Making an eBook: Working with Smashwords

To complement my Amazon version of Freedom Club, I’ve created a Smashwords version that is now on sale. The main reason I’ve done this to increase the number of channels my book can be sold through. Namely, I want Freedom Club to be sold not only on Smashwords, but also through Apple’s iBooks and Barns and Noble dot com. There are more channels available, but from my point of view, these three are the big ones I wish to cover at minimum.

Like Amazon, Smashwords makes the “basic” process simple. You make an account, fill out a few fields of metadata, and then upload your book and cover via a Microsoft DOC file. What could be easier? Well, the process is deceptively complex, primarily because Smashwords claims to require “minimal formatting” requirements to make the book available via all participating channels. Now you may ask what that means? It means that the converted file formats (converted by Smashwords themselves) must pass their internal testing engine called EpubCheck. I’m not going to explain what technical magic it takes to pass this test. If you want to know about that, just search the interenet. There, you’ll find boatloads of people pulling the hair out of their heads trying to figure out why errors occur, even when they follow the Smashwords guidelines precisely.

To make a long story short, I simply used Amy Gilbert Design to format my book for me. Amy is (as far as I’m concerned) a goddess of ePub formatting and has figured out not only how to pass the dreaded EpubCheck-a-monster, but makes the books look very good after Smashwords conversion is finished. This is no small feat, I assure you.

Having avoided most formatting issues, the more positive side of Smashwords was available to me. They have a fairly reasonable royalty sharing scheme, the breakdown of which can be seen in the image I included above. There may be those who feel the amount paid is not worth it, but as an aggregator (a company which collects royalties from other channels and pays you one check) I think Smashwords’ royalty scheme is acceptable. In the end, they save me from having to upload my book to various channels, and monitor everything on my own. For this service, I’m happy to pay.

In the end, Smashwords seems like a good choice. However, I will hold back my final recommendation until I gather more experience with them. It’s not like I expect bad things to happen. But I live by the credo: hope for the best, but expect the worst.

Will keep you all posted.

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2 responses to “Making an eBook: Working with Smashwords

  1. I’ve heard that Smashwords is easier than Amazon. They take less of a royalty bite, too. Of course, they don’t have the monster distribution platform….

  2. Bookbaby is another one I’ve heard encouraging things about. They also convert your .DOC file with cover art into an epub document and distribute it to major the major outlets – Apple iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and Copia. They charge no royalties, but there is a yearly maintenance fee. Good luck, Mr. Garnell. Keep at it!

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