12 months ago, I outlined a crazy goal called The Billion Word March in which we'd aim to grow the Smashwords catalog from 150 million words published at that time to one billion by the end of 2010.
I knew it was stretch, because it meant we'd need to grow the number of books published by 700 percent in 15 months.
Yesterday, we surpassed our goal nine weeks early.
I know some folks consider word count an odd measure of progress. I admit, it's an unusual metric. If you think about it, though, at an atomic level every word comprises an essential building block for a sentence, a paragraph, a message or a book. It also represents a measure of liberation. I created Smashwords to unleash the creative talent of the world's indie authors. The talent of an author is manifested in their words.
Word count is only one of several yardsticks we use to measure our progress. We also look at number of books published (22,310), authors and publishers represented (we hit 9,700 today[!]), traffic to Smashwords.com (growing every month), the quality and quantity of Smashwords retail distribution relationships, and our payouts to authors and publishers. On all these metrics, we continue to grow right along with word count.
As the Smashwords ecosystem of authors, publishers, readers and retailers grows, it opens up exciting opportunities for authors and publishers who participate in the Smashwords network. Every new author or publisher at Smashwords brings new readers, and new readers bring new authors and publishers, which in turn bring more great reading material for our readers. It's a virtuous, self-reinforcing flywheel.
As our catalog grows, and the number of great authors at Smashwords increases, more retailers want to carry our books. In the last 12 months we've become the leading distributor of indie ebooks. We've established relationships with the largest ebook retailers, and in the months ahead you'll see us open up new doors of distribution opportunity for our authors and publishers.
What's next for Smashwords? After two and half years, I feel like we're still getting started. In the next several months, you'll see us add more retailers, new sales and marketing tools, and a steady stream of both incremental and major enhancements to the Smashwords ebook publishing and distribution platform. We have hundreds of enhancements and new features planned on our technical roadmap, and many of these features are a direct result of feedback and suggestions from Smashwords authors, publishers and readers (keep them coming!).
My sincere thanks to the 9,700 authors and publishers now publishing and distributing their books with Smashwords. We look forward to serving you in the months and years ahead.