Publishing via Pronoun vs. Smashwords

My latest book Pieces of Trouble was the first one I had published through the relatively new Pronoun service. Here is a little comparison of my experience so far.

Pieces of Trouble, my latest Troubleshooter universe story collection, is my eighth book and the first one that I published through Pronoun. I had followed the various news around it as it promised a different kind of service from the likes of Amazon and Smashword. And I can confirm, it is a different experience. However, is it a better one?

Smashwords - HTLM at its best, functional but working. You won't find any interface sexyness here!

Smashwords - HTLM at its best, functional but working. You won't find any interface sexyness here!

Let's have a punch by punch comparison of the contender vs. the reigning champion of indie eBook publishing. Pronoun vs. Smashwords

The Service

Smashwords and Pronoun are meta publishers for eBooks. You upload your books data, cover and story file and both services do the same: publish the book on various eTailers, collecting your revenues and cutting you a single check of payment. Both services do this as advertised. Pronoun vs. Smashwords: a draw.

Preparing your Book

Both services expect your book preformatted to specifications. In both cases we are talking Word document or ePub. The services then convert the input file into the various output formats, add table of contents, integrate the cover, etc. To guide you through the process, Smashwords has a long manual that elaborately explains each step how the Word Document has to be prepared. As I did this several times in the past, I can say that there is trial and error needed to get it right. Especially when you generate the Word Doc from Scrivener and like to minimize manual formatting. Pronoun has a step by step tutorial online of about 10 steps, where most steps are not needed if you have straightforward text only prose to offer. I thought it was much faster and convenient.  Pronoun 1 : Smashwords 0

The Book Submission

Clear winner without much fanfare: Pronoun. Why? The interface and experience is much cleaner and easy to use. You have everything graphically arranged on one page and then go into each component (Upload Cover, Select Keywords, Select Genre...). The nicest part: you don't need to save anything. It simply sticks. Smashword is good old HTML form stuff, ten years ago fine. Admittedly it does the job, but Pronoun does do it with ease. Pronoun 2 : Smashwords 0

Sales Channels

Not the most unimportant topic. Interface and ease of use is one thing, but the main reason why you do it is to get published on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and likes. And you do with both services. However, Pronoun is limited to a handful of outlets whereas Smashword offers a lot more. Although in all fairness, Pronoun covers the most important ones with Amazon, Google, Kobo, iTunes and B&N. Pronoun isslightly faster in the channel publishing, Kobo was there within a day and the rest of the pack followed a day (Pronoun estimates 3-5 days, so they overdelivered). Smashwords first needs to go into a premium status in order to qualify for publishing outside of the Smashword store. Despite this, due to sheer quantity of channels, Smashword is the clear winner here. Pronoun 2 : Smashwords 1


Pronoun goes graphic and modern with a one-page design - scrolling down shows your catalogue.

Pronoun goes graphic and modern with a one-page design - scrolling down shows your catalogue.

On the Money

Well, it's out there and it sells. What is my cut? I might take an unconventional approach here when I say: it does not matter. If you areJohn Grisham going Indie to sell your latest The Firm sequel a million times, yes, then it means the difference of a house in Missouri or an estate on Long Island. But as an Indie author with few hundred or thousand copies sold, reach is more important than the money. Pronoun is overall a few percentage points better than Smashwords, but that does not really matter in the long run. Payout is working via (Pronoun) or direct deposit (Smashwords), both easy ways to receive it. Draw again. Pronoun 3 : Smashwords 2.

The Goodies

Smashwords has a nice author portrait page where you can present your catalogue, your photo, and create a tailored author interview. Nice, but the sale happens elsewhere. Pronoun's major goodie beside the aforementioned interface is definitely the formating options for the eBook where you can choose from currently four options that play with fonts and heading format for your otherwise usually blandly formatted eBook. That is a great feature. Well deserved point for Pronoun. Pronoun 4 : Smashwords 2

Promotion of your Book

Both services are pretty weak on this. Smashword has no tools around promotion at all, so an easy point for Pronoun which offers some sort of ranking within the Amazon catalogue, which I did not really understand. Bascially it analyses your search terms and your category and tells you how relevant the category is and where your book would be positioned. Sounds interesting, but I am not sure that it really has the effect of selling more books. Pronoun gives some tips how to get reviews and generate buzz, but it is not really helping. I am still waiting for a publishing promotion service that really works and really generates buzz and revenue for new authors. Another draw. Pronoun 5 : Smashwords 2

So, what's the result? Clear winner is Pronoun. Would I consider using Pronoun again? Yes.