Since I recently published my new ebook, “In Memory of Dad” on Smashwords, I have had quite a few other authors ask about how the Smashwords process works. Many didn’t even know what Smashwords was, which didn’t surprise me too much since I only recently found out about Smashwords after being asked to review a few books published there.
Put simply, Smashwords in a website that allows you to publish your own ebook. Even if your book is available in hard copy or is published by another company, as long as you have the rights, you can publish your book on Smashwords as well. Not only does Smashwords allow you to publish your ebook for free, but they offer the opportunity to have your ebook distributed to other major ebook retailers, provided that you follow their guidelines. Another thing I really like about Smashwords is that they offer your book to customers in a variety of formats, including Kindle, PDF, online reading and various popular phone apps.
If you are considering publishing an ebook and want to know more about Smashwords or what the publishing process there is like, here are a few tips:
1. Above all else, make sure to follow the guidelines Smashwords provides when you upload your book. If you don’t it will affect your chances of having your book distributed to other retailers. Also, your book might look kind of wonky if you don’t follow the guidelines. Luckily, Smashwords offers a great resource to help you at no charge, the Smashwords Style Guide.
2. Make sure you have a good cover image for your ebook. You can hire someone to do one for you or create one yourself like I did. Of course, if you create it yourself, make sure it looks professional…your cover WILL affect sales.
3. Don’t post your ebook, walk away and hope to sell millions of copies. Realistically, there is too much competition for people to just keep randomly stumbling over your ebook and actually want to buy it. Do some promotional work, even if it is only on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. If you can get your friends to review your book, that helps a lot too.
4. Edit, edit, edit! I love Smashwords and have found some great stories there, but far too many authors publish mediocre or downright painful prose. If you don’t know how to edit yourself, find a friend who will help or consider hiring someone. Even picking up a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and studying it would help many authors to avoid common grammar, punctuation and style errors. Check your spelling too!
5. Read the FAQ page on Smashwords. This resource can help you avoid ALOT of mistakes and wasted minutes!