Expand Your E-Book Reach: Sell on Smashwords and Beyond

Expand Your E-Book Reach: Sell on Smashwords and Beyond

Got a polished e-book manuscript ready to conquer the digital world?

If you’re an independent author hungry for wider reach, Smashwords might be the perfect platform to launch your career.

This veteran e-book distributor empowers authors with a focus on simplicity, control, and unlocking a global audience.

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Let’s consider the pros and cons before you commit:

Pros of Smashwords

Wide Distribution

Smashwords partners with major e-book retailers beyond the Amazon ecosystem, significantly expanding your book’s potential readership.

Think Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, libraries, and more.

Author Control

You’re the boss! Set your own prices, retain full ownership of your work, and make changes whenever you see fit.

Formatting Made Easy

Their legendary “Meatgrinder” tool takes the pain out of converting your manuscript into the various e-book formats required by different retailers.

Global Potential

Smashwords’ international partnerships open doors to readers worldwide, giving your work the chance to reach untapped markets.

Cons of Smashwords

DIY Marketing

While they provide some support, the heavy lifting of promoting your book falls on you, the author. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves!

Competitive Landscape

It’s a vast e-book universe out there. Carving out your niche and attracting readers on Smashwords requires effort, smart pricing, and standout marketing.

Technical Aspects

Even with the Meatgrinder’s help, some authors might find the formatting process a bit more involved than on other platforms.

How to Publish on Smashwords: Your Roadmap to Success

Smashwords Account: Your Digital Home Base

The Starting Point

Head to the Smashwords website (https://www.smashwords.com/) and create your free account.

This is your author dashboard where you’ll manage your books and track sales.

Profile Power

Take a few minutes to fill out your author profile. Include a brief bio, links to your website or social media, and a professional-looking author photo.

Book Details: Making a Stellar First Impression

Title Time

Your title is often the first thing a reader sees.

Make it catchy, memorable, and consider how it relates to keywords potential readers might search for on retailer sites.

Killer Description

This is your hook!

Don’t just tell readers what the book is about; entice them with a few compelling paragraphs that highlight its unique aspects and leave them wanting more.

Cover Art: Visual Appeal Matters!

Invest in a professionally designed cover or explore the cover creation tools provided on Smashwords.

A visually appealing cover is crucial to grabbing attention in a crowded marketplace.

Formatting with Meatgrinder: The Technical Side

Meatgrinder to the Rescue

Smashwords’ proprietary “Meatgrinder” tool is designed to make the process of converting your manuscript less painful. It can handle common file types like .doc or .docx.

Guidance is Key

Smashwords provides extensive guides and formatting support to help you through the Meatgrinder process. Familiarize yourself with these resources before you start.

The Pre-Formatted Option

If you’re tech-savvy, or have already formatted your book to industry standards (like EPUB), you can bypass the Meatgrinder and upload your pre-formatted files directly.

When in Doubt, Seek Help

If formatting still feels overwhelming, consider hiring a professional e-book formatter to ensure your book looks clean and polished across various devices.

Pricing Power: Finding Your Sweet Spot

It’s Your Call

Smashwords gives you full control over pricing your e-book across different retailers. This flexibility is a major advantage.

Do Your Homework

Research similar books in your genre on Smashwords partner sites like Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Analyze typical pricing to help you set a competitive starting price point.

Experimentation is Encouraged

Don’t be afraid to experiment with pricing, especially when your book is new.

Consider temporary discounts or special promotions to attract initial readers and generate those valuable early reviews.

Distribution Choices: Customize Your Reach

The Power of Choice

Smashwords offers a unique advantage – you choose which retailers you’d like to list your book with. This lets you tailor your distribution strategy.

Strategic Selection

If your target audience leans toward specific retailers, focus your initial distribution there. Smashwords lets you add more retailers later.

Publish and Promote!

The Waiting Game

Once you’ve uploaded all your book’s details, Smashwords reviews submissions for basic quality standards. Approval typically takes a few days.

Your Book Goes Live!

Upon approval, your e-book will appear on Smashwords and your selected partner sites.

Marketing is Now Your Mission

Smashwords provides some marketing tools, but the responsibility for building buzz and driving sales largely falls on you. Be ready to promote your book through your website, social media, targeted advertising, or by seeking out book bloggers in your niche.

SEO on Smashwords: Getting Your Book Found

Keywords are King

Understanding the words your ideal readers are searching for is crucial. Here’s how to find them:

Think Like Your Reader

Brainstorm the terms and phrases they might use to find books like yours on Amazon, retailer sites, or even general search engines.

Keyword Research Tools

Utilize free tools like Google Keyword Planner or paid options like Ahrefs or SEMrush to uncover search volume and related terms in your niche.

Where to Put Keywords

Integrate your chosen keywords strategically:

Title

Include a primary keyword, if it flows naturally.

Description

Weave them organically throughout your description.

Don’t force it!

Within the Book

A few mentions within the text itself can help retailer search algorithms, but only if it feels natural.

Category Choice

Accuracy Matters

Selecting accurate categories does a lot of the heavy lifting for Smashwords and its retail partners.

Think carefully:

Be Specific

Don’t just go for broad genres. Drill down to the most relevant sub-categories for your book.

