All updates by Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, unless otherwise noted
November 16, 2020 - Our Content Delivery Network ("CDN"), which hosts copies of the cover images around the globe (for speedier delivery) seems to be having some issues this evening. We've contacted them to find out what's up. Sorry for the inconvenience (and broken images!) in the meantime. -BK Update Nov. 17: Things appear back to normal.
October 19, 2020 - The holidays are coming, so if you're planning a release for between November 27 and January 1, please remember that retailers request earlier-than-usual deliveries of your manuscripts and metadata. Apple Books, for example, is this holiday season asking authors, publishers and distributors to deliver final files and updates two weeeks in advance of the release. If you're planning your release during this period, here's how to make life easier on yourself and boost your sales: 1. Establish the book today as a preorder listing. Books that start off as preorders sell significantly more copies than those that don't. 2. If the final manuscript isn't ready, no problem; establish your preorder listing as an assetless preorder (no cover or manuscript required until two weeks before the release date). Happy pre-holidays, everyone!
October 15, 2020 - As reported in the news, Barnes & Noble has experienced a widespread system outage since October 10th due to a cyberattack. Because of this, Smashwords is currently unable to deliver any new ebooks, updates, or take-down requests, nor collect sales data for our Daily Sales reporting system. Barnes & Noble is working to restore their systems as soon as possible. We'll bring everything up to date once their systems are back up and running.
October 8, 2020 - Things are rocking at OverDrive, the world's largest library ebook platform. Sales for September were up just over 200% compared to the same month a year ago. While it's dangerous to read too much into any single month's sales, the overall trajectory for OverDrive has been up, aided by their move late last year to merge self-published titles into their main catalog. This made Smashwords ebooks more discoverable to acquisition managers at libraries. Smashwords was the first to open OverDrive to indie authors six years ago. If you're not currently distributed to OverDrive, click over to your Dashboard's Channel Manager to distribute there. You can even give your books custom pricing for libraries by clicking over to the Pricing Manager tool in your Dashboard. For ideas on how to market your ebooks to libraries, check out Episode 6 of the Smart Author Podcast, Marketing to Libraries.
July 28, 2020 - Merchandising reminder for authors who do BookBub promotions. If you're one of the many authors with an upcoming BookBub promotion, we want to know about it! Each week, Smashwords makes merchandising recommendations to the merchandising managers at the top retailers. To tell us about your upcoming BookBub, please complete this form as soon as you get confirmation of your upcoming slot: https://bit.ly/SWmerch
July 22, 2020 - Author Day Videos Now Available! - Back in April, Smashwords held a one-day Author Day seminar over Zoom. Smashwords marketing director Jim Azevedo presented four power-packed sessions. Whether you're new to indie publishing or an expert, you're sure to learn fresh ideas to take your publishing to the next level. These sessions are now available for your viewing pleasure over at https://www.smashwords.com/authorday Enjoy!
July 16, 2020 - Smashwords now supports two-factor authentication! Authors and publishers are encouraged to take advantage of this new feature which dramatically improves your account security. Two-factor authentication (aka 2FA) prevents other persons from accessing your Smashwords account, even if they've stolen your password. You'll find the feature under the new "Account Security" section on your Account page. Alternatively, here's a direct link.
June 18, 2020 - Enrollment is now open for the July Summer/Winter Sale, our largest sale of the year. This is our 12th annual July Summer/Winter Sale! You'll find the enrollment link on the home page, or click here.
June 17, 2020 - Over at the Smashwords Blog, I've got a new post up titled, "Post-Pandemic Publishing for Indie Authors," where I examine the near and long term impacts the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the publishing prospects for indie authors. Learn how to navigate the pandemic and come our stronger than ever. Stay safe everyone!
May 13, 2020 - We're sending out "security alert" emails to a small subset of Smashwords members today for whom we detected unusual account login attempts. The emails will include the date and country-level geographic location of the device that attempted the login to help users determine if the login attempt was legit or not. See the March 23 update below for more on this. A separate email will go out to all registered Smashwords users later this week with a password security tips. Bottom line: NEVER use a password at Smashwords that you previously used at another website.
