Sunday, December 27, 2009

Smashwords Year in Review, Plans for 2010

Wow, what a fabulous year it has been for Smashwords. The two blurry charts at left show the monthly number of visitors to Smashwords since our launch in May, 2008, and the monthly number of page views.

Here are some other fun facts I can share:

As of today, Smashwords publishes 5,979 original ebooks.
We're now publishing and distributing the works of 2,700 authors and 100 small independent publishers.
The number of titles published at Smashwords has doubled in the last 90 days.

To put the numbers in further perspective, at this time last year, after eight full months of operation, we were publishing 100 authors and under 160 titles. And we thought that was great.

In the last four months, we've opened up new distribution channels for our indie authors and publishers with the world's largest ebook retailers. We're just getting started.

Salacious sidenote: Every once in a while, I'll receive an email (from my father or wife, for example) that all we publish at Smashwords is erotica. How much erotica do we really publish? See the chart at left. We publish a lot, but not as much as people might think. Only 14 percent of our content is categorized as erotica.

How do we break down across fiction and non-fiction? 74 percent of our titles are fiction, 25 percent are non-fiction, and under one percent are screenplays or plays.

We've had record traffic for each of the last 15 months.

Sales for December are already a record, handily beating November, another record. Despite the sales increases, our sales are still very low. Results don't include results from retail partners, of which B&N is the furthest along.

The average Smashwords author sells more now than they did last year, likely due to our increased traffic.

We're not profitable, yet. We could be profitable next month if, like other self-publishing services or distributors, we charged setup fees, sold packages, or charged for access to our distribution channel, but none of that is in our business model. Instead, we want our interests aligned with the authors, publishers, retailers and readers we serve. Because we only take 15-18.5% of the net, we'll grow our revenues as our authors, publishers and retail partners grow theirs.
What's next for Smashwords?

Here are the priorities I see:

Develop new distribution channels for our authors and publishers - We're building the distribution infrastructure to help authors and publishers get their ebooks out to readers. We'll continue adding new distribution partners in 2010. But first, we're going to focus on completing the technical integrations of our current retail partners. We're furthest along with Barnes & Noble, and we're moving forward with Amazon, Sony and Kobo, although we're behind schedule. This is our highest priority for the next couple months.

Improve customer service - We go out of our way to provide responsive customer service. Unlike most businesses, we make it easy for you to contact us by offering a customer support and feedback link at the top of every Smashwords page. We aim to answer support inquiries within 24 hours during normal business days, and when we can, we enjoy shaving that down to mere minutes. Going forward, as we continue to grow, we want to make Smashwords so intuitive that fewer authors, publishers and customers find it necessary to contact us with support questions. We want to help you find answers to your own questions faster than the time it takes you to email us. We want to make things so obvious there's no need to ask a question.

Improve ease of publishing - We think we provide the industry's easiest to use publishing and distribution platform, but we want to make it faster and easier.

Improve site performance - We know, we know, the Smashwords web site has been pretty slow lately. Several weeks back, we doubled the capacity of our servers, but it made absolutely no difference the next day.

Improve the quality of our ebook outputs - It's a huge challenge to take an author's single source file and convert it into nine reasonably good quality ebook formats. In order to accomplish this, we require authors and publishers to upload simpler files, and simple often means fewer features, like tables of contents that don't support internal links. In the coming year, working in partnership with our authors, publishers, technology providers and formatting partners, we plan to continue raising the quality of our ebook files so together, we can better serve our customers.

Build greater respect for indie authors and publishers - I've noticed a dramatic change among authors and industry watchers over last two years. Self-publishing, indie publishing or whatever you want to call it, is finally starting to earn the respect it deserves. We have a long way to go, however. There are still quite a few naysaying anklebiters and loud pundits who continue to diss and dismiss the the very idea of an independently published ebook. Join with me as we either help to open their eyes to the indie publishing revolution, or show them the path to the tar pits.

Bring reverted-rights books back to life at Smashwords - Several well-known authors, including some best-sellers such as Anne Frasier and Mark Sullivan, have published their reverted rights books on Smashwords. Each time a well-respected author - indie or traditionally published - publishes and distributes with Smashwords, it brings further legitimacy to the indie author movement.

Attract more authors and publishers to the Smashwords community - Every new author or publisher brings with them more readers which benefit all other Smashwords authors and publishers. I like virtuous cycles. Therefore, to best serve our current authors, publishers and readers, it's important we attract more authors, publishers and readers. This brings me to my next item...

Do a better job of getting the word out - The blogosphere has been incredibly supportive of Smashwords this year, and as a result we're fairly well known among the digerati of tech savvy authors and publishers (though just because people have heard about us, doesn't mean they understand us). Yet Smashwords is still relatively unknown to the vast majority of the world's authors and publishers. One reason, I suspect, is that we've received essentially no press coverage from the mainstream media. Smashwords has never been covered or even mentioned by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Associated Press, Time Magazine or Newsweek. Why not? Simply put, we need to do a better job of getting the story out there. From my perspective, there's a massive yet quiet revolution taking place, driven by the simultaneous rise of indie publishing and the rise of ebooks. Smashwords is but one small piece of the story. We'll do our best to help the story break into the mainstream this year, for the benefit of our authors, publishers and readers.

Help publishing save itself? - When I first started Smashwords, I had this crazy idea that Smashwords could help large, established publishers survive and thrive in the coming ebook revolution. Based on continued missteps among large publishers, I'm beginning to question whether or not these publishers can be saved, or should be saved. It's sad, really, because I'm continually impressed by the smart, generous and passionate professionals I meet in publishing and I'd hate to see them working their next jobs as greeters at Walmart. But when the senior corporate executives of these publishers continue to handcuff their customers with DRM-infected ebooks; withhold ebook releases to protect hardcover sales; and continue to artificially inflate ebook prices above what customers want to pay; it makes me question whether or not publishing can right its wayward ship before it capsizes. I'm an eternal optimist, so I'm hopeful the big whigs in NY can turn course in 2010 before it's too late.

When we launched 19 months ago, a lot of people didn't know what to make of us. Because we initially focused exclusively on serving self-published authors, some doubters tried to tar us with the same brush as some of the other companies who came before us. I hope some of the initial skeptics are coming around now.

2009 was a great year for Smashwords. We launched our affiliate program, we expanded our platform to support publishers, and we opened up new retail distribution opportunities for our authors and publishers. But our work is just beginning. I'm looking ahead two, five and ten years, and I see much opportunity to better serve our authors, publishers and partners.

