2009 Smashwords Site Updates

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

December 29, 2009 - We're live beta testing an updated Channel Manager. The previous Channel Manager had a poor layout and was confusing to many authors/publishers because it didn't answer the questions you needed answered, such as status of Premium Catalog books, when will (or when did) books ship, and which retail partners are "live" or "pending technical integration." Check it out - feedback welcome as we iterate and tweak.

December 27, 2009 - Over at the Smashwords Blog, we share Smashwords Year in Review, Plans for 2010.

December 26, 2009 - Happy holidays, everyone. Wow, what an incredible year. In the relative quiet of the holidays, we're taking a fresh look at development priorities for the new year. Please email specific new feature requests to Mark Coker, or click the "?" question mark button at the top of any page and preface your note with the words, "Feature request:"

December 18, 2009 - We're almost finished re-grinding over 5,000 EPUB files to make our books more easily consumed by Adobe Digital Editions, which has the bad bad habit of crashing on some of our previous EPUB files. The issue was related to design flaw in ADE in which it crashes when it doesn't recognize a certain HTML tag.

December 15, 2009 - Receiving many reports starting late afternoon yesterday of wrong book covers appearning at B&N. Confirmed. Corrected. Please report any anomalies.

November 28, 2009 - Meatgrinder's blades choked on a couple exotically formatted books. Uploaded books are queuing normally, but won't grind until we get blades cleaned and oiled. In the meantime, we wait.

November 8, 2009 - If we discover a book that fails to adhere to the Smashwords Terms of Service, or for which the author was too lazy to follow the Smashwords Style Guide, we may delete your account without any notification. One account deleted today.

October 26, 2009 - Upgrading Smashwords servers tonight with twice the capacity and memory. We'd like to say the new servers required a convoy of five tractor trailer trucks of equipment, but the reality isn't quite so dramatic. Lights out at 11:00pm Pacific time and until ????.

October 13, 2009 - Minor bug reported and confirmed that prevents authors from opting out of some formats in cases where their book has gone through multiple revisions. Will fix soon. Fixed.

October 10, 2009 - Bug reported that was allowing some expired coupons to remain functional. Confirmed. Fixed.

October 7, 2009 - Royalty payments out early again. Record payments this quarter! Now to add a few more zeros.

September 29, 2009 - Record traffic today. Relationship with Sony announced. Site performed well, though intermittent glitches reported with some account activation emails. Investigating.

September 27, 2009 - Meatgrinder failed twice, possibly our longest outage ever at about 12 hours. Problem idenfied. Caused by a single odd book. That which temporarily kills the site only makes it stronger. We learn from every glitch discovered. Traffic only dropped 18% from the previous day.

September 20, 2009 - Meatgrinder choked for several hours on a backlog of delicious books. Up and running again by Sunday evening.

September 19, 2009 - Bug reported and confirmed that prevents users of the Internet Explorer browser from downloading free ebooks. Until we fix, please use an alternative browser, such as Firefox. Fixed!

August 28, 2009 - We signed an agreement for Barnes & Noble to distribute Smashwords books. Looking forward to working with them!

August 21, 2009 - Outage today for a little under an hour. Hamsters back in the cage. Investigating.

August 15, 2009 - New Smashwords Style Guide uploaded. Numerous small but important changes.

August 10, 2009 - It wasn't exactly a bug, but we fixed it anyway. Authors, your "download" stats previously only covered actual sales, if you book had a price, or actual downloads if your book was free. Today we updated the download stats to capture sample downloads as well. This change will give authors more accurate visibility into how potential readers are interacting with their content.

August 6, 2009 - Bug discovered and repaired. Book buyers, including those who download free books, were supposed to have been receiving automated email reminders to review their books. Due to a bug, the reminders weren't going out. They should start going out tonight.

August 3, 2009 - Improved error reporting on the Publish page so authors/publishers, especially first-time Smashworders, can more easily identify the most common errors they make.

July 16, 2009 - Discovered a bug that allowed about five publishers to review their own books. Reviews will be purged. Thinking of an an alternative mechanism by which we can allow authors and publishers to showcase reviews they've received from elsewhere.

July 3, 2009 - Royalty checks mailed out early. Thank you Smashwords customers, authors and publishers!

June 30, 2009 - Smashwords is for you, the ebook reader, author and publisher. How can we better serve you? Email our founder, Mark Coker at first initial second initial at you know where dot com.

