Thursday, August 29, 2013

Smashwords Distributes Ebooks to, India's Largest Online Bookseller

India, here we come!

Smashwords today announced a distribution agreement with, India’s largest online marketplace and bookseller.  Smashwords titles will begin appearing at within the next three to four weeks.

Flipkart is commonly referred to as the Amazon of India.  To be fair to Flipkart, Amazon would probably kill to become the Flipkart of India some day. is India’s largest online marketplace.  They serve 10 million registered users, one million daily visitors, and offer products in over 17 different categories.  Our friends at Flipkart tell me that according to Nielsen BookScan Retail Panel data, Flipkart holds 80% market share for online book sales in India, and holds 40-45% market share for all trade book sales across brick and mortar AND online.

Flipkart’s ebook store is accessible via the Web at as well as via Flipkart e-reading apps for Android, Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows 8 devices.  The Apple iOS app supports reading only, whereas the other interfaces support both purchasing and reading.

I’ve been eager to distribute Smashwords books to India for several years now.  India represents the fifth largest source of traffic to the Smashwords store after the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

In our globally connected world, consumer cultures are becoming more similar than they are different. Online social media marketing touches readers at every point of globe, generating demand for your books. We're now better equipped to serve Indian readers, who can purchase at Flipkart in Rupees.

Two years ago I sat beside a young Certified Public Accountant on a flight from London to San Francisco.  If she hadn’t volunteered she lived in India, I would have bet she lived in San Francisco.  She told me how she and her friends in India only speak English at work, they dream in English at night, and they only buy books in English.  If you haven't thought about the book market in India, now is the time to start.

Here are some quick facts about the Indian market:

  • India is the world’s second most populous country with 1.2 billion citizens, accounting for 17% of the world’s population.  Source
  • India’s literacy rate is 74% and rising.  Source.
  • India has two official languages: Hindi and English.  Source.
  • 125 million Indians speak English, twice the 61 million English speakers in the UK, quadruple the 33 million in Canada, and about six times the 22 million in Australia.  Source.   I don’t have data on English literacy, or the number of English readers, though our friends at Flipkart tell me about 80% of their book sales are English language books.
  • 150 million Indians are online.  Source.  By 2015, according to McKinsey, the number of Internet users is expected to double to 330 million.  Source.
  • India recently became the world’s third largest market for smartphones.  Its smart phone market for Q1 2013 grew over 160% year over year, a rate of growth faster than China (86% YoY), Japan (24% YoY) and the US (19% YoY).  Source. Smartphones are e-reading devices!
  • India has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and one of the fastest growing middle classes.  India had 250 million middle class consumers in 2007, a number that will rise to 600 million by 2030.  Source.  With the rise of the middle class comes increased discretionary consumer spending on books. 
The ebook market today in India is nascent, accounting for less than one percent of the market.  I expect the market to grow dramatically over the next five years as the primordial soup necessary to support a thriving ebook ecosystem comes into place. 

The ingredients for that soup?  Here are they are:
  1. Availability of low-cost high-quality e-reading devices – Smartphones!
  2. Availability of a large, diverse and affordable selection of high-quality ebooks – Smashwords ebooks!
  3. Prominent retailers to promote and sell the books – Flipkart, Amazon and others to follow
  4. Internet penetration – Huge already, growing fast
  5. Consumers inclined to purchase online – Only about 1% of Indians shop online now.  It’s not difficult to imagine how this will grow in the next few years.
I think indie authors will have a substantial competitive advantage in India, because indie ebooks are priced much more affordably than traditionally published ebooks.  Our 20,000+ free books make our authors' offering all the more compelling.

India has a rich and proud literary culture.  I think our agreement with Flipkart will help inspire the next generation of Indian authors to embrace ebook publishing. Thanks to the example set by the 60,000+ Smashwords authors we’ll distribute to Flipkart, I trust Indian authors will come to learn how Smashwords makes ebook publishing fast, free and accessible to all.  We’ll not only make it easy for Indian authors to reach Indian readers at, but we’ll also help them reach millions of other readers across our global distribution network of Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, the Smashwords store and others. 

How many months or years before an aspiring Indian author who learns of Smashwords through this relationship goes on to become a NY Times bestselling author?  I’m betting it’ll happen within a year or two.  I can’t wait!  There are talented writers in every corner of the globe just waiting to be discovered by readers.

How to distribute books to Flipkart:

As with most new Smashwords channels, Smashwords authors and publishers will be automatically opted in to Flipkart distribution.  As long as your book is Premium Catalog-approved, you’re eligible for distribution.