My warm thanks to Smashwords authors, publishers, retailers and other publishing industry friends who supported us this year and honored us with their faith and trust.

Last but not least, my sincere thanks to Bill Kendrick, our CTO. Bill is a magician, and we could not have accomplished everything in 2009 without his brilliant wizardry.

Happy new year, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Smashwords Author V.J. Chambers Shares 2009 Sales Results

Smashwords author V.J. Chambers published an interesting post at her blog yesterday in which she revealed her earnings from her self-publishing efforts.

I always have great admiration for any author willing to share such data, because it helps inform other indie authors about the true challenges that lie ahead. It also takes guts for any author to admit how little most authors really make from their hard work.

All told, Ms. Chambers, an author of young adult thrillers, brought in revenue of $637.00 since starting her indie publishing adventure in July, 2009. Due to expenses associated with purchasing ISBNs and paying for certain print book services, her net profit for the year was $142.48.

What caught my eye was how the sales were distributed. She sells her titles as print books via CreateSpace/Amazon for about $13.00, and as ebooks in the Amazon Kindle store for $7.00, and as as multi-format ebooks on Smashwords for $5.00.

Considering that ebooks account for only about 3 percent of overall book industry sales here in the U.S., I assumed 97 percent of her sales would be of the print book, and then the remaining 3 percent would be divided between the Kindle store and the Smashwords store, and of course since Amazon gets at least 10,000 times more traffic that Smashwords each month, I assumed they'd sell quite a few more ebooks that Smashwords. I was wrong.

Here's the breakdown:

Print (Createspace/Amazon): $273.62
Kindle store: $56.54
Smashwords store: $307.32
So in other words, the books at Smashwords outsold the other two. Like many indie authors, V.J. does her own marketing and operates her own website and blog. On her website, she gives all the different formats equal promotion and lets the customer decide if they want print, Kindle or Smashwords. Smart.

I asked V.J. to share her thoughts on the results above. To ensure I was viewing her results apples to apples, I also asked if all titles were available via the multiple outlets for the same period of time. Her response (excerpted):

Yes, most of the books have been available via smashwords, kindle, and amazon/createspace for the same amount of time. Only one has been available longer on createspace/amazon/kindle than it has on smashwords.

Overall, I LOVE smashwords, for several reasons. One of course is the bigger royalty I make from smashwords than I do anywhere else. This enables me to price my books cheaper, but make more money. I think the books sell better on smashwords because I sell them for cheaper. I sell kindle books for $7 and smashwords books for $5. I do this because (even at seven bucks) I only make like $2 royalty from Amazon.

Um...but your question was how do I account for the results. So...A) Smashwords books are more affordable. B) My audience clearly has no problem reading books on a computer screen, so they're willing to buy an inexpensive e-book before they'll buy a trade paperback. C) E-books trump print books in instant gratification. D) Smashwords trumps Kindle since it offers multiple ebooks formats.
I think V.J.'s results are fascinating for a number of reasons:

  1. Lower cost books can actually help authors/publishers sell more books - Large NY publishers are fighting tooth and nail to protect higher prices for their ebooks, fearful they can't profitably run their businesses with lower cost ebooks. Many publishers are upset Amazon is helping to establish $9.99 as a price expectation among its customers for ebooks. V.J.'s experience provides one datapoint supporting my belief that publishers should consider offering some of their titles as lower cost ebooks, under $9.99. I blogged about this at Huffington Post a couple months back with my column, "Why We Need $4.00 Books."
  2. Publishers can make more money with lower cost ebooks - Since Smashwords pays authors 85 percent of the net for sales at, authors can price for less but still make more profit per copy sold. I've been talking about the virtuous economic dynamics behind low cost/high margin ebooks since we launched Smashwords 18 months ago, so I'm gratified to see the numbers play out in the real world.
  3. It pays to offer customers choice - Any publisher, large and small, can follow V.J.'s lead by offering customers a choice of formats, prices and retailers. When customers have a choice of low cost ebooks vs. more expensive print books, the 3 percent ebook marketshare data above doesn't hold water. In the real world, if a publisher gives the consumer the choice, ebook sales represent a much higher percentage of sales than you'd expect. This actually confirms Amazon's own reported sales results: For books available in both print and Kindle format at Amazon, Amazon reports 48% of those sales go to the Kindle version. Amazing.
  4. Ebooks can be more profitable than print books - If it weren't for her ebook sales at Amazon and Smashwords, V.J. would have lost money for the year. Print publishing can be more complicated, and more expensive, than ebook publishing.
  5. Authors/publishers have the power to direct customers to favored retailers - As an indie author, V.J. is directly engaged with her readership, and as you can see in her web site's store, she offers links to where her customers can find her books.
  6. Self-published books need never go out of print - At first glance, $637 in royalties may not seem like much, but annualized over a year they're closer to $1,200, and if you consider these books will never go out of print, it's quite possible she'll continue earning the same or greater income for many years to come, even if she never publishes another book. Yet she will write and publish more books, so it's more likely she'll see her earnings rise in the years ahead as she builds her readership.
I think all publishers, large and small, have a lot to learn from the indie author pioneers. The more I learn about publishing trends, the more I believe that the future of publishing truly lies in the hands of authors like V.J.

To learn more about V.J. Chambers (and buy her books!), check out her author profile on Smashwords, or visit her personal website or blog.

Are you an indie author or publisher? Feel free to share your own results below, even if you don't publish or distribute through Smashwords.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Developing an Ebook Strategy - Free IBPA Conference Call Monday 1pm Eastern

The Independent Book Publisher's Association has invited me to be the guest on a free 90-minute conference call Monday at 1pm Eastern titled, "How to Develop and Implement an Ebook Strategy."

We'll be giving away a free Sony Reader Pocket Edition to one lucky listener, courtesy of our good friends at Sony Electronics and the Reader Store from Sony.

The conference call will follow a Q&A format, moderated by Florrie Binford Kichler, president of the IBPA.

If you're new to ebooks (and who isn't??), I invite you to attend. We'll cover a lot of ground, including almost everything you need to know to produce, publish, distribute and market your ebooks. No, this is not a Smashwords advertorial, so even if you don't work with Smashwords you're welcome to attend and join the conversation with your questions.

