Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Smashwords Publishes 5 Billion Words

Smashwords today released its 5 billionth word.

From your fingertips to reader's eyes.

The number is difficult to grasp.  These words form 138,071 books.

If you typed at 25 words a minute without pause, it would take 200 million minutes to write 5 billion words.  3.3 million hours.  If you typed 8 hours a day, it would take 416,600 days, or 1,141 years.  Imagine the lifetimes of creative output now captured, packaged, immortalized and available for discovery at the click of a button or mouse.

Imagine a world without gatekeepers, where you the writer decide when you graduate to become a published author. Imagine a world where readers are the curators.  Now imagine that day has arrived, because it's here already.

I try to imagine the cacophony of clicking keyboards as our 46,931 authors around the globe clicked away, their minds occupying wonderous far-flung places both real and imaginary, birthing their glorious words and shaping them into these sentences, chapters and books.  I imagine, and honor, the immense personal sacrifice required to write these books.

Your books are are touching people.  In the last four weeks at the Apple iBookstore and Barnes & Noble alone, Smashwords books were downloaded over 6 million times.   The day may yet come when Smashwords authors reach more readers than the authors of all the Big 6 publishers combined.

Our books are selling, too.  Smashwords retailers will sell $18 to $20 million worth of your ebooks this year.  The majority of those sales dollars will flow into our authors' and publishers' pockets.

As I write this, five of the Apple's iBookstore's top 20 bestsellers are from Smashwords authors R.L. Mathewson (read our interview with R.L. Mathewson here), S.C. Stephens (we'll publish an interview with S.C. very soon at the Smashwords blog) and Jamie McGuire (Jamie just sold rights to a traditional publisher).  That's one in four.  12 months ago, those five slots were occupied by the books from traditional publishers. 12 months from now, how many more slots will be occupied by an indie author?  That's up to you.

Indie authors such as you are now producing books that are as good or better than what's released by New York publishers.  The practice of self-publishing is becoming smarter and more professional each year.  Indies are bypassing the slush pile to publish directly to readers.  Indies are enjoying greater creative freedom, faster time to market, and higher royalty rates.

You, my dear Smashwords author, are the future of book publishing.  The trend is obvious to anyone who cares to take note. 

Thank you for allowing us to accompany you on this exciting journey as we remake book publishing for the benefit of authors, publishers and readers.


  1. This is wonderful. :) Congratulations to Smashwords and staff. You're an incredible company and I'm thrilled to have nearly a million of those words. :)

    All my best,

    John H. Carroll

  2. How awesome! I congratulate you and your staff Mark, for the incredible job you do to publish the work of Indie authors.

    I am so very glad I chose to publish through Smashwords!

  3. That's wonderful. And I'm happy to say that 2 million of those words are mine.

  4. Thrilled that this month I contributed to that vast sum for the first time with my novel. Followed your guide and it was so easy! Thanks!

  5. Proud to be part of the Smashwords Family, proud to be part of this record, ready to go on writing... in total freedom!

  6. This is exciting news. My WIP is nearing the first draft finish line. I'm looking foward to learning more about your service and, perhaps, making use of it. Keep up the good work.

  7. This is just the end of the beginning...

  8. 5 Billion.. wow.. I think thats about how many truck payments I have left to make :)

    Congrats to all.. let's keep on trucking..

    Chas Wells

  9. I think the only thing you have to do now is to improve the meatgrinder so it will support images and files over 5MB. There are several titles I have not been able to load because they are illustrated or too big. Right now, ebooks I can load on Amazon have a heck of a time loading on Smashwords, and the editor does not support fonts bigger than 14 pt. I don't see how you can make a reader happy that way. When you turn Smashwords into a real ebook distributor I think you will be real competition to Amazon, which is what we all want. Anyway, congrats on the milestone.

  10. Hi Mark, Congrats and thanks.

  11. Congratulations, Mark and Team! I greatly appreciate all of the extraordinary work you all do for all of us Indie authors!

  12. Awesome! Pretty soon you'll have to do what McDonald's did. Give up trying to keep count and just say Billions and Billions of words published. Congrats Mark and welcome Ian, Adric and Kevin to a very special family!

  13. Cool beans, Mark!

    Here's to the next 5 billion!

    And, BTW - may we all soon have sales numbers as good as R.L.'s, S.C.'s and Jamie's.

  14. Congratulations on a great milestone!!

  15. Thank you for giving us Smashwords. And congrats on making it fabulous <3

    Love, Heather WIelding

  16. A big congratulations Mark. You and the team at Smashwords should be proud of yourselves. A great services provided to all indie publishers!

    Gavin Webber

  17. Mark,

    You and your team made it all happen. And we've all benefitted SO much. You've changed publishing forever - and made it better...

  18. Great developments, really exciting. You should also be complimented on your beautiful interface, the meatgrinder, and everything else you do to make things easier for authors. Superb! And thanks also to your wonderful staff. Congratulations to all.

  19. Another great milestone. Congratulations to Mark and your dedicated team. Who knows where we'll be 5 years from now.

  20. Awesome!! And I'll be publishing 63,000 more soon, LOL!

  21. Congratz Mark!... Such a professional management of yours certainly earned it's prize!.. I am proud of being part of the Smashwords Community..
    Keep up the sacred flame as always ☼

  22. Thanks to Smashwords, authors are no longer forced to march to a beat that is not their own. True artistic freedom and 'it's okay to be different' rules! Congratulations on zooming ahead of the publishing pack at the speed of light. Shine on!
    I'm glad to be a Smashword Indie.

    S. Alexander
    August 1, 2012

  23. 6 months later, another 1.5 billion words :)