We’re sending out an email today to all Smashwords authors and publishers today regarding this announcement.  If you want to opt out of Flipkart distribution (I don’t recommend opting out!), you can do so within the next 48 hrs by visiting your Dashboard’s Channel Manager.  As most Smashwords veterans know, it’s our standard process to give all authors at least 48 hours advance notice via email before activating a new distribution channel.

You can view one of our early test books in their store, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.

We plan to ship to titles and metadata updates to Flipkart daily, five days per week, which is the same schedule we use for Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Smashwords authors will earn 60% of the list price for all Flipkart sales, after deducting for India’s equivalent of VAT tax, which in India is called Withholding Tax.  This is similar to how we compute author earnings after VAT for Apple sales in the UK and Europe.

Agency pricing is not allowed in India, so we have entered into a wholesale pricing agreement.  Although has the option to discount our books in India, it’s up to them whether they exercise this option.  Amazon’s KDP platform operates under similar rules.  When you sign up with Amazon KDP, Amazon retains the option to discount your books.  In practice, Amazon rarely discounts with the exception of price matching., like Amazon, practices price matching against Indian ebook stores only.  If they see a Smashwords ebook is priced for less at the Amazon Kindle store in India, they will match the price and the author’s cut will drop to 60% of the discounted price, less of course the taxes mentioned above.  However, in situations where discounts the price outside of price-matching situations, the author will still earn 60% of the list price from Smashwords.  Flipkart will carry our free ebooks in addition to our priced books.

If you're not already publishing and distributing with Smashwords, click here to learn how.  We make ebook publishing fast, free and easy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Apple iBooks Refreshes Breakout Books Feature, Smashwords Authors Hitting Bestseller Lists

Today is a banner day for Smashwords authors at Apple.

Apple's US store today launched a refreshed and updated Breakout Books feature showcasing multiple Smashwords authors.

It's their top-of-the-store home page promo.  If you have an iPhone or iPad, you'll see it in your iBooks app.  If you have iTunes installed on your computer, you can view the promotion at its perma-link at

This time around, Apple is featuring multiple preorders in the Breakout Books promotion.  As I mentioned in our ebook preorder announcement and last week in my ebook preorder primer at the Huffington Post, one of the many benefits of preorders is that retailers can identify strong titles and give them extra merchandising love!

Here's a sampling of Smashwords authors featured today in Breakout Books:  

Under the Romance category, there's GJ Walker Smith, Kirsty Moseley, Abbi Glines, Katie Ashley, Chanda Hahn, Kelly Mooney, Erica Stevens, Quinn Loftis, Shayne Parkinson, Samantha Young, Marquita Valentine, Lisa Plumely, Kahlen Aymes, Shelly Crane, S.C. Stephens and Merry Farmer.

Under Mysteries & Thrillers, there's Claude Bouchard, JD Nixon, Paul Pilkington, E.L. Henry, Maggie Shayne, G.P. Ching, Mike Wells, Claude Bouchard again (yay!), Edie Claire, Dana Donovan, Harrison Drake, John O'Brien, L.L. Bartlett and George Wier.

Under Sci-fi and Fantasy, there's Dionne Lister, Caroline Hansen, Hadleigh O. Charles, Joseph Lallo, Valmore Daniels, TC Southwell, Brian S. Pratt, Jeffrey Poole, Claire Farrell, Lindsay Buroker, Sarah Woodbury, TC Southwell (again, yay!), Joseph Lallo (again, yay!), Randolph Lalonde, Penelope Fletcher, and T.M. Nielsen.

Under the catch-all of "More to Explore," there's Linda Gillard (twice!), Mike Wells (second appearance), William Wayne Dicksion, Shayne Parkinson (second appearance!), Kaitlyn Davis, Sarah Burleton, Kim Richardson, and Alison Pensy.

Apple first launched the Breakout Books feature in Australia and New Zealand, and then in February Apple launched Breakout Books in the US.

It's an ongoing feature at multiple iBooks territories around the world. For example, the iBooks store in Australia is running a Breakout Books promotion this week featuring titles priced at FREE (promo graphic at left).

