How to Kindle Your Novel, Smashwords vs Amazon

If you want to sell your ebook to Kindle readers, is it better to go through Smashwords, or directly through Amazon? The answer: Both!

I found Smashwords very easy for converting my out-of-print romance novel, Falling for You, into all the various formats needed for different ereaders. They also have a distribution system for getting your ebooks onto major online bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, iBookstore, etc.  Once you upload your book at Smashwords, it has to be reviewed. When it’s approved, it will go into the Premium Catalog, and will eventually show up on the major sites. (It took three weeks for my book to show up at

But what about Amazon? Should you have Smashwords handle getting your ebook on that site? No. In order to qualify for the 70% royalty with Amazon, you need to upload your file directly to them through their Digital Text Platform. Not only will this get you the higher royalty rate, it will get your book up for sale on Amazon much faster

Step by Step Instructions

  • Go through the whole Smashwords process. (Previous post on this topic.)
  • When Smashwords asks if you want a Kindle version, keep that box checked. Yes, you want a Kindle version available to Kindle readers on your Smashwords page. You do not, however, want Smashwords to distribute the Kindle version to Amazon. Again, because Amazon wants you to use their publishing platform, so you have to use it in order to qualify for the higher royalty.
  • Once your ebook is on Smashwords waiting for distribution, click on “Dashboard” on your Smashwords page, then “Distribution Channel Manager” (in the left sidebar), and “Opt out” of the Amazon distribution.
  • Go to the Amazon Digital Text Platform and upload your file directly to Amazon.

Copyright Text Debate

There has been some debate among authors about how to handle the copyright page. When uploading a file to Smashwords, you definitely need to have the word Smashwords somewhere in the opening text. Either “Smashwords Edition” or “Published by Annie Author at Smashwords.” But, some authors choose to remove all mention of Smashwords before they upload the file to Amazon. I left mine the same and had no trouble. (You can see how I did my copyright page by downloading a free sample HERE.)

So that’s it for today, my intrepid friends. Please let me know how your journey is going. Have you already re-released one of your Out-of-Print novels as an ebook? If so, post a link in the comments. I’m serious. I wanna see. And keep your comments and question coming. What is the one thing you are most dying to learn about this whole print-book-to-ebook journey?


  1. Ellen Fisher says:

    Hey, it IS up on Amazon! How did I miss that? Did you promote it on the Amazon boards? Kindleboards? People need to know it’s up!

    Anyway, I’m going to download it to my Kindle right now. Thanks!

  2. See, Ellen, this is why I need you. And why the followers of this blog need you!

    How do I promote it on the Amazon boards? Guess I need to investigate that. Thanks for the nudge — and for downloading my book!

  3. Ellen Fisher says:

    I took the liberty of mentioning it on my blog (which no one reads, hee) and a romance thread about what people are reading on Amazon.

    Kindleboards is easy. Go over there and look around and you’ll get the hang of it. You can start one thread for your book in “The Book Bazaar,” and can only bump it once a week yourself, though you can respond to people who comment. Kindleboards is a nice positive environment.

    Amazon is a little more tricky. There is a Kindle board and a romance board, and you should probably mention it on both. It’s an open question whether you should start a separate thread for your book or not. Some readers love that, some hate it. To start with, you might just want to post a blurb on the threads that are already set up for promo– “July 2010 Indie Authors Thread,” “Have you written a romance book– come tell us about it!” and similar threads. But I really do recommend you study Amazon’s boards for at least a few days before you post over there– it can be a little harsh if you make a misstep.

  4. Thank you, Ellen! I will follow this advice.

  5. Tina Hunter says:

    Thanks for posting this information. I’ve been looking for a self published author’s POV on the debate and I’m happy I found your thoughts (although I do realize out of print is not the same as self published).

    I’d love to find out how long it takes for you to appear on the smashwords cataloge (and how long it takes to show up on the 3rd party sites).

    Keep us posted.


  6. Welcome to the Journal, Tina! Glad the info helped.

    After reading your question about how long it takes for a book to show up in online bookstores, I hopped over to, and WOO-HOO, it was there! So it took about three weeks. I’m still waiting for it to show up at Borders, but here’s a link for B&N:

    You know, it’s such a thrill to see my book show up on these sites. It’s like walking into a brick and mortar store and seeing it on the shelves.

  7. Judith Hand says:

    Thanks so much Julie for creating the articles. They are just what I need. I appreciate your spirit of sharing and helping.

    Judith Hand

  8. I’m following this blog from now on! Thanks for sharing your knowledge, (and thanks to all the commenters for sharing yours!) I have two questions.

