Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Yesterday we added support for metered coupons. Metered coupons allow authors to specify redemption limits. For example, let's say you want to offer your readers an exclusive coupon where only the first 100 readers to enter the code will get the special deal. Such a coupon creates urgency for readers to act now rather than later.
The other new feature which we actually added a few weeks back but didn't announce until today is descriptive campaign labels. Already, hundreds of authors and publishers have discovered this cool new feature that allows you to give each coupon code a descriptive label that only they can see. When coupons are redeemed, the descriptive label will appear in the Sales & Payments report so you can monitor the effectiveness of different campaigns.
Smashwords first introduced our Coupon Manager capability almost eight years ago, and in the years since we've made a number of enhancements that give authors and publishers incredible control over their campaigns.
If you're not familiar with Smashwords Coupons, you'll find the capability in your Smashwords Dashboard under the Sales and Marketing Tools section, labeled as Coupon Manager.
You'll find the new optional options for campaign labels and metered coupons at the bottom of the form.
Then click Generate Coupon and you receive an on-screen confirmation of your new code (hint: there might be an Easter egg in the image below that illustrates the two new features).
Over the years I've seen authors and publishers make creative use of our Coupons. Every day I see Smashwords Coupon codes promoted on Twitter. Often at conferences and indie author signings I'll meet Smashwords authors who hand out the coupon codes on printed cards. I've seen authors offer coupons as a thank you for liking or sharing Facebook posts, or for participating on their blogs, or for acting as a beta reader, or for preordering an upcoming release.
The new limited redemption coupons open up new opportunities for authors to engage with readers. For example, let's say tomorrow is your birthday and you're turning 36. You could post on your Facebook page today that tomorrow in celebration of your 36th birthday you'll post an exclusive Smashwords coupon code that will entitle the first 36 readers who use it to receive one of your books for free.
In the comments below, feel free to share how you use the coupons to reach more readers.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Readers who previously “favorited” authors at Smashwords will receive notifications of new releases starting tomorrow.
To track an author, readers simply visit any author profile page at Smashwords and click the button labeled, "Subscribe to Author Alerts." When the author releases a new book, readers will receive an alert.
Readers are in full control of their subscriptions. From the Smashwords Alerts Subscription Management page (found under Account: Communications Preferences or linked to from any author profile page), readers can manage the frequency of alerts (daily, weekly, monthly) or remove alerts.
If a book is on preorder, readers will receive the alert the day the book goes onsale.
Per our strict email privacy rules, the reader’s email address remains private and is not shared with anyone.
Readers appreciate that all 400,000+ Smashwords ebooks are DRM-free and most are multi-format. Readers and authors alike appreciate that the Smashwords Store pays indie ebook authors industry-leading royalty rates - up to 80% list - which puts more money into the pockets of hard-working authors and small independent presses.
To get the most out of this new capability, authors and publishers can encourage their readers to subscribe to alerts so they never miss another new release. Just point readers to your author profile page and encourage them to subscribe!
Authors can track the number of subscribers and "favorites" in real time from the Smashwords Dashboard under "Marketing and Distribution Tools".
Where Shall We Take This Next?
We have a number of ideas for how we can build upon Smashwords Alerts to make it even more valuable to readers and authors. For example, we’re considering an “Instant alert” option for readers who want to receive notification within minutes of a new release. We’d also like to provide direct buy links to Smashwords retailers. We welcome your suggestions for where you want us to take this. Either comment below or click the “?” link at Smashwords to contact us via email.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
This promotion represents a massive collaborative effort where thousands of Smashwords authors and small independent publishers show their appreciation to readers by offering their titles at exclusive deep discounts of 25% off, 50% off, 75% off and FREE.
Smashwords authors and publishers can enroll your books now by clicking to our Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale enrollment page.
The promotional catalog will be featured on the Smashwords home page. Readers can filter participating books by bestsellers, reviews, categories, sub-categories, book length, percentage-off and other options.
Here are some direct links to the participating titles (hyperlinks will activate July 1):
By discount levels
By high level and specific categories
Bestsellers (all categories)
Bestselling women's fiction
Bestselling historical fiction
Bestselling young adult novels
Why Summer/Winter?Curious why we call it Summer/Winter? Smashwords serves readers around the globe. It's summer in the Northern hemisphere and winter in the Southern hemisphere. Whether readers are looking for a great beach read or a something to warm their spirits in front of the fireplace, they'll find thousands of great ebooks in this sale.
