2018 Smashwords Site Updates

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

December 28, 2018.    Two items, both related.  Did you have books disappear this week from Barnes & Noble?  If so, read on...   1.   On September 15, 2017, Smashwords begain requiring authors and publishers to certify the presense or absence of certain taboo themes for books categorized as either erotica or erotic romance.   Read the announcement here, or see Site Updates below from 2017.   Concurrent with the implementation of the new requirement, we created tools to enable certification for previously published titles that now required certification.  We also advised authors via multiple communications channels to complete their certification prior to January 1, 2018, otherwise they risked removal of these titles from certain retailers.  Earlier this week, Barnes & Noble asked us to remove about 15,000 uncertified erotica and erotic romance titles, per our recommendation.  Smashwords fully support their decision because without proper certification, it's difficult for a retailer to have confidence such titles meet their content guidelines.   If your erotica or erotica romance titles recently disappeared from B&N this week, this is why.   We expect many of these titles can return to B&N once the authors and publishers complete their certifications.  If you don't write erotica, but your titles recently disappeared, read on to the next item! 2.  During the course of removing the above titles, a technical glitch caused a relatively small number of books categorized as romance/adult to be removed.  We apologize for this error.  Our friends at B&N assisted a speedy return of these books to sale.  Thank you B&N!

December 18, 2018.  Items.  1.  Enrollment for the Smashwords End of Year Sale is now open.  The sale starts December 25 and runs through January 1.   There's a bulk enrollment option for authors and publishers that want to enroll their entire catalog with a couple clicks.  The enrollment link is on the home page, or can be found here    2.  The Smashwords home page, which received a major facelift last month when we introduced our new multi-dimensional book discovery interface, has been enhanced again with the addition of six new shelves.  These shelves offer customers additional views into the amazingly rich and diverse Smashwords catalog of over 500,000 titles.  On the Smashwords home page, visitors will now notice shelves for Most Downloaded and Highly Rated.  Under the Special Deals tab, Smashwords has introduced Featured Box Set DealsDeals Expiring SoonLatest Additions and More Free Ebooks.    Special Deals is the self-serve merchandising feature that allows authors and publishers to create and launch custom promotions in the Smashwords Store.  To learn more about Special Deals and how to participate, check out the original announcement from August, 2017 or simply create a public coupon from your Dashboard's Coupon Manager screen.

December 10, 2018.  Items.   1.  Reminder: Per the October 25 update below, please aim to deliver books and updates earlier than usual to account for reduced staffing Christmas week.   2.  In case you missed it, my latest column for Publishers Weekly tackles author brand building.  Check it out at Publishers Weekly:  Seven Author Branding Tips.  3.  About 30 days ago, we unveiled the new Smashwords home page.  Sales in the last 30 days at the Smashwords Store are up 25% compared the prior 30 day period, both in terms of unit sales and absolute dollars.  It's dangerous to draw broad conclusions only 30 days in (there are thousands of variables that can impact sales from month to month), though we're pleased with initial results.  Thank you to every author, publisher and customer who has shared their feedback - positive and negative - on the new design.  Your suggestions have inspired additional improvements to come!

November 21, 2018 - Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it this week.  Every day, we're thankful for our authors, publishers, readers and distribution partners.  Have a safe holiday everyone!

November 9, 2018 - Woo hoo!  The new Smashwords home page is launched!  It's now easier than ever for readers to discover the best of the best Smashwords books and authors!  Check out our new multi-dimensional search, where with one click you can control views into nine different shelves.   Learn full details over at the Smashwords Blog:  Smashwords Unveils New Book Discovery Interface; Surpasses 500,000 Books Published

October 25, 2018 - Prepping for the holiday rush:  Each year between Thanksgiving and the new year, the major US retailers operate on holiday schedules with reduced staff.  If you're planning to release a book between November 14 and January 4, Apple Books recommends we deliver your final files and metadata updates at least two weeks in advance.  So please plan accordingly.  Although we and our retailers will do everything possible to process late deliveries, avoid the unnecessary stress by planning ahead.  Now would be a great time to get holiday-period releases up on assetless preorder (Listen now to Episode four of the Smart Author Podcast to learn how to make your next release more successful with preorders), and coordinate with your editors and cover designer so you can upload your final files to Smashwords as early as possible.  Preorders always receive fast-tracked reviews at Smashwords which means faster deliveries to retailers.

