Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smashwords Signs Distribution Agreement with Sony, Helps Power Sony Publisher Portal

Sony and Smashwords today announced a relationship that significantly expands sales and readership opportunities for Smashwords authors around the world.

Sony has launched the Sony Publisher Platform, powered in part by Smashwords, that makes it easy for self-published authors and small publishers to sell their books at the eBook Store from Sony.

Concurrent with the Sony Publishing Platform relationship, Sony will soon begin distributing Smashwords ebooks.

This distribution relationship with Sony follows our distribution agreement with Barnes & Noble announced four weeks ago. Thanks to these relationships, any author, anywhere in world, can receive distribution from two of the three most prominent online ebook retailers in a matter of days.

This relationship has several positive implications for Smashwords authors and retailers, and for the future of publishing...

For Smashwords Authors:
This distribution is provided for FREE. No fees, no packages to buy, no hidden costs, no sales reps calling to sell you something.

The author/publisher receives 85% of the net, and we receive 15%
For Smashwords Retailers:
Smashwords is optimized to serve as a rapid publishing platform. We're an efficient onramp through which retailers can gain access to ebooks from small presses and self-published authors from around the world.

Because Smashwords serves as both an aggregator and distributor of original ebook content, retailers who partner with Smashwords gain immediate access to thousands of multi-format ebooks.

For the Future of Publishing:

For most of the last two centuries, a small handful of publishers controlled the means of book production and distribution. If you wanted to publish and sell a book, you worked through a publisher. Today, thanks to our humble little publishing service and the wonders of digital publishing, the means of ebook production and distribution are now available to all authors at no cost.

The current print publishing supply chain (how a book gets from publisher to reader) is woefully archaic and inefficient. Publishers take enormous risks to get a book out to market. Multiple gatekeepers stand between the publisher and reader, and each gatekeeper extracts their fee. With the new ebook supply chain we're helping to build, authors and publishers get closer to their reader. This cuts fat from the supply chain which is good for publishers, authors and readers alike.

Digital rights will become more valued by authors and publishers alike. I spoke with one successful midlist author a couple weeks ago who told me he plans to sell the print rights for his next book, but is considering retaining digital rights. He says he can do the ebook distribution on his own using Smashwords since we can get him essentially the same mainstream digital shelf space but at a royalty level twice the amount he'd receive from a commercial publisher.
How to Distribute Your Books with Sony (It's FREE!)

If you're not yet registered for Smashwords - Visit the Sony Publisher Portal and click the link to Smashwords. This will then take you to a co-branded signup page that will qualify your books to appear quickly at Sony. Next, carefully format your manuscript per the requirements of the Smashwords Style Guide, and review the Smashwords Distribution Information page for additional guidelines. Once your book is formatted per the Style Guide, your book will earn inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog, which entitles you to distribution at Sony, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, and other online retailers served by Smashwords. It's quick and easy to qualify if you follow the simple instructions on the two pages above. Have questions? Use the customer support link at the top of any Smashwords page.

Current Smashwords authors and publishers - Your current Smashwords books will appear at the eBook Store from Sony in approximately two to three months. If your books have already been accepted into the Premium Catalog, there's nothing you need to do. Please visit your Dashboard's Channel Manager feature, where we will update expected ship dates once we have a firmer date.

We're excited about this relationship with Sony and we look forward to making it a smashing success for Sony and our authors and publishers.

What's next for Smashwords? Stay tuned.

Image credit: Courtesy of ReadWriteWeb

Monday, September 21, 2009

Speaking Tuesday about Future of Digital Publishing

I'm speaking on a panel Tuesday night in San Francisco about "Plugging into Digital Publishing," hosted by the Northern California chapter of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

We'll discuss how the rapid changes in digital publishing will impact the lives of authors, journalists and other writers. Should be fun.

But don't come to see me - come to listen to my two fellow panelists. They'll have Robert Cauthorn, former VP of digital media for the San Francisco Chronicle and now the founder of CityTools, a social journalism site; and Ivory Madison, founder and CEO of the Red Room, a cool social media website for authors.

The event takes place at the Mechanics Institute Libary at 7:00pm, and is only $5 for ASJA members and $10 for non-members. To RSVP or learn more, visit the event listing at Mediabistro.

Much thanks to ASJA chapter president and Smashwords publisher, D. Patrick Miller of Fearless Books, for his kind invitation for me to speak.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Smashwords Supports Operation Ebook Drop

UPDATE:  On April 22, 2013, Operation Ebook Drop was discontinued.  My thanks to Ed Patterson for managing this great initiative, and thanks also to the thousands of Smashwords authors who participated.  This post will remain for historical purposes only, and may inspire others to do similar non-profit volunteer efforts.

The other day on the Amazon Kindle message boards, Smashwords author Ed Patterson met a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq who wanted to download ebooks for his Kindle, yet Whispernet (Amazon's wireless download service) didn't work in Iraq.

Ed offered to email the soldier all 13 of his ebooks, for free. The soldier gratefully accepted.

Following the chance encounter with the soldier, Ed, himself an Army veteran, queried other indie authors on the Kindleboards message boards, asking if they too would be willing to offer their ebooks for free to troops deployed overseas.

In a matter of days, about twenty authors volunteered their books. Almost immediately, Ed began receiving additional requests for ebooks from soldiers and their families.

Ed and some of the authors started using Smashwords as the platform for distributing the ebooks to soldiers. Using the Smashwords Coupon Generator feature, authors are emailing 100%-off coupons to the soldiers.

