Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Four Smashwords Fantasy Authors Featured in iBooks Promotion

Apple iBooks in Australia and New Zealand today launched a top-of-the-store promotion featuring ten emerging fantasy authors.

Four of the featured authors are Smashwords authors.  Congrats to James Maxwell, T.C. Southwell, Dionne Lister and Joseph Lallo! The other six featured authors are from traditional publishers.

Although we're only a few hours into the promotion, featured titles from James Maxwell, Joseph Lallo and TC Southwell already occupy three of the top four most downloaded free books in the sci-fi & fantasy category at iBooks Australia.  Thank you Apple!

The promotion will run for approximately two weeks.  Australian and New Zealand iBooks users will see the promotion at the top of the iBooks app.  The promotion can also be viewed in iTunes at http://bit.ly/1e62TFa

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to Add Navigation to a Smashwords Ebook

Does your Smashwords ebook contain navigation?  Are you taking full advantage of navigation?

This afternoon I produced and uploaded a new Smashwords tutorial video that shows you how to add navigation to your Smashwords ebook.

Use the video as a companion resource to Step 20 of the Smashwords Style Guide, where we have additional tips on how to add navigation to your ebook. [Two updates:  1.  Box Sets:  Added a new section for Box Set authors.  2.  For Mac Users:  Added a special bookmarking and ToC hyperlinking instructionsat the end of this post]

One of the advantages of ebooks over print books is that ebooks can contain navigation.  Hyperlinks within your book can link to chapters, Parts, or special sections.  These links make your book more accessible to readers.

You can also use links to draw your reader's attention to important end matter (a.k.a. back matter) sections of the book that help you sell more books.

Few authors take full advantage of their end matter.  Some authors will simply end their book with the words, "The End" and then leave the reader hanging at the very moment the reader wants more.  Give them more!

Here are a few examples of the end matter sections you can create, and then link to from your linked ToC:

1.   About the author - place a short bio here so readers can learn more about you.

2.   Other books by this author - The reader just finished your book and is craving more from you.  Tell them about your other books.  If you have a book on preorder, let them know the preorder is available at select retailers (Smashwords distributes preorders to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo).

3.  Connect with the Author - The reader loved your book, they think you're the bees knees, and they want to connect with you.  Add your coordinates for Facebook, Twitter, your blog, your website, your Smashwords Interview, your Smashwords author page, or your mailing list. Once a reader connects with you via social media, they can start to get to know you and appreciate your super-awesomeness on an entirely new level.  It's an opportunity for you to start a long term relationship building process that can help casual readers become fans, and help fans grow to become super fans. 

4.  Sample chapters of other books - Give them a taste of your other books!

5.  Reading group guide - Create a special section for reading groups with suggested questions that would spark thought-provoking discussion and debate.  This is an opportunity to turn one reader into many, because it'll encourage reading group members to propose your book as the group's next read.

Your book might already have one or more of these sections.  If you don't have them all, consider upgrading your book with these new end matter sections, and with a linked ToC to tie them altogether. The video, and the recently updated Style Guide, will give you ideas to take your book to the next level.

Special thanks to Smashwords bestseller Samantha Towle.  Samantha gave me permission to use her new contemporary romance, Trouble, in the creation of this video.  I used her book as an example of how to add useful navigation in Microsoft Word.  

Navigation Tips for Box Sets and Multi-author Collaborations

More than just about any book, box sets really need a robust NCX, which is the book's external Table of Contents you see whenever you click the Table of Contents option on your ereader device.  The secret to creating a great NCX is to start with a logical Linked Table of Contents.  As we mention in Step 20 of the Style Guide (the section that explains how to add navigation) and video above, when you create a linked Table of Contents, Meatgrinder will use your linked ToC to guide the creation of the NCX.  This gives you great control.

Let's assume you're formatting a five-book multi-author box set of travel memoirs titled World Travelers.  Here are the items you might place in your Linked Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

About World Travellers
Book One - Jane's Memoir by Jane Austin Smith
 About Jane Austin Smith
Book Two - Joe's Fantastic Adventures by Joe Williams
 About Joe Williams
Book Three - Hitchhiking through Africa by Celena Scott
 About Celena Scott
Book Four - Exotic Restaurants of Instanbul by Freddie Mackin
 About Freddie Mackin
Book Five - Hiking the Appalachian Trail by Jodie Anderson
 About Jodie Anderson

Each of the items above would be hyperlinked, with the hyperlinks pointing to the bookmarks corresponding to the start of each section.  In the example above, we'd identified the start of each key section.  If you want to go further, you could even link to the primary subsections within each book, though be careful not to go overboard because too much navigation can become overwhelming to the reader. See the YouTube video on Smashwords navigation to see the navigation creation process in action.  Once you see how to do it, it's easy and the final result will give your readers a great navigation experience.

