Showing posts with label Smashwords. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Smashwords. Show all posts

Monday, July 7

Mark Coker's Tips On How To Sell More Books

Mark Coker's Tips On How To Sell More Books

Let's talk about book marketing. 

I prefer to concentrate on writing so I tend to shy away from marketing. That said, writers need to make a living wage if they are to keep writing, so marketing--learning how best to present our work to readers--is important.

Each year Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, shares the most significant factors in a book's sale on Smashwords[1]. Here is his analysis for this year: 2014 Smashwords Survey Reveals New Opportunties for Indie Authors

Even small changes can have big effects.

It will come as no surprise that, as Coker writes, "A few titles sell fabulously well and most sell poorly." But what Coker takes from this is worth thinking about: "An incremental increase in sales rank is usually matched by an exponential increase is sales."

The takeaway: Do those things that "give you an incremental advantage so you can climb in sales rank."

What follows are a few ways in which you can give your book an incremental advantage.

1. Longer ebooks sell better.

In the 2014 survey, as in earlier surveys, it was clear that longer books sell better. 

When I read this I wondered: How long is longer? 70,000 words? 80,000? 100,000? But Coker doesn't put a wordcount on this. All he says (see below) is that a book that has fewer than 50,000 words, all things being equal, would be at a disadvantage.

2. Price points: books priced at $2.99 and $3.99 sell best.

Mark Coker writes:

"The highest earning indie authors are utilizing lower average prices than the authors who earn less, but this doesn't mean that ultra-low prices such as $.99 are the path to riches.  $2.99 and $3.99 are the sweet spots for most of the bestsellers."

"FREE still works great, but it's losing some mojo [...]."

3. If you offer your book as a pre-order, it will sell more copies.

Mark Coker writes: 

"I think preorders today are where free was five years ago.  The first authors to effectively utilize preorders will gain the most advantage, just as the first authors to enter new distribution channels gain the most advantage.  Five years from now once all indies recognize that preorders are a no-brainer essential best practice, the effectiveness of preorders will decline."

4. Books in a series sell better than standalone books.

Not only do books in a series outsell standalone books but the best performing series have longer books.

5. Books under 50,000 words sell fewer copies.

Mark Coker writes:

"Also interesting, we found series books under 50,000 words are especially disadvantaged.  This is not to say that you can't become a bestseller writing shorter novellas.  Multiple Smashwords authors have had success here.  But what the data does tell me is that successful novella writers might achieve even greater success if they write full-length.  The data appears to suggest that series books under 50,000 words might create friction that makes readers incrementally less willing to buy."

6. Offer the first book of a series free of charge.

Mark Coker writes: "We found strong evidence that series that have free series starters earn more money for authors than series that do not have free series starters." 

To sum up:

- Longer ebooks sell better.
- Books priced at $2.99 and $3.99 sell best.
- Books offered as a pre-order sell more copies.
- Books in a series sell more copies.
- Short books (books with fewer than 50,000 words) sell fewer copies.
- Series sell better if the first book is offered free of charge.

Question: What works for you? If you have a marketing tip to share, please leave a comment.


1. Mark Coker's survey is based on "over $25 million in customer purchases aggregated across Smashwords retailers including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, the store, Sony (now closed), Diesel (closed), Oyster, Scribd, Kobo, public libraries and others." In other words, it is based on books offered on the Smashwords platform as well as on platforms owned by Smashwords' publishing partners. As a result, this data may not apply to those who sell on other platforms. That said, I have heard many of these points echoed by people who sell primarily on Amazon.
Photo credit: "June 2014" by *Light Painting* by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Sunday, August 18

A Publishing Checklist: What To Do When You Self Publish

A Publishing Checklist: How To Self Publish A Book

This month, one of my favorite mystery writers, Elizabeth Spann Craig, shared her checklist of things to do when she publishes a book: Release Activities for the Reluctant Promoter.

I was SO happy to read Elizabeth's post; I did the Scooby dance. I love checklists, I'm always forgetting something, and it never occurred to me to print out a publishing checklist and tack it to the back of my office door.

So, without further ado, here's Elizabeth's checklist for self published books. By the way, for your traditionally published authors, do head over to Elizabeth's blog, she has a checklist for you as well.

Elizabeth Craig's Indie Publishing Checklist


1. Upload your book to the online retail stores of your choice. For me, that means: Smashwords, Kobo and Kindle. Elizabeth Craig puts her book in Nook as well, but I let Smashwords take care of that for me.

2. Create a POD version of your book. Two great services for this are CreateSpace and Lightning Source.

3. I check Smashwords to make sure there were no issues with the upload and the meatgrinder didn't choke on my manuscript. I keep checking back until I see my book made it into their Premium Catalog.

4. Elizabeth Craig creates an audiobook version using Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).


1. Update website.

Put a thumbnail of your cover up and link it to a book page on your website with a larger image and an excerpt from the book as well as links to everywhere folks can purchase a copy. If you get a great review, don't be shy about putting that up as well!

2. Update your social networks.

- Blog about your new release. This is one of the main reasons authors need to have blogs! It's a great way to let your readers know you've written another book.

- Tweet about it. Tweet your blog post and let all your Twitter followers know you've released a wonderful new book.

- Facebook. Elizabeth Craig posts a publication announcement on Facebook.

3. Amazon Author page. Don't forget to add your new publication to your list of books.

4. Goodreads. The wonderful folks at Goodreads will want to know about your latest book. (By the way, if you don't have an author account on Goodreads drop by their Author Program page and get one.)

5. LinkedIn. I don't use linked in, but if you do it's a good idea to update it.

6. Update bios. I haven't done this lately and probably should. Remember to keep your bios up to date, including the photo!

7. Tell your newsletter subscribers about your new book. Perhaps tell them a bit beforehand and offer them a promo code to either get free copies, sale copies or something cool like a mug or t-shirt.


1. Goodreads Giveaway. Elizabeth Craig writes, "Once I’ve got CreateSpace live, [I] order copies for a Goodreads giveaway." This probably deserves another blog post and, of course, a link on your website.

2. I've mentioned this, above, but you could let your newsletter subscribers know in advance about your book coming out and perhaps have some sort of a giveaway.

3. Many authors find blog tours productive. If you don't have time for a blog tour, you can always write a few guest posts.

4. Some authors use Amazon's Select program to promote their books. I've written about that here and here.

As Elizabeth Craig says, the number one thing you need to do when releasing a book is keep writing!
Best of luck, may all your book releases be smooth. Cheers!

