Female Authors Dominating Smashwords Ebook Bestseller Lists

14 April 2014

From the Smashwords blog:

Each month, Publishers Weekly publishes the Smashwords Self-Published Ebook Bestseller List.  We report our bestsellers based on dollar sales aggregated across the Smashwords distribution network which includes retailers such as iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, the Smashwords store and others.

The other day I was browsing our February 2014 Smashwords bestseller list at Publishers Weekly and realized that all the top 25 bestsellers were written by women.  Cool beans.

Wondering if this was a fluke, I looked at our December 2013 Smashwords bestseller list at PWand bingo, same thing.  All 25 books were written by women.

Then I looked at the bestseller list for November 2013.   Same thing again.  100% women.

Our ebook bestsellers for October 2013?  You guessed it, 100% women.

. . . .

Why are women dominating the Smashwords bestseller lists, other than the fact that these women are all super-awesome writers?  One likely factor is that romance is the #1 bestselling genre at Smashwords, and romance is overwhelmingly written by women.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I’m constantly blown away the smarts, savvy and sophistication of romance authors.  These ladies have pioneered many of the ebook publishing and distribution best practices that so many indies take for granted today.

Link to the rest at Smashwords

10 Reasons Self Published Authors Will Capture 50 Percent of the Ebook Market by 2020

8 March 2014

From Mark Coker via The Huffington Post:

There’s a debate raging about the impact self-published ebooks will have on the book publishing business.

By my estimates, self-published ebooks will account for 50 percent of ebook sales by 2020.

. . . .

On one side of the debate, you have people such as myself who believe all signs point toward indie ebook authors capturing an ever-greater percentage of the book market.

On the other side you have folks who think self publishing represents an insignificant portion of the book market. The naysayers think we indie optimists are delusional.

. . . .

1. Print will decline as a book-reading format – More readers will continue transitioning from print to screens. The transition to screens will be driven by the low prices, selection, exceptional discoverability and instant reading pleasure delivered by ebooks.

. . . .

3. The perceived value of publishers will decline in the eyes of writers – As the importance of print distribution declines, the importance of publishers will decline. Prior to the rise of ebooks, publishing was a print-centric game. Publishers controlled the printing press and the all-important access to retail stores. Print distribution remains an important glue that holds many writers to their traditional publishers. When publisher stickiness decreases, writers will be tempted to explore the indie author camp.

. . . .

8. Writers are discovering the joy of self publishing – If publishers are from Mars, authors are from Venus. They speak different languages and hold different values. The rewards of self publishing transcend the conventional and myopic commercial-metric value systems of publishers. Indie authors are enjoying total creative control, faster time to market, ownership over their publishing future, and the flexibility to innovate and evolve their immortal ebooks which will never go out of print. Indie authors enjoy the freedom to serve their fans as they want to serve them. Icing on the indie author’s cake: Indie ebook authors earn royalty rates four to five times higher than they’d earn from traditional publishers.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post

Hugh Howey and the Indie Author Revolt

20 February 2014

From Mark Coker via Publishers Weekly:

With a debate brewing about how much indie authors can, and do, earn from their writing–much of it sparked by a blog post from author Hugh Howey–PW asked Mark Coker, founder of indie publishing platform Smashwords, to offer his two cents. Here is Coker’s take:

The rift between authors and publishers grew more pronounced last week with the release and ensuing controversy surrounding Hugh Howey’s Authorearnings Web site. Critics have accused Howey and his anonymous Data Magician of perpetuating horrible crimes against statistics. Supporters–most of them indie authors and indie author sympathizers – hailed Howey’s conclusions as further evidence that authors no longer need publishers.

The critics of Howey’s data and methodology are missing the point. The thrust of Howey’s conclusions is that indie authors are taking e-book market share from traditional publishers. Whether the indie percentage today is 10% or 50% of the overall e-book market or a particular genre doesn’t matter. It’s not worth arguing. What matters is the directional trend, and the strong social, cultural and economic forces that will propel the trend forward in a direction unfavorable to publishers.