April 28, 2020 - The Smashwords site has been getting hit hard with traffic, not just from the ongoing Authors Give Back sale, but also from cybercriminals who continue to attempt to log in to random accounts using email address/password combinations stolen elsewhere from major security breaches at other sites. Never use the same password at Smashwords that you use somewhere else. If you visit the site and you see the kittens screen, please try back in a few minutes. Please also see the March 23 update below for more information. Although we continue to take various countermeasures that I won't share here, the one sure-fire way you can protect your account is to use a unique password at Smashwords (and every other Internet account you have) that you've NEVER used anywhere else. To change your password at Smashwords, log out, then click the "forgot password" option which will allow you to reset it.
April 24, 2020 - Smashwords is now processing a special payment. Not only will it include B&N sales from February, it'll also include early payments for March from B&N & Scribd. Full details in a special author alert which is now flowing out to all Smashwords authors and publishers. The email also includes an update on the performance of our top sales channels. You won't want to miss it. If you're normally paid via PayPal, you should receive the money tonight. If by check, those will mail out starting early next week. Thank you Smashwords authors, publishers and readers, and have a great weekend!
April 23, 2020 - Great news on the Barnes & Noble front. They plan to issue a full payment to Smashwords on Monday, and return to our regular payment schedule. Thank you to everyone at Barnes & Noble for your consideration and for your advocacy for indie authors. We will issue a special payment round to make authors whole.
April 21, 2020 - Bibliotheca, one of our smallest library partners, today informed us that all their publishing partners will be placed on net 60 day terms rather than the current net 30. Although the impact to Smashwords authors is unlikely to be felt (Bibliotheca doesn't sell much), I consider such payment delays as not cool. On the heels of Barnes & Noble, we're now looking at two sales outlets that intend to string out author and publisher payments while they continue to collect money from customers. Here at Smashwords, we consider it our sacred duty to pay you for your sales, and to pay you quickly. If you sell a book in the Smashwords on the last day of this month, we'll be paying you for it in less than a month. It's your money not ours.
April 20, 2020 - Barnes & Noble is having cash flow issues due to Covid-19, and delaying payments to suppliers. This means that this month's round of payments, which we are processing today, will *not* include February sales at Barnes & Noble. Per our Terms of Service, we pay our authors and publishers based on what the retailers pay us. Other Smashwords retailers and library partners are current with their obligations, which means this only affects your B&N portion of accrued earnings. In the next couple days I'll send an email update to all Smashwords authors and publishers because not everyone follows these Site Updates. Stay tuned, and stay safe!
April 16, 2020 - Smashwords is extending the Authors Give Back sale until May 31! If you're currently enrolled in the sale, you'll receive an email within the next 24 hours asking if you want to participate in the extended sale. The email includes a one-click button that will allow you to re-enroll your books in the promotion with your current enrollment settings (same books, same discount levels). We didn't make re-enrollment automatic because you joined the sale with the original expectation it would end on April 20, so we're asking your permission to include you in the extended sale! If your books are not currently enrolled in the sale, now's a great time to do so. This has been an unusually popular sale, largely thanks to the many readers out there that have a greater-than-ever need to access high-quality affordable indie ebooks. Thank you Smashwords authors and publishers for improving the lives of readers through the power of your written words! Enroll now, or modify your existing enrollment options here at the enrollment page (also accessible from the home page). Following April 20, we will again promote the sale to over one million Smashwords customers.
April 15, 2020 - If you write YA sci-fi or fantasy, this update is for you. In one week, Smashwords will change the "YA >> Sci-fi & fantasy" category option's label to simply "YA >> Sci-fi." This will improve discoverability, prevent accidental miscategorization, and help readers find the right books whether they're browsing at the Smashwords Store or at one of our retail or library partners. If your book's themes truly straddle both sci-fi and fantasy, please take a moment to check that you've also selected the YA Fantasy category for your book. The Smashwords category selector tool you used when publishing your book allows authors to choose up to two categories . If you write YA Fantasy, and your book is currently categorized as "YA >> Sci-fi & fantasy", please visit your Dashboard, click Settings, and then change the categorization to YA Fantasy. We ran automated scans to detect books that we suspect have a high probabilility of being improperly categorized as YA Sci-fi after we make the change to decouple sci-fi from fantasy. These authors will receive an alert later today that prompts them to double check their categorization and make any adjustments the author deems necessary. Stay safe everyone!