September 19, 2018 - Items:  1.  Apple iBooks is now Apple Books.  With the release of the new iOS 12 operating system for Apple devices, Apple has rebranded their store and given it a fairly dramatic refresh.  Apple first announced the pending change back in June (read the announcement here, where you'll also find a link to new downloadable Apple Books images).   For authors and publishers now linking to their books at Apple from their website and other social media, previous hyperlinks will continue to work.  Please update your websites and blogs to identify the store as Apple Books rather than Apple iBooks (and as a reminder, to minimize customer confusion and respect Apple's corporate branding, please NEVER refer to their store as iTunes).  2.  Speaking of refreshes, our engineering team is hard at work preparing a refresh for the Smashwords home page.  Our prime directive with this refresh is to a better job of helping our store's customers find great books.  Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for its debut.  It'll be the first of many iterative updates to improve the shopping experience.  Our little Smashwords store is on track to register its second year of consecutive annual sales increase amid an otherwise moribund retail environment where most retailers are experiencing sales declines.  Another bright exception is Scribd, which is growing.  Last month was the best month of the last two years at Scribd for Smashwords authors.   3.  If you're attending the PennedCon conference in St. Louis this week, grab me and say hello.  I'm teaching a few classes at their Author Education Day on Thursday and will also participate in other events Friday and Saturday.  See you there!

September 12, 2018 - Items.  1. Yes, Smashwords ebooks are going to Walmart!  To participate, make sure you're opted in to Kobo from your Channel Manager, since Walmart is powered by Kobo.   2.  Kudos to the students and teachers of Los Gatos High School, who earned this press coverage for their innovative classroom publishing project in California Educator magazine. You can see their newest project at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Classof2021.

August 10, 2018 - To a great extent, the future opportunity for writers is dependent upon the future supply of readers.  A couple weeks ago I wrote an article for Publishers Weekly titled, "Mentoring Tomorrow's Writers and Readers," where I highlight the opportunity for indie authors to prompt and mentor ebook publishing projects in high school classrooms.  It's a great opportunity for indies to share their indie publishing superpowers with the next generation of readers and writers!  For these students so full of potential, it's a life-changing experience.  Read at Publishers Weekly.   This was also the topic of Episode 16 of the Smart Author Podcast.

July 27, 2018 - The July Summer/Winter Sale ends this coming Tuesday at 11:59pm Pacific time.   Authors:  Now's a great time to do a final round of promotion for your participating titles.  Readers:  Over 47,000 deep-discounted titles are participating in this sale, an all time record!  Last chance to stock up on these exclusive deals in our largest sale of the year.

July 18, 2018 - Smashwords has partnered with Romance Daily News, a new online magazine targeting romance readers.  The magazine launches this week in Denver at the RWA conference.  Each day, RDN will offer its paid subscribers access to a free "Book of the Day" ebook that normally carries a price.  Subscribers will be provided Smashwords Coupons that they can redeem at Smashwords to download the book for free.  Smashwords manages the nomination and curation process in collaboration with Romance Daily News.  Each Book of the Day feature will also include a Q&A Interview at RDN, powered by Smashwords Interviews.  Already, we've lined up the first 90 featured authors, many of whom are New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.  Smashwords will also power a range of dynamic daily bestseller lists that will update each week.  Romance authors and publishers can learn more about this exciting book marketing opportunitiy at the Smashwords blog where we made our formal announcement.  We mention several of the authors that will be featured in the first 90 days, and provide tips for how authors can maximize their odds of being selected to participate.  Romance readers:  You can subscribe to RDN for $9.99/yr over at https://romancedailynews.com.

June 19, 2018  - Every week we're introducing new updates to the Smashwords platform.  A couple cool updates from just the last week:  1. When customers of the Smashwords Store click to check out, if they're purchasing a series book they'll be presented with a list of other books in the same series so they can conveniently add these other titles to their cart with a click.  For authors who want to take advantage of this feature, all you have to do is make sure your series books are linked up in your Dashboard's Series Manager tool.   2. Ever since our launch ten years ago, we offered the ability for readers to "favorite" authors when they visit an author's profile page.  When a reader favorites an author, the reader's list of favorites is advertised on their personal profile page.  New this week we've taken that same publicly visible information and made it more visible to authors.  Click to your Profile page, and now you'll see a new option below your profile picture labeled, "Learn about who favorited you."  Click it and you can view all the people who favorited you, along with a link to their profile page and whatever social media coordinates they choose to share.

