Friday, August 30, 2013

Smashwords overturning the self-publishing apple cart - what's new?

This Smashwords Newsletter is an Intense Good News Download

Just got this in from Mark Coker in my email and thought you should have a copy. It's that good...

Smashwords Author/Publisher Alert - August 29, 2013


1. Smashwords introduces preorder distribution to Apple, B&N and Kobo!
2. New author marketing tool:  Smashwords Interviews
3. New distribution to Flipkart, the "Amazon of India"
4. Download now:  New editions of The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success
5. In case you missed it:  Smashwords survey helps authors sell more books
6. Multiple Smashwords authors hit bestseller list at Apple, plus new Breakout Books promotion at Apple
7. Smashwords commences daily shipments to Barnes & Noble, joining Apple and Kobo with faster deliveries
8. Links to helpful resources

Your Smashwords profile page:




On July 26, Smashwords introduced preorder distribution to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.  Preorders are probably the most powerful new distribution tool we've introduced in the last three years.  Several Smashwords authors have already used preorders to hit the top 10 store-wide bestseller lists at Apple (more on that below!).  You'll find the original announcement here:

Here's how preorders work:

1.  You upload your book from the normal Smashwords Publish page and set a release date (aka your "onsale" date) that is in the future.  We and our retailers recommend at least four weeks in the future to get the most benefit from preorders, though you can do less.

2.  Your fans reserve their preorder copies in advance.  When the book officially goes onsale in the future, their credit card is charged.

3.  At Apple and Kobo, all accumulated preorders credit all at once on the same day, which can cause your book to spike in genre or store-wide bestseller lists.  *THIS* is the magic of preorders.  This increases the visibility of your book, which increases discoverability and sales, which then leads to a virtuous cycle of more sales driving more sales.

4.  Preorders allow authors to stage strategic, advance marketing campaigns prior to your release date.  The longer your preorder runway (the time your book is available for preorder), the greater your opportunity to accumulate preorders.

5.  Advance delivery so your book is ready for purchase at these major retailers on your official release date.  No more wondering when the retailer will list your book.  By working in advance with a preorder, the retailer has more time to process, list and promote your book.

For your next release, be sure to budget extra time - at least one month - for a preorder. There many other exciting details I can share with you.  Rather than trying to capture them all in this email, please visit the links below where you'll learn how to maximize the success of your preorder.

How to do a successful preorder:

Original announcement:
Updated details, with best practices info:
Smashwords Preorder page:



As you may recall, last year we ran a series of author interviews at the Smashwords blog.  The interviews were all fantastic, but I realized that even if we could do an interview each week, we'd only be able to interview less than one in every 10,000 Smashwords authors per year. I also didn't like that *I* was the gatekeeper.  I was the one selecting the authors to be interviewed.  I founded Smashwords five years ago to eliminate your gatekeepers and put you in charge!

So I started wondering what it would take to interview every Smashwords author.  I believe every Smashwords author has an interesting story to tell, and if only readers could learn your story, they'd be more inclined to read your books.  Obviously, with over 60,000 Smashwords authors, even if we published ten interviews per day it would take us 16 years to publish them all.  Never mind that thousands of authors join Smashwords each month.  We'd never catch up.

Then the light bulb went off.  What if we could do for author interviews what we for ebook self-publishing?  How about self-interviewing?  This was the genesis behind Smashwords Interviews, a cool new tool that makes it fast, fun and easy for you to share your story with your readers.

Smashwords Interviews presents you with a series of questions to answer.  You can modify the questions or create your own.  Make your interview unique.  Let your voice shine.  Update it any time when the muse strikes, or when you release a new title.

Your interview is promoted across the Smashwords web site.  It's cross linked on the home page, on your profile page and on all your book pages.  At the end of each interview, we display quick links to all your books.

We also make it easy for your fans to share your interview on social media.  Encourage your fans to share it!

To read the interviews of fellow authors, visit

To learn more about this exciting new feature, read our announcement at the blog:

Ready to be interviewed?  You'll find the link for Smashwords Interviews under your Account tab.  Here's the direct link:

If you'd like to read my interview, visit


India here we come!  Smashwords today announced a new ebook distribution partnership with Flipkart, the largest online bookstore in India.  Flipkart controls 80% of the Indian market for online bookselling.  80% of their sales are of English language books.  We're in the process of wrapping up final integration testing, and expect all Smashwords Premium Catalog books to be listed within four weeks.

The ebook market in India in nascent, probably accounting for around 1/2 of 1% of the overall trade book market in India.  In other words, it's where the US market was five or six years ago.  I expect the Indian ebook market to follow the same exponential growth curve as we've seen in the US, Australia, UK, Canada and elsewhere.  With over 125 million English speakers, India has more people speaking the English language than the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined.  Obviously, English language reading proficiency is less than that, but you get the picture of what a large market opportunity India represents.

I expect sales at Flipkart to start off small, but grow over time as the primordial soup ingredients for a thriving ebook ecosystem fall into place.  The ingredients?  Smart phones, dedicated e-readers, Smashwords ebooks and increased Internet usage in India.

To distribute to Flipkart, there's nothing you need to do other than ensure your books are all Premium Catalog approved.  You'll earn 60% list price for all sales, minus the Indian Withholding Tax (similar to VAT).