Topics we'll address include:
* What’s the latest market data on ebooks?
* What’s driving the growth of ebooks?
* Overview of ebook reading devices
* How do ebooks fit within an overall publishing strategy?
* Which books work best as ebooks?
* Tips on ebook formatting
* Deciphering the alphabet soup of ebook formats
* How is the ebook supply chain evolving?
* What's DRM, and do customers really know or care?
* How do I price my ebooks?
* How do I market my ebooks?
Florrie has prepared dozens of questions to ask me, and we'll also take live questions from listeners on the conference call and from folks on Twitter who use the hashtag #IBPA.

This call is a follow-up to an online seminar I presented back in July for the IBPA's Publishing University Online series. Over 120 people paid up to $69 each to attend that class. There were so many great questions we couldn't get to them all. After some pondering, we decided to do a free conference call, open it up to everyone (even if you're not an IBPA member!), and make it 100 percent Q&A for 90 minutes!

Post-Call Update:
Great call. Thanks everyone for attending. Access the conference call replay at 712.432.1085 (free, but your long distance rate, if any, applies) with passcode 405513.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Importance of Protecting Your Dreams

As any writer will appreciate, writing can be a grueling, solitary and thankless endeavor.

While most people fantasize about writing a book, few posses the determination to actually complete one.

There are many voices telling the author to never put pen to paper.

First there are the logical, sensible voices in your head that remind you your masterpiece is unlikely to ever get published by a big publisher, and even if you were lucky enough to earn that badge of honor, you're unlikely to ever earn enough to make the tax man care (see this anonymous post this morning that links to a 2003 story in, written by an anonymous 'Jane Austen Doe' titled, "Confessions of a Semi-Successful Author" that reveals the ugly truth about writer compensation).

If the common sense voices in your head aren't enough to discourage you, you must also contend with the soul sucking voices of naysayers. They're the snarky or even well-intentioned unbelievers who kindly remind you: you're nuts to dream of writing a book, others already do it better than you, and hey, why don't you get a real job instead?

The prompt for my post today came indirectly from a question I was asked for a Q&A interview I did at

Debbie Jenkins of AuthorShock asked me to name the single most important thing I wished I knew before I started out in business. To answer the question, I thought back to 20 years ago when I first cut my teeth working for my dad's software startup, and it reminded me of one of my all-time favorite lyrics:

"They say that life's a carousel, spinning fast you've got to ride it well. The world is full of kings and queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams..."
-Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell
My short answer was that the entrepreneur (writers are entrepreneurs too!) must protect their dreams. No, I'm not talking about people stealing your ideas. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the execution that matters.

Don't let people stop you from dreaming your dreams, and don't let the skeptics derail you from executing on your dreams. Often, those naysayers are criticizing you because they're scared, or they can't see what you see.

Noone will understand your vision until you get out there and show them.

If all writers were fully equipped with a full contingent of common sense genes, most books would never get written and the world would be a poorer place for it.

What's my dream? To build an ebook publishing and distribution platform that helps any author, anywhere in the world, realize their dream of publishing. You can read the full interview at Authorshock.

What's your dream?

P.S. Don't forget to enter the free Editor Unleashed/Smashwords "Why I Write" essay contest. Win $500. Top 50 will be published in an anthology at Smashwords.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Should Publishers Abolish DRM and Trust Customers Instead?

My new column at Huffington Post suggests publishers should abolish DRM and trust their customers to do the right thing.

Most ebook customers don't know what DRM is. Many authors and small publishers don't understand it either. Yet if you're a reader, author or publisher, it's probably a good idea to roll up your sleeves and think about how DRM might impact you in the future.

All Smashwords books are published DRM-free. This means we don't apply copy-protection schemes that would prevent, for example, a customer from reading their ebook on any of the multiple ebook reading devices they may own today or in the future (e-readers, computer, cell phone, etc.).

Some of our retail partners apply DRM to our books in their own stores, and we're fine with this. It's up to the customer to decide if they care about DRM or not.

At Smashwords, we're strongly anti-piracy, though unlike publishers who infect their books with DRM, we instead work with our authors and publishers to help them educate customers to do the right thing. We think most customers are honest and honorable, and they understand the value of supporting the author or publisher who created the book for their enjoyment.

In the Smashwords Style Guide, we encourage our authors and publishers to add the following license statement to their books, which acts as a gentle reminder:

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

The license statement also acts as a trojan horse. Should the book fall into the hands of readers who didn't pay for it, the license statement provides the honest reader a chance to make good on their obligation to support the author or publisher.

Obscurity is a bigger risk to authors than piracy. And while I'd never say piracy is a good thing, I've seen some folks argue it can actually provide indirect benefits to the creator. The idea isn't as outlandish as you might think. Imagine if somehow my novel was pirated, and fell into the hands of one million readers. What if the gentle reminder above prompted one percent of them to purchase the book? That's 10,000 paid customers.

In the column at HuffPo, I have a real world example of how one forward-looking software company (and folks, ebooks are software!) leveraged piracy in their early years - even encouraged it - and now they sell billions of dollars in software per year. There are many lessons to be learned by authors and publishers willing to experiment.

The column at HuffPo is actually a re-write of a previous column that first appeared here on the Smashwords blog. In that column, I tried to rationalize what I viewed as dichotomous thinking on the part of mainstream publishers. They sell books in print, and those books are shared, resold, resold again, again and again, and at each step the publisher receives nothing. If that book was an ebook, the publisher would call it piracy.

The same previous column was also republished over at Teleread. One commenter there called it, "marvelously imperfect," which is the highest praise I've ever received on a blog post. To me, the best blog posts provoke thought and serve as conversation-starters, not the last word.

What do you think is the last word (or the next word) on the DRM debate? Comment here, or click here to join the discussion at HuffPo.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Interview with Jeff Rivera of Gumbo Writers

I've written previously here about how the risk of publishing will shift from publishers to authors. With publishers under increased pressure amid declining book sales and increased competition from alternative media, they're no longer able to take the same risks they once took on unproven authors.

This means it's up to authors to get out there and prove themselves. Regardless of whether you aspire to earn a big name publishing contract, or you aspire to pursue a successful career as an indie author, it's up to you to build your personal brand and readership.

For this Q&A interview, we're talking with Jeff Rivera of Gumbo Writers. Gumbo Writers is an author services firm that helps authors prepare and promote their books. Some of the freelance pros who work with Jeff previously worked as editors and publicists at major publishing houses like Random House, Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster.

You may already know Jeff as a writer for MediaBistro's GalleyCat blog (Jeff interviewed me last month). Jeff is also a contributor to The Huffington Post, where he's an entertainment reporter.

What you may not know is that in 2004 Jeff self-published his novel, Forever My Lady, and then after doing his own marketing managed to sell the novel to Grand Central in 2005.

