Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oyster and the KDP Select Party Train

Word came out yesterday afternoon that Oyster is "sunsetting" their business, a polite euphemism for "closing."

I received an update from our friends at Oyster this morning.  Here's the scoop:  Oyster has been acquired by Google.  The Oyster service will continue to operate as normal until sometime in early 2016, at which point it will shut down and cease to exist.

Between now and the ultimate closing (exact date TBD), Smashwords will continue to deliver new books and updates to Oyster, and Oyster will continue their great work generating readers and income for our authors.

What does this mean for Smashwords authors and publishers?  Obviously, it's a sad day when a promising sales outlet such as Oyster exits the market.  Although Oyster and Scribd are among our smaller retailers, they were our fastest growing sales outlets in 2014.  In recent months, their combined sales have been approximately equivalent to what we sell in the Smashwords store each month.  So while we're sad to see Oyster's sales go away, in the short run it's a bump in the road because the lion's share of sales are coming from larger retailers.

Longer term, I'm concerned by the macro implications of this.  With the loss of Oyster, the retailing ecosystem just became less diverse.  Last month indies lost Flipkart in India.  Today, indies are losing another good partner that treated authors well and paid full single-copy retail rates for their books.  Which retailer will fail next?

Some might see this as a game of survival of the fittest where weaker less adaptable players fall by the wayside in favor of stronger players.  Maybe.  Although species extinction is a natural process in any environment, extinctions often signal an increasingly toxic or inhospitable environment for those still struggling to survive.

Let's explore this a little further.  What killed Oyster?  I should preface that what I'm about to share is my personal speculation and opinion, and not based on specific insight from our friends at Oyster.

My take is that despite building a beautiful and elegantly designed app that pleased readers, Oyster was unable to make their business model work.  The cost of their subscriber's consumption exceeded Oyster's revenue from subscriptions. Oyster faced the same headwinds Scribd is facing - namely that romance and possibly other genres were too popular with their subscribers and therefore too expensive to make profitable under the current model.  The solution is you either need to pay authors less, charge readers more (or limit their reading), or something in between.

I'm going to speculate that either Oyster's VC backers or Oyster's controlling shareholders were unwilling to give Oyster the necessary time and funding necessary to iterate their model until they could make it work. Scribd, on the other hand, at the time of their romance purge signaled publicly that they plan to explore tweaks to their model that would allow them to build a sustainable and profitable business for the common benefit of authors/publishers and subscribers.

And then there's the elephant in the room:  Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's subscription service powered by KDP Select.  Unlike Oyster and Scribd which pay Smashwords authors and publishers full agency rates for qualified reads (after the reader reads more than about 10% of the book, it triggers a sale), Kindle Unlimited pays authors by the page, and at a rate that typically works out to only a fraction of the 70% list KDP authors get for single-copy sales.

On the book pages of Kindle Unlimited books, readers are encouraged to get the book
for free with KU or Prime, rather than purchasing at the single copy price
The Kindle Unlimited pay rate is entirely decided by Amazon.  The book's list price is irrelevant to Amazon's calculation.

This means Kindle Unlimited books cost Amazon less money than what Oyster and Scribd want to pay authors and publishers, which means Kindle Unlimited can provide readers more reading at less cost to Amazon and to the reader.  How can Oyster, Scribd or any bookseller compete when Amazon can pick the pockets of authors and give the savings to readers?

This works great for Amazon and its customers, but not so well for authors.  Kindle Unlimited devalues books by making even 99 cent single-copy purchases look expensive when the same book can be read for free under Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

Kindle Unlimited strips authors of pricing power and royalty, and will eventually gut the market for single-copy sales at Amazon.  In other words, Kindle Unlimited is slowly killing the market for single-copy ebook sales, not just for indies but for all publishers.

KDP Select and its Kindle Unlimited is an out of control train.

Inside first class a raucous and extravagant party is underway. It's filled with hundreds of thousands of indie authors who've offered up over one million books enrolled exclusively in KDP Select. Everyone's partying like it's 1999 because in exchange for making their books exclusive to Amazon, these authors are given preferential access to Kindle customers.

Authors and publishers who refuse to make their books exclusive to Amazon are on the train too.  They don't sell as well as the first class passengers.

That's them in steerage. They're in the cattle car at the back. These folks' books don't have preferential discovery, which means Amazon makes their books less discoverable and less desirable to readers. These are the authors and publishers who are trying to support a diverse ecosystem of multiple retailing options.  But the world's largest ebook retailer is deliberately directing their readers to Amazon-exclusive books.

Indies have the power to stop KDP Select in its tracks before it runs the entire publishing industry off a cliff.  Will they?

I fear this party won't end well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Smashwords and Flipkart to End Distribution Relationship - Amazon Scores Victory

Smashwords and Flipkart are ending their distribution agreement first announced in August, 2013.

The unfortunate news effectively hands the market for indie ebooks in India to Amazon.

A few weeks ago, I notified Flipkart that Smashwords was placing its distribution agreement with Flipkart under review.

I provided Flipkart a deadline by which Flipkart was asked to repair certain problems related to the listing and removal of Smashwords titles, and to provide Smashwords an acceptable plan to prevent such issues from recurring in the future.

I informed Flipkart that if these requirements were not met that Smashwords would request the immediate removal of all Smashwords titles.  The deadline was missed and an acceptable plan was not presented.

This morning Smashwords received word from Flipkart that after careful consideration, Flipkart determined their systems are not yet capable of supporting the dynamic nature of the Smashwords catalog.  As a result they will begin winding down the relationship with Smashwords and remove our titles.

Under the distribution agreement with Smashwords signed in 2013, Flipkart - like all Smashwords retailers - is contractually obligated to process new title deliveries, metadata updates and book removals in timely fashion upon notification from Smashwords.  In recent months, Flipkart has not reliably met these requirements. In recent weeks the delays worsened.

Unlike the print book market of yesteryear where books were relatively static objects and changed little over time, ebooks are dynamic living creatures.  Ebooks evolve over time.  At Smashwords, we give our 100,000+ authors and publishers the ability to change any aspect of their book, from metadata updates such as pricing and book descriptions to changing book contents, covers and publishing rights.  Every month, Smashwords is shipping out thousands of new books and hundreds of thousands of metadata updates to existing books.  To process this deluge of dynamic data, our retailers work in partnership with Smashwords to build sophisticated automated content ingestion systems.  These systems - even at the largest retailers - are prone to intermittent error or delay.

