Smashwords Beats Amazon in Many Ways

If you have an ebook or are making one, you really need to upload not only to Amazon, but to

Yes, yes, I know, Smashwords doesn’t have the same market size as Amazon, but it’s better in other ways. Amazon will only prepare your ebook to be read on a Kindle or Mobi-device while Smashwords converts documents into every format you need and more. No matter what type of e-reading device a potential customer has, Smashwords will create a version of your ebook that works for them. Epub, MOBI, RTF, LRF, HTML, PDB, PDF, JavaScript… that’s nice, especially since Kindle and Mobipocket aren’t the only readers out there. Money-wise, Smashwords pays authors a whopping 85% of royalties on any sale, so it’s far better to sell through Smashwords than Amazon (which currently pays only 35% as of March 2010). Smashwords also distributes its ebooks to multiple online retailers and mobile phone apps. This list of retailers includes Barnes & Noble, who sell ebooks from independent authors provided they have been accepted in the Premium program with Smashwords, which simply means an ebook is properly formatted and has a quality cover. Smashwords also doesn’t encrypt its conversions with DRM (Digital Rights Management. This way a customer can download an ebook and transfer it from their pc to any device or multiple devices. Essentially, the customer has more options with the book, which is different than the way Amazon distributes a book encrypted with DRM, basically good for one reader. Every retailer let’s you set and change your price, but Smashwords also allows you to enable sample chapters for customers to browse as much of the book as you’d like them to (a good way to hook readers), and they also have coupons which can be set for any amount with any expiration date. The only real con to Smashwords is a limited customer base compared to Amazon, but aside from that it’s better in just about every way. (And coming soon, Smashwords will also be distributing to Amazon, another reason to like them.)

You’ll need to read the Smashwords Style Guide, which isn’t long, as it’s the best way to understand how to format your document before uploading. These are most of the major tips though the Style Guide goes into far more detail.

  • Don’t have large font sizes, nothing over 12 or 14 at the most for the title.
  • Don’t have fancy fonts. Stick to the common ones. Times New Roman. Garamond. Arial. Courier.
  • Don’t use tabs or spaces for indents. Just use the basic settings on the ruler bar: left and right indents for margins, and first line indent for new paragraph placement.
  • Don’t have more than 4 paragraph returns in a row. They create blank screens of ebook pages.
  • Don’t include page numbers anywhere. Ebooks have different screen sizes, so page numbers mean nothing to these things.
  • Don’t include images larger than 3 inches. Resize them to be small enough to be enjoyed on those tiny screens.

Microsoft Word .doc files work the best for uploading, and then .rtf files are second best. Once you’ve followed the Style Guide completely, upload your book and cover by following the Publishing prompts. Remember, a good cover image is needed to be eligible for the Premium program which gets you into Barnes & Noble and other retailers. But not to worry, if for some reason they deny you, just make alterations and try again.

For more information and to get your ebooks for sale on Smashwords, visit


One Response to “Smashwords Beats Amazon in Many Ways”

  1. Kerry Dennis Says:

    This is great info! I am at a loss as to why someone would have more than 4 paragraph returns in a row in their book though. I am so glad that you are offering this information to the general public. I think maybe I need to shoot for just getting my book published as an e-book. I can live with that 🙂

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