Please join me in welcoming Jeff Rivera as our guest today.

[Mark Coker] - What led you to start Gumbo Writers?

[Jeff Rivera] - Having gone through the challenges of self-publishing and experiencing the journey of traditional publishing I saw cracks in both systems. I knew something had to be done, so I decided to match capable, legitimate editors, publicists and marketing managers who were recently laid off from the major houses with aspiring authors, both self-published and traditionally published who needed their help.

[Mark Coker] - What are the three most important things every author should do on their own to market their book?

[Jeff Rivera] - 1) Identify your market. Key in on exactly who you're appealing to. Appealing to everyone is appealing to no one.

2) Do a Google, Twitter, Facebook, message board search on platforms that cater to your target market and start becoming actively involved in those communities, creating authentic relationships without ever pushing your book to them. Join only forums that have at least 1,000 members on them and ones that allow you to have a signature when you post. The signature is the special sauce. After that, just engage with everyone and don't talk about your book at all unless they ask you about it.

3) Search groups such as associations, churches and schools that you can speak to even if you do not get paid. In my experience, at least 50% of those listening to you will buy your book after you speak.

[Mark Coker] - For authors considering hiring an outsourced service provider such as Gumbo Writers, what expectations should they have up front for results and cost?

[Jeff Rivera] - Authors cannot expect their book to be an overnight bestseller. It takes at least 90 days to begin a solid publicity or online marketing campaign that will start to bring results. The more the author is willing to work as a partner in the campaign, rather than tossing the keys over to someone else to drive, the more effective the campaign.

[Mark Coker] - How difficult is it for an author to earn a good return on their investment, and are such services right for every author?

[Jeff Rivera] - If the author is thinking long term, they'll definitely see a return on their investment. Your first book's campaign should be about exposure and nothing else so that the next book you don't have to work so hard in letting your target market know who you are. If an author is willing to roll up their sleeves, then with the right coaching, they may be better suited to do the work themselves. Otherwise, if it is too complicated or they feel they don't have the enough time, hiring the right coach or company to take on the campaign would be best.

[Mark Coker] - A couple weeks ago, you wrote a column for GalleyCat that some interpreted as you questioning the value of literary agents. In a guest post at the Dystel & Goderich blog, you clarified your position. Do agents become more important within the publishing ecosystem of the next three to five years?

[Jeff Rivera] - Absolutely, but an agent is not for everyone. With the floodgates now open for anyone to become published, independently published authors truly have a chance to go head-to-head with major publishers on an even playing field, at least within the eBook world. Gatekeepers will become more necessary as people will seek out someone they trust to tell them what they should read. A legitimate agent's stamp of approval, a prominent blogger, a major house's "published by" label, even your best friend's endorsement of a book could be such an outlet. In order to stay relevant in the next 3-5 years, I see lit agents taking on more of a role as a manager of an author's entire career not just selling their publishing and ancillary rights (but rather including film, TV rights, public speaking, new media, sponsorship & merchandising deals, etc. ). This is similar to what lit managers such as, Rob Weisbach are doing. That's going to mean they'll need to represent fewer quality authors rather than a roster of hundreds.

[Mark Coker] - Thanks Jeff!

To learn more about Jeff Rivera and the author services of Gumbo Writers, visit

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Reunion

Imagine a story of a father and daughter separated for 25 years. A true story.

With their permission, I'm sharing their story of Thanksgiving with you today.

Rewind to ten days ago.

The daughter, now 66 and living in Southern California, searched for her father for 25 years. Nothing but dead ends. She feared the worst - the father she always loved and admired and wanted to forgive was surely dead by now. She had given up.

Yet the father wasn't dead. He's 87 and living in Arizona. He missed his daughter, but was too afraid to reach out. He was certain she hated him for disappearing without a trace so many years before. He lived his days haunted by regret of how he should have and could have been a better father.

So life went on for 25 years. Two people, longing for reunion, unable to connect for different reasons.

Last Sunday, November 15, Sally Reese Humphrey of San Diego awoke with a start. For the first time in several years, she had a dream about her father.

She fired up her computer. His name was William Reese. Maybe he had changed his name? She entered 'William von Reese,' thinking he might have merged his middle name with his last. Bingo. A website popped up with his picture.

That site was Smashwords. William is a Smashwords author.

Sally excitedly clicked the customer support link and sent a short message asking how to contact the author. She didn't mention the reason.

She didn't expect a response, she later told me, because she figured we receive emails from crackpots all the time. We responded to her, informing her that due to our strict privacy policy, we couldn't reveal the contact information for our authors but if she wanted us to pass along her contact information, we'd be happy to do so. Her response:

I'm his daughter Sally that has tried to find him for the past 25 years. When I saw him and his profile on your website I couldn't believe my eyes. I live in San Diego, CA and my phone # is XXX-XXX-XXXX. If you can help me get to him with this message I would be so grateful!!

Sally Reese Humphrey
Here's the response we received from her father:

Thanks, Mark. As you might infer, I have been a somewhat neglectful father. I thought she was mad at me. Bill

They immediately spoke on the phone. Three days later, Sally drove to Arizona for their reunion.

Two days ago, William emailed me with a report. With his permission and encouragement, I'm reprinting the email here:

Dear Mark,

Sally drove eight hours eastward on I-8 through desolate desert to see me. On her arrival we celebrated with a glass of champagne (domestic) and a home-cooked dinner of filet mignon. Our delight in being reunited is patent in the photos. We did little else but talk and touch the following three days.

Back-story: Back in '88 Sally was mad to marry (2nd time). She introduced me to an older guy working at the Red Sails Inn in San Diego. He was a bartender with aspirations of becoming a masseur. I hated the man right off the bat, but I suppressed my disapproval. I didn't want to spoil my daughter's happiness. So my wife and I disappeared into the wilds of Texas, careful to leave no breadcrumbs behind. We couldn't face dealing with the husband, though we had other motives for moving as well.

Now I find that Sally later divorced the man after a miserable marriage. He died a few years later. So I should have been honest with her up front, right? Is a puzzlement, what to do.

Story short. I applaud your deft handling of a tricky situation involving privacy issues. Thank you for thinking it through and doing exactly the right thing. With Sally you have attained the status of Godfather. You rate very high with me, too.


As Bill says, I think the pictures tell the story.

I would like to thank Sally and Bill for allowing me to share their story of love, forgiveness and redemption.