Photo credit: "London: Tower bridge and the Thames" by Caroline under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Thursday, May 23

Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords, Shares Survey Results: 5 Ways To Sell More eBooks

Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords, Shares Survey Results: 5 Ways To Sell More Books

I predict that within three years, over 50% of the New York Times bestselling ebooks will be self-published ebooks. It's possible I'm being too conservative.
-- Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords
I've been meaning to discuss Mark Coker's analysis of the results from his latest eBook survey but other projects kept intruding.  Finally, I just dove in and did it.

What follows is my condensed version of Mark Coker's post, New Smashwords Survey Helps Authors Sell More eBooks.

5 Ways To Sell More eBooks

1. Longer eBooks Sell Better

I was surprised by this, but successful indie author Russell Blake would agree: novels sell better than novellas. MC writes:
The top 100 bestselling Smashwords books averaged 115,000 words.  When we examined the word counts of books in other sales rank bands, we found the lower the word count, the lower the sales.

2. Shorter book titles have a slight sales advantage

I chuckled when I read this because it's one of the points I included in my blog post about how to choose the perfect title. I have a bias toward books with shorter titles, but this could just be because shorter titles are easier to remember. Mark Coker writes:
The top 100 bestselling Smashwords books averaged 4.2 words in their book title.

For titles ranked #1,000-#2,000, the average word count was 5.7, or about 36% more words than the top 100.

Books ranked #100,000-#101,000 (not a sales rank any author wants!), the book title word count was 6.0 words.

3. Lower priced books sell more copies

That's not at all surprising. Mark Coker writes:
[B]ooks priced between $1.00 and $1.99 significantly underperform books priced at $2.99 and $3.99. 
It was surprising that books priced at $1.99 sell the most poorly. Mark Coker's advice: Whatever price you put on your book, don't sell it for $1.99.

Free books, of course, are downloaded most often. Basically for every 92 free books downloaded one is sold. Mark Coker writes:
FREE books, on average, earned 92 times more downloads than books at any price. If you've written several books, consider pricing at least one of the books at free. If you write series, consider pricing the series starter at FREE. Nothing attracts reader interest like FREE. But remember, it's one thing to get the reader to download your book. It's an entirely different challenge to get them to read it, finish it and love it.

4. $3.99 is the new sweet spot

Significantly more books were sold at $3.99 than for any other price. Mark Coker writes:
One surprising finding is that, on average, $3.99 books sold more units than $2.99 books, and more units than any other price except FREE.  I didn't expect this.  Although the general pattern holds that lower priced books tend to sell more units than higher priced books, $3.99 was the rule-breaker.  According to our Yield Graph, $3.99 earned authors total income that was 55% above the average compared to all price points.

The finding runs counter to the meme that ebook prices will only drop lower.  I think it offers encouraging news for authors and publishers alike. It also tells me that some authors who are pricing between $.99 and $2.99 might actually be underpricing. [Emphasis mine]

5. Go indie!

Mark Coker writes:
An indie ebook author earns about $2.00 from the sale of a $2.99 book. That book, on average, will sell four times as many units as a book priced over $10.00. In order for a traditionally published author to earn $2.00 on an ebook sale, the book must be priced at $11.42 (if the publisher has agency terms, as Smashwords does) or $16.00 (if it's a wholesale publisher).
. . . .
If a reader has the choice to purchase one of two books of equal quality, and one is priced at $2.99 and the other is priced at $12.99, which will they choose?
. . . .
I predict that within three years, over 50% of the New York Times bestselling ebooks will be self-published ebooks. It's possible I'm being too conservative.

Indie ebook authors can publish faster and less expensively, publish globally, enjoy greater creative freedom, earn higher royalties, and have greater flexibility and control. It's not as difficult to successfully self-publish as some people think. The bestselling traditionally published authors already know how to write a super-awesome book. That's the most difficult task of publishing because the best books market themselves on reader word-of-mouth.
I didn't talk about everything Mark Coker wrote, his article is well worth reading.

The upshot: This is a great time to be an indie author!

Photo credit: "hamburger hafengeburtstag (fisheye) wasserschutzpolizei" by fRedi under Creative Commmons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0.

Wednesday, March 27

Mark Coker, Founder Of Smashwords: Six Ways To Increase Book Sales

Mark Coker, Founder Of Smashwords: Six Ways To Increase Book Sales
Mark Coker, founder of, in his recent article, Six Tips to Bring Your Book Back from the Doldrums, shared 6 ways to increase book sales.

If you feel your book is under-preforming, Mark's article is a must read. What follows is a summary.

1. Does your book evoke passion in your readers?

One way you can tell if your book evokes passion is through its reviews.

For instance, are the reviews mediocre? If the book receives mostly 5 star reviews that's fabulous! People love your book and they're passionate about it. Also, if you get mostly one star reviews, at least your work has evoked passion in readers--perhaps not the kind you'd like, but still!

Three star reviews can be the worst. Readers didn't feel strongly either way.

That said, beware of clumping the reviews together and focusing on the average score. Look at the distribution. If your reviews are split between 5's and 1's then chances are you've written a great, controversial, book. There's a lot of passion there, don't change a thing!

Mark writes:
You need to WOW your reader.  It doesn’t matter if you write romance, mystery or non-fiction, if your book doesn’t move the reader to an emotional extreme, your job isn’t done.  
Bottom line: If folks aren't passionate about your book think about doing a major rewrite. Or, perhaps, take what you've learned, and write a new book.

No reviews

If your book has no reviews Mark suggests offering the book for free. Perhaps not permanently, just to get folks reading what you've written and hopefully get some reviews.

Why are reviews important? There's no way around it: reviews help sell books. Mark writes:
For the first two years (2008-2009), Boob Tube sold maybe 20 copies.  It had only one or two reviews.  My wife and I decided to set the price to free for six months.  We got 40,000 downloads, a lot of reviews, and even our first fan mail (yay!).  Then we set the price to $2.99 and it started selling.  Without reviews at the retailers, Goodreads, LibraryThing and elsewhere, few readers will take a chance on you.  FREE helps readers take that chance.

2. Does your cover image give the correct impression of your book?

If your reviews are 4 stars or over, congratulations, people feel passionate about your book and they like it. If it isn't selling well think about redoing the cover.

Here's Mark Coker's test for whether you need a new cover image:

1. Take all text off the title so it's just the artwork.
2. Ask yourself:

Does this image/artwork tell the reader: This is the book you're looking for to experience X?

If your book is a romance book then X="the feeling of first love."
If your book is horror then X="horror."
If your book is a thriller then X="edge of your seat suspense."
If your book is non-fiction or how-to then X="knowledge."
If your book is a memoir then X="an inspiring story of personal journey."

I think that's a great test!

Here's another one:

A test to see if your book cover is professional enough

Compare your book cover to "the top-10 sellers in your category or genre."

Does your cover look as good as these? You want your cover to look just as good, preferably better.

