Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Draft2Digital to Acquire Smashwords

Dear Friends of Smashwords,

This letter isn't a goodbye; it's a new hello.

Today we announced that Draft2Digital is acquiring Smashwords. We're joining together to do more for authors, publishers, and readers.

Fourteen years ago when I created Smashwords, I set out on a crazy mission to change the way books were published, marketed, and sold.

I wanted to empower every writer in the world with free tools to self-publish ebooks with pride, professionalism, and success. I wanted to give readers the freedom to enjoy the wonderful diversity of indie-published titles that I knew our publishing platform could help unleash.

Thanks to your trust and partnership, today 150,000 authors and publishers around the world use Smashwords to publish almost 600,000 ebooks. Nearly $200 million worth of Smashwords ebooks have been purchased at retail, and over $110 million paid out to authors and publishers.  Many of our authors - authors who once couldn't get the time of day from agents and traditional publishers - became international bestsellers topping all the bestseller lists.  The books published by Smashwords authors enriched the lives of authors and readers and inspired a new generation of tomorrow's writers.

The impact of our little startup reached far beyond the numbers.  As a friend of Smashwords, you've been part of something really important.

Yet fourteen years later, I still feel like our mission is just getting started.

I'm super-excited about this combination with Draft2Digital, and I’m looking forward to broadening our mission in the service of authors, publishers, booksellers, readers, and books.

No, this acquisition doesn’t mean I’m running off to buy an island in the Caribbean. This will be an all-stock combination, meaning no money is changing hands. I’m investing our entire company into the new Draft2Digital, and together we’ll lead the next chapter of the indie publishing revolution.

Below you'll find our official press release and a detailed FAQ about the acquisition, which is expected to close on or about March 1.

If you have any questions about the acquisition, I invite you to attend a live online Q&A that I'm doing Wednesday with Kris Austin, Draft2Digital CEO.  The live event will be recorded in case you miss it.  You'll find details on how to attend in the press release below.

Thank you for your trust and partnership these last fourteen years. On behalf of the entire Smashwords team, we look forward to working with you in 2022 and beyond!

Best wishes,

Mark Coker
Founder
Smashwords

P.S. The press release and FAQ follow.


The Official Press Release

 

Draft2Digital to Acquire Smashwords, Creating
Self-Publishing Juggernaut

 

Combined Company will Publish and Distribute 800,000+ Titles from 250,000 Authors and Publishers

 

February 8, 2022—OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. and PACIFIC GROVE, Calif.—Draft2Digital, LLC and Smashwords, Inc., two pioneers in ebook self-publishing, today announced that Draft2Digital will acquire Smashwords. The acquisition unites the industry’s two most innovative and author-friendly publishing platforms into one, enabling the new Draft2Digital to drive even greater success for authors, publishers, and sales partners.

Draft2Digital and Smashwords are key catalysts behind the dramatic rise of self-publishing over the last fourteen years. Their publishing platforms enable 250,000 authors and publishers around the world to publish, distribute, market, and manage over 800,000 ebooks and 11,000 print on demand paperback books.

The combined company will operate under the Draft2Digital name and will be headquartered in Oklahoma City. All Smashwords and Draft2Digital employees are expected to join the combination.

Kris Austin, co-founder and CEO of Draft2Digital, will lead the combined company as CEO. Mark Coker, founder and former CEO of Smashwords, will join the Draft2Digital management team as Chief Strategy Officer and board member.

Both companies are entering the acquisition profitable and debt-free.

“I’m pleased to welcome Smashwords authors, publishers, employees and partners to the D2D family,” said Kris Austin. “Early in our discussions with Smashwords, we each immediately realized we can accomplish so much more for the indie author community by working together than working as competitors. The resources we once expended creating duplicative systems can now be redeployed to ramp up our R&D investments in next generation tools to empower authors and publishers.”

“I’m thrilled to join forces with Draft2Digital,” said Mark Coker. “Over the last decade, I’ve come to deeply admire Draft2Digital’s team, technology, and commitment to authors. Our shared business model is a key to our two companies’ success. We put authors first. By design, we only make money when our authors make money. This aligns our interests with the interests of our authors. Together we will lead the next chapter of the indie author revolution.”

The combination is expected to yield significant benefits for authors, publishers, retail and library partners, and readers.

·         Draft2Digital authors will gain access to the Smashwords Store and its myriad exclusive book marketing tools, including Smashwords Coupons, self-serve merchandising, Author Interviews, and the patent pending Smashwords Presales tool for book launches. Sales at the Smashwords Store have grown consecutively each of the last five years, with December 2021 sales up 20% over December 2020. Draft2Digital’s erotica authors can look forward to expanded distribution enabled by Smashwords’ proprietary erotica certification system, which allows retailers to carry erotic romance and mainstream erotica with greater confidence.

·         Smashwords authors will gain access to new tools that simplify print and digital publishing and drive greater success. Among these tools are D2D Print, the company’s Print on Demand service for paperbacks (currently in beta, which authors can join at https://draft2digital.com/printbeta/); improved metadata management tools for better book discoverability at retailers; automated end-matter for series books; payment splitting for co-authors and collaborations; and more payment options, including direct bank deposits.