The Hand of Amazon KDP Select

Our primary concern was Flipkart's delays associated with the removal of Smashwords titles that had been unpublished. Most of these titles were removed because the Smashwords author or publisher made the decision to enroll their book in KDP Select, an ebook self publishing option offered by Amazon that requires authors to make their books exclusive to Amazon.

Once authors enroll a title in KDP Select, Amazon requires the author to immediately remove the book from all competing retailers otherwise the book is removed from the KDP Select program and the author is warned that repeated offenses could lead to the termination of their entire KDP account.

As you might imagine, these fire-and-brimstone emails from Amazon are unnerving to authors.  Here's an email one Smashwords author received from Amazon after removing their book from all retailers worldwide to make it exclusive in KDP Select.  Their book was being dropped from KDP Select because it was still lingering at Flipkart:

As we emailed to you earlier, KDP Select Terms and Conditions require that books enrolled in KDP Select be exclusive to Amazon in digital format. As the following book(s) is not exclusive, it has been removed from KDP Select, but remains live in the Kindle Store. It is no longer eligible to earn a share of the KDP Select fund, however you will be paid for any borrows that your book accrued prior to its removal from the program.

{Title redacted} (ASIN: redacted) is available on: http://www.flipkart.com/redacted

Once you’ve confirmed your book(s) is no longer available elsewhere, you may re-enroll it into KDP Select. Please always confirm your books are exclusive to Amazon at the time of enrollment as repeated violations of KDP Select Terms and Conditions may result in permanent loss of KDP Select benefits for all books, as well as termination of your KDP account.

At Smashwords, we expect our retail partners to honor the rights of our authors and publishers.  These rights are articulated in every contract with every Smashwords retail partner.  If a Smashwords author wants their book unpublished and removed from a retailer for any reason, our retailers are required to remove the book without delay. At Smashwords, the author is the publisher and we fully support and respect their decisions to manage their rights as they see fit. The reason for removal does not matter to us, thus our insistence that Flipkart process all updates in a timely manner.

That said, I am not a fan of KDP Select.  Ever since the launch of KDP Select in December 2011, I and hundreds of other like-minded indies have spoken out against it.   From my perspective, the publishing industry and media don't yet grok how KDP Select is undermining every large publisher, every indie author and every ebook retailer.  In the process, they're also undermining the future of book culture by limiting the availability of books.

Many indies don't understand the long term implications of KDP Select.  The million or so books enrolled in KDP Select are almost entirely provided by the indie author community. Amazon coerces authors to enroll their books my making KDP Select books more discoverable and more desirable to Kindle customers, while making non-exclusive books less visible and less desirable.   The message is quite simple:  If you want to sell more books at the world's largest ebook retailer, you must be exclusive.

I don't blame indies for their difficult decision.  I met with one indie author a few weeks ago at a conference who told me words to the effect of, "I hate the exclusivity of KDP Select, yet I'm in it because I have a mortgage to pay.  Books in KDP Select sell better than non-exclusive books."  If you want to hear more of my thoughts on how Amazon constructs its policies to prey upon authors, check my recent  interview with the Writer 2.0 podcast:  http://acfuller.com/smashwords-founder-mark-coker-episode-53-august-13-2015-2/

Publishers are suffering too.  This past weekend I met with a publisher in New York whose books were being made less visible in Amazon searches.  Readers search on the publisher's author or title and they're presented with multiple irrelevant search results pointing to alternate books which are exclusive books.

I believe KDP Select is toxic to the future of indie publishing because it forces authors to abandon competing retailers and become more dependent upon Amazon.  When competing retailers lose access to this important inventory of indie titles, they can't compete.

Amazon wields its dominant market share like a club to bludgeon authors who don't fall into compliance with Amazon's exclusivity or pricing requirements, even when the lack of compliance is not the author's fault.  No other ebook retailer practices such draconian punishment of authors.

Amazon has engaged in these heavy-handed tactics for several years, most typically through automatic price-matching which robs authors of their royalties.

Amazon knows the problem is not the author's fault.  Several years ago at BEA I met with a top Amazon Kindle executive and requested that they stop punishing our authors when one of our retailers makes an error or has a delay.  I suggested during that meeting Amazon should enforce based on author intent.  I suggested Smashwords could provide Amazon a direct pricing feed so Amazon could judge the author based on the author's intent rather than price-matching against retailers supplied by Smashwords.  Although he acknowledged it would be a fairer method and sounded reasonable, nothing came of it.  Amazon only stepped up their punishments.

Ten days ago, in response to media reports of a letter Jeff Bezos sent Amazon employees, I wrote my first ever email to Mr. Bezos to express my concern about Amazon's bullying tactics against authors.  The full text of that email is pasted below this post.  I did not receive a reply.

My decision to put Flipkart on notice was not an easy one, and followed months of good-faith effort on Smashwords' part to help Flipkart improve their systems.  To Flipkart's credit, they tried in good faith to meet our demands but in the end acknowledged they're not yet prepared to handle a dynamic catalog of our scale.

To be clear, the termination of our agreement with Flipkart is not Amazon's fault.  However, Amazon was a catalyst because the harm they're causing our shared authors made it impossible for us to give Flipkart the runway they needed to improve their systems.

Although Flipkart is a small ebook retailer and the financial impact on Smashwords authors will be negligible, I'm more concerned by what this signals for the future of ebook retailing around the world.

Amazon's tactics make it extremely difficult for even large well-funded companies like Flipkart to support indie authors (Flipkart has received $550 million in funding and is valued at $15 billion - http://www.wsj.com/articles/flipkart-valued-at-15-billion-after-latest-funding-1432021294).

Amazon's tactics have a chilling effect on the formation of future ebook retailing startups by discouraging indie authors from working with other retailers.  Imagine how difficult it will be for smaller retailers across the global to build regional ebook stores when the bar for entry is the ability to process millions of dynamic books with 100% accuracy and no margin for error?  Amazon doesn't just punish the author in that local market, it punishes the author worldwide.  Why would an indie author want to put their entire Amazon earnings in jeopardy simply to reach a small market at a single small retailer when Amazon allows no margin for error or delay?

Flipkart will lose access to over 200,000 indie ebooks.  Other than Flipkart and maybe Google, Amazon has no viable competitor for ebooks in India. iBooks has not entered India yet.

Amazon is now being rewarded for their draconian policies enforced against indie authors, and their KDP Select program will only grow stronger as a result.