3. Is your book priced too high?

The more you charge the less likely it is that a reader is going to take a chance on it, especially if you're an unknown author. Mark writes:
For readers who could afford it, the high price can make the book less desirable when there are alternative books of equal quality at less cost.  Last year, when we conducted a comprehensive study of the impact of price on unit downloads and gross sales .... We found books priced at $2.99 earned slightly more than books priced over $10.00, yet enjoyed six times as many unit sales.
Another advantage of pricing your book a bit lower is that "if the reader feels they received a great read for the price, they may be more likely to give you a positive review, and positive reviews will lead to more readers."

4. Look at how many sample downloads led to sales.

The Smashwords store has a little-known feature I think is entirely unique in the ebook retailing world:  We tell you how many partial samples were downloaded.  If you click to your Dashboard, you’ll see a column for book sales and a column for downloads.  The download count is a crude metric, but if you understand how it works, you’ll be able to use it as a relatively good tool.  This data is only for sales and downloads in the Smashwords store.

The download data includes both sample downloads and full book downloads for purchased books.  If a customer or sampler downloads in multiple formats (such as epub and mobi), or downloads multiple times, each time will tick the download count higher.  To make the data cleaner, subtract your paid sales from the download count.  Divide your sales at by the number of downloads.  This will tell you, roughly, what percentage of downloaders actually purchase your book.

When I do the numbers on my priced book, The 10-Minute PR Checklist, I find that approximately 13% of sample downloads lead to sale.  That’s pretty good.
 The higher the percentage the better.  50% would be fabulous.

5. Are you targeting the right audience?

No one can make everyone happy. Don't even try. If you give your paranormal romance to a person who only reads sci-fi then chances are they'll hate it, no matter how great of a paranormal romance it is.

When you know who your target audience is make sure your "title, book cover, book description, categorization and marketing are all aligned to target that audience with fine-tuned precision.  If you send the wrong messages, you’ll fail to attract the right readers.  Instead, you’ll attract the wrong reader, and the wrong reader will give you poor reviews."

In short, "Avoid the temptation to target a broader-than-necessary market."

6. Grow a thick skin and never give up!

As Mark Coker writes, it takes bravery to publish. Chances are your book will get brutalized at least once and the reader who did it may not stop at your book, they may start in on you!

We can't improve as writers if we don't know our weaknesses. Learn from the reaction your story gets and do whatever it takes to make it better. As Mark Coker writes:
If you want to be a successful writer, you have to be willing to listen to the judgment of readers.  Your readers, through their word of mouth, will determine how many other readers you reach.
Mark Coker's article Six Tips to Bring Your Book Back from the Doldrums is filled with practical, easy to follow, advice. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to increase the sales of a book.

Other articles you might like:

- Embrace Rejection: Write More, Write Better, Share Often
- 8 Ways To Channel The Power Of Your Unconscious Into Your Writing
- 4 Ways To Enchant Others

Photo credit: "The art of silence..." by VinothChandar under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Friday, November 30

Amazon Sweetens the KDP Select Pot For The Holiday Shopping Season

Amazon Sweetens the KDP Select Pot For The Holiday Shopping Season

If you were thinking of trying out Amazon KDP Select, now's the time.

Today Amazon sweetened the KDP Select pot, adding a total of 1.5 million dollars to be paid out to authors over the next three months. A total of 700,000 dollars of that money will be dispensed in the month of December effectively doubling the amount of money an author can make during the peak buying month.

Here's the relevant section from Amazon's press release:
[A]uthors can earn a share of both the regular monthly fund and the bonus every time their book is borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library on,, and (Kindle Direct Publishing Adds $1.5 Million Holiday Bonus for KDP Select Authors)
How much money can an independent author make if they enroll their book in Amazon's KDP Select program? There are no concrete answers, but more than ever before.

- Over the past year Amazon has paid out 7 million dollars to writers who have enrolled their books in the KDP Select program. That's a little less than $600,000 a month.

- Over the month of December Amazon will add a bonus $700,000 into the pot IN ADDITION to the regular $700,000 that goes to KDP Select authors. But that's only for December. The remainder of the 1.5 million will be paid out to authors over January and February of next year.

The upshot: Over the Christmas season, the season you're likely to sell and lend the most, you'll get twice the payoff. But you'll have to put all your eggs in the Amazon KDP Select basket.

Is The Sweetened Pot Worth The Price Of Exclusivity?

First let's give Amazon their say. What are the pros?

1. A massive amount of ereaders = record numbers of sales and borrows

Amazon has obliterated all its previous records for Kindle sales over the last few months. I'd love to have hard numbers regarding exactly how many Kindles there are in the world versus iPads and Nooks, but what really matters is who buys and reads the most ebooks.

According to Bowker "Amazon dominates the world ebook market" and in May of 2012 Digital Book World announced that the Kindle was by far the reading devise most frequently used to read an ebook.

Even more interesting is Bowker's observation that "35% of ebook buyers are power buyers, and they buy 60% of ebooks & spend 48% of the market". I wonder whether power buyers are equally distributed between the platforms, or whether Amazon has more of them. I remember Jeff Bezos said that, on average, after a person buys a Kindle they read 4 times as many ebooks than they did previously. (See: Jeff Bezos: Amazon Makes No Money On Sales Of Kindle Ereaders Or Tablets)

2. Double the money

Depending on the number of books you have for sale and how new those books are, you'll stand to make more than double what you made in KDP Select last year, all things being equal.

But things are never equal. First of all, there will be MANY more Kindles in peoples' hands this year than there were last year and more people enrolled in Amazon Prime (it's only Amazon Prime folks who can borrow books from Amazon's lending library).

3. Access to Amazon's best seller lists around the world

Amazon mentions that 500 Select books have placed in their top 100 lists worldwide. Getting your book in the top 100 is terrific for sales, not only of your current book but for all your other books as well. (See: Amazon Ranks Authors In Terms Of Their Book Sales).

Unfortunately Amazon hasn't mentioned how many KDP titles (versus Amazon KDP Select) made it into the bestseller lists, nor do they mention how many books are enrolled in Amazon Select, so it's difficult to know what to make of that figure.

Mark Coker: Think Twice Before Accepting Amazon's Sweetened Deal

Should authors enroll their books in Amazon's KDP Select program? Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, says NO, hell no! (See: Amazon The Grinch ...)

