Monday, May 26, 2014

Amazon's Hachette Dispute Foreshadows What's Next for Indie Authors

Amazon and Hachette Book Group are locked in an epic battle over the future of ebook publishing.

The outcome of this dispute will have permanent ramifications for publishers and indie authors alike.

On one side you have Hachette, the fourth largest trade book publisher.  Hachette earns over 1/3 of its US sales from ebooks.  Hachette wants agency terms for its books.  Hachette wants to control the list price of its books and earn 70% list from each sale.  Smashwords announced agency terms with our retail partners in 2010.

On the other side is Amazon, a fierce opponent to agency pricing.  Amazon wants the ability to discount books, and to enable greater discounting Amazon wants a larger percentage of the publisher's pie.  A story out Friday by Jeffrey Trachtenburg of the Wall Street Journal confirms Amazon is seeking to reduce the percentage paid to publishers.  Amazon is seeking to weaken or abolish the agency model.

This is also the view of Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly, who in his March 16 story, Will the Agency Model Survive? speculated that the future of agency hangs in the balance.  As Albanese writes in his piece, the timing of the Amazon/Hachette dispute is not coincidental.
One likely reason (for the current timing of the dispute) is that when the publishers' 2012 consent decrees in the e-book price-fixing case begin to expire this fall, so too will Amazon’s ability to discount e-books. The parties don't comment on specific negotiations (and neither Hachette or Amazon will comment directly on the current dispute or ongoing talks). But it is fair to say that Amazon officials likely see the current negotiations as their best chance to push for the end of agency pricing for e-books, and are apparently prepared to bring to bear all the pressure they can on publishers—whether on the Kindle side, or print. The question is, will the major publishers stick together to keep agency pricing for e-books?
The dispute is generating some spectacular fireworks.  It's also confirming the suspicions of Amazon's worst critics.  In an attempt to force Hachette to capitulate, Amazon is employing a shock and awe campaign of scorched earth retribution against Hachette.  According to multiple press reports, Amazon has increased Hachette's book prices to its customers then turned its automated merchandising algorithms into attack dogs that encourage customers to consider "similar items at a lower price"; Amazon is telling customers Hachette print books are out of stock; and is denying Hachette the ability to list preorders.  For a company that prides itself in customer service, these are all customer-unfriendly moves.  These actions also punish Hachette authors, who through no fault of their own will suffer reduced sales at Amazon.

For the last four years, indie ebook authors have endured similar iron-fisted policy enforcement and lost earnings with Amazon's KDP price-matching, even when Amazon knew the out-of-sync ebook prices were not the author's intention or fault.  Amazon plays business like war.  Overwhelming force pushes weak hands to surrender and comply. 

In a letter written to Amazon by the Association of Author's Representatives (AAR), a trade group representing literary agents, AAR likened Amazon's tactics to hostage-taking and extortion.

Amazon defenders (and critics too) and will say business is business, and if you want to play in the Amazon sandbox - the world's largest ebook store - you have to play by their rules.  The Amazon defenders are correct.  Amazon is under no obligation to carry Hachette's books under the terms Hachette wants. Amazon is under no obligation to play nice.

The industry can cry until it's blue in the face about how Amazon is ruthless and heavy-handed, and how other retailers are kinder and gentler. The truth of the argument doesn't change the reality.  Amazon does what it does because it can, because authors and publishers let them do it, and because it's in Amazon's nature to act this way.  Lions eat wildebeest.

For its part, Hachette is sending letters to agents and authors asking for their patience and support.  In their May 23 letter, Hachette wrote:

Please know that we are doing everything in our power to find a solution to this difficult situation, one that best serves our authors and their work, and that preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong and author-centric publishing company.

Amazon is playing a game of divide and conquer.  Amazon knows if they weaken or cancel their agency agreement with Hachette that the other publishers will have less leverage to hold the line on agency.  And whatever concessions Amazon gets, other retailers will want the same, further undermining the ability of publishers to control their prices or maintain their profits.

Amazon's tactics hit Hachette in two places where it hurts:
  1. Author confidence - The dispute will undermine literary agent and author confidence that Hachette can deliver books to Amazon.  This will cause some agents and authors to think twice before selling upcoming projects to Hachette.  
  2. Profitability - Amazon knows that if they if they can make Hachette the first domino to fall in their anti-agency crusade, it's more likely to force other publishers to abandon it as well.  Once agency is eliminated, ebooks will become less profitable to publishers, which then marginalizes publishers by weakening their strategic power in the marketplace.  With lower margins, publishers will have less flexibility to increase ebook royalty rates to authors at at time when their authors are clamoring for higher royalties.  This would thereby compel more authors to self-publish directly with Amazon, which benefits Amazon.  

Publishers deserve much of the blame for making their ebook margins such an appetizing target for Amazon.  Amazon's assault on their margins should come as no surprise.  In 2012, Adam Lashinsky of Fortune Magazine wrote that a favorite Jeff Bezos aphorism is "Your margin is my opportunity."  Publishers have been complaining about Amazon for years yet still supplied them the books that created Amazon. 

Publishers have been reporting healthy earnings in recent months, driven in large part by high-margin ebook sales.  Publishers pay authors only 25% of net ebook proceeds, whereas indie authors earn 85-100% of net proceeds.  In other words, publishers made themselves a target for a company whose very DNA is programmed to strip suppliers (publishers) of their margin.

From a PR perspective, Amazon can cast their move as taking from the greedy publishers to provide customers lower prices.  But in the end, they're really taking from authors.

Hachette faces a dilemma.  They face the lose/lose decision of either giving that margin to Amazon, or choosing to kiss its Amazon relationship goodbye.  It would be painful for publishers to say goodbye to Amazon.  Amazon controls approximately 1/3 of the overall trade book market in the US, and up to 50-60% of the ebook market.

In 2010, publishers presented Amazon with a unified front by simultaneously demanding agency pricing terms.  This forced Amazon to capituate and accept agency pricing.  It was a different world back then. Amazon's nascent Kindle ebook business needed the books of big publishers.  The bitter aftertaste has never left Amazon's mouth.

The publishers viewed agency as a better model.  The US DoJ viewed the united front as collusion.   

In 2014, publishers are more disposable to Amazon than they once were, thanks in part to the rise of indie authorship, and thanks also to better business diversification.  Amazon's business is no longer as dependent upon books as it once was.  They sell everything under the sun, from diapers to shoes to cloud services to groceries to media devices.

Books represent only one of hundreds of layers of icing on the cake of Amazon.  Amazon can lose money on books while still operating a profitable business.

Pure-play book retailers - Kobo and Barnes & Noble for example, must earn money from book sales.  Unlike Amazon, they don't have the financial resources to sell books at a loss forever.  Publishers must also earn money from book sales, otherwise they can't keep the lights on.

If Amazon can abolish agency pricing it will have the power to put its largest pure-play book retailing competitors out of business.  This will make the publishers even more dependent upon Amazon, which further weakens their power.

How can Hachette get out of this mess?  None of its options are good.  Amazon holds the strongest hand in this high-stakes poker match.

The boldest option is for Hachette to play the nuclear card: they can withdraw all their books from Amazon.  Hachette could direct readers to more publisher-friendly platforms and stores.  Hachette could also make a more concerted effort to develop new channels of distribution.  Curiously, neither Hachette nor any other major NY publisher has ever attempted to sell their books in the Smashwords ebook store, despite the fact that Smashwords pays up to 80% list.  Publisher insistence on DRM is one of several factors that has locked them into Amazon and locked them out of new outlets.  Most of the publishers are also refusing to work with the new ebook subscription services, or have treated libraries as second-class citizens, even though these two channels provide yet another healthy counterbalance to a single retailer's dominance.

It's uncertain if Hachette or other publishers could survive if they abandon Amazon.  Would authors and literary agents continue to support them if their books didn't reach Amazon?

The window of opportunity for such a bold move is closing quickly.  Within the next several years, ebooks as a percentage of the overall book market will increase as print declines.  Within a few years, Amazon's sales of indie-supplied ebooks will probably exceed sales of publisher-supplied books.  This means the leverage publishers hold over Amazon will diminish each year. 

The other alternative is for Hachette to capitulate to Amazon, which is akin to Hachette accepting a long term death sentence.  Amazon views publishers as unnecessary intermediaries.  Amazon works to disintermediate the intermediaries so it can control the relationship with the creators (authors) and the customers.

The other Big 5 publishers might do well to play their nuclear cards before it's too late.

