(Metadata Only) Preorders Now Available at Smashwords

Big news from Smashwords founder, Mark Coker:

Ebook preorders are the single most important new tool for indie authors who want to improve the visibility, desirability and sales of their new releases.

Over the last 12 months, ebooks born as preorders at Smashwords earned more than triple the earnings of books that were simply uploaded the day of release.

Ever since we announced preorder distribution two years ago for iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, I’ve been advocating preorders as an essential best practice for all indies.

Yet despite the amazing power of preorders, and despite the copious evidence that preorders can work miracles, most indie authors don’t use them today. Fewer than 10 percent of books released at Smashwords over the last 12 months were released as preorders.

(Read full article)

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Smashwords Defines Indie Author Manifesto

I love Indie Authors indie booksMark Coker of Smashwords has released an Indie Author Manifesto, right in line with my beliefs and those of most writers I work with. See the highlights below or read the entire blog post here.

We indie authors believe all writers are created equal, that all writers are endowed with natural creative potential, and that writers have an unalienable right to exercise, explore and realize their potential through the freedom of publication.

I hold these truths to be self-evident:

  1. I am an indie author
  2. I have experienced the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from self-publishing
  3. I have a right to publish
  4. My creative control is important to me.  I decide when, where and how my writing graduates to become a published book. 
  5. Indie does not mean “alone.”  I choose my partners.
  6. I shall not bow beholden or subservient to any publisher. In my business relationships, I seek partnership, fairness, equity and mutually aligned interests.
  7. We indie author comprise diverse writers unified by a common purpose to advance, empower and celebrate writers everywhere. 
  8. I am a professional.  I take pride in my work, and I strive to improve my craft to better serve my readers, myself, my fellow indie authors and the culture of books
  9. My writing is valuable and important.  This value and importance cannot be measured by commercial sales alone.
  10. I celebrate the success of my fellow indie authors, for their success is mine, and mine theirs. Together we are pioneering a better future for books marked by greater quality, creativity, diversity, choice, availability, affordability and accessibility.

What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comments section.

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Smashwords Predictions for 2014

When Mark Coker speaks about e-publishing, writers listen. Or they should; the Smashwords CEO has done as much for indie authors as anyone. The following are highlights from his annual industry predictions. To see the entire article, visit the Smashwords blog post.

Highlights of Mark’s predictions:

  1. Big publishers lower prices – Until recently, it was rare to see a traditionally published book priced under $4.00.  In 2014 their temporary price promotions will give way to a new normal.  Discounting is a slippery slope.  Once customers are conditioned to expect big-name authors for $3.99 or less, the entire industry will be forced to go there.  The huge pricing advantage once enjoyed by indies will diminish in 2013.
  2. When everyone is pricing sub $4.00, price promotions will become less effective – If readers have an unlimited supply of high-quality books from their favorite authors at under $4.00, it means factors other than price will gain importance.
  3. Ebook growth slows – After a decade of exponential growth in ebooks with indies partying like it was 1999, growth is slowing. […] A normal cyclical shakeout is coming.
  4. Competition increases dramatically – With hundreds of thousands of new books published annually, and with retailer catalogs swelling to carry millions of titles, it may come across as trite for me to predict that completion will increase in 2014 for indies.
  5. Ebook sales, measured in dollar volume, will decrease in 2014 – Yikes.  I said it.  The nascent ebook market is likely to experience its first annual downturn in sales as measured in dollar volume.  […]  Global sales in developing countries remain one potential bright spot that could mitigate any sales contraction.
  6. Ebook unit market share will increase – Ebook consumption, measured in unit sales and downloads, and measured in words read digitally, will increase in 2014.
  7. A larger wave of big-name authors will defect to indieville – Multiple market forces will conspire to cause a large number of traditionally published authors to turn their backs on big publishers.
  8. It’s all about the writing – It doesn’t matter if you’re publishing a cookbook, romance novel, gardening how-to, memoir or political treatise.  Your job as the indie author is to write that super-fabulous book.
  9. All authors become indie authors – The best writers will have the option to publish independently AND traditionally, or do one or the other.
  10. Subscription ebook services will change the game – If the ebook subscription services – the most notable of which are Scribd and Oyster – can make their business models work, then they’ll drive a game changing shift in how readers value and consume books. […] Readers will be relieved of the cognitive load of having to decide if a given book is worth the purchase price.  Instead, they’ll surf and sample books with minimal friction, as if every book is free.
  11. Traditional publishers will reevaluate their approach to self-publishing – The vanity approach to self-publishing, as witnessed by Pearson/Penguin’s acquisition of Author Solutions (operates AuthorHouse, iUniverse, BookTango, Trafford, Xlibris, Palibrio, others…), has shown itself to be a boondoggle that harmed the brands of all traditional publishers.  […]  Their business model is expensive at best, and unethical at worst.  It’s about selling $15,000 publishing packages to authors who will never earn the money back.
  12. Platform is king – Platform is your ability to reach readers.  Authors who can build, maintain and leverage their platforms will have a significant competitive advantage over those who cannot.
  13. Multi-author collaborations will become more common – Authors are collaborating with fellow authors in their same genre or category on box set compilations of existing and original content.  These collaborations are often competitively priced and offer readers the opportunity to discover multiple new authors in a single book.
  14. Production takes on increased importance in 2014 – Organize your time to spend more time writing and less time on everything else.