Mark Coker writes:
I contended, and still contend, that exclusivity is a devil's bargain. When authors go exclusive with any retailer, they increase their dependence upon that single retailer, limit long-term platform building at other retailers, disappoint fans who shop at other stores, and hobble the development of a thriving and competitive ebook retailing ecosystem.
As you can imagine, Mark Coker isn't happy about Amazon's move to monopolize independent book sales over the holiday season.
Let's address each of these points. Mark Coker contends that if an author enrolls their books in Amazon's KDP Select program they:

A. Increase their dependence upon that single retailer

Yes. Absolutely. At least, authors would increase their dependence on Amazon if they kept all their books in the Select program. But what about those authors who employ a mixed strategy? For instance, those authors who only enroll their books in Amazon's Select program when they're first released and then, after the 3 month term has elapsed, remove them from the program and distribute them as widely as possible.

Wouldn't authors employing a mixed strategy enjoy the best of both worlds? Your book would get an initial bump in readership because of the perks Select offers (free days and inclusion in Amazon's library) and then, after its term in the program ended, you could pull your book out and distribute it as widely as you wanted.

B. Disappoint fans who shop at different stores

Certainly if a fan doesn't have access to the Amazon store they would not be able to buy your Amazon Select books, but I haven't seen any data on how many folks are cut off from accessing Amazon's store versus other stores. In North America most people have access to all the estores but I have no data on how it is for the rest of the world.

If (for instance) Smashwords is much more accessible in certain parts of the world, parts of the world where your fans live, then this is a strong objection. If, on the other hand, Amazon can be assessed from all the places Smashwords can, the objection loses some 'oomph'.

True, some folks don't want to buy a book from Amazon, and if your book is in Select there's no other way to get it.

Perhaps knowing your fan base could help you decide. You could put a poll up on your website or send email out to your mailing list. Ask your fans how they would feel if you enrolled your books in Amazon Select.

C. Hobble the development of a thriving and competitive ebook retailing ecosystem.

For me, this objection is the least convincing.

First, would enrolling your book in Amazon's KDP Select program "hobble the development of a thriving and competitive ebook retailing system"? I'm not convinced and here's why. It's difficult for foreigners to get their books into Barnes & Noble, you can't do it directly. The only way is to enroll them in Smashwords and then Smashwords distributes them to Barnes & Noble.

I haven't heard anyone raise a fuss about this. Is Barnes & Noble hobbling the development of a thriving and competitive ebook retailing system?

I think that whether Amazon KDP Select will hobble the ebook retailing system is yet to be determined.

Second, even if publishing exclusively through Amazon DID harm the ebook retailing system it seems as though Mark Coker is asking folks to pass up probable gains in favor of not causing an unspecified harm to something nebulous (what exactly IS the 'ebook retailing system'?) at some point in the future.

Third, Smashwords stands to lose from what Amazon is doing, it stands to lose BIG. Coker isn't arguing as an uninterested party, he has stakes in this game, big states, and he's asking authors to continue to support Smashwords because ... well, because we want the ebook retailing ecosystem to thrive.

I think most indie authors are interested in where they'll make the most money over the month of December. After all, if you're like me, you have rent to pay, groceries to buy, not to mention the extra expenses of the Christmas season.

Against this someone might reply that those are short term reasons and I should be thinking long term but the fact is that we really don't have any statistics which will tell us what the long term is going to be.

Okay, that's my 2 cents! I've been writing impassioned blog posts lately, I wonder if something is in the air.

What do you think? Are you going to put any of your books into Amazon's KDP Select program?

By the way, just before I hit "publish" I noticed that Passive Guy had weighed in on Mark Coker's post. He wrote:
Mark Coker makes a lot of his Silicon Valley background. PG has been involved with many tech companies large and small. The good ones never complained about their competition. Instead they focused on building better products and services than their competition offered.

Other articles you might like:

- Does Amazon KDP Select Drive Away True Fans?
- Amazon's KDP Select: The Best Long-Term Strategy?
- Crowdfunding: Cutting Out The Middleman

Photo credit: "Bengal Tiger / Tigre de Bengala (Panthera Tigris)" by Esparta under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, September 17

Lyla Sinclair's 8 Secrets Of Successful Romance Writing

8 Secrets Of Successful Romance Writing

Recently Lyla Sinclair's indie published book, Training Tessa, made the New York Times Bestseller List. Today she was interviewed over at Smashwords.

Here are 8 secrets for indie writing success:

1) Join the Romance Writers of America (RWA)
I was a RWA member for two years and can say from personal experience that they are a terrific group. It's wonderful to have people cheering you on whether you are unpublished or multi-published. Thanks to my RWA chapter I was able to meet and ask questions of multi-published authors and hear their stories. There is no substitute for getting together with other writers and talking craft.

2) Publish new work frequently
This advice might seem obvious, along the lines of, "If you want to stay alive it helps to breathe", but I think it bears repeating. Lyla Sinclair writes:
Typically, when I publish a new story, sales increase for my backlist titles as well, even the more expensive Ellora’s Cave books. If I go a long time without publishing a new title, sales gradually decrease. My first indie story was published in the first quarter of 2011. I continued publishing short stories, than a novella, as fast as I could. So, 2011 was the year I began making a living as a writer, even though I’d written fiction seriously since 2003 and was first published in 2009.
3) Make sure your cover not only evokes emotion but evokes the right emotion
Lyla Sinclair writes:
I think it’s important to remember why people read fiction. They read in order to escape and feel things they may not get to feel in their real lives. Therefore, the most important characteristic of a cover is that it invokes—in the potential reader—the same emotion he or she will feel while reading the book. In other words, the cover for a horror story should creep you out. A suspense novel cover should make you nervous. An erotic cover should turn you on.
4) Price your book right for your genre
Lyla Sinclair writes:
You do need to study the pricing of other books in the top 100 of your genre before you consider your price. Different genres can have different price points. ... When I put my novella Training Tessa on sale for $0.99 (originally $2.99) to see if it could sell better, sales of that story went through the roof, then sales of all my backlist surged drastically.
. . . .
To be successful in self-publishing, an author needs to stay away from the “sheep” mentality and become her own shepherd. I research everything I can, run my own tests, then decide what’s best for me. All my marketing and sales efforts are a work in progress.
5) Social media works but focus on retail sites first
Lyla Sinclair writes:
If I were starting out as a new author today, my primary focus would be on making the most of what the retail sites offer—author pages, tagging, Listmania, putting key search words in my title for the search engines to pick up, etc., then I’d deal with Facebook and Twitter next.
6) Blog, but not frequently
Lyla Sinclair writes:
[...] I decided to use the “movie star” approach to blogging. Notice how movie stars disappear from talk shows for months, then pop up when they have movies coming out? That’s what I try to do. I think it’s interesting to note, though, that I was too sick to blog around the Training Tessa release, except for an announcement that it was out, but it made the bestseller lists. And when I think about it, I’ve often heard complaints from readers that fiction authors aren’t publishing their next books fast enough. I’ve never heard a reader complain that his favorite fiction author isn’t blogging enough.
7) Keep at it even if your first few books don't sell
Lyla Sinclair writes:
It is nearly impossible to be an overnight success as an author. Even when it seems that way, if you dig deeper, you find out the author has been working toward her goals for years. One book will not create a career for you any more than one year at a job will. Honestly, if a writer publishes one book, doesn’t sell much and gives up, I’m not sure he wants it badly enough. I was born a writer, and I would rather write limericks on bathroom walls for a living, if that were my only writing option, than not write. It took me about six years and the writing and rewriting of numerous works in three genres to become a self-supporting fiction author. I have traditionally published friends who had to start over several times in new genres with new names when their books didn’t sell. One thing is true, whether publishing traditionally or indie. A writer needs to be prepared to create multiple stories in order to build a following, then many more to sustain a career as a professional author.
8) "The secret" to making it big as a writer: 'Create the perfect storm'
Lyla Sinclair writes:
I think Training Tessa was the perfect storm that happened at a lucky time. “Perfect storm” does not mean perfect story. My definition of the perfect storm in self-publishing is when you write a good story in a popular genre, create a cover that communicates the story effectively to potential readers, and write a description that is interesting and clear.
Here is the complete interview with Lyla Sinclair: New York Times Bestselling Author Lyla Sinclair Shares Secrets to Writing Successful Erotica.