If the big publishers capitulate and abandon agency, the other retailers, in order to remain competitive, will be forced to abandon their agency agreements with the publishers as well, otherwise Amazon would have the ability to underprice them. And then the pure-play book retailers would fall.

Are Indie Authors Next in the Crosshairs?

The dispute with Hachette foreshadows what comes next for indie ebook authors at Amazon who have grown comfortable to KDP's 70% royalty rates.

Think about my divide and conquer reference above.  Indies are already divided and conquered at Amazon, but most don't realize this.  These indies all have direct-upload relationships with Amazon.  They don't have the collective bargaining power of a large publisher to advocate on their behalf.  As the unfolding events indicate, it's questionable if even a large publisher has leverage over Amazon.

If Hachette doesn't have the power to maintain 70% earnings, how will million-copy-selling New York Times bestselling indie authors have any power when Amazon decides to put the squeeze on them?   And how about the rest of the indie community which has even less leverage over Amazon?

How long until Amazon puts on the squeeze?  The squeeze may already have started.  In February, Amazon gutted the royalty rates they pay for audiobooks, as Laura Hazard Owen reported at GigaOm in her story, Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks.  Previously, authors earned up to 90% list.  Under the new terms, authors earn from 25% to 40% list. Amazon can do this because they dominate audiobooks.

At any time, Amazon could choose to eliminate the 70% royalty option at KDP.  They could offer the same terms as their Audible division: 25% list if you're non-exclusive, and 40% list if you're exclusive. 

If Amazon tightens the screws, indies will face the same painful decision Hachette now faces.  Either swallow the bitter pill, or remove your books from Amazon. .

Most indies would probably choose to accept lower royalties at Amazon under the logic that something is better than nothing. As individuals, indies have little leverage against Amazon.

Most vulnerable to any change in policy at Amazon are the indie authors who supply approximately 500,000 ebooks to Amazon's KDP Select program.

Advice to Indie Authors: Four Steps to Improve your Independence

Is it really necessary that retailers and publishers should view one another as war-like adversaries, or as predator and prey?  I don't think so.  At Smashwords, we serve our authors by serving our retailers.  We help our retail partners efficiently receive, ingest and sell our authors' books.  By opening up new retail and library channels, we support our authors.  We think our new channels help our retailers too, because each new channel we open is a reminder that exclusivity is bad for publishing.  What leverage we do have we apply to negotiating fair and equitable agreements that are win/wins for our authors and retailers. We want our retail partners to profit from our books, because if they don't profit it's not a long-term sustainable relationship.  We believe the 70/30 agency split provides retailers a fair profit.  I've always believed that partnership and cooperation are preferable to war.

As an indie author, it's important you understand that you're the future of publishing.  Your choices matter.  Your decisions will shape not only your future but the future for all indies.  Your decisions will shape how retailers treat you.  Independence is earned - it's not something you can take for granted.  Here are four tips to preserve your independence:
  1. Choose your partners carefully.  In the Indie Author Manifesto I wrote that indie authors should seek business relationships marked by partnership, fairness, equity and mutually aligned interests.
  2. Favor retail partners that support the agency model.  Agency puts authors and publishers in control and frees retailers to compete against one another based on customer experience rather than cut-throat price wars.  The agency model enables lower customer prices because more of the money goes to the author/publisher rather than the retailer.  Indies have used agency to lower ebooks prices while publishers made the mistake of using agency to raise prices.  Agency establishes a framework by which authors and retailers can work in partnership rather than as predator and prey.
  3. Avoid exclusivity.  Exclusivity makes you dependent upon a single retailer.  Work for independence, the opposite of dependence.  Diversify your income stream by distributing everywhere.  Every retailer reaches new readers you otherwise won't reach.  Each retailer, and each store they operate in each country, represents it's own unique micro-market of readers.  It can take years to develop readership, so maintain a strong and steady course of uninterrupted full distribution.  This is similar advice I gave gave in 2011 when I cautioned authors to steer clear of Amazon's KDP Select option. 
  4. Support a vibrant ecosystem of multiple competing retailers.  On your website and in your promotions, provide direct links to your books at each retail partner.  Give your fans choice.  Choice makes your books more accessible to readers.
Good luck!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Smashwords and OverDrive to Bring 200,000+ Indie Ebooks to 20,000+ Public Libraries

Imagine if your indie ebook was purchasable by thousands of public libraries around the globe.  Now imagine no more.

Smashwords today announced an agreement to supply more than 200,000 titles to OverDrive, the world’s largest library ebook platform.

OverDrive powers the ebook procurement and checkout systems for 20,000 public libraries around the world, including 90% of US public libraries. 

This agreement marks a watershed moment for indie authors, libraries and library patrons around the world.

It’s also a big deal for thousands of small independent presses around the globe who now have a convenient onramp into the OverDrive network. 

Millions of library patrons will now have access to the amazing diversity and quality of the Smashwords catalog. 

At a time when many large publishers are charging libraries high prices for ebooks (front list ebooks from Big 5 publishers can cost libraries $80, and even backlist ebooks can cost libraries $20-40), Smashwords authors and publishers are stepping in to supply thousands of affordably priced, library-friendly ebooks.  Faced with the option of purchasing a single James Patterson novel for around $40.00, or ten thrillers from today’s most popular indie authors at $4.00 each, libraries now have exciting new options to build patron-pleasing ebook collections.

To help librarians streamline collection development, in the weeks ahead OverDrive and Smashwords will create curated buy-lists lists libraries can use to purchase the most popular indie authors and titles. Libraries will soon have the option, for example, to purchase the top 100 YA fantasy novels (approximate price: ~$400), or the top 1,000 most popular contemporary romances (~$4,000) or top 200 complete series across multiple categories (~$2,000), or the top 200 thrillers, mysteries, epic fantasies or memoirs.  With most of our bestsellers priced priced at or under $4.00, you can do the math to appreciate how incredibly affordable these collections will be.  We’re going to have fun slicing and dicing.

Our lists will measure title popularity by aggregating sales data from across the Smashwords distribution network.  Indie authors: If you needed yet another reason to fully distribute all your titles to all retailers via the Smashwords distribution network, now you have it.  Stand up and have your sales counted because we want to help libraries purchase the greatest diversity of high-quality ebooks across multiple genres and categories.

Here are a couple additional stats to help you appreciate the massive scale of the OverDrive network:
  1. Library patrons borrowed more than 102 million digital titles across the OverDrive network in 2013, up 44% over 2012. 
  2. OverDrive delivered over 1.8 billion cover image impressions to library patrons in 2013, up almost 70% from 2012.  This gives authors incredible exposure and branding to readers searching for their next read.
Per our agreement with OverDrive, libraries will lend purchased ebooks under the one copy/one user model, meaning each copy they purchase can be checked to only one reader at a time.  This is the same licensing arrangement we use for books we distribute via Baker & Taylor's Axis 360 service which we launched two years ago.  Once a patron’s borrowing time expires, the book is ready to be checked out by another patron. 

Library patrons at OverDrive are able to recommend titles to their library from the Smashwords catalog, which will help libraries round out their collections.

Alternately, if a library ebook is already checked out, patrons will be presented with the option to purchase the ebook through a link on participating libraries’ websites through OverDrive’s “Buy It Now” feature. In this sense, the OverDrive library network becomes an ebook retailer for popular books.  The library also earns a commission in the process.

Libraries are engines of book discovery.  Libraries buy ebooks.  Library patrons buy ebooks.  According to a Pew research study in 2012, 41% of library cardholders who read ebooks purchased their most recently read ebook.  Indie authors who distribute to libraries will not only sell books to libraries, but they’ll also sell more books at retail as their readership grows.

Smashwords distributes many of the world’s bestselling indie authors, including numerous New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. Among the many bestselling Smashwords authors available to OverDrive libraries are Amy Miles, Brian S. Pratt, Chanda Hahn (Chanda is a former librarian!  Read her story here), Colleen Hoover, GJ Walker-Smith, Jamie McGuire, JD Nixon, Kirsty Moseley, Kristen Ashley, Lauren Blakely, Melody Grace, Natasha Preston, Quinn Loftis, R.L. Mathewson, Randolph Lalonde, Shayne Parkinson and T.C. Southwell.

The full Smashwords Premium Catalog of non-erotica titles is eligible for the distribution to OverDrive.

Smashwords authors and publishers can set custom library prices through the Smashwords Dashboard’s Pricing Manager feature.  Many Smashwords authors, in a show of support for public libraries, setting lower-than-retail prices for libraries. 

