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Publishing e-books on Smashwords- Wide distribution, helpful site

Updated on April 1, 2012

Smashwords is a broad spectrum e-book publisher with very wide distribution. I was put on to the site by a friend in the States who said that not only did they publish her stuff, they actually paid.

That’s quite enough recommendation for any pro writer to go and check it out. I spent some time investigating the distribution options, which include Barnes and Noble. I was more interested, however, in the platforms for the e-books, which is really the defining issue in what sells and to whom.

Smashwords distributes on

· Kindle

· Nook

· iPad

· iPhone

· Sony reader

· Kobo

That’s pretty much the entire mainstream market. It also naturally does PDF and ePub.

You can even get free ISBNs, required by Apple and Sony.

The publishing process

They put a lot of emphasis on the Smashwords Style Guide, and with good reason. When publishing in multiple formats, you need to be a bit picky, and the idea, in essence, is to keep things as straightforward as possible.

This means formatting, and in some cases quite a bit of work, but it’s actually pretty simple:

It’s best to use a basic Word doc. It can react negatively to docx docs, and wants to see the basic “.doc” format. Word 97-2003 seems to be the preferred option. (You can find that on Office 2010 and Windows 7 and it’s usually the default Word format on most XP systems)

A word of advice- Be patient when you’re learning the formatting and while publishing. Don’t assume you’ll get it all on the first try. I only had to do one thing with my formatting for my first book, but that was after I was sure I’d got everything right.

Price setting is pretty simple. Smashwords has rates for revenue from prices, and I set mine at $9.99 to lock in a low-ish price and a bracket range.

Publishing involves a submission process with short and long descriptions of the book, a cover image (done properly, not the way I first did it) keywords and Auto Vetting, which is a systematic check of each format in which your book is published.

You’ll get fast feedback from Auto Vetting if there are any problems. You’ll be pleased to hear the instructions are quite straightforward, and read very clearly when defining issues, provided you’ve read the Style Guide and are familiar with the terminology.

Everything runs on rails when you get it right, and you can modify your books using the Dashboard and Settings features. You can also check out your book search on Google, etc.

Results so far

Anyway, I published two of my e-books, and promptly forgot the cover production. I just uploaded pictures, and forgot to add titles. Brilliant, eh? I can sometimes make toast without anyone getting killed, too. Using Adobe Illustrator and gritting my teeth, I did manage to do the titles as overlays on the pictures, despite myself.

My profile page now has two of my own personal favourite e-books on it, The Good Manager and Customer Service for Managers.

I haven’t sold anything yet, but I’ve been getting a few downloads of the free 20% sample, which at least indicates some level of interest and that people are looking around on the Smashwords site. The books seem to be getting hits every day, which is definitely not the case on many other publishing sites. I’ll suspend judgement on Smashwords sales until my books are OK’d for the Premium Distribution Catalogue, which apparently takes a while. So far, it looks credible, and my American friend seems happy enough with it.

Above all, read the Style Guide. (It’s a free download) This is a detailed and clearly put together series of How Tos, and that alone makes it worth reading. You need to understand the terminology Smashwords uses, so grab a cup of something nice and settle in to read it through.

If you’re new to this type of publishing, I’d strongly suggest Smashwords as a good learning experience. You’ll get backup from the site, too. Smashwords, unlike others, are highly supportive and quick to respond.

If you’re looking for good distribution and a lot of platforms, you have to check out Smashwords. This is a go-anywhere type of distribution and you can just stick your links on your pages wherever you are on the net.


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    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 

      6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Thank you for sharing this information. Another hubber did a hub on it, too, so I've made a note to have a deeper look into it. Voting up and awesome.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you, Paul, that is so kind. I will read their instruction when I finish with commenting and then most properly will be back with tons of questions.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Pester away as required, hello hello. Glad to be of help.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      You couldn't have time it better. Just yesterday I heard of it and looked into it. Technology if for me something like putting a rocket on the moon. I find computer tech very hard. Hopefully, I can get it. Otherwise, I will be pestering you, if I may. Thank you for your encouraging hub.

    • point2make profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent hub. I appreciate the information you have provided. It will certainly help in navigating the publishing maze for me. I will go to Smashwords today and start the learning process. Thanks again. voted this hub up!

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A Johnson 

      7 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      My book is almost ready for Smashwords publishing. I think I have the Style Guide almost memorized! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • raburcke profile image


      7 years ago from Fuengirola, Málaga, Spain

      Good to know. Thank you for the info!


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