Friday, December 8, 2017

Revisiting The Indie Author Manifesto

As an indie author, you're participating in a global cultural movement that's turning the world of book publishing upside down.

Today on the Smart Author Podcast, I take a fresh look at the indie author movement by examining it within the context of the centuries-old struggle for free expression.

Back in 1450, the introduction of Gutenberg's printing press enabled mass production and communication of the written word. The printing press sparked enormous social, cultural and political upheaval as those in power sought to control free expression by controlling the printing press.

In this episode, I carry the story forward to the present day and explain how ebooks helped democratize book publishing by putting the printing press in the hands of all writers.  Ebooks empowered writers to reach readers without running the gauntlet of agent and publisher gatekeepers. 

I end the episode by reading and dissecting The Indie Author Manifesto, which I first wrote and published here on the Smashwords blog back in 2014.  Back then, The Indie Author Manifesto was my attempt to articulate and celebrate the ethos behind this emerging class of writer - the Indie Author.  It was fun to revisit the Indie Author Manifesto almost four years later.

When we look at the indie author movement through the lens of history, it's fascinating to consider how gatekeepers in various forms have come and gone over the centuries, yet the battle over free expression continues.

History shows that words have value, and whenever something has value there will be those who try to control that value in ways that aren't always aligned with your free expression.

Who are the new gatekeepers?  Maybe I'll tackle that question in a future episode. 


Here's where you can listen:

Apple Podcasts



Google Play Music


YouTube (audio)



Smart Author hub page (Listen over your web browser)

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Art of Delusion: Episode 8 of the Smart Author Podcast

The writer's life can often feel a bit bipolar with high highs and low lows.

There's the thrill of completing the final draft, the thrill of the upload, the thrill of your first five-star review, the thrill of your first royalties, and the thrill of your first fan mail. 

And then there's the agony of your first 1-star review, the inevitable low blows and nastiness of an angry reader, the writers block or the lower-than-expected sales.

At times, the reasons to quit can feel more sensible than the reasons to power on.  And often, the loudest voices to quit come from those who love you the most.

But they can't hear the voices in your head, the voices that only a writer can understand.

In episode 8 of the Smart Author Podcast, I present The Art of Delusion.

This is probably the most personal episode of the podcast to date.  I share the story of my own journey as a writer, how I turned lemons to lemonade, and then share 20 tips that will help writers find greater joy in the journey of writing and publishing.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it.  We all have much to be thankful for, not the least of which is the freedom and opportunity writers enjoy today that weren't available a mere ten years ago.

Here's where to listen and subscribe:

Apple Podcasts



Google Play Music


YouTube (audio)



Smart Author hub page (Listen over your web browser)


Saturday, November 18, 2017

2017 Smashwords Survey Featured in Episode 7 of Smart Author Podcast

For each of the last six years, we've published our annual Smashwords Survey here on the blog.

Now, for the first time, the Smashwords Survey is available in episode 7 of the Smart Author Podcast.

To compile the Survey, we crunch millions of dollars worth of actual retail and library sales data, aggregated across the Smashwords distribution network, and then we ask questions of the data.

It's always a fun experience to discover new insights.

The goal of the Survey is to identify author-controllable factors that can than make ebooks more discoverable, more desirable and more enjoyable to readers.

Although we can't quantitatively measure book quality, or even the quality of a cover image, there are numerous other factors that can be measured.  The Survey helps us identify the habits and best practices of the bestselling authors and books.

If you want to travel in same orbit as bestselling authors, learn from what they're doing.  Learn what works and what doesn't.

One of the most powerful benefits of our approach to analyzing this data is that it's aggregated.

Although you can study what a single favorite bestselling author is doing, that's just one data point.  Every author will have slightly different results.

With aggregated data, we can identify important factors with greater confidence.

For example, I'll often talk to authors who'll tell me they tried preorders once and they didn't work, or they didn't work for an author friend, so now they just upload the day of release. That's an unfortunate mistake, but it's not a big surprise.

Most authors don't do preorders yet.  For this 12-month Survey period, we found that only about 12% of authors released their books as preorders.  Yet this small minority of books released as preorder dramatically outperformed all other books.  Once you look at the data (or listen to it below), it'll probably change your mind about preorders.

I'm excited to share this podcast episode with you because in all prior six years, the only time I presented the findings live was at the RT Booklovers convention, which where I release the Survey's findings each year.

