2017 Smashwords Site Updates

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

December 31, 2017 - Per tradition, my annual publishing industry predictions post is now up at the blog, as is my annual Smashwords Year in Review and 2018 Preview post.   Please share with your friends.  Thank you Smashwords authors, publishers, readers, partners, employees and friends for another action-packed year.  We're looking forward to serving you in 2018.  Be safe and have a great New Year celebration!

December 30, 2017 - If you want to build a house, it starts with a strong foundation.  To a great extent, the foundation contains the DNA that predetermines the options for the home that can be build on top of it.  The same holds true for your book marketing strategy.  It starts with a strong foundation.  In episode 11 of the Smart Author podcast, out yesterday, I present part 2 of my six part series on book marketing.  I share 17 tips on how to reinforce your marketing foundation to enable new and greater opportunities for the years ahead.  I discuss author brand-building, platform-building, knowledge-building and distribution.  Check it out on our Smart Author page or visit the Smashwords Blog for more about this episode.

December 22, 2017 - Items:  1.  Today on Smart Author, I kick off the first in a six-part series on book marketing.  I'm doing an exclusive audio serialization of the new 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, the first major update in almost five years.  If you haven't done so already, please be sure to subscribe to the podcast at your favorite podcast source so you can be the first to hear these new episodes.  The new ebook doesn't come out until the end of January so this is your chance to be the first to hear it.  For subscription links, visit the Smashwords blog post about this episode, or visit the Smart Author hub page.   2.  The first annual Smashwords End of Year Sale starts December 25!  Enroll your books now at https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos or see my post about the sale at the Smashwords Blog.

November 30, 2017 - Certification reminder for authors of erotic romance and all erotica - If you have titles that remain uncertified for containing or not containing the various taboo themes per our September 15 announcement of new certification requirements, please complete your certifications asap and certainly before January 1.  As we advised previously, some retailers will want uncertified erotic books removed from their stores after January 1, if not earlier, even if those books DO NOT contain themes prohibited by a given retailer.  Case in point:  Today at http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/09/smashwords-erotica.html we updated the delivery preferences chart with new rules for Tolino.  Previously, we delivered everything.  Now their rules mirror Apple iBooks.  They accept mainstream erotica and erotic romance, and also accept dubcon, but will no longer accept the other taboo categories.  All books requiring certifications (all erotic romance and erotica) that are not yet certified will also be removed from Tolino-powered stores within the next several days. 

November 28, 2017 - Holiday delivery schedules.  If you're planning to release a title in December or early January, and/or if you have an assetless preorder scheduled to release during this time, please plan to upload your final formatted files earlier than normal.  All retailers - and Smashwords too - will be operating under holiday schedules.  This means that most stores will stop processing updates right before the holidays, which means that late deliveries or last minute metadata updates may not be processed in time for the books to be listed during the holiday period.   Apple iBooks, for example, has recommened that we deliver final files and updates for books releasing between December 17-31 by December 11.  This means to be safe you should aim to upload this week or no later than the end of next week (December 8), otherwise you risk getting caught up in a backlog.  For books releasing January 1-8, 2018, Apple wants us to deliver them by Friday, December 15 which means you should deliver to Smashwords several days before that to allow ample time for approvals and/or corrections if needed.  This also means that authors and publishers should take special care to ensure their books are formatted properly to the Smashwords Style Guide prior to upload so we can approve your book for distribution on our first review of it, otherwise there may not be time for you to complete repairs before the retailers' holiday shutdowns.  Also, as we always recommend, the moment your book completes conversion at Smashwords you should check for AutoVetter messages, and even if there are no AutoVetter messages you should still download the epub file to make sure the book's formatting and design meet your expectations, and to confirm your linked Table of Contents and the epub file's NCX (step 20 in the Style Guide) are formed properly.  One of the big benefits of Smashwords is that you can proactively make corrections and updates at any time, even while your book is in the queue awaiting review by our vetting team.

November 24, 2017 - Happy belated Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it.  As writers, we have much to be thankful for.  On behalf of the entire team here at Smashwords, every day we're thankful for the trust, partnership and talent of the over 130,000 authors and publishers that work with us, and we're thankful for the readers who purchase our authors' and publishers' books!  Today we released The Art of Delusion, episode 8 of the Smart Author Podcast.  In it, I share 20 tips to find the strength to power on despite the inevitable ups and downs of every writer's journey.  Although I didn't deliberately plan it this way, today's episode fits with the Thanksgiving theme.  More at the Smashwords Blog.  If you find the episode useful, please share it with a writer friend.

