Smashwords Publisher and Literary Agent Pages


(read before upgrading to "Publisher" or "Agent" status)

The Publisher/Agent upgrade is only intended for publishers or literary agents who plan to upload the books of two or more authors or pen names.

INDIE AUTHORS:  If you're an indie (self-published) author and only write under a single pen name, there's no need to upgrade to Publisher status. The upgrade cannot be reversed.   If you are an indie author, and you want to centrally publish and manage two or more pen names from one account, then the Publisher account is an option for you, but note that since the account combines both authors it's not a good option if you're writing under genres you don't want mixed together (like erotica and childrens books) or if you want to maintain anonymity (If your publisher account only publishes two pen names, it'll be obvious you're one and the same person).  If you want separate accounts for your pen names, don't upgrade to Publisher status; instead, register for two separate author accounts, one for each pen name and use a different email address for each.).

Publishers and Literary Agents: Read this short document completely before transitioning your account to Publisher or Agent status.

Introduction: When Smashwords first launched in May, 2008, the service was architected around Authors, meaning authors could publish multiple books under their own author name. But the original architecture didn't support the ability for a single publisher or literary agent to easily publish and control multiple authors and their books.

Starting March, 2009, Smashwords added a new level of membership, the Publisher. Once a regular Smashwords membership is upgraded to Publisher status, the newly minted Smashwords Publisher has the ability to publish and control multiple authors, as well as all the books associated with each author.

On September 23, 2011, Smashwords created a new variant of the Publisher called Agent.  This new option, which offers all the powerful features of the Publisher page, allows literary agents to be identifed as literary agents as opposed to being identified as the Publisher.  Most literary agents consider their author as the Publisher.

1. What is a "Publisher" or "Agent" account, and what are the rights? (and how is it different from a normal account?)
Publisher accounts are for publishers and Agent accounts are for literary agents who plan to upload two or more authors.  Publisher accounts may also be used by authors who publish under multiple pen names and want their book titles to be associated under, and managed by, a single Publisher account. If you are a self-published author with multiple titles under your own name, then a Publisher account is not necessary for you.

With a Publisher-level or Agent-level account, you'll manage books from your multiple authors on Smashwords. Even if your authors don't have Smashwords accounts, you will create Author Profiles for them at Smashwords, called "Ghost accounts," each listing their biographies, web links and author photos, along with their ebooks you make available at Smashwords.

As a Publisher or Agent, you'll have full control over each book, and will receive payment for sales. As the Publisher or Agent, it's your responsibility to distribute earnings to your authors. We will provide you tools to help track aggregated sales results by author and title.

If an author who already signed up for Smashwords assigns their rights to you, the Publisher, then they will still be able to track the sales, SEO links and other 'behind-the-scenes' data for their books, even when their book is controlled by a Publisher-level or Agent-level account. They will not, however, be able to edit the book.

2. What is a “Ghost” account?
A ghost account is a Smashwords account that's not tied to a human user who manually registers for a username/password. Instead, it's a profile created, owned and controlled by a Publisher-level or Agent-level account. Visitors to Smashwords can't tell the difference.

Let's say your publishing company is called Cool Ink.  When you publish a new ebook at Smashwords, you'll have the opportunity to assign the title to one of your ghosts, and the book will be listed as authored by them. (e.g., select your "Jane Smith" account and the book will be listed as "Pancakes at Dawn by Jane Smith, Published by Cool Ink" The book will appear on both Jane Smith's and Cool Ink's profile page at Smashwords.)

3. How do I upgrade my current account to a "Publisher" or "Agent" account, and how do I transfer my titles so that my Author accounts, and my Author's books, are properly associated with my Publisher or Agent account?
If you've already published books at Smashwords on behalf of your authors, but haven't yet assigned them to the author's Ghost, then the book will appear as authored by your publishing company or your literary agency.  You don't want that.  To fix, simply create a Ghost and then go to your Dashboard and click "Reassign Author" to assign the book to your author's Ghost.  See our Publisher/Agent documentation for more detailed instructions.

