Thursday, November 5, 2015

Kobo Features 200 Smashwords Titles in Massive Site-Wide Promotion

Our friends at Kobo today launched a massive site-wide promotion featuring 200 titles exclusively supplied by 159 Smashwords authors.

It's a "3 for the Price of 2" promotion where customers can purchase two participating titles and get the third title for free.  The promotion runs now through November 9 in Kobo's US and Canada stores.

The promotion is tightly integrated throughout the Kobo store.  It's quite impressive how they're handling it. 

The promotion is prominently featured at the top of the Kobo home page and on a dedicated promotion page at  The promotion will also be promoted in multiple email blasts to Kobo customers and integrated within customer shopping carts.

The promotion page at is impressive in its design.  The page presents large beautiful images of the covers.  A one-click search filter makes it easy for customers to view participating titles by bestseller rank (the default view), by highest rated, by alpha-sort or by date of publication.

Beside each title is a little "add to shopping cart" icon.  A simple click adds the book to the customer's shopping cart without taking the customer away from the promotion page.  This makes it easy for customers to go click-click-click as they fill their carts with these amazing books.

Customers browsing the individual book pages of any of the 200 participating books will also be drawn in to the overall promotion because participating books are noted by a green tags.

At left, I share a screen shot of how the individual book pages look, using a participating title from Jamie McGuire as an example.

Merchandising language above the title of each participating book encourages the customer to buy this and other books participating in the promotion.   So if you think about it, all 200 of these books will be driving customers into the promotion and promoting the other 199 books.

Juicing the promotion further, many of the participating authors will be promoting the promotion to their fans who shop at Kobo, thereby introducing their fans to 199 other great books from 158 other great Smashwords authors. 

My hat goes off to our friends at Kobo for the months of work that went into the planning and launch of this fabulous promotion.  I'm also thankful for all the great work they do every day to support Smashwords authors and publishers.

This is one of our most ambitious and complex promotions to date with a retail partner.  At the bottom of this post, I'll share some details on how these titles were selected.

Please join me in congratulating the authors with titles selected for this promotion.  I've noted the participating authors below along with the featured titles.  Please visit and buy these books!

Participating Authors and Books in the Smashwords/Kobo 3 for the Price of 2 Promotion:

A. Wendeberg - Moriarty (Anna Kronberg Bundle)
A.M. Hargrove - The Edge Series Box Set
A.W. Hartoin - Away From Whipplethorn Box Set (Books 1-3, plus a bonus prequel)
Addison Moore - 3:AM Kisses Boxed Set (Books 1-3)
Adrienne Bell - The Agent Next Door
Ahren  Sanders - Reed's Reckoning
Alexia Purdy - Reign of Blood Omnibus
Amity Cross - Beat (#1 The Beat and The Pulse)
Amy A. Bartol - Inescapable (The Premonition Series, Volume 1)
Amy Harmon - The Law of Moses
Amy Miles - The Arotas Trilogy Box Set
Angela Roquet - Pocket Full of Posies
Angela White - The Price We Pay
Ann Omasta - Making Choices (Book 2 of The Davis Twins Series)
AnnaLisa Grant - The Complete Lake Series
Anne Marie Novark - Damsels in Breeches Regency Series Boxed Set Vol. 1 (Books 1-3)
Anonymous - Chameleon On A Kaleidoscope (The Oxygen Thief Diaries) ; Diary Of An Oxygen Thief (The Oxygen Thief Diaries)
Ashley Stoyanoff - Deadly Mates (Deadly Trilogy, Book 2)
Brandon Alston - Brown Eyes (Book Two, The Forever Trilogy)
Brenda K. Davies - A Stolen Heart ; The Vampire Awakening Series Bundle - Brian S. Pratt - Ring of the Or'tux ; The Morcyth Saga Box Set
C.J Duggan - Summer Series Box Set
C.L. Bevill - Bubba and the Ten Little Loonies
Camilla Chafer - Lexi Graves Mysteries Omnibus Volume One
Caroline Hanson - The Valerie Dearborn Trilogy
Casey Peeler - Covering the Carolinas
Chanda Hahn - Forever ; An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Boxed Set (Books 1-4)
Charlotte E. English - The Malykant Mysteries Compendium (Books 1-4) ; Draykon: The Complete Series
Cheryl  Douglas - End Zone (Texas Titans #2)
Cheryl McIntyre - Dirty (The Five-Part Serial Bundle)
Christi Caldwell - Loved by a Duke
Clover Autrey - Highland Sorcery Boxed Set
Colleen Hoover - HOPELESS ; Never Never
Cynthia Sterling - Great Caesar's Ghost, A Ghostly Romance
Dale Wiley - The Intern ; Sabotage
Danelle Harmon - The Beloved One
DelSheree Gladden - Intangible
Derrick Jaxn - A Cheating Man's Heart 2
Diana Fraser - The Mackenzies Boxed Set (Books 1-3)
Diane Henders - The Spy Is Cast
E. L. Todd - Beautiful Entourage (Beautiful Entourage #1)
Ednah Walters - Runes (Books 1-3)
Elisa Braden - The Madness of Viscount Atherbourne (Rescued from Ruin, Book One)
Elizabeth Hunter - The Elemental Mysteries: Complete Series
Elizabeth Kelly - Willow and the Wolf (Book One)
Erica Stevens - The Captive Series Bundle
Eugene Lee - My Brother's Keeper
Eva Pohler - The Purgatorium Box Set ; The Gatekeeper's Saga Boxed Set
Franklin Veaux - More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory
Gary Reilly - The Enlisted Men’s Club
Gemma Halliday - International Cozy Mysteries ; Diva Detectives (Boxed set of 3 full length mysteries)
George J. Siedel - Negotiating for Success: Essential Strategies and Skills
Ginger Scott - Wild Reckless
GJ Walker-Smith - The Wishes Series Box Set
Grace Draven - Radiance
Gregg Michaelsen - To Date a Man, You Must Understand a Man: The Keys to Catch a Great Guy (Relationship and Dating Advice for Women)
H. O. Charles - The Fireblade Array: 4-Book Bundle ; Voices of Blaze (Volume 5 of The Fireblade Array)
Harrison Drake - Blue Rubicon (Detective Lincoln Munroe, Book 2)
Heather Hildebrand - Dirty Blood Boxed Set, Includes: Dirty Blood, Cold Blood, Blood Bond, & Blood Rule
HP Mallory - The Dulcie O'Neil Boxed Set
J.A. Hornbuckle - The Possibility of Trey (A Hellion MC Novel)
Jamie McGuire - Beautiful Redemption: A Novel ; The Providence Trilogy Bundle
JD Nixon - Heller's Revenge
Jeff Gunzel - Legend of the Gate Keeper: Omnibus Volumes 1-3
Jenika Snow - Her Best Mistake
Jessica Sorensen - The Certainty of Violet and Luke
Jonathan Bales - Fantasy Baseball for Smart People: How to Profit Big During MLB Season
Joni Hahn - The D.I.R.E. Agency Box Set, Books 1 - 3
Joseph R. Lallo - The Book of Deacon Anthology
Julie Carobini - The Chocolate Beach Collection:  The Chocolate Series of Inspirational Beach Romances (Boxed Set)
Julie Johnson - Not You It's Me
Kahlen Aymes - The Remembrance Trilogy - Complete Box Set
Kaitlyn Davis - The Spirit Heir (A Dance of Dragons #2)
Karen Lynch - Refuge
Kate Whitsby - Montana Brides - 3 Book Bundle Box Set
Katie Ashley - Music of the Heart ; The Proposition Complete Series ; Search Me
Kelly Mooney - Southern Comfort Series
Kim Holden - Bright Side