The nascent indie author community in India will have only one viable option to reach their home market, and that's Amazon. Amazon pays indie authors only 35% list for their ebook sales in India, and requires authors to become exclusive if they want to earn 70% list.  Smashwords paid authors and publishers 60% list for Flipkart sales and we've never required exclusivity.

We wish our friends at Flipkart well.  If the day comes when they're able to build more robust ingestion systems on par with our partners iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and others, we'll welcome the opportunity to reengage with them to serve the Indian readers and authors.

My letter to Jeff Bezos follows....

Mark Coker Letter to Jeff Bezos 

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Empathy / Smashwords
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2015 13:29:13 -0700
From: Mark Coker <*****>
To: Jeff Bezos <*****>

Dear Jeff,

We've never had the opportunity to communicate.

In your employee letter reprinted by Forbes, you speak out against callous management practices and state how you have no tolerance for lack of empathy.

Do these principles apply to how you treat your KDP authors?  If so, I can only assume you're not familiar with the draconian punishment Amazon has been meting out against thousands of KDP authors since 2010 through price matching. You've robbed thousands of authors of their royalties though this practice.

Case in point:
When Barnes & Noble experienced technical problems through no fault of Smashwords, you price-matched this author's book to free and caused him (by his estimation) over £1,000 in lost earnings.  The author informed Amazon that the pricing error was not his fault, yet Amazon continued to punish him and refused to return his book to the normal price. The author eventually removed his book from distribution rather
than face the wrath of Amazon.

I think you're the smartest guy in this business.  All of us in the business owe you and Amazon a great debt of gratitude for catalyzing the ebook revolution.  However, I cannot respect the tactics you use to browbeat and intimidate our shared authors.  You hurt innocent people, and this hurt cannot be rationalized away by your many good deeds.

I'm not opposed to price matching.  I'm opposed to how you punish our shared authors when their book prices are out of alignment through no fault or intent of their own.

In recent weeks I've heard from authors who received threatening emails from Amazon regarding their status in KDP Select due to Flipkart in India failing to remove their books in a timely manner.  The authors tell me that Amazon is threatening to kick their books out of KDP-S worldwide simply because this tiny Indian retailer is having difficulty removing titles in a timely manner.

The message you're sending authors is that they risk the wrath and punishment of Amazon if they allow Amazon's competitors to carry their books. Maybe that's the point. If so, your plan is brilliant. But the plan has one fundamental flaw - you're building resentment in the author community.  People will bend to coercion and intimidation if they feel they have no choice.  But if given a choice in the future, they will turn on you.

Might I suggest a kinder, gentler approach?  If you want to price match a Smashwords author, we can provide you an automated pricing feed, because the price at Smashwords reflects the author's true real-time intent.  You could use this instead of price matching against our retailers.


Mark Coker
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/markcoker
Blog:  http://blog.smashwords.com
FAQ: https://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq

As of today, I have not heard a response.  I realize he's been extra busy lately.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to Price Kindle Books to FREE without Exclusivity

Amazon professes a commitment to offering customers rock-bottom prices, yet Amazon is the only ebook retailer to restrict the ability of authors and publishers to price at FREE.

The only officially sanctioned method of pricing an ebook to free in the Kindle store is for authors to enroll their books in KDP Select, an optional program that requires exclusivity.  Exclusivity is great for Amazon, but it's not so great for indie authors who want to maintain their independence and build a diversified revenue stream and readership across all retailers.

Amazon allows KDP Select books to be priced at free for only five days per quarter.  That's not enough time for authors to take full advantage of the amazing promotional magic of free.

Every month I meet writers who think the only way to take advantage of free at Amazon is to enroll in KDP Select.  Not true.  If you know writers operating under this mistaken belief, please share this post with them.

There's another, better option, and it doesn't require exclusivity. Smashwords and our retail partners can help.

In this post, I'll teach you a trick veteran indie authors have been using for several years to do free and perma-free ebooks at Amazon without exclusivity.  It's a way to turn Amazon's price-matching robots against Amazon.

As you'll learn below, authors who avoid KDP Select can make greater use of free than those who are trapped in KDP Select.

It's a simple process.  Here are the steps:

1.  At your Amazon KDP dashboard, price your book to $.99.

2.  At Smashwords, price your book to free.

3.  Within hours, iBooks will reflect the new price of free, and B&N and Kobo will follow within 1-2 business days.  Next, visit your book page at Amazon and click the link under the "Product Details" box labeled, "tell us about a lower price."  There, you or a friend can click the button beside "Website (Online)" and report that your book is available for free at another retailer.  In that form, provide Amazon a direct hyperlink to one of the Smashwords retailers.  A link to Apple or B&N is a good bet.   I don't think they'll price match against the Smashwords store.  See the screen shot below.

Notes on the above:  A.  If your book is priced $2.99 or over and enrolled in the 70% royalty rate and you price at free elsewhere, Amazon will send you one of their lovely fire-and-brimstone emails where they'll threaten to kick you out of KDP for your transgression (the 70% royalty rate requires you not price your book lower elsewhere). But books enrolled in the 35% royalty rate (automatic for 99 cent books) don't get the nastygram because price parity elsewhere is not a requirement.  B.  Some authors ask friends or fans to report their books. I don't know if it makes a difference.  C.  Note that Amazon operates about 13 different stores, so you may want to report the book separately at their largest English-language stores (US, UK, Canada, Australia) to encourage price matching in each store.  D.  Amazon will often price match even if you don't do the self-reporting.  E.  Sometimes Amazon will not price match, even if you or a reader report the lower price elsewhere. They know indie authors use this trick to gain better control over their pricing.


Every author is well-served to experiment with free - either with temporary free promotions or with permanently free (aka perma-free).  Why?  Because free builds readership, and some of those readers will fall in love with your writing and purchase your other books.

Free turbocharges your readership by eliminating the financial risk a reader takes on an unknown, untrusted author (and that's you until they know and trust you!).  Free allows the reader to read you risk-free, and gives your writing a chance to earn the reader's trust and admiration.

I've been promoting the use of free ever since we launched Smashwords in 2008.  Smart use of free has catapulted many Smashwords authors to the bestseller lists. 

At iBooks, free books get 41 times more downloads on average than books at any other price.

If you write series, definitely price your series starter at perma-free.  Why?  Because series with free series starters earn more overall sales than series without free series starters.

