How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords


Global eBook Distribution to Major Retailers and Public Libraries


Smashwords Ebook Distribution Network


Earn 60% of list price from major ebook retailers and up to 80% list at the Smashwords Store


Smashwords Highlights:

  • Fast, free and easy ebook publishing and distribution
  • World's largest ebook distributor for indie authors and small independent presses
  • Monthly payments with one penny payment threshold (via PayPal)
  • Global retail distribution to Apple Books (51 countries), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Walmart (via Kobo!), OverDrive (reach 20,000+ public libraries!), Gardners (reach hundreds of small ebook stores and 2,000+ public and academic libraries), Scribd, Libri (powers Germany's largest ebook stores), Baker & Taylor, and more on the way
  • Daily sales reporting from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive and the Smashwords Store (learn more)
  • 500,000+ titles published by 140,000+ authors and publishers around the world
  • Sell in the Smashwords Store where you'll earn up to 80% list
  • NEW!! - Run private and public presales with our patent-pending service, Smashwords Presales (learn more)
  • Global library distribution to OverDrive (20,000+ public libraries), Gardners (2,000+ libraries), Odilo (2,100+ libraries in North America, South America and Europe), Bibliotheca CloudLibrary (3,000+ public libraries in the US, Canada, U.K. and Australia), Baker & Taylor Axis 360, and Enki by Califa (supplies over 100 California libraries; acquires a subset of Smashwords titles)
  • Publish preorder books to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo!  At Apple, accumulated preorders credit toward your first day's sales rank.  Learn more here
  • HOT!  Publish assetless preorders ("Metadata-only" preorders).  Establish your preorder listing up to 12 months in advance, even if the manuscript and cover aren't available yet.
  • Participate in exclusive Smashwords promotions such a Read an Ebook Week and the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, and the Smashwords End of Year Sale
  • Audiobook production and distribution via our partnership with Findaway Voices.
  • FREE ISBNs.  Or, use your own
  • FREE author profile page
  • FREE ebook conversion to multiple formats from a Word .doc
  • FREE unlimited anytime-updates to books and metadata
  • FREE consolidated sales reporting simplifies year-end tax reporting
  • FREE centralized metadata management
  • FREE exclusive marketing and selling tools such as our Smashwords Coupon Manager, Special Deals, Smashwords Alerts, Smashwords Series Manager and Smashwords Interviews!
  • We DON'T employ sales people.  We'll NEVER try to upsell you on ebook publishing services or packages (because we only sell books!)  Since we only earn income on commission, we're 100% focused on helping our authors, publishers and literary agents reach more readers and sell more books
  • Named "One of America's Most Promising Companies" by Forbes Magazine two years in a row (2014, 2013)
  • Named the #1 self-publishing service in 2014 by ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors)


Getting Started is as Easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Sign up for your free account.  Your confirmation email will summarize your next steps.

  2. Download The Smashwords Style Guide for simple instructions on how to format your manuscript as a Microsoft Word .doc file prior to upload.  No technical experience necessary!  The Style Guide is available in multiple languages, including German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian and Bengali.  If you don't have the time to do the formatting yourself, check out "Mark's List" of low-cost ($40+) Smashwords ebook formatters and cover designers.  Smashwords also accepts direct uploads of professionally designed EPUB files.  Learn more at Smashwords Direct.

  3. Click Publish and follow the simple steps to upload your book and cover image.


New!  Listen to the Smart Author Podcast!

 The Smart Author podcast guides writers step-by-step from the very basics of ebook publishing to more advanced topics.

Consider it a free masterclass in ebook publishing.  Whether you're new to ebook publishing or you're already a New York Times bestselling indie author, the Smart Author podcast will give you the guidance you need to reach more readers.

Subscribe at Apple Podcasts

Visit our Smart Author hub page for links to additional podcast sources.  The hub page also offers complete written transcripts of each episode.  

Click the green play button below to listen to the three-minute trailer:


Access These Powerful Publishing Tools from the Smashwords Dashboard:

  • Centralized Metadata Management - Metadata is data about your book such as pricing, categorization and book description.  From the Smashwords Dashboard, you'll have centralized and consolidated control over your book's metadata at multiple retailers.  Update once, broadcast everywhere.  A huge time saver.  

  • Daily Sales Reporting - We offer daily sales reporting from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive and the Smashwords Store.  Detailed charts and analytics help you spot trends and measure the effectiveness of your sales and marketing campaigns.  Learn more.

  • Smashwords Coupon Manager - Generate custom coupon codes to enable free downloads or discounted promotions.  Create and track campaigns.

  • Smashwords Alerts - Automatically notifies your readers of new releases.  Learn more.
  • Preorder Distribution to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo - List your book up to 12 months in advance of your release.  Preorders allow you to capture more sales and increase the odds of hitting bestseller lists at major retailers.

