Sunday, November 22, 2009

Smashwords and Kindle, a comparison

I've been talking about Smashwords and Kindle for quite a while, and after publishing with both, I have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. Smashwords leaves Kindle in the dust in every area, the biggest being ease of use, formats, and flexibility. If you want to see what Smashwords is like, just upload a Word file and give it a test run. Smashwords has something they call the meat grinder that turns your creation into a multitude of files so it can be read on any device. (Download Stanza to your computer if you don't have an ebook reader.) And if you format correctly, your book will end up in the Barnes and Noble premium catalog. And if you don't format correctly, Smashwords will tell you what you did wrong, and how to correct it. The thing I love about Smashwords is the flexibility. If I want to change a price, I change it and the new price appears on my page as soon as I hit save. If I want to change the description, instant. If I want to upload a new copy, instant.

Amazon... If you change one tiny thing, price, typo, etc, you start over with the approval process. This can takes days or weeks. Pale Immortal has been on Amazon for over 6 weeks, and the description still hasn't shown up.

With Smashwords, you have completely control of your book. With Amazon, you have zero. And say you want to REMOVE a title. It can't be done without contacting someone at Amazon, another exercise that could take weeks.

Frustration level with Smashwords is zero. Amazon is off the chart.

Okay, now for sales. I don't think I can even speak to that, because I've sold zero books through Smashwords and three through Amazon. I'll never break even, and I really could have written a novella in the time I spent converting Pale Immortal from print to ebook format.

The takeaway:
I need a publisher for my print and ebook titles. It's that simple.

But I do think Smashwords is going to be huge and they're going to kick Amazon's ass when it comes to self-publishing and a user-friendly platform.

UPDATE: Smashwords Adds Kindle Store, Makes Acquisition. More Smashwords news from Publishers Weekly.

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