About 65% of our top 100 bestselling series over the last 12 months have a free series starter.  Here's more data on the effectiveness of free series starters:  For the Smashwords 2015 Survey, we added up the sales of our top 100 series with free series starters and then compared that to the aggregated sales of our top 100 series that don't have a free series starter.  The group with free series starters earned an average 66% more than the the group with priced series starters.  I also looked at the median increase to rule out the possibility that a couple mega bestsellers might have skewed the numbers.  The median was also 66% higher for series with free series starters.  Exactly the same.

Free series starters also open up the possibility of earning merchandising features at the retailers, particularly at iBooks.  iBooks does more to promote free than any other retailer with their regular "First in Series Free" promotions.  Last week, iBooks launched a "Rising Stars in Romance" feature in their Australia and New Zealand stores featuring the free series starters of Australian and New Zealand authors.

Even authors who only publish standalone books can benefit from free.  For many first-time authors, one of your biggest challenges is to get your first readers and your first reviews at retailers.  Free builds readership and can help you establish your first reviews at the major retailers.  Or, if your book has been out a long time and sales have dwindled, try a temporary free promotion to rev up readership, reviews and word of mouth.

If you have a standalone book on preorder, you can price another standalone book at free to drive up readership, and then use the backmatter of that free book to advertise your preorder (at the end of every book, you should provide a listing of your other books).

Free is not a guarantee of readership.  A few weeks ago I received an email from a Smashwords author who priced his books at free yet he was still struggling to attract readers.  The reason: there's a lot of competition out there.  Smashwords authors and publishers publish over 55,000 books at free.  Although free is a powerful catalyst for building readership, free works best if your book is a super-awesome WOW book that turns the reader into a evangelist. WOW books average 4.5 to 5 stars out of 5.  Just because a book is free doesn't mean the reader will read it or finish it.  On the contrary, they're probably less likely to finish a free book if it doesn't hold their attention on every page.

Bottom line, if you want to turn a free downloader into a paid reader, you must earn the reader's awareness and trust.  It's classic PR 101.  First build awareness, then build perception.  Free helps the reader become aware of your writing.  Perception is formed based on the true merits of the product.

Beyond the power of free to get readers to take a chance on you, there's a lot more you can do under the umbrella of best practices (free is only one of many best practices).  To learn more about best practices, check out my presentation deck, How to Publish Ebooks, or download my free ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publihsing Success.  Also check out my recent blog posts, Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult from Here - Here's How to Succeed for additional ideas on how to reach more readers.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Como publicar os ebooks - um seminário sobre a publicação dos ebooks por Mark Coker

The blog post below is written in Portuguese.  It's a one-time post to accompany the publication of our first-ever Portuguese translation of the Smashwords Style Guide which went live earlier today (yay!!!).  We also translated the How to Publish Ebooks seminar presentation which originally appeared here in English on July 21.

With over 210 million native speakers, Portuguese is one of the world’s most widely spoken and written languages.  To put this large number in perspective, almost as many people speak Portuguese as speak German (89 million), French (74 million) and Italian (59 million) combined. 

When I founded Smashwords in 2008, I wanted to democratize publishing for the world’s writers.  I wanted to make it fast, free and easy for any writer, anywhere in the world, to self-publish and distribute an ebook.  The indie author revolution took root first with English-language writers.  Now I want to help spread the revolution to more corners of the globe.

Portuguese writers boast a rich literary tradition going back centuries.  With this completely self-contained blog post, I hope to welcome thousands of new writers to the global indie author movement. 
Several thousand Portuguese-language books are already published at Smashwords and distributed worldwide.  In Brazil, the largest market for Portuguese books, approximately 300,000 Smashwords-distributed books are available at iBooks Brazil, Livraria Cultura (powered by Kobo) and from the Smashwords Store. 

My thanks to Matthew Teplitz on the Smashwords team for translating the Style Guide, the PowerPoint presentation and this blog post!  Thanks also to my Brazilian friends Carlo Carrenho, Claudio Soares and Newton Neto for educating me about the Brazilian market and encouraging me to do more to support Portuguese-language authors.

Como publicar os ebooks

Este post de blog e a apresentação acompanhada do Guia de estilo do Smashwords lhe ensinará como publicar um ebook com orgulho, profissionalismo e sucesso.

Como um autor da língua portuguesa, agora tem a oportunidade de publicar o seu livro a uma audiência mundial utilizando as ferramentas do Smashwords, o distribuidor mais grande dos ebooks autopublicados. 

No entanto, não precisa ser um autor no Smashwords para beneficiar das orientações dadas nestes recursos.

Eu montei dois recursos grandes para ajudar-lhe na sua viagem da publicação dos ebooks:

1.  O Guia de estilo do Smashwords, traduzido pela primeira vez no português! Descarregá-lo aqui!
2.  Como publicar os ebooks - um seminário sobre a publicação dos ebooks
A apresentação incorporada abaixo foi derivado duma série de seminários de seis horas e quatro partes sobre a publicação dos ebooks que apresentei no mês passado na conferência de Autores do Noroeste do Pacífico em Seattle. Os seminários foram apresentados numa ordem lógica e projetados para levar os escritores desde iniciantes a especialistas durantes as seis horas.

Agora, pela primeira vez, compartilho estas apresentações traduzidas no português.

Para facilitar a visualização, eu consolidei as quatro apresentações numa única apresentação incorporada abaixo. A apresentação ensinam os escritores como autopublicar os ebooks com mais orgulho, profissionalismo e sucesso.

Se você conhece um escritor que está avaliando as suas opções enquanto se preparam autopublicar seu primeiro livro, o já autopublicou mas ainda está lutando atingir os leitores e pode beneficiar de algumas novas ideias, por favor compartilhe-a com eles. Se um escritor quer publicar independentemente, tradicionalmente, ou numa forma híbrida, aqui há algo para todos. A apresentação também será útil para os pequenos editores independentes que publicam os livros no português. No Smashwords, trabalhamos com mais de 100 milhares de autores e pequenos editores independentes em todo o mundo.

Como publicar os ebooks

um seminário sobre a publicação dos ebooks por Mark Coker

^^Por favor partilhe esta apresentação com um amigo por clicar a seta no canto esquerdo inferior!