I think there is a lot of truth in what Lyla said about creating the literary analog of a perfect storm. I have heard that from many different people, Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch, and all those folks are supporting themselves form their writing.

Other articles you might like:
- 8 Tips For Blogging Success
- Ursula K. Le Guin On Academic Criticism & Philip K. Dick
- Writing Resources

Photo credit: unknown

Thursday, August 9

Smashwords Puts Books In Libraries!

Smashwords puts books in libraries

Library Direct, a service that allows libraries to acquire and loan out books available from Smashwords, has the ability to put your book in front of new readers.
We have already received purchase commitments from three library systems, each of which will acquire some variation of our top 10,000 best-selling titles.  The purchase commitments approach $100,000 in total.

The first delivery is on schedule to occur next week to Douglas County Libraries in Colorado, which will purchase an opening collection drawn from the top 10,000 best-selling titles at Smashwords.  Douglas Country, under the leadership of director Jamie LaRue, has been an outspoken proponent of what is becoming known as the "Douglas County Model."  The Douglas Country Model aims to replicate for ebooks the process by which libraries have traditionally acquired print books.  The library acquires the book once, owns the book, and manages the checkout systems where they limit the checkout to one copy at a time for each title they own.  Douglas Country monitors the number of "holds" on each book (the number of people waiting to check it out), and if the hold count exceeds a certain number of patrons, the library purchases additional copies.
 .  .  .  .
Like all new Smashwords distribution channels, authors and publishers have the option to opt out of Library Direct, if they choose, from the Smashwords Channel Manager.  Later today we'll notify all 45,000 Smashwords authors and publishers of this new channel.
To read more about Library Direct, go here: New Library Direct Enables Libraries to Acquire Large Opening Collections of Smashwords Ebooks.

Further reading:
- Twylah: Turn Your Tweets Into A Blog
- 50 Shades Of Alice In Wonderland: Another Indie Success Story
- Fifty Shades of Grey - Oh My!

Thursday, July 26

Mark Coker of Smashwords: $2.99 Is The Best Price For A Book


The actual title of Mark Coker's post was How a Traditional Publisher Could Harm a Writer's Career.

I never thought I'd see that sentence in print. Wow! Times have changed. Granted, this is Mark Coker writing, the founder of Smashwords, one of the largest self-publishing portals. But still.

So how could publishing traditionally harm one's writing career?

Mark's answer: by making you poorer. He writes:
[W]e found $2.99 books, on average, netted the authors more earnings (profit per unit, multiplied by units sold) than books priced at $6.99 and above. When we look at the $2.99 price point compared to $9.99, $2.99 earns the author slightly more, yet gains the author about four times as many readers. $2.99 ebooks earned the authors six times as many readers than books priced over $10.

If an author can earn the same or greater income selling lower cost books, yet reach significantly more readers, then, drum roll please, it means the authors who are selling higher priced books through traditional publishers are at an extreme disadvantage to indie authors in terms of long term platform building. The lower-priced books are building author brand faster. Never mind that an indie author earns more per $2.99 unit sold ($1.80-$2.10) than a traditionally published author earns at $9.99 ($1.25-$1.75).
Another interesting point Mark brought up was that it seems that the Apple store's "rankings favor unit sales over dollar volume (unlike the bestseller list at our small Smashwords store, which measures aggregate dollars spent).  Look at the Apple bestseller list and you'll see which authors are building their brands the fastest with readers."

Huh. That's good to know. If Amazon's ranking algorithms begin to more steeply favor higher priced books then selling through Smashwords on the Apple store--or just selling there directly--would be more attractive.

Mark Coker goes on to discuss Pearson's acquisition of Author Solutions and calls the acquisition "icky". I agree. He writes:
There are signs that some publishers are beginning to realize they need to implement strategies to bring indie authors back into the traditional fold, as witnessed by Pearson's acquisition last week of Author Solutions, Inc., which will be operated under its Penguin imprint.  I'm still scratching my head over this.

Does Pearson think that Author Solutions represents the future of indie publishing?  Author Solutions is one of the companies that put the "V" in vanity.  Author Solutions earn 2/3 or more of their income selling services and books to authors, not selling authors' books to readers.  Does Pearson think so little of authors that they've decided they can earn more money selling them services than selling their books?  Don't get me wrong, I have no qualm with indies investing in professional editing, proofreading and cover design. I encourage that.  There's just something about this that feels icky.

For months, blogger Emily Suess has been challenging the business practices of Author Solutions, and her posts make for some fascinating if not disturbing reading.  How will Pearson prevent Author Solutions from tarnishing the Penguin brand?  Seems to me Lulu or Blurb would have been a smarter acquisition if Pearson wanted a reputable print self-publishing firm.

Surely, they didn't acquire Author Solutions for their ebook revenues, which accounted for only $1.3 million in 2011 sales, or 1.3% of their nearly $100 million total, according to a story in Publisher's Weekly by Jim Milliot.  Smashwords ebook sales this year will do 10 times that $1.3 million, and with only 16 employees here in California as opposed to 1,600 employees at Author Solutions, 1,200 of whom are in the Philippines.  I'm making an unfair comparison, though, because Author Solutions is in the print business, and we don't touch print.  Compared to ebooks, print production and distribution is more complicated, more expensive and less rewarding for indie authors.
So, will someone please tell me, if print isn't the future, and vanity isn't the future, then why did Pearson pay $116 million for Author Solutions?  Do they think Author Solutions offers authors a more compelling print solution than Amazon's CreateSpace, or Lulu?  Does Penguin think the imprimatur of the Author Solutions brand will help it retain its most precious authors?

