Self-publishing 101: Step 1: Where to Publish

In previous posts I’ve addressed when to self-publish. The answer to that question would be an emphatic “Now!” What to publish is equally obvious. Publish anything (e.g. short story or novel) that you think will sell. In this post I’m going to address where to publish since there are several options available.

Publish at the following locations, one location at a time, in the order specified.


SmashWords provides a web interface for submitting books formatted as Microsoft Word documents to a piece of software called the meatgrinder. This software reformats the document into multiple formats readable by the most common eReaders including the Kindle and the Nook. In addition to selling your book in their own store front, Smashwords also distributes your books to Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Diesel and a handful of other locations for sale at those sites.

The problem is that SmashWords only pays quarterly, and at that they only pay on what the publisher reports quarterly. For that reason, I recommend that you publish via the most popular sites, Amazon and B&N directly in addition to publishing at SmashWords.

Amazon’s KDP

Amazon is by far the most popular site at which I publish. It’s the one thousand pound gorilla standing in the corner. To conquer Amazon is to rule the world.

Amazon offers the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) web interface which can be used to upload books and cover art for sale on the Amazon web site.

Publish at Amazon directly using KDP instead of depending on SmashWords distribution for up to the minute sales results and monthly royalty payments. Amazon is just too important to not publish there directly.

B&N’s PubIt

Another popular site, although my sales at B&N have come nowhere near my Amazon sales. Use the PubIt web interface to publish your work at B&N rather than depending upon SmashWords distribution.


CreateSpace is a Print on Demand (PoD) provider that actually prints hardcopies of your books for each customer purchasing a copy. PoD books are usually kinda expensive, but you should push your novel here as well simply to cover the customers who have yet to buy an eReader. I usually keep the prices of my PoD books low, making only cents a copy to keep the customer’s cost low.

That’s it. Publish in four locations and you’re done. Coming up, I’ll explain how to format your Word documents for publication at SmashWords.

by Brian Jackson

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