Como publicar os ebooks - um seminário sobre a publicação dos ebooks
A apresentação está dividida nas seguintes quatro seções:

  1. Introdução à publicação dos ebooks - um curso introdutório. Isto fornece o conhecimento fundamental que cada escritor precisa para começar sua viagem de autopublicação. Explica os fundamentos, como as cinco tendências mais importantes que estão acionando o mercado do ebook; os fatores que contribuem ao surgimento do movimento dos autores independentes; as vantagens de autoria independente; e contem uma lista de verificação abrangente da publicação dos ebooks que explica conceitos importantes como a formatação, conversão do ebook, os ISBN, estratégias do estilo da capa, metadados, direitos autorais, a pirateria, estratégia de preços, marketing, distribuição e pré-encomendas.
  2. As melhores práticas da publicação do ebook - 16 segredos dos autores independentes mais vendidos. Isto é provavelmente minha apresentação mais popular. Tenho feito isto por alguns anos e foi um companheiro ao meu livro grátis sobre as melhores práticas, Os segredos da publicação dos ebooks sucedidos. Eu compartilho 16 dicas, truques e estratégias que são comuns entre muitos dos autores mais vendidos. Esta apresentação lhe ensina como tornar seu livro mais detectável e desejável para os leitores. Inclui uma seção expandida sobre o desenho da capa com vários casos práticos que demonstra o que funciona e o que não funciona. Também ensinará técnicas da construção de plataforma importantes. Os autores independentes  veteranos ainda obterão uma nova ideia ou duas aqui. Começa a partir do slide 89.
  3. O merchandising no iBooks - como vender mais livros na segunda maior loja do ebook no mundo. Os leitores deste blog sabe que eu sou um amado grande do iBooks. Simplesmente por distribuir seus livros ao iBooks, serão acessível para quase um bilhão dos usuários de dispositivos Apple. O Smashwords tem sido um agregador mundial autorizado servindo a loja iBooks desde que a fundação da loja no abril de 2010. No tempo desde que o estabelecimento desta parceria, tive o prazer de colaborar diretamente à equipe do merchandising mundial fantástica no iBooks. Nesta apresentação, introduzirei os autores à loja iBooks e compartilharei dicas sobre como os autores podem aumentar sua visibilidade, vendas, e oportunidades promocionais na loja. Como aprenderá, desde uma visão de alto nível, tem dois tipos de oportunidades do merchandising na loja. A primeira é automatizada - os inúmeros benefícios de descoberta que você receberá automaticamente simplesmente por distribuir através do iBooks. A segunda oportunidade é criada manualmente onde os profissionais do merchandising no iBooks escolhem uma pequena quantidade de livros para promoção. Você aprenderá que as decisões do merchadising deles são com base no mérito, e a maioria do mérito é merecido por a construção de vendas e revisões boas entres seus clientes no iBooks. Se os clientes no iBooks gostam dos seus livros, também aumentará suas oportunidades do merchandising. Alguns autores podem sentir desmotivados que se enfrentam um problema da galinha e do ovo - “Sem o merchandising, não posso atingir os leitores, mas sem mais leitores não posso provar que os meus livros merecem o merchandising.” Não se preocupe. Eu vou lhe mostrar como maximizar suas oportunidades promocionais na loja, mas também o trabalho intenso e empenho de largo plazo são necessários (se foi fácil, todas as pessoas no mundo seriam escritores mais vendidos!). Também saiba que centenas, se não milhares dos autores no Smashwords alcançam várias formas do merchandising no iBooks, então é possível. Tudo gira em torno da implementação das melhores práticas nas apresentações, como uma boa qualidade de escritora (nada é mais importante do seu livro!), uma imagem da capa fantástica, a distribuição completa e sem interrupções, e o uso inteligente dos metadados melhorados, como a Gerente das Séries do Smashwords. Embora esta apresentação se focaliza no iBooks, os mesmos conceitos do mérito aplicam às decisões do merchandising nas outras varejistas. Começa a partir do slide 179.
  4. Como alcançar as listas bestseller com as pré-encomendas do ebook - Como os antigos leitores deste blog já sabem, tenho celebrado os benefícios das pré-encomendas do ebook por mais de dois anos. Uma pré-encomenda do ebook é provavelmente a ferramenta da lançamento de livro mais poderosa nos últimos sete anos. A conclusão é que os livros nasceram como pré-encomendas venderão mais cópias que os livros que são simplesmente carregados no dia da divulgação. Se você quer atingir mais leitores, precisa aprender como usar as pré-encomendas para o efeito máximo. No mês passado, anunciamos uma nova característica das pré-encomendas chamada “pré-encomendas sem espólios” que lhe permite establecer sua pré-encomenda até 12 meses em avanço, incluindo se ainda não está pronto com o seu livro. As pré-encomendas permite marketing prévio dos livros mais eficaz, e nas varejistas iBooks e Kobo, as pré-encomendas lhe dará uma vantagem grande com respeito à posição de cópias vendidas no dia que o seu livro está publicado. Esta apresentação identifica cinco benefícios das pré-encomendas e depois compartilha os métodos provados para planejar e executar um lançamento bem sucedido. Começa a partir do slide 230.
Espero que você gostará do Guia de estilo do Smashwords e minha apresentação sobre Como publicar os ebooks.
Como qualquer autor independente pode dizer-lhe, não é fácil vender os livros. Não existe uma única bala mágica para alcançar o estado bestseller. Tudo do sucesso na autopublicação é a paciência, perserverança, e as melhores práticas. As mais melhores práticas que você aplica com sucesso, aumentará as suas possibilidades de atingir os leitores.
O sucesso na autopublicação também é sobre os seus valores e mentalidade. Como já mencionei no Manifesto dos autores independentes abaixo, é importante lembrar que o seu sucesso como um autor independente não pode ser medido por somente as vendas. Se você encontra alegria na viagem e a expressão criativa da escritura e publicação, você já descobriu a medida de sucesso mais rica e plenamente realizada. Siga escrevendo!

Manifesto do autore independente


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How to Publish Ebooks - An Ebook Publishing Intensive

How to publish ebooks - An ebook publishing intensive by Mark Coker
Last week I presented a series of four 90-minute workshops on ebook publishing at the Pacific Northwest Writers conference in Seattle.  The workshops were presented in logical order and designed to take writers from introduction to expertise over the course of six hours.

For your viewing pleasure, I consolidated the four presentations into a single online deck and embedded it below.  The presentation teaches writers how to self-publish ebooks with greater pride, professionalism  and success.

If you know a writer who's evaluating their publishing options, or they're struggling to reach readers and could benefit from some fresh ideas, please share it with them.  Whether a writer aspires to publish indie, traditional or hybrid, there's something for everyone in here.  The presentation will also be useful to the hundreds of small independent presses that work with Smashwords.

