If you’ve been “lucky” enough to hear one of my presentations recently, you’ll quite likely have heard me plugging Smashwords.com as a great way to dip a toe in the ebook waters with no cost, virtually no pain and very author- and publisher-friendly terms.

So it was good to hear this piece of news from Smashwords founder Mark Coker. US bookselling giant Barnes and Noble will be distributing Smashwords ebooks through its network (Barnesandnoble.com, Fictionwise, Ereader app, others).

This is especially impressive when you consider that most of Smashwords’ ebooks to date have been from self-published authors and small indie publishers who would usually have a tough time getting into these channels. Even in the online world, there are barriers to getting into retailers’ ebook stores if you’re small or new.

The Smashwords system is very easy to use and, since July, has been expanded to include a publisher section that allows publishers to manage multiple authors and titles rather than just one-offs.

To get the best results, you’ll need to do a bit of work tidying up the source document. Because it uses an automated process, it’s especially important to use a consistent style. From here, Smashwords will generate your ebook in all of the key ebook formats such as ePub, PDF or the Kindle’s .mobi format.