  • Smashwords Presales - Run public and private presales in advance of your book's general release date.  Watch your most loyal readers go wild over the opportunity to purchase and read your next book release early, before the general public.  See your Smashwords Presales Dashboard for more information.  Smashwords Presales is patent-pending.
  • Audiobook production and distribution - With a single click, you can transmit your ebook and metadata to Findaway Voices where you can begin auditioning professional narrators.  Once you produce your audiobook with Findaway Voices, they can distribute it to their growing global network of over 20 sales outlets including Apple iTunes, Audible, Kobo, OverDrive and more.  Learn more.
  • Smashwords Channel Manager - Opt in or opt out of specific distribution channels.  Track deliveries to retailers.

  • Smashwords Series Manager - Improves discoverability of your series titles at major retailers and at the Smashwords store.

  • Pricing Manager - Centrally control your pricing, and set custom pricing for public libraries.  A huge time saver if you're managing multiple titles.

  • Global Pricing Control - The ability to set custom pricing in 242 countries and 152 currencies.  Great for pricing to the market.  You can even set different Euro prices for different Eurozone countries!  Learn more.
  • Smashwords Interviews - Our fun, self-interviewing tool helps you tell the story behind your stories.  Create and publish your interview today!

  • Global Distribution - Smashwords helps you reach exclusive sales outlets that are otherwise difficult or impossible to reach.

Smashwords for Authors, Publishers and Literary Agents

Smashwords is the world's largest, and the original, ebook distributor for indie authors.  Smashwords was created by an author (Mark Coker) to make it fast, free and easy for any writer, anywhere in the world, to publish an ebook (Click here to read the profile on Smashwords in Forbes Magazine).  We empower you to reach more readers with our professional publishing and distribution tools.

Don't hassle with direct uploads to retailers.  We'll handle it for you.  We help you spend more time writing and less time wasted on everything else.  We also help you reach multiple sales outlets that are only accessible via Smashwords.

Within minutes of uploading your book to Smashwords, it's featured for sale on the home page at the Smashwords store.  But the most exciting action is with our retail distribution network, which is where our authors and publishers earn over 90% of their sales.  Upload your book once to Smashwords and reach multiple global retailers. 

From your Smashwords Dashboard, you control all aspects of your publishing.  Track daily sales performance across our largest retailers.  If you want to run a promotion, simply click to your Smashwords Dashboard and change the price.  Smashwords will transmit the change to all the retailers.  If you decide to update your cover image, book description or anything else, you do it once at your Dashboard and then Smashwords updates all the retailers. 

Time-savings, simplicity and reach are the primary reasons why the vast majority of our authors and publishers choose to consolidate their distribution with Smashwords. 

Literary Agents!  View The Literary Agent's Indie Ebook Roadmap presentation, which explores how literary agents can assist their clients' ebook publishing efforts.


Smashwords for Libraries

Smashwords proudly supports libraries, and we're working to make our ebooks available to every library in the world. 

Libraries have two options for acquiring Smashwords titles: 

  1. Library aggregators - Smashwords distributes its books through OverDrive, Baker & Taylor's Axis360, Odilo and Gardners (Askews & Holts and Browns Books for Students). Other leading aggregators now in the works. 

  2. Smashwords Library Direct -  If your library operates its own ebook checkout platform under the Douglas County Model, you can establish a large opening catalog by purchasing directly from Smashwords.  For several years Smashwords has been supplying Califa's Enki under this model. The average price of Smashwords titles is under $4.00.  We'll help you select a large opening catalog leveraging our first-hand knowledge of what's selling at our major retailers.  Minimum order:  $20,000.  Click here to learn more about Smashwords Library Direct.

Libraries:  Launch a Co-Branded Publishing Portal in Partnership with Smashwords! 

Read the story of how Los Gatos Public Library created a co-branded publishing portal for their writer patrons at Huffington Post:  Click the "support" link at the bottom of the page to request our fact sheet.


Great Resources to Help You Publish Like a Pro:

1.  Read our Frequently Asked Questions. Learn how to get the most out of Smashwords!  Includes a NEW glossary of ebook terms.

2.  New to ebook publishing?  Don't miss the Smart Author podcast (mentioned above).  Or check our YouTube video tutorial, An Introduction to Ebook Publishing.  This primer demystifies ebook publishing.  Or, check out our complete collection of ebook publishing tutorials. After watching these videos, you'll have the knowledge you need to publish like a pro.

3.  Download the Smashwords Style Guide to learn how to prepare your manuscript for upload to Smashwords.  Learn how to professionally format your book so it satisfies readers.

4.  Read the Q&A with Mark Coker, our founder.

5.  Download the new 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for 65 book marketing ideas you can implement at no cost.

6.  Download the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, our free ebook that reveals the 30 best practices of the most commercially successful Smashwords authors.  This book teaches you how to think and act like a professional publisher.

7.  Learn how preorders work at our Preorder Help page, or view our online presentation to learn how to make your book launch more successful with preorders

8.  Create a Smashwords Interview, a Q&A-style interview of you, the author!

9.  Read our terms of service (our author-friendly publishing contract). At Smashwords, you're the publisher, and you control all your rights.

10.  Check out the Smashwords blog, where you'll be the first to learn about ebook publishing best practices, and exciting new developments at Smashwords.  There's even an email subscription option so you never miss another post again. 

11.  Read the buzz about Smashwords in our press room.

12. Visit the official Smashwords Facebook page to network with fellow Smashwords authors, publishers and readers.