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Sunday, 31 October 2010

What is Smashwords? Ebook Publishing.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase
A week or so ago, I completed the process of converting my Word file of Breaking Faith into a format suitable for ebook publishing (this is a tedious and time-consuming process, so don’t do it unless you’re willing to spend the necessary time). My chosen ebook publisher was Smashwords, as I know authors who have used their service and found it to be excellent.
With the permission of the website owners, I here reproduce their welcome email (modified a little) so that both readers and writers can understand a little more about this process.
Links to my own novel, Breaking Faith, appear at the foot of this piece for those wanting to explore that option further.

For book lovers, Smashwords is a great place to sample, discover and purchase nearly 10,000 affordably-priced ebooks, direct from independent authors and small publishers. When you purchase a book, 85% of the net proceeds go straight to the author/publisher, which means you are directly supporting the author who worked so hard to bring you their book. Smashwords books are DRM-free, which means you can enjoy your books on multiple devices without copy protection. It also means our authors are trusting you to not illegally copy or share or re-distribute the book. The books you purchase are for your personal enjoyment only.
For authors and publishers, Smashwords is an ebook publishing and distribution platform. Smashwords makes it free and easy for any author, anywhere in the world, to quickly publish and distribute an ebook. Smashwords books, in addition to being sold at, are also distributed to major ebook retailers such as the Apple iPad iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Stanza and Aldiko.

How to Sample or Purchase Ebooks on Smashwords
Once you find a book you want to sample, you can read a portion of it online for free using one of our two online readers, or you can download a sample in one of several formats.
When you're ready to purchase a book, click to add it to your cart. You can then continue shopping to add more books to your cart, or you can complete the purchase by providing payment information. We accept most major credit cards and PayPal.
How to Read Your Ebook
After you complete a purchase, we'll email you a purchase confirmation. Return to your Smashwords Library, where you'll find links to your purchased book. Once a book is purchased, you can download the book in any of the available formats.
For more help on how to read our books, or download to your Kindle, visit
Please remember, Smashwords ebooks are licensed for your personal enjoyment only. These books are not encumbered by copy protection, which means our authors are trusting you to respect their hard work and not share their books with others.

How to Publish and Distribute with Smashwords:
Smashwords is the leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for indie authors and publishers.  We wrote the book on indie ebook publishing and distribution, and we're constantly working to open up new distribution opportunities for our authors.  Come learn why over 5,000 indie authors around the world publish and distribute over 12,000 original ebooks with Smashwords.  It's fast, free and easy (especially if you follow our detailed online instructions).
The best first page to visit is the How to Publish at Smashwords Page at
To maximize the sales and distribution opportunities for your book, learn about the Smashwords Premium catalog at . Once your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog, it will be distributed to major online retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo and soon, Amazon and others yet to be announced.  We also distribute to the most important mobile ebook platforms, including Stanza on the iPhone and Aldiko for Android phones and tablets.
To publish on Smashwords, you must be the original author, or the exclusive digital publisher. Smashwords does not accept public domain books (unless you are the original author), or books that appear elsewhere on the Internet under other authors' names. We also don't want scammy "get rich quick on the Internet" books. Read the Smashwords Terms of Service for our publishing requirements. Authors who flaunt the Terms of Service, or who fail to follow the Smashwords Style Guide, may find their books and accounts deleted without warning.

How to Get the Most out of Your Smashwords Membership:
1. Please update your email's spam filter by placing on your "safe list." We have a strict no-spam policy.
2. Smashwords authors spend a tremendous amount of time writing their books for your enjoyment. Most Smashwords authors provide generous samples so you can try before you buy. If you like the sample, please show your appreciation to the author by purchasing their book, reviewing their book, and recommending it to your friends.
3. No DRM! - Smashwords books are not encumbered by DRM (digital rights management) schemes or copy protection that can interfere with the reader's enjoyment of a book. This means you can read your Smashwords book on any device you choose or print the book on your home computer. It also means our authors and publishers are trusting you to honor their hard work by not illegally copying or sharing the book. Please remember that when you purchase a book, it is licensed for your personal enjoyment only, and cannot be sold to, or shared with, anyone else. If you want to give the book to others, please purchase an extra copy for each person so the author and publisher can receive their fair compensation.
4. How to read Smashwords books: Our books are available in multiple reading formats. You can read the books online using our online readers, or you can download ebook files formatted for different ebook readers or for at-home printing. For iPhone and iPod Touch users, all Smashwords books are listed in the Stanza catalog. To learn how to download a book to your Kindle, click here:
5. Smashwords is in perpetual beta because we're always adding new features to serve you, so we welcome your honest, critical feedback related to usability, interface flow, features and function. Your feedback helps us improve Smashwords for readers and authors alike. At the top of every page of the site, there's a message link where you can log your thoughts and experiences. If you like how something works, log it. If you have suggestions for how we can make a certain page, function or process more intuitive, log it. Ideas for cool features? Log them. This information goes directly to our founder Mark Coker and our CTO, Bill Kendrick.
6. Smashwords is an online service. There is no software to install on your computer (unless you want to read PDF files and don’t already have Adobe Acrobat installed).
7. How to publish on Smashwords: Smashwords allows an author to upload a single Microsoft Word or .RTF file that we then automatically convert into multiple DRM-free ebook formats. Prior to publishing your own book, you should read The Smashwords Style Guide at which provides tips to help you get the best conversion results.
8. Privacy: You're in complete control over how your information is presented on the site. We'll never sell or rent your contact information to third parties. Want to publish under a pen name? No problem.
9. We want to hear from you! Write our founder and CEO, Mark Coker, at first initial second initial at you know where dot dom. Tell us how we can make Smashwords the best digital publishing platform for indie authors, publishers, and their readers! Smashwords was created for you, and our success in the months and years ahead lies in your hands, so please share how we can help you.
10. Won't you take a moment to invite your friends to join the Smashwords community? Every new author brings new readers that enrich the entire Smashwords community. At the right hand top of the home page is a link where you can invite up to 10 people at a time.

-------------------More Background on Smashwords --------------------------------
We're excited about the opportunity digital books present to the world's readers, authors and publishers. For centuries, books have remained the gold standard for information dissemination, knowledge sharing and story telling. Books have shaped the course of mankind.
But traditional paper-based book publishing has its limitations - book printing and publishing is expensive, so book publishers are unable to publish all written works, and even if they could publish all written works, the vast majority of literate people in the world cannot afford them. Print books are simply too expensive when you consider that 86% of the world's population earns an annual income of less than $10,000 ( ) versus the $30,000-$50,000 typical in the US, Asia and most European countries. Over one billion of the world's roughly 6.5 billion inhabitants subsist on less than $1 a day. Paper books are simply too expensive for most of the world.
By moving books into the digital realm, we can dramatically change the economics of book publishing, while at the same time making great books available to people of all economic backgrounds from around the world.
Smashwords returns up 85% of net proceeds from the sale of each book back to the author or publisher. This means that an author who might otherwise earn a per copy royalty of 40 cents by publishing a $7.95 mass market paperback can make three times as much per copy by selling the ebook on Smashwords for $2.00 (a 75% lower cost). Smashwords economics creates a virtuous cycle: By pricing books low, Smashwords authors will expand the potential audience for their books while at the same time increasing their per-copy income.
Of course, some Smashwords authors price their books at ZERO, and we allow this.
Thank you again for joining the Smashwords community. If you appreciate our service, won't you please tell a friend?
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