·         Retailers and libraries served by the companies can expect greater title selection and unmatched merchandising recommendations. The new, merged company will offer retailers, subscription services, and libraries unprecedented data-driven insights into the world’s largest dedicated catalog of independently published books. This represents a unique and first-of-its-kind offering that Draft2Digital believes will improve the publishing industry.

·         Customers of the Smashwords Store can look forward to an improved store experience and an increased selection of books from the many great authors and publishers distributed by Draft2Digital.

“This acquisition is great news for indie authors,” said Joanna Penn, host of the Creative Penn podcast and bestselling author who has followed each company since its founding. “Two of the industry’s strongest advocates for indie authors are combining their unique toolsets, technologies, and energy to do more for the indie community. There are exciting years ahead!”

What’s Coming Next

The acquisition is expected to close on March 1, 2022.

To minimize workflow disruption for authors, publishers, and sales partners, the two platforms will combine their systems in gradual and incremental steps.

Authors and publishers of both companies can continue utilizing their current platform of choice with the understanding that over time the authors and publishers of both companies will gain access to a common dashboard, common distribution outlets (including distribution to the Smashwords Store for current D2D authors), and an expanded suite of new and improved tools for book publishing, distribution, and marketing.

Draft2Digital will broadcast a live Q&A session (view the recording here on YouTube) for authors and publishers on Wednesday, February 9th, at Noon Central, with Kris Austin and Mark Coker, moderated by Kevin Tumlinson, Draft2Digital’s VP of Marketing & PR. Kris and Mark will share additional insight about their plans to support the indie publishing community and welcome questions from the audience.

Visit https://D2DLive.com for links and launch time, and to attend live on either Facebook or YouTube. The live broadcast will be recorded for future inclusion in the Draft2Digital podcast, Self Publishing Insiders, and will be available as a blog post at Draft2Digital.com/blog.

Additional FAQs about the acquisition can be found at:

https://smashwords.com/united

https://draft2digital.com/united

About Draft2Digital

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Oklahoma City, Draft2Digital is the world’s leading publishing platform for self-published authors and independent presses. The company offers a broad suite of free and powerful automated and self-serve tools that authors and publishers can use to build and grow their publishing businesses. This includes tools to simplify ebook and print publishing, distribution, metadata management, and marketing. Following its acquisition of Smashwords, Draft2Digital will serve more than 250,000 authors and publishers that collectively publish over 800,000 books worldwide. Visit Draft2Digital at https://draft2digital.com or follow on Twitter @Draft2Digital.

About Smashwords, Inc.

Founded in 2008 by Mark Coker, Smashwords was an early pioneer in ebook self-publishing. The company’s platform made it possible for writers to professionally produce, publish, and distribute ebooks at no cost. As a distributor, Smashwords was the first to open multiple major retailers and library ebook services to self-published authors, and worked in partnership with sales partners and payment processors to establish systems, standards, and professional best practices to foster a thriving ecosystem of indie-friendly booksellers and libraries. As of December 31, 2021, Smashwords was publishing 590,000 ebooks supplied by 150,000 authors, publishers and literary agents. The company was originally headquartered in Los Gatos, Calif, and most recently based in Pacific Grove, Calif. Visit Smashwords at https://smashwords.com, or follow the store at @Smashwords.

###

 

FAQ Regarding Draft2Digital Acquisition of Smashwords

 

Draft2Digital and Smashwords are Uniting! 


General questions:

Q:  Who is Draft2Digital?

Draft2Digital is known for being “self-publishing with support,” and since 2012, the company has established a positive, glowing reputation in the author community. D2D is known for building tools and resources that answer indie author and publisher needs, with beautiful and functional design and responsive customer service.

Draft2Digital and Smashwords are so similar, it’s almost as if we sprouted from the same seed. And in many ways, we did.

Both companies, from the start, have been dedicated to building tools and services that make publishing fast, easy, and best of all, free. We only make money when our authors make money—a business model that puts authors first. The best business model we know.

Like Smashwords, Draft2Digital is one of the world’s largest distributors serving self-published authors and independent presses, with a global reach for ebook distribution. But D2D is about more than just ebooks.

Draft2Digital has an exciting Print on Demand solution for indie authors that Smashwords founder Mark Coker thinks will prove to be just as disruptive to print publishing over the next few years as Smashwords was to ebook publishing 14 years ago.

By combining the two companies into one, the new Draft2Digital can invest more into research and development (R&D), aimed at innovating and inventing more next-generation tools services and offerings, and to meet more author needs.

The combination of Smashwords and Draft2Digital is a historic step toward our shared mission to drive greater success for self-published authors, independent publishers, and our distribution partners.

Q: What’s the name of the merged company?

A: The two companies will operate under the name of Draft2Digital. In the near term, Smashwords will continue to operate under its current name. Over time, Draft2Digital will become the name of the publishing platform, and Smashwords will remain as the brand for the Smashwords Store.

Q: When will the acquisition complete?