Please help celebrate these authors by sharing links to the promotion with your friends on social media. If you find a bunch of great books in the sale, let your friends know!
Friday, May 27, 2016
These Smashwords authors are serializing their novels at Wattpad, the wildly popular online community that attracts over 45 million readers each month.
These Wattpad readers will have the opportunity to discover some of the best indie authors of mysteries, thrillers and suspense.
Wattpad is promoting the participating authors across the Wattpad platform, including prime placement on the Wattpad home page where stories will be frequently surfaced through promotional modules; promotional banners on the official Wattpad Mystery profile, and messages broadcast to the author's followers. Stories are will also be included in a variety of featured reading lists on both the Wattpad Mystery profile page and the main Wattpad profile.
This is our second major merchandising collaboration with Wattpad. Our first was a romance feature last year which featured 72 authors. I wrote about that promotion here at the Smashwords blog. The romance promotion was so successful we and Wattpad decided to expand to other genres of interest to Wattpad's readers.
I invited authors from among Smashwords bestsellers over the last year, as well as authors who participated in our Bouchercon thumb drive promotion last year which drew heavily from Boucheron author attendees as well as members of Sisters in Crime.
Below is a full list of participating authors for this Wattpad promotion, divided into sections. Please join me in celebrating their selection for this exciting promotion. You can click on the author's name below to visit their WattPad profile page.
Mystery and Detective (click to view active serializations; new titles and chapters from the list below are appearing daily).
The list is alpha-sorted by author first name.
For Sale In Palm Springs by Albert Simon
Profile of Evil by Alexa Grace
Pecos Valley Revival by Alice Duncan
Cliffhanger (The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries, Book One) by Amy Saunders
Fascinating Rhythm by Anne Louise Bannon
The Devil's Grin by Annelie Wendeberg
Sketch of a Murder by Aya Walksfar
Dead in a Dumpster: Leah Norwood Mystery #1 by B. L. Blair
Don't Call Me Baby by Betty Byers
My Sister's Keeper by Bill Benners
Played to Death by BV Lawson
A Shot in the Bark by C. A. Newsome
Killer Twist (Ghostwriter Mystery 1) by C.A. Larmer
Armed and Fabulous by Camilla Chafer
Justified by Carolyn Arnold
Losing Charley by Casey Peeler
Tastes Like Murder by Catherine Bruns
Cypher by Cathy Perkins
Crime in the Community by Cecilia Peartree
The Tax Assassin, a Seth and Ava Mystery by Claudia Hall Christian
Sweet Masterpiece: The First Sweet’s Sweets Bakery Mystery by Connie Shelton
Look Before You Jump by D.A. Bale
Eye of the Witch by Dana E. Donovan
A Bird in the Hand by Dane McCaslin
A Dangerous Woman by Debra Lee
The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton
Not Without You by Dianne Venetta
Clearwater Journals by Doc Holiday
Desperate Acts by Don Gutteridge
What Doesn't Kill You, The Mystery by Donna Huston Murray
Birds in Paradise by Dorothy St. James
Bounty by Elise Sax
Who P-p-p-plugged Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf
Hollywood Scandals by Gemma Halliday
Murder Takes Time by Giacomo Giammatteo
A Dose of Death by Gin Jones
Dark Places by H A Dawson
Seniors Sleuth by J.J. Chow
Dream Doctor by J.J. DiBenedetto
Pies & Peril by Janel Gradowski
Kindred Crimes by Janet Dawson
Lost Cause (A Daisy Dunlop Mystery ~ Book 1) by JL Simpson
Wolves of the Northern Rift by Jon Messenger
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks by Josh Lanyon
A Gift for Murder by Karen McCullough
Moonlighting In Vermont by Kate George
Castle Cay by Lee Hanson