This isn't the first time Smashwords has helped reunite loved ones. When you put yourself out there, when you publish yourself online, you never know what might happen.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Smashwords to Supply Ebooks to Amazon Kindle Store

Smashwords today announced a distribution agreement to supply ebooks to the Amazon Kindle Store.

The news follows other important Smashwords distribution agreements we announced in the last three months with Barnes & Noble, Sony and Shortcovers.

I'm so pleased to call each of these retailers a valued Smashwords partner, and I look forward to working with them to showcase our fast-growing catalog of nearly 5,000 independently published ebooks.

Our Amazon agreement marks an important milestone in the evolution of Smashwords. We launched in May 2008 as an ebook publishing platform for indie authors. In May of this year, we expanded the platform to support small publishers. In the last couple months, we've transitioned to a full-fledged distributor of ebooks capable of serving authors and publishers around the world. We're just getting started.

For most of the last few centuries, if you wanted to reach readers for your book, you worked with a publisher. Publishers controlled the means of production (the printing presses) and the means of distribution (access to book stores and readers).

With the rise of ebooks, we're witnessing the democratization of book production and distribution. In the next few years, I think more authors - including big name authors - will ask the question, "What can a publisher do for me that I can't do myself?"

Smashwords makes it possible for any ebook author or small publisher, anywhere in the world, to gain equal and free access to the virtual shelves of the most important online retailers of ebooks.

Authors will compete not on publisher advantage, but on the merits of their works. Readers, not publishers, will decide which books are worth reading.

Read the press release in the Smashwords Press Room.

Thank you for your support.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Smashwords Acquires BookHabit

Smashwords today announced the acquisition of BookHabit, an ebook self-publishing service based in New Zealand.

BookHabit launched around the same time as Smashwords in early 2008. In this time, they've published over 600 ebooks from over 300 independent authors.

If you're a BookHabit author or customer, you will receive an email from BookHabit with a hyperlink that will instantly activate your account at Smashwords.

Like all Smashwords authors, BookHabit authors retain all rights to your book. If you decide to migrate your book to Smashwords, please carefully follow our formatting requirements outlined in the Smashwords Style Guide. You will need to format your book to our specifications before you upload it.

Another good introductory information page, which includes links to all the most important Smashwords resources, can be found here, at How to Publish on Smashwords.

To read the complete press release, visit the Smashwords Press Room.

On behalf of the entire Smashwords community of authors, publishers and retail partners, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to all BookHabit authors and customers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Smashwords and Shortcovers Sign Ebook Distribution Agreement

At Smashwords, our mission is to make it free and easy for any author, anywhere in the world, to publish and distribute their ebook.

So I'm excited today to announce a distribution agreement with Shortcovers, a large ebook retailer that operates online ebook stores in 189 countries. This deal follows similar distribution agreements we announced recently with Barnes & Noble and Sony.

If you haven't heard of Shortcovers, they're a hot startup created by Indigo Books, Canada's largest book retailer. They offer a family of free e-reading apps supporting all major smart phone platforms, including the iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre and Google Android. They also support several eInk devices.

The mobile channel, Shortcovers' strength, is extremely important to the future success of all authors and publishers. Already, more ebooks are read on cell phones than on dedicated e-reading devices. Over the next few years, billions of ebook-ready smart phones will be in the hands of consumers around the world, dwarfing the number of dedicated e-reading devices.

For Smashwords authors and publishers, this agreement will make your books discoverable and purchaseable by millions of customers.

Before dollar signs start flashing in your mind, remember we make it easy to publish and distribute your book, but bookselling is always difficult. The success or failure of your book in the marketplace will ultimately come down to the quality of your book (does it touch your audience in such a way that they want to tell all their friends about it) and how well you market it (for helpful marketing tips, check out the Smashwords Book Market Guide).

All Smashwords Premium Catalog books will begin shipping to Shortcovers this Wednesday November 18.

If you're not already publishing with Smashwords, learn how at this page, How to Publish on Smashwords.

To learn more about the Shortcovers relationship, check out the joint press release issued today by Smashwords and Shortcovers.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Smashwords Launches NaNoWriMo Promo

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, kicks off November 1 with thousands of writers who will attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in under 30 days.

Smashwords has launched a special promotion to help NaNoWriMo participants publish, update, share and promote their Nano works-in-progress.

Participants can upload daily updates to Smashwords. Their works-in-progress will be made available as multi-format ebooks, readable on any e-reading device, personal computers and many mobile devices.

All participating writers will receive promotion at within a special NaNo catalog, as well as distribution of their works-in-progress to Stanza, the e-reading app used by over 2.5 million people on the iPhone and iPod Touch, and to Aldiko, the e-reading app for Android smart phones.

NaNoWrimo participants who want to publish and update their works with Smashwords can visit the Smashwords/Nano Promo page. Writers who want to join NaNoWrimo should register at

The Smashwords/NaNo promotion is an experiment in social publishing, and will provide readers unique insight into the writing process.

Smashwords is offering this free promotion as a public service to NaNoWriMo participants. Smashwords is not an official sponsor of NaNoWrimo.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Editor Unleashed and Smashwords Partner on New Writing Contest: Why do You Write?

Why do writer's write?

This is the subject of a cool new essay writing contest over at Maria Schneider's Editor Unleashed writing community. Smashwords is co-sponsoring the contest, which carries a $500 prize for the winner.

Like the last Flash Fiction 40 contest we co-sponsored with Editor Unleashed, it's free to enter.

The top 50 entrants, as voted on by the Editor Unleashed community and a panel of expert judges, will be published at Smashwords in a free anthology (If you haven't seen the Flash Fiction 40 Anthology, download it here).

"Why Writers Write" will also be the subject of my next column over at Huffington Post. The topic fascinates me. As I wrote in my latest HuffPo column, like all artists throughout the centuries, most writers are severely under compensated for their work. Yet they keep writing, and they will always keep writing. Why?

Kudos to Maria for choosing such a fascinating and important theme. Learn more about the contest over at Editor Unleashed.

Tell me, why do you write? Add your comments in the comment field below.

November 16 update: My new column at HuffPo is up, "Why Do Writers Write?"

Image credit: Editor Unleashed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Do Authors Still Need Publishers?

In my new post today over at Huffington Post, I ask the question, "Does Stephen King still need a publisher?"

I think the answer is no.

Once an author develops the platform and fanbase of a Stephen King, Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, why not self-publish? They can hire their own team of editors, designers, marketers and sales force, partner with a couple big distributors, and sell their books for less yet still make 2-3X the profit.