The close of the acquisition is expected to happen on March 1, 2022, after which the work of integrating the two companies begins.

Q: What will the combined company look like?

Following the acquisition, Draft2Digital will represent a combined 250,000 authors and publishers that use the company’s tools to publish, distribute, and manage over 880,000 ebooks and 11,000 print books (and growing). The combined company will employ over thirty people across the United States and Canada, and will maintain its corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Q: Why are the companies merging?

A: The decision to merge came down to a simple question: Can we drive greater success for our authors, publishers and sales channels by working together, or by working apart as competitors?

To answer this question, we considered: 

  • Both companies share common roots, missions, and values
  • Both companies were founded by writers to empower writers to become professional publishers
  • Both companies are expert at building free and powerful self-serve tools for authors
  • We’ve both built sophisticated distribution systems that help booksellers and libraries efficiently stock, merchandise and sell indie books
  • Both companies have built profitable businesses
  • We each built our successful businesses not by selling services to authors, but by helping authors and publishers publish, distribute, and market with greater efficiency and success

All of this led to our decision to merge both companies. The resources we once invested in building duplicative systems can now be redeployed to do more for all authors.

Q: What happens next for the authors and publishers of both companies?

A: As of March 1, 2022, if you’re an author or publisher with either Draft2Digital or Smashwords, there’s nothing you need to do; it will be business as usual. Over time, publishing and distribution systems for both Smashwords and Draft2Digital will be integrated onto the Draft2Digital website.

As a result, authors with both services will gain big benefits:

  • New sales partners will become available to authors
  • D2D authors and publishers will be able to list and sell their books in the Smashwords Store.
  • D2D authors will also gain access to exclusive book marketing tools from Smashwords, including Smashwords Coupons, the patent-pending Smashwords Presales tool, Smashwords Interviews, and self-serve merchandising in the Smashwords Store.
  • The Smashwords publishing platform operations and publisher Dashboard will be merged into Draft2Digital’s, with the goal of preserving the best capabilities of each.

At each stage of the integration, we’ll aim to make the transition as smooth and effortless as possible for our combined authors, publishers, store and library partners, and readers.

Q: What happens to the staff at both companies?

A: This is an acquisition of opportunity, not necessity. Because we are two successful companies coming together, all Smashwords employees, including founder Mark Coker, are joining the D2D team, and the D2D team will remain intact.

Kris Austin, co-founder of Draft2Digital, will serve as CEO of the combined company, and Mark Coker will join the senior management team as Chief Strategy Officer and board member.

Q: Is the new Draft2Digital Hiring?

A.  Yes! New growth means new opportunities!

Know any great software developers or customer support professionals who want to join our growing company? Visit https://draft2digital.com/careersto learn more. 

 

Authors & Publishers

Q: How will the acquisition affect my books in distribution?

A: We will work with our sales partners to minimize any impact on book listings, listing web addresses, and reviews.

Q: Each company distributes to sales outlets not reached by the other. Will I have access to all sales channels?


A:
Yes! Once our distribution systems are merged, authors will be able to opt-in to any and all sales and library partners currently offered by either Draft2Digital or Smashwords.

Q: Each company’s ebook publishing process is slightly different. How will the process change for me if I prefer one or the other?

A: We’re combining approaches to give you more options and flexibility!

Both companies allow authors and publishers to upload a professionally designed .epub file. However, the way each company handles conversion from Word or RTF files is a bit different.

We will be preserving both the granular flexibility of custom manuscript styling from Smashwords and the streamlined, automated professional layout and templates from Draft2Digital. This means that authors and publishers get the best of both worlds, with options to use either method.

Q: Can you summarize the unique tool sets of each company that you anticipate making available to all authors?

A: Yes! Both companies offer robust tools for: 

  • Distribution
  • Marketing
  • Sales reporting
  • Tax reporting
  • Metadata management

When these tools are integrated, Draft2Digital will seek to combine the best elements of each.

Both companies also offer unique tools not offered by the other: 

  • Simpler publishing tools; tools for automated end-matter
  • Books2Read Universal Book Links (UBLs), Author Pages, Book Tabs, and Reading Lists
  • D2D Print for POD paperbacks (Visit https://draft2digital.com/printbeta/ to be included in the beta)
  • D2D Payment Splitting for co-authors and collaborations
  • New payment options, including direct bank deposits
D2D authors and publishers can expect to gain access to: 
  • The Smashwords Store
  • Smashwords Coupons
  • Smashwords Presales
  • Self-serve merchandising
  • Author Interviews

D2D erotic romance and erotica authors will also gain access to the Smashwords erotica certification system (see next item).

Q: What are the erotic fiction policies of the new company?

A:  Each retailer, subscription service, or library platform has its own content policies. Draft2Digital will adopt the existing Smashwords erotic fiction policies for these platforms.

A few years ago, Smashwords introduced a certification system that allows erotic fiction publishers to self-certify the presence (or lack thereof) of various facets of erotica that are generally recognized as “taboo.” This accurate, more granular categorization provides retailers and libraries with the confidence they need to know that the erotic literature they’re selling doesn’t violate their policies.