The indie author insurrection has become a revolution that will strip publishers of power they once took for granted.

By every measure of great historical or contemporary revolutions, the indie author revolution is real and gaining strength every day. At the heart of every revolution is growing disparity between haves and have-nots, abuse of power, and the innate human desire for greater self-determination, freedom, fairness and respect.

. . . .

I’m in the moderate camp. I think the business of Big Publishing is broken, but the people of Big Publishing are not. Although it would be beneficial to my business for big publishers to collapse, it’s not the outcome I desire. I think the world is better served with more publishing options. I want to see more publishers, more self-published authors, more books, more retailers, and more book-loving people earning a living contributing their talent to books and book culture.

For decades, aspiring authors were taught to bow before the altar of Big Publishing. Writers were taught that publishers alone possessed the wisdom to determine if a writer deserved passage through the pearly gates of author heaven. Writers were taught that publishers had an inalienable right to this power, and that this power was for the common good of readers. They were taught rejection made them stronger. They were taught that without a publisher’s blessing, they were a failed writer.

. . . .

As more and more indies achieve commercial success on their own terms, the stigma of self-publishing is evaporating. Indie authors have become the cool kids club. It’s a movement where its members self-identify as indie. It’s a worldwide cultural movement among writers. Indies are regularly hitting all of the most prestigious retailers and news media bestseller lists. Many indies have turned their backs on traditional publishers.

. . . .

One of my favorite moments since launching Smashwords in 2008 was a conversation I had with Donald Maass two years ago at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. I told Donald I thought he was underestimating the impact self-publishing would have on the publishing industry, and he responded, “and I think you’re delusional.”

Today, the myth of traditional publishing is unraveling. The stigma of traditional publishing is on the rise.

. . . .

Authors are also disappointed by Big Publishing’s misguided foray into vanity publishing with Pearson/Penguin’s 2012 acquisition of Author Solutions, a company known for selling over-priced publishing packages to unsuspecting writers. Multiple publishers have formed sock puppet imprints powered by ASI: Simon & Schuster’s Archway, Penguin Random House’s Partridge Publishing in India, HarperCollins’ Westbow, Hay House’s Balboa Press, Writer’s Digests’ Abbott Press, and Harlequin’s Dellarte Press. These deals with the devil confirmed the worst fears held by indie authors who already questioned if publishers viewed writers as partners or as chattel.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Paul for the tip.

PG thinks Mark has hit on an explanation for why Big Publishing and its associates have reacted so vehemently over the Author Earnings information. In a former era, they would have blown it off, but this time, it hit a nerve.

All along, they’ve believed they were the cool kids. Tradpub authors swallowed declining advances and dodgy royalty reports from their publishers because they were the cool kids. Underpaid workers in Big Publishing accepted the low wages because when they mentioned they worked for Random House at parties, everybody thought they were cool kids.

Now indie authors, a bunch of losers if there ever was one, are taking away the cool kids brand from traditional publishing. Of course, tradpub is going to give them the mean girls treatment, but it’s not sticking any more.

The geeks have taken over and traditional publishing is looking like the Losers Club.

Why doesn’t Smashwords buy Nook?

14 January 2014

From TeleRead:

“The big question for B&N is whether there is a profitable ebook and digital content business to be pulled from the mess of Nook,” Purcell concludes. “For too long, the digital content side of the business has been a slave to the device side.” He also cites the falling unit prices of ebooks, which leads to B&N’s huge challenge in rebuilding unit sales.

Purcell sees one of B&N’s key challenges as to “increase its stock of exclusive content (which sounds like an impossible task given Amazon’s attractiveness in this area).” I don’t think he’s understating. Personally, I believe that self-publishing in general, and Kindle Direct Publishing in particular, is having a transformative effect on the publishing industry and book trade far beyond its audience share, which is already substantial enough. And Purcell is essentially saying that it’s not enough to be an online bookseller or ebookstore if you want to be serious competition to Amazon: You need to have your own direct publishing operation as well. Otherwise you’re just not going to have a compelling offering as an alternative.