I stumbled across the thread at Kindleboards yesterday, and was pleased to learn about Ed's project and see so many Smashwords authors participating. I immediately decided I wanted to get Smashwords more involved.

I got on the phone with Bill Kendrick, Smashwords' CTO (and chief magician), and together we brainstormed how we could help take Ed's campaign to the next level. Then late last night, Ed and I spoke on the phone for more brainstorming.

What began as "Operation Kindle Ebook Drop" has now morphed into something much bigger - "Operation Ebook Drop," in recognition of the multiple ebook-reading devices - cell phones, Kindles, Sony Readers, laptops, etc. - people use to read ebooks.

With Ed's encouragement, over the next week or so, we'll begin notifying our 1,300+ Smashwords authors and publishers about the opportunity to participate in Operation Ebook Drop.

The campaign, as we kick it off today, will roll out in stages.

For stage one, we'll encourage Smashwords authors to email Ed to opt-in to participate. On a regular basis, as Ed receives requests from deployed soldiers, he'll pass these requests on to the authors, who will directly email the soldiers hyperlinks to their book pages at Smashwords, along with Smashwords coupons which the troops can redeem to download the book in multiple formats, readable on any e-reading device.

For stage two, we'll look to create a more automated system of matching soldiers with ebooks, so that rather than the manual process described above, we'll create a catalog, either hosted at Smashwords or by the military, where service members can access the books.

The biggest challenge we'll face is authentication, but we think this can be achieved with some simple hyperlinks originating from within secure websites and intranets operated by the military. Ed has already started reaching out to different military branches to explore opportunities for collaboration on this important project.

How to Participate

Authors and Publishers - Operation Ebook Drop has been discontinued.  Here's how author's created coupons: To create a 100%-off coupon, log in to your Smashwords account and click on the Coupon Manager link. Ed will email you book requests, and then you simply email the soldier a hyperlink to your book page, and the corresponding coupon code. From your Dashboard, coupon redemptions will show up in your Sales & Payment History Report, and you'll also receive instant email notification. If you're not yet a publisher with Smashwords (why not?), you can learn how publish with us by visiting our How to Publish with Smashwords page.

Deployed troops - Operation Ebook Drop has been discontinued.  Here's how service members created redeemed coupons: All coalition military personnel deployed overseas who need multi-format ebooks are eligible. According to Ed, "If you're overseas and away from your home and loved ones, your dependence on reading might increase - and so we a gifting you ebooks for Kindle, Sony, iPhone, Blackberry etc." For free ebooks, please email Ed at the address above. Please note that the ebooks you receive may be shared with fellow deployed service members, but may not be distributed or shared elsewhere. Please also consider the coupon codes you receive as privileged information, not to be shared elsewhere. The participating authors are pleased to offer you their books.

Where to Learn More
Operation Ebook Drop has been discontinued.  The unofficial staging area for Operation Ebook Drop campaign is over at the Kindleboards message boards. Check it out, help out, and support the young men and women in uniform with some great reads! Operation Ebook Drop also has its own web site, here.

October 15, 2009 Update: Ed Patterson and I were interviewed at PodioRacket tonight with an update on Operation eBook Drop. Listen to the interview here.

October 31, 2010 Update: Ed Patterson informs me over 500 indie authors are now participating in Operation Ebook Drop. Awesome! Congrats to all.

April 22, 2013 Update:  Ed Patterson informs me that Operation Ebook Drop has been discontinued.  Ever since the pull-out of troops from Iraq, and now the wind-down in Afghanistan, the need for the service has diminished.  My thanks to Ed for his great volunteer effort, and thanks also to the thousands of Smashwords authors who supported this.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ebook Retailers to Faciliate Revolution in Book Publishing

Smashwords author Mary Anne Graham has published a whimsical allegory - complete with castles, knights and magicians - on her Quacking Alone blog in which she romanticizes our campaign at Smashwords to democratize publishing for the benefit of authors, publishers and readers.

She complements Barnes & Noble for partnering with Smashwords and calls on other retailers to do the same:

To my fans (come on, they exist – or at least I believe they exist the same way I believe in them) I say that all of my e-books – the historicals – Brotherly Love, A Faerie Fated Forever, A Golden Forever and A Six Sense of Forever, and my contemporary – E-mail Enticement, should be on Barnes & Noble and Fictionwise soon. I expect that other e-book retailers will come to share the wise vision of B&N and Fictionwise – the e-book retailers who understand the American thirst for choice and who are bold enough to embrace change rather than scurry out of its path.
Read Mary Anne's post here, or visit her Smashwords author page for a complete listing of her Smashwords titles.

Thanks for your support, Mary Anne! Stay tuned. We're just getting started.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Smashwords Profiled on GetPublishedTV

I was browsing the Twittersphere tonight and stumbled across this pleasant surprise.

Dale Beaumont, an Australian author and entrepreneur behind a very cool Internet television show I hadn't heard of before, GetPublishedTV, has produced an engaging nine minute video segment on Smashwords.

I'm flattered and tickled pink. I don't know what it is about Australians. So many of them on are the cutting edge of digital publishing and indie publishing - there's Mel Keegan, Alan Baxter, Joanna Penn and several others. I just want to give 'em all a hug. Special thanks to Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn for introducing Dale to Smashwords. And of course my thanks to Dale for the fabulous introductory profile of Smashwords!

SEPTEMBER 6 UPDATE: Dale has released a second video titled, "Marketing Your Book on Smashwords," explaining Smashwords from a publisher's perspective.