Kimball Lee - Legal Action: Box Set Edition
Kira Saito - The Arelia LaRue Series Novels 1-4
Kirsty Moseley - The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window ; Nothing Left to Lose ; Always You
Kory M. Shrum - Dying for a Living Boxset
Kris Pearson - First 3 novels - The Wellington Series ; Taken by the Sheikh
Kristen Ashley - The 'Burg Series:  The Complete Box Set
Kym Grosso - Immortals of New Orleans Box Set (Books 1-4)
L.P. Dover - Love, Lies and Deception
Lacey Weatherford - Allure
Laurie Roma - 3013: Mated
Lee Hanson - Swan Song
Leeanna Morgan - All of Me (The Bridesmaids Club, Book 1) ; Montana Brides Boxed Set (Books 1-3)
Leyah Attar - The Paper Swan
Lilliana Anderson - A Beautiful Bundle (Beautiful Series books 1-4)
Linda Gillard - Cauldstane ; The Glass Guardian ; Emotional Geology
Linda Kage - Price of a Kiss
Liz Fielding - The Beaumont Brides Box Set
Lizzy Ford - The Anshan Saga ; First Books (Romance Box Set)
Lyn Ragan - Wake Me Up! Love And The Afterlife
M.K. Eidem - Grim
M.L. Bullock - Moonlight Falls on Seven Sisters
Madeline Sheehan and Claire C. Reilly - Thicker than Blood
Maree Anderson - Freaks Series Bundle ; The Crystal Warriors Series Bundle ; Liminal ; The Seer Trilogy Bundle
Mark Manson - Models: Attract Women Through Honesty
Martin Turnbull - The Trouble with Scarlett
Melissa Haag - (Mis)fortune
Melissa Wright - The Frey Saga (Books 1-3)
Mia Dymond - Treasure Me (Alpha Four, Book 1)
Micalea Smeltzer - Never Too Late
Michael R. Hicks - Final Battle (In Her Name: Redemption, Book 3)
Michele G Miller - Last Call
Michelle Howard - Torkel's Chosen
Morgan Rayne - Let Me Love You
Nancy Geise - Auschwitz #34207 - The Joe Rubinstein Story
Natalie Anderson - Breathe For Me (Be For Me 1: Xander)
Natasha Preston - Save Me ; Second Chance
Nick Pirog - Gray Matter (Thomas Prescott 2)
Nicky Charles - Alphas and Rogues - a Law of the Lycans box set
Nicola Marsh - World Apart Boxed Set (Books 1-3)
Nicolette Pierce - Cashing Out (Nadia Wolf Novel #3)
Nikki Jefford - Duplicity (Spellbound #2)
Pauline O`Brayn - ¿Quién decide cuánto duran los besos?
Quinn Loftis - Grey Wolves Series Starter Bundle
R.E. Butler - The Alpha's Heart (Wilde Creek Two)
R.L. Mathewson - The Neighbor From Hell Collection I
Rachel Higginson - Love and Decay, Season Two Omnibus: Episodes 1-12
Rachel Morgan - The Faerie Prince (Creepy Hollow, #2)
Rachel Van Dyken - The Seaside Series (New Adult Rocker Romance Boxed Set) ; The Ruin Series Box Set
Rachel Vincent - Lion's Share
Ranae Rose - Inked in the Steel City Series Box Set #1: Books 1-3
RaShelle Workman - Blood and Snow Collection I: Book One, Two, and Three plus Cindy Witch, The Hunter's Tale, Gabriel, and After the Kiss
Rebecca Forster - The Witness Series Bundle: 7 Josie Bates Thrillers
Renee Bernard - Black Rose Trilogy Box Set
Richard L. Sanders - The Phoenix Rising
Rita Hestand - Family Ranch (The McKay's Series)
Robyn  Peterman - Hell On Heels (Book 3 The Hot Damned Series)
Ruth Ann Nordin - His Convenient Wife
S.H. Kolee - Shadow Series Box Set
S.T. Bende - The Elsker Saga Box Set (Books 1-3 + novella)
Sam Crescent - Betrayal ; Death's Dirty Demands ; Blaine: Christmas at The Skulls ; Devil's Charm ; Whizz ; Killer ; Runt of the Litter
Samantha Towle - Revved ; Trouble ; Revived
Sarah Mayberry - Anticipation
Savannah Young - The Wilde One
Shannon  Mayer - Recurve (The Elemental Series, Book 1) ; The Nevermore Trilogy
Shannon Ables - Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide
Shawn Chesser - Soldier On: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
Shayne Parkinson - Daisy's War
Shelly Crane - Wide Awake Series Boxset ; Devour Boxset
Simon Goodson - Wanderer - Echoes of the Past
Skye Warren - Wild Dirty Secret ; Love the Way You Lie: A Dark Romance Novel
Sophie Summers - This Broken Beautiful Thing
Stacey Marie Brown - Fire In The Darkness (Darkness Series #2)
Steve Stone - Afghan Heat: SAS Operations in Afghanistan
Sydney Landon - Fractured (Lucian & Lia 2)
T I Wade - AMERICA ONE Series of Seven Novels  ; Altruism
T.M. Nielsen - The Heku Series (Complete Boxed Set)
Tarryn Fisher - Mud Vein ; Marrow ; The Opportunist
Tenaya Jayne - The Legends of Regia Box Set
Terry Compton - The Alcantaran Series  Box set of 4
Tory Richards - Wild Marauders MC Lynch
Tracey Alvarez - Melting Into You