Smashwords authors will earn 45% of the library list price they set.

OverDrive does not support prices under $1.99 due to per-checkout transaction fees OverDrive must pay to their DRM vendor.  Therefore Smashwords books priced under $1.99 – including FREE titles – will be priced at $1.99 at OverDrive.  Even at $1.99, this low price represents a tremendous value for libraries that are accustomed to paying 20-40 times more for a single title.

OverDrive has already completed ingestion of the first 100,000 Smashwords ebooks.  Books will become purchasable by Overdrive libraries as early as this Friday or next week.

All non-erotica Premium Catalog books are automatically opted in to OverDrive distribution.  If any Smashwords authors or publishers wish to opt out of OverDrive distribution (not recommended!), they should do so via their Dashboard's Channel Manager feature before Thursday end of day to prevent titles from appearing for sale at OverDrive.  Of course, authors and publishers have the freedom to opt out at any time.  Later today I’ll send an email to all Smashwords authors and publishers notifying them about this exciting new distribution opportunity.

I anticipate OverDrive will complete loading the remaining 100,000+ titles to over the next 4-8 weeks.

Smashwords Authors, Here’s What you Can Do to Support Your Local Libraries
  1. Distribute your full list of titles to OverDrive
  2. Let your fans know that your books will soon be purchasable by 20,000 libraries around the world (remember, erotica is not distributed to OverDrive). Encourage your fans to contact their local library and ask them to order your books!
  3. In the next few weeks, make a point to visit your local library and introduce yourself.  Let them know you’re a local author, and your books will soon be available on OverDrive (please keep in mind that it'll still be several weeks before OverDrive completes the ingestion of our massive catalog so it's possible not all of your titles are immediately available).
  4. Offer to hold a book reading event at your library.  Or better yet, partner with other local Smashwords authors to collaborate on a multi-author reading event.  If your author friends are not yet distributing via Smashwords, show them how.  Here's a link to my videos on YouTube that will help them learn to publish like a pro at Smashwords -
  5. Offer to present a free workshop at your library on how to professionally self-publish an ebook.  Be sure to promote your workshop to local media and event calendar listings.  Help mentor the next generation of library-friendly authors and have fun in the process!  You’re welcome to take my Powerpoint presentations and customize them for your own purposes.  Here’s a link to the two presentations I gave at the Los Gatos High School, in partnership with the Los Gatos Library, educating the students about ebook publishing for their amazing Windows to the Teenage Soul project (a great example of how libraries can partner with local schools to promote a culture of authorship).  The project has received nationwide press attention (see the story that came out yesterday in School Library Journal or see my write-up here at the Smashwords blog). 
  6. Many libraries face constant budget pressures.  The work they do is important!  Partner with your fellow authors to support your local library.  If you're a member of a writing or critique group, support your library as a group.  Offer to hold book launch parties at the library once they have a copy of your ebook in their OverDrive collection.  Ask your local librarian what you and your fellow indies can do to support their good work.  Maybe a library fund raiser?  Contact your local city's mayor and state political representatives and tell them how vitally important your local library is to your community.

Librarians, Here’s How You Can Support the Indie Author Community

1.  If you’re on OverDrive, check out our books!  Talk with your OverDrive rep.  We'll be building recommended buy-lists in the coming weeks, so let us know your wishlists for categories and list sizes (or leave suggestions below).

2.  Promote indie authorship in your community.  This is your chance to support the next generation of library-friendly authors.  Libraries have always done a fantastic job promoting literacy and a culture of books.  Now's your chance to promote a culture of authorship. Hold ebook publishing workshops.  Read my story at the Huffington Post about how the Los Gatos Public Library held a series of educational workshops for library patrons, aspiring authors and library staff.  Download my Ebook Publishing in the Classroom presentation which I gave as part of Los Gatos High School's Windows to the Teenage Soul project (mentioned above) in partnership with Los Gatos Public Library (and feel free modify these presentations for your patron-training purposes).  Download the presentation I gave last month at the Texas Library Association's annual conference titled, Launch Community Publishing Initiatives with Self-Published Ebooks

3.  Partner with Smashwords to launch your very own co-branded publishing portal.  It’s free.  Click the "support" link at the Smashwords Website to request our fact sheet with instructions. You'll simply provide us two marketing images.  We’ll place one on the Smashwords signup page and the other on the Smashwords Publish page.  We’ll provide you a custom hyperlink to the Smashwords sign-up page that you’ll place on your website.  Every time the author uploads a new title to Smashwords, they’ll be reminded of their association with your library.  Our ebook publishing services are FREE to you and your patrons.  We handle everything via our self-serve platform.  We don’t employ sales people and we don’t sell anything.  We earn 100% of our income on sales commissions which run only 10% of book’s list price for retail and library sales.  Our entire business is oriented around empowering writers with free ebook publishing services, best practices knowledge, and an ever-growing global distribution network of retail outlets and libraries.  Click here to learn why Smashwords is the world’s #1 ebook publishing and distribution platform!

The news of our agreement is getting picked up everywhere.  Here's an alpha-sorted sampling of some of the stories that have appeared in the last few hours (please share on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere!):

Crains Cleveland Business by Scott Suttell - OverDrive in partnership with Smashwords to  add self-published ebooks to public libraries

GalleyCat/MediaBistro by Dianna Dilworth - Smashwords Books Are Coming to a Library Near You

GigaOm by Laura Hazard Owen - Self-published ebook site Smashwords expands to more libraries in deal with Overdrive

GoodEreader by Mercy Pilkington - Smashwords, OverDrive Bring Indie Titles to Libraries

Infodocket by Gary Price - OverDrive and Smashwords Announce Distribution Deal 

Publishers Weekly by Calvin Reid - Smashwords, OverDrive Ink Distribution Deal
Teleread by Susan Lulgjaraj - Smashwords partners with OverDrive
The Digital Reader by Nate  Hoffelder - Self-published eBooks Coming to a Library Near You
Official joint press release by OverDrive/Smashwords - Smashwords and OverDrive in Worldwide Ebook Distribution Agreement

Special Thanks

My thanks to OverDrive founder Steve Potash (uber library ebook pioneer!) and the entire team at Overdrive for their hard work that made this relationship possible. 

Special thanks to Henry Bankhead of the Los Gatos Public Library.  He has served as an incredible mentor to me over the last few years to help me understand the ebook needs of public libraries.  Recently, in honor of his work encouraging libraries to work in partnership with local indie authors, Henry was named a 2014 Mover and Shaker by Library Journal Magazine.  Thanks for supporting indie authors Henry!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Smashwords to Distribute 250,000+ eBooks to txtr

Smashwords today announced a distribution agreement with txtr, an ebook retailing and e-reading platform based in Berlin.

txtr operates ebook stores on the web at and through e-reading apps for iOS, Android, the Mac and Windows 8. txtr also powers the ebook store for UK-based retailer Foyles and powers the stores of two Eastern European mobile network operators. 

txtr is currently developing txtr-powered ebook stores for US-based mass merchant retailers though the details of these relationships have not been announced yet. Once txtr is ready to announce these or other exciting developments, I’ll share with Smashwords authors.

Over 250,000 Smashwords titles – which come from many of the world’s bestselling indie authors – will bring txtr’s ebook catalog to over 1.7 million titles.  Smashwords titles join titles from most of the major New York publishers.

The addition of txtr marks an ongoing global expansion of the Smashwords retail distribution network.  Smashwords authors can upload one book to Smashwords and have it distributed within hours or days to a growing number of retail and library sales outlets.

txtr will retail Smashwords books at the price set by Smashwords authors and publishers (no discounting), or at the local currency equivalent. Smashwords will pay authors 60% list after the deduction of VAT taxes, if any (similar to how we pay for iBooks sales).  In the months ahead, Smashwords will also supply preorders to txtr because their platform supports preorders.

Smashwords titles will begin appearing for sale at txtr on or shortly after this Friday. Smashwords authors are automatically opted in to txtr as with all new Smashwords channels, but may opt out anytime from the Smashwords Dashboard's Channel Manager in the next three days to prevent their titles from going on sale (we do not recommend opting out!).  As with all new retail and library partners, we send test shipments in advance of each partner's launch and we always provide an opt-out window of at least 48 hours. You'll see these test shipments in your Channel Manager. 

I’ll send out an email notification on Tuesday to all Smashwords authors covering the txtr agreement and additional important news yet to come (stay tuned!).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Smashwords Introduces Faster Deliveries to iBooks

In recent weeks, many Smashwords authors have noticed that our deliveries to iBooks have become remarkably faster, and iBooks is listing the books faster. 

