1. Smashwords is a platform that allows authors to distribute their books to retailer and library sales channels, just by using your portal. Why was this devised and what is the overall goal at Smashwords?
Correct, Smashwords is an ebook distributor. Our job is to quickly and efficiently help our authors get their books listed for sale at multiple retailers and library platforms.
The spark for Smashwords came after our founder, Mark Coker, tried to get a traditional publishing contract for a novel he co-authored with his wife. Despite representation from one of New York's top literary agencies, their book was rejected by every major publisher. The experience taught Mark that publishers are unable to take a risk on every book. They’re looking to acquire books they think have the greatest commercial potential. However, despite all the talent the large publishers possess, they don’t know which titles will become the next bestsellers. Most of their titles flop, and in the
As an entrepreneur with his roots deeply embedded in Silicon Valley soil, Mark felt that
2. How many books a month are being uploaded in
Smashwords works with over 100,000 authors around the globe who collectively publish about 340,000 titles at Smashwords. We’re adding thousands of new authors and titles each month.
The high volume of indie ebooks entering the market is having an impact on
As Mark mentioned in his post, the rise of ebook self-publishing - combined with the fact that ebooks don’t go out of print – means that there’s a glut of low-cost, high-quality books out there. This means the competition is increasing dramatically. It’s possible that the supply of ebooks is growing faster than the readership of ebooks, which leads to fewer readers split across more books.
Despite the increased competition for readers, we believe there’s still never been a better time for writers to self-publish. There’s a global market of millions of readers looking for their next great read. Every writer has a chance. The secret is to write a super-awesome “WOW” book that turns readers into evangelical super-fans. A
Despite the deluge of self-published books, our data shows that prices are holding steady. We’re not seeing prices plummet toward free. Instead, we’re seeing the
Indie authors have
Based on our research in 2013 and 2014 (http://blog.smashwords.com/
3. With the market in the current climate, is it more or less important to be "exclusive" and get
Amazon is the only retailer that pushes exclusivity, and we believe they’re doing it to the long term detriment of authors and readers.
Back in the old days of traditional print publishing, your book’s success could be made or broken based on your distribution. If
Distribution has always been key to an author’s success.
Today, thanks to ebook retailing, every major retailer wants to carry self-published books. There are tens of millions of readers at Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, the Smashwords Store and public libraries that you simply cannot reach if you make your books exclusive to Amazon.
As an indie author, your two biggest hurdles are to write super awesome books and to make your books as
4. Why should an
The advantage of using Smashwords becomes especially pronounced once you’re publishing multiple books. Imagine you’ve
Smashwords provides authors access to exclusive tools and distribution channels that can’t be found anywhere else. We’re committed to developing tools and capabilities that help Smashwords authors gain a competitive advantage over other authors. We’ll never stop pushing the envelope to serve our authors.
5. What's the future of Indie Publishing? Any trends you can see on the horizon
When Mark founded Smashwords in 2008, people told him he was nuts for two primary reasons. First, they told him there was no ebook market. In 2008, ebooks only accounted for about one half of 1% of total US consumer book sales. Second, 99.9% of authors (our best guesstimate) aspired to be traditionally published. Self-publishing at the time carried a nasty stigma, which was if you chose to self-publish, then your work must not be good enough for a traditional publisher. You were considered a "failed author" back then if you self-published.
Fast forward to today. The biggest trend we're seeing is that the stigma of self-publishing is quickly evaporating. Self-publishing, once the option of last resort, is now the option of first choice for many authors, including traditionally published authors who are transitioning to
On any day of the week you can look at the top 10 bestsellers at any retailer and you’ll see self-published titles on the lists. Indie authors are hitting the USA Today bestseller list every week, and the NY Times list almost every week. A few years ago this was unheard of. Now it’s becoming commonplace. As writers learn they can self-publish with pride and professionalism, and as they realize the significant economic advantages of self-publishing, we’ll see more authors aspire to become indie authors.
Much of the success of indie authors has been in
Indies shouldn't expect traditional publishers to roll over. We're already seeing traditional publishers compete more aggressively on price. Where it was once uncommon to see a traditionally published ebook priced under $4.99, we think traditional publishers will be forced to drop prices to remain competitive with indie authors.
For a more complete list of trends on the horizon, check out Mark Coker's 2015 publishing industry predictions here: http://blog.smashwords.com/
6. Share with us some success stories
Let's see now. Smashwords
7. What are you working on now?
We're always working on expanding our retail distribution network so we can bring new sales channels to our authors. Coinciding with an expanded retail network, in 2015 our authors can expect to see new distribution and merchandising tools as well. Our authors will be pleased to hear that we're working to streamline our flagship ebook conversion engine, Meatgrinder, to improve its capabilities and make it even easier to use.
I think it's worth it to mention that, by design, Smashwords doesn't sell any services or publishing packages. We don’t employ sales people. We're 100% focused on helping our authors sell books, and we think this perfectly aligns our interests with those of our authors. We've been fortunate to maintain profitability for more than four years running, and you can bet that we're pouring those profits right back into our service to make it better, faster and easier. We're never satisfied, nor are we done innovating.
8. What have you learned
The second most important lesson I've learned is that you can never rest on your laurels. Smashwords has been extremely fortunate to continue growing. Part of that good fortune is because we refuse to take a break. We never stop working to earn and deserve the trust of our authors. Back in 2008, when Mark founded Smashwords, people said he was crazy for starting a business selling books written by authors no one wanted to publish, and selling those books in a format (ebooks) that no one was buying, and above all he was crazy for offering the service for free. Today we've released more than 340,000 titles by over 100,000 authors and independent presses. We're now the world's largest distributor of indie ebooks. INC Magazine named Smashwords to its INC 500 list of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies last year. In 2013 and 2014, Forbes Magazine named Smashwords to its list of America’s Most Promising Companies. Not so many people think Mark is crazy anymore.
Thank you, Jim. I'm hoping a lot of people will tag this and send it on to their friends in the writing business. Having partners like Smashwords helps us as Indie Authors achieve all our dreams and goals. Thank you, and thank Mark for your tireless hours of work, when the naysayers came up loud and strong, and you guys continued on anyway. It's what we all have to do as successful writers in this market. We all should take a page from Mark's book!!! Literally!!
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.