No Accounting for Murder by Leeann Betts
Not Famous in Hollywood by Leonie Gant
Merit Badge Murder by Leslie Langtry
The Bluejay Shaman by Lise McClendon
Daddy's Little Killer by LS Sygnet
The Celtic Riddle by Lyn Hamilton
The Prioress' Tale by Margaret Frazer
Diamonds and Cole by Micheal Maxwell
Killer Cupcakes by Milda Harris
Miss Spelled by Morgana Best
The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen: A Dix Dodd Mystery by N.L. Wilson
Genie for Hire by Neil S. Plakcy
The Big Blind by Nicolette Pierce
Hot Tamale by Paisley Ray
Sign Off by Patricia McLinn
Sounds of Murder by Patricia Rockwell
Be Careful What You Hear by Paul PilkingtonLife's A Bitch. So Am I. by R. E. Conary
Slow Curve on the Coquihalla by R.E. Donald
Blood Land by R.S. Guthrie
Loose Screw by Rae Davies
One Deadly Sister by Rod Hoisington
BLACK by Russell Blake
When the Dead Speak by S.D. Tooley
From the Ashes (Ravenwood Mysteries #1) by Sabrina Flynn
Death by Chocolate by Sally Berneathy
The Atheist by Sarah Ettritch
The Good Knight by Sarah Woodbury
The Collector by Scott Wittenburg
Chasing Daybreak by Sherry Ficklin, writing as Ranae Glass
A Grand Murder by Stacy Verdick CaseDiva Las Vegas by Stephanie Caffrey
Claws by Stephen Booth
Murder for a Cash Crop by Sue Star
Death by a Dark Horse by Susan Schreyer
Deadly Secrets by Terry Odell
Tahoe Deathfall by Todd Borg
Chorus of the Dead by Tracy L. Ward
Fatal Mistake by Wil A. Emerson
Thrillers (click to view active serializations; new titles and chapters from the list below are appearing daily)
The War Planners by Andrew Watts
Killing Me Softly by Bianca Sloane
LZR-1143: Infection by Bryan James
Anonymous by Christine Benedict
Watched by Cindy M Hogan
Thin Luck by Cori Lynn Arnold
A Killing Truth by D.V. Berkom
The Planck Factor by Debbi Mack
Nightmares of Caitlin Lockyer by Demelza Carlton
Get Charlie Noah by Drew Lindsay
The Survivor Chronicles: Book 1, The Upheaval by Erica Stevens
The Saudi Strategy by Ethan Jones
The Purgatorium by Eva Pohler
Marker of Faith by Foinah Jameson
Tortured Dreams by Hadena James
Murder! Too Close To Home by J.T. Lewis
Dracula Rising by Jackson Stein
The Puppet Master by Jan Coffey
The Adjal of Jimmy Temple by Jaron Summers & HaroldLivingston
America's Fool by Jay Amberg
World of Mirrors by Judith Copek
All Fall Down by Julie Coulter Bellon
Chastity Flame by KA Laity
Dying by the Hour by Kory M. Shrum
Through Many Fires by Kyle Pratt
Murder On The Mind by L.L. Bartlett
The Good Die Twice by Lee Driver
Seven Sons by Lili St. Germain
Trail of Destruction by Linda Johnson
Codename: Moneyman by Mark Arundel
Irreparable Harm by Melissa F. Miller
I Know Lucy by Melissa Pearl
The Mystery at Sag Bridge by Pat Camalliere
RUN by Patti Larsen
Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster
Jesusita by Ronald L Ruiz
Ethan Justice: Origins by Simon JennerThe Perfect Game by Stephen Paul
Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons
Enjoy! Thanks to our friends at Wattpad for their awesome support of our awesome authors!
Monday, April 25, 2016
BookExpo America, the country's largest publishing industry conference, is stepping up its commitment to self-published authors this May 11-13 at the McCormick West Convention Center in Chicago.
For the last five or six years, BEA held uPublishU, their awesome indie-author themed conference, as a sister event the day after the main BEA conference ended.
This year in Chicago, BEA is integrating uPublishU programs and exhibitors directly into the main floor of the conference. Now that uPublishU is fully integrated, attending authors can enjoy the full range of main conference's sessions and networking opportunities as part of their conference registration.
Smashwords will attend BEA this year as an exhibitor in the uPublishU pavilion. I'll be there with our marketing director Jim Azevedo.
