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!
P.S. The press release and FAQ follow.
The Official Press Release
Acquire Smashwords, Creating
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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?
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:
- 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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.