Although I blog about the findings and share the full presentation online, I've always wanted to make the findings more accessible to more authors.  Now that I'm doing the Smart Author Podcast, for the first time I'm able to bring you this year's findings as audio.

As I was working to transform the visual presentation into this audio presentation, I added new, never-before-released findings that weren't in the original release.  So even if you already studied the Survey we released earlier this year, you'll learn new insight from the podcast presentation.


Here's where you can listen and subscribe

Apple Podcasts



Google Play Music


YouTube (audio)



Smart Author hub page (Listen over your web browser)

More information:

Download the original 2017 Smashwords Survey presentation
For full transcript of this episode, click here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

How to Market eBooks to Libraries

Public libraries represent a promising sales opportunity for most indie authors.

In Episode 6 of the Smart Author Podcast, out today, you'll learn how to market your indie ebook to public libraries.

Although sales of indie ebooks to libraries are much lower than sales through retail, the library ebook market is growing whereas sales through most retailers are flat to down.

Libraries are engines of book discovery.  Library patrons often discover their new favorite authors through a library checkout, and many of the patrons will go on to purchase other books by the same author at retail.  If you want to sell more ebooks through retail, sell more ebooks to libraries.

There are over 9,000 public libraries in the United Stated, and over 16,000 combined in the English-speaking countries of Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.  Worldwide there are over 250,000 public libraries.

In Episode 6 of the Smart Author Podcast you'll learn how librarians discover, curate, acquire, manage and check out ebooks.  You'll learn the mindset of librarians, and how everything they do is razor focused on serving their patrons.  You'll learn six marketing tips that will help get your ebooks purchased by more libraries.

If you enjoy this episode, be sure to subscribe to the podcast at your favorite source below, and please share with friends!

Where to Listen Now

Apple Podcasts



Google Play Music


YouTube (audio)



Smart Author hub page (Listen over your web browser)


Friday, November 3, 2017

How to Work with Beta Readers

Good books aren't good enough anymore.  There's a glut of high-quality, low-cost books on the market.

The supply of books is growing faster than the supply of readers.  Whenever you face such an oversupply problem in any market, producers start tripping over themselves to compete on price.

If you were selling mousetraps, you'd outsource your manufacturing to Mexico or China where labor costs are lower so you can sell your product for less.  As an author, you can't outsource your writing.

But you can compete on quality.  Readers will pay for quality.  Quality books earn 5-star reviews.  Quality books wow the reader and spark word of mouth.

This is where beta readers come in.  Beta readers will help you make your book the best it can be.

Write a Better Book with the Help of Beta Readers

Beta readers are test readers.  Beta readers read your book prior to publication and share feedback.

In episode 5 of the Smart Author Podcast, out today, I teach you how to plan and execute a beta reader round.  As you'll learn, to get the most out of beta readers, it's not enough to just email them a draft of your book and ask them what they think.

I'll show you how to manage a strategic beta reader round.  I'll teach you how to manage beta reader signups.  You'll learn the thinking that goes in to asking the right questions of beta readers so you get the answers you need to guide and inspire your final revision.

Check out Episode 5 now at Apple Podcasts or any of the outlets below.  Remember to subscribe so you don't miss future episodes, and then check out the show notes over at our Smart Author hub page to access the full transcript along with supplemental links and resources.

If you find this episode useful, please do me a favor and share it with friends in your writers group or on social media.  Or, just share a link to this blog post because below I list all the links anyone needs to listen from any device or web browser.

Where to Listen Now:

Apple Podcasts



Google Play Music


YouTube (audio)


Smart Author hub page (Listen over your web browser)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Indie Authors on Indie Authorship

image reads:  "Indie authors on indie authorship"
We asked members of the Smart Author Podcast launch team to share their thoughts on indie authorship.

Here's what they shared.  Their quotes run the spectrum from insightful, to heart warming, to hilarious to downright strange.  Just like authors.

If any of these images speak to you, feel free to click to enlarge then download to your device or desktop and share.  You can also find these quotes at Facebook at the Smart Author Podcast page, where you can like them and share them.

