Why I LOVE the #Smashwords Blog and you should, too!

I started with #Smashwords after months of research, watching every one of the owner/founder, Mark Coker’s, informative videos, visiting many other forum and chat room sites and investigating other options thoroughly, in early 2013. I have not been sorry in the least.

Smashwords Logo

In addition to their excellent customer support, easy-to-navigate website and ongoing info for #indie #authors, Smashwords publishes an excellent blog with researched, important, up-to-the minute updates.

Excerpts and the link to the full article from their most recent posting are here. READ and SHARE!

Smashwords Blog: Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult from Here –
Here’s How to Succeed

Posted: 19 Nov 2014 03:59 PM PST

The article starts with “good news,” which I won’t rehash, here, but it is worth reading.

It’s the “bad news” we’re all needing to know about, for sure. Here are some highlights, but please go read the details.

“…most major ebook retailers have suffered anemic or declining sales over the last 12-18 months.”

“… after a decade of exponential growth in ebooks with indies partying like it was 1999, growth was slowing.”

“It’s easy to succeed when everything’s growing like gangbusters. It’s when things slow down that your mettle is tested.”

The article goes into depth about “What’s causing the slowdown,” which I also encourage you to read fully. Headlines, here.

“1. There’s a glut of high-quality #ebooks.”

“2. The rate of growth in the supply of ebooks is outstripping the growth in demand for ebooks.”

“3. The rate of transition from print books to ebooks is slowing.”

What can an indie author do, especially one like me, who still ONLY has ebooks?

I love Mark’s optimistic overview, including: “…tremendous opportunities still lie ahead.”
and “…there’s never been a better time to be an indie author. Millions of readers are hungry to discover, purchase and read their next great book.”

He then provides tips and tricks for our use, immediately and in the future, for “how to succeed” right now. Read about and incorporate them!

“1. Take the long view.”

“2. Good isn’t good enough.”

“3. Write more, publish more and get better.”

“4. Diversify your distribution.”

“5. Network with fellow indies.”
Mark Coker also penned the Indie Author Manifesto, well worth reading!

“6. Publish multi-author box set collaborations.”

“7. Leverage professional publishing tools.”

“8. Best practices bring incremental advantage.”

Mark offers his free ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, and reminds us of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide and to “review [his] prior blogs posts here, or watch [his] ebook publishing tutorial videos at YouTube.”

As I said, I watched all Coker’s videos. If you are an indie author, regardless of how many ebooks/print books you’re self-published or published with a small press, these videos are well worth your time.

If you’re new and you’re trying to decide where to start, I highly recommend starting with your own word processing program and then using Smashwords as your first “publisher,” because that means you MUST put your ebook into the format that succeeds going through their “meatgrinder” and having it come out fine. If you follow Smashwords’ free formatting manual EXACTLY (and I recommend you start to do it NOW, prior to your final draft) that experience then forces your ebook into the format the Smashwords’ meatgrinder accepts.

Once you fulfill that, you’ll have EVERY ebook version you need for your manuscript, correctly formatted already. With a few tweaks (literally, taking fewer than 10 minutes), your Kindle format (.mobi) is ready to upload to #Amazon directly from your having downloaded it to your own computer from Smashwords.

Smashwords also provides a PDF, an RTF, an epub (needed for #nook, #iBooks, #Kobo and other ebook retailers) and excerpt-size versions (your choice of how large an excerpt) of all these formats for you to download as well.

That means you can email ARCs of your ebook in any format to potential beta readers, reviewers, family, as soon as it’s in the pre-order phase at Smashwords (which I highly recommend you utilize).

Then, about ten days prior to its actual release, you can fix any last-minute errors readers/ reviewers/ you found, add any review excerpts to the front matter and update your links before submitting the final revision. You need that 10-day lead for the revision to get sent in its new version to all Smashwords’ retailer partners.

THIS IS ALL FREE! Smashwords takes a very small percentage of every sale, but that is it.

NOTE: Using Smashwords first means you can’t use Kindle Select Publication (KSP), only Kindle Direct Publication (KDP), but it’s worth it.

“9. You’re running a business.”
I print these in their entirety, to entice you to follow the link, below, and read this entire article. FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!

Mark’s Unconventional (but proven effective) Rules for Business:
1. Be a nice person. Treat partners, fellow authors and readers with kindness, respect and integrity. You’ll find as you develop your career, the publishing industry will feel smaller and smaller as you get to know everyone, and as everyone gets to know you. It takes a village to reach readers. All these people – fellow authors, critique partners, beta readers, editors, publishers, cover designers, publicists, retailers, and distributors – have the potential to open doors for you.
2. Be honest. Business relationships are built on trust and honesty. The fastest way to destroy a relationship is to be dishonest.
3. Be Ethical. Don’t cheat. Do unto others as you’d want done unto you.
4. Be Humble. Yeah, I’ve told you have superawesome potential within you. But know that you can always be better. Celebrate those who help you succeed. Always know that none of us can achieve anything without the support, encouragement and love of those around us. It takes a village.

“10. Pinch your pennies (an American saying that means, ‘be frugal with your money’).”

“11. Time Management.”

“12. Take risks, experiment, and fail often.”

“13. Dream big dreams.”

“14. Be delusional.”
I love this story, so I also print it here. Mark Coker is the real deal. An indie author himself (and that is one of the main reasons he founded Smashwords), he is also funny, smart, and insightful.

At the Pikes Peak writers conference three years ago, I had a fun conversation with uber-agent Donald Maas. Don had just told a room full of writers that self-publishing was a fine option if they didn’t want to sell any books. Later that night, we crossed paths at dinner. I told him I thought he was underestimating the impact self-published authors would have on the publishing industry. He told me he thought I was delusional. When someone doubts me, I feel energized. To have vision – to see what doesn’t yet exist – that’s delusional. Be delusional. What’s your vision? Know that every NY Times bestseller was absolutely nuts to write a book. Most books fail. Three months ago, three years after my conversation with Mr. Maas, Inc. Magazine named Smashwords to its INC 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies in recognition of indie authors at Smashwords who sold over $30 million worth of books at retail last year. Who’s delusional now?

“15. Embrace your doubters.”

“16. Celebrate your fellow authors’ success.”

“17. Past success is no guarantee of future success.”

“18. Never Quit.”

“19. Dream big dreams.”

“20. Know that your writing is important.”
Mark supports and exhorts us authors so well, here, that I quote most of it:

“You are the creator of books. That makes you special, and it also burdens you with a special responsibility. No one else can create what you have within you. Your writing represents the manifestation of your life, your dreams, your soul and your talent. You’re special. Others might think you’re suffering from delusions of grandiosity but so what? What do they know? If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?”

“If you publish for the right reasons and you adopt best practices that make your books more available and more desirable to readers, your future is as bright as your imagination.”

“Thank you for everything you do.”

No, #MarkCoker: THANK YOU!