Smashwords for Independent Authors and Publishers (Part 2)


In the previous post in the series, we had discussed what file formats are accepted on Smashwords and how their distribution works.

Let’s look at pricing, royalty and marketing now.

Who sets the price?

As author or publisher, you set the price.

  • You can make your book free, or
  • You can set any price above $0.99, or
  • You can choose the reader-sets-the-price option

The last of these may necessitate a few extra steps for setting the distribution pricing. It may also create issues with distribution to some retailers. Check their pricing page for the latest updates before choosing that option.


Royalties varies depending on which channel the sales is coming from. For example-

  • On sales directly from Smashwords store, you get 85% of the net proceeds (they subtract credit card processing fee, so the effective royalty can come up to 80% of the list price).
  • The percentage of net proceeds is 70.5% when it is an affiliate sale.
  • For major retailers like Barnes & Nobles and Apple, the royalty turns out to be 60% of the list price.
  • For Kobo, the percentage depends on the list price. For lower priced books, it is 60% and above a certain price, it is 38%.
  • Library purchases have a different percentage and you have many options to choose from  within your account.
  • Overall the royalties vary substantially depending on the retailer, the applicable taxes, the kind of sale (direct, affiliate or the library sale) and the territory in which the sale is being made. When you create an account, you can see the details for each channel on your “Channel Manager” page.

Most of the sales come from retailers they distribute to, and not from the Smashwords store. So, you should not be surprised if you do not receive much royalty at the 85% rate.

Promotion and Marketing tools at Smashwords

Any Smashword author can enroll in the following promotional events:

  • Read an Ebook Week. It is an international event where thousands of authors, publishers and retailers feature free and discounted e-books to help promote e-reading.
  • Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale- This is their bi-annual sale and many of their e-books are on sale from 25%-off, 50%-off, 75%-off, and 100%-off (free).

They also let you generate coupon codes for custom promotions. These codes are for the Smashwords store only. You can offer them to your readers and prospective readerson your personal mailing list, your website, blog and all social networks.

You can create free author pages rich with photos, works, samples, embedded youtube video trailers, reviews etc. You can also use their self-interview tool to create an author interview.

They have also recently launched pre-order distribution to the retailers like Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Nobles. You still have to have your book ready to sign up for pre-order. But pre-order sales can provide a way to release the e-book on the same date across major retailers. All your pre-order sales are credited on the day of the launch, thus increasing your chances of getting onto a best-seller list.


With Amazon controlling 50% of the e-book market, there are still 50% more readers to attract.  Smashwords is a successful Indie e-book distribution platform and one way to get to those other 50%. With Instascribe as your formatter, you are starting the process professionally, which will enhance your chances of having a well-received and popular e-book. Let us know your thoughts and experiences with Smashwords, so we can assist you in your process of self-publishing.


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