The good news is that publishers are beginning to realize that the power in publishing is shifting to authors.  The question remains, however, how they'll keep authors in the traditional stable now that the gates are torn down and greener pastures abound.
Here's a link to Mark's article:  How a Traditional Publisher Could Harm a Writer's Career.

Mark Coker is at the RWA annual conference that's going on right now. I really really wish I was there! By all accounts it's a fantastic conference and many of my favorite authors/presenters are going. Next year.

Related reading:
- Amazon's KDP Select, Kobo & PubIt: Joe Konrath & Blake Crouch Share Their Experiences
- 5 Points To Ponder Before You Self Publish
- Penquin's Purchase Of Author Solutions: Going To The Dark Side?

Thursday, July 19

International Writers And The U.S. 30% Withholding Tax: Getting It Back

Getting back the 30% US Withholding Tax
US 30% Withholding Tax

The Problem: 30% US Withholding Tax
If you are an international publisher/self-published author who sells through US companies then you will have 30% of all the money you make withheld for tax reasons. That's the bad news.

Solution One: An Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
The good news is that if you live in the UK, Canada or Ireland then you can avoid this tax entirely by applying for an Individual Tax Identification Number. There are also a few countries that, while they get some of the tax withheld, can receive most of it back. For a full listing of all countries that have tax exemptions read the document U.S. Tax Treaties--and if you can't get to sleep at night, it's better than warm milk and cookies.

Unfortunately an ITIN is difficult to get, and takes a long time, but it is your only option if you haven't started your own publishing company. Catherine, Caffeinated, has written a detailed article on how to get an ITIN so I'll send you her way: Applying for a US Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN): A Saga in 3 Parts

Solution Two: An Employee Identification Number (EIN)
If you have your own publishing company then you don't have to go through the rigamorole of getting your ITIN, you can just get an EIN. This is good news.

Again, Catherine, Caffeinated has a great post about this, courtesy of guest David Gaughran. His article is informative and funny. You can find it here: Non-US Self-Publisher? Tax Issues Don’t Need to be Taxing.

Another Problem: Getting Back The Tax That Was Previously Withheld
Now that you have your ITIN, or your EIN, and you've filled out the appropirate forms and sent them to Smashwords and Amazon and whatnot, now you're receving 100% of your earnings (big yea!). But you still have a problem.

You sold a few books while the withholding tax was in place and you'd like to get that money back. As always, there's good news and there's bad news.

The good news: You can get your money back.
The bad news: You can't just ask the retailer (for instance, Amazon or Smashwords) for your back tax, you have to ask the IRS.

While you can do everything you need to get your tax back, many folks would rather pay others to get the job done. If you're amoung that lot (Catherine is), there are companies who will get your tax back for you and charge you either a flat fee or a percentage.

One such company is Catherine writes about her experience with them and recommends them. Her article is here: The Easy Way to Get Your US Tax Back.

That's it!

When you get your ITIN, or your EIN, and your back taxes have been sorted out, fix yourself a nice tall cool glass of lemonade and relax. You've earned it!

Good luck.

Related reading:
- How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website
- The Business of Writing: Using Google+
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Thursday, June 21

Mark Coker, Founder Of Smashwords, Talks About Indie Publishing

mark coker, smashwords
Mark Coker

Mark Coker gives great advice about indie publishing that the average person can understand. I highly recommend his Smashwords Style Guide and Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.

Below is a recent interview he did with Morgan Doremus over at RT Book Reviews.

Cheers, thanks for stopping by.

Thanks to the Passive Voice Blog for positing about Mark Coker's interview.

Monday, June 11

5 Points To Ponder Before You Self Publish

From Mashable Business:
[S]elf-publishing means you won’t get all of the resources that a publishing company might provide, and you’ll have to pull a lot of the weight yourself. Here are some things you should consider before embarking on your journey to publication.
- 5 things to consider before publishing your book
I agree! This is the kind of article I wish I'd read before I published my first book.

1. Publishing Platform

The number of publishing platforms is increasing. Just last week, Kobo announced the creation of a self publishing portal called Writing Life. Here are a few more:

- Amazon KDP
- Barnes & Noble PubIt
- Smashwords
- Kobo Writing Life (in beta at the moment)

Print On Demand:
- CreateSpace
- Lulu
- Lightning Source

The choices may seem bewildering. If you've never published a book before then I'd suggest you get your feet wet by publishing an ebook, forget about putting out a paper version for now. Perhaps you have a short story that you would like to offer for sale?

Now that we've established the format, what about the platform? It's up to you, of course, but if this is your first time I would suggest publishing on Smashwords. In my opinion the only reason not to publish on Smashwords is Amazon's KDP Select program and that is a topic for another time (see the Related Links section, at the end).

It's easy to publish your book on Smashwords IF you follow the advice Mark Coker gives in his Smashwords Style Guide. I have found the Smashwords Style Guide to be the single most helpful book for formatting (or un-formatting as the case may be) a .doc file so that the finished ebook is error free.

If you do decide to publish through Smashwords remember to download all the different formats (mobi, epub, etc.) your book has been converted into and check each one for formatting errors. For instance, a table of contents that looks wonderful in Amazon's mobi format might look terrible in the epub format.

It may take you a few tries, but it gets easier each time you publish. Also, the hints Mark Coker offers in Publishing on Smashwords apply whether you are publishing on Smashwords or Amazon. And the book is free! I know this reads like a commercial for Coker's book, but it's not just me, many self-published authors have found his book invaluable.

2. Cost

While anyone can publish an ebook at no cost--other than your time which, arguably, is the most valuable thing of all--many people chose to contract various professionals to help them with tasks like editing, formatting, cover art, and so on. The money spent can add up, and quickly, so it's a good idea to sit down at the very beginning and decide how much of the work you're comfortable doing yourself.

The Cover
First impressions count--sometimes a glance is all anyone will give your book--so you don't want your book discounted because of a cover that screams "self-published".

You could hire someone to do the cover, and if you choose this option keep in mind you can expect covers can run anywhere from $100 to $350. Of course you could get a cover for less or more, but you should be able to get a decent cover in this price range.

If you decide to do it yourself, and I'm an advocate of at least trying this before you hire someone, there are some excellent image manipulation programs available for little to no cost. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), for instance. Of course if you already have Photoshop on your computer, use that!

When I do my covers my goal is this: Don't make it ugly. I'm not a graphic designer so, for me, simple is better and I let the principle of "the absence of ugliness" be my guide. Good luck whichever way you decide to go.