November 20, 2017 - Inktera, a small retail channel formerly known as PageFoundry, has closed down their store and is reorganizing their operations.  They currently plan to reappear as something else in a few months.  At their request, we have suspended shipments to them.  We'll monitor developments and will decide at a future date if we will reengage with the new company that emerges.  Smashwords authors will be paid for all prior sales.

November 18, 2017 - Items:  1.  Episode 7 of the Smart Author Podcast is out now, and in this episode I tackle the 2017 Smashwords Survey.   This episode includes new, never-before-released findings.  Access it at Apple Podcasts or visit the Smart Author hub page for links to other podcast directories, or to listen right here over your web browser.  There's also a short post on it with links over at the Smashwords blog.  2.  Marketing is important, but the more time you spend on marketing, the less time you have for writing.  In my latest column for Publishers Weekly, I share 10 Tips for Autopilot Marketing.  What do I mean by autopilot?  These are "set and forget" marketing tactics you implement once yet will reap you months or years of marketing benefit.

November 10, 2017 - Public libraries purchase a lot of ebooks.  Learn how to market ebooks to public libraries, new today on the Smart Author Podcast.  Subscribe now at Apple Podcasts, or visit the short post at the blog with links to other places you can listen, or listen over your web browser here at Smashwords.

November 3, 2017 - Beta readers can help you make your next book the best it can be.  It's the topic of the new episode released today of the Smart Author Podcast.  Check out the post at the Smashwords Blog or visit the Smart Author podcast page for links to your favorite podcast sources, or to listen now over your web browser.

October 30, 2017 - Wow.  Apple Podcasts has selected Smart Author for the top row of their New & Notable promotion.  It's right there among the first podcasts listeners will see when they're searching for a new podcast to listen to.  Big thanks to Smashwords authors and publishers (especially those of you who signed up for our launch team!) for supporting this podcast by subscribing (it's free), listening, reviewing, rating and sharing.  With your help, we're changing the world one indie ebook at a time!  If you're not on iTunes, you can view a screenshot of the feature over at the Smart Author Podcast page at Facebook.  Thanks, everyone!

October 27, 2017.  Woo hoo!  Today is launch day of the Smart Author Podcast.  The first four episodes should start appearing around Noon Eastern.  I'll post updates thoughout the day related to the launch.  Here we go:   1.  Tim Knox has the scoop on the launch of the podcast.  He did this video interview with me yesterday and it just went live this morning. 2. We've got more great indie author quotes over at the Facebook Smart Author Podcast page.  3. Thanks, everyone for the encouraging words today.  We're getting some great feedback on the initial episodes so it's great to hear authors are learning new ideas and insights.  4.  Our rank has been working its way higher at Apple Podcasts, where close to 70% of podcast listenership takes place.  As of 6pm Pacific, it's at #65 in the Arts category.  Thanks everyone for sharing it with their friends.  Thanks to everyone on the Launch Team who's been out there spreading the word.

October 26, 2017 - What does indie authorship mean to  you?  Ahead of the launch tomorrow of the Smart Author Podcast, we asked Smashwords authors to share short quotes on what indie authorship means to them.  The comments run the gamut.  Check 'em out over the Facebook Smart Author Podcast page.  If you see a quote that resonates with you, give it a like and share to help spread word of the podcast and your fellow Smashwords authors.  And to avoid missing any episodes, subscribe to Smart Author anywhere fine podcasts are found.  Links:  Apple Podcasts |  Stitcher |  Google Play | TuneIn | SoundCloud | Smashwords hub page (where you can listen over your web browser and access transcripts)

October 20, 2017 - Today I'm pleased to preview a special project I've been working on in secret for over a year - The Smart Author Podcast.  The first trailer episode is up at Apple Podcasts (subscribe and share!) today and the first four episodes will launch on Friday, October 27, with additional episodes releasing through the end of November.   The Smart Author Podcast offers a free masterclass in ebook publishing.  I'll guide you step-by-step through the very basics of ebook publishing to more advanced topics.   Full details on the podcast can be found at the Smashwords blog.

October 10, 2017 - At the PennedCon conference the other week in St. Louis, I was honored to attended amazing keynotes of two #1 NYT bestselling authors - Rachel Van Dyken and Jamie McGuire, both of whom have been publishing with Smashwords for many years.  Rachel spoke about her journey overcoming fear and anxiety on her path to becoming a #1 New York Times bestselling author.  Jamie spoke about the importance of believing in yourself when others don't.  Rachel kindly provided me the complete transcript of her prepared speech so I could share with readers of the Smashwords blog.  If you know anyone who's ever suffered from fear, anxiety or depression, Rachel's talk may help change their life.  Read it here:  Rachel Van Dyken on Overcoming Fear.

