Smashwords Review: Self-Publishing Favorite (Scam, Best, Worst?)

Smashwords Review

Once your masterpiece is written and professionally edited, whether fiction or nonfiction, the next step is to get it into the hands of as many readers as possible. In the past, the only two choices were traditional publishers or to pay high fees to a vanity press. Writers who couldn’t get picked up by trade publishers and didn’t have money for vanity press fees were simply left in obscurity. Luckily for writers, advancements in technology brought us self-publishing and most recently, digital e-books, a relatively new way for writers to get their work into the hands of readers.

A writer who self-publishes skips the waiting and rejection of trade publishing and can scoff at the high fees associated with vanity presses. Writers can choose to self-publish and with a lot of work can still get their book printed and into hands of readers. In fact, for writers who don’t care about having a print copy of their book, there’s a fourth option. Writers can use an e-book aggregation service like Smashwords to self-publish an e-book. If you are self-publishing a printed book, use a distribution service like IngramSpark.

According to Mark Coker, who founded Smashwords in 2008, E-books are hot because they are more affordable, easily accessible, and have a larger selection than printed books. With the launch of Amazon Kindle not long ago, the E-book percentage of overall book sales in dollars rocketed to the 30% of the overall book market. That’s a significant number of readers that can potentially purchase your book.

Smashwords Review: Company Basics:

If you’re a writer:

  • Created by author, Mark Coker as a printing press in the cloud, Smashwords is now the original distributor of E-books for independent authors.
  • It’s a FREE way for ANY author to publish an E-book quickly and easily.
  • Authors retain total control over pricing, creativity, and rights licensing
  • Smashwords publishes more than 100,000 titles and Forbes Magazine named them to the 2013 and 2014 List of America’s Most Promising Companies.
  • The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) named Smashwords the #1 service for self-publishing in 2014.
  • Smashwords offers royalties to authors which can be four to five times more than those offered by trade publishers.

If you’re a book lover:

  • Smashwords offers over 400,000 E-books available straight from independent authors and small publishers.
  • When you buy books from Smashwords store, 85% of the purchase price goes directly to the author or small publisher.
  • Books are DRM-free and available in multiple formats for reading on any device.
  • Give your favorite e-books as gifts by using the Smashwords gifting feature

Benefits of Smashwords for Authors:

Access to publishing and distribution tools to help you reach your audience, including FREE software to convert your MS Word file to multiple E-book formats as well as FREE:

  • Consolidated sales tracking and reporting
  • Author profile page
  • Coupon Manager
  • Alerts
  • Series Manager
  • Interviews
  • Eliminate the need to upload to multiple retailers.
  • Earn more in royalties than with traditional publishing.
  • See your book available for sale via the Smashwords store almost immediately.
  • Use the Smashwords dashboard to control the publishing process at every point
  • Update your cover design, book description, pricing, or correct mistakes and have changes immediately synced with all retailers in the network.
  • Get a free ISBN from Smashwords which saves you the $125 fee at or use your own if you prefer.

Smashwords Review: How-To

  1. Visit the Smashwords website.
  2. Take advantage of the free Smashwords Style Guide for instructions on formatting your book. (available in multiple languages) OR hire your own professionals. Smashwords offers “Mark’s List” of freelance cover designers and E-book formatters to save you tons of time.
  3. Click the link to sign up for your Smashwords account free of charge.
  4. Complete the sign-up form which asks for: email address, username, password, first and last name, verify you are over or under 18 years old, and enter country of residence.
  5. Your Smashwords login name will be the email address you provide
  6. Find your confirmation email—mine arrived instantaneously
  7. Click the link in the email to complete your registration

Smashwords Review: From the Users

Here’s just a sample of what users of Smashwords have to say:

“An excellent source for self-publishing”
from Patrick J.

“Love this site so much, it’s a great site to find books for indie authors of both fiction and nonfiction. Much easier to use than amazon, it stocks digital books for nearly every e-reader. It’s easy to find bargains too and a great site for book lovers looking to discover their next author.” from Caroline W.

“Hate that Smashwords branding must be included but overall the process was worth it. Smashwords seems to be the quick and easy way to get into Barnes & Noble, and the Apple Bookstore.” Jeffrey L.

The only real negatives I discovered during my Smashwords review was that it does require you to include the Smashwords branding. Most people felt it was discreet enough, others had an issue with placement being the front rather than the back. Many people seemed to have a little difficulty with getting their book file formatted for acceptance into the Smashwords premium catalog.

From the Smashwords reviews I read, many were able to get accepted after one or two revisions and several admitted that their file included special fonts, images, or other more complicated graphics. Smashwords indicates on their website that images, charts, and graphs won’t work well with their automated “Meatgrinder” conversion software. For those that simply have a book that includes text, the formatting process seems to be straightforward.

So, based on my Smashwords review, if you’re a writer who dreams of simply getting your story into the hands of millions of readers, Smashwords is a great option for E-book distribution. I definitely recommend that you pay for professional editing and for professional cover design unless you have graphic design skills yourself.

Using the free software to convert your Word document into E-book format, you can publish and distribute your E-book for not a lot of money. This is good news for writers everywhere because your dollars are spent on editing and design. The result is an eye-catching, quality product that readers will clamor to add to their digital bookshelf.

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