Earlier this week an RSS feed showed up in my in box for Editor Unleashed. Maria Schneider’s blog has become a recent fav and I’m always excited to see what she’s got cooking. This particular post was an interview with Mark Coker, CEO for Smashwords, an e-book publishing service.
How timely, I thought. I’m about finished with my e-book (watch for the announcement, probably next week!) and the only thing that was really bothering me was how I would set up and market the book. Well, I read the interview and then headed over to Smashwords to check it out.
I got my answer
When I went to Smashwords, I got my answer about how I would go about handling my e-book. I would be crazy to not sign up with Smashwords. That was my answer.
I always like to talk about site basics when I recommend a web site. Smashwords fits all of the criteria for what I believe is a solid foundation:
- It’s attractive to the eye. Pleasant colors and not a bunch of flashing ads blurring my vision and psyche.
- The navigation is true and straightforward. I was able to find everything I needed to on my first visit, without having to dig under a bunch of obscure stones.
- Every question I had was already anticipated and the answers were readily available.
Smashwords is totally “friends with benefits”
Here are the benefits you have with friending Smashwords:
- It’s FREE. No hidden fees, no trial offers, no flim-flam on the jim-jam sleight of hand.
- YOU set the price for your e-book. You can give it away for free, set a price or have buyers set their own price.
- You keep up to 85% of the sale price.
- You still own all of the rights.
- Your e-book is published in multiple formats. This casts a wide net to attract folks using just about every reader available.
- There is full integration with the iPhone ap Stanza – an extremely popular iPhone e-book reader. This exposes your e-book to hundreds of thousands of potential readers.
I went over and signed up as an author. Registration took about two minutes and didn’t involve any requests for silly information. There is a fantastic marketing guide and style guide to help you submit your e-books and market them so you can make a million dollars. Well, ok. Maybe that’s not so true – we’ll talk about that in a minute.
In advance of my e-book being published there, I wanted to do a trial run to see how everything worked. I took my series on writing query letters and combined them into a single e-book called “The Inspired Query Letter“. I developed a cover, made the formatting changes suggested in the Smashwords style guide and uploaded the book.
In less than 24 hours, The Inspired Query Letter page had nearly 500 views and 24 downloads ( I was offering it for free).
So far, I’m a very happy camper.
When you take the time to review all of the information at Smashwords, you’re going to find that Mark is brutally honest about things. He has his finger on the pulse of electronic publishing and his advice is savvy.
This is from the Smashwords “About” page:
“Will I sell a lot of books on Smashwords?
Probably not. How’s that for an honest answer? Although ebooks are the fastest growing segment of the book industry, they still only represent less than one percent of overall book sales. Authors should publish their books on Smashwords not because they’ll make a lot of sales today, but as a long term investment in their writing career, and at the same time they should also self-publish in print. eBook authors face the same marketing challenges all authors have always faced. By publishing digitally on Smashwords, however, authors can expand their potential readership by leveraging the power of viral marketing to reach more potential readers with less effort.”
It’s important to note
When you submit your e-book, it goes through what is lovingly referred to as “the meat grinder”. Essentially this is the program that formats the work to fit all of the different e-book reader formats. What this means is that if your e-book is heavily laden with numerous tables, images and exotic fonts, you may choke the meat grinder. Translation: The formatting once published may not look very good.
If your e-book is primarily narrative then there’s few, if any, issues. A full-on picture book may be a different story. With that said, the service is free and the style guide is a huge help, so even if you have a picture book, give it a try and see.
Oh, and just to be clear, I’m not an affiliate or anything. I’m just a very happy customer.