Lately, there's been a dramatic increase of what I called "Smashwords Publishers." These are outfits that only publish eBooks only on Smashwords. They upload the work into Smashwords, then push the work out to the major retailers via Smashwords.
I could create one this weekend if I wanted to. I know how to format work for Smashwords's Meatgrinder, I can produce PDFs and I have access to a photo editing program. Anyone matching this description could, too.
So are these "Smashwords Publishers" good or bad? Here's my breakdown.
• Their products can reach major e-retailers.
• They take care of all the formatting, which can be a pain in the butt.
• Authors gain a bit of credibility by being attached to a publisher.
• They promote their work (for the most part, although some don't).
• Smashwords provides equal access to publishers and authors. Anything a publisher can do on Smashwords, an author can do.
• The publisher could be some random guy with no experience.
• They're taking a cut of royalties away from the author. (as with any publisher)
• Their revenue strategy is mostly based around "The Shotgun Effect" (i.e. accept every submission, throw it against the wall and see what sticks)
What do you think?
Okay, I'll add a new wrinkle to the discussion. From the info I've gathered ... Shatzkin files, etc ... 80 % of ebooks bought are for kindle or nook. Smashwords editions gather the other roughly 20 %.
And also, judging from comments on other elists, Smashwords can be a major pain to deal with, formatting issues, getting revisions accepted, etc, etc, and Smashwords only publishes sales quarterly (nook, kindle sales are available daily). Are people actually reading novels on their cellphones? etc? Kindle has free apps for a lot of the devices.
So my question ... is it really worth it to pub with Smashwords? Just wondering ...
Right now I don't know of any easy way to get on Sony other than Smashwords. Kobo is also a pain -- lots of paperwork. To publish on Apple you need your own ISBN (which Smashwords will give you for free) and the ability to upload via a Mac. Diesel is the other Smashwords outlet and they don't accept books from indie currently.
So yeah, it's worth it wrestling with Smashwords for the time being. If you're selling a lot and you have multiple books to put up, it's worth getting your hands on a Mac with the proper OS and buying your own ISBNs to deal with Apple directly -- 70% royalty vs. 60% if you go through Smashwords.
I expect some consolidation in the future. Maybe B&N buys Kobo, for example, or Sony does, or Sony buys B&N and Kobo and Diesel, or Google buys a bunch of outlets, etc. Amazon and Apple look rock solid, but for the rest, who knows?