    What if your out of print books aren’t in digital form to begin with? I have rights back to a handful from several years ago, and no copies of the files survived a house fire. So I have nothing but one or two battered paperbacks of each of them. What’s the most efficient way of getting those back into the computer?

    And second, do you feel it hurts the chances of reselling the rights to a print publisher if you have first exploited your electronic rights yourself in this way, and should one even worry about that?

    Thanks again!

  9. Excellent questions, Maggie!

    Many authors face the same problem of having no computer copy of their book. Your best option (if you don’t want to type the whole thing in from scratch) is to send one of those battered copies of the physical book to SB Services (listed on my author resource page) and have her scan it. That will destroy the physical book, but that’s what has to be done.

    On your second question, you need to talk to your agent, but my take is, once a book has had it’s day as a print book, its day is done. So no, I don’t think putting it out as an ebook will hurt you. If anything, if the ebook takes off, you can show print publishers that readers still want your books, and that will increase your chances of landing a new contract.

  10. Vella Munn says:

    Julie, I uploaded my first attempt to Kindle Fri afternoon. No sign of it yet. I know, I know. I need to be patient, but how long did it take you?

  11. I think it took a few days for my book to appear. So, you might want to give it two more days, then contact tech support at Amazon.

  12. Ellen Fisher says:

    Vella, I don’t know if your book is new or backlist. Be aware that if you have an older book that was previously listed on Amazon, the system will often kick out a request for proof that you now have the rights. I’ve been asked to produce a letter showing rights reversion a couple of times now.

  13. Marsha Canham says:

    Hey Jules…Thanks again for all your help and the blogs have been terrific. I have two of my out of prints up on Smashwords now…China Rose and Swept Away. The latter I had on an old floppy disc, and it took some brain power to transfer it to the new puter , but, to answer Maggie’s question, China Rose was written on a typewriter, and while I had the good sense to keep the edited “foul matter” the publisher sent back, I still had to sit my butt down and retype it into the computer. On the bright side, it gave me a chance to edit and revise, which, for a book that was written for market tastes back in 1984, was like a gift. I was able to update the style, remove some of the “bodice ripping” qualities that were popular back then (think Rosemary Rogers) and tighten the storyline without actually changing it. It took me about three weeks of working on it a few hours each morning, not nearly as daunting a task as I thought it would be. I’m currently working on a third book, Bound by the Heart, same problem, typewritten copy only, and if I survive this with a smile in place, I get to tackle the fourth and longest one…The Wind and the Sea.
    As I’ve mentioned to Julie, the funnest part of all this is getting to do your own covers!!! I’ve had a blast redoing the first two, and the second two are almost finished before the books are even ready LOL.

  14. Marsha, congratulations on all you’re accomplishing with re-releasing your wonderful historical romances. You are one of the reasons I say readers are the big winners in the ebook revolution. A whole new group of readers and loyal fans of your original version get to enjoy all the big adventure of a Marsha Canham classic with a fresh new feel. Very exciting.

    On a personal note: Wish you were here today! I’m in Florida, rooming with Sherri Browning Erwin, about to meet Virginia Henley for lunch. Thinking of you. Will report the detail as I can on my Facebook Page.

  15. BN says:


    This was very useful. Thanks for sharing. I’m not a romance writer, I’m just a story telling rocket scientist humorist. That’s a whole lot to say……

    Anyway, thanks for being there when “a rocket scientist couldn’t figure it out.”


  16. Glad it helped, BN. Welcome to Julie’s Journal.

  17. Eric London says:

    I recommend you review section 5 of the Smashword Terms of Service, regarding appropriate use of generated files.


  18. In response to Eric’s comment, I want to clarify that I did not violate Smashwords Terms of Service, nor do I encourage others to do so. I emailed Mark Coker, the founder and owner of Smashwords, and asked him for advice on how to use Smashwords for everything but the Amazon distribution. Following his advice, I “opted out” of having Smashwords distribute their Kindle version to Amazon. Then I uploaded a Word file to Amazon using their publishing platform. A Kindle version of my ebook is available at both Smashwords and Amazon, but one was published with the Smashwords platform and the other was published through the Amazon platform.

  19. Thanks Julie! This is great. I already have my book on Kindle with Amazon. Do you recommend smashwords for everything else?

  20. Thanks, Julie, for this informative and well-written post. It cleared up a lot of confusion and allowed me to successfully upload my ebook to Amazon’s platform. Can you tell me if you need to get a different ISBN number for the Kindle addition, or if it’s okay to use the same one generated by Smashwords?

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. eBook SelfPublishing Notes | Cat Firstman Science Fiction and Fantasy

Leave a Reply