The Smashwords Erotic Fiction Certification System will be made available to all Draft2Digital authors.

Q: Will the erotica policies change in the Smashwords Store?

A: Smashwords has a long history of supporting the erotic fiction community. No changes are anticipated to the policies documented at https://www.smashwords.com/about/tos, nor have there been any changes in the last four years.

The policies on permitted, discouraged, and forbidden erotica categories remain in effect. The Smashwords Store has a more permissive approach to taboo erotica than most ebook stores. The store gives customers unprecedented control over the types of erotica, if any, that appear in their search results.

Q: What does the acquisition mean for existing store and library partners?

As the leading distributors of independently published ebooks, both companies have always worked in close partnership with major ebook retailers and library platforms to help them list, promote, and profit from the amazing diversity of indie ebooks.. We help our authors succeed by helping our sales partners succeed!

Q: Is the new Draft2Digital looking to expand its distribution network to new sales partners?

Absolutely! As a distributor, we’re always looking to support promising new booksellers and bookselling models. Given the size of our catalog, we can give new sales channels the critical mass they need to build businesses around our authors’ books. Draft2Digital and Smashwords have rigorous qualification procedures to ensure that new sales partners meet our high standards and requirements.

Potential sales channels can ask to be connected to the Draft2Digital Operations team at support@draft2digital.com.

###

 


44 comments:

John H. Carroll said...

Wow. This is definitely big news. I'm both nervous and excited. I've heard only good things about D2D, so I have high hopes. Well done to both companies.

Xtechworld said...

Long live Smashwords team!

Donald Harry Roberts said...

I think the result of this opportunity can only be positive.

Unknown said...

I love the idea of the beta print, but I could never get my children's picture books down enough in size to meet D2D's minimum upload size and have had issues with creating an EPUB that would be accepted. I am happy to see that I can still use the Smashword's grinder to get my books uploaded. I am expecting to finish a book or two by the end of this year and have been working on better artwork with more detail, which means more megabytes with that. Kudos Smashwords and D2D exciting news. Oh yea, what do you do if you have both accounts already? (Even if you only use the one account.)

Gabriella West said...

I'm a bit glum about this (though most of my fellow authors will be happy, I think).

However, I do appreciate the very well-written and detailed announcement! And slow is good :)

One thing I am super-grateful to Smashwords for is the easy on-ramp to audio at Findaway Voices. I'm so glad I took advantage of that for a shorter nonfiction book. Would never have done it without the "push" from Smashwords. (And now Findaway's been acquired by Spotify, so that arrangement is probably over.)

I guess this is the way things go!

Unknown said...

It's good and bad. I see advantages, but it means less competition, and this might not be so good for authors in the future. Also, what will happen to authors currently on both platforms?

Vivian Lane said...

Really, Mark? Really? Less choices for authors yay!

Pamela Cummins said...

Congratulations, Mark! You may need a long vacation in the Caribbean after working out all the kinks of the merger. Change is inevitable and it will be interesting watching it play out…

Mark Coker said...

Thanks everyone.

@unknown, if you have two accounts, there's nothing for you do at this time. We'll merge the account systems carefully and incrementally over time. So just keep doing what you're doing!

@Gabriella I'd love to hear any concerns you have. You've been with us almost 10 years (!!!), so I'm eager to hear what you think so we can take steps to preserve what's most important to you. Our general aim with this combination is that authors from both companies should get more of what they want and need, not less. :)

Mark Coker said...

@unknown II and Vivian Lane, I know it's a general concern, and a fair one, so thank you for raising this. Often with mergers and acquisitions, consumers are left with fewer choices and less competition. I might be too close to this, but here's what I'm thinking...

A company's business model says a lot about their character, and what you can expect from them in the future as they grow larger. Both of our companies chose the ABSOLUTE MOST DIFFICULT business model by which to build our companies. We each only make money when the author makes money. We each invest millions of dollars to build and maintain tools we let people use for free. And we all know that most self-published books don't sell well. We also know that you can sell almost nothing for years and then suddenly break out to become a bestseller. We stick with our authors, even if they never sell well (very different from traditional publishing!).

We each chose this model not because it's easy, but because it's the right model for any company that truly cares about helping authors achieve the greatest long term success. It's difficult for companies like ours to turn a profit and stay in business, but both of us figured out how to do it.

Take a look at our distribution systems as just one example of our duplicative systems. We've each invested millions of dollars over the last 14 years (14 for us; 10 years for D2D) to build super-sophisticated distribution systems that give authors incredible distribution and also incredible control over their listings. Each of us has the capacity to scale our distribution systems to support more books than even exist. So simply by combining our distribution systems into one, it frees up a tremendous amount of capital for both of our companies to invest more to innovate new tools and opportunities for the entire indie community's benefit. It allows more capital for us to hire more people for our authors' benefit. And because we're serving a larger base of authors, it means that development projects that might not have been economically feasible when were each smaller can start to become more feasible in the future when that cost is spread across the earnings potential of more books and more authors. So this means over the long term, you should see us do more for you, not less.