If publishers are going to remain relevant, they need to do what Stephen King can do for himself, only better.

The HuffPo post is an updated derivative of one I originally wrote here back in April, in which I speculated the risk of publishing would shift to the author. Given the changes we've seen in the industry since April, I'm more convinced than ever that author will continue to shoulder a larger share of the risk of publishing, and this will lead to a dramatic transformation of the publisher-author power balance in favor of authors.

For most of the last couple centuries, if you wanted your book published, you had to work with a publisher, because they controlled not only the printing press but the means of distribution as well.

Over at the Huffington Post story, a great discussion is already taking place in the comments. MJ Rose, well known as an early ebook advocate, a self publisher, and now a mainstream commercial author, argues that publishers remain relevant because they control access to brick and mortar retailers. I don't disagree. Publishers still control access to physical shelves.

Looking ahead, especially as ebooks rise from a likely 5 percent market share in 2009 to 30 or 50 percent within the next five years, publishers will be hard pressed to maintain the same relevance.

If in five years half or more of the market has gone digital, then that's half the market any author can distribute to without the need of a traditional publisher. Smashwords already has agreements in place to distribute books to several major online retailers as well as the top mobile apps, and within the next couple years we'll have all the major retailers covered.

How do you think the role of publisher will change over the next few years? Do authors still need publishers? Comment here, or join the discussion over at HuffPo.

OCTOBER 18 UPDATE: The column at HuffPo has sparked some interesting debate and discussion, at HuffPo, on Twitter and in the blogosphere. Some Twitterers, apparently concerned I was questioning the value of publishers (I love publishers BTW!), created a special Twitter hashtag of #publishersmatter and a spirited debate ensued (click the link to view the thread). Kate Eltham, a writer out of Brisbane, Australia, and the CEO of the Queensland Writer's Centre, contributed to the discussion with an intelligent response on her blog, Alphabet Soup.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Self-Publishing Book Expo November 7

November 7 in New York is the first annual Self-Publishing Book Expo.

I'm presenting a session titled, The Rise of Ebooks. My presentation will review the past, present and future of ebooks, and provide attendees actionable advice on how to publish, promote and sell their books. Stop by and say hi!

If you live near New York and you're either already self publishing, or considering self publishing, you'll get a lot of out of this conference.

The conference is packed with several other great looking sessions and panel presentations covering publishing, book distribution, book publicity and social media marketing. Some of the speakers on the other sessions include Bob Young of Lulu, Janet McDonald of Ingram, Brent Sampson of Outskirts Press, Andy Weissberg of Bowker, and publishing consultant Laura Dawson who also runs Bloggapedia. See the complete list of speakers and sessions here.

The event will be held 9:30am to 5pm, Saturday, November 7 at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers at 811 Seventh Avenue, at the corner of 53rd Street. A mere $30 gets you in to the exhibits and session presentations. If you're an indie author and you want to show off your book with your own table in the exhibit hall, the cost is $325. Visit the Self-Publishing Book Expo web site for more information.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Ebooks are Hot

The subject of my second column at Huffington Post, clocking in at a healthy 1,200 words, is "Why Ebooks are Hot and Getting Hotter."

For those of you who want an abbreviated version (with a few new details thrown in), here are my top ten reasons:
1. Screen reading now rivals paper - Screens now offer a reading experience almost as good as paper. For some readers, especially those with vision impairments (like all of us over age 40!), screen-reading is often better than paper.

2. Proliferation of multiple high-quality e-reading devices - There are numerous killer e-reading devices, and odds are you're already holding one - your cell phone. Or, you're reading through one - your computer. More cool new e-reading devices and apps announced every month.

3. Oprah Winfrey - Oprah Winfrey sung her praises for the Kindle one year ago and set the ebook market on fire.

4. Early adopters are the new evangelists - Ten years ago, ebooks flopped due to high prices, limited content, poor screens and DRM complexity. Most early adopters were unimpressed. What a difference a decade makes. Today, most people who try an ebook have a "WOW" experience, and go on to evangelize ebooks to their friends.

5. Greater content selection - Hundreds of thousands of ebooks are available today, and many of them are free. Within a few years, it's likely nearly every book known to mankind will be digitized and accessible at a click.

6. Free books are gateway drug - Someone give Michael Hart a Nobel Peace price for creating Project Gutenberg, the non-profit, all-volunteer organization he founded in 1971 to distribute out-of-copyright works as electronic books. While it's difficult to name any single person as the father of e-books, it's fair to say Michael Hart shares DNA with the common ebook.

7. Portable library in the cloud - Books are moving from physical repositories (personal libraries, public libraries, book stores) to virtual repositories (personal online libraries, online public libraries, free online repositories, and online bookstores), and the reading world will be all the better for it. I still love my print books though.

8. The slush pile, digitally liberated - Indie authors are embracing ebooks in a big way. Why wait months or years for your book to be published in print when you can publish now on Smashwords in seconds? Like a giant slush pile of digitally liberated books, thousands of new titles - many born digital - are coming online each year. They comprise gems of undiscovered brilliance alongside works that might make your eyes bleed. Publishers are disintermediated as exclusive gatekeepers, the authors control their own destinies, and the readers decide what books go on to become big hits. Word-of-mouth meets viral social networking, and book marketing will never be the same.

9. Prices dropping - In my last HuffPo column, I argued Why We Need $4.00 Books. Response was generally favorable, though a few pundits thought I was nuts. This morning, I stumbled across this post from my buddy JA Konrath, who makes a strong case for why authors can earn more money self-pubbing low-priced ebooks as opposed to selling ebooks at the higher prices advocated by traditional publishers. Considering I've been preaching the concept of low priced ebooks = greater author profit for 18 months, I'm pleased Joe has proven the concept with real world experience. Check out his post.

10. Impulse buying - Ebooks are super-easy to sample and purchase in bulk. Some of the early data I've seen indicates ebooks readers buy more books. Very exciting. If anyone out there can point me to real data (supporting or contradictory - I want the truth!), let me know and I'll update this post.

If all of the above interests you, then my longer column over at HuffPo might interest you. Check it out, tweet it, share it and tell a friend.

Think 10 reasons aren't enough? Did I miss anything? Feel free to add a #11, #12, etc. below in the comment field.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Smashwords Billion Word March

We just hit 150 million words of original indie ebooks published at Smashwords, up 50 percent from only seven weeks ago.

I believe in big goals, so here's crazy one: Come join with Smashwords as we strive to reach one billion words by the end of 2010.

