Smashwords is a free conversion and distribution service for eBooks. Using an aggregator is a time-saving necessity for self-published eBook authors, because who wants to spend all day uploading to ten websites? Using Smashwords does take some technical know-how and a lot of patience. This post will help you understand the reasons people use Smashwords in the first place.
But remember, you have choices: you don’t have to use them! (Draft2Digital is another option).
Preformatting your eBook in Word
While provided to help, the Smashwords Guide (120 pages) may have you in fits of frowning and moaning… particularly if your book in MS Word has many footnotes, a full Table of Contents, and images. This Guide is not up to date with my version of Word. I found out that it is a bit easier if you don’t have Word on Mac, because in Word on PC, you can use the hyperlinking/bookmark tool I believe, while on Mac you have to individually make each chapter bookmark and hyperlink it to its Table of Contents heading. Groan.
I did find a way through the chaos, whereby I get a fairly well-styled Word file and take it through the Jutoh conversion process and make an ePub. The process includes “cleanup”, removal of hidden tabs, and conversion to different formats to check if it is ePub compliant. If there are text boxes, these must be removed first, while tables can stay.
At Smashwords, the Word document is the star: the cleaner it is, the more likely it will go through. (You are allowed to upload an ePub, then upload the .doc, but it still must have NO tabs, headers, footers, page numbers, footnotes, automatic TOC, etc).
Smashwords eBook Distribution – Retailers
The reason many eBook publishers love Smashwords is because their distribution range is vast and they have nine conversion formats. (That is, if you can manage to make the Word .doc streamlined). They deliver to: iBooks, Kobo, Oyster, Baker and Taylor, Barnes and Noble, WH Smith, and in Australia they distribute to Collins, Angus and Robertson and Bookworld.
Combine this with some local media releases, Facebook posts, a website, and limited giveaways, and you then have a great variety of places to list as “find my book here”.
The only ones they don’t deliver to is Amazon, but we can always get to Amazon through the separate KINDLE DIRECT Publishing (KDP). You can read about the reasons SW don’t do this here: http://www.digireado.com.au/2014/08/29/meeting-the-smashwords-marketing-director/
Smashwords also have an Author Profile page, which should be filled out, and provides an author name URL just for you. Nice.
Help? Yes, Smashwords staff do answer your questions within a couple of working days. The answer to a question about Apple iBooks and possible GST registration* was:
“This looks to be an Australian tax issue if you were to go through Apple directly. Please visit this link: https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/GST/Registering-for-GST/Do-you-need-to-register-/ At the current time, we are required only to collect US TINs or if an author files as an individual, their Foreign TIN.” (Note: this means if you’re listing as an individual, use your Australian Tax File Number).
Revenues: Receive an 80% royalty if you send visitors straight to your book page to buy, or receive 60% from most connected retailers. Royalties received depend on any discount you set and price for libraries that you may choose upon setup.
Paypal also takes its neat conversion cut on pay-outs. Also check whether your tax information is set up correctly (international treaty countries only) so that you can get a big discount off the 30% withholding tax. If you’re a resident of Australia selling to USA, you can send in a form and claim a tax treaty discount of 25%.
Sell more, with Smashwords Discount Coupons
Many authors know about Amazon’s deals but forget all about Smashwords coupons. You can generate a coupon for either PRIVATE sales (to your friends or followers) or PUBLIC sales, which shows up for everyone browsing that category in Smashwords. It also appears in the ‘Special deals’ section at Smashwords.
Ensure you have a good preview set up (15% is usual) as someone can preview a little and get hooked on the book.
Install a Website Widget
Another way to encourage sales is by using a Sales Widget. Meaning, a mini book advert. This is just like the one provided for Amazon resellers, but I think it looks nicer. If you have a well performing website or blog, then definitely use the widget. (You perhaps won’t be able to with free sites like Weebly or Wix).
The widget-maker is located to the right on the actual Book page. From the Dashboard just click on your book title. Below is what it looks like, once placed into the website sidebar (also inside a widget).
Well, I hope you found some useful thinking points in this run-through of Smashwords eBook distribution and ebook sales tips.