2008 Smashwords Site Updates

All updates by Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, unless otherwise noted

December 22, 2008 - Authors, read the new Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for actionable tips on how to maximize the promotion of your Smashwords book.

December 22, 2008 - Vote on your favorite Smashwords ad at the Smashwords blog.

December 16, 2008 - We introduced a coupon generator today! Authors can now generate promotional coupon codes to share on web sites, blogs, social networks and fan email lists. Click Dashboard for details, or read the press release in the press room.

December 2, 2008 - Authors: Make sure you've provided us your mailing address on your Payee Page so we can mail you your checks.

December 1, 2008 - Authors: we're working out a kink in the earnings tracking system. If you received a check in the September/October timeframe for your sales, that amount may not be reflected in your Dashboard. We're working to fix this asap. Fixed December 2.

November 26, 2008 - Smashwords now integrates with the Stanza ereader and is optimized for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Check out the Smashwords blog for more details.

November 14, 2008 - We updated the Smashwords Style Guide, essential reading for all prospective Smashwords authors.

October 30, 2008 - We've added beta support for .epub and .lrf (for Sony Reader) file formats! Please test these formats for bugs and send us your feedback! Authors, you can manually enable these formats from your Dashboard by clicking on Settings, checking the appropriate check boxes under "ebook Formats" and then clicking "Save."

October 28, 2008 - Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet published an in depth Q&A interview with Mark Coker of Smashwords.

October 12, 2008 - Authors, check out the new tagging feature. Make your your books are tagged!

August 25, 2008 - We're adding new features and functionality every day, driven by your feedback. If you have ideas on how Smashwords can better address the needs of readers, authors and publishers, drop us a note by clicking on the "?" question mark button at the top of any page.

August 19, 2008 - Smashwords Terms of Service updated with new section to further clarify Smashwords' strict anti-spam policy which prohibits authors from promoting their works via spam emails.

June 27, 2008 - Support for large quantity orders added today. Great for book clubs, schools, or as way to show that special Smashwords author that you really love them!

May 30, 2008 - Reminder for Smashwords authors and readers: Don't forget to add your personal bio so others can learn more about your interests and inspirations. Just visit "Account" and choose edit profile, or click here.

May 19, 2008 - See Joe Wikert's Q&A interview with Mark Coker

May 18, 2008 - See the Smashwords press room for the latest buzz. Bloggers, if you have written about Smashwords let us know so we can link to you.

May 17, 2008 - An updated Smashwords Style Guide is available. Welcome to our new members in Canada, the U.K. India, Australia and other points around the globe!

May 13, 2008 - Authors, if you haven't seen it, check out the Smashwords Style Guide for tips on how to format your masterpiece for the best possible conversion. Over the last week, it's been interesting to see the myriad ways authors format their books. If your book still isn't converting correctly, email Mark your source file so he can help you diagnose the problem. We'll have an updated version of the Smashwords Style Guide in the next few days, based on what early authors have helped us learn.

May 6, 2008 - Smashwords goes live!:

Thanks to everyone who contributed their generous time and ideas to make the private beta test a success. Today, May 6, marks the start of our public beta.




PLEASE NOTE: The instructions below were provided to early beta testers when Smashwords first launched in May 2008. Since we're constantly introducing and testing new features every week, we're leaving the instructions below because we welcome and encourage your feedback, especially when you help us discover bugs!



Smashwords Beta Tester Instructions

1. We appreciate you taking the time to visit Smashwords, publish your books and browse our titles. We're looking for honest, critical feedback related to usability, interface flow, features and function. Your feedback will help drive the next phase of our development. 

2. At the top of every page of the site, there's a message link where you can log your thoughts and experiences for each page. If you like how something works, log it. If you have suggestions for how we can make a certain page, function or process more intuitive, log it. Ideas for cool features? Log 'em. This information goes directly to our founder Mark Coker and our Chief Technology Officer, Bill Kendrick. Or, if you'd prefer to log all your comments in a single Word file or email, you can send them to Mark at first initial second initial at smashwords.com.

3. Smashwords is an online service. There is no software to download,so rest assured if you discover any bugs they will not harm your computer.

4. During the beta testing period, the site is fully functional so you can sample, browse and buy books, or if you're an author you can publish your works

5. File conversions: Smashwords allows an author to upload a single Microsoft Word file that we then automatically convert into multiple DRM-free ebook formats. These file conversions don't always perfectly preserve the author's original formatting. For this reason, books with charts, graphs and images should be formatted simply, such as left-justified, and of course a picture book will never translate into pure text. As a beta tester, we encourage you to experiment and share your tips and tricks. For tips on how to prep your manuscripts for conversion, please read The Smashwords Style Guide.

9. Privacy: You're in complete control over how your information is presented on the site. We'll never sell or rent your contact information to third parties. Want to publish under a pen name? No problem.

More Background on Smashwords

We're excited about the opportunity digital books present to the world's readers and aspiring authors. For centuries, books have remained the gold standard for information dissemination, knowledge sharing and story telling. Books have shaped the course of mankind. 

But traditional paper-based book publishing has its limitations - book printing and publishing is expensive, so book publishers are unable to publish all written works, and even if they could publish all written works, the vast majority of literate people in the world would not be able to afford them. Books are simply too expensive when you consider that 86% of the world's population earns a per capita annual income of less than $10,000 (click for source) versus a $30,000-$50,000 per capita income level typical in the US and most European countries. Over one billion of the world's roughly 6.5 billion inhabitants subsist on less than $1 a day. Paper books are simply too expensive for most of the world.

By moving books into the digital realm, we can start to change the economics of book publishing, while at the same time making great independent books available to people of all economic backgrounds from around the world. 

Smashwords returns 85% of net proceeds from the sale of each book back to the author or publisher. This means that an author who might otherwise earn a per unit royalty of 40 cents by publishing a $7.95 mass market paperback can make three times as much per unit by selling the ebook on Smashwords for $2.00 (a 75% lower cost). Smashwords economics creates a virtuous cycle: By pricing books low, Smashwords authors will expand the potential audience for their books while at the same time increasing their per-unit margins and overall profits.

We're considering premium membership levels which might offer even better margins for authors. Basic membership will always be free.

Of course, some authors will price their books at ZERO, and this is fine too. We recognize that many authors write because they have a story to tell, information to share or ideas to communicate, and these noble desires may trump the motive for financial gain. If you're a professional writer and derive your income from writing, then Smashwords is the place for you too because our goal is to help you reach your audience.

Thank you again for your kind participation in this beta! We look forward to working with you.

Best wishes,

Mark Coker
Founder and CEO
Smashwords, Inc.
15951 Los Gatos Blvd., Ste 16
Los Gatos, CA 95032
first initial second initial at smashwords .com