Thursday, October 21, 2010

Smashwords Surpasses One Billion Words Published

12 months ago, I outlined a crazy goal called The Billion Word March in which we'd aim to grow the Smashwords catalog from 150 million words published at that time to one billion by the end of 2010.

I knew it was stretch, because it meant we'd need to grow the number of books published by 700 percent in 15 months.

Yesterday, we surpassed our goal nine weeks early.

I know some folks consider word count an odd measure of progress. I admit, it's an unusual metric. If you think about it, though, at an atomic level every word comprises an essential building block for a sentence, a paragraph, a message or a book. It also represents a measure of liberation. I created Smashwords to unleash the creative talent of the world's indie authors. The talent of an author is manifested in their words.

Word count is only one of several yardsticks we use to measure our progress. We also look at number of books published (22,310), authors and publishers represented (we hit 9,700 today[!]), traffic to (growing every month), the quality and quantity of Smashwords retail distribution relationships, and our payouts to authors and publishers. On all these metrics, we continue to grow right along with word count.

As the Smashwords ecosystem of authors, publishers, readers and retailers grows, it opens up exciting opportunities for authors and publishers who participate in the Smashwords network. Every new author or publisher at Smashwords brings new readers, and new readers bring new authors and publishers, which in turn bring more great reading material for our readers. It's a virtuous, self-reinforcing flywheel.

As our catalog grows, and the number of great authors at Smashwords increases, more retailers want to carry our books. In the last 12 months we've become the leading distributor of indie ebooks. We've established relationships with the largest ebook retailers, and in the months ahead you'll see us open up new doors of distribution opportunity for our authors and publishers.

What's next for Smashwords? After two and half years, I feel like we're still getting started. In the next several months, you'll see us add more retailers, new sales and marketing tools, and a steady stream of both incremental and major enhancements to the Smashwords ebook publishing and distribution platform. We have hundreds of enhancements and new features planned on our technical roadmap, and many of these features are a direct result of feedback and suggestions from Smashwords authors, publishers and readers (keep them coming!).

My sincere thanks to the 9,700 authors and publishers now publishing and distributing their books with Smashwords. We look forward to serving you in the months and years ahead.


CS McClellan/Catana said...

I guess you owe Dusk Peterson, one of my favorite authors, a vote of thanks for helping to push SW over the billion line so early. His 400,000 word Eternal Dungeon Omnibus went online just a few days ago.

Shayne Parkinson said...

Hurrah! Congratulations, Smashwords and the writers of all those words. Close to a million of them are mine. :-)

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Congrats to Mark and everyone who has been a part of the Billion Word March! Keep up the great work and we will hang in there for the second billion.

Cynthia said...

Congrats to Mark & Co! I've only contributed 6,000+ words to the March and plan to add more in the months ahead.

My experience with SW was especially positive so I can see why they're reaping the joys of success...they deserve it.

Cynthia Briggs, Cookbook Author

DesGreene said...

Well done but alas a word of caution - increasing word count is very laudable but is only one dimension in many!

The increase in the number of retailers is great too!

Yet at home there is a certain stasis - for instance there has been no change or upgrade in the web presentation to accompany the huge expansion in content.

Is there too much dependence on external retailers at the expense of the hits on the local site?

Sorry to be a bit of a damp squib - to date I have been nothing but supportive to a site that has provided incredible service.

Sometimes, however, a little honest (hopefully constructive) criticism doesn't go amiss!

Candy Paull said...

I love being a Smashwords author. A billion cheers for a billion words!

Wilson James said...

I remember cheering back in April of this year when Smashwords hit 500 million words and 10,000 books. I also recall thinking that Mark's goal of One Billion by the end of the year was a little ambitious.

Now, with 1,000,000,000 words in over 22,000 multi-format eBooks, I am delighted that I was wrong about how quickly Smashwords would move ahead.

Since I started with Smashwords, I've been very happy to see the network of retailers growing, and I've also been very pleased with my own numbers. With many thousands of downloads/sales of my five (soon to be six) titles, I am feeling very positive about the future.

My sincere thanks to Mark and the Smashwords team.


Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the new goodies.
It's been an amazing year of growth.

Sarah Ettritch said...

Congratulations Smashwords, Mark, and all Smashwords authors! I'm glad to have contributed a few words to that billion. It sounds like we're in for more retailers and improvements. Looking forward to what's next at Smashwords.

rodgriff said...

Great news. I'm proud of my 95000 among the billion.
If you are thinking about expansion how about some tools like Google analytics that would tell an author things like where their readers came from, age, sex, what else they bought - that kind of stuff. I'm sure a lot of that sort of info could be captured without infringing any privacy right.

David Robinson said...

Great news, Mark, and I'm pleased to have a couple of titles amongst those billion words.

Midlistwriter said...

Bravo, Mark! I’m pleased to have contributed 53,000 words, with another 248,000 to come. (Covers, covers.)

As you've noted before, many traditionally published authors are now on-board--familiar names abound. More are coming. May I suggest that it might be mutually beneficial to Smashwords and us if we could have the option to be tagged as such? The Internet makes proof of prior publication easily verifiable:

With Smashwords growing so quickly, a "traditionally published" (or whatever) category would give readers yet another way to browse Smashwords’ burgeoning virtual shelves. They may not like what they find, but they'll have the assurance it's a professionally edited work that ran and survived the gauntlet of the Agency Publishing model.

And now back to those covers.


Anonymous said...

Great news Mark. Proud to be part of it all. Catherine Condie:)

Cliff Ball said...

This is cool, and congrats. I've contributed 212,000 words(4 novels) to Smashwords and I hope to keep contributing to Smashwords.