Well, who does have that? Smashwords. In fact, it’s almost the only entity I can think of offhand that does, at least on so significant a scale. There’s Kobo, of course, but I don’t think anyone expects Kobo to buy the Nook assets. However, if Smashwords wanted to pick up a large chunk of book market real estate that would flesh out the operation and put it on closer to an equal footing with Amazon Kindle, then they could consider them.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Interesting idea, but a sale of Nook would require that Barnes & Noble, as a public company, disclose the sales price for Nook, a sum which would likely be embarrassingly small. From a public perception standpoint for the larger organization, it might be better for BN to allow Nook to shrivel on the vine.

2014 Book Publishing Industry Predictions — Increased Competition Between Traditional Publishers and Indie Authors

9 January 2014

From Mark Coker on The Huffington Post:

What does 2014 hold in store for ebook authors, publishers and readers? Today I bring you 14 book publishing industry predictions.

. . . .

3. Ebook growth slows - Here comes the hangover. After a decade of exponential growth in ebooks with publishers and indies alike partying like it was 1999, growth is slowing. We all knew this day was coming. Year over year growth of 100 percent to 300 percent a year could not continue forever. The hazard of fast-growing market is that it can mask flaws in business models. It can cause players to misinterpret their success, and the assumptions upon which they credit their success. It can cause successful players to draw false correlations between cause and effect. Who are these players? I’m talking about authors, publishers, retailers, distributors and service providers — all of us. It’s easy to succeed when everything’s growing. It’s when things slow down that your business model is tested. The market is slowing. A normal cyclical shakeout is coming. Rather than fear the shakeout, entrepreneurial players should embrace it. Let it spur you on to become a better, more competitive player in 2014. Players who survive shakeouts usually come out stronger the other end.

4. Competition increases dramatically - With hundreds of thousands of new books published annually, and with retailer catalogs swelling to carry millions of ebook titles, it may come across as no surprise that completion will increase in 2014. Yet in 2014, the competition faced by authors and publishers will increase by an order of magnitude, and will make some players wish it was 2013 again. The ebook publishing playing field, which until recently was significantly tilted in the indies’ favor, has now leveled a bit. Yet indies still enjoy a number of competitive advantages, including faster time to market, greater creative freedom, closer relationships with readers and thus a better understanding of reader desires, higher royalties rates and ultra-low pricing flexibility including FREE.

5. Ebook sales, measured in dollar volume, will decrease in 2014 - Yikes. I said it. The nascent ebook market is likely to experience its first annual downturn in sales as measured in dollar volume. This will be driven by price declines among major publishers and by the slowing transition from print to screens. Although readers will continue migrating from print to screens, the early adopters have adopted and the laggards will shift more slowly. Another driver of the drop is that the overall book market growth has been moribund for several years. As ebooks as a percentage of the overall book market increase, it means the growth of ebooks will become constrained by the growth and/or contraction of the overall book industry. Global sales in developing countries remain one potential bright spot that could mitigate any sales contraction.

. . . .

7. A larger wave of big-name authors will defect to indieville - Multiple market forces will conspire to cause more traditionally published authors to turn their backs on big publishers. Publishers will try to hold the line on their 25 percent net ebook royalty structures, which means big authors will see their royalties suffer as prices drop and as the unit sales advantage of low prices decreases, and as the disadvantage of high prices increases. At the same time, readers will continue to transition from print to ebooks, making the print distribution to physical bookstores less important, and thus weakening the grip big publishers once had on bigger-name authors. Big authors, eager to maximize their net, will feel greater impetus to emigrate to indieville.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to David for the tip.

Smashwords eDelivery Out of Beta, No Longer Supports the Kindle

16 November 2013

From The Digital Reader:

For the past 6 weeks the indie ebook distributor Smashwords has been beta testing an automatic delivery solution, eDelivery, that enabled customers to send ebooks to their Kindle or their Dropbox account.

Smashwords ended the beta test today, but the eDelivery service is only about half as useful as I had hoped. They have unfortunately had to drop support for emailing ebooks to your Kindle. Here’s how Smashwords phrased it in the email they sent out today:

Unfortunately, due to Amazon policy, we will not be able to release Send to Kindle at this time.