How the titles were selected:  One of the biggest challenges authors face is discoverability, so you might be curious to learn how we surfaced the titles above from among the 380,000 titles at Smashwords.  It's my hope that by sharing some of my process below, Smashwords authors can get a better idea for how to not only utilize our tools to improve their chances of us nominating their books for future retailer promotions, but also how to make their books more discoverable to readers across all our retailers.  So here goes...

It was tough but fun project that spanned multiple months of work.  A few months ago, Kobo asked me to recommend up to 200 titles for the promotion.  Unlike many retail promotions where we're often looking for free, discounted or low-cost books, or top-performing preorders, for this promotion we favored published books priced $3.99 and higher.  So this excluded free series starters as well as follow-on series books because it wouldn't make sense to fill the promotion with a lot of "Book #2s" in a series.  We wanted to help authors put a great foot forward under the assumption that for many Kobo customers, they'll be discovering these authors for the first time.  We want to put smiles on the faces of Kobo customers! Series starters with a price of $3.99 or higher were welcome and received some priority because what better way than a great series starter to introduce readers to a new author?  Smashwords authors who linked their series with the Smashwords Series Manager tool had an advantage here because it made it possible for us to surface our bestselling series that have series starters priced $3.99 or higher.  On top of this, we also wanted box sets within the price parameters because a box set would allow us to give Kobo customers a complete introduction to these these great writers.  Authors who followed our previous recommendations and tagged their box sets with our enhanced box set metadata option had a big advantage here because it made it easy for us to identify our bestselling box sets within the parameters mentioned above. 

To narrow our search from 380,000 titles to 200, we analyzed the recent 6-month sales track records of Smashwords authors with books that fit our parameters.  This allowed us to apply the fairest selection criteria based on merit.  Authors who fully distribute with Smashwords had an advantage here, because if an author uploads direct to B&N or iBooks, we can't verify and count their sales, and if we don't distribute them to Kobo we obviously couldn't include them in the promotion because we didn't have the right to distribute them.  Once we surfaced the broad list of candidates, we secured Kobo's approval for our proposed list (they approved all our titles) and then we worked with the authors to secure their approvals.  Unfortunately, some of the authors we invited had non-working email addresses attached to their accounts, so those authors were dropped.  We also dropped a bunch of other authors because although we nominated (and Kobo accepted) their books early in the process, by the time we contacted them for their aproval some of them had unpublished their books to enroll them in KDP Select.  Oops.  The silver lining to their missed opportunity was that it opened up more room for other great authors who maintain wide, uninterrupted distribution.

Again, my thanks to Kobo for organizing this promotion, and my thanks to the participating authors for their awesomeness!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dan Poynter, The Father of Self Publishing, Passes Away

Sad news.  Dan Poynter, the man I consider the father of modern day self publishing, passed away yesterday after a long illness.

Dan led the indie author movement long before the movement had a label, and long before many of its current beneficiaries were even born.  Tens of thousands of writers over the last three decades have benefited from the best practices wisdom of his Self Publishing Manual, not to mention his hundreds of presentations over the years at writers conferences around the world.

Dan was a mentor to me, long before he even knew me.  I first read his Self Publishing Manual about 12 years ago, before Smashwords was even a glimmer in my eye.  I was drawn to Dan's book because he explained the business and process of publishing.  He provided writers the tools to think, act and publish like professional publishers.  If you've followed Smashwords at all over the last eight years, you'll see the DNA of Dan pervades much of what we do at Smashwords.

Dan was an early ebook reader and ebook advocate, long before it was trendy.

