Smashwords Alternatives Followup

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my frustrations with Smashwords and the alternative distribution services I discovered.

As promised, I’m following up with a short post to let you all know how it’s turning out.

I submitted two books ten days ago, and they’ve already appeared on Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo (WHSmith in the UK). Over time, the books will appear in other stores as well, including Tesco (sort of the UK equiv of WalMart) and Waterstones, but I was warned beforehand that it could take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to appear in some stores. That makes sense since they’re being fed through fulfillment services.

So, yes, I can tell you all that I’m very pleased with the distribution services of EbookPartnership.com After my first books were submitted, they sent me a link to their ebookdata.net site where authors can see their sales stats. It’s slick, easy, and very intuitive. Of course, since my books have only been up for a matter of days, I don’t have any stats yet, but I was able to click around and see what was what. Everything about it impressed me! I don’t know if they have a demo account where people can get a look at it, but it might be worth asking.

I should also note that in addition to distribution services, EBP also offers formatting (including picture books), cover design, and narration (for Apple’s “read along” option). So, with the exception of editing, you could get nearly everything you need at one place. I haven’t used any of their other services personally, but I was referred to them by Catherine Ryan Howard, who said she was very pleased with their  formatting services.

One last thing I wanted to address. When I first posted about this, I got a couple of emails/messages from people enthusiastic about Smashwords who were upset with me for ‘dissing’ SW or ‘not giving SW a chance.’ (I suppose waiting a mere 6 weeks for distribution made me downright fussy and impatient!) One such critic said “Smashwords is a free service, so you have to remember that when you’re complaining about them.”

My response:

Smashwords is not free.

Smashwords takes a percentage of your royalties. Therefore, you pay for their services. EBP does not take a percentage of your royalties. Instead, you pay a setup fee and a yearly fee for having a book on their service. Because I plan to upload at least 5 books within 6 months, they lowered my setup cost to £29 (roughly $50) per book. Now, some people who responded to me thought that seems like a lot. To me, it sounds like a bargain!

I don’t generally talk about how much money I make, because like most people, I was raised to think it’s tacky to do so. I confess that I like it when other people talk about how much money they make through indie publishing, and I never think it’s tacky when other people reveal how much they make. So, this is my way of apologising  for what I’m about to say if your delicate sensibilities (like mine) blush and stammer when discussing one’s income.

Let me put it this way, if I had to give Smashwords their royalty cut in 2012, I would have given them more than $6000 last year. If I’d paid EBP’s fee to distribute my 5 mainstream titles and 3 pen-name titles, I would have paid them $400.

In the end, I suppose it comes down to how many books you think you’ll sell. If you have 8 titles, as I do, but you believe you’ll make less than $400 a year, well, no, EBP is not a good deal. =) That being said, if you have 8 titles, but expect to make less than $400 a year, I’m not entirely sure indie publishing is your best career choice.

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17 comments

  1. Hi India,

    I too have been not entirely satisfied with Smashwords and their distributions. I had a terrible time getting them to pull a couple of books from the ibookstore. It took months! In the end, I’m uploading to the ibookstore directly and I’ll keep all the royalties myself.

    BTW, I just bought book 2, Azure Fae, and am looking forward to reading it!

    • In addition to the slow distribution, my biggest complaint really was that it took around a week to hear back from Smashwords on even the simplest inquiry. I wish you the best of luck with your books! It’s great that we indie authors have so many options, and it doesn’t surprise me that so many go directly to as many stores as possible.

      And I hope you enjoy Azuri Fae. =)

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  2. India, you always have the best information. I struggle with the Smashwords dilemma, and have been considering other options (I wish Barnes and Noble would allow international writers to use PubIt and the iBookstore was easier to deal with or I wouldn’t use Smashwords at all). I’m off to look into this–thank you!

    • I’ve heard that B&N will allow international authors (eventually), but I’ve been hearing that for ages, which is why I decided to act now rather than waiting around indefinitely. I’m glad you found the information helpful. If nothing else, I find it comforting to know we have choices!

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  3. Thanks for posting this. Always good to have alternative sources. It’s something I’ll be checking out when I self pub, also.

  4. Another great post India, you tell it how it is. With three writer friends I have formed an indie publishing collaborative: The New Romantics 4 and we published our first books in November on Amazon and Create Space. We’re learning all the time whilst writing number 2. So any additional information on sites, distribution etc is well worth I. I will post a link to your bog on Twitter and Facebook. Keep up the good work.

  5. Patti Larsen has it right, you always have the best information. I always look forward to new posts from you.

    With all the new options becoming available it puts more and more pressure on established sites (such as Smashwords) to improve, or they will eventually fall by the wayside.
    ~jon

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    • I think you’re right, Jon! In the end, although we often face frustrations, we’re working at a really exciting time where our choices (and therefore power to control our professional destiny) as authors grows every day. =)

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  6. This is really interesting and useful information! I like the guys at Smashwords, but as you say, they have very heavy workloads and sometimes response/upload times are just too slow.

    My main concern is that, after having my books on their distribution lists for two years, I’ve accrued 100+ reviews and ratings on the various sites. If I pulled those books, I’d lose all those reviews and be back to square one again. :(

    Another thing I noticed is that EBP have done a deal with B&N for 50% of the sale price, whereas you get 60% through SW. I suppose this is offset by EBP’s better rate with Apple, but it’s worth noting. Also, how ‘set’ is EBP’s yearly rate? Can they put it up at any time, if they wanted to do so?

    Also, how do they pay you? Paypal? Quarterly etc?? I couldn’t see that info on their site.

    • About reviews… I can certainly understand this concern! I will say that when I first started out, I published Ordinary Angels via a small press. I got my rights back and self-published it. I thought I’d lose all my Amazon reviews, but actually, they linked the two books (I can’t remember if I had to ask them to or not), but my old reviews did show up again! Maybe it helped that I had “claimed” both books via Amazon’s Author Central. Not sure, but I would think they will help you!

      When you submit a book, EBP gives you a document to fill in (it’s a much more personalised process than with Smashwords). At the end of that document is your contract, and it spells out payments and fees, etc. As far as payments, they pay monthly via paypal, EFT (for British accounts) or cheque. I’m sure they’d be happy to answer your questions. I’ve always gotten replies to emails within 24 hours (usually much sooner, but if you’re overseas, you might need to allow for the time difference) and they also are often available during office hours via Skype and also Live Chat on their website, plus they have a business phone number. Crazy, isn’t it? You can call them! XD

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  7. This definitely sounds right up my street. I submitted with Smashwords in February and were actually filtered through to Apple, B&N, kobo really quickly. I have made thousands of sales at Apple. In just the two months since but don’t really like this quarterly payment system and only monthly sales reports. I will probably do 6 books over the next 12 months but going to give them awhirl with one to test the waters. I can live with that setup fee in comparison to the percentage SW takes per paid book.

  8. Also still two months on still not had one book show up on Sony via SW

  9. Hi, India very kindly passed on some of queries to me, resulting from her blog post.

    Just wanted to clarify a couple of things, but please feel free to contact me with any questions at all.

    B&N – We do pay 100% of royalties, unfortunately our contract with B&N gives us 50% flat rate (regardless of list price).

    Yearly rate – we have no plans to increase at present at all, and existing clients would have plenty of notice if this was the case. We have to remain competitive as you can appreciate.

    We pay monthly if there is over £20/$35 in the author account. Paypal or bank transfer usually works best for people.

    Hope this helps,

    Diana

  10. Thank you for posting about your experience and showing alternatives to Smashwords. I will check it out!

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