Amazon’s Kindle is easily the best place to sell your ebooks (that aren’t huge instructional ebooks meant for sites like Clickbank). But there are still a whole host of other ebook retailers, and each of them have their own guidelines for submissions. So even if you have learned to format for Kindle, you may be at a disadvantage when trying to expand.
That’s where Smashwords comes in. I love Smashwords because it’s an aggregate service ran by a fellow that’s actually fond of writers and writers’ plight in the digital era of publishing. What Smashwords does is take a single formatting document and then convert it to several formats, distributes to several retailers, and then collect the money on your behalf. Now, if you’re looking for instant money, you may need to try something else. Smashwords only pays quarterly.
But if you want to write some books and keep getting paid for them, then sites like Kindle and Smashwords are the way to go. Smashwords retailer distribution includes Apple (iPad/iBooks), Sony, Kobo, Nook (Barnes and Noble), and many more. Once you hammer down their formatting guide, you can even use the document created for Smashwords to upload your ebook to Amazon’s Kindle as well. This means that with a single formatting guide , you can put your book into all the major ebook retailer websites.
My experience with Smashwords actually started as a freelancer that formatted Kindle ebooks. A client had asked if I knew how to format for Smashwords, and I downloaded the formatting guide that day and told him “No problem!” Well, it wasn’t easy at first, but once I did get it, I realized that the simplicity of the restrictions meant that I could easily be putting out ebooks myself through Smashwords.
I now publish all my ebooks on Smashwords and Kindle. Smashwords bring in about $500-1000 a month for about the 30 books I have currently published. Put this together with my earnings at Kindle, and for many, that would be a living wage.
All you need is the skill and time to write decent ebooks and a little formatting knowledge. Once you find a subject that people like to buy in and that you can easily write on, it’s not too hard to start capitalizing on that niche until you’re bored. Then just find out what’s trending next, and you’ll find that it’s easy to keep raking in the dough.
Keep in mind, the payout is not instant, but it is somewhat passive. If you publish a lot of books, you can forego spending a ton of money just promoting one or two books and hoping they gain popularity. Now, I do some marketing, but when I started I had basically no funds. I was just barely making it as freelancer new to the idea of making money online. But by working on work-for-hire tasks in the meantime, I’m now able to enjoy some of the benefits of my labor on my own publishing efforts, meaning I keep getting paid over and over for work I did instead of the one-off payment so common with writing these days.