2016 Smashwords Site Updates

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

December 31, 2016 - Happy New Year's Eve!  As this crazy year comes to a close, I want to give a big thanks to Smashwords authors, publishers, retailers, library partners, readers, industry friends and Smashwords team members.   As is annual tradition around here, today I published my 2017 publishing industry predictions as well as our 2016 Smashwords Year in Review.  Two posts over at the Smashwords blog.  Enjoy and share!  Please have a safe holiday weekend. We'll see you in 2017!

December 19, 2016 - Learn how to do a beta reader round for your next release.  I wrote a how-to article for Publishers Weekly.  My piece is out as an online-only exclusive today and will teach you the hows and whys - http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/article/72322-making-the-most-of-beta-readers.html

December 2, 2016 - Holiday release planning for Kobo.  Similar to iBooks (see October 31 update below), Kobo also goes into a relative lockdown mode during the holidays in which new books and metadata updates cannot be processed.  For Kobo, they will not accept new title deliveries or metadata updates between December 19 and December 29.  This means that all final manuscripts for preorders that go on sale during or near these dates, and all desired uploads and prices changes should be delivered to Smashwords by Friday morning Pacific time December 16 to be safe if not before.  During holiday periods it's always smart to deliver in advance of stated deadlines.

November 21, 2016 - Tip of the day - Now is a great time to look at your calendar for 2017 and get all your planned 2017 releases up on assetless preorder today.  With an assetless preorder, you establish the preorder listing without a manuscript.  You don't have to deliver the final manuscript to Smashwords until 10 days before release, and if you need to shift your release date earlier or later, you can always do that self-serve from your Dashboard.  Books born as preorders sell more copies because preorders enable more effective advance marketing.   Learn more about assetless preorders here.

October 31, 2016 - Holiday release planning for iBooks.  Each year around the holidays, retailers usually implement special delivery deadlines for new releases.  Apple informs us that for all release dates between December 18 to 31, 2016, iBooks' stated delivery deadline is Monday, December 12, 2016 (PST). To be safe, this means if you have a release planned during this window, plan to upload your final manuscript by Friday, December 9.  For release dates between January 1 and 8, 2017, the delivery deadline is Friday, December 16, 2016 (PST) which means you should upload your final manuscript on or before December 15.  Tips for expedited holiday processing:  1.  Get your holiday releases up on preorder now if they're not already up on preorder.  Preorders always receive expedited review and processing at Smashwords.  It's not uncommon for a preorder listing uploaded in the morning to appear at retailers like iBooks and Kobo within a couple hours.  2.  The deadline for final file delivery for preorders is 10 days before your on sale date.  If you can upload early, you'll beat the last minute rush.   3.  The moment you upload your final file, download and review your epub version to check that the NCX and the formatting are all complete.  If your book is uploaded at the last minute and it doesn't meet retailer requirements, it will delay delivery.  4.  If you require any special assistance to make your deadlines, please contact our support team by clicking the "?" at the top of any page.  We look forward to helping you!

September 29, 2016 (updated) - We performed routine database maintenance today (between 9am and 10:15am Pacific), during which time historical sales data prior to 2016 was temporarily unavailable. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

September 28, 2016 - Smashwords Coupons have been enhanced with two new capabilities:  1.  Metered coupons - allows you to limit the number of redemptions to create greater reader urgency.   2.  Descriptive campaign labels - makes it easier for you to monitor your different coupon campaings.  More at the Blog.  Click on your Dashboard's Coupon Manager to try it today.  Enjoy!

September 13, 2016 - Last week we made an error while loading B&N sales data which caused erroneous prices to be reflected in earnings.  This is being repaired today.  For a few brief moments today, you may notice the sales disappear before they reappear in their accurate form a few minutes later.   We're sorry for any confusion this may have caused.

August 24, 2016 - Smashwords today announced Smashwords Alerts, a new feature that automatically notifies readers when their favorite authors release a new book.  Full details over at the Smashwords Blog.    To follow an author they love, readers simply click to the author's profile page at Smashwords and click the button to subscribe to author alerts.  Give it a try!   A couple weeks ago over at the e-reading enthusiast site Mobileread, I asked readers there to identify their single most important method of book discovery.  The #1 most-cited method is to look first for the latest books from their favorite authors.  Check out the survey here to see all the other answers.

