I Need A Bigger Foot….

I’m trying to buckle down and actually get my teeny tiny foot in the door of the publishing world. And when I say tiny, I mean tiny. I used to be a size 4 in kids, but when I bought shoes and sneakers a couple weeks ago, my feet shrunk to a size 2 in kids. Yeah.

Anyway, I was thinking of finally publishing something just to get my foot in the door. I think I’m going to publish just a short story or two (if the first one turns out well) instead of a full novel. I know you can set the price for something or free. Whenever I do this, I’m thinking of posting my first short story on there for free. Just so I can get the hang of things. I know nothing about business or marketing or advertising or money or…science, does that category count? See, I know nothing. Accounting! Accounting counts, right? Or would that count as money…? I’m getting off topic…

The whole point of this post is to ask for your help. I’ve looked at the Smashwords website. I’ve Googled it. The thing is, I’m not sure if half of the things I hear on Google are worthy enough to take in.

I’ve seen some blogs around WordPress talking about Smashwords and some people have some things published on there. If anyone has any information on it, any advice, please mention something on the Contact Me page of my blog. Or you could just post a comment on here if that’s easier.

Let me know your honest opinion: do you think Smashwords is good or bad? Do you have any advice for me? Do you have anything published on there? I’ve also looked into CreateSpace…if you know anything about that, that would be great, too. Which would you prefer?

I trust you guys more than Google, so any help is appreciated. Thank you in advance!

29 thoughts on “Smashwords

  1. Smashwords is the platform that I’m choosing to self-publish a short story or novel. We’re in the same boat, really because I’m thinking about self-publishing a few of my short stories there and setting the price to free. Just to get my foot in the door as you said.

    I know a lot of people who have had great experiences with Smashwords. It’s easy and quick, and I think they pay authors good royalties. There’s a certain way you have to format an eBook but I don’t think it’s too difficult. I’d recommend it based on what I’ve read and heard. Hopefully, you’ll get some answers from authors who have published their work there.

    • Thank you for your feedback. And I’m glad that someone is in the same boat as me. I’m going to have to do my own research on this, but I wanted to see what others had to say about it. I trust the people on WordPress better than random websites and reviews I find on Google.

  2. I published my first novel on Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords. I eventually took it off Smashwords because there were absolutely no sales there. At one point, I looked at their top sales lists (or something like that) and nine out of the ten were erotica.
    I know that there are writers who have had success using Smashwords and I’d like to figure out how to do that. Given its distribution to all e-reader channels, that’s preferable to the monopoly of Kindle Direct Publishing. But, I have yet to figure out how to find any success on Smashwords. If you figure it out, let us know.

    • Ah, that’s good to know. Did your novel sell well on Kindle Direct Publishing, at least? Good luck with it!

      I will definitely let everyone know what I find out. I want to find out good and bad things about it just so I have myself fully prepared. Then again, I’m not going to be “fully” prepared until I go through it myself. But I like to be as prepared as I can be.

      Thank you for the feedback.

      • I had success with my first novel on KDP, primarily after I got to ten reviews and got featured on ereadernewstoday. My problem is that it seems that nobody wants to buy an e-book from a self-published author unless it’s priced at .99 or is free. I don’t expect to price my books at the same level as traditionally published, known authors, but I’d like to be somewhere between free and 9.99. I try 4.99, nobody buys. Not too much at 2.99 either.

        • I think that’s the reason why most people are buying more and more e-books lately. They are generally cheaper than buying the physical copies. I prefer physical over e-book, but I still wait for the paperback to come out instead of buying the hardcover right away because the paperback is usually cheaper than hardcover.

          We’re all cheap, that’s what it mainly comes down to. But the more you spread the word around about your book, the more sales you may get. But I don’t really know much about this stuff.

          But this is why I want to post a short story or something like that. I don’t want to slave over a 100k-word novel only to sell it for free or .99 cents. I don’t feel as though that’s fair to me or my work.

          As of right now, I mainly care about getting my name out there. I have a blog, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, soon to have a Facebook, but it’s hard to promote yourself in those ways when you’re saying, “I’m going to be published! …Soon…” I want something to show for myself and my writing. But it’s difficult to do that when you have no idea what you’re doing.