March 23, 2020 - Over the weekend we observed thousands of unusual login attempts with random email address/password combos. Numerous people also received signup confirmation emails for signups they themselves did not try to initiate (note that a Smashwords account can not be created until the person creating it clicks the account activation confirmation we send). We believe this was likely an attempt by cybercriminals to test email address/password combinations that were previously stolen from other services, under the assumption that it's common (BUT A VERY BAD IDEA!!!) for people use the same email/password combo to log in to multiple different sites. When they gain access to an existing account, they try to change the payment settings (like provide a different paypal payment address) so they can divert author payments. We witnessed similar activivity back in December 2017 and January 2018, for which we instituted new security precautions such as automatic emails to you whenever your payee information is modified. Per section 8b of the Smashwords Terms of Service, we strongly advise all authors and customers to ensure that the email/password combination they use to create and log into their Smashwords account is not the same combination they use to sign into any other site. As a useful excercise for all internet users, you can visit the legit data security site, HaveIbeenpwned, and do a search on your various email addresses to see which online accounts have have been compromised. Bottom line, ALWAYS use a unique email/password combination for every site you access on the Internet. If you're an author or publisher and you're concerned you may have missed important email alerts from Smashwords, we advise you to confirm that your Payment Settings page (pay special attention to the paypal payee address) have not changed, and please also confirm that the password you use for Smashwords is the not the same you use anywhere else. Stay safe!
March 20, 2020 - Smashwords today announced two initiatives to help readers and authors cope with the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic. Both initiatives boil down to the power of books. For authors and publishers who want to make their books more accessible and affordable to the readers who need them, we launched the Authors Give Back sale which runs from today through April 20. Enroll your books here, or view the sale catalog here. To assist the continuing education needs of our authors and publishers, we announced our first-ever Smashwords Author Education Day, scheduled for April 18. This free online event offers four one-hour e-publishing workshops presented live by our very own Jim Azevedo. Many Smashwords authors know Jim from his dozens of workshops at writers conferences around the globe. Advance registration is required for this free online event. To view the full schedule and register, visit our Author Education Day event page. For more on both of today's announcements, see the Smashwords blog announcement.
March 5, 2020 - With over 1,500 "favorites" from customers of the Smashwords store, and tens of thousands of 5-star ratings and reviews of her books at Smashwords retailers, Nicky Charles is one of the most popular authors at Smashwords. Earlier this week, after reading my end of year predictions post, 2020 Publishing Predictions: House of Indie on Fire, Nicky was inspired to write an allegory titled, The Bakers and The Pot of Gold. It blew me away. I think it'll touch anyone who loves books and the authors who create them. Please give it a read and share with everyone you think needs to see it. Read it now at the Smashwords Blog. Thanks Nicky!
February 26, 2020 - Items: 1. On Valentines Day, I did my first public presentation of our new patent-pending Smashwords Presales feature at the San Francisco Writers Conference. Today, I shared the full presentation at the Smashwords Blog, so check it out here! Learn how to reach more readers with ebook preorders and presales. 2. Enrollment is now open for the 11th annual Smashwords Read an Ebook Week Sale! Authors and publishers: Click here to enroll now. You'll also find a link on the Smashwords home page. The sale runs for one week only, March 1-7. The sale will be promoted at the top of the Smashwords home page, and via email to over 1 million Smashwords customers. Have fun!
February 12, 2020 - I'm interviewed by Len Epp on the Frontmatter Podcast. Listen to it now on your web browser here. We discuss the history of Smashwords; the indie author movement; Amazon's algorithms, sponsored ads and business model; the future of ebook retailers; and how presales hold the promise of helping authors overcome the perils of having their reader relationships mediated by social media platforms and retailers. A good interview starts with a prepared and talented interviewer, and Len here demonstrates he's one of the best. It was a wide ranging interview that might help you chart a more profitable destiny for your indie publishing. Enjoy!