What does indie authorship mean to you?   Add your own thoughts below in the comments.

image reads:  "I write to bring beauty and kindness to the world, to touch my reader's hearts with intriguing ideas."

image reads:  "Being an indie author means creative freedom"

image reads:  "Self-publishing = sharing your story on your own terms"

image reads:  "I ink, therefore I ham"

image reads:  "I write to be an inspiration to a little girl like me"

image reads:  "My stories come from someone inside me.  I'm just the typist"

image reads:  "Indie writing is the way to go this generation"

image reads:  "The best thing about writing fiction is that you can Be anyone, Do anything, as well as choose your age, sex and future.  Anything is possible."

image reads:  "Life as an indie means freedom to be a creative Romance Author"

image reads:  "Reading and writing - humankind's greatest inventions.  Why not use them?"

image reads:  "Indie Authors - Best at Authorised Authors"

image reads:  "Indie authors = Close2FreedomOnSteroids"

image reads:  "No traditional publisher could keep up with me.  I had to go indie"

image reads:  "I live to share creative visualization; the essense of imagination"

image reads:  "The universe of imagination is so much larger than the physical universe"

image reads:  "I write stories that are fun to read and inform"

image reads (long):  "It's a puzzle exceedingly complication, deep as it is upsetting, and a maze of events to sort out so troubling that one wonders daily about its purpose.  It's walking a high rude escarpment without a safety line when the wind blows chilly and hard against your face, a thing that wil take your whole life and with tenacity, unpaid labord, much reading, more editing, rewriting, rewriting and rewriting, defying the naysayers, cursing your lot in life, begging forgiveness for thinking you hand something important to say to seven to eight billion souls who look at you with cold uncaring eyes.  Your skill is never sufficient tto drive them running through the streets shouting your thoughts and setting the world on fire with your words.  Worse still, you must know the whole entire entity but be shrewd enough to realize only two simple facts about it. You knew zilch and yet you must know everything before you publish.  Why would anyone even attempt it?"  by Edward St. Amant

image reads:  "Writing is an addition, an itch I have to scratch."

image reads:  "Beautiful writings = happy people"

image reads:  "Indie Publisher - Is Indie-Pen-dent"

image reads:  "Indie Publishing = the age of e-Enlightenment"

image reads:  "I invite readers to shift their frame of reference"

image reads:  "Indie authorship is th eultimate in self-empowerment!"

image reads:  "I love turning a blank page into a new world!"

image reads:  "Fiction must serve a purpose higher than chronocide: through Indie Authorship I can help ensure that it does"

image reads:  "A story is an audience with another soul: the writer's honor and privilege"

image reads:  "Your true pallette is the reader's imagination"

image reads:  "Writing keeps my soul alive"

image reads:  "I write to share all the worlds that are in my mind"

image reads:  "Writing makes me whole"

image reads:  "I am a guardian of the lexicon.  I build words before breakfast and defeat demons before dusk.  I am a writer... care to join me?"

image reads:  "As an indie author I control my own destiny"

image reads:  "I write because I enjoy writing.  I chose the indie author route because I was inspired by a female author back in the 90's who I heard was rejected from publishers 200 times!  She didn't let all those rejections stop her so she wound up publishing her own books and sold her books from the trunk of her car and sold thousands of copies!!  That when I found out that authors can publish their own books and sell the books themselves.  She is my inspiration!!"

image reads:  "I contribute to the great conversation of life"

image reads:  "Indie = My Way"

image reads:  "Indie publishing brings the freedom to share my vision with the world"

image reads:  "Writing is capturing the stories that rattle around in my head"

image reads:  "I write, I create and I'm in charge.  I'm an indie author"

image reads:  "I try to do what makes me happy; therefore, I write :)  "

image reads:  "Satisfying an author's desire to write and a reader's need for books"

image reads:  "As an indie author, when I write, I get to play with real guns, and sleep with voluptuous women half my age!"

image reads:  "Being an indie author gives me freedom to share and inspire others"

image reads:  "Indie authorship allows me to share my creativity"

image reads:  "I am writing to make the people discover the fact of this life and the fact of themselves"

image reads:  "Indie authors like me can share their work with the world"

image reads:  "Indie authors are the new age of writing"

image reads:  "To publish is to share one's heard, mind and soul"

image reads:  "My mind and my fingers on the keyboard transport me to imaginary places with imaginary people and exciting new experiences"

image reads:  "Writing is art, which I feel a wonderful compulsion to do and share - freely"

image reads:  "Indie Authorship:  Writer's tool for free expression, reader's right to choose"

