Book Baby, Kindle or Smashwords?

What a marvelous world we live in and what an incredible time to be a writer. There are just so many opportunities and ways we can get our words and our work out into the world these days.  So many that it might at times be confusing as to which ones to use and which ones to pass on by.

Just the other day, someone posted a great question on Word Journeys: Resources for Writers, one of the

Books by Porpoise Publishing

Facebook groups I frequent. Here’s the question:

Should I ‘do’ my ebook on Book Baby, Kindle or Smashwords? I can do most of it myself, but how best to get to all the e readers….?

Yes, that is the $64,000 question, not that most of us writers have 64K sitting in our checking account. Here’s my short answer as to whether it’s best to publish through BookBaby.com, Kindle or Smashwords.com — it depends on several factors. Now, let’s look at the factors.

I’ve used all three with different works, though I’ve only placed a couple short stories out into the world through Smashwords.  Book Baby is probably the easiest way to get your book out to the most ebook readers…if you’re willing to fork over 99 dollars for the service.

For most of my books, I’ve chosen to go the Kindle only route at least for now. I have a ‘backlog’ of books and other material to publish. I follow the Dean Wesley Smith philosophy that the best marketing a writer can do is to write and publish more. So, my main focus right now is write, write, write, which includes polishing and preparing my work to be published.

Since Kindle is the #1 seller of ebooks, having something like 80% of the market,  then that’s where I’m focusing most of my ebook publishing work. It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time or money trying to get that other 20%…least not yet.

The other publishing focus is to make most of my longer works available as a Print-On-Demand physical book, which I do through CreateSpace.com. After all, there’s still more people who read ‘real books’ than there are reading ebooks though that’s changing.

But my situation of having a backlog of work to get out that might not be your situation. If you have just 1-2 books to get out to start, I’d go another route. I’d still want to be sure to include offering a POD physical book, then I’d work to get the 1-2 books out to as many different ebook resources as possible.

Then the question to ask yourself is, “Do I have more of time or money?”  If your answer is time, then you can do work with through Smashwords who will distribute your book to most of the major ebook stores, with the one BIG exception being Kindle.  So, create your own Kindle account and load the book there yourself. So, to summarize, if you have more time than money:

  • Publish to Smashwords who will then distribute to most of the ebook outlets,
  • Publish a POD physical book through CreateSpace.com
  • Publish to Kindle by creating your own account

If you have more money than time, the strategy would be:

  • Use BookBaby.com who will then distribute to all the major ebook outlets including Kindle, and
  • Publish a POD physical book through CreateSpace.com

And in either scenario, I’d be sure to include one other important part of the equation — get on to writing that next book, which is what I’m going to do right now.

12 Responses to Book Baby, Kindle or Smashwords?

  • bswift21 says:

    Thanks to everyone who have posted their comments here and elsewhere on the blog. My plan for 2014 is to be much better about reading and responding to your comments and questions. Now back to my NaNoWriMo nove – Babble. At 30,000 and counting.

  • benny thomas says:

    Kindle is the best one so far. My brother has been developing this new genre of readers recently in his office. I have seen it and used it and I loved it. Thank you for sharing this post here and please do keep updating. petkings.org

  • scottharr5 says:

    Thank you for the post as you have answered my questions regarding Bookbaby. I had my name in the contract with bookbaby and deleted because of that uneasy feeling about commitments. :).
    I have finished my first book and am ready to publish in e-book format. I am uneasy about loading it myself because I do not know how to convert to the correct format. Any suggestions on the conversion and how to do so would be appreciated.

  • Authors upload their manuscripts as Microsoft Word files to the Smashwords service, which converts the files into multiple ebook formats for reading on various ebook reading devices.

  • Felix says:

    Thanks for this info! i have just finished one short story (about, 100 pages)and was exploring various ebook publishing options -bookbaby and Xlibris. Just heard of Smashwords and will look into it.

    Meantime, I am halfway through another short story

  • mechellerenee says:

    Thank You so much!!! Very helpful information 🙂

  • Anna Wells says:

    If you live outside of the US, Bookbaby is a better alternative. They pay directly into a paypal account while smashwords witholds royalties until you file forms with the IRS. No Thank you.

    Also I would have loved to upload directly to B&N and Ibooks but again they are not set up for anybody living outside of the US.

  • claude says:

    Yes, thanks for the post. I'm a new author with a 1-2 book offering. I decided on Bookbaby for one novel and was in the process of setting up a Createspace account for POD. Nice to see this is along the lines of what you recommend. I haven't pressed approve of the Bookbaby epub file yet though. I agree, the best thing to do is write.

  • Ebooks are commonly available but I would suggest the printed copies of the books for the kids because it has an extra appeal! However, thanks for the tips of creating Kindle account to load the book own-self. I'll increase my collection by following the tips ;).

  • Philén says:

    Thank you, Bradford. This has been concise and very helpful, and has put my mind at ease. You are a blessing.

  • toniallenauthor says:

    Thanks. I'm currently published through Kindle and Lulu and looking to expand my reach…which is a minefield! I think your recommendation is great. I'll write the next book and get on with promoting the platforms I currently have them on. My books are in epub format which most ereaders will accept. Currently I'm selling more on B&N than Kindle, which is eye-opening.

  • Jan Burgess says:

    Thank you for this information. I'm in e-author limbo at the moment having two books nearly ready for e-publication. I am working towards using KDF but have just found out about Smashwords and was not sure how they worked, or didn't work, in conjunction.

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