Unlike all the other agency agreements we have with Smashwords retailers, this is a wholesale agreement - very similar to the wholesale agreement many authors have with Amazon's KDP platform.  This means Flipkart maintains the right to discount the book if they want. In practice, I don't expect much discounting except in price-matching situations.  If they see a lower price at the Kindle store in India, for example, they will probably discount. They'll only price match against retailers in India. If they discount in a price-matching situation, you'll receive 60% of the discounted price.  If they discount outside of a price-matching situation, you'll receive 60% of the list price you set (meaning, for example, if you priced at $10, and they discount to the Rupee equivalent of $5.00, you'll still receive a $6.00 royalty, less applicable taxes).

I have expressed to Flipkart that if they discount, Amazon India is likely to discount the same books on KDP, and this will cause our authors grief.  Flipkart understands the implication of causing you grief (i.e. author optouts) which is why I don't expect a lot of discounting.

If for some reason you don't want your books going to Flipkart, you can opt out via your Dashboard's Channel Manager.  I don't recommend opting out. India offers Smashwords authors a rare - dare I say it - ground floor opportunity to become the big fish in a small but fast-growing pond.  Authors who are there first with all their books will develop the largest readership in the years to come.

Over at the Smashwords blog, I've shared many more important details about the relationship with Flipkart, including some interesting market facts:



This month I updated both The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.  Both contain new tips.  The Marketing Guide has information on how to get better press coverage, and the Secrets book contains more information about preorder strategy.

Download them today for free at Smashwords:

Marketing Guide (how to market any book and build author platform):

The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (learn the secrets of bestselling ebook authors):



In case you missed it, in May I published my second annual metrics survey.

We sought to answer the following questions:

*  Do frequent price changes help authors sell more books?
*  Do longer or shorter book titles sell more books?
*  Do longer or shorter book descriptions sell more books?
*  How do sales develop over time at a retailer, and what factors might spark a breakout?
*  Do longer or shorter books sell better?
*  What's the average word count for the 60 bestselling Smashwords romance books?
*  What does the sales distribution curve look like, and how many books sell well?
*  How many words are the bestselling authors selling for a penny?
*  What are the most common price points for indie ebooks, and what changed since last year?
*  How many more downloads do FREE ebooks get compared to priced ebooks?
*  How have Smashwords sales grown at the Apple iBookstore in three years?
*  How does price impact unit sales volume?
*  What price points yield the greatest overall earnings for authors and publishers?

If you missed the survey, you can download it now at the Smashwords blog:



Today as I write this, three of the top five bestselling titles at the Apple iBooks store are Smashwords titles.  Congrats to Justine Elvira, Melody Grace and Chanda Hahn!  Two of the three took advantage of our new preorder distribution.

Also this week, Apple launched a refreshed Breakout Books promotion.  70% of the featured authors are Smashwords authors.  Here they are:

Under the Romance category, there's GJ Walker Smith, Kirsty Moseley, Abbi Glines, Katie Ashley, Chanda Hahn, Kelly Mooney, Erica Stevens, Quinn Loftis, Shayne Parkinson, Samantha Young, Marquita Valentine, Lisa Plumely, Kahlen Aymes, Shelly Crane, S.C. Stephens and Merry Farmer.

Under Mysteries & Thrillers, there's Claude Bouchard, JD Nixon, Paul Pilkington, E.L. Henry, Maggie Shayne, G.P. Ching, Mike Wells, Claude Bouchard again (yay!), Edie Claire, Dana Donovan, Harrison Drake, John O'Brien, L.L. Bartlett and George Wier.

Under Sci-fi and Fantasy, there's Dionne Lister, Caroline Hansen, Hadleigh O. Charles, Joseph Lallo, Valmore Daniels, TC Southwell, Brian S. Pratt, Jeffrey Poole, Claire Farrell, Lindsay Buroker, Sarah Woodbury, TC Southwell (again, yay!), Joseph Lallo (again, yay!), Randolph Lalonde, Penelope Fletcher, and T.M. Nielsen.

Under the catch-all of "More to Explore," there's Linda Gillard (twice!), Mike Wells (second appearance), William Wayne Dicksion, Shayne Parkinson (second appearance!), Kaitlyn Davis, Sarah Burleton, Kim Richardson, and Alison Pensy.

This Breakout Books promotion is only one of several Apple promotions going on this week that features multiple Smashwords authors.  My thanks to Apple for their amazing support of Smashwords authors!

Learn more here:



In previous Smashwords author alerts I talked about our faster faster faster initiative. This month we announced daily shipments to Barnes & Noble.  We now ship daily, five days per week, to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.  This means faster deliveries and faster pricing and metadata updates.

In the months ahead, you'll see us continue to improve other areas of our business to serve you faster and more reliability.

More about our daily shipments here:



Frequently asked questions:
Smashwords Site Updates:
Smashwords blog (subscribe today via the email option!):
How to publish and distribute ebooks with Smashwords:
Connect with fellow Smashwords readers and authors at Facebook:
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On behalf of all 21 of us here at Smashwords, I thank you for your continued support, trust and partnership.

When you publish and distribute with Smashwords, you're supporting our mission to create new opportunities for you.  We constantly advocate for the best interests of our authors.  The new preorders feature, the distribution to Flipkart, or the many Smashwords authors featured in Apple's merchandising promotions, are but three recent example of how we're always working to connect you with more readers.

Do you know authors not yet on Smashwords? Please invite them to join our 60,000+ strong worldwide community.

Together, we're changing the world of publishing one indie ebook at a time.

Best wishes,


Mark Coker

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