January 9, 2020 - Items. 1. Smashwords End of Year Sale recap. Thanks to the authors, publishers and readers that participated in our End of Year Sale. We had a record number of participating authors, publishers, and books, and total book sales surpassed sales from the same sale period a year ago. 2. Just before the start of the new year, Smashwords received notification from the US Patent and Trademark Office that the USPTO had granted Smashwords' November 20 request for prioritized examination, and have assigned a patent examiner to our case. The USPTO's decision to fast track their review does not reflect any judgement of the merits of our patent claims. It simply means that our patent examination process will begin much earlier, which means our application may be accepted or rejected earlier. To learn more about our patent filing, see the Smashwords Presales launch announcement.
December 31, 2019 - I trust everyone is enjoying a safe and happy New Year holiday. My annual end of year posts are now up at the blog. Here are links to each: Smashwords Year in Review and 2020 Preview | 2020 Publishing Predictions: House of Indie on Fire
December 9, 2019 - Enrollment is now open for our 3rd annual Smashwords End of Year Sale. The enrollment form is linked on the Smashwords home page, or you can click here to enroll now.
December 3, 2019 - Introducing Smashwords Presales, our new patent-pending book launch tool. Effective immediately, Smashwords authors and publishers with books on preorder can create public and private presales. Unlike preorders, which act as product reservations, presales enable your readers to purchase and read your new release before the general public. Offer presale access to your private newsletter subscribers and watch your superfans go wild. But that's not all. We also offer customers the ability to grant Smashwords permission to share their email address with you, the author/publisher so they can be subscribed to your private newsletter. This email capture feature is only available while the book is on presale. Check out the full reveal at the Smashwords Blog. We look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions as work to enhance this exciting new first-of-its-kind tool!
October 29, 2019 - Items. 1. The holidays are coming! If you're planning a book release around the upcoming holidays, please plan to upload your book to us earlier than normal to accomodate slower processing times at the retailers. In fact, if you're planning to release a book anytime over the next couple months, now would be a great time to establish your book's preorder listing as an assetless preorder, and then rather than uploading your final manuscript 10 days in advance of the release date as we normally recommend, aim for at least two weeks. This is in line with Apple's recommendation that for all new releases planned for December 20 through January 3, authors should deliver at least two weeks in advance of their release date. Now would also be a great time to check your Smashwords Dashboard to confirm all your books are Premium Catalog-approved. Contact our support team if you need help on how to repair any outstanding issues or tickets that might slow or prevent your book's listing at retailers. 2. Another tease buried in plain sight. :) An eagle-eyed long-time Smashwords author contacted me last week to note that it seems like things have been unusually quiet here on the Site Updates page for quite a while. That's true for this page, thought things have been anything but quiet behind the scenes! The primarily reason for my muted commentary here is that I've been leading a major skunkworks project here at Smashwords that has consumed most of my attention the last nine months. You'll find the tease about this project over at https://smashwords.com/next, the teasy text of which, hint hint, was updated earlier today to reflect a major milestone that happened last week on the path toward introducing what might possibly be our most consequential book marketing tool ever. I can't wait to share more with the Smashwords community as soon as we launch. I'm expecting launch will be before end of the year! Stay tuned.
July 27, 2019 - Items. 1. If you write romance, and you have books currently categorized as Fiction: Romance: Adult, please change the categorization. Although that classification made sense in years past, the new categorization schemes at retailers and libraries can no longer make good use of it. Authors using this old categorization should probably want to update the categorization to either fiction: romance: contemporary or something more specific. 2. Starting within the next couple days, books that are categorized as Nonfiction: Sex & relationships: Sex Guides & how-tos will require certification for the presence or lack thereof of taboo themes, similar to how we require erotic romance and erotica to be certified (click here to view detailed information on the certifications of erotic content). The upside of this change is that many of these books (those without themes such as incest, bestiality, rape) will receive broader distribution to retailers and libraries. 3. Scribd is preparing to open up their subscription service to more erotica (yay!), whereas in the past Scribd was largely inaccessible to erotica authors. If you write erotica, please ensure your books are properly certified. Books in categories that require certification (erotic romance, erotica, sex guides) that remain uncertified won't ship to Scribd. 4. Easter egg, almost. Last week at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York, we unveiled this tease. That's all we can say for now, but stay tuned!