June 28, 2016 - The 8th annual Smashwords Summer/Winter sale starts July 1 and runs through July 31.  Enrollment is now open at https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos.  Each year, thousands of Smashwords authors and publishers participate in this fun month-long promotion which celebrates summer reading in the Northern hemisphere and winter reading in the Southern hemisphere.  Please help spread the word.  The more books enrolled, and the more authors and publishers out there promoting their participation to readers, the more readers that can then discover the books of fellow Smashwords authors.  Think of it as a massive co-marketing collaboration where thousands of authors work in parallel to introduce readers to thousands of awesome indie ebooks.  Have fun!

June 18, 2016 - Each month, Publishers Weekly runs a bestseller list of the Smashwords Top 25 bestsellers for a recent month.  The top 25 bestsellers for the month of April are now available on online HERE and will be in the print edition this Monday.  Congrats to Anonymous, Kristen Ashley, RL Mathewson, Olivia Thorne, Quinn Loftis, Richard L. Sanders, Hal Elrod, Jamie McGuire, Geri Glenn, Brenda Kennedy, Julie Wetzel, Emma Chase, Melissa Wright, Chanda Hahn, Skye Warren and Shayne Parkinson!

June 6, 2016 - As a follow-up to my June 3 note below, an update:  Our friends at B&N have corrected the glitch.  All previously missing sales are now reported in your Daily Sales charts.

June 3, 2016 - For several days now, Barnes & Noble has been experiencing a glitch that's preventing them from providing us sales data for our Daily Sales charts.  They're aware of the issue and working to fix it.  We're hoping by early next week they'll have the issue resolved.  In the meantime, we're still reporting recent B&N sales through our Dashboard's Sales & Payments Report tool, though without the nice charts and without the same day and next day timeliness.

May 27, 2016 - Items.  1.  Smashwords and Wattpad are collaborating on another promotion.  As you may recall, last year they did a big promotion that featured about 70 Smahwords romance authors.  This week (and for several weeks to come), they're promoting 127 Smashwords mystery and thriller writers.  The full story is over at the Smashwords blog.  Thank you Wattpad!  We expect to partner with them on additional promotions in the future to support other categories.  2.  Related to #1, I'm often asked how authors can be selected for these types of promotions.  Every week, we're promoting our top-performing titles to the the merchandising managers of our largest retailers.  The easiest way to gain access to these and other ongoing promotions is to fully distribute with Smashwords so we can count and verify your sales.  In the interest of fairness and also in the interest of serving retailers and their customers with books we're confident they'll love, we weigh an author's sales track record across the Smashwords distribution network when selecting titles for such promotions.  Metadata is also important.  Make sure your books are properly categorized, and if they're in a series make sure the book is linked up with our Series Manager tool.  If you publish box sets, make sure you've flagged your book as a box set (go to Dashboard: Settings where you'll see a check box option to identify your book as a box set).  Great metadata is what allows us to put together custom promotions for retailers on-demand.  If they want, for example, a list of our top 10 bestselling new adult romance box sets, if such box sets aren't flagged as box sets and categorized as New Adult, we can't surface the recommendation to the retailers.  And the final tip of the day, release all future books as preorders.  Books born as a preorders outsell those that are simply uploaded the day of release.  As I mentioned in the new 2016 Smashwords Survey, a surprising (and horrificly meager) 85% of indie authors don't do preorders.  Huge mistake.  The small minority of authors who are doing preorders are dominating the bestseller lists.  And since so much of our retailers' merchandising focus is on new and upcoming titles, preorders give merchandising advantage as well.  In case you missed it, check out my preorder strategy article that I wrote for Publishers Weekly last November:  http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/article/68748-how-indie-authors-can-use-preorders-to-crack-the-bestseller-lists.html

April 25, 2016 - BookExpo America has a done a great job the last five or six years supporting indie authors with their uPublishU conference in New York.  This year, BEA is stepping up their support of indie authors by integrating uPublishU directly into the main BEA conference.  BEA runs this May 11-13 in Chicago.  Smashwords will be there.  I'll also be presenting a few sessions:  iBooks Merchandising; Ten Trends Driving the Future of Publishing; and an Introduction to Ebook Preorders.  If you're coming to BEA, stop by and say hello.  Early bird registration discounts run through EOD Tueday April 26.  More at the Blog

