Today I want to tell you about It’s a free (and excellent) service for self-publishing ebooks.

I use both Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords for all my self-published books. That means everything is published three times (not just once): as a KDP paperback, a KDP ebook, and a Smashwords ebook.

Smashwords has terrific resources available free (and you don’t have to publish with them – just sign up for a free account). I have learned tons from their free ebooks about formatting and marketing.

Smashwords has four features I especially like:

1. You can publish your ebook at no cost. (That’s also true of KDP.)

2. Royalties are generous.

3. You can make your ebook available in many formats, so you can sell to customers who have a Nook or another type of e-reader. (Kindle Direct Publishing is only for paperbacks and Kindle books.) The .pdf publishing option is especially useful because it lets customers read your book right on their computer screens.

4. You can easily set up coupons for discounts or free copies. I sometimes give away examination copies of my police report textbook. I just go to Smashwords, set up a coupon (it takes maybe 15 seconds), and email the coupon code. Done! And I don’t have to pay for a copy and shipping.

Earlier this year I obtained the rights to my book Pygmalion’s Wordplay (a scholarly book about Shaw I’d published with the University Press of Florida, which decided not to sell copies anymore). I wanted to make free copies available to Shaw scholars. Easy to do! I generated a coupon and put the code into an email sent to a group of active Shaw scholars. The whole process took me less than a minute.

Here’s another tip about Smashwords: I’ve written several ebooks that I give away to help publicize the books I sell. If an ebook is free, you don’t even have to bother with coupons. When it’s time to set the price, just choose free.

My free ebooks are short, but they have some excellent content. (One of them – Impossible Love – has been downloaded more than 1500 times.) At the end of these free ebooks I have a picture of a related book I’m selling and a sample chapter. Those free ebooks are a great marketing tool.


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