Monday, June 29, 2009

Flash Fiction 40 Winners Revealed

The winners were announced today in the Editor Unleashed/ Smashwords Flash Fiction 40 contest today over at the Editor Unleashed blog.

Congratulations to the 280 contestants who entered with stories of 1,000 words or less.

The list of winners is below, along with their screennames from the the Editor Unleashed forum. I see several Smashwords authors among the winners. Good job all!

Grand Prize Winner ($500!):

Fairy Tales, by Ravenne

Editor's Choice Winners ($25.00 each):

At Last, neenerspb

Being a Cop, lmckelvy

Blind Justice, TrinityWolf99

The Brain Eaters, Lady Lawyer

Buck and the Twee Fairies of Interstate 20, cubagw

Circles, TheRazor

Defection, drwasy

Dreaming Lies to Change the Truth, kaolin

Fate’s Heavy Hand, jimbernheimer

Food of the Gods, judy b.

Frangible Choices, KeMari

Grief Observed, Laurita

Guardian Demon, JRTomlin

Mirror, Mirror gretaigl

Monday, Selena Kitt

Night Becomes the City, MPBerry

In the Nuthouse, d o’brien

Parklife, AlanBaxter

Pirated Twinkies, soesposito

Pure White, Stephen Book

Reflection, rjkelle

Rough Trade, JRhodes

Running on the Iron Rooster, Michael J.

Sales Call, graywave

Savor the moment, Kupohunter

Sign Language, LCourtland

Sportsmen, JohnOBX

Ten One-hundreds of a Second, DeborahB

The Distraction, Nocdar

The Mercantile Exchange, kenaipi

The Nearest Thing, John Wiswell

The Vial, bentguy

The Vigil of Clouds, Alegra

Time for a Change, Carol

‘Tis the Season, jmar2

Unscrambling Love, Angel Zapata

Wake up, Please, everyhopejd

What’s in a Name, Craven

When Don Cristobal Eduardo Stabbed his Wife and her Lover, Christopher James

The winning stories will be published at Smashwords in a special anthology. I'll also do a Q&A feature interview with the Grand Prize winner, right here on the Smashwords Blog.

Special thanks to Maria Schneider and team for judging the entries. Thanks also to Kat Meyer and team for designing the contest graphics.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Smashwords Feature: View Most Downloaded Books

We added a simple new feature at Smashwords - you can now view books by the most downloaded.

Surprise surprise, the most popular downloads are free, followed by name-you-own-price books.

Romance, especially erotic romance, is hot.

Also interesting: Each of the top 10 most downloaded books are under 10,000 words.

The #1 most downloaded is the Smashwords Style Guide, popular with authors and publishers preparing to upload their books to Smashwords.

Coming in at #2 is 101 Degrees Farenheit, a steamy erotic romance by Eva Gale, who, as you can see below, holds three of the top ten spots. Eva's performance speaks to the power of multi-title publishing. A reader finds one book they like, then they search out other books by the same author. E. Patrick Dorris has benefited from same with his popular
John Smith, World Jumper series.

Here are the rest of the top 10:
#3 - John Smith, World Jumper Book One: Portal to Adventure, Part One by E. Patrick Dorris

#4 - The Seduction of Gabriel Stewart
by Eva Gale

#5 - The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide
by Mark Coker

#6 - Unforgiven Pleasure by
Tempest Knight

#7 -
Heart Spell by Cora Zane

#8 -
Hannah's Choice by Selena Kitt

#9 -
HYSTERIA by Eva Gale

#10 -
Awakening by E.D. Beale

From the Smashwords home page, you can also view the most downloaded by category. Just click on the category links on the left, then click "most downloaded."

