On the last day of 2012, Smashwords made an exciting announcement: authors can now directly upload epubs to the site.
This might not sound like a big deal, but it kind of is. According to the Smashwords blog, as of December 31, 2012, Smashwords became “the world’s largest distributor of ebooks from self-published authors and small independent presses.” And now that authors can directly upload epubs to the site, Smashwords will not be limited to novels, short stories, and other books that are mostly narrative. Because authors now have the ability to upload their epub, they can sell their enhanced ebooks, children’s books, and other illustrated works through Smashwords to retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, and more.
As an ebook developer, reading the announcement almost made me jump up and down. I’m already a fan of Smashwords, and I’ve written about their distribution before. I’ve actually been waiting to hear this news since May of 2012, when I interviewed CEO Mark Coker at BEA and he told me by the end of the year authors would be able to upload epubs to Smashwords.
The new service is called Smashwords Direct, and it’s currently in beta, which means it’s not perfect yet. Right now it’s only possible to upload epub files, so authors who want to distribute their ebooks to people who can only read pdfs or mobis (for Kindles) will have to also upload their properly formatted Word doc to Smashwords Meatgrinder–the system that automatically turns a Word doc into a valid epub. But I have high hopes. There are already plans to allow authors to upload their own mobi and pdf files sometime this year.
I’m personally not a fan of the Meatgrinder. Since I make ebooks for a living, I found the process of formatting a Word doc to Smashwords specs to be tedious, and for the final product to not look as good as the ebooks I make myself. But I do understand Mark Coker’s defense of it on the Smashwords blog. Not everyone knows how to make a valid epub (an ebook that passes EPUBCHECK, the validation system Apple requires in order to allow an ebook to be put up for sale in iBooks).
Anyhow, I’m really glad that starting this year, I have one less format to worry about (no more Word docs for Smashwords), and I’ll be more proud to show off my ebooks in the iBookstore. I also plan on publishing my first enhanced ebooks this year, and I’m excited to be able to distribute them to a wider audience via Smashwords.
If you’re also an indie author, I highly recommend taking advantage of Smashwords Direct.