Get someone else to edit your work before you publish it. Period. There is no way you will be able to catch the errors in your manuscript the way another, more objective, person can.

If you can't afford to pay an editor then get together with other self-publishers and help edit their work in exchange for someone else editing yours.

Goofy tip: Lately I've been running my blog posts and stories through a text-to-speech program, NaturalReader. It's amazing how many errors it catches! I still need a human editor to go over my work, but the cleaner the copy your human editor gets, the better!

ISBN Numbers
While doubtless a worthy investment, if you're planning on publishing your book exclusively in electronic form and only through Amazon or Smashwords, you probably don't need to buy an ISBN number. Smashwords will provide one for free, if you ask, and Amazon will give you an ASIN number. (See 'Related Articles' for more on publishing through Amazon).

3. Marketing

For the self-published author nothing can replace building a platform. "Platform" is one of those abstract words which can mean almost anything. In my opinion, you'll need to set up a website, or at least a blog, and you'll need to blog regularly. This need not be onerous, even if you blog once a month you'll start to build an audience.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an invaluable tool, especially in the beginning when it looks as though no one is reading your blog. And it's free!

I'd been blogging for a few months before I set up my account with Google Analytics and it was a revelation. I remember jumping around the living room because a whole 5 people had come by my blog that day.

I'd also advise setting up a twitter account. If you don't want to do Facebook that's fine, but I suspect you would be missing out on an opportunity. I know I should do more with Facebook, but I've found the interface to be mildly cantankerous--or perhaps that's just me.

Remember: Whatever you decide to do, keep writing!

Related Articles:
- More on Amazon Select: Is exclusivity worth it?
- Amazon's Ranking Algorithm Has Changed: what this means for indie authors
- Changes in Amazon's Algorithm: An Update

Books on Publishing (Free):
- Smashwords Style Guide, Mark Coker
- Smashwords Book Marketing Guide
- The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success

"5 Points To Ponder Before You Self Publish," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.

Friday, April 27

Self publishing on Smashwords


Of all the publishing platforms, Smashwords is my favorite.

I'm not saying you'll earn the most through it, the jury is still out on that one, though the race seems to be between Smashwords and Amazon.

One of the reasons I like Smashwords is because they give your ebook a great marketing boost by putting it on their front page. Granted, this lasts only for a minute or so, depending on the number of writers publishing their ebooks at the same time, but -- and this is coming from a gal addicted to Google Analytics -- that's enough to give your digital baby a nice introduction to the world. It's difficult to build a platform even if you're willing to spend a lot of money, and Smashwords is offering offers writers a helping hand, and for free.

But that's not the number one reason I like Smashwords, this is: they are, hands down, the best distributor of e-books in the world. They will distribute your intellectual property through literally dozens of channels.

The following is from Smashwords Distribution Information Page.
Once your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog, we automatically distribute it to major online retailers such as Apple (distribution to iBookstores in 32 countries), Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith in the UK and FNAC (both powered by Kobo), the Diesel eBook Store,  eBooks Eros (operated by Diesel), Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), and other distribution outlets coming soon.
Atom/OPDS Catalog (Reaches Major Mobile App Platforms): This catalog contains all the books for sale at Sample distributors include Stanza on the iPhone and Aldiko on the Android mobile device platform. These two e-reading apps alone reach millions of readers combined. The catalog is also distributed to the Word-Player and FBReader apps, and to the Inkmesh ebook search engine.
Of course there are conditions. You have to get your book into the premium catalog at Smashwords, but that isn't hard to do. Just make sure it's formatted property, has a decent cover, and doesn't violate any of Amazon's content guidelines. I've published a few books through Smashwords under pen-names and haven't had any difficulty getting all of them into the Premium Catalog. If you'd like to read more about how to get your book into the Premium Catalog, I've put some links at the bottom of this article.

Amazon's KDP Select Program
One more thing. KDP Select is a program available to folks who have elected to publish through Amazon. It's the name for Kindle's lending library. In 2012 a fund of about six million dollars will be divided up between the authors of books that were lent out.

The advantages of KDP Select are clear: if one enrolls in KDP select one gets some money, one's book is still for sale in the Kindle store, and your books gets exposure through the lending program that it wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Now, for me, the idea of having my book in the library, any library, sends me into fits of ecstasy. Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but only slightly. Like many writers, when I was a kid my local library was my hang-out and the school library was my refuge. Knowing a new generation of readers was borrowing my book from a library would mean the world to me. AND I might get some money from it . What's not to like?

Here's the catch: If you enroll your book in KDP Select you must sell your book exclusively through Amazon. This is from the KDP Select website:
When you choose KDP Select for a book, you're committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital.
In other words, you can't publish your books through Smashwords and, by so doing, take advantage of their mammoth book distribution system.

The 60,000 dollar question: How much more money would an author make by publishing their book with Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Amazon, Sony, and so on, than if they only published through Amazon?

I don't have any answers. I haven't been able to find statistics on this, but I am doubtful that the average author would earn enough through the lending library to justify signing the exclusivity clause with Amazon. That said, if anyone reading this has information to the contrary, please let me know. I'm willing and eager to be proven wrong.

Thanks for reading, your comments are always welcome.

Further Reading
How to Self-Publish an Ebook with Smashwords: 32 Authors Share Their Tips and Tricks
Publishing with Smashwords
Self Publishing on Amazon: Kindle Direct Publishing
How to self-publish on Barnes & Noble

Smashwords Premium Catalogue
Amazon KDP Select
Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author, by Zoe Winters

Photo credit:

"Self Publishing on Smashwords" copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward 

Thursday, September 29

How Do Ebook Buyers Discover Books?

1. Recommendations from fellow readers on online message forums, blogs and message boards.

2. New books from a reader's favorite authors.

3. Random browsing. Readers look at book covers, reviews, download free samples.

Mark Coker conducted a survey and the above is an abridged report of what he found. Interestingly, bestseller lists weren't a major factor in how readers discovered new ebooks. (The graphic, above, expands if you click it. It lists the various ways ebook buyers discover ebooks.)

Read Mark Coker's post here: How Ebook Buyers Discover Books

Monday, August 29

Publishing With Smashwords

Smashwords is an ebook publishing and distribution platform for people, scribblers like myself, who publish their work in ebook form. If you are an independent author -- a writer who has chosen to publish their work themselves -- Smashwords provides a fantastic opportunity to get your book into the hands of readers while retaining control over every step of the process.

I have published two books through Smashwords and it has been a great experience. While I'm learning how to be a publisher, marketer and publicist, I'm part of an ever expanding community of mutually supportive writers and readers. What's not to like?

