The other day I was at the Kentucky Creator’s Expo and I found several eBook lovers that had no idea what Smashwords was. When I told them you buy 1 book and get it on every eReader platform you can imagine, all for one price, many of my visitors flipped.
The truth is, I didn’t know anything about Smashwords until I began doing book reviews and some of the authors were giving me coupons to download their books. At that time I was stuck in KDP select and the meatgrinder frightened me. For those two reasons, I stayed away from Smashwords longer than I should have. Now that I have used both Smashwords and Amazon for a while, I have to say I rather favor the platform of Smashwords. Here are the things I really dig about Smashwords:
You can’t review it there if you didn’t download it there. Free, paid, coupon, whatever. If you didn’t come to Smashwords and download the book there, you aren’t going to get to come through and leave a random review. I’m sure many years ago having an open-ended review area was helpful for authors. However, these days, with all the trolls that like to flame authors, sock puppets, and other undesirable hub-bub going on with book reviews, I am beginning to dislike this model more and more. On the sites where people are looking to buy a book, I would like to see the reviews from folks that actually downloaded the book from that vendor.
When someone buys one of my books on the Smashwords site, I get an immediate email. Most places I deal with have some instant notification of sales. (Unless your name is Amazon) Also, they send me an email when I get a review. Authors want communication, not hunt and guess.
I already wrote the book and formatted it, why should I pay you full price to give out copies? As an author, shouldn’t I be able to get some discount on that? With Smashwords, I can create and track coupons on my dashboard. The sales report also shows me which coupon was used. With this information, I can keep track of how popular the coupon is or if a review copy has been downloaded.
Download your own book
Again, I already wrote the book and formatted it, why can’t I have a copy of the file for my use? Maybe I want to put it in my library to lend out? Why do I have to pay to put it in my library? Why do I have to pay you to download it even once? Lulu doesn’t make you do that. Smashwords doesn’t make you do that. Most places don’t make you do that. Why can they afford to let you download the files, but Amazon cannot?
That is something new that they started and I can’t wait to use it. (I just have to stop blogging and go write on my story to finish it)
Another new perk is the ability to answer interview questions and then have your interview out on your page.
I can confidently say that I use my Smashwords account all the time to get books for my various eReaders. I can go online with my ancient kindle and download my file, use my Kobo reader on my phone, or just get a PDF. Plus, they are formatted well. And now I can get into all the major stores with very little frustration on my end! Oh and did I mention you can distribute to libraries as well?
The drawback to Smashwords that I have found is that it is hard to shop on if you don’t know what you are looking for. Yet, I think that is true of most stores. Usually when I go for eBooks, I know what I am looking for. When I don’t, I get lost on most sites. Plus, it isn’t as popular as Amazon. I don’t know that it ever will be as popular, but the platform is different and I really prefer it over using just Amazon. I have found that people are willing to go to any electronic book store, as long at it seems reputable, to get your books if you give a link and show them how to download it. I know I do!
The face of eBook publishing is changing. Last year it was all about Amazon and KDP select. This year, it seems to be more about diversity and being available on many platforms. Who knows what next year might bring?