In the Mystery and Detective category, for example, the top two most downloaded books are The Evil That Men Do by Catherine Mambretti and Absence of Faith by Anthony S. Policastro

The most-downloaded option is just the latest in what will be ongoing incremental enhancements to the Smashwords Community Filter, our system of allowing readers to decide what's worth reading. For my post last month on this topic, click here: Smashwords Community Filter.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Publetariat Vault to Help Indie Authors Sell Rights

April Hamilton, the author and entrepreneur behind the Publetariat online community for indie authors, has announced a new subscription service called Publetariat Vault that will allow indie authors to advertise the rights they're looking to sell.

I first covered Publetariat here back in February, and in this time the site has served as a useful aggregator of indie author-related news, views and commentary, including several posts that originally appeared here on the Smashwords blog.

April's new service, which is accepting authors now and will launch in early July, will allow authors to share sales and other information about their books so agents, commercial publishers, film & television producers, etc. can identify books and associated rights for possible acquisition.

The service will cost $10.00 a month. If you're among the first 300 authors to sign up, you can try the service for three months risk free, for free, before you decide whether or not continue. Learn more at Publetariat Vault.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Smashwords Twitter Ad, and the Genesis of Twitterbuzz

After almost 24 hours of nail biting suspense, today we're unveiling the Smashwords Writer's Digest Twitter Ad (click on the image at left). I'm wondering if it's one of the first print ads ever written with Tweets.

Rather than writing our own ad, we let our enthusiastic authors, publishers and readers write the ad for us.

We decided at the last minute (24 hours before the ad was due to ship to the printer!) to invite Smashwords fans on Twitter to tweet why they loved Smashwords.

We limited the competition to about 18 hours (only because we didn't have more time), and by the cut-off time of 9am Pacific Tuesday, we had over 100 very cool tweets.

I then selected my favorite 10 and we popped them in the ad and sent it off to Writer's Digest.

The full page ad will appear on the back cover of the upcoming special novel-writing issue of Writer's Digest, scheduled to hit newstands in early July. For each of the 10 winners, they'll get valuable publicity in front of Writer's Digest's 100,000+ subscribers.

The ad itself also came together quickly, thanks to the great work of David Gee, a professional ad copywriter and book cover designer out of Toronto. Dave took my original ad concept and made it 10X better. My original idea was to do a traditional ad with a lot of copy (because we had a lot of benefits to communicate!) and combine it with a few Tweeted testimonials. After some discussion with Dave and Lesleyann (Mrs. Smashwords), we decided to let the tweets speak for themselves. As the tweets came in, we changed the headline to match the theme of the tweets. So there you have it.

Like all good things in life, one unexpected development can lead to another. While the 18 hour contest was under way, I heard from one entrant who noticed that thanks to her participation in the twitter promotion, other Smashwords contestants started following her on Twitter (people were doing searches on Twitter for "Smashwords" to read all the fun entries). So not only were folks participating in the competition, but community was forming among the participants.

That got me thinking that there would be value in helping to showcase the winners online in such a way that they could better connect with others, and in the process build greater followings, new friends, and ultimately greater exposure for their books at Smashwords. As I cut and cut to get to the final top 10 (it was painful to cut so many great tweets!), I started wondering how we could preserve the other great tweets, and this led to the creation in the last 24 hours (thanks to the pixie dust programming wizardry of Bill Kendrick, our CTO) to Smashwords Twitterbuzz.

And again, as so often happens with my hyperkinetic thought process, what started as a simple idea of showcasing the dropped tweets morphed into something bigger, then bigger again. First, we extended Twitterbuzz so future tweeters could tweet additional testimonials. Then we created a Twitter directory of Smashwords authors, publishers and readers. Then we integrated everything within the Smashwords environment, so you can easily view the Twitterer's Smashwords bio, their profile page at Smashwords, and their most recently published book. And then we added a live feed of Smashwords-related tweets on Twitter. So Smashwords Twitterbuzz is actually a collection of three twitterific mashups between Smashwords and Twitter. All with the goal of helping eBookish people connect in a meaningful way.

Check out Twitterbuzz and let us know what you think. At the top of every page at Smashwords is a link where you can provide feedback. Let us know how we make this tool more valuable to authors, publishers and readers! And of course, if you want your own tweets included in Twitterbuzz, click to the Twitterbuzz page.

