Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Smashwords Series Manager Improves Book Discovery


Smashwords today released a powerful new tool called Series Manager that makes series books more discoverable.

Series Manager allows series writers to attach their books to series, and manage multiple aspects of their series metadata.

The new feature is available now in the Smashwords Dashboard under the Series Manager link.

Once authors organize their series titles within Series Manager, readers can easily identify books within a series, or across related series.  Just as importantly, series metadata will give our retailers greater flexibility to promote books within a series.  Let's say, for example, a retailer wants to do a merchandising promotion of the top 50 bestselling Smashwords series that have a free series starter.  Without the series metadata, it would be nearly impossible for Smashwords or our retailer to accurately identify which books are in a series, and in which order.

It's not uncommon for the books in some series to make no reference to their series in the book title, book cover or book description. This makes it difficult for readers to identify all the books in a series, or books in related series, and makes it difficult for retailers to properly merchandise them.  Series Manager helps solve this problem.

With Series Manager, authors can easily attach books - including preorder books - to a series using point and click check boxes. Simply click to your Dashboard, click Series Manager, click Create New Series, then attach the books.  Authors can select from multiple series numbering methodologies such as Book 1, Book 2; or Book I, Book II; or Part 1, Part 2; or no. 1, no. 2; or you can dispense with series number and simply give the series name, such as "Fellowship of the Rings."


Series books can be members of multiple series, all
controlled within Smashwords Series Manager


Authors can even connect books that span more than one series.  For example, the Smashwords Style Guide is a member of two series, Smashwords Guides and Smashwords Style Guide Translations.

If you've written series with spinoff series, this is a powerful feature that will make it easier for fans to identify books within a series, and discover new books in your related series.

You can also identify the ideal sequence of books within a series.  For example, if the Star Wars movie series was a book, you might want to designate that the Prequel to episodes 1, 2 and 3 should be enjoyed after the first three in the series.


Smashwords will provide the new series metadata, as input by the author or publisher, to our retailers.  Each retailer will handle the metadata differently.  Some will make use of all the data, and others might cherry pick.  Either way, the improved metadata will make it easier for retailers to enhance the discoverability of Smashwords books today while having the capability to develop improved discoverability features in the future.

The series metadata will also increase the discoverability of series titles in the Smashwords store. Within each book's listing, whether it's on the book's book page or in the search results, we'll display the series to which the book is connected.

If the book is attached to more than one series, then the other series will appear as well.   In the example at left which shows the book page, the Smashwords Style Guide is a member of two series.

Series names are clickable.  Readers can click the series title and view a dedicated series page, such as my page for the Smashwords Guides.  Incorporate the link into your marketing.  If you're doing a marketing campaign around a single series, provide fans a direct to your series page.

We look forward to your feedback as we enhance this feature.

69 comments:

Kaz Augustin said...

Just took this feature out for a spin and it's great. Obviously a lot of thought went into it. I especially like the fact that you can choose not to number a series. This is extremely useful when, for example, a number of books are written within the same universe but are not necessarily in any given sequential order.

Thanks! :)

Charles E. Wells said...

I just did too.. and it's something I've desperately needed for a long time. Thanks a ton Mark.. and credit to the person who thought this up (if it wasn't you) HA.. I have two series with Smashwords.. now both are marked as such. Now bundle up the series so we can offer special prices if readers buy all the books inside the series..

Charles Wells

mjdresselbooks said...

Love this feature. I have a question. If only the first book in my series is published now, with the second to come this year, can I add only the first one now or do I have to wait?

Thanks.

Teds Ebooks said...

Great addition to Smashwords and a real benefit for authors, Mark.

I've posted a link to your information on our Smashwords Forum for our 500+ members.

BFuniv said...

Very slick. I think this is probably foreshadowing for a full UI upgrade.

It might be good to be able to highlight a collection of several books in a series, I solved this by giving it the number "Collection of Books 3, 4, 5. Something more elegant might be nice.

I like Charles' bundle idea too, along with quantity discounts for purchasing several bundles (useful in non-fiction).

Once again, Thanks.

Inkling said...

What a brilliant move! Let's hope some of the major retailers pick this up.

One of my gripes about Amazon has been that it's often hard to locate where a book is in a series or even that there is a series. That information has to be added to the title or put in the description. And stumbling across the fourth in a series may not tell you what is number 1 or if it matters in what order the books are read.

