Sunday, July 15, 2012

Smashwords No More

As I've noted before, I've had a less-than-positive experience with Smashwords.  Their draconian formatting requirements, their spotty sales, slow pay schedule, random updates to their sales figure, and their overall bad reputation among the buying public were not offset by the "ease" with which I was published on several major retailers.

Furthermore, I sell more copies of The Grand Granger in a month on Amazon than I give away copies of The Supernatural Cookbook in a quarter on Smashwords.  If I include all the retailers I sell through via Smashwords then this comparison falls down, but since I was giving TSC away to drive up exposure and sales of Subject 12 this is pointless to me, especially considering approximately half the reviews I get through the Nook store for TSC seem to indicate that people think it's supposed to be a serious piece.

I looked today to refresh my memory on all the steps I'd have to take to publish on Smashwords and my mind boggled even as my soul rebelled.  Yes, selling The Grand Granger through all the outlets Smashwords offered was appealing.  However, the 26+ step process to format the blasted file to Smashwords (but not mine) satisfaction was prohibitive to say the least.  For a $.99 ebook (yes, that I'd be get 74 cents per sale), it was insane.  It's not happening.  Ever.  Period.  Take that to the bank, it's safer than a Volvo parked in Fort Knox.  I don't have the time, inclination, or desire to rip my stuff apart to get it into something that resembles how I want it to look all while waiting hours upon hours to get a sneak peak at how it actually came out.

So what does this mean to you?  Not much.  First off, I've sold 14 copies of S12 through Smashwords and I believe around 20 copies though Smashwords' distribution network.  Maybe a few more, here or there, but less than 50.  These people should be able to refresh their copies as needed into the future without problem  If this includes you, don't worry -- I'm trying to get your back, Jack.  How will I do this?

Since I originally published via Smashwords Barnes and Noble instituted -- or at least publicized -- their program for independent authors and publishers.  So did Google Books (which I don't think existed when I signed up for Smashwords, but I digress), and several options for cross-platform distribution opened up or became public enough that I finally caught wind of them.  While payment per-copy may be lower at the same price, not having the Smashwords-taint or formatting requirements appeals to me.  I will be investigating them further to join in at the level I want -- but I will be publishing directly to Barnes and Noble without anyone else sticking their nose or fingers in.  As I own both a Nook and a Nook Color (the Nook Color is an Android tablet running a ROM directly form the SD card, but I do own one), Barnes and Noble has always been a market I wanted to break into directly -- current sales of S12 being nonexistent there or not.

Since I'm sure someone is curious what I mean by Smashwords-taint, I'll explain.  Smashwords attracts a lot of authors publishing low-grade erotica.  A shocking amount, and I'm someone who has spent a lot of time on the internet.  In addition, their formatting restrictions are painful and the end result is "pretty good", but not as good as a human-created file could, would, and should be.  In order to publish on Smashwords, one must create a .doc file in a very specific format.  As step 1 in the process is to "nuke" all the fancy formatting stuff an author may have put in (such as tabs, smart/curly quotes, etc.) and then replace them all with specific indents and various other chores, this is time-consuming, frustrating, and pointless.  Next, and perhaps the worst offense from my point of view, the instructions are all for Microsoft Word/Office 2000/2003/2007.  I don't use any of them, I see no point in paying for them when I can use Open/Libre Office, and the "style guide" reads like it's written for people who think that all caps and sixteen different fonts in a book make it more attractive.  Seeing the end result and proliferation of, let's face it, garbage on their site I have to admit that maybe it is.  It's a real shame that there are so many jewels awash in a sea of trash on the site, but there's nothing I can do about it -- and I find myself being considered guilty by association.

I'll admit that Subject 12, Banshee, and The Grand Granger aren't for everyone.  In fact, the Guild Files stories are actually targeted at a relatively-small audience, though I'm glad to see that people have embraced it from outside the group I targeted it at.  The Grand Granger, being a novella, hasn't been as well-recieved as I'd hoped due to its length.  However, I'm also sure that I can do better selling them -- and I will!  I will keep all files on Smashwords for a couple more weeks, most likely, but they will be down by the end of the month if at all possible (even if it means I won't ever see the $7.20 they're currently waiting for/holding for me since it takes $10/quarter worth of sales to get paid) and I'll have other options up and running as soon as posisble.

So, thank you for reading, thanks for your support!  If you know anyone who might like my books, don't hesitate to tell them about them.  If you have something to say, contact me, leave a comment, or hit me up on Twitter.  I look forward to hearing from you!

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