If you want to make money from publishing ebooks then publishing on Amazon’s Kindle is the route you’d probably think of first of all. Amazon Kindle is growing fast and is proven as a way to make money from publishing ebooks. But you might not realise that there are other ebook self-publishing platforms out there that can be worth considering too. Here I’ll explain how you can publish and profit from your own ebook with Smashwords.com

So what is Smashwords?

Smashwords is an eBook publishing and distribution platform for ebook authors, publishers, agents and readers. It’s been around since 2008, and since then over 30,000 authors and publishers have used Smashwords to publish and distribute almost 100,000 ebooks themselves.

Smashwords can be used for publishing novels, short fiction, poetry, personal memoirs, monographs, non fiction, research reports and essays – in fact anything really. (Unlike Kindle it can’t be used for republishing public domain material though.)

As well as selling your books from its own sites Smashwords distributes books to many major ebook sellers including the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store.

Why is Smashwords different?

It’s a universal platform. Books can be downloaded, read (and sampled) on any ebook reading device – including iPhone, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader or Barnes & Noble Nook, as well as PCs and laptops. It’s very easy to use for book buyers.

It’s free. It’s free to publish and distribute your book with Smashwords. You only pay a commission when a copy of your book sells.

You own your book. This is a very important difference when compared with Kindle. Authors and publishers retain full control over how their works are published, sampled, priced and sold.

You can sell your book for £1 or £100 or more and you can even give your books away for free if you want. There can be good commercial reasons for giving ebooks away for free. (For example, some authors have used Smashwords as a platform for getting their books published and then springboarding their initial success into getting a book publishing deal with a publisher.)

You are still free to publish your work elsewhere if you choose.

You get to keep most of the selling price of your book. Authors typically receive 85% of the net proceeds for the sale of each book. And the selling prices are typically higher than on Kindle too.

There are few restrictions on what you can publish. Smashwords let readers decide what they do and don’t want to buy, and don’t impose strict quality control standards. So it’s ideal for new authors/publishers or for trying new ideas.

Are there any drawbacks to publishing on Smashwords?

Not many, but there are a couple of points to bear in mind. Smashwords don’t do any book marketing for you. You’ll need to market your book if you want it to sell. And perhaps most important of all… Smashwords is a much smaller, more niche platform than Amazon’s Kindle. So you’ll probably never sell anything like as many books as you could sell on Kindle. Then again, as there are fewer books, authors and publishers on Smashwords there’s much less competition for your books too.

For more information visit Smashwords.