September 21, 2017 - At least once every three years, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires all non-US authors and publishers to review, update and certify the tax compliance information that was provided to Smashwords via your Payment Settings page. Soon, non-US Smashwords authors and publishers will receive reminder emails from Smashwords with a prompt to visit your Payment Settings page.  This information is required to ensure uninterrupted payments.   Thank you in advance for helping us maintain IRS compliance!

September 15, 2017 - Smashwords today introduced a new policy regarding erotic literature.  Effective immediately, all authors and publishers of erotic literature will be asked to provide supplemental categorization information regarding the absence or presence of certain taboo themes.  This enhanced categorization information will be used to honor the listing preferences of our retailer and library platform partners.  Conventional book categorization standards are inadequate for erotic literature.  Our new approach, which has been blessed by our largest sales outlets, aims to ensure trust and transparency for the benefit of authors, publishers, retailers, libraries and readers alike.  Over at the Smashwords Blog we've got full details on this new initiative, along with a handy chart that summarizes which taboo themes are acceptable at which sales outlets.  If you publish erotic literature, please click to your Dashboard to begin certifying the absence or presence of these taboo themes.

September 12, 2017 - We're excited to announce Global Pricing Control, a new feature that allows you to set custom pricing in 248 different countries and 152 local currencies.  It's a great tool if you're running a BookBub ad or any other custom price promotion in any country.  Access the new feature from your Dashboard.  Full details at the Smashwords Blog.  Enjoy!!

August 22, 2017 - Barnes & Noble has modified their policies regarding erotica.  In a nutshell, they no longer accept certain taboo subcategories of erotica as described in their newly updated content policy which you can now read at http://www.nook.com/services/cms/doc/nookpress/us/en_us/legal/content-policy.html New on the chopping block, specific to erotic literature, they now prohibit, "works portraying or encouraging incest, rape, bestiality,..." In addition, they also explicitly name categories that heretofore have never been allowed per our own Terms of Service such as necrophilia and pedophilia, as well as works that encourage hate or violence.  Smashwords authors who write in the categories described at that link above can expect to see their titles disappearing from the Barnes & Noble store.  B&N has removed a small number of books already, though we expect more in these prohibited categories to disappear in the months ahead.  Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.  This is consistent with an industry wide crackdown that has been happening for several years, first spearheaded by iBooks and Amazon, and then Kobo, and now B&N.  

August 15, 2017 - Smashwords today announced Special Deals, a new automated merchandising tool for the Smashwords Store.  The feature is live today.  Read all about it over at the Smashwords Blog.  Have fun and tell a friend!

August 10, 2017 - We've recently updated our EPUB validation system to the newest version of 'epubcheck', and are re-converting a small subset of books to address a minor issue that can cause a validation failure under the newer version. Some users will be receiving an automated email from our epubcheck system. If it was successful, you can safely ignore it. Otherwise, please contact our service team and we can try to assist you in updating your DOC file source.

July 31, 2017 - When a reader reads you for the first time, that first read is the first step of many along a long term relationship-building path.  Your goal is to turn readers into fans, and fans into superfans.  A superfan will propel your career forward for decades to come because they're the readers who will buy all your books sight unseen.  They're the readers who leave five-star reviews, order your book on preorder, and who drive enthusiastic word-of-mouth for your books and author brand.  They're less price-sensitive because they trust you'll provide them a great read.  For this week's Publishers Weekly, I wrote a short column on the steps writers can take (and avoid) as you work to earn and deserve the reader's trust and admiration - How Indie Authors Can Cultivate Superfans

July 25, 2017 - Scammers are using using Smashwords book reviews to make marketing solicitations to authors.  If you receive this message, we advise you do not respond to the solicitation.  If you have already responded, and if you've had any correspondence with this service or services, please alert the Smashwords service team by copying the full text of your email thread with the scammer into the Smashwords support form which you can access by clicking the "?" icon at the top of any page so we can pursue necessary action.  If you're able, activate your email's "full headers" feature so we can better track the perpetrators of this scam.  An example of the scam message appearing in recent days on several book reviews is, "Hi, I would like to promote your Smashwords book for free to my list of newsletter subscribers. If that is fine by you please email me at [redacted] to book your spot, thanks."  Thank you to the eagle-eye authors who reported this.

June 23, 2017 - The 2017 Smashwords Survey is out!!!  View the slides and data at the Smashwords Blog.

June 23, 2017 - Enrollment is now open for the ninth annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale!  Enroll here.  The sale kicks off July 1 and ends July 31.  There's also a short post about it over at the Smashwords blog.  Have fun!

