Some Words About Smashwords.com

My thanks to Brandon Halsey for pointing out a great oversight in my last post.  I completely neglected to mention smashwords.com, an increasingly popular site dedicated to publishing and distributing ebooks in all the popular formats:  Kindle, Nook, iBook, Sony, Stanza, as well as plain .html.

I don’t know a lot about Smashwords yet, but a place to start looking is this Q&A page by Mark Coker, the founder http://www.smashwords.com/about.

Another resource is Tracking the Words, the blog of Catana, a writer who posts almost daily about preparing for publication on Smashwords, and is now including reviews of titles they have published.  http://writingcycle.wordpress.com

Publication on Smashwords is free, but it’s worth looking at the “How to Publish” page to get clear that it isn’t easy.  Assuming your text is really ready, after numerous drafts and third-party checks for typos, the first requirements are outlined in the site formatting guide, which is checked electronically before a submission is accepted.  Apple iBooks have additional rules.  Then there’s a checklist for inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog, which gets your book distributed to Sony, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Kobo, and (soon, they say) Amazon.

How about a catchy cover?  How about a one sentence tag line?  How about a compelling book-jacket blurb in case the title and cover are so compelling that someone stops to click on your title?  How about uploading a free short-story or novella, as some of the authors do, to encourage readers to search through their other titles?

Clearly, there is a lot of effort behind even the most stunning success stories, but I’ll end with an upbeat set of predictions for Indie publishing in 2011, made by Mark Coker in an interview on December 28, 2010.
http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/publishing-predictions-for-2011-from-smashwords_b18421

We are already seeing some of these predictions come true.  Here, for example, is one of them:

4. Self Publishing goes from option of last resort to option of first resort among unpublished authors – Most unpublished authors today still aspire to achieve the perceived credibility and blessing that comes with a professional book deal. Yet the cachet of traditional publishing is fading fast. Authors with finished manuscripts will grow impatient and resentful as they wait to be discovered by big publishers otherwise preoccupied with publishing celebrity drivel from Snooki, Justin Bieber and the Kardashians. Meanwhile, the break-out success of multiple indie author stars will grab headlines in 2011, forcing many unpublished authors off the sidelines. As unpublished authors bypass the slush pile, publishers lose first dibs on tomorrow’s future stars.

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5 Responses to Some Words About Smashwords.com

  1. Rosi Hollinbeck says:

    This is a really interesting option. I’m getting closer and closer to giving up on traditional publishing, but I’m not quite there yet. Thanks for this good information, Morgan.

    Like

    • Regardless of what choices I make in the future, discovering these options, seeing how the landscape is changing, literally under our feet, started me mulling over a couple of key questions:
      – What do I want as a writer?
      – Whose rules am I playing by, and have I examined them or not? To the extent that my sense of worth as a writer depends on others’ response, into whose hands am I giving the power to grant or withhold validation?

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  2. Rosi Hollinbeck says:

    You may receive notices about Randy Ingermanson’s blog, but if not, you might want to see this interview: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2011/03/04/why-james-scott-bell-chose-to-e-publish/ It’s right on point for this discussion.

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  3. aarongraham says:

    You are the second person in as many days to mention this.
    Do you happen to know if I were to publish via Smashwords, will they automatically upload it in the various e-readers at one time, or are they separate loads for each platform?

    Thanks for the update!

    Like

    • I do not know. The notes simply say that if you satisfy the requirements for the “Premium Catalog,” your work will be distributed to the major outlets and Amazon will be added “soon.” I would refer you to the link in Rosi Hollenbeck’s comment, right above yours, for an interview with someone going about ebook distribution in a very professional manner.

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