. Thanks for the info. I'm awaiting acceptance to Book Bub and ditto your recommendation of Vellum...It's like a big stick of butter.

message 14: by Marie Silk (last edited Jul 19, 2018 10:27AM) (new)

Marie Silk | 223 comments John wrote: "@Marie Silk. Can you offer any explanation as to why KDP Select is more effective for you than going wide?"

Kindle Unlimited can be a good source of income especially after a promotion. The KU page reads improve book ranks, which improve visibility and lead to more sales and more page reads. I also find value in the Free Promotion perk that comes with Select. I sometimes use the Countdown option with the sequels.

I'm not really sure how to make enough sales on the wide channels (short of a Bookbub deal) to keep the sales coming in like they do on Amazon. The most wide sales I had were on Apple, then BN, but less than a handful of sales came in from the other sites over the course of the promotion month.

FWIW, my book was accepted for a few Bookbub featured deals while it was exclusive with Kindle Select.

message 15: by Eric (new)

Eric Westfall (eawestfall) | 187 comments Pat wrote: "I echo @Marie Silk. I went wide with one of my novels and had zero sales or pages read outside of KDP. So I went back to KDP Select. However, I am told that if you want to do a Book Bub partner dea..."


If you're going to mention/promote a friend of mine recently did, getting me all excited about buying need to mention it's for Mac only. I went to the Web site, was really intrigued by the promotional info, scrolled down to the USD 249.00 price (which seemed worth it), and then, buried at the bottom was the notice it only works on a Mac.

I am obviously a PC user. *sigh*

Just my USD .02.


message 16: by Talia (new)

Talia Carner (authortalia) | 63 comments Mike wrote: "I’ve published via KDP and am thinking of publishing on Smashwords. Does anyone have any experience with this platform? Any advice,? Does it conflict with publishing via KDP?"

My two first novels are on Smaswords for quite a few years. It's great because SW reformats for all platforms. I can forget about the books--until the royalty payments show up in my bank account.

message 17: by Cenarth (new)

Cenarth Fox | 17 comments KDP is bigger than all the others combined. Many successful authors use multiple platforms. SW make your file available in many formats which may include PDF which are easy to "borrow". There is no conflict unless you want the KDP Select which requires exclusivity but only for a set period. Mind you Amazon and other platforms change the rules from time to time.

message 18: by Eric (new)

Eric Westfall (eawestfall) | 187 comments Just a note on SW and PDFs. I'm fairly sure you get to choose which formats besides epub SW will make. And Cenarth is right about the ease of stealing your work with a PDF. Not a good idea to use that format, even if a reviewer asks for it.

Just my USD .02.


message 19: by Richard (new)

Richard (smashed-rat-on-press) | 34 comments As a buyer, I do use Smashwords. If something I want is equally available on Smashwords and other outlets, I usually buy from SW as a matter of choice. Just fwiw...

message 20: by Rita (new)

Rita Chapman | 85 comments I usually put my book on Kindle Unlimited for the first three months then take it off and publish on Smashwords as well. I think Smashwords pays better and certainly quicker although I sell more on Amazon. Once you've done the Smashwords' Meatgrinder once it becomes easier and I keep a check list of the most common Smashword's requirements, i.e. size of cover, fonts etc which makes it easier still.

message 21: by Keith (new)

Keith Guernsey | 20 comments No success on Smashwords.
Much more on CreateSpace/Amazon.
Good luck, Keith

message 22: by June (new)

June Ahern (juneahern) | 78 comments Very, very little success on Smashwords regarding sales of my four books. At first when brand new two did really well and then zero or nary. I still have one on but might take it off. No sales for a year.

message 23: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 258 comments No sales on Smashwords and have now withdrawn all books
Metagrinder is ridiculous such as blocking links to other books etc and insisting on special copyright notice regardless of existing notice.

message 24: by Mike (new)

Mike Ellsworth (mellsworth) | 11 comments Thanks to everybody who comments. I think I'll stay with Amazon/KDP for the time being.

message 25: by Anita (new)

Anita Dickason (anitadickason) | 39 comments I use Kindle, Smashwords, D2D, and IngramSpark. The reason is to reach a market that the others don't offer.

message 26: by Mike (new)

Mike Ellsworth (mellsworth) | 11 comments Anita,

What kind of sales volume are you seeing with the non-Amazon channels?

message 27: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Zag (lazag) | 2 comments I use Smashwords because it is easy and free (there is the option to pay someone else to do the work.) The publishing process is user-friendly. The hardest part is formatting a book; formatting can be annoying and tedious, but the result is beautiful if you do it right. I totally recommend Smashwords. Also, there are enough users on Smashwords that you can sell through Smashwords, even if you aren't getting sales from other channels.

message 28: by Mike (new)

Mike Ellsworth (mellsworth) | 11 comments Thanks, L.A.!

message 29: by Susannah (new)

Susannah (susannaheanes) | 14 comments I agree, our company also uses Smashwords and if you choose the Premium Catalog version for your work, the end product is professional and simply gorgeous. They won't let poorly formatted works through the distribution channels.

message 30: by Anita (new)

Anita Dickason (anitadickason) | 39 comments Mike wrote: "Anita,

What kind of sales volume are you seeing with the non-Amazon channels?"

A few every month, primarily from Apple. I have opted out of distribution on several channels if it is one that is on Ingram's distribution list.

message 31: by Rainbow (new)

Rainbow Albrecht | 2 comments I'm on both AZ and SW, now considering D2D since it covers a few channels that the others don't. I found that formatting ebooks really isn't that much different between the two, once you're past the learning curve (which isn't too bad). I just change the branding on my manuscripts and upload to each platform, no problems. I wrote a bit of a guide to getting started in that, which some might find interesting:

With doing print books at Amazon, that's a lot trickier than ebooks, since it's not reflowable text and you basically have to do your own typesetting. Some pointers are here:

As for results, on either platform, I've found that a book has to be popular already or else it sinks to the bottom of the ocean in the listings. Therefore, promotion efforts outside of the platforms are a must.

message 32: by Nagwa (last edited Oct 18, 2018 02:21PM) (new)

Nagwa Malik (nagwamalik) | 25 comments Hi,
I have used both amazon/kindle and smashwords and frankly have found smashwords much better, also in terms of sales. It does not restrict one as amazon (rather kindle) does, and it also converts your books into all the nec formats required by all the other ebook outlets. It is also user friendly and their team has always been very quick to look into any issues and get back to one on time. So, I would always prefer Smashwords.

message 33: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Scott (cwscott2) | 9 comments Good to know. Thank you.

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