This is the largest, broadest and most significant Smashwords-specific promotion yet undertaken by any ebook retailer.
The implications are exciting for our authors and publishers. This gives thousands of Smashwords books a promotional advantage that would have been unheard-of in the old days of traditional publishing. It means that during this promotion, many Smashwords titles will enjoy some measure of promotional advantage not available to authors of traditional publishers.
The promotional image at left shows the opening "Featured" page in the iBookstore, as viewed on an iPad for the Australian store. At the center of the large promotional graphic are three Smashwords books - Kirsty Moseley's Always You, Isabelle Rae's When Summer Ends and Chanda Hahn's The Iron Butterfly.
Two of those books are today among the top 10 bestsellers in the Australian store. Congrats to Kirsty and Isabelle!
Once the customer clicks the promotional image, they're guided to the special Breakout Books promotional catalog organized around the following categories: Top Picks; Latest Releases; Free; Romance; Young Adult; Crime & Thrillers; Sci-Fi & Fantasy; and All-Time Bestsellers.
This special promotional catalog, which for two weeks will receive top-of-store promotion in their Featured Books section, includes titles sourced exclusively from Smashwords. After the initial two week promotion, the catalog may become a regular feature in the Australia and New Zealand stores, providing yet another path for iBookstore customers to easily discover, sample and purchase Smashwords titles.
The promotion was formally kicked off on Sunday in an email blast Apple sent to its iBookstore customers in Australia and New Zealand. The promotional email states:
We've gathered some of our highest customer-rated books, all of which are $4.99 or less (many are actually free). Following in the footsteps of Fifty Shades of Grey, all are independently published directly to the iBookstore.
Apple has always been amazingly supportive of our authors, but this promotion takes their support to a new level. Of all 50 territories in which Apple operates their iBookstore, Australia is the second-largest-selling iBookstore for Smashwords authors.
How can you get your books included in this catalog?
First, make sure your books are distributed to Apple through Smashwords. Next, this promotion includes books priced $4.99 or below, so if your books are priced higher they won't make the catalog.
Beyond these first two steps, the decision is up to Apple and its customers. However, there is more you can do to maximize your chances of inclusion if you're not included already. This new Breakout Books catalog appears to give preference to books with great reviews and strong sales. Do what you can to encourage your fans to purchase and review your books at Apple. Since millions of readers shop at the iBookstore, make sure your fans know your books are available there. This can involve simply listing hyperlinks to your books at Apple on your website, blog or in other social media outlets. In my previous post, How to Sell Books at the Apple iBookstore, I shared tips.
Based on my observations, Apple's merchandising decisions appear to be both customer-driven and editorial-driven. By customer-driven, I mean that the more Apple iBookstore customers who purchase and review your book, the more visible your book becomes in the store. Sales increase your sales rank, which leads to greater visibility and more sales, more "People who bought this also bought this" automated recommendations, and great reviews drive sales as through reader word-of-mouth. By editorially-driven, I mean that the Apple merchandising team hand-selects quality books that meet the interests of their customers. If Apple observes that its iBookstore customers are responding well to a title as measured though purchases and customer reviews, they're more likely to to give a book extra promotion. If an author has performed well with previous titles at Apple, their new titles are more likely to get attention. All of this is pretty much common sense, and not really different from how other retailers merchandize. The reader is king, and all else flows from there. What's different here, however, is that Apple has thrown some serious promotional weight behind this.
To determine if your book is in the promotion, from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, sign in to the Australia or New Zealand iBooks app on your device. To learn how, see my November 1 tip in Site Updates for how to view Apple stores in different countries. If you don't have an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, consider adding one to your Christmas stocking-stuffer wish-list! The promotion might also be viewable in iTunes, but I haven't had a chance to personally confirm that yet.
If your book is already in the promotion, here's what you can do to support it: Let your fans in Australia and New Zealand know that your book has been selected for promotion in the Breakout Books feature. Celebrate it. Post on Facebook, Twitter or on your blog something like, "My book [insert title] is included in the Apple iBookstore's "Breakout Books" promotion this week in their Australia and New Zealand iBookstores!," and then provide direct hyperlinks to the books in those countries. For cool tools for making the hyperlinks, visit Apple's LinkMaker page at http://itunes.apple.com/linkmaker/
Who are some of the many Smashwords authors included? Here are some random names, in addition to those mentioned above: Denise Grover Swank, Elisabeth Naughton, Lacey Weatherford, Quinn Loftis, Kira Saito, Danielle Girard, David Dalglish, R.L. Mathewson, Ranae Rose, Oksana Vasilenko, Adrianne White, Julie Ortolon, Derek Ciccone, Autumn Dawn, M.H. Strom, L.L. Bartlett, Ruth Ann Nordin, Ellen Fisher, Lucinda Brandt, JD Nixon, Marquita Valentine and hundreds and hundreds of others.
My thanks to Apple for giving so many Smashwords authors this great opportunity to connect with new readers, and my thanks to Smashwords authors and publishers who earned this opportunity by writing books that have pleased so many thousands of iBookstore customers.