April 5, 2017 - A big thank you to our friends at Barnes & Noble.  Effective this week, we are shipping updates and new books to them every hour, 24X7.  Previously they only accepted once-daily shipments, Monday through Friday.  They've made a number of incremental improvements over the last few years that have led to much faster deliveries and book listings.  This is yet another incremental improvement that will allow them to start processing our books faster so you can start pleasing their customers sooner.  Most books should appear there within two business days of delivery.  As a reference point, back in the early days (2009 and 2010), shipments for most retailers were once a week and it wasn't uncommon for some large retailers to take several weeks or longer to get the book live.

March 31, 2017 - Tomorrow is April 1, which means it's April Fools day.  I was planning to write a fictional spoof about Amazon secretly firing their entire Kindle customer service team in India and replacing them with ill-tempered robots (but no one noticed), enhanced with real KDP support team email communications.  It would have been fun but I'm not doing it.  I explain why over at the Smashwords Blog.  In a nutshell, I think there's enough fake news out there already and I don't want to add to it on the one day per year where such fake news trickery is somewhat acceptable.  So rest easy.  No tricks tomorrow, and that's the truth!  Have a great weekend everyone.

March 28, 2017 - The library ebook market is growing.  This week for Publishers Weekly I wrote a column that shares five tips on how to market your ebooks to libraries.  Check out the article here and please share with your author friends.  As long time Smashwords authors and publishers know, we've been working for over five years to build out a fantastic library ebook distribution network with partners OverDrive, Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Gardners UK (operates Askews & Holts for public libraries, VLebooks for academic), Odilo and the recently announced Bibliotheca.  At Smashwords, we love libraries and we love librarians.  The article provides authors a peek inside the curation challenges faced by librarians, and offers ideas to help you get your books in the door.

February 28, 2017 - Read an Ebook Week kicks off this Sunday.  Authors and publishers: enroll your books now at https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos.  The promotion is covered over at the Smashwords Blog and will also be promoted to over one million customers of the Smashwords Store.  Visit our official event page at https://www.smashwords.com/ebookweek where you'll find downloadable buttons, badges and banners to use in your promotion.  But more importantly, it will be promoted by participating authors.  The more authors who promote it, the more readers that will discover fabulous books by other participating authors.  Have fun!  The sale starts Sunday and runs through EOD March 11. Update: RAEW ends tomorrow. Over 29,000 books are enrolled; about 60% of them at half-off, and another 17% (nearly 5,000 books) available for free!

February 28, 2017 - (1) We discovered & corrected a glitch in our updated "Last Payment" report, which caused it to sometimes exclude smashwords.com storefront sales of books. (2) This morning (11am pacific), we -- along with many others -- are affected by an Amazon AWS outage. We'll post another update once things are working at 100%. (3) As of the afternoon (3:15pm pacific), book cover and ebook files were accessible to us and our users again.

February 24, 2017 - We had a database connectivity issue this afternoon, which caused some books to not appear in users' dashboards. If you were struck by this issue, and ended up attempting to publish your book multiple times, please check for, and unpublish, any duplicates! Thanks and sorry for the confusion!

February 22, 2017 - I (Mark Coker) will be speaking at the Tucson Self Publishing Expo on March 4.  It's a one-day conference and is only $20 to preregister.  I'll do a keynote on 10 Trends impacting the future of publishing and then will follow that with three workshops on ebook publishing (Introduction to.., best practices, preorders).  Register at http://tucsonselfpublishingexpo.com/

February 2, 2017 - Smashwords today announced a distribution deal with Bibliotheca CloudLibrary that will add 3,000 more public libraries to our distribution network.  Learn more over at the Smashwords Blog.  First shipments will begin in about one week with first titles appearing in their platform within three weeks.  Given the scale of our catalog it may take two or three months for them to onboard all the titles.  All non-erotica Premium Catalog titles will flow automatically.  Of course any authors who've chosen to opt out of all new channels or who wish to opt out (not recommended!) now can do so from the Dashboard's Channel Manager.  With the addition of CloudLibrary, Smashwords builds on our leadership in the library ebook space.  We love libraries because libraries are engines for author discovery, and library patrons buy a lot of books at retail!

February 1, 2017 - 2016 tax forms were loaded yesterday (find them at Account: Tax Documents) though they were mislabeled as for 2017.   By late last night, the issue was fixed for most authors and publishers but there are still a few lingering forms that await repair.  We should have it fully rectified in the next few hours.  Thank you to our eagle-eyed authors who alerted us immediately, and please accept our apologies for any confusion this caused.

January 22, 2017 - Quarterly payments went out Friday. Starting this pay period we eliminated the prior $10.00 payment thresholds for PayPal which means we sent out payments as low as a penny.  We made this change ahead of our other big news for February - our move to monthly payments as previewed in my year in review post a few weeks ago.  We hope you enjoy our faster payments!