It took us 17 months to get where we're at today. Can we grow 700 percent in 15 months? Sure, why not, let's go for it.

As Smashwords grows, it opens up exciting new opportunities for our authors and publishers to connect with readers around the globe.

Please encourage every author and publisher you know to upload their books to Smashwords. We offer free, easy and instant ebook publishing, and free distribution to major online retailers. No hidden fees or packages to buy. 85 percent net back to the author or publisher.

To learn how to make your books available to a worldwide audience in minutes, visit this link for How to Publish at Smashwords.

Update - November 3, 2009: We hit 200 million words today, up 33% in less than one month.

Update - January 7, 2010: We hit 315 million words today, up 57% in two months. Only 685 million words to go.

Update - April 14, 2010: We hit 500 million, halfway there!

Update - June 4, 2010: We hit 600 million

Update - September 10, 2010: We hit 872 million. Wow. Over a quarter billion words in three months, almost 100 million per month.

Update - October 23, 2010: Goal reached ahead of schedule!!! See the blog post here.

Update - December 27, 2010: With five days to go in the year, we hit exactly 1.25 billion words at about 1:20 Pacific time today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Time for the $4.00 ebook?

The Huffington Post launched a new books section today, and I'm one of their new bloggers. For my debut column, I challenge publishers to offer $4.00 ebooks.

No, I'm not suggesting we destroy the livelihoods of publishers and authors. Instead, I want to help save publishing from its slow downhill march to irrelevance as more and more readers abandon books in favor of lower cost forms of information and entertainment.

Books today are too expensive for the vast majority of the world's literate consumers. Imagine how much smaller the book market would be today if books were only offered in hard cover? We need lower cost formats, now.

I don't argue that all books should be priced at $4.00. The new price point would be for ebooks only, and only for a subsection of a publisher's catalog. For example, wouldn't it make sense to resurrect a publisher's out of print backlist via $4.00 ebooks?

While I'm sure some people will think I'm smoking opium to suggest such a low price point, my proposal isn't really that outrageous. Book prices are already dropping, and authors are helping to drive the drop. At Smashwords, we already have hundreds of authors who set the price of their books at zero. Don't quote me on this, but the last time I checked, about 20 percent percent of our titles were priced at free yet they accounted for over 80 percent of our downloads.

Authors and publishers should consider creating new lower cost formats for their books, just as trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks are lower cost alternatives to the old hard cover book.

Since ebooks cost so little to produce, print and distribute, the format is ideally suited to the $4.00 book. For authors who sell a $4.00 book at Smashwords, they still net $3.05, or about eight times more than the average 5 percent royalty on a mass market paperback.

If we don't offer the consumer what they want, publishing is in for a world of hurt. The challenge is to learn how to balance what the consumer wants against the rights of authors, publishers and booksellers who deserve fair compensation for bringing us these books.

Read the column at Huffington Post.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smashwords Signs Distribution Agreement with Sony, Helps Power Sony Publisher Portal

Sony and Smashwords today announced a relationship that significantly expands sales and readership opportunities for Smashwords authors around the world.

Sony has launched the Sony Publisher Platform, powered in part by Smashwords, that makes it easy for self-published authors and small publishers to sell their books at the eBook Store from Sony.

Concurrent with the Sony Publishing Platform relationship, Sony will soon begin distributing Smashwords ebooks.

This distribution relationship with Sony follows our distribution agreement with Barnes & Noble announced four weeks ago. Thanks to these relationships, any author, anywhere in world, can receive distribution from two of the three most prominent online ebook retailers in a matter of days.

This relationship has several positive implications for Smashwords authors and retailers, and for the future of publishing...

For Smashwords Authors:
This distribution is provided for FREE. No fees, no packages to buy, no hidden costs, no sales reps calling to sell you something.

The author/publisher receives 85% of the net, and we receive 15%
For Smashwords Retailers:
Smashwords is optimized to serve as a rapid publishing platform. We're an efficient onramp through which retailers can gain access to ebooks from small presses and self-published authors from around the world.

Because Smashwords serves as both an aggregator and distributor of original ebook content, retailers who partner with Smashwords gain immediate access to thousands of multi-format ebooks.

For the Future of Publishing:

For most of the last two centuries, a small handful of publishers controlled the means of book production and distribution. If you wanted to publish and sell a book, you worked through a publisher. Today, thanks to our humble little publishing service and the wonders of digital publishing, the means of ebook production and distribution are now available to all authors at no cost.

The current print publishing supply chain (how a book gets from publisher to reader) is woefully archaic and inefficient. Publishers take enormous risks to get a book out to market. Multiple gatekeepers stand between the publisher and reader, and each gatekeeper extracts their fee. With the new ebook supply chain we're helping to build, authors and publishers get closer to their reader. This cuts fat from the supply chain which is good for publishers, authors and readers alike.

Digital rights will become more valued by authors and publishers alike. I spoke with one successful midlist author a couple weeks ago who told me he plans to sell the print rights for his next book, but is considering retaining digital rights. He says he can do the ebook distribution on his own using Smashwords since we can get him essentially the same mainstream digital shelf space but at a royalty level twice the amount he'd receive from a commercial publisher.
How to Distribute Your Books with Sony (It's FREE!)

If you're not yet registered for Smashwords - Visit the Sony Publisher Portal and click the link to Smashwords. This will then take you to a co-branded signup page that will qualify your books to appear quickly at Sony. Next, carefully format your manuscript per the requirements of the Smashwords Style Guide, and review the Smashwords Distribution Information page for additional guidelines. Once your book is formatted per the Style Guide, your book will earn inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog, which entitles you to distribution at Sony, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, and other online retailers served by Smashwords. It's quick and easy to qualify if you follow the simple instructions on the two pages above. Have questions? Use the customer support link at the top of any Smashwords page.

Current Smashwords authors and publishers - Your current Smashwords books will appear at the eBook Store from Sony in approximately two to three months. If your books have already been accepted into the Premium Catalog, there's nothing you need to do. Please visit your Dashboard's Channel Manager feature, where we will update expected ship dates once we have a firmer date.

We're excited about this relationship with Sony and we look forward to making it a smashing success for Sony and our authors and publishers.

What's next for Smashwords? Stay tuned.

Image credit: Courtesy of ReadWriteWeb

Monday, September 21, 2009

Speaking Tuesday about Future of Digital Publishing

I'm speaking on a panel Tuesday night in San Francisco about "Plugging into Digital Publishing," hosted by the Northern California chapter of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

We'll discuss how the rapid changes in digital publishing will impact the lives of authors, journalists and other writers. Should be fun.