June 21, 2009 - Smashwords Terms of Service updated to impose stricter guidelines for content originality. If your content is scraped from Wikipedia or a third party "Private Label" content licensor (meaning, others will republish the same content under their own name), such content is not allowed on Smashwords. We will also no longer accept public domain works unless the publisher is the original author. Today's change affects only three of the nearly 1,000 Smashwords publishers. Even if you're the original author, if your work appears under other people's names (as is common with get-rich-quick Internet money making ebooks, such content is not welcome on Smashwords).

June 8, 2009 - Smashwords is running a full page ad that will appear on the back cover of an upcoming issue of Writer's Digest Magazine. The ad will feature up to nine Twitter tweets from Smashwords fans. If you're interested to participate, the deadline is tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 9am Pacific. Sorry for the short notice. From your Twitter account, just tweet your thoughts about Smashwords. Why do you like or love Smashwords? What do you appreciate about Smashwords as an author or reader? 

The rules are simple: The tweet must include the word "Smashwords" (so I can find it!). You can tweet as many different variations as you like. I'll personally select the nine I like the most for inclusion in the ad, with a limit of only one per person. Your tweet will appear in print with your Twitter handle, so if any of Writer's Digest's 100,000+ readers are interested, they'll know how to follow you. Depending on the response, I'll probably post more of the entries online (again, a great way to promote your Twitter handle!). Have fun! If you're not currently a Twitter user, read the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for background on Twitter.

May 22, 2009 - The new Smashwords Affiliate Marketing Partner program is live! Please find and report bugs!

May 4, 2009 - Smashwords and Editor Unleashed co-sponsor a free flash fiction writing contest. 40 winners will be selected. Cash prizes total $1,475. Entries accepted starting May 18. See the contest announcement for details.

May 4, 2009 - Updated the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide with a few new tips related to Smashwords Coupons, Twitter and online community marketing.

April 27, 2009 - Updated Smashwords Style Guide published. Includes new images and improved tips on how to automate the removal of tabs.

April 22, 2009 - Home page search options dramatically expanded today. Thanks to all our members who requested this.

April 18, 2009 - Site performance radically improved. Yay!

April 14, 2009 - User interface on home page and search pages improved. Thanks David Wilbanks from Willo Design for the suggestions.

April 12, 2009 - Quarterly earnings checks mailed out early this month! Authors, be sure your payee profiles are filled out completely.

April 11, 2009 - The search box is broken. Just because you can't find your book there doesn't mean it's not published. As a temporary backup, go to Google, and do a search that combines the book title or author name with "smashwords." We're working on it. Fixed, but flakey.

April 8, 2009 - For member signups, we eliminated the zip code question and replaced it with the option to specify your country. This introduced that made the "join" button disappear. Fixed. The new Meatgrinder rolled out yesterday appears to perform well, though other bug discoveries are inevitable. Still playing whack-a-mole with indexing-related bugs.

April 7, 2009 - We have received multiple reports that the search box isn't properly identifying all relevant titles or author names. Confirmed. Investigating...

April 7, 2009 - Meatgrinder II introduced today. Incorporates a queuing system for greater reliability. Please report bugs and anomalies by clicking on the "?" question mark button at the top of any page.

April 1, 2009 - Today is April Fools day. Read our press release about J.K. Rowling publishing the Harry Potter series on Smashwords by visiting the Smashwords press room.

March 26, 2009 - We're making many changes to Meatgrinder to improve performance and reliability, but with each change comes the possibility of bugs, so please report any problems you have uploading books by clicking on the "?" question mark button at the top of every page.

March 21, 2009 - Smashwords Book Marketing Guide updated.

March 19, 2009 - Meatgrinder acting up today. Grinds are taking too long, or are throwing up error messages. We have a plan in place to rearchitect some aspects of the upload process. Please be patient and pardon the hassle as we create Meatgrinder II.

March 16, 2009 - Rolling out Publisher pages today. Now indie publishers can publish and manage an unlimited number of authors and their authors' books.

March 16, 2009 - Authors: The Smashwords Coupon Generator now allows multiple simultaneous coupons so you can test different promotions.

March 15, 2009 - 12:01am: The Smashwords Read an Ebook Week promotion ends! What a great week for readers and authors. Smashwords had record traffic and sales. Thanks everyone for participating!

March 11, 2009 - By popular demand, covers are now activated on the home page and search pages, in all their glory. Next up, we're adding the ability to turn off covers for those of you who prefer the home page simplicity of our little blue book buttons.

March 11, 2009 - Just sent out the member newsletter. One Four of our members, all professional copy editors, kindly informed me I misspelled "gnat" in the newsletter. Embarrassing. Folks, this is why you need a good editor, even if you're self-published.

