When it comes time to publish an ebook, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is always the first choice for authors and publishers. It is relatively easy, and the Kindle Store is the biggest ebook seller on the planet.
Some independent authors might believe that publishing on Smashwords is not worth the extra effort. But there are some excellent reasons to publish that are worth noting.
Sure, it takes a bit of work to get through the greater control of the auto-vetter. Then you wait for the ebook to be reviewed and approved for premium distribution. But the benefits in the long term are numerous for authors.
1. Much wider distribution channels
Once approved for Premium distribution platform, your Smashwords ebooks will be available on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor, Gardners, Blio, txtr, Library Direct, Baker-Taylor, Axis360, OverDrive, Scribd, Bibliotheca CloudLibrary and Odilo.
It also has its own ebook store that is popular with many avid readers.
Sure, you probably won’t sell a bundle of ebooks, except perhaps with Apple iBooks and B&N, but the exposure from each retailer will boost your title’s exposure and SEO. (Search Engine Optimisation)
2. Search engine exposure
While on SEO, you will have a link on your publisher’s dashboard for every ebook, with a list of SEO entries for each title and author.
You will get your book and author name indexed on search engines by publishing your ebook.
Again, it is more exposure which is good book marketing for indie authors.
3. Access to your ebooks to distribute for free
Have you ever wanted to send a copy of your free book to a book blogger, beta reader or reviewer?
It can be a hassle for you when they ask for a particular format such as mobi, epub or pdf.
For Smashwords authors, it is very easy. You can download copies of your ebook in any one of nine different file formats, or book formats, at any time. You can also download a 10% preview read. It is very convenient if you want to offer a free download of your ebook on your WordPress blog or website.
All you need to do is log in to your account. Then go to your Dashboard, and click on your book title.
It will take you to your Store page. The download links are in a box just under your book cover image.
Another bonus is that even if you withdraw your ebook from sale on Smashwords so you can enrol exclusively in KDP Select, your ebook remains available for you to download.
If I didn’t sell one single ebook on Smashwords, this feature alone would make book publishing there well worthwhile.
Another feature I like is Coupons.
If you are doing an email promotion, for instance, you can give potential buyers a discount code to use to get your ebook at a lower price. You can also use coupons on social media to give your ebook a kick along.
The last hidden feature on your Dashboard is Affiliate Settings.
I can’t say that I have used this, but why not encourage affiliate marketers to sell your ebook? With the number of affiliate marketers around, it might be worth a try.
Even if you don’t sell a single copy via Smashwords, there are some beneficial reasons to make sure that your ebook is published there.
But with your ebook distributed to B&N, Apple and Kobo, you should pick up sales.
Mark Coker and Smashwords have supported indie authors for a very long time to help self-publishing authors sell ebooks.
Smashwords is now the largest distributor of ebooks to libraries and also helps you to sell more books on ebook retailers other than Amazon.
Because of this fact, it is always worth considering publishing your ebook on Smashwords in addition to Amazon.
Are there any alternatives?
Draft2Digital (D2D) offers a very similar service. One big difference is that you can publish and list your ebook on Amazon.
I can’t say I have tried to publish from D2D to Amazon. For new authors, it might be a good option. But if you have been publishing for a while, you might want to stay with publishing directly with KDP.
You can use D2D’s distribution platform to sell your ebooks on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books, Kobo (including Kobo Plus), Tolino, OverDrive, Bibliotheca, Scribd, 24Symbols, Playster and Baker & Taylor.
As far as pricing is concerned, there are many options. You can list your ebooks for free on all retailers apart from Amazon. You can set different prices for different counties and currencies.
You can also set a promotional price for a set time period.
Another feature is a Refer a Friend affiliate program.
If you plan to publish in paperback, D2D can prepare a free pdf version of your book ready to upload to any print on demand publisher. It’s a nice little bonus for new authors.
Read our comparison of Draft2Digital, Smashwords and Amazon KDP Select?