Smashwords is helping authors around the world to publish and distribute their e-books. Here's a summary of how it works.
- You send your formatted document to the Smashwords website, at www.smashwords.com. Formatting guidelines are provided, as well as a list of recommended suppliers of formatting, editing and cover designs.
- Smashwords then converts your Microsoft Word or Epub document into the range of different formats used by e-readers. Microsoft Word documents (rather than Epub ones) are preferred by Smashwords because they are easier to convert to the range of different e-reader formats.
- You decide on a price for your book. Fiction books costing $2.99, $3.99 and $4.99 tend to sell well. Non-fiction in specialty technical areas can sell for $25 and more - it is less price sensitive. It's easy to change the price of your book, and you can do that as often as you like.
- Your e-book needs to have a different ISBN number to the printed version of your book, but Smashwords provides this ISBN number for free.
- Once this is all set up, you review a list of book retailers and tick where you want your book to be distributed. Smashwords sends it to them. Note the exception - Amazon prefers to receive e-books directly from the author.
- You can then view a Smashwords dashboard to see where your book is selling. Royalties for the sales from all of the retail outlets are managed by Smashwords, which pays its authors on a quarterly basis, through PayPal. Smashwords takes 10% of the list price of the book, the retailer takes 30%, leaving the author with 60%.
- The monthly subscription services (Oyster and Scribd) have been great for Smashword authors. They allow subscribers to read as many books as they like for $8.99 a month.
Thanks to the Top of the South branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors for hosting Jim Azevedo in Nelson, where he delivered two talks for authors in August 2014.