Now, on to the other 100+ items on our development roadmap.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Smashwords Authors Tweet Their Love

Writer's Digest is one of my favorite writer's magazines, so when they presented us an opportunity to run a full page ad (at a rate too good to pass up) on the back cover of their upcoming special issue on novel writing (on newstands in July), I jumped at it.

Of course, the next challenge is producing the ad. So we came up with the idea to let Smashwords fans write the ad for us. Yesterday, I invited folks to tweet their thoughts on Twitter about Smashwords, and I would select my favorite nine (update: I upped it to ten) to go in the ad. Nearly 150 tweets followed, and believe me, it was painful to cut so many wonderfully generous and supportive testimonials.

Below I've highlighted my choice for the top 25. I'll announce the winners on Twitter tomorrow (follow me at @markcoker) and we'll unveil the completed ad later this month. They're listed in reverse chronological order, not rank. If you'd like to follow these tweeple, click on their Twitter screen name.

1. selenakitt Smashwords makes the business a win-win-win for reader-author-publisher! Excessica loves publishing ebooks with such an innovative company!

2. KLRomo MY FIRST TIME was with SMASHWORDS!! ....(eBook publishing, that is). Mark Coker & Smashwords are a great combo - a new author's best friend!

3. cssoares Smashwords is the future of publishing: with a few mouse clicks, my book is available for sampling and sale to a worldwide audience.

4. valbrkich Great books are made of words, not paper. Get your story out there, with

5. thwarner Smashwords, the most cost effective means for any self published author to get their work in the hands of readers. I love!

6. CrystalCook Books can finally be accessed from anywhere and find a "long tail" audience. Smashwords is the answer for easy audience access online.

7. abhaiyengar Smashwords is the easiest and fastest way to get your book, up, running and published in the blink of an eye. Go Smashwords.

8. VwKitten How much did Smashwords charge me for listing all my books in digital format? Not only was it FREE, but I make 85% in royalties.

9. zoewinters Smashwords is one of the next generation publishing platforms for indie authors. You set price. Keep 85%. Why do I need a publisher again?

10. cherylktardif "Smashwords is like having access to a huge bookstore, with the ability to place your books on the best shelves."

11. RaeLori Smashwords is great avenue for ebooks! You can get your work directly to readers in different formats. It's all about sharing the story!

12. davemcgarry Smashwords is truly an amazing site. It allowed me to self publish my ebook and is the future of book reading about

13. jpiascarlin I love Smashwords.

14. robinsurface Smashwords is the easy way to make sure your ebook is available in all formats - they're percentage is way better than Amazon, too!

15. karenswim I discovered #Smashwords last year and love them. Goes beyond the old school PDF with lots of option for digital publishing

16. claudialoens Smashwords is a GREAT way for new authors to get their work out there for publication. It's easy and modern and fun! Try it!

17. AlanBaxter More sales through Smashwords this week. Truly the best ebook portal out there!

18. Chuck_Weinblatt Smashwords: a great place to sell and read terrific writing!

19. Marywritting I discovered Smashwords recently and love it! It's convenient to use with a staff that is friendly and has quick answers to any problems.

20. Dedicaces We use Smashwords to promote our books as multi-format ebooks. As French authors this allows us to make our works available to a vast market

21. wordywoman Authors: If you're interested in turning your book into an ebook (& you should be), go to and follow @markcoker.

22. tumblemoose Smashwords has been a smashing success for my e-books!

23. selfpubreview @markcoker - Smashwords is at the forefront of the new publishing revolution. paradigm. (for the contest, but I mean it)

24. NetworkNinjas Smashwords is great:it allows authors to publish in all digital formats, unlike most self-publishing firms that support one or two (or none)

25. MoriahJovan @SmashWords allows readers to get my books on their iPhone through the Stanza store; esp important after I was banned from Apple iApp store.