Smashwords, your ebook, your way

While not exactly a book review, I want to reprint this from my blog, “Let’s Read.” It offers a glimpse of an awesome site where you can find brand new books, by brand new authors, or get your own published. My focus was centered on the YA world, but it is adaptable for adults as well.

In a search conducted for ebooks, I found Smashwords! This is an ebook publishing and distribution platform. It offers DRM-free ebooks (without digital rights management) for sampling and purchase for any e-reader.

This is a very cool website! After free registration, users have access to tools for search, discovery and personal library stock. New features are added weekly. Authors who wish to publish but experience roadblocks with traditional publishing methods can market their work and retain complete control over the sampling and marketing (including price) of their written works. For those authors who wish to publish their works, including every imaginable genre, it’s FREE to publish and distribute!

They offer a style guide, which is their formatting bible, complete with FAQ. Additionally, low-cost formatters and cover designers are available for Smashwords authors, by Smashwords authors.

The founder, Mark Coker, along with his wife, attempted to get a book published. After repeated rejections, they revised the book and tried again. Continued rejections inspired them to create an alternate method for those seeking the publication of their written words, thus Smashwords was born. In just four years, Smashwords is the leading ebook distributor and serves authors, small presses, and literary agents around the world. Over 100,000 books have been published by over 35,000 authors through Smashwords. And they distribute ebooks to some of the major retail markets including Barnes & Noble and the Apple iBookstore to name a few.

Now the fine print for the reader:

Readers can search under the multitude of tabs to find a plethora of reading materials. I went directly to check out the YA list. Filters can be set to narrow the search including genre and then newest, best sellers, units sold, most downloads, and highest rated. Price filters can be set and include FREE as well as varying increments from .99 cents or less up to $9.99. And for the readers who are on “word budgets,” length filters are also available. Checking out the free list, I found lots of interesting descriptions in the long list of titles.

While there are books that might not be family-friendly, the site has value for the media center and classrooms. I’m not sure if this would be blocked by school internet security forces or not, but an amazing opportunity to find new authors and books is presented. But better, this site could offer the opportunity for budding YA authors to launch their books, plays, short stories, poems, etc. I can see usage of this site in the school media center and classrooms.

*There is an “adult filtering” feature which prevents ebooks labeled as “adult” from appearing on the home page and in keyword searches (unless the reader so chooses). Books not intended for under age 18 are marked adult. I imagine this could be set on school computers with the capability for changing the filter out of the control of students.

Several years ago I taught a creative writing class, and this would have been the perfect vehicle for my students to use to get their products “out there.”

Here is just one sample that caught my eye from the YA list:

Short description

Zuri’s biggest problem in life wasn’t her mother’s lesbian relationship or her mixed heritage, it was the hideous fat rolls that hung loosely from her body. Her issues with weight causes her to spiral down a destructive path that could destroy her both physically and emotionally.

The FAT Life

By Brandy Martin

Rating: Not yet rated at time of review.

Published: March 30, 2012

Words: 35368 (approximate)

Language: English

Price: $2.99 USD

WOW! This is one of those books that offers just about everything a YA reader could ask for if in any sort of similar situation or who might just want a good read. It addresses body image to start, and then moves on to multi-racial and the whole gay/lesbian issues too, striding full force into the intellectual freedom arena. All for only $2.99!

Many of the books can be sampled for free, and some authors are willing to let the readers sift through up to half of their books before payment. What a treat – especially for the YA set who often get bored with books long before they are half-way through!

I registered for free and who knows? Maybe one of my future books will marketed and I will be an official “Smasher!”

And of course, you can follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook and become a fellow “Smasher.”


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