Our intention here is to do good by our authors. We recognize that you have dozens if not hundreds of other choices that can help you publish and distribute books. We want to work to be your best choice, not because we're the largest indie distributor but because we're going to work every day to innovate on your behalf so we can continue to earn and deserve your trust and partnership.

Contrast our business models with the antithesis - think of the predatory vanity presses that earn almost all their income selling hollow promises and over-priced packages to unsuspecting authors. That's the easy way to build a business, but it's not the ethical or sustainable.

Thanks for the comment!

Sara Luna said...

Why do my comments keep getting deleted?

Mark Coker said...

That's really strange, Sara, because I'm not deleting them! I see them coming in my email, and each time I came to respond they disappeared. Is your comment the one that starts with "Are the Erotica policies really not changing.."? If so, I'll post your question here and answer. Sorry, I don't know why Google is deleting your comments.

Catseye1979 said...

I'll be excited to be able to consolidate my ebook and paperback print on demand books. While I love smashwords I just haven't figured out how market ebooks to the audience that seems to enjoy my books the most, the 9 to 13 age range. To date most of my sales have been from kids who have made their parents buy sequel books after getting their hands on one of my paperbacks. I have not been satisfied with the last couple of print on demand companies I've gone through so I'm looking forward bring them home to a company that hasn't let me down yet.
-Marc Van Pelt

Catseye1979 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Bozza said...

I felt deeply troubled when I first saw this news - but I'm happier now I've read all the info here.

In particular, I am grateful that "We will be preserving both the granular flexibility of custom manuscript styling from Smashwords..." That granular control over my manuscript is something I very much appreciate about Smashwords (along with the shopfront, with discount codes, and so on). While I understand that it won't make good business sense to run *all* systems in tandem, I hope that this "best of both worlds" approach continues!

Thank you, Mark, for all you've done and all you do.

Mark Coker said...

@Catseye/Marc, that's an interesting challenge to reach the 9-13 age range with ebooks since those kids won't have credit cards. Print sounds like a good option for you. You can go ahead and try to sign up for the beta at D2D (you'l need to sign up for an account there first), and maybe they can help do you proud.

Dan McGirt said...

This is great news, Mark! Congratulations. I remember when I first stumbled across Smashwords when I was trying to figure out how to publish my first ebook (Hero Wanted) in 2009. I thought "This site is too good to be true. What's the catch?" But there was no catch -- Smashwords is the real deal and you are one of the best champions for independent authors and publishers out there. You've helped hundreds of thousands of authors realize their publishing dreams and given us amazing tools -- for free! -- to get there. Thank you, Mark. Proud to be a Smashwords author from early on and I look forward to this new era!

Mark Coker said...

Thank you the comment, Julie, and thanks for reading all these materials. I'm glad to hear how granular control is important to you!

Mark Coker said...

Hi Dan! Thanks for stopping by! I think the last time (and possibly the first time) we met was at IBPA in Chicago, right? And most people here won't remember, but you were one of the early authors I profiled here all the way back in 2009(!!). Here's the link: Interview with Dan McGirt

Sara Luna said...

Mark: Please answer the question I asked since you say you keep getting them in your email. I can't post it here, for real. This site is deleting it every time. If I don't say the E word then I can post. As soon as I say E R O T I C A ? My comment gets deleted....

Sara Luna said...

Oh wow. I was right. It posted just because I didn't mention E R O T I C A. Wow.

Nickolaus Pacione said...

I am going to ask a hard question the thing that Kevin [Smashwords.com Kevin] caused was the plagiarism of a work that is more valuable than his job resume The Pattern Of Diagnosis happened to be that work. Dev tried to make things right with me that was eight years overdue taking down a fake account of my pen name, though I worked with Matt Carroll of The Boston Globe, does this mean you won’t go on a crusade to erase works on Draft2Digital knowing it was Kevin who told me about Draft2Digital I am from the Chicago area myself and trying to find justification for not having The Pattern of Diagnosis as in not speaking up when it got plagiarized made Amazon ECR a marked person of interst.

Mark Coker said...

Sara, was this your question? It came in as anonymous and then disappeared.

"Are the Erotica policies really not changing, Mark? I've been with Smashwords for five years, because you gave us taboo erotica authors a home. But Draft2Digital isn't like you -- at all. In fact, they're the complete opposite when it comes to Erotica. They actually reject books that even Amazon and Apple have no issue with. Imagine being bigger prudes than Amazon! Well, Draft2Digital is.

So I'm scrambling to get all my books on another distributor before Draft2Digital just kicks me off for no good reason. I am pretty sure it's gonna happen, so I better be prepared and definitely not get comfortable on the new Smashwords."