Eventually, you might want to add multiple reading orders. Narnia fans debate whether the books ought to be read in the order they were published or in the chronological order of the events in them. Other series may have that same issue.

It's also a great help to know that a particular series does NOT have to be read in any particular order.

--Michael W. Perry, My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer

Elizabeth Barone said...

Just tried it out. It was super easy to use! You guys did a great job. Thank you!

Jason Matthews said...

Very smart feature. Will re-blog this.

Mark Coker said...

@mjdresselbooks, yes, you can add a single book to a new series. thanks!

MotownMomMusings.com said...

i just compiled by #DarkFacade Series to the #smashwords SEries Manager. Thx for making it super easy. Now on to the #mistakenidentity and #stealinginnocence series!

Will you be incorporating it somehow to show on the author's page too like you did the interview? or when you go to each individual book in that series?

MotownMomMusings.com said...

I'm so glad you did this because i was tired of using the search engine on Smashwords to lead readers to buy the whole series. i had to configure my search exactly. this makes it ten times easier. OMG! I just checked out the series page.

That's awesome!

Now I really can't wait to release the paperback in upcoming year.

Thank you sooooo much!! I hope 2014 is going to be an awesome year for #smashwords. I'm loving the ride!

Karen Myers said...

Mark, when there are both novels and short stories in a series, there may be a sequence for both sets but it would be misleading to lump them all together as Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 when it's really Story 1, Story 2, Book 1, Book 2, Story 3, Story 4, Story 5, Book 3, etc.

I think my only choice is to designate two series, one for the short stories. Any better ideas?

Heather Wielding said...

Thank you Mark, I've been hoping we'd this feature on Smashwords <3

Works perfectly for me, only thing is, that I'm currently working on a middle-volume of a series, and Smashwords won't allow me to number the books in a "correct" fashion... I'd like them to go 1, 2, 3, 5, but, well, no.

That's a minor issue, though, I really am very happy and grateful for this cool new feature, as well as the interview-feature, and, in all, everything you've done for us <3 You're the best, Mark.

Dusk Peterson said...

This is marvellous! I especially like how you make it so easy to order all the title in a series at once, and that you permit the option of hiding the numbers.

The only feature I'd like to see added (and I say this as a reader, as well as a writer) is a way for customers at the Smashwords site to browse an author's books by series, without having to scroll through the whole list of books to discover which books are attached to series.

Bundling series books would be nice too. :)

cdreimer said...

I came across this feature by accident while checking my sales stats and quickly set up a few series for a test run yesterday. The timing is great. I'm revamping my author website to improve ebook discovery with a tagging system that specifies which ebooks belongs to a particular series. Now I can mimic that arrangement on Smashwords and the third-party catalog.

Rosalie Marsh said...

A brilliant feature and easy to use. Thank you.

K. Rowe said...

Excellent! Already have both of my series "enrolled."

Roger Lawrence said...

Thanks for this; a great new element

Emilia Lafond said...

Brilliant!!!! Thank you!!

Sharkbytes said...

This is great! I just put my Anastasia Raven books in.

Greg Strandberg said...

Thank you for this great tool to get my fantasy series (with a free loss-leader) and my historical fiction series noticed more.

R.M. Prioleau said...

This is a great feature! Smashwords continues to improve little by little. Thanks again, Mark, for providing this new feature, and keep up the great work.

magicvsscience said...

Mark,

Thank you ever so much! The idea for custom numbering has helped in other areas as well. Take for instance, my short story collection. The order isn't important, but they cross multiple genre, and as such, I used the custom number tags to detail out what type of short story they are. Here's a link so you and others can see what I'm talking about:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/515

It doesn't matter if the retailers use the custom numbering or not, that looks cool as heck on the Smashwords site alone! Good job to you and the team!

Mary J. McCoy-Dressel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mjdresselbooks said...

Thank you, @ Mark Coker. Howdy, Ma'am, Book #1 has been added. Happy with how it looks.

Mark Coker said...

@MotownMom Sylvia, yes, the series are listed in the book listings following Smashwords Interviews. Thanks!

@Karen Myers Here's what I'd do... Since ebooks can be of any length, I'd give them a unified numbering system if they're all really part of the same series. If you gave books in the same series different designations, it might confuse readers.

@ Heather Wielding We've added this to our to-do list to support nonsequential numbering. thanks

@Dusk, those are good ideas. We'll definitely do some of that in future iterations as we work to make series more discoverable at Smashwords.