          I really appreciate the help, though. 🙂

          • Your short story idea isn’t a bad one. It’s actually what I’m working on now. After publishing two novels, I’m working on three short stories that will each be in the 15-25,000 word range. I’m going to publish each of them separately for .99 and then also combine them into a paperback.
            Good luck with your efforts.

  3. I’m not familiar with Smashwords, but I do know that you can publish short stories to Kindle through Kindle Direct Publishing. I wouldn’t recommend using CreateSpace for short stories though, since that’s print, not e-book type file. I’m actually thinking about using Kindle Direct to publish some short stories too. 🙂 You can set the price for whatever you want, though I think the lowest is .99c. I think there is then a way to set it for free after that. (If you like, when I get around to actually doing this, I’ll let you know some more.)

    If you decide to publish a novel through CreateSpace, you can also set it to publish to e-book as well, though. (I know, it’s a little weird. It would make more sense to have one platform for all of it, in my opinion.)

    Good luck, with whatever you decide to do! 😀

    • The decision to self-publish (be it through Smashwords, Amazon or Pubit (Nook)) is a personal one, and entirely dependent on what your goals are. It can be an excellent tool to get your work out into the world, while allowing you to retain creative freedom, but it can also undermine your ability to become traditionally published, if that’s what you want. To my knowledge, only the extremely successful self-pubs (which is extremely rare) are approached by an agent or publishing house, but if you’re doing that well on your own, why then turn around and give up your rights?

      The days of relatively unknown authors getting generous advances and striking it big are waning. These days, agents want to know how you’re going to promote yourself, and the type of marketing plan you have in mind. Those are arguably the worst aspects of self-pubbing, but they expect you do it yourself. And then they take a huge percentage of your intake.

      That is, if you get an agent. Many of them what you to submit to them exclusively until they’ve made up their minds, which can (and often will) take six or more months. Imagine only being able to fill out one job application at a time, then waiting six months before receiving a form letter simply stating, “You’re not what we’re looking for.”

      I grew up watching my mother navigate the publishing scene. She had a pretty successful first book launch, with a decent advance and an excellent book cover deal. The following books, the publishers became more and more stingy, while also demanding she change her stories (character personalities, book titles, wanting to remove some characters altogether). Eventually, they dropped her, with her series only half-finished. That was some twenty years ago, and fans are still clamoring fir the final book (which is coming out next month, courtesy of self-publishing).

      Having witnessed her struggles, I never dreamed of being published. I wrote for myself, because I wanted to get the stories out of my head. When the self-publishing option became a reality, it was a no-brainier for me.

      It’s not for everyone, though. While some enjoy decent success (I’ve read of a few people who make enough to pay their car or even their mortgage every month), more are like me, who is amazed whenever I make a sale and it’s not a friend or family member. Patience is key when self-publishing, because no matter how good you know your story and writing is, it’s very much like releasing a drop of water into a pond. But then, when someone does manage to find and appreciate your work, it makes it all the more gratifying.

      Also, as I stated above, most agents won’t touch someone who has self-published unless they proved to be very successful at it. The work-around there is to publish under a pseudonym, but then that undermines your desire to get your name out there.

      Sorry for the long ramble (I’m sick and typing this on my phone, so I hope it’s cohesive and not some crazy jibba jabba). And to be fair, I am biased toward self-publishing. I’ve released five books in two years, and I’m being modest when I say my sales are quite modest. But if an agent came along and offered me a publishing deal (not gonna happen, but if…. ) I’d have a hard time saying yes. I enjoy the freedom of publishing my own work too much, of knowing any success or failure is in my own hands. I may not be able to quit my day job, but as long as I keep making enough to afford the ink for my printer, I’m happy.

      Best of luck, whatever you decide.

      S.L. Madden

      • No apologies for the long post…it was very helpful and informative! I’m also glad someone else has heard of PubIt other than me.

        I don’t know much (okay, I don’t know anything) about publishing, self-publishing, agents, marketing, money, advertising, etc. I’ve looked these up on Google may times before and I always hear different things; some good, some bad.

        However, I have queried to a few agents before as well as publishers. Every single time, they ask if I have had anything previously published. How can I be published and get a start on my career if one of the main things they look at is me to already be published? It’s like filling out your very first job application and they reject you due to lack of experience. It doesn’t make any sense.