Some authors have seen their books appear for sale at iBooks the same day they upload to Smashwords.

Price changes and other metadata updates made in the Smashwords Dashboard for Premium Catalog-approved books are often reflected within hours at iBooks.

The new lightning-fast listings represent a welcome milestone in a multi-year initiative here at Smashwords to continually improve every aspect of our distribution systems.

We’re working to provide our authors and publishers faster retailer deliveries and faster metadata updates with the highest possible accuracy and reliability. We’re now shipping five times daily seven days per week to iBooks, and in the months ahead we’ll push that envelope further.

The faster listings at iBooks are also due in great part to iBooks recognizing the continuous improvements, both from an efficiency and accuracy perspective, of our vetting team here in Los Gatos.

Our vetting team manually inspects thousands of new titles and updates each week to ensure they meet the requirements of our retail partners and the expectations of readers.  We vet the titles so our retailer and library partners don’t have to.  We view our vetting as an important value-add that helps produce higher-quality books for the benefit of our authors, readers and retailers.  A key dividend for our authors is lightning-fast listings at iBooks (erotica titles go through additional manual review by Apple, so they won’t list as quickly).

iBooks has been an amazing partner to Smashwords authors over the last four years, ever since they selected us to serve among a small handful of authorized aggregators to supply ebooks to what was then known as the iBookstore.  On day one of the launch of the iPad, over 2,000 Smashwords titles graced their maiden iBooks catalog.

In the four years since, the iBooks team has encouraged us to push the envelope in all aspects of our business, from technology to operations to new feature development.  We readily embraced these challenges because Apple inspires us to do really cool projects that help our author reach more readers. 

It’s thanks to iBooks that we made preorder distribution one of our biggest developmental priorities of the last 12 months, and our efforts have paid off by helping numerous Smashwords authors top the charts at iBooks and elsewhere.

We launched the Smashwords Series Manager tool last September with iBooks expressly in mind.  When I announced Series Manager here at the blog and urged our authors to adopt it with gusto, I speculated how the tool would give our retail partners greater flexibility to promote Smashwords titles.  I wrote,
"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."

I’m sure a few healthy skeptics read my imaginings above as vaguely plausible, but 50 authors receiving feature promotion?  Really?  And then, as readers of this blog know, last month iBooks launched a massive FREE series starter promotion that featured 80 Smashwords authors.  Cool beans! 

I think this only scratches the surface of how Series Manager can empower retailers to create new and innovative promotions that help readers discover and enjoy Smashwords authors. 

These and other capabilities have reaped measurable rewards for Smashwords authors, and not just at iBooks but across our entire distribution network. 

These tools empower indie authors with powerful capabilities and discoverability that heretofore weren’t possible in the days of print publishing.

Thanks in part to the assisting power of preorders and the enhanced series listings enabled by Series Manager, many Smashwords authors have built massive readership at iBooks over the last year.

Tools like preorders and Series Manager alone do not create bestsellers.  Everything starts with a super-awesome author producing a super-awesome book adorned by a super-awesome cover.  Authors supply their incredible books, and these tools provide incremental advantage.  In the game of publishing, everything is about incremental advantage.  One step at a time, building and building.

April 2014 marked a record month for Smashwords preorders at iBooks

Last month (April) was a record month for Smashwords preorders at iBooks, due in part to a number of amazing authors executing a steady stream of successful preorder-assisted book launches.

Let’s name names and celebrate a few of these talented authors, alpha-arranged by first name: Alexia Praks, Alyssa Rose Ivy, Amanda Heath, Ava Stone, C.J Duggan, Callie Hart, Chanda Hahn, Chase Walden, Cheryl McIntyre, Edie Claire, Elizabeth Hunter, Emma Hart, Erica Stevens, Frankie Rose, Gemma Halliday, GJ Walker-Smith, Jamie McGuire, Karina Halle, Kendall Ryan (Kendall’s release on Friday of When We Fall hit #1 at iBooks AU, NZ, CAN and UK, and #4 in the US), Kirsty Moseley, Kristen Ashley, Lacey Weatherford, Lauren Blakely, Lexi Ryan, Lili St. Germain, Lilliana Anderson, Lynda Chance, Melody Grace, Nashoda Rose, Natasha Preston, Nicky Charles, Quinn Loftis, R.E. Butler, Rachel van Dyken, Rebecca Ethington, Rita Hestand, Rucy Ban, Russell Blake, Sarah Tork, Steve Genis and Tillie Cole.  Keep an eye on these authors!

Our overriding objective here at Smashwords is to give our authors competitive advantage in the marketplace.  We realize you have a choice of partners.  We realize you have the option to upload direct to many retailers. We’re working to make distributing through Smashwords more advantageous for our authors than uploading direct.

Authors who distribute through Smashwords have more time to write because they’re spending less time managing multiple upload platforms.  We give our authors single-upload access to a broad and growing network of sales outlets, centralized metadata management and book updates, and access to exclusive sales and merchandising tools. If we can give you more time to write and empower you with professional-grade tools that give you incremental advantage, over the long run you'll out-perform other authors.

Every new author at Smashwords benefits the entire worldwide community of Smashwords authors. I want every writer in the world to someday choose to publish and distribute their book with Smashwords.  That’s my dream at least, and I’m sticking to it!  To reach this goal, we’ll never stop innovating on your behalf.

Thank you, iBooks team, for helping us push the envelope so we can serve the common interests of iBooks customers and Smashwords authors. Thanks also and always to Smashwords authors and publishers who support us in every way.

More cool tools on the way!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Scribd Features 18 Smashwords Authors in Exclusive Merchandising Promotion

Scribd today launched an exclusive front-page merchandising promotion titled “Popular Indie Authors” featuring 18 Smashwords authors.

Congrats to featured authors Kristen Ashley, Brian S. Pratt, Quinn Loftis, F.S. Michaels, Jean Sasson, E.P.  Lenderking, Daniel Alick, John Locke, Amy Miles, Morgan Rice, JD Nixon, Rebecca Ethington, Shayne Parkinson, Julie Kenner, John Rember, Jaden Skye, Chris Dolley and Rachel Astor. 

The featured authors represent a diverse cross-section of genres and categories, including fantasy, biography, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, YA romance, and dystopian SciFi.

This curated row of books will rotate among other curated and automatically generated suggested-reading rows for Scribd subscribers.  The promotion runs at least two weeks. View the titles here - or log into your Scribd subscription to view the promotion.

In the last two months, as promised in our original Scribd announcement in December, all Smashwords authors with books opted into our Scribd distribution channel as of early January received a free one-year subscription to Scribd valued at $100.  The activation links were sent out via email, and the last batch went out last week.  If you haven’t activated your account, please do so now before the offer expires (and if you never received the email, check your spam filters). Scribd has kindly extended the original deadline for activation until June 1.

The Smashwords catalog went live at Scribd on February 28, 2014, the last day of the month.  The first full month’s sales (March) exceeded my expectations.  It was the largest first-month sales for any new Smashwords retail partner in the last five years.  I know our friends at Scribd were equally pleased by the popularity of Smashwords titles.

April results were even more impressive, showing a month-over-month sequential gain of 60%.  Although the sales volume at Scribd hasn't reached the level of iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and the Smashwords store, they're off to a strong start by any measure.

Their April results alone represent nearly triple the recent combined sales of Sony and Diesel, two Smashwords retailers that exited the ebook business in March, and already represent 1/3 our Kobo sales. I’m excited to see where Scribd can take this over the next few years.

Scribd is on track to become a major contributor to the bottom lines of indie authors, and like big fishes in small pond, Smashwords authors are there first, reaching new readers, and building platform advantage that will reap dividends for years to come.  If you don't have all your Smashwords titles opted in to Scribd, you're missing out.  Visit your Smashwords Dashboard's Channel Manager screen to make sure all your Premium Catalog titles are opted in.

I think history will show that the new breed of subscription ebook services like Scribd will grow the number of readers who are enjoying and consuming ebooks.  They'll expand the reading audience and help authors reach readers that aren't shopping at conventional retail channels where books are purchased one at a time. The two models for ebook consumption are complementary. With subscription ebook services, readers surf books effortlessly, as if visiting a massive online library, and once they hit a percentage threshold of pages read for an individual title, it triggers a full sale.

As I mentioned in the original announcement of our distribution relationship with Scribd, Scribd has repositioned their entire business around the ebook subscription model.  The site is visited by 80 million readers each month. Scribd is working to funnel all these readers into their paid subscription service.  They want to sell books for our authors!