But don't come to see me - come to listen to my two fellow panelists. They'll have Robert Cauthorn, former VP of digital media for the San Francisco Chronicle and now the founder of CityTools, a social journalism site; and Ivory Madison, founder and CEO of the Red Room, a cool social media website for authors.

The event takes place at the Mechanics Institute Libary at 7:00pm, and is only $5 for ASJA members and $10 for non-members. To RSVP or learn more, visit the event listing at Mediabistro.

Much thanks to ASJA chapter president and Smashwords publisher, D. Patrick Miller of Fearless Books, for his kind invitation for me to speak.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Smashwords Supports Operation Ebook Drop

UPDATE:  On April 22, 2013, Operation Ebook Drop was discontinued.  My thanks to Ed Patterson for managing this great initiative, and thanks also to the thousands of Smashwords authors who participated.  This post will remain for historical purposes only, and may inspire others to do similar non-profit volunteer efforts.

The other day on the Amazon Kindle message boards, Smashwords author Ed Patterson met a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq who wanted to download ebooks for his Kindle, yet Whispernet (Amazon's wireless download service) didn't work in Iraq.

Ed offered to email the soldier all 13 of his ebooks, for free. The soldier gratefully accepted.

Following the chance encounter with the soldier, Ed, himself an Army veteran, queried other indie authors on the Kindleboards message boards, asking if they too would be willing to offer their ebooks for free to troops deployed overseas.

In a matter of days, about twenty authors volunteered their books. Almost immediately, Ed began receiving additional requests for ebooks from soldiers and their families.

Ed and some of the authors started using Smashwords as the platform for distributing the ebooks to soldiers. Using the Smashwords Coupon Generator feature, authors are emailing 100%-off coupons to the soldiers.

I stumbled across the thread at Kindleboards yesterday, and was pleased to learn about Ed's project and see so many Smashwords authors participating. I immediately decided I wanted to get Smashwords more involved.

I got on the phone with Bill Kendrick, Smashwords' CTO (and chief magician), and together we brainstormed how we could help take Ed's campaign to the next level. Then late last night, Ed and I spoke on the phone for more brainstorming.

What began as "Operation Kindle Ebook Drop" has now morphed into something much bigger - "Operation Ebook Drop," in recognition of the multiple ebook-reading devices - cell phones, Kindles, Sony Readers, laptops, etc. - people use to read ebooks.

With Ed's encouragement, over the next week or so, we'll begin notifying our 1,300+ Smashwords authors and publishers about the opportunity to participate in Operation Ebook Drop.

The campaign, as we kick it off today, will roll out in stages.

For stage one, we'll encourage Smashwords authors to email Ed to opt-in to participate. On a regular basis, as Ed receives requests from deployed soldiers, he'll pass these requests on to the authors, who will directly email the soldiers hyperlinks to their book pages at Smashwords, along with Smashwords coupons which the troops can redeem to download the book in multiple formats, readable on any e-reading device.

For stage two, we'll look to create a more automated system of matching soldiers with ebooks, so that rather than the manual process described above, we'll create a catalog, either hosted at Smashwords or by the military, where service members can access the books.

The biggest challenge we'll face is authentication, but we think this can be achieved with some simple hyperlinks originating from within secure websites and intranets operated by the military. Ed has already started reaching out to different military branches to explore opportunities for collaboration on this important project.

How to Participate

Authors and Publishers - Operation Ebook Drop has been discontinued.  Here's how author's created coupons: To create a 100%-off coupon, log in to your Smashwords account and click on the Coupon Manager link. Ed will email you book requests, and then you simply email the soldier a hyperlink to your book page, and the corresponding coupon code. From your Dashboard, coupon redemptions will show up in your Sales & Payment History Report, and you'll also receive instant email notification. If you're not yet a publisher with Smashwords (why not?), you can learn how publish with us by visiting our How to Publish with Smashwords page.

Deployed troops - Operation Ebook Drop has been discontinued.  Here's how service members created redeemed coupons: All coalition military personnel deployed overseas who need multi-format ebooks are eligible. According to Ed, "If you're overseas and away from your home and loved ones, your dependence on reading might increase - and so we a gifting you ebooks for Kindle, Sony, iPhone, Blackberry etc." For free ebooks, please email Ed at the address above. Please note that the ebooks you receive may be shared with fellow deployed service members, but may not be distributed or shared elsewhere. Please also consider the coupon codes you receive as privileged information, not to be shared elsewhere. The participating authors are pleased to offer you their books.

Where to Learn More
Operation Ebook Drop has been discontinued.  The unofficial staging area for Operation Ebook Drop campaign is over at the Kindleboards message boards. Check it out, help out, and support the young men and women in uniform with some great reads! Operation Ebook Drop also has its own web site, here.

October 15, 2009 Update: Ed Patterson and I were interviewed at PodioRacket tonight with an update on Operation eBook Drop. Listen to the interview here.

October 31, 2010 Update: Ed Patterson informs me over 500 indie authors are now participating in Operation Ebook Drop. Awesome! Congrats to all.

April 22, 2013 Update:  Ed Patterson informs me that Operation Ebook Drop has been discontinued.  Ever since the pull-out of troops from Iraq, and now the wind-down in Afghanistan, the need for the service has diminished.  My thanks to Ed for his great volunteer effort, and thanks also to the thousands of Smashwords authors who supported this.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ebook Retailers to Faciliate Revolution in Book Publishing

Smashwords author Mary Anne Graham has published a whimsical allegory - complete with castles, knights and magicians - on her Quacking Alone blog in which she romanticizes our campaign at Smashwords to democratize publishing for the benefit of authors, publishers and readers.

She complements Barnes & Noble for partnering with Smashwords and calls on other retailers to do the same:

To my fans (come on, they exist – or at least I believe they exist the same way I believe in them) I say that all of my e-books – the historicals – Brotherly Love, A Faerie Fated Forever, A Golden Forever and A Six Sense of Forever, and my contemporary – E-mail Enticement, should be on Barnes & Noble and Fictionwise soon. I expect that other e-book retailers will come to share the wise vision of B&N and Fictionwise – the e-book retailers who understand the American thirst for choice and who are bold enough to embrace change rather than scurry out of its path.
Read Mary Anne's post here, or visit her Smashwords author page for a complete listing of her Smashwords titles.

Thanks for your support, Mary Anne! Stay tuned. We're just getting started.