What Can Smashwords Do For Me As A Writer?
Smashwords will not only help you publish your book but will act as a distributor getting your work into digital bookstores. Here are a few of the retailers Smashwords has access to: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Nobel, Sony, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store. (For a complete and up-to-date list, click here.)

How Much Do I Have To Pay To Publish Through Smashwords?
Smashwords is free! This is from the Smashwords FAQ:
We don't charge for our ebook publishing, conversion and distribution services, and we don't sell publishing packages. We earn our commission only if we sell your book, and our commission is only 15% or less of the net, which works out to slightly under 10% of the retail price when your book sells at our retailers.
If I Publish Through Smashwords Does That Mean I Can't Publish Through, For Instance, Amazon?
Not at all! Smashwords allows an author to opt out of certain distribution channels, allowing you to publish your work to that channel yourself. For instance, although I'm using Smashwords to publishing my book, Until Death, to iTunes, Barnes & Nobel, Sony, Kobo and the Diesel Book Store, I chose to publish my book through Amazon myself, without help from Smashwords.

My Experience With Smashwords
When I first heard about Smashwords it sounded too good to be true. I've published two books through Smashwords so far and -- while formatting my first book was tedious -- I found formatting my second book, Until Death, to be relatively painless. At the moment it only takes me about half an hour to format and upload a file. Speaking of which, here are some formatting tips and tricks:

- Styles. When I was formatting my book files I found it worked best if I used styles based on the normal template when I did any formatting. This saved me, oh, so much work. The last time I did this my manuscript went through the meatgrinder with zero errors. Yay!

- Table Of Contents. This is what I do, I know other folks do it differently, but this works for me. I number each chapter simply with "Chapter 1", "Chapter 2", and so on, and I don't bother typing out a listing of the chapters in the beginning of the book.
The first time I formatted a book file I spent half an hour just formatting a fancy table of contents and put links from the chapter headings in the manuscript to the TOC entries and back again, but I kept getting errors when the manuscript went through the meatgrinder and the epub file wouldn't display properly in Adobe Digital Editions. After I removed my lovingly constructed table of contents, everything worked perfectly.

Recommended Reading For Publishing on Smashwords:
When I first formatted my book file for Smashwords I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about the process. Here are a few links to resources. I've read every one of these books and they helped me enormously.

1. Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author, by Zoe Winters.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. When I bought it I was hoping Zoe would give some advice about marketing, but she did very much more. I stepped through her description of how to publish on Smashwords the first time I went through the process. Her advice was great and it made me feel as though I had someone someone experienced with me each step of the way.

2. Smashwords Style Guide, by Mark Coker
When someone first recommended that I read the Smashwords Style Guide my eyes glazed over; it sounded too much like something I'd have to read for school. But I read it anyway and was glad I did. The Guide is well written, nicely organized and easy to understand.

3. Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, by Mark Coker
This is a must read. When I decided to become an independent author I knew nothing -- and I do mean absolutely nothing -- about promoting or marketing myself. A writing acquaintance of mine with a background in advertising recommended the Book Marketing Guide to me I am very glad she did. For instance, most of my sales have been generated through my Twitter contacts but I wouldn't have joined Twitter if it hadn't been for Mark Coker's urging. He's great! :)

I'd like to end this blog post with a few links to blogs that I've found enormously helpful:
- Joe Konrath: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
Joe Konrath is the unofficial spokesman and leader of the indie publishing movement and he seems like a toughly nice guy. When I first started reading Joe's blog I knew nothing about the independent publishing movement. He was the one who showed me that there was a big difference between the vanity press movement of yesteryear and the independent publishing movement of today.

- Dean Wesley Smith
Dean Wesley Smith has written over, probably well over, a hundred books and has been part of the traditional publishing industry, both as a writer and a publisher, for many years. His series of articles contain essential information about where the industry is today and also give the beginning writer encouragement. I highly recommend this blog to anyone starting out who wonders if they will be able to make it as a writer.

- Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch has been in the writing and publishing industries at least as long as Dean and has won many awards for her truly incredible writing. Like Dean, Kristine doesn't mince words when it comes to talking about things -- gottya clauses -- to watch out for in a publishing contract as well as warning about trends in the industry that could harm a writer's career.

- The Passive Voice blog
The Passive Voice blog is written by an attorney who practices contract law and who has the uncanny ability to explain contracts in a way that a layperson can understand and even enjoy. A must-read for anyone who thinks they may sign a contract one day.

I hope that I've given you at least one piece of information about Smashwords that was helpful. Smashwords is a great publishing and distribution platform that I would highly recommend to anyone considering self-publishing their work.

Good luck!

Saturday, May 7

Smashwords to Release Books as Apps

Through Smashwords' partnership with ScrollMotion they will be able to "create, promote, merchandise and distribute Smashwords ebooks as mobile applications."

These apps will be sold in Apple's App Store, the Android Market and the HP App Catalog. Smashwords estimates that the "Revenue from customers buying and downloading apps to smartphones and tablets will reach $38 billion by 2015."

Further reading:
Smashwords Press Release
Smashwords Partners with ScrollMotion to Deliver Indie Ebooks to Major Mobile App Marketplaces

Thursday, December 9

Brian S. Pratt: The Energizer Bunny of Self Publishing

Brian Pratt is projected to earn over 100,000 dollars next year at Smashwords and, when his Amazon sales are included, over 200,000 dollars overall. Here's a link to the blog post.

Almost as interesting as his amazing financial success is the story of his adventures in self-publishing.

[MC] You joined Smashwords March 27, 2009 10:26pm (I checked!). Can you take us back to that moment in time, and recall what was going through your mind

[BSP] Let's see. I was a single dad living with three kids and boy, was I poor (under the poverty level). Up until then, I hadn't really thought much about eBooks. I tried Mobipocket for a while and had great sales for three months, then it died off. Sales for my paperbacks, which I had published through iUniverse had fallen off dramatically. Where I had been breaking 4 figures a quarter, I was now less than 600 per quarter and bleeding red. I typed in "self publishing" and saw a quirky little site called Smashwords. It said, Your eBook, Your way. Didn't cost a thing so what did I have to lose? First quarter sales at Smashwords were dismal, 2009-04-07 — $7.92 As it happened, April 7th is my birthday. That was cool. But I wasn't deterred. Books were selling. Sometimes, one or two a week, but they sold. I stayed with it and refused to allow all the naysayers (and there were those by the droves) to stifle my dream. Sales gradually improved and, well, here we are. Can't give up on your dream, EVER!

Below are a few helpful links Brian listed.  For a complete list: Helpful Info for the Self-Publisher.

obooko: Free ebooks and free publishing.
Project Wonderful: Advertising for even a small budget.
FanStory: Share your writing and get helpful feedback.

Also, can't forget Brian's website which has a lot of useful info.

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