Thank you Scribd for this great promotion, and congratulations to these fine Smashwords authors!

Can't Get Enough of Ebook Subscriptions?

If you want to learn more about the business model of the subscription ebook services, and how these services might shape the future of reading, here are three opportunities to learn more:

1.  The Smashwords Blog.  Check out my two part blog series starting with my post, Examining the Business Model of Ebook Subscription Services.

2.  Attend a panel.  At BEA in New York on May 29 (happy birthday to me), I'm participating on a panel that will explore all aspects of the ebook subscription model titled, A Substantial Difference: How Subscription Affects the Form and Value of Content.  The panel is moderated by the awesome Peter Brantley.  The panel will be part of BISG's Making Information Pay conference hosted at BEA.

3.  The Great Debate.  And for those of you who can't get enough of the subscription model (or you hate it or you love it or just want to learn more), on June 11 at Noon Eastern I'm participating in a webinar debate about subscription ebook services produced by Digital Book World.  The debate is modeled after the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate series on NPR.  This will be interesting.  The proposition is, “The success of ebook subscription services will be good for publishers, authors and readers.”  Arguing in favor of this proposition will be the team of Andrew Weinstein of Scribd and yours truly (woo hoo!).  Our formidable opponents, who will argue against the proposition, are Gareth Cuddy, an ebook distributor, and Jonathan Blum a super-smart journalist for who will probably cut us to pieces with his wit, charm and oratory skill. The debate is moderated by Jeremy Greenfield, editorial director for Digital Book World.  The debate is won or lost based on the number of listeners we convert to our side of the argument.  They will poll viewers before the debate and ask them if they agree or disagree.  At the end of the debate, they poll viewers again to see which side changed the most minds.  This means that if 98% of viewers agree with the proposition at the beginning, and 97% percent agree at the end, we lose.  It'll be all in good fun!!  Register for this free event at and learn more at Digital Book World.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scribd’s Improved Copyright Protection Systems Reaping Results for Smashwords Authors

Scribd was founded about six years ago as a document upload service.  To their credit, they made the upload of multi-format documents and files ridiculously easy.

Today, their site hosts 50 million documents and books, receives thousands of new uploads every day, and is visited by 80 million monthly readers from over 100 different countries.

The downside of their ease-of-upload, however, is that many users – often enthusiastic readers who don’t understand or respect copyright – attempt to upload unauthorized, copyrighted works, including the ebooks of many Smashwords authors.  It’s the same challenge YouTube faces with unauthorized video uploads.

Following our announcement  in December that Smashwords would soon begin supplying ebooks to Scribd, both for retail sales and for inclusion in their subscription service, I heard from several Smashwords authors who were understandably upset to discover unauthorized versions of their books at Scribd.

Some questioned why we would partner with Scribd.  As I’ve shared with authors who have expressed concern, and as I’ll reiterate here, we wouldn’t have partnered with Scribd if we weren't confident their heart was in the right place, and if we weren't confident our relationship with Scribd would benefit all indie authors.

Scribd has 80 million readers, and we’ve got over 300,000 books.  We want to connect those readers' eyeballs and wallets and purses with our books.  We want our authors to receive the full payment they deserve for their hard work.

Scribd wants the same thing. Scribd wants to do right by the indie author community because they know their business is dependent upon earning and deserving the trust and support of authors everywhere.  

With Scribd’s enthusiastic blessing, I orchestrated a conference call in January for Scribd’s top executives with several concerned Smashwords authors. Scribd wanted to hear our authors' concerns, and then after listening Scribd shared their plans to combat the unauthorized uploads.

At the end of the call, Scribd shared how they planned to release a major update to their copyright protection system in the next few weeks.

I’m pleased to report that Scribd is delivering. Scribd has made some impressive strides over the last few months toward eradicating unauthorized content.

Scribd has since renamed their copyright protection technology Book ID.  In a nutshell, here's how it works:  BookID automatically scans all Smashwords-delivered books, and analyzes the text for semantic data such as word count, letter frequency, phrases, and other elements. BookID then creates a digital fingerprint of the authorized Smashwords book, and uses this fingerprint to automatically detect and remove unauthorized versions.  It proactively removes all files at Scribd that match the same fingerprint, and also uses this fingerprint to proactively block the upload of future unauthorized versions.

Simply by distributing to Scribd via Smashwords, our authors receive a measure of protective benefit from the BookID technology.

I want to share some hard numbers with you to illustrate the progress Scribd has made to respect and protect the copyright of Smashwords books.

As of January 9, the BookID had detected and removed 3,745 book files from Scribd representing 1,725 unique Smashwords books. 

In March, Scribd released a new and improved version of BookID, as they promised they would during their call with the Smashwords authors.  The new BookID system has dramatically increased Scribd’s ability to detect unauthorized versions. 

As of today, Scribd reports to me BookID has removed 47,858 unauthorized copies of 14,090 unique Smashwords books.

Although no automated scanning system will every be 100% accurate, I’m pleased by the progress and effort made by our friends at Scribd.  I’m pleased that every visitor to the Scribd home page is prompted to purchase a paid subscription to Scribd’s service, because this converts free readers to paid readers for the benefit of Smashwords authors.

Thanks to the support of Smashwords authors who now supply 225,000 titles to Scribd, it's getting tougher for users to upload unauthorized content. With every new Smashwords title delivered, the cleanup continues.  The situation will improve further as Scribd enhances their BookID technology in the future.

Learn more about Scribd's BookID technology at and learn more about Scribd’s commitment to protect your copyright at their new and improved Copyright Resource Center.

I’ll report more exciting Scribd news tomorrow regarding the impressive sales growth we're seeing at Scribd, plus some other big news so stay tuned!

Smashwords Romance Authors Promoted at RT Booklovers in New Orleans

Hundreds of Smashwords authors are participating in an exclusive promotion this week at the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans.

Inside the goodie bags for each of the 2,000 attendees is a four gigabyte Smashwords thumb drive featuring 349 free romance ebooks from 349 Smashwords authors.

The promotion puts hundreds of Smashwords authors in the hands of the romance industry's most influential participants.

Among the 2,000 RT Booklovers Convention attendees are readers, published authors (both indie and traditional), aspiring authors, bloggers, and more than 300 industry professionals including publishers, librarians, booksellers, book reviewers, literary agents and media.

The promotion builds upon a similar promotion we produced last year at the RWA conference in Atlanta which featured over 100 authors.

All registered authors for the RT Booklovers convention were offered the opportunity to be included in this drive.  The drive received heavy advance promotion by the conference organizers.  Filling out the drive are hundreds of popular Smashwords romance authors including several NY Times and USA Today bestsellers.

The promotion was offered free of charge to participating authors and publishers.  Each author received a dedicated folder featuring their book in multiple formats.  The drive includes a PDF that lists all participating authors and books, along with direct hyperlinks to each author's Smashwords profile page so readers can check out the authors' other books.  The drive also includes two free digital issues of RT Book Reviews Magazine and a free Smashwords publishing kit

This promotion is one of the many perks of working with Smashwords.  It's our way of saying thank you for publishing and distributing with Smashwords!  We hope to do similar promotions in the future to support our authors.  If you're on the conference planning committee for a large (500+ attendees) writers conference, drop us a line!

If you're attending RT Booklovers, come say hello at my workshops and panels:
Wednesday, May 14 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Money, Money, Money — Facts & Figures For Financial Payoff

In this workshop, you'll be the first to learn the results of the third annual Smashwords Survey, an RT Booklover’s exclusive.  Check out last year's 2013 Smashwords survey here.  Next week I'll post the new survey here at the blog.

Thursday, May 15 - 10:00am to 11:00am
How To Top The Charts With E-book Preorders

I'll do a deep dive into preorders, the most significant new sales tool for romance authors. Learn strategies and best practices that will help you increase the discoverability, merchandising and sales of all your titles.