Everyone: we've received numerous requests for designations like 1.5 or 2.5, so we'll be rolling support out for that soon too.

Cee said...

This is really good news. Love this feature and will be seeing how I can use it ASAP. I have a question, since Smashwords is looking at series is there any possibility of a function where people can subscribe to a series? This would be really good for short fiction and episodic releases.

David Haywood Young said...

Just hoping that nonsequential numbering will mean a series can start with a number other than "1"--some of us have stuff that's tied up elsewhere.

The Writers Canvas, Author Elaine Calloway said...

This sounds amazing, thanks!

I just had one question - how do we update our "series" meta data?

Elaine

Crumbly Writer said...

Great addition, though one detail I'd add is a Series Pricing. Either a discount for buying all the books in a series, or for purchasing the sequel when it's released. This rewards faithful readers, and is difficult to offer on a single book sales basis.

Lecheeky said...

Keep the great ideas and member tools coming. Love how this is going.

quiestinliteris.com said...

Much better! I've added mine to their appropriate series, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the dual-series thing works when I get my next volume out.

Like others, though, I think I'd like the series to show up on the author page for ease of navigation.

tempusflits said...

Thanks, Mark. This is awesome.

Jude Liebermann said...

Wonderful idea! Now i can group things together, where they belong! THANK YOU!!!

cdreimer said...

Being able to view the stats for the entire series or as individual books would be a nice option.

Greg Strandberg said...

Will buyers eventually be able to search series from the home page sidebar?

I figure you could just have a link to 'series' or a Series subheading with things like 'fantasy, historical, romance, horror,' etc.

I have a feeling lots of people would be interested in checking that out.

J.M. Ney-Grimm said...

I have two series, but the books in each can really be read in any order. I'm worried that if I use this feature, readers will think they must start with book "one." It's really fine to start with whichever book appeals to you most. Is there some way to make this clear?

Piggy said...

What a great feature! Love it! So user friendly!
Thanks,
Pat Alvarado

Arial Burnz said...

Thank you so much for including this feature!!!!

Mark Coker said...

Greg, yes, you read our minds. Once this enhanced metadata is collected, it opens up multiple opportunities for Smashwords and our retailers to make our authors' books more discoverable. Home page is on the roadmap.

CD, can you elaborate on your suggestion about stats? Would like to hear more.

archangelbeth said...

Seconding the idea of being able to offer a series discount! (Or make a "series discount bundle" that's books 2-X! I hate buying one book to try, then seeing only "the full set" as discounted...)

Or would a series-discount trigger the Annoying Amazon Pricematch? :/

Tracie Puckett said...

SO glad to have this :) Great feature! THANKS!

"Outlaw" Adam Knight said...

SO glad this feature has become available, Mark. I am still just trying to get my series (Overdrive) going but it's good to know that when Book Two becomes available in December that I'll have even more ways to get eyes on it and create a sense of synergy.

Thanks to you and the SW Team!

AK
@OutlawAK

Sara York said...

Thank you so much!!!

Laurie McLean said...

Excellent news this month coming fast and furiously, Mark! Love the series manager. This will really help us.

cdreimer said...

Hi Mark,

I can currently view the stats for each ebook individually. If I want to view the stats for all the ebooks in a particular series, I need to go back and forth between the different pages in the web browser.

Having all the ebook stats in the series presented on one page and/or a combined graph with all the ebook stats would be informative.

For example, I have three short story omnibus ebooks that have never done well. After I posted the link to the series, I noticed from the graphs that people viewed and downloaded samples from the second and third ebooks more than the first ebook. Before I make the first ebook available for free, I need to figure out what's wrong with it. I suspect it's a combination of everything (i.e., cover, description and content).

Thank you,

Chris Reimer

HopePost said...

This is great. Thank you!

davidleesummers said...

This is a great feature. One thing I'd love to see is a way to create series that consist of different authors. An example in mainstream publishing would be the "Star Wars" books where different authors have contributed different titles to the series. I've worked on a project where several indy authors have collaborated and contributed titles to series. It would be nice to link those so we could help cross promote each others' titles.

Devorah Fox said...

Cool. Most handy. I got it set up. For some reason the interface continues to prompt me to set it up.

Scott Marlowe said...

This is a good addition. Thanks, guys.

I hope the next big thing is allowing us to upload our own MOBI formatted eBooks the same way we can now upload EPUB.