        I figured self-publishing would be a way to get my foot in the door. Even if I set the price to free, I could see just how well it would sell. If, by chance, it did sell well, I could write something new, send it to an agent or publisher and say, “I have experience!” and hope for the best. Obviously, it’s a long shot, but it’s worth a try.

        If I do sell well on self-publishing, then who knows? Maybe I will always stick with that. There is no third party to share the royalties with and I get to make all of the decisions. However, it’s hard to make those decisions when you have no idea what you’re doing. And I’m sure the more I do it, the more I’ll get the hang of it and I can in fact admit I do know a little bit of the publishing business.

        I have also thought of doing writing contests instead of the self-publishing in order to get my foot in the door. Most winners get their work published in the magazine or website or whatever the contest is from. However, it’s usually only the first place winner who gets published. It’s a very long shot to be picked as first place winner, first of all. Second of all, most contests have an entry fee. Now, this is no issue, but most fees are about 10-30 bucks (the ones I’ve seen). I can only enter a writing contest with a fee every once in a while, because while it seems cheap, it adds up depending on how many contests you enter. I work full time and go to school full time. My tuition for school is more money than what I make at work. I can’t afford to toss 20s here and there to every contest I see with only a slim chance of winning. I can toss a 20 here and there every once in a while, but that’s it. And I know there are free contests, but those seem to be rare…unless I’m looking in all the wrong places.

        So that’s my dilemma. I’m at a loss of what to do and how to go about things. I’m completely in the dark about the publishing world, which is why I’m trying to get all the help I need.

        Thank you for your feedback and please share anything else if you want. Feel better. 🙂

    • I’ve never heard of Kindle Direct Publishing before…is that something from Amazon like how CreateSpace is from Amazon?

      I’ve only heard of CreateSpace (through Amazon and WordPress blogs), Smashwords (through WordPress blogs), PubIt! (through Barnes & Noble, but I seem to be the only one who knows that exists), and something else that I can’t remember the name of…it’s through Writer’s Digest. But I have never heard of Kindle Direct Publishing. I’ll have to look into that one, too. Thanks!

      • Yes, Kindle Direct is through Amazon. Sorry, I guess I should have mentioned that. 🙂 It’s like CreateSpace, only it purely for ebooks.

        I’ve heard of PubIt! from B&N, but I don’t know a whole lot about it. It seems similar to Kindle Direct, though.

        Hope this helps. 🙂

          • No problem. 🙂 If you have any more questions about Kindle Direct, just let me know and I’ll try to help. I finally just finished putting up a short selection of short stories on there. (Though it’s not live just yet. They have a wait time so that the finished product can be reviewed first.) The whole process was really very easy.

    • Yeah, Amazon seems to be the bigger and more known self-publishing site. But I know (and someone commented with this, as well) that CreateSpace is more full-length novels. I’m thinking of posting a short story or two to just get my foot in the door.

      Although, I may be able to write a collection of short stories to put in one book…

      Thank you!

  4. CreateSpace and Smashwords are two different publishing platforms. CreateSpace is for print, Smashwords distributes e-books.

    If you want to publish some short stories and make them free, you can use Smashwords to distribute the free book to Nook and then publish on Kindle and tell Amazon you found a cheaper price.

    Smashwords is good, but you might also research KDP Select. I know it has been given a bad rap, but for several authors I know, it has really worked out for them.

    Since I use all of them, I’d be happy to talk with you more about it.

    • Wait, so you use CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Kindle Direct Publishing? Wow…good for you!

      Which one has worked out the best for you? Or would you prefer any one over the other two?

      I would prefer to publish with print, but for right now I’m only looking to get my foot in the door, so e-book may be a better choice for that. I know in this day and age people are buying more and more e-books as everything is being taken over by technology.

      And you are the third person to mention KDP to me, but the first to say it has a bad rep…I will do a little research on this.

      Thank you for your input!

      • KDP Select has a bad rap, because you can only publish on Amazon if you opt into the program. However, I know a handful of writers having good success with the program. So much so, that I took a few of my novels and made them KDP Select for 3 months, just to see what it did for me. I learned there are pros and cons to the program.

        If you are looking to just dip your toes, ebook is definitely the way to go. You can publish your short stories individually in ebook form and then compile them at a later date for print copies.