Friday, May 16, 2014 - 11:15am to 12:15pm
Digital DIY: The Pros & Cons of Digital Self-Publishing

I'm on a panel moderated by the amazing Sylvia Day.  Other panelists include Lindsey Faber (Samhain), Kristen Proby, Karin Tabke (aka Karin Harlow) and Stephanie Tyler.  Join us as we discuss the benefits and pitfalls of self publishing.
Friday, May 16, 2014 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm
I'm a Self-Published Bestseller. Here's How I Did It

I'm joining Smashwords mega-bestseller Kristen Ashley to discuss everything you need to know about self-publishing – from formatting, pricing and cover design to growing your fan base. You’ll also hear Kristen’s self-publishing journey – from deciding to self-publish to quitting her day job to negotiating a publishing contract.
Below is a complete list of all participating authors and their featured books, alpha-sorted by author first name (Download the PDF with hyperlinks of featured romance authors here).  Congrats everyone, and thanks for participating!  Thanks also to Carol Stacy, JoCarol Jones and the entire team at RT Booklovers for supporting this fun and important promotion.  And thanks to Jim, Aaron and Angela on the Smashwords team for managing this massive project.
Author - Book Title
Adam Kunz - Two Little Lies
Addison Moore - Beautiful Oblivion
Adriana Hunter - Captive Heart
Adrianna Dane - Delicious Sinn
Alanna Coca - Fine Print
Alannah Lynne - Savin' Me
Alexia Purdy - Keep Breathing
Alice Gaines - The Sixth Lover
Allie K. Adams - Rescue Me
Alyssa Kress - The Heart Heist
Alyssa Rose Ivy - The Hazards of Skinny Dipping
Amanda Jason - Lucky Number Four
Amanda McIntyre - Rugged Hearts
Amanda Still - Echoes of the Storm
Amber Kell - Mate Hunt
Amelia James - Secret Storm
Amy Miles - Captivate
Amy Mullen - A Stormy Knight
Amy Jarecki - Captured by the Pirate Laird
Andrea Parnell - Devil Moon
Angela Verdininus - The Lawson Boys: Marty
Angela White - The Change: Episode one
Angharad Jones - Mirabelle
Angie Fox - The Accidental Demon Slayer
Ann Somerville - A Fluffy Tale
Anna Katmore - Neverland
Anne Marie Novark - The Doctor Wears A Stetson
Anne Marie Beck - Tropical Escape
Annie Nicholas - Bait
Arabella Quinn - Rock Me - Crazy
Arianne Richmonde - A Taste of Pearl
Ariella Moon - Spell Check
Aris Whittier - Secrets
Ashleigh Raine - Acting on Impulse
Ashley Rhodes - Submitting to Him
Asrai Devin - Second Chance Romance
Autumn Dawn - The Charmer
Ava Stone - My Favorite Major
Barbara Freethy - On A Night Like This
Barry Eisler - Paris is a Bitch
Becca Jameson - Completed
Belinda Boring - Loving Liberty
Beth Williamson - The Circle Eight: Caleb
Bethany Lopez - 8 Weeks
Bianca Sommerland - Game Misconduct
Bianca D'Arc - Tales of the Were: Rocky
Bianca Giovanni - First Dance
Brei Betzold - Painted Lines
Brenda Rothert - Bound
Brenda K. Davies - Awakened
Bronwen Evans - To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield
C. Shell - Anonymously Yours
C.G. Powell - Spell Checked
C.J. Duggan - The Boys of Summer
Cali MacKay - The Highlander's Hope
Calle J. Brookes - Hunting
Callie Hart - Deviant
Camilla Chafer - Armed and Fabulous
Candice Hern - A Proper Companion
Cari Hislop - The Invisible Husband
Carly Fall - The Light Within Me
Caroline Hanson - Love Is Darkness
Caroline Clemmons - The Most Unsuitable Wife
Caryn Moya Block - Alpha's Mate
Casey McMillin - You're Dangerous
Cassandra Carr - Public Affairs
Cat Johnson - Cinderella Liberty
Catherine Gayle - On the Fly
Catherine Bybee - Embracing the Wolf
Cathryn Fox - Torn Between Two Brothers
Cecilia Tan - Daron's Guitar Chronicles: Volume Two
Chanda Hahn - The Iron Butterfly
Charlene Wilson - The Transformation of Anna
Chautona Havig - Past Forward Volume 1
Cherise Sinclair - Club Shadowlands
Cheryl Douglas - Strike Out
Christi Corbett - Along the Way Hone
Christie Rich - Five
Christina Pilz - Fagin's Boy
Christina Thatcher - The Bequest
Christine MacKenzie - Run Rosie Run
Christine Kersey - Over You
Christine M. Butler - Shadows of the Ancients
Cindy C. Bennett - Immortal Mine
CJ Roberts - Captive in the Dark
CJ Archer - The Wrong Girl
Claudia Hall Christian - The Denver Cereal
Claudy Conn - Hungry Moon-Quicksilver
Connie Shelton - Sweet Masterpiece
Cora Seton - The Cowboy's E-Mail Order Bride
Cyndi Friberg - Royal Obsession
Cyndi Tefft - Between
Cynthia Wicklund - In the Garden of Disgrace
Dani Collins - Hustled to the Altar
Darcee Tana - Advertising for Love
Darlene A. Halliday - Something Missing
David M. Wind - The Cured
Debra Diaz - Shadow of Dawn
Dee Davis - The Promise
Desiree Holt - Collision Course
Devyn Dawson - Sapphire, A Werewolf Love Story
Diana Fraser - The PA's Revenge
Donna McDonald - Carved in Stone
Doug Welch - Sail Beyond Tomorrow
DW Cee - Indelible Love - Emily's Story
E Kelly - One Heart ~ Two Souls
E.L. Todd - Only For You
Eden Bradley - Sanctuary
Elena Dillon - Breathe
Elena Aitken - Unexpected Gifts
Elise Marion - The Third Son
Eliza Knight - The Highlander's Reward
Elizabeth Reyes - Abel
Elizabeth Hunter - The Scribe
Elizabeth Schulte - Easy Bake Coven
Elizabeth Bevarly - The Ring on Her Finger
Elizabeth Kelly - Red Moon
Elizabeth Kolodziej - Vampyre Kisses
Ella Ardent - The Best Man
Emily Evans - The Accidental Movie Star
Emily Cantore - My Billionaire Boss (The Complete Series)
Emily Hemmer - The Break-Up Psychic
Emma Daniels - Ocean of Fire
Emma Jay - At the Cowboy's Mercy
Erica Stevens - Captured
Eva Pohler - The Gatekeeper's Sons
Evangeline Anderson - Claimed
Frances Rose - Halo
Gemma Halliday - Spying in High Heels
Ginger Voight - Enticed
GJ Walker-Smith - Saving Wishes
Gretchen Galway - This Time Next Door
H.O. Charles - City of Blaze
Heather Wardell - Go Small or Go Home
Heather Gunter - Changing Tunes
Heather Gray - Just Dessert
Hildie McQueen - A Different Shade of Blue
HP Mallory - Better Off Dead
Isabel Keats - Algo más que vecinos
Isabelle Rae - When Summer Ends
J.C. Isabella - Chasing McCree
J.C. Daniels - Blade Song
J.E. Taylor - Night Hawk
J.M. Snyder - Just the Three of Us
J.R. Rain - Moon Dance
Jack Erickson - A Streak Across the Sky
Jae  - Something in the Wine
Jami Alden - Blame It On Your Heart
Jana Leigh - Boots, Chaps, and Cowboy Hats
Jane Charles - His Christmas Match
Janet Miller - Promises to Keep
Jasmine Haynes - Somebody's Lover
Jayna Vixen - Satin and Steel
JD Nixon - Heller
Jeanette Battista - Long Black Veil
Jeffe Kennedy - Petals and Thorns
Jemma Jones - Priceless Desire, The Billionaire Seduction
Jenna Bennett - Island Getaway