. . . .

But never mind what we can’t do; instead let’s look at what we can do. Smashwords customers can now have their ebook purchases synced to a Dropbox.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader


29 October 2013

From Mark Coker at Smashwords

Oyster Shipments to Begin in Three Days.

On September 5, Smashwords announced a distribution agreement with Oyster, a new and innovative ebook subscription service. Oyster offers consumers unlimited access to more than 100,000 ebooks for only $9.95 per month.

At the time we announced the deal, we also announced that we wouldn’t begin shipping to Oyster until at least 72 hours after we shared the financial terms with you.  The clock starts now.

I also stated at the time that I believed the terms were author-friendly, and that Smashwords authors would be pleased when they learned the details.  Today, via this email, I’m sharing the details.

Here’s a link to our original announcement here. 


From Guest Blogger Randall with a thanks to J.M. for the tip.

Smashwords Publishes 250,000th Book

5 September 2013

From The Smashwords Blog:

An indie author today released the 250,000th book on Smashwords.

In the last 30 days, over 9,000 books were released at Smashwords.  In 2008, we released 140 books in the first year.

The 250,000 books comprise 8.5 billion words.  Imagine the millions of hours of love that went into these books.  Imagine the cultural treasures that are now available and discoverable to future generations.

Five years ago when we launched Smashwords, self-publishing was viewed as the option of last resort for writers. Today, it’s becoming the option of first choice.  The stigma of self-publishing is melting away as the stigma of traditional publishing increases.

Indie authors are becoming professional publishers.

Writers have learned that with ebook self-publishing, they can enjoy faster time-to-market, greater creative control and 4-5 times higher royalty percentages.  The higher royalty rate enables indie authors to price lower while still earning more per ebook sold.  This gives indies a significant competitive advantage over traditionally published authors.  When readers are given the choice between two books of equal quality, and one is $3.99 and the other is $12.99, the $3.99 title is more desirable.  The $3.99 indie earns about $2.50 for every book sold, whereas the $12.99 author earns $1.60 to $2.25.

Link to the rest at The Smashwords Blog

Smashwords Introduces Preorder Distribution

27 July 2013

From The Smashwords Blog:

Smashwords authors and publishers now have an exciting and powerful new merchandising tool:  Preorders at Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Today we launched a public beta of our new preorder feature, available immediately to over 70,000 Smashwords authors and publishers around the world.

With preorders, Smashwords distributes a book to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo in advance of the official onsale date.

During the preorder period, customers place advance orders.  These advance orders accumulate in the days and weeks prior to the official onsale date and then credit all at once on the date of release, which causes the title to spike in the retailer’s bestseller lists.

Link to the rest at Smashwords Blog and thanks to Scath for the tip.

Smashwords Romance Authors Promoted at RWA Atlanta

16 July 2013

From the Smashwords Blog:

Attendees of the Romance Writers of America national convention in Atlanta this week will discover a special treat in their registration goodie bags.Inside each bag will be a four gigabyte Smashwords USB thumb drive containing 118 free romance ebooks, including titles from many of the world’s most popular romance authors.  They’re all Smashwords authors.  The books are provided in both .epub and Kindle formats.

Also on the drive are digital handouts for nearly 50 RWA workshops and sessions, as well as an Smashwords ebook publishing kit containing copies of  The Smashwords Style Guide, The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.

We’re really excited about the drive and trust it’ll give our authors some great exposure within the romance community.

Link to the rest at Smashwords Blog and thanks to Susan for the tip.

This is a technique that is easy for indie authors to copy. Small-capacity thumb drives are cheap and it’s easy to copy a promo copy of your ebook onto several and keep them in your pocket/purse to hand out.

If you want to get a little fancier, you can pay to have your name, website address, etc., printed on the thumb drives. Some of the printing services will even copy your ebook onto the thumb drive as part of their service if you like.

It costs more than a bookmark but is less likely to be thrown away.

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