How to Publish Ebooks - An Ebook Publishing Intensive

The presentation is divided into the following four sections:

1.  Introduction to eBook publishing - An introductory primer.  It provides the basic foundational knowledge every writer needs to get started on their self publishing journey.  It explains the basics, such as the top five trends driving the ebook market; factors contributing to the rise of the indie author movement; the advantages of indie authorship; and features a comprehensive ebook publishing checklist that explains important concepts such as formatting, ebook conversion, ISBNs, cover design strategies, metadata, copyright, piracy, pricing strategy, marketing, distribution and preorders.

2.  Ebook publishing best practices - 16 secrets of the bestselling indie ebook authors.  This is probably my most popular presentation.  I've been presenting this for a few years and originally created it as a companion to my free ebook on best practices, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.  I share 16 tips, tricks and strategies that are common among many of the bestselling ebook authors and their books.  This presentation teaches you how to to make your book more discoverable and more desirable to readers.  It includes an expanded section on cover design with multiple case study examples of what works and what doesn't.  You'll also learn important platform building techniques.  Even veteran indie authors are sure to get a new idea or two out of this.  Starts at slide #89.

3.  iBooks Merchandising - how to sell more books in the world's second largest ebook store.  Readers of this blog know I'm a massive fan of iBooks. Simply by distributing your books to iBooks, your books will be just a couple clicks away from nearly one billion users of Apple devices.  Smashwords has been an authorized global aggregator serving the iBooks store ever since the iBooks store first launched in April 2010.  In the time since, I've had the pleasure to collaborate directly with the super-awesome global merchandising team at iBooks.  In this presentation, I introduce authors to the iBooks store and then share tips on how authors can increase their visibility, sales and promotional opportunities in the store.  As you'll learn, from a high level there are two types of merchandising opportunity at iBooks.  The first is automated - the myriad discovery benefits you receive automatically simply by distributing your books to iBooks.  The second opportunity is human-curated merchandising where the merchandising pros at iBooks select a small number of books for promotional love.  You'll learn that their merchandising decisions are merit-based, and much of this merit is earned by you building a track record of sales and high reader ratings from iBooks customers.  If iBooks customers embrace your books, it increases your chances for extra merchandising love.  Some authors might feel discouraged that they face a chicken and egg problem - "Without merchandising love I can't reach readers, and without more readers I can't establish a track record to prove my books merit merchandising love."  Don't worry.  I'll show you how there's a lot you can do maximize your opportunity for love in there store, but it will take hard work and a long term commitment (if it was easy, everyone would be a bestselling author!).  Also know that hundreds if not thousands of Smashwords authors have achieved various forms of merchandising love at iBooks, so it is possible.  It's all about implementing the many best practices discussed in the presentations, such as super-awesome writing (nothing's more important than your book!), a super-awesome cover, full uninterrupted distribution of all your titles, fair pricing, smart use of FREE as a promotional tool, smart use of preorders, and smart use of enhanced metadata such as the Smashwords Series Manager.  Even though this presentation focuses on iBooks, the same concepts of merit apply to the merchandising decisions of the other retailers.  Starts at slide #180.

4.  How to Hit the Bestseller Lists with Ebook Preorders - As long time readers of this blog know, I've been celebrating the benefits of ebook preorders for over two years.  An ebook preorder is probably the single most powerful book launch tool to come along in the last seven years.  Bottom line, books born as preorders sell more copies than books that are simply uploaded the day of release.  If you want to reach more readers, you need to learn how to use preorders to maximum effect.  Last month we announced a new preorder feature called assetless preorders which allows you to establish your preorder up to 12 months in advance, even if you're not finished with the book yet. Preorders enable more effective advance book marketing, and at retailers iBooks and Kobo, preorders give you a dramatic sales rank advantage the day your book is released.  This presentation identifies five benefits of ebook preorders and then shares proven methods to plan and execute a successful preorder launch.  Starts at slide #231.

I hope you enjoy the presentation.  As any indie author can tell you, it's not easy to sell books.  There's no single magic bullet shortcut to bestsellerdom.  Self publishing success is all about patience, perseverance and best practices.  The more best practices you successfully employ, the better your odds of reaching readers.

Self publishing success is also about values and mindset.  As I mention in the Indie Author Manifesto, it's important to remember that your success as an indie author cannot be measured by sales alone.  If you find joy in the journey and creative expression of writing and publishing, then you've discovered the richest and most fulfilling measure of success.  Write on!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wattpad Runs Major Promotion Featuring 72 Smashwords Romance Authors

Smashwords and Wattpad today launched a multi-week promotional feature at Wattpad that showcases 74 books by 72 Smashwords authors in the categories of contemporary romance, new adult romance and paranormal romance.

The promotion will run across three elements of the the Wattpad platform:  1.  The Wattpad web site.  2.  Wattpad's After Dark  app for iOS and Android.  3.   The general Wattpad app iOS and Android.

You can view the promotion now on the web at https://www.wattpad.com/user/Romance  and will roll out soon to the apps mentioned above.  Direct links to each catalog:

Contemporary Romance
New Adult Romance
Paranormal Romance

More than 40 million people visit Wattpad each month to read, write and publish.  The featured titles are all series starters.  Each series starter will be serialized at Wattpad for the free enjoyment of Wattpad readers.  Participating Smashwords authors will receive significant exposure to thousands of new readers, some of whom will go on to purchase the next books in the series at Smashwords retail partners including iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and the Smashwords store.

Several bestselling Smashwords authors - including Kirsty Moseley and Natasha Preston - used Wattpad to reach millions of readers via free serialization before commercially publishing and distributing their final books at Smashwords.  Not only is Wattpad a great place for new writers to build audience before they publish at Smashwords, it's a great place for veteran Smashwords authors to reach more readers.

My thanks to Wattpad for presenting our authors with such an unprecedented opportunity to build readership.   Today's promotion marks a milestone of sorts.  Yesterday was the four year anniversary of a Smashwords partnership with Wattpad that began four years ago.  I've always been an incredible fan of Wattpad and the people who run it, and I hope this will be the first of many new merchandising collaborations for Smashwords authors across all genres.

Smashwords authors:  If you're not already on Wattpad, here's a good FAQ that explains how to get started.   Like Smashwords, Wattpad is a free service.  Once you have your Wattpad account set up, you can add cross links between your Wattpad profile page and your Smashwords profile page (where readers can purchase your books!).  To add a link from your Wattpad account to your Smashwords page, at Wattpad click on your account name in the upper right portion of the screen, then click Settings.  To add a link on your Smashwords author page that points to your Wattpad page, at Smashwords click to Account, then click to Edit Profile.