Jenna Elizabeth Johnson - Lorehnin - A Novel of the Otherworld
Jennifer Malone Wright - The Vampire Hunter's Daughter The Complete Collection
Jennifer Bray-Weber - Bring Me the Horizon
Jennifer Comeaux - Life on the Edge
Jennifer Probst - Play Me
Jennifer Saints - Wild Irish Ride
Jesi Lea Ryan - Arcadia's Gift
Jessica Freely - Unlawful: Book 1
Jill Sanders - Finding Pride
JoAnne Kenrick - Sweet Irish Kiss
Joely Sue Burkhart - The Rose of Shanhasson
John Ling - Fallen Angel
Joni Hahn - Agent I1 - Tristan
Jordan Summers - Phantom Warriors 2 - Saber-tooth
Jordan Castillo Price - Turbulence 1: Into the Bermuda Triangle
Jordan Hawk - Widdershins
Jordan Deen - The Crescent
Josephine Myles - Tailor Made
Josh Lanyon - Perfect Day
Julie Ortolon - Almost Perfect
Julie Prestsater - Against the Wall
Julie Johnstone - Bargaining With A Rake
Justine Elvira - Changing His Game
K Matthew - A Month with Werewolves
K.E. Saxon - Highland Vengeance
K.F. Breene - Into the Darkness
Kacey Hammell - 69 Mustang
Kahlen Aymes - Angel After Dark, The After Dark Series, #1
Kait Nolan - Genesis
Kallysten  - Bodyguards
Karen Erickson - Indulgent Pleasures
Karen Stivali - Meant To Be
Kate Angell - Squeeze Play
Kate Kelly - In Plain Sight
Kate Pearce - Educating Elizabeth
Kate Hewitt - The Other Side of the Bridge
Kathryn Shay - Someone To Believe In
Katy Madison - Lord Coleraine's Scandalous Offer
Kelly Mooney - A Long Goodbye
Kelly McClymer - The Fairy Tale Bride
Kelly Martin - BIG is Beautiful
Kirsten Osbourne - Mail Order Mama
Kirsty Moseley - Nothing Left to Lose
Kitty French - Knight and Play
Kris Pearson - Christmas Holiday Husband
Kristine Kathryn Rusch - The Death of Davy Moss
Kym Grosso - Kade's Dark Embrace
L.M. Trio - The Game Changer
Lacey Weatherford - Tell Me Why
Lacy Williams - First Kisses
Lara Adrian - A Touch of Midnight
Laura Briggs - The Wedding Caper
Laura Harner - Highland Shift
Lauren Blakely - First Night
Lee Strauss - Sun & Moon
Lexi Blake - Steal the Light
Lila Dubois - Elemental Pleasure
Lili Saint Germain - Seven Sons
Lily Graison - A Willow Creek Christmas
Lily Zante - The Proposal
Lindsay Buroker - Balanced on the Blade's Edge
Lindsay Delagair - Untouchable
Linnea Sinclair - The Down Home Zombie Blues
Lisa Renee Jones - Tall, Dark, and Deadly 3 book box set
Liz Fielding - A Point of Pride
Lola Drake - Wrong Time for Love
Lori Crawford - Royal Opposites
Lori Ryan - Legal Ease
Lucinda Brant - Salt Bride
Lynn Hubbard - Run Into The Wind
M Malone - One More Day: The Alexanders, Book 1
Maggie Shayne - Texas Homecoming
Mandy Rosko - The Princess' Dragon Lord
Maree Anderson - Freaks of Greenfield High
Marie Kelly - Blackmailing the Billionaire
Marie Hall - A Moment
Marisa Chenery - Wild Craving
Marsha Canham - The Pride of Lions
May McGoldrick - Borrowed Dreams
Megan Hart - Driven
Megan Bryce - Some Like It Perfect
Melanie Nilles - At the Water's Edge
Melanie Jackson - Belle
Melissa Pearl - Betwixt
Melissa Haag - Hope(less)
Melody Grace - Untouched
Meredith Bond - Air: Merlin's Chalice
Merry Farmer - In Your Arms
Mia Dymond - Leather, Lace and Rock-n-Roll
MJ Fredrick - Waltz Back to Texas
Monica Burns - Love's Revenge
Morgan Rayne - A Different Kind of Fairy Tale
Nancy Straight - Blood Debt
Nashoda Rose - Tear Asunder
Natasha Preston - Silence
Neneh Gordon - Black Girls and Bad Boys - Stealing Loretta
Nicky Charles - Bonded
Nicola Claire - A Flare Of Heat
Nicola Marsh - Before
Nicole MacDonald - The Arrival
Nicolette Pierce - The Big Blind
Niki Savage - Lily's Reprieve
Nikita Rae - Winter
Nikki Sex - Carmen's New York Romance Trilogy
Nikki Jefford - Entangled
Norah Wilson - Guarding Suzannah
Olivia Hardin - Sweet Magic Song
Olivia Brynn - Falling Star
Opal Carew - Taken by Storm
P.O. Dixon - Pride and Sensuality
Patti Larsen - Exit Stage Left
Peggy Webb - Phantom of Riverside Park
Penelope Fletcher - Bedevil
Quinn Loftis - Prince of Wolves
R.E. Butler - Mate of Her Heart
R.G. Alexander - Big Bad John
R.L. Mathewson - Playing for Keeps
Rachel Higginson - Starbright
Rachel Van Dyken - Fall - A Seaside Novel
Rachel Brookes - Just Breathe
Raja Sharma - Nothing is Romantic Now
Randi Alexander - Cowboy Jackpot: Christmas
Rhian Cahill - All Of You
Rita Hestand - Stand By Me
Robert Lubrican - Any Soldier
Roz Lee - Inside Heat
Rucy Ban - Wear You Down
Ruth Cardello - Maid for the Billionaire
Ruth Ann Nordin - The Earl's Scandalous Wife
S. Walden - Good
S.C. Stephens - Collision Course
S.H. Kolee - Of Love & Regret
Sabrina York - Rebound
Sahara Kelly - Falling
Sally Berneathy - Ghost of Summer
Samantha Towle - First Bitten
Samantha Young - Into the Deep
Sandra Marton - Emily: Sex & Sensibility
Sandra S. Kerns - The Butterfly Connection
Sara York - Pray the Gay Away
Sarah Woodbury - Daughter of Time
Sarah Mayberry - Satsifaction
SaraLynn Hoyt - Dangerous Heart
Sarra Cannon - The Moment We Began
SE Culpepper - Lost Won
Selena Kitt - Temptation
Sharon Cramer - The Execution
Sharon Gerlach - The Secret Dreams of Sarah-Jane Quinn
Shelli Stevens - The Billionaire's Baby Bargain
Sherry Sirna - Forever Young
Shoshanna Evers - Beauty and the Beast (an erotic re-imagining)
Sky Corgan - Damaged
Sloan McBride - Dangerous Heat
Stacey Wallace Benefiel - Crossing
Stephanie Hudson - Afterlife Saga
Stephanie Julian - An Indecent Proposition Part I
Stephen Leather - Private Dancer
Susan Stephens - Hunter (Once Upon A Time)
Suzy Turner - Forever Fredless
Sylvia McDaniel - Wronged
Sylvia Hubbard - Wicked Chances
T Gephart - A Twist of Fate
T. Lynne Tolles - Blood of a Werewolf
T.A. Grey - The Loneliest Alpha
Tallulah Grace - Cliffs of Starsdale
Tammy Falkner - Tall, Tatted and Tempting
Tara Brown - For Love or Money
Tara Shuler - Shelter
Tawdra Kandle - The Posse
Tawny Taylor - Boxed Set - My Alpha Billionaire
Terri Brisbin - A Love Through Time
Terry Spear - Huntress for Hire
Tess Oliver - Paradise
The Abbotts - Girl on an Ice Floe
Theresa Marguerite Hewitt - Two Weeks With a SEAL
Tiffany King - Unlikely Allies
Tiffany Reisz - Felt Tips: Office-Supply Erotica
Tori Minard - Darkness Awakened (Dark Empire #2)
Tracy Falbe - Union of Renegades
Tracy Ellen - A Date with Fate
V.J. Chambers - Slow Burn
Vera Roberts - The Nanny
Vianka Van Bokkem - Vampire Crown Princesses & Princes
Victoria Danann - My Familiar Stranger
Victoria DuBois - The Adventures of Tiffany (Masquerade Ball)
Viola Grace - Knowing
Virginia Wade - Lily
Virginia Henley - Master of Paradise
Vivi Andrews - Spinning Gold
Vivi Dumas - Sweet Revenge
Yamila Abraham - A God to Rule Her