The author of the book will change from your publishing company or agency to the author, and you will be listed as the book's publisher (or agent if you have an Agent account). (The listing for the book at will change. For example, "Pancakes at Dawn by Cool Ink" might change to "Pancakes at Dawn by Jane Smith, published by Cool Ink," or, if it's an Agent account,  "Pancakes at Dawn by Jane Smith, agented by Cool Ink.) As the publisher or agent of the book, you'll remain in control -- you can change the title or description, upload a new version, select different ebook formats, change the price plan, etc. -- and you will receive the revenue for sales of the book.

4. How do I add or assign authors to my account?
We kept things flexible. Consider an Author who publishes a book with you, but publishes some other titles independently, and/or with another publisher. Each of her books will continue to appear on her profile, and she'll be able to track them. She'll be in complete control of the independently-published book, but you and the other publisher will control the books you and they publish for her, respectively. An Author who signs up at Smashwords doesn't tie themselves to a particular publisher or agent, instead, the author is only tied to their books, allowing for situations such as the above.

5. What if one of my Authors has already signed up with Smashwords? What if they've already uploaded some of their books that I publish?
Authors have the ability to assign the Publishing rights to a book to a Publisher-level or Agent-level account at Smashwords. From their Dashboard, the Author must click "Assign Publisher", and then choose from the list of Publishers and Agents at Smashwords. At that point, the author will no longer be able to edit the book (title, description, price, etc.), nor will they receive earnings for sales directly from Smashwords. The Publisher will be in control of the book and receive the earnings. The Author will still be able to examine sales reports, SEO links, etc., and the book will continue to appear on their author profile.

At any time, a Publisher or Agent may detach themselves from a book published by a regular (human, not 'ghost') Author at Smashwords by clicking "Reassign Rights" next to the book on their Dashboard.

Note that Publishers and Agents may also reassign books to other authors, so once they receive rights to the book, they CAN change what author account is attached to it (removing it from the original author's profile. Note this will prevent the original author from having access to statistics).

6. What does it look like in the Dashboard?

To authors:

* any books that they have independently published will have an "Assign Publisher" link

* books they have assigned a publisher to will have fewer options (no "Settings", "Upload new version", "Unpublish", etc.); they will be listed as: "Managed by {publisher's name}"

To publishers:

* books by other authors published by you will appear in your Dashboard

* the author of each book appears in a new 'Author' column; any books posted by you, and not assigned to an author (real or ghost) shows "You" as the author

* books attached to a real author account (not a ghost) can be detached from your publisher account, hence giving full control back to the author, by using the "Reassign Rights" link

* any book in your control (authored by you, by another real author, or attached to one of your ghost authors) may be 'given' to a different author, by using the "Reassign Author" link

To agents:

* books by other authors uploaded by you will appear in your Dashboard

* the author of each book appears in a new 'Author' column; any books posted by you, and not assigned to an author (real or ghost) shows "You" as the author

* books attached to a real author account (not a ghost) can be detached from your agent account, hence giving full control back to the author, by using the "Reassign Rights" link

* any book in your control (authored by you, by another real author, or attached to one of your ghost authors) may be 'given' to a different author, by using the "Reassign Author" link

7. How do I create and manage 'ghost' author accounts
Go to your Account page. To create a ghost, click "Create a new 'ghost'". A form similar to the standard "Join Smashwords" sign-up page will appear, where you can enter basic information about the author.

Once the basic account is created, you will be presented with a form where you can enter profile details for the author, such as a biography, a profile photo, and web links.

If you need to go back to change anything, go to your Account page and select the ghost from the "Manage ghosts" section, or go to the ghost author's profile page at Smashwords and a special "Manage this profile" link will appear for you at the top.

8. How do I change my Author Account name to my Publisher Account name?
Go into the "Account" page and edit your real name at and then change the profile (bio, links, etc., as you see fit) on this page:

If you haven't done so already, you'll want to make your original Smashwords author account into a 'ghost' account that represents you, the author (vs. you, the publisher). You'll probably want to give it all of the same name, bio and links that your current account has.

To create the Ghost, go to

Then set up the bio and other details by clicking the ghost account's username, which will appear under "Manage 'ghost' author profiles" on your main "Account" page.

9. I mistakenly selected Publisher account when I meant Agent Account (or vice versa).  Can I switch back?
Publishers can switch their status to Agent, and Agent can switch their status to Publisher.  Do this by clicking back to Account, then click Manage Publisher or Agent Status.