How to get multiple authors in the metadata:  Smashwords can connect multiple authors to your box set.  Simply gather the hyperlinks for each participating author's author profile page at Smashwords and send the request with the hyperlinks to the Smashwords support team.  You'll find the link to the support team at the bottom of any Smashwords website page, or by clicking the question "?" mark at the top of any page.

Special Navigation Instructions for Mac Word users:  

 The Smashwords Style Guide, and the video tutorial above, show how to create navigation using the PC versions of Microsoft Word.  If you use a Mac, the same principles of navigation as explained above, and in the Style Guide and video, also apply to Mac Word users.  However, the menus within Word for Mac are different.  The image below shows the location of the options that allow bookmarking and hyperlinking.  Click the image to expand.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Smashwords Integrates with Dropbox for Faster eBook Delivery to Tablets and Smart Phones

Smashwords today added a Send to Dropbox feature that instantly transfers a purchased ebook to a customer’s Dropbox account.

Dropbox acts like a virtual hard drive for many tablets and smart phones, making it faster and easier for readers to load Smashwords ebooks onto their favorite tablet or mobile smart phone.  No cables necessary!

Devices that support Dropbox include the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android tablets and smart phones, Google Nexus tablets, Nook tablets (Nook HD/HD+, Nook Color, Nook Tablet), Kindle tablets (Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD), and many others.

The new Dropbox feature is easy to set up.  Here’s how:

1.  From your Smashwords Account tab, click Manage eDelivery.  You’ll see the link button.  Click it.

2.  On the next screen, sign in to your Dropbox account.  If you don’t have an account, click the “create an account” link to create one.  It’s free.

3. Finish linking your Dropbox account with Smashwords by allowing us to create a Smashwords folder in your Dropbox account.  Click "Allow" when asked.

4. If you haven’t done so already, download the free Dropbox app to your e-reading device.  Apple, Nook and Kindle devices have their own app store where you'll find the app.  If you use an Android device other than Kindle or Nook, you can download the Dropbox app in the Google Play store. 

5.  Also make sure you’ve downloaded an e-reading app to your device.  For Apple devices, iBooks is great.  You can also use Bluefire.  For Android devices, Aldiko is great.  Kindle and Nook tablets don’t require an e-reading app.

6.  Each time you purchase an ebook at Smashwords, we’ll automatically transfer up to three file formats – epub, mobi and PDF – to your Dropbox account.  File format availability is determined by the author or publisher.  You’ll find your files in Dropbox’s “Apps/Smashwords” folder.

7.  You can transfer previously purchased books to Dropbox by clicking the Send to Dropbox button in your Smashwords Library.

Learn more about the new Smashwords eDelivery feature at https://www.smashwords.com/edelivery/info or click the Manager eDelivery link under your Account tab. 

Below is a tutorial video.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bowker Ranks Smashwords the #1 Producer of Indie Ebooks in 2012 in New Report

Bowker has ranked Smashwords the largest US producer of indie ebooks in 2012 according to their new annual Self Publishing Report for 2012.

Smashwords was also ranked as the second largest producer of self-published books after CreateSpace when counting the combined production of both print books and ebooks (Smashwords doesn't do print).

Bowker, the ISBN registrar here in the US, bases their data on ISBN registrations.  Although their data set doesn't include non-ISBN'd books, it represents the industry's most comprehensive measure of the rise of self-publishing and the rise of ebooks. 92% of Smashwords ebooks carry an ISBN.

According to Bowker's analysis of U.S. ISBN data, the number of self-published titles in 2012 jumped to more than 391,000, up 59 percent over 2011 and 422 percent over 2007.

Bowker says ebooks continued to gain on print, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012, up from just 11 percent in 2007.

Although I'm pleased to see Smashwords come in at number one, I'm even more excited about what Bowker's overall data says about the rise of self-publishing.  Indie authors are taking publishing matters into their own hands.

The three most essential requirements of professional publishing - the printing press, the access to retail distribution, and how-to knowledge of professional publishing best practices - are now freely available to all indie authors.  Smashwords is committed to providing writers these tools.

Any writer, anywhere in the world, now has the freedom to publish without a publisher, and can do so at little to no cost.  As indie ebook authors, these writers can enjoy faster time to market, greater creative control, closer relationships with readers, greater price-competitiveness, better marketing and promotion tools, and royalty rates four to five times higher than they'd get from traditional publishers. 

The day will come when more writers aspire to indie publish rather than traditionally publish.  Is the industry ready?

Congrats to every Smashwords author and publisher.  You're changing the world of publishing one indie ebook at a time.

Download the Bowker report for free at their SelfPublishedAuthor blog.