Featured Smashwords authors include Jacques Antoine, Tina Chan, Raquel Lyon, Bobby Adair, Emma Grace, Belinda Crawford, Cherise Kelley, K.Z. Freeman, J.D. Brink, Rebecca Ethington, Josephine Kent, Maggie Shayne, Connie Keenan, Amelia Rose, Josephenie Kent (second appearance!), Jim Davis, Mary Tribbey, M.D. Bowden, Electra Rossello, Kimberly Wells, Kitty Margo, Lleaon Rao, Kevin Provance, Dillie Dorian, Janice Gallen, Jessica Carter, Aaron Lee, Missy Lyons, Wolf Black, Witold Matulewicz, Amanda Martin, Jamie Buchanan, Cathleen Conley, Lee Penney, Nathan Bassett, Diane Dunning, Dean Schechinger, Terry Renner, Julie Richie, Lauren Scharhag, Michael Rogers, Dr. A. Nyland, Laine Crosby, Hercules Bantas, Bart Cline, Valerie Holmes, Electra Rossello, Marius Renos Dicomites, Bobby A. Troutt, Matthew Christopher Benner, Ali Simon, TJ Seitz, Shelton Ranasinghe, Rachel Higginson, James Hampton and C. Sean McGee.  Whew.  Wow.

In other great Apple news today, Chanda Hahn, who I predicted last week in my eBook Preorders Help Indie Authors Hit Bestseller Lists story at Huffington Post would hit Apple's bestseller lists, today landed high in multiple bestseller lists with her new title, Fable: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale.  As of this morning, she was the #2 bestseller at Apple's US store, #2 in Australia, #4 in Canada and #45 in the UK.

The love Apple and its customers are showering on indie authors doesn't stop there.  In the US store today, Smashwords authors are holding three of the top five bestseller spots (Congrats Chanda Hahn, Justine Elvira and Melody Grace!).  In the UK store, Smashwords authors are holding five of the top 10 spots (congrats Justine Elvira, Melody Grace, Samantha Young and JD Nixon!). In Australia, Smashwords authors are holding five of the top 10 bestseller spots (congrats Chanda Hahn, Justine Elvira, Melody Grace and Samantha Young).

Smashwords authors are featured in multiple other promotions today and nearly every week around the world at Apple.  For example, at Apple Australia and New Zealand this week, Smashwords authors G.J. Walker-Smith and Dionne Lister earned their own top-of-page merchandising features with custom artwork produced by Apple based on each author's covers.  So cool.

All I can say is that Apple is super-awesome.  If your book is at Apple, return the favor by linking to it on your blog, your website and in your social media links.  It makes a big difference for your sales.  Be sure to join their recently-improved affiliate program where you can earn and extra 7% of the list price on your own book, simply by linking to it.  Click here to learn the latest details on Apple's affiliate program and apply for an account.  They've expanded their worldwide coverage of the program.  For linking tips to Apple, see my previous post about Apple ebook merchandising, How to Sell eBooks at the Apple iBookstore.  I'll be doing an updated post sometime soon about Apple merchandising, based on a presentation I first gave at RT Booklovers in Kansas City.

If you're friends with any of these authors above, let 'em know today's a good day!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Smashwords Interviews Helps Readers Learn the Story Behind the Author

Smashwords today introduced Smashwords Interviews, a new author marketing tool that helps readers learn the story behind the author.

Smashwords Interviews guides authors to create, edit and publish their own Q&A interview.  Authors simply answer a series of questions, or create their own questions, and then click publish.

Your interview will be published on the Smashwords site, and is cross linked and discoverable from your author profile page, each of your book pages, and the Smashwords home page.  At the end of each interview is a clickable listing of the author's books.  The interview includes social sharing features so your fans can help spread your interview on their favorite social media channels.  

The idea for this feature came to me last year when we were running a series of author interviews here on the Smashwords blog.  Many more authors wanted to be interviewed than we could accommodate.  I thought to myself, "wouldn't it be cool if we could interview every Smashwords author?"  And then the solution became apparent: a self-serve system for publishing author interviews. Smashwords Interviews is the result.  Kudos to Case Talbot, the newest member of our software development team.  She took my ideas and realized them better than I imagined.

To test the feature, we invited a few Smashwords authors and team members to give it a spin.  Here are their interviews:
I look forward to reading the amazing stories behind our authors.  I think you will too.

How to Publish a Smashwords Interview

Creating an interview is fun and easy.   Here's how to get started:
  1. Sign in to your account, click to the Account tab, and then you'll see the link for Create or edit your interview. Study the instructions for tips, and then jump in by clicking Proceed to Your Interview! at the bottom of the page.
  2. We'll present you with a series of questions to get your creative juices flowing.  Feel free to edit our questions, or create your own.  Make your interview unique!  Show off your personality and your writing.
  3. Click Save and Show Next Question to answer the next question
  4. When you’re done, click Preview and Publish. From this page, you can use the up/down arrow to rearrange the order of the questions.  You can also click to edit any question or answer.
  5. Promote your interview! Share it on social media, and encourage your fans to share it too.
The same picture you use for your author profile will appear on your Smashwords Interview page.

