Monday, January 31, 2011

Smashwords vs. Amazon: Is it an either/or?

At a writers' group the other evening, the question came up of Smashwords versus Amazon's Kindle store as places to post one's writing. As a Libra, I was happy to tell them it isn't an either/or question. I've self-published three collections of short stories, and I put them up at Smashwords AND Amazon. Here's why:

A lot of people look no further than Amazon for their e-reading material, so it's a good idea to place your work there. Amazon has applications (apps) for most, if not all, reading devices including Kindle for PC, which emulates a Kindle reader on a regular computer screen. The downside is, self-published authors cannot, at this time, issue discount coupons or offer their books for free at Amazon.

Smashwords will format what you upload to them and offer it for a multitude of reading devices, including the Kindle. If you're very careful with formatting your master document, you can choose to send your book through a variety of sales channels. It can take a while for your book to work its way through the channels and into these other stores, which is why it's a good idea to publish directly on Amazon as well as on Smashwords.

Although your agreement with Amazon says you cannot offer your book for less anywhere else, you CAN offer discount coupons for up to 100% off at Smashwords. So, if you want to give something away as a prize at no cost to yourself, you can generate a coupon code at Smashwords and point the winner to that version of your book.

Amazon has a link to complete instructions on formatting something for them here .

Smashwords has instructions here.

For more information, you can read my posts on the subject:



Finally, I chose to publish DRM disabled. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. By disabling this encoding, I leave myself open to piracy, but I also leave my work open to text-to-speech technology, making it accessible to everybody.

If you'd like to take a gander at the books in their different settings, here are the links:

Amazon

Smashwords

Amazon

Smashwords

Amazon
 







Smashwords

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Marian--or MA, as she is known through email--or MomGoth, as she is known on Yahoo--writes fantasy/sf, mysteries, humor, mainstream, romance and anything else that doesn't run too fast for her to catch it. She invites you to visit her at her blog/website, Marian Allen.


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24 comments :

  1. For publishing, I start with Smashwords, because it's got a wider set of distribution channels without having to manage keeping track of your books at half a dozen sites. Yes, they get a cut, but it's nominal. Yes, it'll be slower to get paid, but I'm not paying bills with my royalties. Then, once everything looks right in the Smashwords document, it's ready to go for the Kindle upload.

    I sell more at the Kindle store. But there are a LOT of people who are buying non-Kindle e-readers (myself included--I have the NOOKcolor) so I think it's wiser to cast a broader net.

    When I shop for an e-book, I go straight from my e-reader.

    Terry
    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

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  2. Thanks for the info on publishing at Amazon & Smashwords. I have just this month put up two short stories for sale at each. No results yet. Your comments on pricing were most informative and helpful, as I was not aware that Amazon did not allow lower prices at other sites. I never considered varying my prices, but I was thinking about offering a free sampler. Now I know how to do it without getting into trouble at other sites. The free giveaways are a good idea.

    The one question I have about Smashwords concerns the ISBN number. Is it better to accept the fee for the number or should I go with their free service and have Smashwords be the publisher.

    Best regards,

    Henri Bauhaus

    The Sinister Snowman

    The Road Much Traveled

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  3. Very timely post as so many writers are now starting to bring backlist books as well as new books to the electronic publishing venue. I agree with Marian that it is good to utilize more than one publishing opportunity.

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  4. As a Nook owner I have an obvious bias against going only with Amazon.

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  5. Terry, I start with Smashwords, too, for the same reasons you give. I don't even HAVE an e-reader, but I use Kindle for PC, so I either shop Amazon or get the .mobi format at Smashwords.

    Henri, I put up two versions: a Smashwords version with Smashwords as publisher and an Amazon version with Amazon as publisher. I use their free ASINs (ID for electronic books). That's just the way I choose to do it, as I'm not interested in being my own publisher. If you do decide to buy your own ISBN or ASIN, I believe it gives your work portability and cohesion: any version you put up anywhere will have the same number.

    Maryann, readers LOVE the backlists in electronic format! When I get an e-reader, I hope to load it with treasured series. :)

    Linda, I totally agree--it's very short-sighted for authors to neglect the other formats, even if they sell more on Kindle. I have a feeling that will change. If I had to choose between Amazon and Smashwords, I think I'd have to choose Smashwords for the very reason you give!

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  6. I've bought a few books from Smashwords but since I got the Kindle for my PC I've bought lots more from Amazon. I seem to know about more books when they're available at Amazon.

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  7. I think it's great we have so many choices these days.

    Morgan Mandel

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  8. Paul, I wonder if we just have an impression of Amazon being more "pro" than Smashwords? Do you follow the Amazon forums or discussions of the books you're looking for? I like Smashwords giving authors the option to allow as much of the book to be sampled as we like. Amazon doesn't allow sampling of ebooks put up by the author.

    Morgan, CHOICE is the highest up of the upside of the digital marketplace. Choice for authors, choice for readers. I love it!

    Marian Allen

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  9. Good information, Marian, thanks for sharing your experiences. My second book is on Kindle, but I don't know how well sales are going. My publisher put it up, so I don't know if there's a way to check it myself. Do you know?

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  10. Heidi, go here NovelRank.comand plug in your information. If you have an author's page at Author Central at Amazon, you can check stats there, too.

    Marian Allen

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  11. Wow, great info, since I am new to this I wasn't sure if I was allowed to post a book with Smashwords AND Amazon, I just thought they did it from there. I have two on Smashwords, one of which showed up on the NOOK list a couple of weeks ago. (rethink - rethink)

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  12. I've already bookmarked Smashwords. Did it when I read one of you other posts on this. Although I have Kindle, my 1st freebie will be a PDF because I can't ever remember not having Adobe.

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  13. Don't forget amazon rankings through http://www.titlez.com which is a very nice site to maneuver. I like it the best.

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  14. Don't have anything to publish now, but I bookmarked your useful info for the future.

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  15. Hutch, congratulations on showing up on the Nook list! :)

    Glynis, I like PDF because it is what it says it is: Portable Document Format. There are more and more programs that can read PDF files and, as you say, Adobe reader is free and readily available.

    Dani--THANK YOU for that link. I missed that one!

    Marian Allen

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  16. This is great information!

    I'm new to my Kindle and have only visited Smashwords once, but they both seem like fantastic avenues to reach readers.

    Thanks!

    Marie, http://marierearden.blogspot.com

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  17. Kay and Marie, thanks! The Blood-Red Pencil is a wonderful resource, for sure. :)

    Marian Allen

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  18. Great advice, Marian. I did both with a little help from my friends.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  19. I sell my books in Smashwords and Amazon, though more sales come from the latter so far.

    Fire and Cross

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  20. Interesting post. I would like to know how you go about designing the covers? Do you do it yourself or does someone else do it for you? and if so, what does it cost?
    Thanks

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  21. Nancy and Enid, both is the way to go, for sure!

    Star, I designed my own covers for my self-published books. I used THE NON-DESIGNER'S DESIGN BOOK by Robin Williams (not THAT Robin Williams--lol!) She probably has one out now on designing book covers, but the DESIGN book sure helped me. I have a couple of graphic designer friends who helped me, too, and I read as many advice articles as I could hold.

    Nancy Williams (no relation to Robin--either Robin--that I know of) had Magic Dog Press design her cover, and it looks terrific! Click here to read her post about it.

    Marian Allen

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  22. This is great advice. I already have my book at kindle but wanted to do smashwords, too. What about lulu?

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  23. Betsy, I've never personally done Lulu, but the writers' group I'm in has used it for years. With Lulu, you can do paper and PDF. I haven't gotten around do doing that yet, but I just might!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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