I'll also present three conference sessions, two of which will be short talks from the uPublishU stage and one of which will be part of the general conference. If you're attending, please stop by and say hello!
Here's my speaking schedule:
1. Thursday, May 12 1:30-1:50pm
Apple iBooks Merchandising: How to Sell More Books at the World's Second Largest Ebook Retailer
Location: uPublishU Stage
Description: Operating in 51 countries, iBooks is the world's second largest ebook retailer behind Amazon. In this short session you'll learn how increase the visibility of your ebooks at iBooks, capturing the attention of both readers and merchandising managers alike.
2. Friday, May 13 11-11:50am
Top Ten Trends Shaping the Future of Publishing
Location: Room W181ab
Description: In this 50-minute session I'll reveal 10 trends that are transforming the future of publishing. Learn how and why the playing field in ebooks is tilted to the indie author's advantage. Learn why the former stigma of self-publishing is disappearing as indie authors publish with growing pride, professionalism and success. Learn about the dark clouds looming on the horizon that threaten to devalue books and undermine author independence. Learn what you can do to realize a more successful publishing future.
3. Friday, May 13 2:30-2:50pm
How to Use Ebook Preorders to Make Your Next Book Launch More Successful
Location: uPublishU Stage
Description: As we revealed for the second year running in our 2016 Smashwords Survey, we found that ebooks released as preorders earn more readers than books simply uploaded the day of release. In this short 20 minute session I'll provide a quick introduction to ebook preorders and share proven strategies for preorder success.
Register Now for BEA!Smashwords authors and publishers who plan to attend will find registration information at http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/Show-Info/Interested-in-Attending/ or click here for the direct registration link. If you're considering attending, you'll want to register before end of day April 26 to receive the special early bird pricing of $374, which saves authors and publishers $100 off of the full registration fee. Booksellers, retailers, librarians, bloggers, educators and employees of non-profits are eligible for additional discounts.
On May 14, BEA will host their annual BookCon event for readers. The event features panels and Q&A with authors, and readers will gain access to the show floor where they can meet with exhibitors such as Smashwords. Register for Bookcon at http://www.thebookcon.com/Tickets/
Jim and I look forward to meeting Smashwords authors, publishers and readers in Chicago!
Sunday, April 17, 2016
This is hot off the presses. Last Thursday I revealed the Survey results at the RT Booklovers Convention in Las Vegas.
My goal with the Survey is to help Smashwords authors and publishers identify opportunities to reach more readers.
The Smashwords Survey takes a data-driven approach to identify potential best practices that can give you an incremental advantage.
The Survey also helps us identify habits of the most successful authors.
As smart indies understand, there's no single magic bullet to bestsellerdom. The secret to selling more books is to adopt dozens of best practices while avoiding fatal mistakes that can undermine your success.
We can't use data to determine the quality of a book's writing or the brilliance of a cover image. However, the quantitative metrics we examine do provide indirect indications of such quality, as well as myriad other indirect clues that help authors view publishing in a completely new light.
Each year I add a few new goodies while maintaining most of the prior categories of analysis. This year, thanks to new enhanced metadata capabilities we introduced in recent years, we take a closer than ever look at preorders, box sets and series.
The full presentation is embedded below.
To embed the survey directly on your own blog or website, click the swooshy arrow below, then copy the Embed code, then paste it into your blog or site.
Key findings are summarized below the presentation.
Key Findings for 2016 SurveyWe looked at actual retail sales over the 12 month period between March 2015 through February 2016. Here are the key findings:
- Fiction dominates - 89.5% of our sales were fiction titles. Despite fiction's dominance, a number of non-fiction titles were among our top performers of the year.
- Bestsellers have a greater social media presence - It's not a huge surprise, but better-selling authors are much more likely to have a social media presence in the form of author web sites, blogs and Facebook and Twitter presence.
- Romance dominates - Romance continues to dominate sales for Smashwords authors and publishers. Romance accounted for 50% of our sales during the survey period. Writers in other genres and categories can gain much inspiration from romance writers. Romance writers are typically ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new best practices, and certainly this is underscored by their early adoption of series writing, free series starters and preorder usage.
