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The Short Version: Matchmakers and dating coaches have the know-how to help singles, but they sometimes need a way to get the word out. Launched in 2008, Smashwords has the tools to expand your audience through self-publishing and ebook distribution to retailers and public libraries. They are the world’s largest ebook distributor for self-published ebook authors and have published more than 420,000 titles by over 120,000 authors and small independent presses. All genres, fiction and nonfiction, are supported on their platform and reach millions of readers worldwide. If you’re a dating expert looking to share your expertise, the platform offers free, user-friendly tools to upload your ebook within minutes and receive 60-80% of your list price.
Querying literary agents is not for the faint of heart. Even J.K. Rowling got loads of rejection letters for “Harry Potter” from people who rue the day they turned her down. If you’re patient, and very lucky, a literary agent may take you on, but then you’ll go through more gut-wrenching rejection as they shop your book to publishers who care more about “what’s hot” and “what sells” than the merit of your writing. And, after all that time and effort, you only get a small cut of your book’s sales once it’s published.
All in all, who needs the aggravation of traditional publishing when you can just do it yourself? The web makes it easier than ever to self-publish, and authors enjoy more freedom when they choose this cost-efficient and expedient route. Now bestsellers like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which began as a fan fiction published online, become a success by popular demand.
If you feel you have something important to say to daters, you shouldn’t have to wait on the say-so from big publishing companies — you can self-publish and reach your audience directly. Smashwords, the world’s largest ebook distributor for self-published authors, empowers dating experts to upload and distribute their advice.
The company’s motto is “your ebook, your way,” because this distributor puts authors first. They’re a fast and easy platform for publishing indie books on any subject. The Smashwords nonfiction section includes genres like Sex and Relationships, Self-Improvement, Relationships and Family, and Weddings, with subcategories covering everything from dating advice to dysfunctional relationships.
In addition to their own retail store, Smashwords’ biggest value to authors is in sending ebooks to major retailers, subscription services, and public libraries, so the titles are widely available to readers. This is a massive time saver for authors.
“Even with all their talent and experience, traditional publishers have no way to accurately predict what will be the next bestseller,” Jim Azevedo, Marketing Director for Smashwords, told us. “At Smashwords, any author from anywhere in the world can publish and distribute an ebook for free. Because our services are free, we can afford to take a risk on any author.”
In 2005, Mark Coker decided to co-author a book about soap operas with his then-girlfriend Lesleyann. She was a former reporter for “Soap Opera Weekly,” and their manuscript (titled “Boob Tube”) was full of satirical insight into the world of daytime television. The couple thought it would be a fun project, but it turned into a crusade to get published.
After querying many agencies, they finally secured representation from a top literary agent in New York City. However, publishers weren’t convinced. No major publisher would take a chance on their book because previous soap opera-themed novels hadn’t sold well.
By 2007, Mark and his wife felt disillusioned by the commercially driven publishing industry and became determined to find a way to get their book on shelves — even if it was on virtual shelves.
“I felt there needed to be a better way,” Mark said in his bio. “I decided ebooks might provide the path toward democratizing publishing.”
Realizing many authors faced the same obstacles to publishing, Mark decided to apply his tech background to fix an antiquated book-publishing process. Rejection didn’t get him down — it inspired him to create Smashwords, a platform dedicated to giving authors a cost-free way to self-publish.
“I wanted to give every writer in the world the freedom and opportunity to publish,” he said, “and I wanted to give readers the freedom to decide what was worth reading.”
Smashwords touts themselves as the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks, with over 420,000 titles from more than 120,000 authors and publishers. Authors on this site enjoy the luxury of setting the price on their ebooks and even adding discounts to entice readers.
Smashwords’ authors also have complete control over the sampling and marketing of their own work. Novices can refer to the Smashwords Style Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to format a manuscript on the site.
It’s very simple, no technical experience is required, and getting started is as easy as signing up, formatting your manuscript correctly, clicking “Publish,” and uploading your manuscript. You can also add a Smashwords interview to give your readers an idea of your background and expertise.
When you’re ready to publish, your ebook will be distributed to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Kobo, Gardners, Overdrive, and other major retailers. The author can decide exactly where the ebook goes, but, of course, Smashwords recommends sending it to as many places as possible.
When you distribute your ebook through Smashwords, your book lands on virtual shelves not just here in the U.S., but also within all the countries where Smashwords’ retail partners operate. Thanks to these partnerships, your ebooks will appear within hundreds of smaller retail outlets and gain access to thousands of public libraries internationally.
“The best way to make your books as ‘findable’ as possible,” Jim said, “is to put your books in all the places where readers go to find books. That includes retailers and public libraries.”
Tools like the Pricing Manager and Smashwords Coupon Manager give you the opportunity to customize your ebook further, so you can price and promote as you see fit. “You’re in total control,” Jim said of Smashwords authors, “and you’ll earn between 60% and 80% of the ebook’s list price as your royalty.” The list price is the price the author sets on for the ebook.
During our interview, Jim said their office employs many writers and artists who are intimately familiar with the creative process and respect the work that goes into every manuscript. For that reason, they’re uniquely helpful and knowledgeable about each step of publishing your ebook.
Smashwords cultivates a quirky and open environment where employees feel free to color their hair and voice their opinions — though many of the employees are soft-spoken.
“A lot of us are quiet,” Jim said. “I think many writers are introverts by nature.”
As a whole, the Smashwords team passionately support the company’s mission to offer simple distribution tools to anyone with a manuscript and dreams of being published.
“We’re always building something new,” he said. “At Smashwords, the goal is always to become better, easier, and stronger for our authors.”
Feedback from authors has been overwhelmingly positive. “I quit my day job because of companies like Smashwords who truly support self-publishing authors,” said Gregg Michaelsen, a dating coach and author of bestselling ebooks on Smashwords.
To reach more people, date coaches and matchmakers should consider self-publishing, especially now that it’s become so common. “Just a few years ago, self-publishing was viewed as a last resort,” Jim said, “but now the stigma has evaporated so self-publishing is the first resort for many aspiring and established authors.”
Launched in 2008, Smashwords offers an author-friendly space to set your price, sell your ebook, and grow your brand. Over 120,000 authors have taken advantage of these tools and published titles in all genres. Within just three to five minutes, you can upload and customize your book to their site, and they’ll take care of distributing your message to daters.
“The more you diversify, the better,” said Gregg. “Smashwords is constantly growing as more and more authors look for alternative platforms.”
Smashwords paves the way with a process that’s much simpler than old-fashioned publishing, so writers can skip the anguish of querying agencies and publishing houses. “Smashwords gives authors 100% control,” Jim said. “No one is going to say ‘your book is too long’ or ‘your book is too short’ or ‘you should price it like this’ — the authors make the final decision on their ebooks.”
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