Publishing on Smashwords

This week I spent a few hours uploading the psychological thriller Bedsit Three to Smashwords.

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of independently-published e-books. It also sells directly to the public in a variety of e-book formats. I decided to use Smashwords in order to make Bedsit Three available for libraries to add to their e-book collections. Many libraries worldwide use Overdrive to source their e-books and the only way for an indie author to make a book available on Overdrive is to go through Smashwords (as I mentioned before in my post about the 2016 Self-publishing Conference).

Smashwords accepts a Word document which it then puts through its ‘meatgrinder’ to change into .epub format – so no great technical knowledge is needed on the author’s part. However, I hit a couple of snags during the uploading process.
Firstly I tried uploading a .docx document, this was rejected because Smashwords only accepts .doc documents i.e. those created by older editions of Word. So I had to use the ‘Save As’ function to save my document and change it from .docx to .doc.
Secondly, when I previewed the .epub produced via the ‘meatgrinder’ there was a blank page between every chapter. It took me a bit of fiddling and Googling to solve this one. I had to remove the page breaks between chapters (which Amazon and Kobo had seemed quite happy with) and replace with a few carriage returns. I think this is because Smashwords automatically inserts its own page break when it comes to a chapter heading.

The Overdrive catalogue is updated from Smashwords each Tuesday, so Bedsit Three should appear there by the middle of next week. If you’d like to read Bedsit Three for free please ask your library to add it to their e-book collection.

Incidentally, authors don’t receive PLR on borrowed e-books, they only get the one-off royalty for a single sale.

Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins

Click to preview

A girl has been buried in a shallow grave. Rain starts to wash away the earth covering her.
A used pregnancy test and a scrap book about a suicide are abandoned in a bedsit.
Every mother tries to do her best for her child. But sometimes that ‘best’ creates a monster. 
Bedsit Three is a tale of murder, mystery and love. It won the inaugural Wordplay Publishing/Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

Available on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.

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  1. #1 by juliathorley on June 2, 2016 - 1:50 pm

    Congratulations for navigating Smashwords. I put a story on there, but couldn’t fathom the tax forms.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on June 2, 2016 - 1:59 pm

      I haven’t done the tax form yet, Julia. I sent them an email querying it and got a very prompt reply from a real human telling me I had to download the form, print, complete and post to the US. I haven’t done this yet. So it’s not as easy as the electronic Amazon tax form but hopefully won’t be too bad once I’ve printed it.

      • #3 by juliathorley on June 2, 2016 - 2:01 pm

        I’d be interested to know how you get on, Sally.

      • #4 by Sally Jenkins on June 2, 2016 - 2:51 pm

        Have downloaded and completed form (may or may not be correct!). It’s now ready for a trip to the post office. The advice from Smashwords was to fill in your email & Smashwords user name in the ‘reference’ section. There wasn’t room for both so I put my user name at the bottom of the page. Fingers crossed!

      • #5 by juliathorley on June 2, 2016 - 2:54 pm

        Did you have to enclose any documentary evidence re your status? This is where I came a cropper.

      • #6 by Sally Jenkins on June 2, 2016 - 7:09 pm

        No, documents needed, Julia. The form is just a paper version of the e-form that you fill in for Amazon. There is no need to apply for an ITIN anymore, you just have to give your NI number and verify that you live in the UK.

  2. #7 by Ian Smith on June 2, 2016 - 4:28 pm

    A timely bit of advice Sally. As a complete rooky I’m picking my way through the task of formatting my memoir. For me It’s a tentative foray into the world of publishing and as such my initial my choice was to place it with Amazon Kindle. However, having read through Smashwords foremating instructions, I’m now in a quandary as to whether I should stay with my first choice or also place it with them . The book is a one off minor piece of work, certainly not a blockbuster but I would expect only to regain some of the expense of ten years intense research and numerous rewrites. I would be grateful for any advice.

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on June 2, 2016 - 7:16 pm

      Ian, I started with Amazon just over 3 years ago, then added Kobo for some of my e-books and now Smashwords. Kindle is still by far the biggest e-book market. Smashwords will distribute your book to other retailers but their market share is tiny. My advice would be to start with Amazon Kindle. Find your feet with that and then maybe try something else. Amazon pays royalties monthly regardless of how little you’ve sold but (I think) Smashwords only pays quarterly, so you get your money quicker by going direct to Amazon. Hope that helps!

  3. #9 by charliebritten on June 6, 2016 - 3:21 pm

    A lot of helpful information, Sally. I’m a great fan of Overdrive, although it’s shame the author only gets paid once.

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on June 6, 2016 - 3:26 pm

      Fingers crossed that one day they’ll change to a system similar to PLR, Charlie!

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