Tips to Create a Great Interview

At Smashwords, we believe every author has an important story to tell. Your writing is influenced by your life experiences, talents, dreams and passions. 
Smashwords Interviews helps readers learn the story
behind the author.  Simply answer our questions,or
create your own questions.  Then publish and share!

Your opportunity with this interview is to bring who you are as an author to life.  It's an opportunity to share the story behind the author, and the story behind your books.  It's an opportunity to convert prospective readers into readers, and turn fans into super-fans.

A good interview helps the reader develop a multidimensional understanding of who you are as a writer and a person.

The secret to creating a great Smashwords Interview is to select questions that prompt honest answers that address what readers would want to know about you (even if they don’t yet know they want to know it). Above all, be yourself!  Allow your personality and your writing talent to shine!

Before you begin your interview, put yourself in your target readers’ shoes. The readers of your interview will fall into one of four camps:
  1. They’re already a fan of your writing, and they’re curious to learn more about you as person. Your interview can help them appreciate you and your work on a completely new level, and will help solidify your brand in their mind.
  2. A fan of yours, or possibly even a complete stranger, enjoyed your interview and shared it with their social media friends on Facebook, Twitter, or on their blog.  Be sure to promote your interview to your fans, and encourage them to share it with their friends!
  3. You’re a new author to them, they’ve never read you. They’re looking for a good read and they’re curious to learn more about you before they take a chance on your book.
  4. They stumbled across your Q&A by accident, possibly via a search engine like Google because your interview addresses a topic that matches the keywords they were searching on.  They didn't know they were looking for your book, but after reading your interview, they might think differently!
Although we created Smashwords Interviews with authors in mind, readers are also welcome to contribute interviews!

We look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions for improvements.


Update September 10, 2013 - Smashwords Interviews now supports Publisher and Agent accounts!  This means publishers and agents can compose interviews for each of their authors or pen names.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Smashwords Authors Top Charts at Apple with Preorders

A couple weeks ago, we announced preorder distribution to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.  Today, we see a first-hand example of how preorders can help increase visibility and sales for authors.

Three Smashwords preorders went onsale today at Apple and other retailers.  They're topping the charts.  At Apple, accumulated preorders credit as sales on the day of release, which can cause titles to spike in the bestseller lists.  The higher ranking in the bestseller lists increases visibility which can then lead to greater sales.

As of this writing, JD Nixon's new mystery, Heller's Decision, is at #1 store-wide at the Apple iBooks store in Australia, #1 in Canada, #4 in the US, and #11 in the U.K.

Kristen Ashley's new romance, Rock Chick Revolution, landed today at #3 store-wide in Australia, #2 in Canada, #5  in the US, #20 in the UK

Elizabeth Reyes' new romance, Abel, landed today at #7 store-wide in Australia, and #46 in the UK.  In the US, she's charting at #35 in the always-competitive romance category.

Keep an eye on some of these other hot new releases coming out in the weeks ahead, each of which are likely to be chart-toppers as well:

Chanda Hahn's  Fable: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Book 3 (onsale 8/27)
J. S. Scott's  The Billionaire’s Salvation (The Billionaire’s Obsession ~ Max)  (onsale 9/8)
Quinn Loftis'  Sacrifice of Love: Book 7 of the Grey Wolves Series (onsale 9/13)

Learn more about preorders here at the Smashwords Blog.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Smashwords Commences Daily Shipments to Barnes & Noble

Starting this past Monday, Barnes & Noble became the third major Smashwords retailer to begin accepting daily deliveries of books and metadata updates from Smashwords, five days a week. Previously, Smashwords shipped to B&N twice-weekly.

For Smashwords authors and publishers, and for B&N customers, this means faster listings of new releases, faster listings of preorders, and faster price updates. We also ship daily to Apple and Kobo.

My thanks to our friends at B&N for taking on the extra work to process our daily deliveries.

Smashwords has a long history with Barnes & Noble.  Barnes & Noble was the first retailer to sign a distribution agreement with us back in 2009, and they've been a strong supporter of Smashwords authors and publishers ever since.  B&N earns our authors millions of dollars each year, and is our second-largest sales channel after Apple. If all your books aren't at B&N, you're missing out on millions of readers you can't reach anywhere else.

As we announced July 26, Smashwords now delivers preorders to Barnes & Noble, a powerful new author merchandising tool.  Preorders aren't available to authors who upload direct to B&N via NookPress (f.k.a. Pubit).  Smashwords also delivers books priced at FREE to B&N, and we pay 60% list for books priced under $2.99 and over $9.99 (vs. 40% list earned by NookPress users). 

If you're not yet distributing your titles to B&N, Apple and Kobo via Smashwords, consider consolidating your distribution and metadata management through Smashwords!