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ebook Preorders at Barnes & Noble Help Indies Scale Bestseller List

If you want to maximize your odds of hitting the ebook bestseller lists at Barnes & Noble, ebook preorders via Smashwords are your ticket.

Most Smashwords authors who've done ebook preorders with Smashwords know that one of the many great advantages of a preorder is that accumulated preorders credit all at once at Apple and Kobo on the day the book goes onsale, causing the book to pop in the bestseller lists.

What most authors don't know is that the same magical dynamic happens at Barnes & Noble as well.  I didn't know this until today!

If you're not incorporating preorders - and specifically B&N preorders - into your next book launch, you're missing out.

In a nutshell, here's how the dynamic works at B&N, Apple and Kobo:  Let's say your book is listed on preorder for 60 days in advance of your official onsale date.  Let's say that at B&N (or iBooks or Kobo) your book accumulates 15 orders per day.  After two months of order accumulation, you'd have 900 orders.  These 900 orders would credit all at once on the first day when your book goes onsale. 

Since every retailer's bestseller charts are based upon unit sales, and all charts give greater weighting to sales credited during the most recent 24-hour period, it's like selling 900 copies in a single day.  And that's before counting the additional sales that come once the book goes onsale.  With 900+ sales at any retailer in a day, you're going to land near the top of your book's genre or category list, and probably also within the store's top-10 or top-20 store-wide bestseller list. 

You don't need to accumulate 900 orders to receive a boost from preorders.  Even 10, 20 or 30 accumulated orders will give you an incremental discoverability advantage.

By landing higher in the charts, your book becomes more visible and more desirable to readers who use the bestseller lists to discover their next read.  And let's not forget  the value of the permanent bragging rights that come when your book achieves bestseller status at multiple retailers.

Ever since we announced preorder distribution last July to iBooks, B&N and Kobo, I mistakenly believed that B&N preorders didn't deliver the same first-day kick in the charts.  I began to question my assumption last week when Nicky Charles' new preorder release, Betrayed: Book Two - The Road to Redemption, landed near the top of the charts at Barnes & Noble (she did the same at iBooks!).  When I looked closely at the B&N sales reports, I noted that all her preorders credited on the first day.  Earlier today I confirmed the behavior with our friends at B&N.  Yay!!

So there you have it.  The day-one pop in the charts at B&N is confirmed.  If you're not yet distributing preorders via Smashwords to B&N, iBooks and Kobo, plan now to do it with your next release.  Multiple Smashwords authors have already hit the bestseller lists - and charted higher -  thanks the added kick of preorders.

Learn more about ebook preorders at, or in my ebook preorder strategy blog post and presentation, Hit the Ebook Bestseller Lists - A Guide to Ebook Preorder Strategy.

Oh, we haven't announced this yet (well, I suppose I'm announcing it today!) - Once your preorder is loaded at Smashwords, you can now change the onsale date self-serve from your Smashwords Dashboard (thank you Daphne on the Smashwords engineering team!).

Next Thursday May 15 at the RT Convention in New Orleans, and then again on May 31 at uPublishU in New York City, I'm presenting a workshop on ebook preorder strategy.  I hope you can join us!  In June I'll probably do a video on preorder strategy and add it to our collection of ebook publishing tutorials at YouTube.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ebook Publishing in the Classroom - Los Gatos High School Freshmen Publish Amazing Poetry Anthology

Yesterday, a group of 120 high school freshman students from Los Gatos High School published an amazing poetry anthology ebook, Windows to the Teenage Soul.

If you're a parent, grandparent, educator, author or reader who cares about the future of books, I encourage you to go buy and enjoy this incredible book.  It's available now at Smashwords, iBooks, Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Yesterday it was the bestselling poetry book at iBooks.

Buy it not because it's a great book (it is!), but because this book will serve as the blueprint to help educators and parents around the globe bring similar ebook publishing projects to the classroom.

In addition to nearly 120 great poems organized under ten themes, it  contains a Teacher's Guide that shares the step-by-step process this class followed to professionally write, edit, produce and publish a poetry anthology ebook in under five weeks.  I wrote the preface to the Teacher's Guide.

I want to see similar poetry and creative writing ebook publishing projects incorporated into the curriculum of classrooms around the globe.  With your help, we can make it happen for the benefit of the children and young adults in every community.

Thanks to free ebook publishing platforms such as Smashwords, the democratization of retail distribution, and the best practices publishing knowledge of indie authors, projects such as this are now feasible for elementary school students, high school students and college students around the globe. Such projects will teach students how to collaborate to write, produce and publish ebooks.  In the process, the world's next generation of writers will gain a practical appreciation for the magic of words and the joy of publishing.

On its day of release, Windows to the Teenage Soul
hit #1 in the Poetry category at iBooks
The project grew out of an ongoing collaboration between The Los Gatos Public Library and Smashwords.

For the last few years, I've been working with town librarian Henry Bankhead to develop community publishing programs in partnership with the library.  The goal of our partnership is to identify systems, processes and initiatives that libraries everywhere can implement to foster a culture of professional authorship in their local communities. 

I blogged about our work with Los Gatos Public Library and my vision for libraries-as-community-publishing-portals last year for The Huffington Post.  As I mentioned in the post, we ran a pilot program in which Smashwords presented three educational workshops at the library to help library staff and local writers learn how to e-publish like professionals.

Following the initial pilot program with the library, Henry Bankhead and I started brainstorming how we could take our community publishing ideas to the next level.  I thought it would be really cool if we could collaborate with my alma matter, Los Gatos High School, to incorporate an ebook publishing pilot project into the class curriculum for a creative writing class.

The idea was that such a project would be really fun for the students, and would help them gain a practical appreciation for writing and publishing.  So Henry arranged for the two of us to meet with teacher Tonya McQuade who taught three periods of freshman honors poetry classes of about 25 students each.  Tonya agreed to lead the project, and also arranged for another freshman poetry teacher, Kathleen Wehr, to participate.  Kathleen brought with her about 50 more students, increasing the total number of students to around 120.

Henry Bankhead also applied for, and received, a modest grant to create a "mobile publishing lab" comprised of a Mac laptop, software and several iPads which were donated to the school to support the project.

In my original project proposal, I suggested that that classes price their ebook at FREE, because that price would help the students reach the most readers.  However, after speaking with fellow teachers, Tonya McQuade came up with the idea to give the book a price so the freshman class could use the book as a fundraiser to raise money for the students' 2016 senior ball.  Cool beans!  What a great idea!

I gave two sets of presentations to each of the five classes, each about 50 minutes long.  The first presentation was an Introduction to Ebook Publishing, and the second presentation focused on 16 best practices for professional ebook publishing.  The goal of both presentations was to train the students how to think like a professional indie author.  Download Ebook Publishing in the Classroom at Slideshare.  I give permission to all educators to take my presentations and use them or modify them for use in their classrooms.

LGHS students broke into functional working groups to
tackle different aspects of the book publishing process
Next, the students broke into different project teams to emulate the workflow and functional responsibilities of a professional publisher.

The teams included Editing, Layout & Design, Art & Photography and Marketing & Publicity.

There was a dual purpose to these breakout teams:  1.  To help these young adults experience the processes and practices of professional publishing.  2.  To get the book done!  Without a distribution of responsibilities, it would have been impossible to pull off this project in a mere five weeks, and that's not counting nearly a week lost for spring break in the middle of the project!

Jim Azevedo, marketing director at Smashwords, mentors
the students on how to write a press release and promote
their book launch through social and traditional media
I encourage you to download the book because the comprehensive Teacher's Guide in the book's appendix shares the planning documents and the step-by-step timelines and processes followed by Tonya McQuade.  It also includes photographs of the teams in action, a copy of their press release, and instructions on how to write and promote a press release.

Last night the students held their book launch party at The Los Gatos Public Library.  Over 100 students, proud parents and library patrons were on hand to hear the students give poetry readings from the book.

The even was standing room only.  Henry Bankhead tells me it was one the largest and most well-attended events held at the library in the last year. 

Book launch of Windows to the Teenage Soul at Los Gatos Public
Library the May 6, 2014.  Several students read their poems.
I'd like to give special thanks to Tonya McQuade of Los Gatos High School.  This was an ambitious, first-of-it's-kind pilot project, and it wouldn't have been possible without her leadership and passion.

She believed in her students.  She had the confidence that her students would rise to the occasion and attack this project with passion and enthusiasm, and that's exactly what they did.  She represents the best of the best educators everywhere. And thanks to the power of ebook self publishing, fellow educators now have the tools they need to unlock, unleash and realize the creative potential that lives within every child and young adult.

This important project - where group of high school students publish a bestselling poetry anthology available for purchase by a global audience at the world's largest retailers - would have been impossible just a few short years ago.

What Gutenberg did for mass market print book publishing, ebook self-publishing will do for the future of digital books.  More better books will be published thanks to self-publishing, and the earlier writers are exposed to self publishing best practices, the better their writing will become.

If you're an indie author, educator, librarian or lover of books, you have an opportunity to help promote a culture of professional indie authorship in your community.  Partner with your local library and school.  Offer to be a mentor to provide local students and teachers the knowledge of how to self publish like a pro (these training presentations I gave above could just as easily be presented by a Smashwords author in the community!).  Help schools build upon our experiences to implement similar ebook publishing class projects.

With your help, the next generation of readers and writers will gain a new appreciation for books and the joy of self publishing.  And with your help, projects such as this will lead to more better books for generations to come.