- New adult romance had the highest average earnings per romance title, but that's only part of the story - For the first time ever we looked at the relative performance of different subcategories of romance. While New Adult, YA and contemporary had the highest average earnings per title within romance, when we examined median performance we found that subcategories of Sci-fi romance, fantasy and erotic romance earned the highest median yields per title. If folks find this analysis useful, maybe I'll do similar analyses of other popular genres.
- Box set benefits - We found that although most box sets under-perform the sales of other titles, they appear to provide authors other worthwhile indirect benefits. In fact, measuring box set success by sales performance alone is probably the wrong metric of success. Only four of our top 100 bestselling titles at Smashwords were box sets, but a closer look at the top performers should give authors insight into potential opportunity. The top performing box set during the Survey period was from multi-New York Times bestseller Kristen Ashley, whose box set, The 'Burg Series, performed well. It was priced at $17.95 and sports 1.2 million words. The other top-100 performer was R.L. Mathewson's Honeymoon from Hell Box Set priced at $4.99 which bundled six short novellas with a combined word count of 140,000. The other two top-performing box sets were limited-time charity box sets organized by Brenda Novak and her annual diabetes fundraising drive.
There are typically three reasons authors do box sets: 1. Single-author value-priced bundles, such as bundle of a full series. The goal here is to drive sales while giving readers an incentive to commit to a full series or collection of books as opposed to buying books one at a time. 2. Multi-author box sets. Here, multiple authors collaborate to cross-promote other authors to their respective fan bases. The best-performing multi-author bundles are usually FREE or priced at $.99, and the objective is to build author awareness among new readers and drive readers into their new favorite authors' books as opposed to earning direct profits from the box set. 3. Charity box sets - These are often value-priced.
- Free remains a powerful catalyst to drive discovery - Each year, we analyze the effectiveness of free ebooks at generating readership. To keep the numbers apples to apples, we gather the data each year from the same retailer - Apple iBooks, and then compare average downloads per title for free books against the average purchases per title of paid books. This year, the multiplier was 41X, the same result we found in last year's Survey. This means that on average, free books get about 41 times more downloads than books at any price. To learn how to make free work for you, read my recent article at Publishers Weekly, The Power of Free: How to Sell More Books.
- Pricing sweet spots - For the last few years, $3.99 was the sweet spot for most indie fiction ebooks. It was the price that maximized both unit downloads and earnings. For the 2016 Survey, $2.99 barely edged out $3.99 for the greatest average unit downloads. However, we observed some shifting on the earnings front. $3.99 retained the mantle for the average price that generates the highest earnings, and $4.99 came in as the second best price, beating out $2.99. I think this speaks to a growing number of professional indie authors finding success migrating to slightly higher prices. In general, most indie authors of full length fiction are probably best served at $3.99 to maximize earnings and unit sales. You'll also see that some strong performing non-fiction titles skewed the earnings data for the higher price ranges.
- Box set pricing - For the first time ever, we took a look at how box sets perform at different price points for both unit sales and earnings. The data was a surprise! For unit sales, $.99 blew away the other price points. But for the price point that earned authors the most earnings, $9.99 won out. Please remember this data is based on averages and your book may not conform to the average.
- Longer books still sell better - For the fifth year in a row, we found strong evidence that on average, readers prefer longer books. Our top 100 bestsellers averaged 112,000 words, and our top 1,000 bestselling books averaged over 103,000 words. Note that four of the top 100 bestsellers were box sets, and three of those four had high word counts.
- Preorder adoption increases - 13.5% of new books released at Smashwords during the Survey period were born as preorders, up from 9.8% in the prior one-year survey period. This means over 85% of authors are still simply uploading their books the day of release. It also means that as an author or publisher looking for an advantage, I'm handing you preorders on a silver platter. Five years from now when everyone is doing preorders, you won't enjoy the same advantage you do now. Based on our data, the authors and publishers that are forgoing preorders are squandering sales opportunities. Why the low adoption? I'll hazard two guesses: 1. I think most authors still don't understand how to leverage preorders to maximum benefit. 2. Contributing to the confusion, many authors who've tried preorders at Amazon have found them counter-productive because a preorder at Amazon will cannibalize the book's first-day sales rank. I spoke with two authors this week who let their Amazon preorder experience sour their view toward preorders at other retailers. This is a mistake. A preorder at iBooks and Kobo (two of the three largest retailers served by Smashwords) allows accumulated orders to credit toward the first sales sales rank. iBooks is the king of preorders. See the next item...
