If you’re like many indie authors, you’d like to sell ebooks through Smashwords since there are quite a few perks:
- They pay a higher royalty than Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the others (85% and there’s no dip in your cut for titles priced under $2.99).
- They offer all ebook formats so you don’t have to worry about directing Nook people to B&N, Kindle people to Amazon, etc. etc.
- They have a more flexible affiliate program, meaning you choose how much to offer affiliates (people interested in promoting your ebooks so they can make some money too).
There are lots of reasons Smashwords should be appealing to authors, but their marketplace doesn’t get nearly the eyeballs of Amazon or even Barnes & Noble and Apple, so it can be a challenge to sell ebooks there.
That doesn’t mean you can’t make some sales at Smashwords though. Here are a couple of things that have worked for me:
Doing periodic giveaways via their coupon program
I don’t bother with half-off coupons or anything like that. I do 100% off and make the coupon good for a few days. Then I’ll publicize it in the Mobile Read forum.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve sometimes had bloggers pick up on those giveaways and write them up on their sites. This ends up helping me with promotion, and sometimes the folks who get the freebies go on to pay full-price for other ebooks (just recently, I gave away some free copies of Emperor’s Edge this way, and I had quite a few sales of the sequel, Dark Currents, as a result. Some people picked up Encrypted too).
Talking up the affiliate program
I admittedly haven’t done much with this since I wrote up my “How to Make Money Promoting My Ebooks (and other people’s too)” post back in January, but I do see sales from affliates now and then on my Smashwords dashboard. Quite a few came after that post, which makes me think I should probably put a permanent link to it over in the menu somewhere so new readers can find it.
We can talk about book promotion techniques all day, but ultimately your fans are the ones who are going to be responsible for your career taking off. If they like your stories, they’ll talk about them regardless (because they’re awesome like that 🙂 ), but you can give them a further incentive to talk up your books by offering a percentage of the earnings via the Smashwords affiliate program. The default for affiliates is 11%, but you can give away your entire cut if you want (I have my ebooks set at 75%, which is close to the max). These are sales you wouldn’t have gotten if someone else wasn’t promoting your books, so there’s no need to be stingy.
If you do decide to participate in the affiliate program, let your readers know about it. Even folks who shop at Smashwords might not be aware of it, and writing up instructions that let readers know how to add affiliate links to their sites can be helpful for those who are new to the idea.
I’ll be the first to admit, advertising tends to be more misses than hits when it comes to book sales (meaning you’ll probably spend more than you make), but, as I’ve mentioned before, I have had some luck with Goodreads pay-per-click ads.
Also, if you have an entire series out, and it’s common for readers to go on to buy the rest of the ebooks after they read the first, it may be worth taking a loss on Book 1.
While Smashwords lacks the name recognition of an Amazon or Barnes & Noble, it’s not a bad place to send people who click on an ad since they do have every ebook format available. You don’t have to worry about wasting money by sending Nook people to your Amazon book page, for example. And, again, since you’ll make the largest cut at Smashwords, there’s another reason to direct people there as opposed to other venues.
Well, there are three ways to get a sales boost at Smashwords. Do you buy there, or have you done well selling there? Do you have any tips for other authors?