April 18, 2016 - The annual 2016 Smashwords Survey is out!  Find it at the blog.  We've got great new findings regarding the current state of preorder usage, preorder effectiveness, ebook pricing sweet spots, series books and more.  Please share with a friend!  Thank you Smashwords authors and publishers for making this survey possible.  By distributing with Smashwords, you are directly supporting our effort to bring you not only great distribution services, but this survey as well!

April 17, 2016 - Greetings from the tail end of RT Booklovers in Las Vegas.  We had a fun week this week in Las Vegas.  Romance readers are incredible.  I met one reader who reads over 300 books per year!  I revealed the findings of the NEW Smashwords 2016 Survey (will try to get this on the blog and on Slideshare soon), joined the amazing Sylvia Day for the fifth or sixth year straight on her annual self-publishing panel, and then presented updated workshops on 10 Trends, an Intro to Ebook Self Publishing and Ebook Publishing Best Practices. Along the way I met with a lot of fabulous Smashwords authors and put a lot of faces to names.  In between the madness of RT, I also recorded my interview for the Indie Author Fringe event mentioned below.  You can view the interview on YouTube now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYFEw4xd3GQ.  The camera angle on my laptop was too low so please excuse the fact that it looks like my eyes are closed most of the time.  I've been doing variations of my 10 Trends presentation for about six years, and I always mix it up each time to reflect new stuff.  This time, I mixed it up quite a bit, especially when you get to Trends 8, 9 and 10.  Oh, and as part of the event they're doing a giveaway in which three lucky authors will win free formatting for their next Smashwords book.  Of couse, formatting is always free if you do it yourself.  For this, we'll format your next manuscript for you.  You can enter at http://selfpublishingadvice.org/10-trends-driving-the-future-of-publishing-mark-coker/  I imagine they'll close entries any hour now, so be sure to enter soon.   The next big conference is BEA in Chicago in about a month.  More on that another day.

April 13, 2016 - Friendly reminder - Payments are going out at the end of this month.  The deadline for updating your payment settings - such as entering a new postal mailing address if you live in the US and get paper checks- is the evening of April 14.  We don't want you to miss your payment!  Click here to update your payment settings if your mailing address has changed.

April 9, 2016 - Register now for Indie Author Fringe, a FREE online conference organized by The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).  About 36 self-publishing experts will share their smarts about professional publishing best practices.  I'll be presenting a couple sessions as well.  My first session will update authors on the latest trends impacting the future of publishing, and the second session will be an introductory primer for new self publishers.  Click here for conference information and click here to register.  The event starts Friday April 15.

April 6, 2016 - Smashwords today surpassed 400,000 books published.  It only took eight years and two months.  Thank you Smashwords authors and publishers!  Thanks also to Smashwords customers, retailers and partners.  We're here for you!

April 1, 2016 - Today is April 1.  Be careful what you read today.  With that caveat, over at the Smashwords Blog I report on a new innovation at Amazon called Kindle Power Bucks that solves a big marketing problem for indie authors.  The problem:  Most paid book marketing doesn't work.  Yet authors want to reach readers.  Now Amazon has the solution with Kindle Power Bucks.

March 25, 2016 - Here at Smashwords, we've always viewed free ebooks as a powerful and effective marketing tool for authors.  Free has helped catapult many of our authors onto the bestseller lists.  This week, I contributed an article to Publishers Weekly that shares tips on how to reach more readers, earn more income and increase the value of your author brand by leveraging free ebooks.  Read it at http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/article/69772-the-power-of-free-how-to-sell-more-e-books.html

March 10, 2016 - Smashwords is helping to lead a petition effort to end the US embargo against Cuba as it relates to books and educational materials.  I posted a in-depth look at the Smashwords Blog.   The Wall Street Journal covered the story here.  Publishers Weekly covered it here, and will also put the petition on their front cover.  There's a second petition open to Americans at Whitehouse.gov.  Click here to sign your name to this important effort.  Please help spread the word to your friends and readers.