Choose Multiple

Smashwords allows you to select several categories – this increases your book’s visibility in various searches.

Compelling Description

The Art of Persuasion

Your goal is to turn browsers into buyers! Here’s how:

The Opening Hook

Grab their attention with a strong first line or intriguing question.

Highlight the Unique

What makes your book special?

Emphasize those selling points.

Create Craving

Describe the reading experience – the emotions, the knowledge gained, the world your book takes them to.

Call to Action

Subtly encourage them to download or buy (“Discover this thrilling adventure today!”)

Smashwords Success Strategies: Going Beyond the Basics

Formatting Counts: It’s Not Just About Aesthetics

Reader Experience is Key

Awkward formatting, missing chapters, or odd spacing ruins the reading immersion.

It leads to bad reviews, even if your writing is amazing.

Tools are Your Friends

Invest time in mastering the Meatgrinder, or explore dedicated e-book formatting software for streamlined results.

Professional Help Exists

If formatting becomes a roadblock, consider hiring an e-book formatting specialist. It’s an investment in your book’s presentation that can pay off.

Price Strategically: More Than Just a Number

Understand Your Competition

Analyze how similar books in your genre are priced across Smashword’s partner retailers.

Free as a Strategy

Offering your book for free (permanently or temporarily) can be a powerful way to attract new readers, especially if it’s part of a series.

The Power of Discounts

Limited-time price drops or promotions can reinvigorate sales and boost your book’s visibility within retailer algorithms.

Reviews Rock: Social Proof in Action

Encouraging Early Reviews

Gently ask those first readers (friends, beta readers, fellow authors) to leave honest reviews on the retailer sites.

Even a few positive reviews can make a big difference.

Responding to Reviews

Show appreciation for positive reviews, and address any constructive criticism professionally.

This shows potential readers you care.

Beyond the Book: Engage and Retain Your Readership

Pre-Orders Power

If you’re working on a sequel or another book, offer pre-orders on Smashwords to build anticipation and early sales.

The Sample Seduction

Allow readers to download a free sample chapter or excerpt as a “taste test” to hook them into buying the full book.

Series Strategy

Bundle books in a series together at a slightly discounted price to encourage binge-reading and reader loyalty.

Important Note

 Success on any e-book platform, Smashwords included, requires a combination of great content, strategic optimization, and active marketing.

Is Smashwords the Right Fit? Deciding Factors

Distribution is Your Goal: You’re hungry for Maximum Reach

Beyond the Amazon Giant

Smashwords excels at expanding your book’s availability beyond just the world of Amazon.

They partner with major retailers like Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, libraries, and more.

Global Potential

Smashwords’ international partnerships can unlock a worldwide audience for your work, which might be difficult to reach on your own.

Niche Advantage

If your book appeals to a specific niche or has a strong focus on a particular subject area, the wide distribution Smashwords offers can significantly boost its chances of finding its ideal readership.

Tech Isn’t Intimidating: You’re Willing to Learn (or Outsource)

The Meatgrinder

Smashwords’ unique Meatgrinder tool is designed to simplify the process of converting your manuscript into various e-book formats. While it’s user-friendly, there might be a slight learning curve.

Formatting Fundamentals

Authors who enjoy a bit of a technical challenge and are willing to learn the basics of e-book formatting will likely thrive on Smashwords.

Know Your Limits

If the thought of file formats and conversion tools makes your head spin, there’s no shame in outsourcing! Professional e-book formatters can expertly prepare your book for Smashwords and its partner sites.

Indie Spirit is Strong: You Value Author Empowerment

Control is Yours

Smashwords puts independent authors in the driver’s seat.

You retain complete ownership of your work, set your own prices, and have the freedom to update or change your book’s details as needed.

Community and Support

Smashwords fosters a community of like-minded indie authors.

Their extensive resources, blog, and author forums can be invaluable for networking and getting support as you navigate the self-publishing world.

The Mission Matters

If the idea of supporting a platform that prioritizes author independence and fair distribution resonates with you, Smashwords could feel like a natural home for your work.

When Smashwords Might NOT Be the Perfect Fit

Ease of Use is Paramount

If you want the absolute simplest publishing process with minimal hands-on formatting, some competitor platforms might have a slightly more beginner-friendly interface.

You Crave Extensive Built-In Marketing Tools

While Smashwords provides some promotional resources, their focus is primarily on distribution.

Authors who need a platform with robust built-in marketing features might find it limiting.

Amazon Dominance is Your Strategy

If your primary goal is to tap into Amazon’s massive readership, and you’re willing to utilize their exclusive programs like Kindle Unlimited, publishing solely on KDP might be a better initial strategy.

The Smart Combo: Smashwords + KDP

Remember, you don’t have to choose just one platform! Many successful indie authors strategically utilize both Smashwords and Amazon KDP in tandem:

Amazon for Reach

Leverage Amazon’s vast audience and potential inclusion in Kindle Unlimited.

Smashwords for Diversification

Expand your reach beyond Amazon and tap into international markets through Smashwords’ network.

Important: Always check the terms of any exclusivity programs (like KDP Select) before listing your book on multiple platforms to avoid any conflicts.

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