Thursday, January 13, 2011

Smashwords Adds Longer Book Descriptions

You asked, we listened. Smashwords today added support for longer book descriptions.

Our previous book description supported only 400 characters. Many authors found this limiting. We now offer an optional second, longer description that supports 4,000 characters.

The longer descriptions are available immediately for all new book uploads.

For our current 30,000 + titles (yeah! we surpassed 30K the other day!), you can add the new descriptions by clicking to Dashboard: Settings.

In the next few weeks, the longer descriptions will begin appearing at Smashwords retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel.

If your book is already approved for the Smashwords Premium Catalog, your longer book description will trigger the "Resubmit this book for premium distribution" button. Click the button. This will put your description into our fast track queue for approval (see the approval requirements below). While the description sits in the queue, the previous version will continue to ship to retailers. Some of our retailers support both short descriptions and long descriptions in their feeds, so we'll provide both if available.

After you upgrade your description with the addition of the longer version, we'll automatically ship the longer version to retailers that support it.

As I write this, the feature has been live for only a few minutes and already I see Smashwords author DN Charles from Australia has become the first author to create a long description for their book, Child of the Moon.

As with the previous descriptions, there are some basic dos and don'ts we and our retailers ask you to follow.

First, the "don'ts":
  • Don't assume the reader has read your short description
  • Don't include email addresses or web addresses
  • Don't add Smashwords coupon codes (our retailers cannot honor them)
  • Don't mention limited-time pricing or other promotions
  • Don't mention our retailers' competitors in the description (or in the book for that matter)
  • Don't insert fancy glyphs or symbols, because these will turn into "?" marks at retailer sites
  • Don't make promises the book or the retailer cannot keep

And here are some recommended "Dos":
  • Do make it a complete, standalone description
  • Do make a good first impression. Write snappy, articulate copy that hooks the prospective reader from word one. I'm often surprised when I see authors write an uninspiring description such as "This is my poetry. I hope you like it." J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown could get away with that, but you can't. Take advantage of your description to celebrate your book. Sell!
  • Do check your description for typos and grammatical errors (common sense).
The longer descriptions are consistent with our ongoing effort at Smashwords to help our authors, publishers and retail partners improve the visibility and discoverability of Smashwords books. These improvements also improve discoverability of your books at and in search engines.

In the last few weeks, we've begun distributing author bios and other enhanced metadata to some of our retail partners. At Barnes & Noble, for example, we're now shipping author bios and double BISACs (BISAC codes are industry-standard category identifiers that help retailers place the book on the proper virtual shelf). More to come as we continue evolve our enhanced retailer metadata feeds.


Shayne Parkinson said...

Hurrah! Excellent news, Mark.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking forward to this for some time. Thanks, Mark, et al.

K.C. May said...

Fantastic! Thank you so much for this.

A.P. Fuchs said...

Really happy to see this.

Thanks for adding this feature.

Oswald Bastable said...

Great- I had to cut my original description down to an ADD version. Excellent news, Mark!

Ty said...

This is fantastic. Thanks, Mark and crew, for adding further benefit to using Smashwords for publishing.

Oswald Bastable said...

And done!

Wayne Watson
Meddler in Time

clasqm said...

My first book has been up for 24 hours and already there is an enhancement to the service? Wow.

Wilson James said...

Thanks for this, Mark!
4,000 characters is very good news, indeed!

I noticed the bio when I was checking my Barnes and Noble listings in the last couple of days, and it was a pleasant surprise. Of course, I've also noticed one of my titles, "Playing the Baseball Card" well into the top 1/2 of 1% sales rank at B&N. Of course, it helped that I recently got a very nice totally unsolicited review calling my it a "great book" and "very inspiring." Can you hear me cheering in the background?

I will now proceed to do my useful and important homework to add the longer book descriptions.

And now, finally, lest I sound a little ungrateful, I hope that I will soon get a surprise telling me that I'll get my books on Amazon.


Janice Daugharty said...

A Thrill a Day
by Janice Daugharty

I've been self-publishing ebooks to Smashwords for almost a year now and everyday I get a thrill when I log on to check sales. That's 325 thrills in 2010 that I wouldn't have had if I'd kept waiting for another print novel to come out. Besides, books don't bring in that much in royalties. I thank Mark Coker for giving me the opportunity to publish more than 70 ebooks moldering away in my computer files and for all the help he's given with each. Hey, Mark, thanks also for allowing more space for description. Less isn't more, in this case, in spite of what we've been told. Janice Daugharty

Kyle W. Bell said...

Great news! Will update my descriptions today! Thank you for continuing to improve the Smashwords experience, Mark.

Kyle Bell

Jaye Valentine said...

This is fantastic news, Mark. What a timesaver this will be for me moving forward, not having to condense the blurbs for my books.

I guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend. :-)

--Jaye Valentine

Ty said...

The changes keep coming (almost entirely for the better, I'll add), but while I'm thinking of it ... Mark, any updates soon on Google Editions? Or is that still in the negotiations stage?

Anonymous said...

Good news, Mark! This is an excellent change and will allow the descriptions at Smashwords to match the back-cover copy and Amazon descriptions. Awesome.

Dovetail Public Relations said...

Ty: One word for Google: Perplexing

Let's just say Apple, B&N, Sony, Kobo, Diesel and Amazon are showing much more love and respect for indies. Beyond that, I'll bite my tongue for now.

Ty said...

Mark, thanks for the response. I'll keep my eyes and ears open. And hope for the best.

Peter Salisbury said...

Great news, Mark. Thank you!

I will pass on the announcement.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Mark. Those one-page synopses for Literary Agents of Renown will be unearthed and sent forth.

"Brevity is the soul of lingerie." ~Dorothy Parker

Jake said...

Great information, Mark. I'll work on my descriptions.
On another point, I want to let you know about my new blog, dedicated to posting reviews for Smashword eBooks. I've started with my own, but I'll be reviewing others as I move along with it. And yes, I have links to the eBooks enrolled in the Affiliate program.
Find my blog at:

W. A. Patterson said...

Thank you for this Mark! We do appreciate all you do for us to boost sales and make this the best distro site and publisher ever! Keep up the good work!

W. A. Patterson said...

Thank you for all your hard work Mark. We do appreciate all you guys do for us and it does not go unnoticed!

W. A. Patterson said...

Thank you for all your hard work Mark! We appreciate all your hard work to turn into the best distro and pub site for ebooks!

Gregory Patrick said...

What you're doing is amazing. Looking forward to working with you in the future.
Gregory Patrick

John Wolf said...

The light at the end of the tunnel is an on-coming Smashwords account. Thanks Mark for welcoming me aboard. The long wait for Smashwords to blossom is over. Now I see the results - bravo. As an indie-author I relish my $20 here $20 there. Hey, but my overhead is zero.

John Wolf -

Sharon Miner said...

I'm looking forward to adding my horse books and teen mysteries to Smashwords!

Kathy Steinemann said...

Can we use limited HTML tags in our book descriptions, such as those allowed here on the blog and at sites like CreateSpace? I notice that paragraph breaks don't show up at the online retailers.