Here's a summary of participating authors and titles, organized by category and alpha-sorted by first name:


Adrienne Bell - The Wedding Trap
  Link to Wattpad profile

Anna Katmore - Play With Me
  Link to Wattpad profile 

AnnaLisa Grant - The Lake (The Lake Series, Book 1)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Carla Krae - Kissed (My Once and Future Love Revisited #1)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Chris Taylor - The Profiler
  Link to Wattpad profile

DW Cee - Indelible Love (Emily's Story)
  Link to Wattpad profile

E. L. Todd - Only For You
  Link to Wattpad profile

Elizabeth Reyes - Forever Mine
  Link to Wattpad profile

K.F. Breene - Back in the Saddle
  Link to Wattpad profile

Lacey Weatherford - Crush
  Link to Wattpad profile

Leeanna Morgan - Forever Dreams
  Link to Wattpad profile

Lili Saint Germain - Seven Sons
  Link to Wattpad profile

Liz Fielding - Wild Justice
  Link to Wattpad profile

Lorhainne Eckhart - The Forgotten Child
  Link to Wattpad profile

Max Henry - Devil You Know
  Link to Wattpad profile

Max Henry - Pistol
  Link to Wattpad profile

Mia Dymond - Leather, Lace & Rock-N-Roll
  Link to Wattpad profile

Morgan Rayne - A Different Kind of Fairy Tale
  Link to Wattpad profile

Natalie Anderson - Breathe for Me
  Link to Wattpad profile

R.L. Mathewson - Playing for Keeps
  Link to Wattpad profile

Ranae Rose - Hot Ink
  Link to Wattpad profile

Ruth Ann Nordin - Suddenly a Bride
  Link to Wattpad profile

Sydney Landon - Pierced
  Link to Wattpad profile

T Gephart - A Twist of Fate
  Link to Wattpad profile

Tracy Ellen - A Date with Fate (The Adventures of Anabel Axelrod)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Verna Clay - Dream Kisses
  Link to Wattpad profile



Addison Moore - 3:AM Kisses
  Link to Wattpad profile

Alicia Michaels - V-Card
  Link to Wattpad profile

Alyssa Rose Ivy - The Hazards of Skinny Dipping
  Link to Wattpad profile

AM Hudson - Bound
  Link to Wattpad profile

Bethany Lopez - 8 Weeks
  Link to Wattpad profile

CJ Duggan - The Boys of Summer
  Link to Wattpad profile

Demelza Carlton - Ocean's Justice
  Link to Wattpad profile

G.J. Walker-Smith - Saving Wishes
  Link to Wattpad profile

Jamie Magee - See
  Link to Wattpad profile

Jennifer Snyder - Break You
  Link to Wattpad profile

Kahlen Aymes - Famous
  Link to Wattpad profile

Lilliana Anderson - A Beautiful Struggle (Beautiful Series Book 1)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Lindsay Paige and Mary Smith - Breakaway
  Link to Wattpad profile

Natasha Preston - Silence
  Link to Wattpad profile

Nicola Marsh - Before
  Link to Wattpad profile

Penny Reid - Attraction
  Link to Wattpad profile

Rachel Van Dyken - Tear: A Seaside Novel
  Link to Wattpad profile

Sabrina Stark - Unbelonging
  Link to Wattpad profile

Samantha Young - Into the Deep
  Link to Wattpad profile

Tawdra Kandle - The Last One
  Link to Wattpad profile



Alyssa Rose Ivy - Flight (The Crescent Chronicles#1)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Amy Miles - Forbidden
  Link to Wattpad profile

Barbara Bretton - Somewhere in Time
  Link to Wattpad profile

Belinda Boring - The Mystic Wolves
  Link to Wattpad profile

Bianca D'Arc - Tales of the Were: Grif
  Link to Wattpad profile

Brandy L Rivers - Nights Embrace
  Link to Wattpad profile

Brenda K. Davies - Awakened (The Vampire Awakenings Series, Book 1)
  Link to Wattpad profile

C.J. Archer - The Wrong Girl
  Link to Wattpad profile

Caroline Hanson - Love is Darkness
  Link to Wattpad profile

Caryn Moya Block - Alpha's Mate
  Link to Wattpad profile

Christie Rich - Five (Elemental Enmity Book I)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Claire Farrell - Soul
  Link to Wattpad profile

E.B. Brown - The Legend of the Bloodstone
  Link to Wattpad profile

Elise Marion - The Guardians
  Link to Wattpad profile

Erica Stevens - Captured (The Captive Series, Book 1)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Laura Harner - Highland Shift
  Link to Wattpad profile

Lynnie Purcell - Grey Haven (The Dreamer Chronicles, Book 1)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Maree Anderson - The Crystal Warrior
  Link to Wattpad profile

Melissa Haag - Hope(less)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Melissa Wright - Bound by Prophecy
  Link to Wattpad profile

Nicky Charles - The Mating
  Link to Wattpad profile

R. E. Butler - Mate of Her Heart (Wilde Creek One)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Rachel Higginson - Reckless Magic
  Link to Wattpad profile

S. E. Smith - Tink's Neverland: Cosmos' Gateway Book 1
  Link to Wattpad profile

Sarah Woodbury - Daughter of Time
  Link to Wattpad profile

Scott Prussing - Breathless
  Link to Wattpad profile

Teresa Gabelman - Damon (The Protectors)
  Link to Wattpad profile

Victoria Danann - My Familiar Stranger
  Link to Wattpad profile

Please join me in congratulating these fine authors for their inclusion in this promotion.  If you're a romance reader, please share this page with your friends so they can start discovering these awesome indie romance authors!

Scribd Cuts Romance Catalog

Scribd, the fast-growing ebook subscription service, today announced dramatic cuts to their catalog of romance and erotica titles.

Effective immediately, I estimate 80-90 percent of Smashwords romance and erotica titles will be dropped by Scribd, including nearly all of our most popular romance titles.  Books priced at free are safe and will remain in their catalog.

Based on what I've been able to glean, the lower the price and the higher the word count, the better the odds the book will remain.  Few books priced $3.99 and above will remain.  Scribd is not publicly revealing the formulas for what stays and what goes, probably because much of this is still in flux. They're cutting all publishers and distributors with the same blunt knife.