JC LeSinge said...

This is a great tool for me, I write in linked series of Fantasy novels.

That I can attach books to multiple series is excellent; I can list each series alone, list them all in the master running-order, and cross-reference different main plots and characters into their own series.

Given that I have so many books, this not only makes it easier to manage them, it's also a powerful marketing tool to build the networks that online rely on.

Awesome, very happy with this =)

Charles Harvey said...

I can't wait to see the results when all of the books in a series show up on a retailer's site. If the reader enjoyed a freebie in a series, hopefully they'll be motivated to buy if the see all of the books on one page. Thanks!

Lara Biyuts said...

Thank you, guys, for the notification. I made the Smashwords series of my 6 novels (6 for the time being). It looks nice.

Debra said...

Easy to do and looks great. Thank you.

A.G. Claymore said...

Mark, I love how you guys never sit back and let things ride. The series manager and the author interviews are just some of the reasons writers keep coming back. Just one thing I noticed - on the interviews, I don't see the author pictures unless I'm using the chrome browser. Since a lot of authors still use MobiPocket for their Amazon edition, they probably dont use chrome (incompatible).

A.G. Claymore said...

re: the above comment, it's when browsing the interivews that the photos get squished...

Annemarie Nikolaus said...

I wonder how it has to be managed with several authors writing for the same series.
From Kobo-Writing Life I know that different authors may put the same series title in her book's description and Kobo link it together under the one series title.

I write a series with some xollegues and my first contribution is the second book released. Readers don't have to read it in a particular order, but as there are a number required, I put no. 2. Yet the system didn't accept that.
Now I wonder how we manage the thing: Everyone sets the series on her account and then put book no. 1 for the first she'd published? Or what?

And what do authors do who contribute to a seires in case *there is* a particular order?
I asked your support team and got the suggestion to use a publsiher account. But that's not an option because it requires book-keeping for all authors.

Annemarie Nikolaus said...

Oh yes, another point:
As a next step, it would be nice to put an overall series description in the metadata. Just two line or so.
But I suppose it will be useless outsied Smashwords tillthe retailers enhance their system. Yet,maybe it would entice them todo so.

Mary Andrews said...

Overall, I think this is a great idea. The problem I'm having with this system, though, is that I've self-published the author's edition of my first book in The Fireborn Chronicles, and books two and three are being published by MuseItUp Publishing here as well.

Is it possible to add books two & three with links to the MuseItUp links as well?

Thanks

Pierre Bougie said...

I will be using this tool when I publish the sequel to "L'Affaire Delma" and I think it will be a great feature.

Another feature I would LOVE to see on Smashwords would be the ability for visitors to filter their book choice by language! French or Spanish books are very hard to find! Why not create such an option in the main menu...


Thank you for considering this and get it done soon.

robinpwaldrop said...

Thanks Smashwords crew! This is just another great addition to the site.

Now, if you guys could find a way to get retailers to pay royalties quicker...lol.

LK Watts said...

Thanks to the Smashwords team for another great feature!

I have two books on your site and they are part of a series so this is extremely helpful to me. Thanks so much!

John D'Amato said...

Thank you so much for this great new feature! It sure is nice to see my work properly noted as a series!

Julius Thompson Books said...

Great Idea...Love it!...J.E. Thompson

jmhardinwrites said...

I love the idea but I have a question. I'm getting ready to publish a comp0anion book to my short story "He's With the Band." It's not a followup per se but a book with the complete lyrics to the songs in my story as well as for other songs I've written. Should I use the Series Manager for the companion book or just treat it as essentially a standalone book?

Patricia Punchhelpers said...

Great feature!
It would be great to add an option in the Coupon Manager to generate a coupon for the entire series.
I imagine a promotion "buy the entire series and save XX%"

antheasharp said...

Great tool! I'd love to see the ability to use .5 though. I have a prequel short story in my series, plus will be releasing some linked shorts that really are like 2.5 in the series...

Elderwoman said...

This is a good feature but I would like more flexibility in it. The series I am involved with is a non-fiction themed series with various different authors (or editors, as most are anthologies)so I don't want it to say 'by Marian McCain'in the series title but there doesn't seem to be a way to delete it.

Mark Coker said...

Hi elderwoman, I'm afraid I don't understand your question. Please contact our support team via the "Comments/questions" link you'll find at the top of any Smashwords web page, and they can probably help walk you though the options for your particular situation.