May 25, 2018 - Two days ago we updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service ahead of today's deadline for GDPR compliance.  GDPR is the European Union's new privacy regulation.  We're also sending an email to all Smashwords users.  Our Privacy Statement has been restructured with new information about how we use, collect and protect your personal information. 

May 8, 2018 - This past Sunday marked the 10-year anniversary of Smashwords.  Thank you to Smashwords authors, publishers, retailers, libraries and readers for allowing us to join you in your indie ebook adventure.  Over at the Smashwords blog I share a retrospective on the amazing progress indie authors have made over the last ten years.  Check it out here.

April 27, 2018 - A new episode of the Smart Author Podcast is out!  The topic of this episode, Episode 16, is Publishing in the Classroom.  I share details on how each year, over 100 Los Gatos High School students write, publish and distribute a poetry anthology.  I encourage every Smashwords author and publisher to consider prompting and mentoring similar classroom publishing initiatives in their own communities.  These projects help young readers and writers learn to appreciate books even more.  More at the Smashwords blog, or visit the podcast hub page to listen now or view listening options.

April 6, 2018 - My latest column for Publishers Weekly - Deconstructing Word of Mouth.  I take a close look at the series of events that must occur for your book to ignite word of mouth evangelism so that your next reader spawns more readers.  By understanding the elements of word-of-mouth, authors and publishers can take steps to optimize reader response at each link of the chain.  Enjoy!

March 21, 2018 - Smashwords entered the audiobook market today in partnership with Findaway Voices.  Our partnership gives authors and publishers greater control over audiobook pricing, rights, and distribution, and all without exclusivity or lockups.  Effective immediately, you can launch audiobook production and distribution from the Smashwords Dashboard.  Just click to Create Audiobook at the top of your Dashboard to review the program details.   Once you acknowledge the program details, you can deliver your ebook and metadata to Findaway Voices and begin the process to audition narrators.   You'll find our official announcement over at the Smashwords Blog along with rough cost estimates.  Please share with your friends!

March 15, 2018 - Congrats to all authors and publishers who participated in our ninth annual Read an Ebook Week promotion which ended last Saturday.   It was our most successful Read an Ebook Week promotion ever with a record number of enrolled books, record dollar sales and record unit downloads.  THANK YOU READERS!  Our next scheduled sale is our annual Summer/Winter Sale in July.  This sale usually marks the highest sales month of the year for the Smashwords store.

February 5, 2018 - The new 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide is out!!!  Download now for free.  Download links, in alpha order:   Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords   More at the Smashwords blog.  Please share with your friends.

January 29, 2018 - In case you missed it, some great news for Smashwords authors.  Smashwords retailing partner Kobo has entered a strategic alliance with Walmart to re-enter the US ebook market in a big way.  Sometime later this year, per Kobo/Rakuten's press release, Kobo and Walmart will offer a co-branded e-reading app and ebookstore, and Walmart will also begin selling Kobo e-reading devices and "digital book cards" in its physical stores.   The timing of this exciting development is stated as, "later this year."

January 26, 2018 - Learn how to earn free press coverage, today on the latest episode of the Smart Author podcast.  This is part six in my six-part series on book marketing.  Learn more at the Smashwords Blog, or listen on Apple Podcasts, or visit the Smart Author home page for links to various podcast outlets or to listen now over your web browser.

January 19, 2018 - Following the January 8 security notice, which appeared here on Site Updates below and for which authors/publishers received an even more detailed alert via email that went out the same day, we've made the following updates to protect you: 1.  On January 8, we added a new feature at Smashwords that will automatically notify you whenever your password is changed.  This will help prevent unauthorized account modifications.   2.  On January 16, we added a new feature at Smashwords that will automatically notify you whenever any changes are made to your payment settings page. We send you an email to your main email address, as well as to your prior PayPal email address and your new PayPal email address (when applicable). In this way, you'll be alerted to any unauthorized changes to your payment settings.   3.  Earlier today, we updated the Smashwords Terms of Service to remind current and future Smashwords authors and publishers of their responsibility to choose unique, secure and robust email/password combinations to control their Smashwords account access.  As a further reminder, if the password you use at Smashwords is the same you've ever used at any other site, or if your password is easily guessable (like "password" or "password123"), please log out of your account, click "forgot password" and then choose a new password that is unique and robust.  We advise that you follow the same recommendation for any other website or internet service at which you maintain an account.  Never use the same passwords at multiple sites.