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Xlibris and Smashwords

Has anyone heard of Xlibris or Smashwords? I'm getting publishing/marketing e-mails from them to publish my book (albeit far from finished) and wondered whether it was worth looking into. My dream is to be published by TOR or Bantam or something.


Never heard of Xlibris but heard of Smashwords. It's not a bad site. I know people that have used it.

Personally, I wouldn't publish to just Smashwords. Will get a broader reach going through Amazon's Kindle Direct, Kobo, Nook or any of the others.


Has anyone heard of Xlibris or Smashwords? I'm getting publishing/marketing e-mails from them to publish my book (albeit far from finished) and wondered whether it was worth looking into. My dream is to be published by TOR or Bantam or something.

If your dream is to be published by a traditional publisher you should focus on that and not worry about the self pub alternative for the moment.


toujours gai, archie
Russ is right. There is the self-pub path, there is the trad-pub path. Each requires you to learn an enormous amount of information. For example, if you intend to publish traditionally you will have to learn how to find agents and how to write a query letter (a harrowing and thankless labor). You will want to learn how long to wait for responses and what to do in the meanwhile, what agents are good and which are poison, how to read and understand contracts, and so on. Little of this will be relevant to someone walking the self-pub path.

You may hear some say it is worth considering doing both, and that is true. But it also means learning twice as much as those who walk only one path.

And then there is the Middle Way, which is to go to a small press publisher.

In short, get the thing written. You will have *plenty* of time after your first draft to choose a publishing strategy. Meanwhile, just do as you are doing and start to familiarize yourself with the jargon, the alternatives, the scary warnings, the starry-eyed success stories.


Xlibris, if I recall, is a subsidy publisher (or supported self-publishing). In other words, if you buy one their publishing packages, they will publish you. You pay for 'marketing', to be released in ebook, etc., and also, I believe, after all of that, they pay royalties on whatever is sold (often over priced to comparable books--length and genre).

You would want to check their website to be sure, but if a publisher's primary revenue stream comes from selling products and services to authors rather than selling novels to readers, it's a concern, at least in my eyes. You can check places such as Amazon for books published by this publisher, to see if the pricing is competitive, look inside at the layout and editing. Check out the sales ranks and reviews on Amazon of a cross section of their titles. This last one is not always the best gauge but something to look at.

While there may be places and reasons for that sort of publisher (you'd have to decide), it's definitely not along the lines of being published by Tor or Baen or DAW or the like.
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Spectre, I've used Smashwords twice and thoroughly recommend it. However, as troynos said, I also suggest publishing using Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing for e-books and Createspace for printed versions) in order to cover more bases. The learning curve for each platform is not that steep: it's really a matter of following the instructions very closely indeed and putting up with a bit of trial and error.

Like you, I would like to be with a traditional publisher, but listening to some small publishers at a writers' conference really put me off for many reasons: the difficulty of making it through the slush pile (one publisher said they put out only four books a year, so you can imagine how many manuscripts they reject), the time it takes for the chosen books to hit the shelves, the expectation of low sales for almost all first novels, very low royalty rates, the fact that I would have to do most of the publicity myself, and more. I decided to self-publish, knowing that I would have to do everything myself, and I've been quite pleased with the results. And holding my first printed book in my hands was well worth all the effort it took to get there.
Ok guys, thanks for the heads up. I have some new terminology and a better if not working, idea of what to panic about later.

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Just curious. Smashwords emails me from time to time, but only because I have a dozen books published with them as well as with Amazon. But they've never solicited me to publish with them. I find that odd. They aren't a boutique publisher or vanity press. They're a legit POD / Digital indie press and those sorts of unsolicited marketing tactics wouldn't normally be theirs. You can go to the site and get a lot of useful pieces from the CEO Mark Coker including opinion pieces on all sorts of issues like price points and the various Amazon battles.

Did you contact Smashies first for some reason?

Also, as an aside, Smashies doesn't do the kind of volume of sales for me that Amazon does, which is why when Amazon Kindle Unlimited came out and demanded exclusivity, I stopped putting my newer books up with them. I like the site, the way they operate and the ease of use, but it's about sales for me. And in fact I'm thinking of withdrawing some of my books from them, redoing the covers, and putting them out on KU as well.

Cheers, Greg.
Yeah my original post was poorly worded. Xlibris just e-mailed me but Smashwords I may have solicited. I bought a book about them not knowing what they were, it's a book on digital formatting with HTML if I recall, but as far as I read no solid publishing info about them is in the book. In fact I registered at their website out of curiosity once I started reading the formatting book. But Xlibris was unsolicited, I started getting e-mails from them after I used my e-mail to download a free technical book. In fact a lot of spam started then.

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