I remember when I first spoke with Dan in early 2009.  I emailed him and invited him to publish on Smashwords.  He invited me to call him at home over the weekend.  I remember I felt giddy as a star struck teenager, and I immediately found him to be gracious, selfless, caring and absolutely dedicated to empowering writers with transformative knowledge that he knew would help change the world.  I interviewed him for the blog (read my interview with Dan Poynter here) shortly after that conversation.

Dan changed the world.  All of us - Smashwords and every indie author - are operating in a world that Dan first envisioned and, more than anyone, helped to encourage in his multiple decades of self publishing advocacy and education.

Above all, Dan was an incredibly nice guy.  He made himself available to every writer any time, whether at a writers conference or on email or when they called him at home.  He wanted to help writers achieve their dream.

Dan was an early supporter of yours truly and Smashwords, and he went out of his way to open doors for me in the early days when the stigma of self publishing meant that most everyone else greeted me with suspicion.  Dan knew my mission was to democratize publishing for the benefit of writers.  I had the great honor to present some of my first presentations alongside Dan at the IBPA and San Francisco Writers Conference.

In many ways, the rise of ebooks helped Dan realize his vision too.  Ebooks enabled every major retailer to stock self published books, so it was this democratized distribution that finally helped the world realize, appreciate and enjoy the extraordinary talent locked between the minds and fingertips of ordinary writers around the the world.  Dan believed in the potential of every writer when the rest of the industry thought most writers weren't good enough.

Dan was also stubborn.   He was a fighter and an eternal optimist. I learned early on during the course of his illness that he didn't like talking about it with me.  He took pride in beating the odds, and he did for a long time.  And he never stopped looking forward to publishing his next book, never stopped living and never stopped looking forward to helping the next author be that much more successful.

Dan was a living legend.  I'll miss you Dan.  So long and thanks for your immeasurable contribution to the world of writers, authorship, publishing, books and human decency.

If you have memories of how Dan touched you, please honor him by sharing your memories below.

Photo credit:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Amazon Lowers Kindle Unlimited Payouts

Last Friday in a bit of news that was missed by most indie authors, Amazon quietly announced that because they're pricing their Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service at $3.00 per month in India, authors will now earn less.

I'm sorry to say I predicted such a devaluation back in March in an interview with the International Publishers Association titled, Not all Subscription Services are Created Equal. In that interview I warned there was nothing stopping Amazon from waking up one day and deciding that their $9.99 subscription service should be priced at $3.00 instead.  So now it's happening in India.  Amazon hints it will happen in other countries too.

Was I prophetic?  Not really.  None of this should come as a surprise, yet thousands of authors will be surprised once they realize the slippery slope that is KDP Select.  It's an inevitable outcome when authors surrender full pricing and compensation control (via their KDP Select enrollment) to a company whose entire business model is predicated upon commoditizing and devaluing products by stripping suppliers of pricing control.  Amazon does this in the name of offering customers the lowest possible prices.

Is Amazon Working to Kill Single Copy Ebook Sales?

There's another potentially more insidious form of devaluation taking place, and sadly the indie author community (which supplies the bulk of KU titles) is Amazon's unwitting accomplice.

Kindle Unlimited is training readers to think that single-copy ebook purchases are too expensive.

In my Oyster and the KDP Select Party Train post, I shared screen shots of how Kindle Unlimited makes even 99 cent single-copy purchases look expensive when the same book can be read for free under Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

Six days following my Party Train post, bestselling indie fantasy author Randolph Lalonde reported that he has received hate mail from Kindle Unlimited subscribers who refuse to purchase his books unless he makes them available for free as part of their Kindle Unlimited subscription.  Wow.

Like many indie authors, Randolph Lalonde prices his full-length series starters at free and prices the rest of his books at $2.99 and $3.99.  He writes great books and earns great reviews, but suddenly now for a small but apparently growing subset of readers spoiled by Kindle Unlimited, his books are too expensive.  Crazy.

Kindle Unlimited is crucifying single copy sales upon the altar of greed and gluttony.

Enjoy your single copy sales while they last.

As I've written previously, indie authors have the power to prevent this bleak future.  All they need to do is stop enrolling their books in KDP Select before it's too late.  Spread the word.