---

My answer: Yes, really, otherwise I wouldn't make such a statement. :) Our policies are not changing. D2D is adopting Smashwords erotica policies and our erotica certification system. So nothing is going to change for Smashwords authors, and the Smashwords Store will continue to welcome erotica per the Smashwords ToS. Once D2D authors have access to our erotica certification systems, I expect D2D to become more erotic-friendly. Since they didn't have an equivalent system for such granular facet categorization, it made it really difficult for them to accept taboo erotica knowing they couldn't distribute it with confidence. If you go back and look at our original erotica certification announcement on the blog from three years ago (https://blog.smashwords.com/2017/09/smashwords-erotica.html) you'll see how it spells out how some retailers take certain taboo facets, and others don't, even among the largest retailers. So our certification system gives us and the retailers the confidence we all need to know that the book we're sending them meets their specific requirements. I'd hate to see you leave based on erroneous fears. Just study our Terms of Service (https://www.smashwords.com/about/tos) and avoid publishing in the prohibited or discouraged categories, and you'll be safe. If you're unsure about anything, contact our support team. I'm sorry your messages kept getting deleted. It was not me, it was Google. I might suggest that when you post, you include your email address. That way, even if Google doesn't like the word erotica in your comment, I can still reply directly to you via email. Feel free to attend our live event tomorrow where I'm sure we can any concerns - https://draft2digital.com/live/

Thanks for bearing with me, and apologies again for these frustrating auto-deletes.

Joseph Renaire said...

I have a few practical concerns, if you don't mind me asking. Will this have an impact on pricing policies? Like:

1. Will the share that author's receive of the sales price of the book change?

2. Will author's abilities to determine the prices of their own books change? (Like on some platforms, where they forcebly lower the price to be cheaper than other websites, or forced participation in special sales?)

3. Will the handling of taxes cchange? Like, for instance, one company unconnected to you recently changed their tax policies so that the authors themselves have to pay value added tax to the various countries the books are published in, instead of the company doing it for them. This, as you can imagine, is completely impractical and makes it practically impossible to publish legally. Will similar changes occur during your merger with Draft2Digital?

Thank you for answering in advance!

Joseph Renaire said...

P.S:
I forgot - will this effect Smashwords policies on non-exclusive publishing? What will the new terms and conditions be, is there already a copy available?

Sam O. Oluwafemi said...

Mark Coker is a good man, I trust your decisions, every time I read your articles, I see a pure heart of Gold. You are great man, a living legend, you brought solution us. Thank you

Sam O. Oluwafemi said...

D2D is a good platform also, my joy is that from day one, Mark Coker knows what is best for us, I believe this is one of the things he thought is best for us. You've done well sir.

Nickolaus Pacione said...

I been with Draft2Digital.com off-and-on seven years on April 15 I became effective at doing the ePub3 and one of my creative nonfiction works and some works in Collectives In A Forsaken Landscape became classics too. I am going to ask if you have a science aware framework you will be invited to work with my cousins neighbor via Blurb. The thing is must be able to carry a 2000-2400 word range without batting an eye.

Nicky Charles said...

When I started to read this announcement, my stomach sank. I've always been proud to be a Smashwords author and, even though I'm on hiatus from writing, the idea of Mark not being at the helm is worriesome.

Losing the Smashwords name is sad both for nostalgic reasons and because saying 'I'm a Draft2Digital author' sounds like you're talking about a writing process not a company. Hopefully a better name is in the works.

I am pleased all the great innovations Smashwords developed over the years will be carried forward such as coupons, daily sales reports and series pages. And, of course, I'm happy the ability to format my book and have control over the appearance will remain. Long live meatgrinder!

Another positive will be direct deposit payments so I guess there is a glimmer of a rainbow in my initial cloud of unease. And Mark has always done his best for his authors, so if he believes this is a good thing, I'll trust his instincts.

Mark Coker said...

@Joseph Thanks for these questions.

1. Author royalties - I don't anticipate any changes. The approach for both companies has always been, "how can we pay authors more"? In some cases, one of us may have negotiated better terms with retailers or libraries than the other. Where possible, we'll always gravitate toward terms that put more money in the pockets of authors.

2. Author control over pricing - No changes. We both believe that authors should be at the center of the universe, and should have full control over their pricing, promotion, and distribution.

3. Taxes - The standard approach in the industry is that the retailer assumes responsibility for tax compliance, and the price they sell the book at is usually tax-inclusive, and the retailer pays those taxes to the appropriate taxing authority. We like this approach because it unburdens the author from having to worry about it.

4. Non-exclusive publishing - At Smashwords and D2D, the author is the publisher, and we've always given you the freedom to make your own choices. This will not change.

@Sam, thank you for your trust and confidence. We will always work to earn, deserve, and maintain the trust of authors. We will always serve to our best of our ability. We will never be perfect, and I'm sure we will make mistakes along the way, but we will always strive to be better tomorrow than we are today.

