Business, Publishing, Writing Business

Decisions, Decisions…BookBaby vs. Smashwords

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...
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I wrote this post nearly 2 years ago, and since then, things have changed at BookBaby and Smashwords so I decided to give you all a little update.

For those of you not familiar with eBook publishing, Smashwords is the biggest and most popular site to format and upload eBooks to retailers like; Amazon, Sony and Apple.  But not long ago, another company arose named BookBaby, the sister company of the popular CDBaby and it’s offering a little more, so I had to check this out.

What BookBaby is Offering:

As of last year, Bookbaby decided to follow suit with Smashwords and offer a free option to upload eBooks to their site.  The only difference, authors must supply an epub file and afterwards, Bookbaby takes a 15% cut of retail sales.  Before, they had monthly subscription fee of $19 and they didn’t touch your royalties but that’s all changed.

Now there are two paid services, one at $99 and a premium one at $249.  The only difference between the two is that with the $99 one there is a 15% cut of retail sales but the premium service doesn’t touch your sales.  These fees by the way, are a one time deal.

In these paid services, they offer to format your ebook and distribute it to retailers like Nook, Sony and Apple and for an extra $19 they give you an ISBN.  They also have web site design services as well as editing but that’s sold separately, of course!

Book Baby Pros:

  • They distribute to most of the major retailers; Amazon, Sony, and Apple.
  • They offer a variety of services from book cover design to editing.
  • They offer customer service.
  • They will sell you an ISBN for $19 (U.S.) which is a nice price considering, they’re usually $125 (U.S.)
  • It’s as close to one stop shopping for indies that’s reasonably priced.  Publish Green offers the same kind of services for much more.

The Cons:

  • They take a 15% cut just like Smashwords.
  • There’s a charge of $50-$100 if you need to make numerous corrections to your book after it’s published.
  • If your book needs “additional formatting” you’ll be charge $150 (U.S.) an hour!
  • Some of these services are over priced.  You can easily hire a virtual assistant who can do this for much, much, less.  Just Google “Virtual Assistants for Authors.”

The Only Saving Grace of Smashwords

Smashwords also offer help in finding cheap and trusted contractors/freelancers to help you with hassle of uploading and even cover design.  You can email them for more information at: (not affiliated).  The last I heard, the prices range from $40-$100, their low costs are what make them the most popular aggregator for indie authors.

Word to the Wise:

If you got a problem with handing over 15% of your royalties to a middle man then you’ll need to learn how to upload directly to as many eBook retailers as you can.  Then use Smashwords or Bookbaby to upload to the sites that still require a third party aggregator like Apple and Sony.  Sure it takes time to do it yourself, but it beats handing over 15% to someone who did just a few minutes of work.

Either way, when considering any service always take into account your needs and shop around.  A lot of self-published authors lose a ton of money on frivolous features thinking it will help improve marketability of their books.

If you know of any other services that offer great prices please let us know in the comments section.

Personal, Publishing

Why I Disagree With Mark Coker Of Smashwords

Recently, Mark Coker the creator and CEO of Smashwords, one of the world’s most popular ebook distributors released a bit of a rant trashing Amazon’s KDP Select program.  His biggest criticism  of the program is the exclusivity clause preventing authors from publishing elsewhere for 90 days.  He believes authors should publish everywhere saying, “Amazon plays indie authors like pawns in its greater battle to harm other ebook retailers.”

I’m insulted by his remarks simply because I was no pawn.  I made a business decision, not Amazon.  If the other online retailers would have offered a program like KDP I most certainly would’ve participated there as well.  Since I was a first time author who needed exposure, not just book sales, it made sense to distribute my free ebooks with the world’s biggest online book retailer.

Does it Work? 

The KDP program actually helped get my book into the hands of several thousand readers.  In fact, my book was thrusted into the #10 position on the Amazon’s Bestseller list in the Women’s and Children’s Literature category.  It also reached #19 in the Children’s People and Places category.  Could I have done that on Barnes and Noble or Smashwords?  I seriously doubt it!

Amazon's KDP Select

But Mr. Coker goes further and praises companies like Apple for their global growth in the ebook retail business.  Sorry, but maybe Mr. Coker hasn’t heard of Apple’s iBooks Author program which is very exclusive.  It’s so exclusive, you can only publish the book you created on their interface via the Apple store.  Last time I checked, that’s way worse than KDP!  iAuthor caused such  a stir within the indie community last year, that an article was devoted to it on Writer Beware.

Will Amazon Always Reign?

Today Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world, but will that always be true?  I doubt it.  Just like Facebook, which is quickly losing its appeal with its own user base, it’s popularity may just fade away with time.  So whether you like them or not, today Amazon is the popular jock in school bossing everyone else around.  We have to do business with them.  Who else is offering what they do?  Not all of us are looking for just dollars and cents.  Most authors both rookie and pro are looking for eyeballs to read their books and for readers to spread the word far and wide.  For now, KDP does just that.