- Books born as preorders earn more money - Median earnings for books born as preorders were 2.8 times higher than books simply uploaded the day of release, while average earnings were an even greater multiple. This speaks not just to the power of preorders, but it also speaks to the smarts of our bestselling authors, many of whom have now been doing preorders with Smashwords for up to three years. Every preorder gains you incremental benefit in terms of expanded readership, and over the course of years this incremental benefit compounds upon itself like a great investment. This is because the more readers you gain, the easier it becomes to gain even more readers because fans breed more fans through word of mouth.
Seven of our top 10 bestselling titles were born as a preorder, as were 55 of our top 100 bestsellers. The strong presence of books-born-as-preorders in our bestseller lists is especially significant considering that only a small minority of books (13.5%) originated as preorders. If you're not releasing preorders with Smashwords, you're missing out! Last June we announced assetless (metadata-only) preorders, which allow you to list your preorder up to 12 months in advance, even before the book is finished and before you have a cover. As I've been advising now for almost three years, the longer your preorder runway, the more opportunity you have to benefit from preorders. Check out my preorder strategy article I wrote for Publishers Weekly to learn tips on how to integrate preorders into your next book releases. Or visit the Ebook Preorder Information page at Smashwords.
- Series books outsell standalones - We dug deeper than ever this year to examine how series books perform. Among the top 100 bestselling series with and without free series starters, the series with free series starters continue to earn more sales than series without free series starters. We also found that in general, series books significantly outsell standalones. When we compared the average sales of the top 1,000 bestselling series books against the sales of the top 1,000 standalones, the series books had 195% higher earnings and their median earnings increase was an impressive 127%. As a caveat, keep in mind that our series data is heavily skewed by the popularity of series romance. However, I think the same factors that drive romance readers to love series apply to the readers of genre fiction readers in other categories. Even non-fiction authors can take some inspiration here. Readers love series! There's more in the Survey. And if you're already a series authors at Smashwords, make sure all your series books are linked up in your Dashboard's Series Manager screen. Series Manager increases the discoverability of your series books at our retailers.
Additional background on the SurveyAs I caution each year, please remember your book is unique. Your book and your readers may not conform to the aggregated norm.
It's simply impossible to use any form of quantitative or qualitative analysis to get inside the minds of readers to understand the multivariate factors that influence their decision to ignore one book but devour another. Readers are probably not even fully conscious of what motivates them. But this impossibility shouldn't stop you - and it won't stop us - from searching for the bread crumbs that lead to useful insights.
If you've followed the Survey in prior years, you know the Survey is based upon verified sales data, aggregated from across the Smashwords Distribution Network. This means we included sales data from Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, the Smashwords Store, Scribd, Oyster (now closed), OverDrive and others.
Since we distribute only about 300 books to Amazon, it also includes a small amount of data from Amazon. I'd encourage you to consider our data more representative of the book-buying behavior at retailers other than Amazon.
For followers of the Smashwords Survey who wish to dig deeper, it's fun to view the results of 2016 within the larger context of our prior surveys. View our prior surveys here: Smashwords Survey 2015 | Smashwords Survey 2014 | Smashwords Survey 2013 | Smashwords Survey 2012).
Support Future Surveys!If you distribute with Smashwords, thank you! You are directly contributing not only to our data, but also to our ability to continue bringing you this data. If you don't use Smashwords for distribution, please consider consolidating your distribution with us. We want your sales data, and we want to help you sell more books.
Thank you Smashwords authors and publishers! Until next year...
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
It took only eight years and two months.
400,000 indie ebooks available for discovery and download.
Most of these books are also distributed to major retailers such as iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, and to library ebook providers OverDrive and Baker & Taylor.
These books are here because you put them here. You shared your wordy brilliance with the world.
Thank you for inviting Smashwords to join you on your indie authorship journey.
Congrats to Goddess Pleasure (@GoddessPleasure) for being the first to spot our milestone!