@Nicky Thank you, Nicky. When Kris reached out to me to learn if I was willing to consider a combination, the third sentence of his email read, "As Draft2Digital approaches our ten year anniversary, I continue to regularly think about how Smashwords and Draft2Digital can join forces in ways to further improve the lives of authors." That touched my heart, because that's always been our ultimate mission. No potential acquirer or investor has every opened a conversation that way. And then later in that same first email, as a sign of his good faith, he shared D2D's revenues with me, one of the most private things a private company can share with their top competitor. Those numbers told me he was doing a better job of improving the lives of his authors than I was. Their sales are 2X Smashwords with fewer titles. I knew then it would have been irresponsible of me to decline the conversation. My first responsibly is to serve our authors and publishers, and if this combination can help our authors and publishers do better, who am I to stand in the way? Once we started talking, it became clear that we share the same mission, and each of our companies have complementary skills, knowledge, experience and technology that, when combined, will help both of us do a better job of improving the lives of authors. That's the plan. These last couple days have been humbling, not just for the outpouring of support, but also humbling because of those such as yourself who took the news initially with a sense of sadness and loss. It reaffirms to me the importance of our mission, and how our mission is not complete. I look forward to making this combination a win for our authors, publishers, and channel partners. We have a lot of challenging work ahead of us, but both of our companies have proven that we're pretty good at overcoming tough challenges. I look forward to the day you come out of your hiatus! I know your fans do as well. Take care, my friend, and thank you.

Joleene Naylor said...

Thanks so much for this, Mark!

I won't lie, I was a bit unsure at first, too. I've never worked with D2D and (no disrespect to them in any way) I'm also not fond of the name. I mean, I get it - the work goes from a draft to a digital work - but it makes it sound like an author service as opposed to a publisher. It's perfect for marketing to authors (we will help you make your book real!) but for marketing to readers, it is kind of lacking. Though I know that is a minor thing, I won't lie, it's part of why I have never looked into them because at first I thought they were just an author service that did your formatting and covers, and whatnot (which I do myself ;) ) and then, when I realized they were publishers, I assumed they were very small players (I guess it's just the luck of the authors I know because I only know one who uses it, though she speaks highly of it).

Now questions:
1. Would you recommend making an account D2D ahead of time and starting on the paperback or waiting until the two merge?

2. I assume we will still be able to mark our books as free - will this allow us to have free books on Amazon? (Pronoun did this before they died, so I could see that it might be possible). If so, that would be amazing. If not, I would still understand because...Amazon.

3. Will all authors have access to Amazon distribution and not just the top sellers?

4. You mentioned that D2D had higher sales (which surprised me!) and made me wonder if they do some kind of advertising or something? I love Smashwords, and from a monetary/business stand point, I understand the decision for you to push those books (on the homepage for instance or with retailer special events) that are already best sellers, but I have always thought it would be nice to have some kind of program for lower selling or midlist authors to get discovered. I know the theory is good books will be purchased and bad books won't, but that's not always the case. I've read terrible books that are best sellers, and amazing books that sell maybe three a year because, in the end, it is down to advertising and who can pay the most to get that title in front of readers' eyes. I've always hoped Smashwords would be able to do this (again, I understand why you haven't been able to - there is only so much time and money) but with the merger is there a chance this could become a reality? (Not that I'm a midlist author anymore, more like those bottom selling ones, but there was a time I was, when I had the time and money for all that advertising, haha!)

5. From a selfish point of view, will Mark's List of cover artists still be there? Haha! (I get a bit of business from that!)

6. Not having a D2D account, I am unfamiliar with their formatting, but if I'm correct, we can still upload word documents via meatgrinder, so we won't need to switch over, correct? (I just went through a couple years ago and reformatted everything to be uniform so would hate to lose that, but it's not a major deal.)

I had something else, but I'm too senile to remember it!

In the end, I have been with Smashwords since 2009 (might have joined in 2008 but I didn't publish until then!) and have always been very happy with both the quality and the vision/heart of the company. I do believe that you have author's best interest at heart (if nothing else, bad experiences for authors are not going to make the company grow!), though I believe it's more than just that. After reading this and your answers to questions, I do feel better about the merger.

Mark Coker said...

Hi @Joleene Naylor!

Answers:

1. If you're interested to start a paperback, I'd go open an account now and request to be added to the beta. I'm sure they'll be interested in any feedback you can provide given your cover design talent.

2. They support free as we do, and they distribute to Amazon. But Amazon doesn't accept free so you still need to play the price match game with them by listing as free at other big retailers and waiting for a price match.

3. Yes, they offer distribution to Amazon without our "$2,000 club" restrictions.

4. They've got a larger merchandising team and lot going on there, and unlike us, they put out open calls for nominations. I would expect this to broaden the net for authors. Our current retailer merchandising is mostly centered around the most highly anticipated preorders, as well as bestsellers. There are other factors contributing to the higher sales, too, such as automated end matter; metadata; and their template-driven approach to ebook conversion that produces reliably attractive formatting and design.

5. Mark's List - TBD what happens. It's not something we've discussed yet, other than that they want to add the Smashwords approach to ebook conversion as an option for all authors. I doubt few formatters are more experienced at taming Meatgrinder than those of you on my list.

6. Yes, by all means, continue using Meatgrinder and publishing as you normally do. The integration of our two systems under a common dashboard at D2D is likely going to be a slow, careful, and incremental process, so it won't happen overnight.

Thank you, Joleen, for your tremendous contribution to the success of Smashwords authors over these many years.