image reads:  "Indie authorship is my driven purpose and destiny, the eReader being my priority"

image reads:  "Indie Authorship is a dream, the eBook is the fulfilment"

image reads:  "You are your own best publisher"

image reads:  "A culture of reading today and beyond tomorrow over the globe"

image reads:  "Breaking boundaries in the mind of knowledge"

image reads:  "Writing centers me and is the base from which I operate"

image reads:  "Indie authors create amazing careers"

image reads:  "I publish independently because it combines two things I love - writing and running my own business"

image reads:  "I write to breath life into my characters"

image reads:  "Changing the world by writing the future"

image reads:  "I still can't believe how quick and how easy it was to publish my first eBook, and inexpensive, too!"

image reads:  "I won't let a publisher's accountant decide when my book goes out of print"

image reads:  "Writing allows me to live multiple lives at the same time"

image reads:  "I write because my words connect me with you."

image reads:  "Indie publishing allowed me the opportunity to see my dreams come true.  It gave me a platform to build from and the opportunity to share my stories with the world at large.  An opportunity that used to be denied to so many is now an open possibilility for anyone who wishes to take the plunge."

image reads:  "Self-publishing:  bringing out the Indie in Me!"

image reads:  "Publishers need to break even; I wanted to breakout" by Rebecca Forster

image reads:  "Indie Authorship - Complete control of the creative process"

image reads:  "Writing: The legal drug of creativity"

image reads:  "I write for me"

image reads:  "I write to share all the voices in my head"

image reads:  "As an Indie Author it gives me full control"

image reads:  "I am ME as an Indie Author"

image reads:  "Writing talks to my soul in a way that speech never could"

image reads:  "Creative control - not a single regret for going indie"

image reads:  "Writing is life and self-publishing is freedom"

image reads:  "I write to quiet the voices in my head"

image reads:  "Writing heals my soul"

image reads:  "Write because it's your passion, and build you tribe with positive people"

image reads:  "Every word, every sentence, every book gives voice to the world"

image reads:  "Forget traditional rejections, go indie for success"

image reads:  "Self publshing makes my dream of being an writer come true every day"

image reads:  "I've always been an indie: independent, individual, invariably experimenting... Naturally I self-publish"

image reads:  "Imaginitive words detonate vivid images in our mind's eye"

image reads:  "If I tell you a story, you might find yourself in it."

image reads:  "I belive readers should seal an author's fate - not literary agents"

image reads:  "Meet the alchmist of today - a Writer"

image reads:  "Indie authors are digital culture's creative experimenters"

image reads:  "Independent authors save on postage"

image reads:  "Self-publishing = self-sovereignty"

image reads:  "I have stories in me that have to come out!"

image reads:  "When life gives you lemons, write it down and publish"

image reads:  "Create characters.  Build them, love them.  Release them to the world"

image reads:  "I write to leave something of value"

image reads:  "Words need friends too so I put them on the page"

image reads:  "Stories are prisoners in writer's heads.  Writing sets them free."

image reads:  "Go indie!"

image reads:  "I'm living my dream to write and publish"

image reads:  "Indi-litero=masochism (n): the perverted joy of writing your own rejection letters"

image reads:  "I write to let the aliens know what I think"

image reads:  "Indie authorship is a revolution.  I want to pioneer that revolution in India."

image reads:  "Writing's my passion, my way of helping others find their passion."

image reads:  "I'm an indie 'cause I wanna be free"

image reads:  "Being Indie means I can choose my own FONT" (the word "font" is in big frilly yellow type)

image reads:  "Writing leaves me warm and fuzzy.  A bit like septicemia."

image reads:  "Writing lets me abuse the alphabet, rather than myself"

image reads (strange one, written in red type):  "I'm so niche that I have no readers (I'd like this in red Arial, bold, 36pt, please.  I'm independent, so make it happen.)  by Thomas Corfield

image reads:  "Traditional publishing conforms to culture.  Indie publishing evolves it."

image reads:  "Indie publishing means I no longer cry myself to sleep"

image reads:  "Indie authorship means telling my stories, my way, and not anybody else's"

image reads:  "When my head gets too crowded, I use writing to get it all out."

image reads:  "I am writing to make this world better and happier"

image reads:  "I kill in books so you don't have to"

image reads:  "Being an indie author gives me flexibility because there's no limitations"

image reads:  "We are authors because we live in books"