March 3, 2016 - During Barnes & Noble's earnings announcement today, they announced they're exiting the UK market.  This means effective very soon, their UK store will close down.  For customers who purchased books from B&N UK, they'll have the option to migrate their purchases to Sainsbury's.  This means your Nook UK customers won't lose access to their books, but you'll want to direct them elsewhere (iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, etc) to purchase ebooks in the future.  Sainsbury's doesn't carry many self published books at this time.  Barnes & Noble remains committed to operating their US ebook store which is the second largest sales channel for Smashwords authors after iBooks.

February 29, 2016.  ***Updated March 1***  Items.  1.  Our annual Read an Ebook Week promotion is coming March 6  and will go through March 12.  Click here to enroll your books now!  Read an Ebook Week was created by Canadian Smashwords author Rita Toews.  Learn the story behind Read an Ebook Week in this interview I did with Rita at the Huffington Post back in 2010. The official hub page for Read an Ebook Week is at https://www.smashwords.com/ebookweek - this is where you'll find the offical badges, buttons and banners you can use to promote the promotion on social media.  2.  I'm interviewed on thriller writer Dale Wiley's new podcast interview series.   Click here to listen.  We talk a wide range of topics include my recent trip to Cuba in which I met with authors and publishing industry counterparts there.

February 4, 2016.   Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. If you're a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and you published a debut book in 2015, you might be eligible to nominate your title for Kobo's second annual Emerging Writer Prize.  They're now accepting nominations in categories of Literary Fiction, Romance and Non-Fiction. All submitted books must be available for sale in the Kobo store. Nomination process: Publishers and authors (traditionally published and self-published) can submit debut books published in 2015 at http://www.kobo.com/emergingwriter.  The application process opens today and closes on March 11, 2016.  They'll announce shortlisted titles on April 26.  They'll make final sections between April 27 and June 8, and then they'll announce the winners at a coctail reception on June 23, 2016.  The winner in each category will earn $10,000 and special merchandising between June and December of this year.  Good luck Smashwords authors and publishers!

February 1, 2016.   Items.  1.  I'm interviewed on MyKitaab, a great new publishing podcast out of India that's available on iTunes.  Check out the interview here on iTunes or click here if you want to listen over the web.   2.  Last week I participated on a panel at a forum in Washington, DC sponsored by New America, a non-partisan think tank.  The topic was Amazon's Book Monopoly (Click here to view the archive of the event).  My segments starts around the 50 minute marker, though I'd encourage you to start at the beginning.  Monopolies and monopsonies are not necessarily illegal.  But what is illegal is when a monopoly or monopsony abuses its power to stifle fair competition.  There's a heated debate taking place in the industry about Amazon's business practices.  Amazon's defenders argue that Amazon is an innovator, offers great value to customers, and its competitors should simply shut up and innovate.  I agree with some of this up to a point.  Large publishers, for example, have no one to blame but themselves for charging prices for ebooks that readers consider too high.  On the other side you've got Amazon's critics arguing that Amazon's business practices are violating US anti-trust law through predatory pricing, exclusivity and other practices that are harmful to consumers and producers.  For example, Amazon makes non-exclusive books less visible and less discoverable to Amazon customers, which harms authors.   I believe in free markets and competition, and I believe in survival of the fittest.  Yet I also believe that Amazon's business practices deserve closer scrutiny, and I'd support a federal inquiry that examines all sides of the issue.  If Amazon is in fact competing fairly, then Amazon's supporters have nothing to worry about.  But if Amazon is found to be competing unfairly, the government's likely remedies, such as requiring Amazon to spin off their publishing operations into a separate company independent from the retailing side, could have beneficial implications for all authors and readers.  Regardless of where you stand on the issues, you might find the event enlightening. 

January 14, 2016 - Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you and your family had a safe and happy holiday.   As mentioned below on September 22, Oyster is shutting down.  Tomorrow, January 15 will be their last day of operation.  If you're distributed to Oyster, there's nothing you need to do.  All sales will be reported and paid, and your books will automatically disappear from their app.   Congrats to all the Smashwords authors who benefited from this great partner while they lasted, and best wishes to our friends at Oyster for their fabulous work supporting Smashwords authors.