Carla Krae said...

A reason - probably the primary reason - D2D has high sales of books they distribute is because of who is there. They host big-name genre authors who have big ad budgets, so therefore, money is coming in.

A lot of self-pub authors never wanted to learn how to do SW formatting (I can't tell you how many times I've explained how easy it really is), fought with the Meatgrinder, and instead of accepting maybe it was them and not Smashwords, flocked to the new hot cool kid on the block and tried out D2D.

A lot of them then got burned by D2D not having retailer relationships Mark does, though that was years ago now.

Anyway, D2D organizes promos with the retailers based on holidays, seasons, and themes and authors apply for those. If you don't have your own rep, at say, Apple, then this is the alternative. Conversely, a lot of Smashwords authors still don't know that you can email in and ask for pushes, too.

I'm actually surprised SW never had more of that similar thing. I was in the Wattpad Romance promo years ago and that was great for me for quite a while. When I saw applications for D2D promos shared in author groups, um, yeah....

There's always some "cool kid" area of self-publishing, though. You can organize multi-author promos through StoryOrigin or Bookfunnel. Bookfunnel has always charged for their services. Until last spring, StoryOrigin was in "beta" for years and was free. Guess where a lot of authors without much disposable income were? Guess where the other authors had been? Tons of Bookfunnel-exclusive promos that could really help a lower-tier author - but if you can't add Yet Another Monthly Fee to your budget, you've been SOL. None of those Bookfunnel authors ever bothered to duplicate those promos on StoryOrigin all the years it was free.

Mark Tagliaferri said...

It's the same old song. Any failure is shouted as a success, any advantage to oneself is trumpeted as an advantage to the world.
It is the liberal hypocrisy of digital "civilization", which has lost every moral value and every principle other than money, but shows itself to the world as idealistic and visionary.
How sad
Cordiality

Mark Coker said...

@Mark Tagliaferri I can understand your skepticism in this post-truth age of bifurcated realities, doublespeak, and big tech hegemony. The proof will be in the pudding.

Check back in a couple years, and ask, did our union...

* open new doors of opportunity for all authors, doors that cost nothing to enter?

* innovate and deliver powerful new tools for authors that cost nothing to use?

* place millions more indie books in the hands of readers, and millions more dollars in the pockets of the author community?

* promote a diverse ecosystem of booksellers who find increased success supporting indie authors and their readers?

* bring more honor to the indie community?

* put more good into the world?

* play fair and honest?

That's how I'll judge our success. We won't be perfect. We will make mistakes.

We aim to grow our business by growing the businesses of indie authors and their chosen publishers.

The fruits of our labors will not be evenly distributed. Most authors will still struggle to build readership amid a growing glut of high-quality low-cost books competing for reader attention.

We're not Santa Claus. We'll open doors and provide tools and share best practices knowledge.
Author success will always be determined by a combination of the author's talent, determination, perseverence and luck. If you're looking for best practice ideas that will give you an edge in this hypercompetitive market, and help more luck fall your way, check out my SMART AUTHOR podcast. It's a free master class.

Nickolaus Pacione said...

I became an ePub3 developer over the years, this would't been able to faithfully recreate as an eBook I been with the D2D guys seven years and the anthology they oversaw for my cousin is Printed Citizens: Journalism's Obscure Looking Glass more or less if Dev had his way no one with a Pacione last name will be published.

Diane Farr said...

Wait. You have to move from Pacific Grove to Oklahoma?! My sincere condolences.

Unknown said...

Hey! I like Oklahoma too, but I’m a California boy through and through. My poem for the day.

Unknown said...

This is mark btw.

Diane Farr said...

Mark, I am still your number one fangirl and always will be. I'll follow you to Oklahoma if I must... provided I can do it virtually. Thank God for the internet. LOL

M.R. Leenysman said...

You've indicated that the e_r_o_t_i_c_a policies SW has adopted, allowing the more taboo types, will be continued. Will that also extend to the POD service?

Also, will POD books be available for sale at the Smashwords store?

Mark Coker said...

@ M.R. Two great questions. 1. Our intention is to maximize distribution opps for all indies, including our erotica authors. So yes, we will look to extend this to print, but obviously within the limits of our partners' own policies as well. Stay tuned as the D2D print beta develops. 2. That's definitely something we want; the big question will be timing. Merging distribution systems and getting D2D ebook titles into the SW Store will probably take higher priority at first.

Terescia said...

I'm excited. I don't know the plan, but I would love to see Smashwords book store become something more than it is and actually compete for readers in the US (and world).

I suggest a simple branded e-reading app for Android, Apple, and Windows, if at all possible, because a surprising number of readers use a laptop for reading e-books. Start as a basic e-reading app and add the store to it as you can. Don't wait. There is a serious lack of good e-reader options available for phones, ask me how I know. Most are bloated and offer too many customization options (more is not always better) and are battery and storage hogs. I love reading on my phone. It is the number one way I consume ebooks these days.

A reader with a phone and an epub reading app on it is a click away from being a reader with a book downloaded and opened. :D

piya sen said...

thanks for this information