Smashwords Updates November 2012

smashwords logoMark Coker and Smashwords have long been the best thing going for Indie authors even if you don’t sell a ton of books directly through them. Why? Because they distribute to just about everywhere possible (except Amazon) plus they also educate and keep you informed of all the major developments.

The following text is written by Mark Coker, not by me, as the juicy tidbits from the Smashwords email newsletter that just came out:

1. Apple iBookstore expands to 50 countries; B&N enters U.K. market–Apple last week added 18 new countries, which means they now operate iBookstores in 50 countries. I blogged about Apple’s news here: http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/10/apple-ibookstore-expands-global-reach.html The new countries include Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, and New Zealand. Over 122,000 Smashwords ebooks participated in the launch on day one

Mark Coker2. View the slides for my 5-hour ebook workshop–In late September, I presented an intensive 5-hour e-publishing workshop in Sacramento sponsored by the California Writers Club. I uploaded the slide deck to Slideshare this week for your viewing pleasure. View or download it here: http://www.slideshare.net/Smashwords/mark-cokers-ebook-self-publishing-workshop Slideshare has a cool embed function, so if you like it, feel free to embed it in your blog and share with fellow writers. The workshop was divided into multiple sections, covering everything from beginner to advanced topics.

3. What’s new at Smashwords, plus a look ahead–Thanks to the tremendous effort of our authors and retail partners, 2012 is already another record year for us and our authors. We just celebrated our 25th consecutive month of profitability, and we’re continuing to invest the profits back into the business so we can serve you better. Smashwords is now 19 staffers strong. In recent months, we’ve beefed up our vetting team so we can provide you faster Premium Catalog approvals. We expanded our service team to provide you faster answers to your questions sent in over our “Comments/questions” support form. We’ve also expanded our engineering team with new developers focused on making our systems and infrastructure faster, more scalable, more reliable, and more feature-rich. We’re working to build a platform that will one day support the release of one million books a year (and once we approach that goal, we’ll raise it).

4. Q3 earnings are out–We processed record Q3 earnings payments this week. If you’re configured to be paid via PayPal, and you were owed more than $10.00 as of the last day of Q3 (September 30), then you should have received an alert from PayPal. If you’re configured for paper check payments, you’ll receive it soon if you haven’t already.

R.L. Mathewson5. R.L. Mathewson today hit #1 in the US, Australia, U.K. and Canada iBookstores–As I write this, the #1 book at Apple’s US, Australian, UK and Canada iBookstores is Checkmate, published by R.L. Mathewson, a Smashwords author. The book is priced at $2.99. She uploaded this new contemporary romance to Smashwords on October 29, just three days ago. We delivered it to Apple in under 24 hours. Next, our merchandising friends at Apple sprinkled a little pixie dust, and R.L.’s fans took from there. It’s been at #1 almost all day, which is a great place to be heading into the weekend, because weekend sales are always stronger (Sunday is the strongest day of the week). R.L. tells me she didn’t do any marketing. She announced the upcoming release to her fans, then released it earlier than expected and it took off. These breakouts don’t happen entirely by accident. Behind every breakout is an author who’s working their butt off to write great books, and their readers are rewarding them with enthusiastic word of mouth and great reviews. This is her ninth title at Smashwords. With each book, she builds a larger fan base. She writes full length. She writes series. We first interviewed R.L. a few months ago at http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/07/author-r-l-mathewson-on-some-of-secrets.html and then about a week later, Apple named her a “Breakout Author” and gave her some heavy promotion. We covered that here: http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/07/apple-ibookstore-names-rl-mathewson.html

6. Following the eyeballs – Why indie authors are the future of publishing–Above, I mentioned how ebooks will probably represent 30% or more of the US book market this year, with print around 70%. Much if not most of the 70% of those print sales are happening at brick and mortar bookstores, a distribution channel most indies cannot access. As ebooks as a percentage of the market increase, print will become less important, thereby diminishing the value of traditional print distribution. Furthermore, the ebook market share stats are based on dollar sales. Because ebooks are priced dramatically lower than print books, it means the dollar-based data understates what’s actually happening on the unit sales front. I don’t think anyone in the publishing industry is talking about this right now. If the same data was calculated based on unit market share, where units equal the number of paid + free books that are actually read, it’s quite possible that 2012 will be the year in which more ebooks are read than print books. If not this year, certainly we’ll see it tip over in 2013. Follow the eyeballs. Unit share is a leading indicator for where this market is headed. Unit volume is the strongest measure of which authors are building the largest platforms (readers, and ability to reach those readers) the fastest. Here, indie ebook authors have a significant advantage over traditionally published authors. Put another way, traditionally published authors are increasingly *disadvanged* when they must compete against indies.

7. Preparing for a record Christmas holiday–This coming Christmas/New Year holiday period is set to become another record-breaker for our authors, so it’s important you get your new and existing titles distributed to stores in advance of the holiday rush. Most of our retailers are operating under compressed holiday schedules. To ensure you have time to get your book into stores in advance of the Christmas rush, please aim to upload new titles by or before December 2 to allow time to achieve Premium Catalog approval and delivery to bookstores. As I mentioned in the October 5 Site Update at https://www.smashwords.com/about/beta Apple, for example, is recommending we deliver new books no later than December 7. Of course, we and our retailers will do everything possible to get the stragglers in as well, but please plan ahead to reduce the stress all around.

8. Will there be a December surprise from Amazon?--No, I’m not talking about full distribution of Smashwords titles to Amazon, though I remain hopeful that one day we and Amazon will consummate a proper distribution relationship. We could benefit Amazon customers and Smashwords authors by working as partners. We treat each of our retailers as partners, and we’re committed to their success. It’s fair to say we and Amazon have had a somewhat contentious relationship since that fateful day in early December, 2011, when three weeks before Christmas, they launched their KDP-Select program. KDP-Select is an opt-in program that requires authors to make their book exclusive to Amazon for three months at a time. It was a direct assault against our retail partners, and as such I considered it a direct assault against Smashwords. My conviction has only grown stronger since then. Immediately after their announcement, I blogged my opposition to the program at http://blog.smashwords.com/2011/12/amazon-shows-predatory-spots-with-kdp.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker/amazon-ebooks-kdp-select_b_1139260.html

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