        I use PubIt! (B&N), KDP (Amazon), & Smashwords for ebooks. 90% of my ebook sales come from Amazon. However, I write novels and novellas. I will just email you…

      • CreateSpace is a wonderful tool for putting your book into print, then getting that book listed on Amazon, but there are a few drawbacks. First and foremost, in my opinion, is the price. The service itself is free (unless you opt in to pay for expanded distribution, but that’s entirely your decision). They’ve even made proofing free, if you feel comfortable doing a digital proof. No, the price I’m referring to pertains to the cost of the book itself. In order to off-set the printing costs, you have a minimum for which you can sell the book. My shortest book is $9.99 (around 60K words) and my longest is $17.99 (around 130K words). And that’s with me keeping the price almost as low as it can go, and still make a profit.

        As a result, the paperback copy can be a bit of a… well, a hard sell. Although I don’t think the prices are too terribly much more than buying a paperback from the grocery store, all but the dearest friends and family (and those people out there who reject the notion of reading digitally) may balk at putting out that kind of money. And there is no way to give the books away freely. You want one for your BFF? You get a discount on the book, but have to pay for shipping (I usually just order through Amazon so I get a royalty on it eventually). Need a bunch of books to do a signing? Again, you receive a discount, but you still have to make the initial investment.

        I just published a new book last month and ran a raffle, giving away 5 e-copies, and 3 paperback copies of the first and second books (I ended up giving away a fourth copy). The e-copy winners were able to receive their copies instantaneously, and it only cost me around $16. The paperback copies, however, cost me $80 to order them in (again, through Amazon, so I’ll get the royalty money and sales boost), plus another $50 to ship to the individuals (granted, one lives in Australia, so that was about $25 by itself).

        My advice is to publish electronically first. I know you say you want to make it free, but there is some evidence showing people tend to consider free work to not be worth their trouble. I’m not sure I agree with that, as I pick up free books all the time, but there does seem to be a stigma attached. If you instead price it at $.99, you can then offer coupons making the work free, then people feel as if they’re getting a deal. And if anyone happens to pay for it, well, there’s nothing wrong with making a buck. 🙂

        S.L. Madden

        • I have an account on CreateSpace because I wanted to get a closer look at it a year ago (literally), but I haven’t touched it since. I noticed there are a couple of fees here and there and at the same (and still now) I’m a broke college student.

          I put all my paychecks in the bank and pay my school tuition out of my own pocket because I don’t want to be in debt from a loan. I’m more than happy to believe in my novel enough to toss some money into it with hopes I will make that money back, plus a profit, from sales. But at this moment in time, I have no money.

          In order for me to get money I would either need to stop going to school (I’m paying 6,000 dollars a semester) or get a new job (in which I really don’t want to do).

          So I’m going to take your advice and sell a book for something other than “free,” but who knows when that will be? But again, when you throw in math, it confuses me. I need to think long and hard about what I’m going to do, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

          Again, thank you for your feedback and if you think of anything else to say, feel free to get in contact again. 🙂

  5. I like Smashwords. The main thing is that you must read their free Style Guide carefully to reformat your book. But it’s worth doing. Once you master how to format your e-book properly for Smashwords, it will make it easier for you to adapt to Kindle or anywhere else you decide to publish an e-book in the future. There is some handy free info on the Smashwords website that’s worth checking out. Good luck. 🙂

    • That’s one of the reasons as to why I was looking into Smashwords…I know CreateSpace has a couple of features that you need to pay for. Smashwords didn’t seem to have any fees, and if it does, it seemed cheaper than CreateSpace.

      I will definitely look into everything. Thank you!

      • The beauty of Smashwords is its distribution list. You can opt in to have your book available in pretty any file type (including formatting for Sony e-readers). Also, you can elect to produce coupons for any amount, and as many as you need. As a result, Smashwords has been my go-to when I want to throw my friends a free copy of a book.

        On the other hand, I’ve sold very little on Smashwords. Okay, truth be told, my sales numbers as a whole are far from dazzling, but I’ve done more business on Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) than on any other site.

        • I’ve heard more bad things about Smashwords than I have about KDP and I just heard of KDP from all of you guys.

          I obviously have to do a bit of research on my own. And I think I’m going to have my boyfriend look at it with me. He goes to school for accounting and knows a lot about marketing and business stuff. When you mentioned doing coupons, I just got confused, lol.

          But like I said, I still have to look at it myself, so I’m sure I’ll be able to figure it out. Thank you for the advice!

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