Great predictions and advice. One of my questions not addressed above: what will happen to Barnes & Noble and its Nook? Feels like they’ve been sinking fast over the past two years. What are your thoughts about this list or 2014 in general?

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Smashwords 1st Update Since 2008

Smashwords 2013We’ve known and loved them since 2008. By internet standards, Smashwords was way overdue for a facelift. But this is more than a new look; this is welcome additions, hundreds of changes also behind the scenes to improve the indie author experience.

Mark Coker explains the highlights below.

  • The Smashwords home page – We doubled the number of books listed on the Smashwords home page from ten to 20, added 27 new book category filters to increase discoverability, added live stats for the number of books published and the number of free books, and organized the navigation elements around logical categories.
  • Responsive design – We adopted what’s called a “responsive design,” which among web designer circles refers to a design approach that optimizes the user’s experience across different browsers, devices and screen sizes.  View the site on your desktop computer and then resize your browser to see how every page’s content resizes and reorients as you make the width narrower or wider.
  • Dramatically enhanced mobile support – Our previous mobile version of the site was, to put it kindly, limited.  The new mobile experience – whether you’re accessing the site from a smart phone or tablet – is darn near beautiful.  Our improved mobile support is enabled by our responsive design.  It preserves user access to nearly all the same features you’d expect from a large browser on a desktop computer, making it easy for mobile users to browse and discover books without pining for a larger screen…. (Click here to continue reading the highlights.)

Indie authors have primarily loved Smashwords, except when complaining during the formatting lessons of the Style Guide. Please support them with a visit. And let us know your thoughts on Smashwords here in the comments section.

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Smashwords Creates Interviews for Authors

Smashwords Interviews with AuthorsSmashwords just added an author interview feature to their platform. Now every author can have a detailed questionnaire on their author profile page at the ebook retailer. You can use their questions or come up with your own. It’s a great way for readers to learn more about you. It’s fun, I just did one here.

Read the entire announcement on the Smashwords blog or the how-to’s below:

Creating an interview is fun and easy.  Here’s how to get started:

  1. Sign in to your account, click to the Account tab, and then you’ll see the link for Create or edit your interview. Study the instructions for tips, and then jump in by clicking Proceed to Your Interview! at the bottom of the page.
  2. We’ll present you with a series of questions to get your creative juices flowing.  Feel free to edit our questions, or create your own.  Make your interview unique!  Show off your personality and your writing.
  3. Click Save and Show Next Question to answer the next question
  4. When you’re done, click Preview and Publish. From this page, you can use the up/down arrow to rearrange the order of the questions.  You can also click to edit any question or answer.
  5. Promote your interview! Share it on social media, and encourage your fans to share it too.

The same picture you use for your author profile will appear on your Smashwords Interview page.

Good idea? Definitely something Amazon hasn’t done yet. What do you think?

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