It's ugly.  The problem for Scribd is that romance readers are heavy readers, and Scribd pays publishers retailer-level margins for the books.  In a letter to publishers and distributors delivered earlier today, Scribd said:
Dear Publisher

As you know, in starting Scribd, we bore the majority of the risk when establishing a business model that paid publishers the same amount as the retail model for each book read by a Scribd subscriber. Now, nearly two years later, the Scribd catalog has grown from 100,000 titles to more than one million. We’re proud of the service we’ve built and we’re constantly working to expand the selection across genres to give our readers the broadest possible list of books for $8.99 per month.

We’ve grown to a point where we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to expand the overall size and variety of our service. We will be making some adjustments, particularly to romance, and as a result some previously available titles may no longer be available.

We look forward to continuing to grow subscribers, increase overall reading, and increase total publisher payouts in a way that works for everyone over the long term. We of course want to keep as many of your authors and titles on Scribd as we can, so we’d love to discuss our plans and how we can best work with you going forward.

Thank you for your business.

Bottom line, romance readers - readers we love dearly at Smashwords - are reading Scribd out of house and home.  Scribd's business model, as it's set up now, simply can't sustain the high readership of romance readers.  They're not facing the same problem with readers of other genres.

Even after the cut, thousands of Smashwords romance and erotica titles will remain, but that offers little solace to our bestselling romance authors who are already offering low-priced, high-word-count books.  The point of the purge is to eliminate the most popular (i.e. most expensive to Scribd since they must pay per qualified read) romance books.

I remain a big fan of Scribd, but today's news is especially disconcerting to those of us working to promote a diverse ecosystem of multiple bookselling options.  Romance represents a huge portion of ebook readership, so anything that harms romance authors and their readers is not good for the future of publishing.

While I understand Scribd's need to stem the bloodletting, and I support their decision for this reason, I don't think they found the right solution yet.  I think a better solution - one which would strike the right balance between the needs of readers, authors, publishers and Scribd - is to introduce tiered subscription options that would allow moderate readers to enjoy the Scribd service at the $8.99 level, but then offer heavier readers another subscription tier - possibly priced at $14.99 or $19.99 or whatever - that wouldn't break the bank to the detriment of all authors.  These additional tiers would still provide heavy readers great value and convenience while still allowing Scribd and authors and publishers to earn their well-deserved profit.

Today's news is not necessarily good news for the authors of other genres and categories either, because most romance readers I know also read other genres.  If romance readers abandon Scribd, other authors may see sales declines as well.  It's too soon to predict how this will play out.

Our friends at Scribd have made it clear to me that this is just the first iteration of their changes with romance.  They're investigating new approaches (which might or might not involve new subscription tiers) that could allow them to reintroduce more romance titles back into the catalog.

There are a few silver linings to today's announcement for romance authors:

1.  For the romance titles that remain, these books will face dramatically less competition for romance reader eyeballs, which means the remaining titles and authors will probably see dramatic increases in readership.

2.  Free series starters, especially those that contain enhanced backmatter, will become even more powerful (indirect) money-earners because of their ability to introduce readers to new authors and series, which will then drive some readers to make single-copy sales at our other retail partners.  Based on early data from the upcoming 2015 Smashwords Survey, series with free series starters already earn 66% more income for authors than series without free series starters.  Free works for series by hooking readers who are then motivated to purchase the remaining titles.

3.  Scribd is working to ensure the viability of their business.  Although I'm disappointed to see most of romance titles disappear from Scribd, I understand their need to tweak the model because their long run viability is in the best interest of all authors in all genres and categories.  I'm optimistic that Scribd will eventually iterate their way to a viable solution to accommodate more romance titles.  They NEED to do this if they want to become a complete reading solution for all readers.

One solution I'm not amenable to is the option for Smashwords to accept lower payments for each qualified read.  To accept lower payments would create a slippery slope down the path to devaluation from which these is no return.  There's an argument some subscription services will offer that goes like this:  "Earning a smaller amount is better than earning nothing at all."  While there's certainly truth to that argument (I do believe that subscription services help authors reach readers they would not otherwise reach), the moment authors and publishers start devaluing their books is the moment that all single-copy retailers will feel forced to lower their single copy payouts, because in the long run if a customer can purchase unlimited books for a cheaper effective price via subscription, the single-copy retailers won't be able to compete.  The fact that Scribd and Oyster pay authors and publishers single-copy rates in and of itself acts as a check on such devaluation and provides a level playing field for subscription services and conventional retailers alike.

We've already seen first-hand with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited what happens when authors allow subscription payouts to drop.  Authors who agree to the lower payouts earn less per book, and authors who don't agree and who try to earn income with single-copy sales at Amazon find themselves disadvantaged.  With KU, Amazon determines the value of each qualified read, and they determine the value independent of the author's list price.  In my post last year, Is Amazon's Kindle Unlimited Bad for Authors, I examined some of the likely implications of the Kindle Unlimited model, much of which we've seen play out the months since with lower per-read payouts.  Little prevents Amazon from deciding the value per qualified read should be 50 cents or 5 cents or a penny.  They can change the rules midstream, as they'll start doing in July when they tie payouts to pages read.  I don't necessarily disagree with their plan to tie compensation to readership (I don't like it, but I understand why some do), though it's a reminder that if Amazon decides your 500 page book is worth 25 cents for a full read, they have that power, especially if the indie author community continues to support KU by providing it a critical mass of titles.

With today's Scribd news many naysayers will jump on Scribd and similar subscription services with a big fat, "I TOLD YOU SO!"  The naysayers can have their day in the sun today, but I'd caution critics to understand that the story's not over yet.  As I blogged in 2013 in my two-part series examining the business models of subscription ebooks, the challenge and the great opportunity for these services is to fine-tune their models to the point where they find that common intersection where the interests of readers, authors, publishers and the subscription services themselves are aligned.  Today's news, while painful to many romance authors, is indicative of the fine tuning that is still necessary before the subscription services can prove their model.

If they make the right moves, and if they fully leverage their access to high-quality low-cost indie ebooks, I think these services can succeed.

What happens next for Smashwords authors:  All Smashwords authors should remain opted in to Scribd, because it's uncertain which titles will remain and which titles that were cut today will reappear.  At a minimum, all Smashwords-delivered titles - even if they don't appear in Scribd - will still be fingerprinted by Scribd's piracy prevention systems.  This will automatically prevent unauthorized copies of your book appearing at Scribd.