March 10, 2009 - 8am: We've received several unusual reports from authors who claim the sales reports listed in their Dashboards don't match the Sales & Payments History reports. We're investigating. Confirmed. Investigating cause. 5pm update: Cause identified. A bug caused the Dashboards of multiple members, including some members who haven't even published books, to suddenly show they had sold three books on Monday. Bill is now performing brain surgery on the code to roll back the erroneous data. Fixed.

March 8, 2009 - Read an Ebook Week promotion kicks off. Over 500 books participating!

February 27, 2009 - Updated Smashwords Style Guide now available.

February 27, 2009 - Updated Smashwords Book Marketing Guide now available.

February 27, 2009 - Smashwords getting hit with big traffic spikes. Ordinarily, this is great news, but it's slowing the site's performance. As of 10am Pacific, we've had two short outages this morning, one lasting about 25 minutes and another lasting about 5 minutes. Sorry.

February 24, 2009 - Site was down completely from about 5pm Pacific time to 6:10pm. Investigating.

February 20, 2009 - If you haven't received your confirmation email, check your spam box. We've received several reports from aol and gmail users that their confirmation emails are going directly into their spam boxes. Put Smashwords.com on your "safe list."

February 20, 2009 - We've begun alpha testing Publisher pages. Phase I of alpha testing is limited to two to three publishers only. As we work out kinks, we'll gradually add new participants. To request participation for subsequent testing rounds, email Mark.

February 14, 2009 - For the benefit of Smashwords members unable to attend the O'Reilly Tools of Change conference in New York last week, I've shared my personal highlights over at the Smashwords blog.

February 13, 2009 - A few Smashwords authors have written to ask why, after they assign sampling rights to their book, they visit their book page and find the book available for free download. Actually, the book isn't available for free download. Since you're the author, the system treats you as if you already own the book. We're going to add a hyperlink toggle on book pages, visible only to the author, that allows you to view the book as a customer so you can see what your readers see. Apologies for any confusion.

February 10, 2009 - There is apparently a recent bug in the Firefox browser that logs you out of all websites after you close your browser. The bug is completely unrelated to Smashwords, except that it will log you out of Smashwords, which means you can't access the books you've purchased until you have logged back in. Ordinarily, we wouldn't add a note here about a browser bug, but we've received two reports in three days from customers who couldn't access their books (and we can't recall ever having received a similar question in the last 9 months). We suspect Firefox is the problem. To fix the problem, visit the Mozilla support page and follow the instructions. Note: these instructions are best followed by more advanced users. It involves changing a file called cookies.sqlite to cookies.tmp. Only follow the steps if FireFox is logging you out of your favorite websites. We confirmed the fix, and it does work.

February 2, 2009 - Authors: from your book page, you can now add hyperlinks to where your book can be purchased in print. Please test this and report bugs.

February 2, 2009 - New update to The Smashwords Style Guide published.

February 2, 2009 - Smashwords becomes an official sponsor of Read an E-Book Week.

January 29, 2009 - Authors, we updated the "Payee Profile" page to go 100% electronic. No tax forms to fill out and email or snail mail. Be sure your profile is filled out. Royalty checks are being mailed now.

January 28, 2009 - Short outage today around 3pm Pacific for approximately 15 minutes. Meatgrinder apparently choked on a Mobipocket conversion. More reports of Meatgrinder misbehaving again. Confirmed. Fixed around 8:30pm.

January 26, 2009 - Adding cover images to home page. Working out glitches. Looks best in Firefox. IE browser not looking so good. Stay tuned... Turned off for now.

January 20, 2009 - Authors, we're all ears. Tell us, how can we make Smashwords the single best digital publishing platform to help you publish, promote and sell your ebooks? Ebook readers, how can we better serve you? Write Mark Coker at first initial second initial at you know where dot com.

January 15, 2009 - Tag clouds temporarily disabled to improve site performance.

January 14, 2009 - Apologies for the poor web site performance the last couple days. Big spike in traffic last few days starting with the Mercury News article. We just completed upgrading our servers and made some other tweaks.

January 11, 2009 - Elise Ackerman of the San Jose Mercury News publishes Q&A profile of Smashwords founder, Mark Coker

January 9, 2009 - Bug reported and fixed involving embedded YouTube videos.

January 1, 2009 - Happy New Year!! Thank you for providing such excellent feedback and suggestions as we work to make Smashwords the best place to publish and read indie ebooks. Please tell a friend!