March 27, 2019 - As an author, your book is unique in the world. Are books subject to commoditization? The mere thought sends chills down the spine of indie authors. In my latest column for Publishers Weekly, I tackle this question and provide tips on how indie ebook authors can preserve the value of their unique intellectual property. Read now: How to Fight the Commoditization of Books
March 1, 2019 - Reminder for authors, publishers and readers: Our 10th annual Read an Ebook Week sale kicks off this Sunday! Authors/publishers: Enroll now at https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos. We're also sending out a reminder email tonight. Readers: Over 15,000 books are already enrolled with thousands more expected before the sale starts.
February 27, 2019 - Smashwords today formally announced Global Coupons, a new tool in your Dashboard's Coupon Manager that allows authors and publishers to generate a single coupon code that works across multiple books. We actually released this new feature two weeks ago, but didn't announce it because we wanted to give authors and publishers a chance to play with it. Already, over 13,000 titles are using the new tool! Full details at the Smashwords Blog. Please tell a friend!
February 21, 2019 - Enrollment is now open for the 10th Annual Smashwords Read an Ebook Sale. The sale starts Sunday, March 3 and runs through Saturday, March 9. You'll find the enrollment link on the home page, or click here. The official event page for Read an Ebook Week is at https://smashwords.com/ebookweek where you'll find sharable buttons, badges and banners to assist your celebration and promotion. The kickoff announcement is at the Smashwords Blog. Once the sale launches, it'll be promoted to over one million customers of the Smashwords Store, so be sure to enroll your books early and prepare your marketing to start on March 3. Have fun!
February 20, 2019 - The shelves were down from the home page for a brief time today. Now repaired. Apologies to customers and authors!
January 15, 2019 - We processed a large Library Direct order for Califa's ENKI in which they purchased over 5,000 unique titles from Smashwords authors and publishers in one fell swoop. ENKI manages ebook procurement and ebook checkout systems for a network of over 100 public libraries, mostly in California. Unlike sales through our standard library channels that earn 45% list, sales via Library Direct earn authors and publishers a full 70% list. To make your books eligible for purchase via ENKI, make sure all your books are opted in to the Library Direct channel in your Dashboard's channel manager. Also as a reminder, you can set custom library pricing (higher or lower) from your Dashboard's Pricing Manager tool.
January 2, 2019. Our two end of year posts are up! 1. Smashwords 2018 year in review and 2019 preview. 2. 2019 publishing predictions: the butterflies will flap their wings.
January 19, 2019 - Today on episode 14 of the Smart Author podcast, social media strategies for authors. More over at the Smashwords blog, or visit the Smart Author home page for links to all the listening options or to access the full transcript.
January 12, 2019 - Learn 25 book promotion tips, today in part four of my six-part audio serialization of the forthcoming 2018 Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. Listen at Apple Podcasts or visit the Smart Author home page for links to different listening options. You'll also find links at the Smashwords Blog.
January 8, 2019 - The security team here at Smashwords has detected multiple attempts by cybercriminals attempting to log in to Smashwords author accounts using stolen email/password combinations. (To be clear, Smashwords has not been hacked.) We care about your security and we want you to take these simple steps to protect your account. If you're using the same password at Smashwords that you've been using elsewhere, you're potentially vulnerable. You should update your Smashwords password today. Use the "Forgot Your Password?" option to do so. Out of an abundance of caution, we have logged all users out; please use the sign-in form to log back in. It is now protected by a "CAPTCHA" (which should not be visible to most users).
January 6, 2019 - Learn 17 autopilot marketing tips to leverage your book to sell more books, build your social media following and encourge viral word of mouth. This is the subject of episode 12 of the Smart Author podcast, part 3 in my 6 part marketing series. Subscribe at Apple Podcasts or visit the Smart Author hub page for links to where you can find it. Also at the Smashwords blog.