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Mark Coker
Works at Smashwords
Attended University of California, Berkeley
Lives in Silicon Valley
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Ebook distribution
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  • Smashwords
    Founder, 2008 - present
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Silicon Valley
Previously
Bedford, NY 10506 - Berkeley, CA
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Founder of Smashwords, an ebook distributor. Also angel investor, gardener, hiker, battler of squirrels, dreamer, doer, co-author of Boob Tube
Introduction
Founder of Smashwords, a distributor of ebooks serving 50,000+ indie authors and publishers.  We publish over 200,000 ebooks, and distribute them to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, libraries and multiple mobile platforms.

Quick links to my ebooks:
The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of the most commercially successful ebook authors)
The Smashwords Style Guide
(how to produce, publish and distribute an ebook)
The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (market any book for free)
The 10-Minute PR Checklist (earn the publicity you deserve)
Boob Tube (a novel about soap operas.  this is the book that spawned my Smashwords adventure)

Connect with me:
Blog:  http://blog.smashwords.com
Twitter:  @markcoker
Facebook:  facebook.com/markcoker
Bragging rights
Climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro
Education
  • University of California, Berkeley
    Marketing
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Male

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Mark Coker

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I posted my annual Smashwords year in review today along with a look-ahead to 2016.  I review the progress the indie author movement has made the last eight years, summarize milestones for 2015 and share some broad themes for what we'll be doing in 2016.  Happy New Year everyone!  Be safe and remember to hug the next author you meet.
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Mark Coker

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Smashwords today announced a distribution agree with Gardners, the UK's largest book wholesaler.  The agreement spans retail and library distribution.  Smashwords authors and publishers will reach 400+ small ebook retail stores powered by Gardners, and over 2,000 public and academic libraries.

Their library platform is especially interesting.  It's one of the first truly patron-driven ebook checkout systems.  All non-erotic Smashwords titles will be discoverable to library patrons who use libraries powered by Gardners' Askew & Holts library platform, reaching about 50% of the UK library market.
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A.H. Pellett's profile photoPat Donovan's profile photoJ. Steven York's profile photoSuzi Love's profile photo
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Found one site offering one of the books for free, not at posted price.
 india seems to've evaporated.
 glad to see indy brits... tho a 400 book USB seems scarey.

 love the promotion work.
kevin williams
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Mark Coker

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Amazon makes it difficult for indie authors to price their books at free.  The only officially sanctioned method is to enroll the book in KDP Select, but KDP Select requires exclusivity, and exclusivity is toxic to an author's career for many reasons.  Also, Amazon only allows KDP Select books to be priced at free for a maximum of five days per quarter.  That's not enough time for authors to harness the full magic of free.

Free is one of the most powerful tricks to build readership and sell books.  Especially if you write series.

Many authors mistakenly believe exclusivity is the only way to get free at Amazon.  Not true.  Today I published a post at the Smashwords blog which shows a proven, step-by-step method of pricing at free without exclusivity, and without running afoul of Amazon's rules.
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This method in itself is not usually enough to get amazon to "permafree" your book.   If you follow those steps and Amazon ignores you (and your friends and family)  THEN  send an email to amazon providing all your links and say it is now permanently free everywhere, then politely request they list it for free, they will quite quickly do so via a price match. (a matter of hours or days).
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Mark Coker

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Ebooks born as preorders sell significantly more copies than books that are simply uploaded the day of release.

Earlier today Smashwords announced a new preorder capability called "Assetless Preorders."  The feature allows indie authors and small independent presses to establish ebook preorder listings at iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo months in advance of the book being finished.  This longer preorder runway enables more effective advance marketing and a higher likelihood of hitting the bestseller lists.

Learn more at the Smashwords blog, where you'll find the announcement and a new best practices piece on preorders.
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Has Amazon gone to far? New "Kindle Author" service replaces authors with an algorithm (be careful what you read today, okay???)

http://blog.smashwords.com/2015/03/kindle-author-eliminates-need-for.html
The publishing industry is reeling today after news broke this morning about Kindle Author, Amazon's new service that  generates high-quality fiction using complex software algorithms. It’s like Build-A-Bear for ebooks. The r...
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I have to admit, this email in my inbox this morning, scared the crap out of me. I saw my writing career flash before my eyes. The adrenaline rushed through my veins at my complete outrage and oh f**k how is this possible moment. And then--- relief. So mean. Thank God it was a prank.
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Mark Coker

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Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's controversial ebook subscription offering, has been out since July.  Many authors claim the introduction of the service caused their sales to plummet.  Over at the Smashwords blog today, I analyze why Kindle Unlimited is different from other subscription services, and why it's devaluing books.

The tl;dr version is that KU was built from KDP Select (Amazon's self publishing option that requires exclusivity), and the most of the 700,000+ books were supplied by Indie authors.  This means indie authors created the monster that became Kindle Unlimited, which means only indie authors have the power to kill it.  Will they?
In my previous post, I examined how authors can succeed despite the challenging sales environment for ebooks.  Today, I examine how Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited could jeopardize the independence of indie authors. Budget-minded ...
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Mark Coker

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The new 2015 Smashwords Survey is out.  Each year Smashwords analyses over $20 million in verified ebook sales at retail and asks questions of the data.

You'll find 10 key findings at the link, along with a healthy does of caveats.  Here are three of the findings I found most interesting:

1.  eBooks born as preorders earn more sales than books that are simply uploaded the day of release.

2.  Series that have a free series starter earn more income for the author than series that don't have free series starters.

3.  Free as tool for readership-building remains extremely effective, even though many authors have now caught on to this trick.  Free makes it easy for readers to take a chance on a new author they don't yet know or trust.  Once you earn the reader's trust by getting them to spend time with your words, they go on to purchase your priced books.

More at the blog!
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Interesting!
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Mark Coker

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Amazon is encouraging Kindle customers to consume books via its Kindle Unlimited service, where subscribers can read over one million ebooks for $9.99 a month.  The Kindle Unlimited service is powered almost entirely by the books from self-published authors.

Most in the industry don't understand Amazon's true strategy with Kindle Unlimited:  They're working to strip authors and publishers of pricing control, reduce royalty rates and eviscerate the market for single-copy ebook sales (where authors and publishers early up to 70% list).

Over at the Smashwords blog I examine Amazon's strategy in light of the news this week that Oyster, a pioneer in ebook subscriptions, is closing its business.
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offering free reads to a readship that read a couple 'unlimited' publishers out of biz.

  high wordage, low price, stay out of amazon.
bait your series with freebies.

 hope they buy it.

 
 
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Mark Coker

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I presented a four-part six-hour workshop series on ebook publishing last week in Seattle at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference.  I bundled the four presentations into one today and posted the presentation at the Smashwords blog.  Feel free to share with your writer friends!
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90% of this, like everything from restaurants to work, is personal reconsecrations.

you need a few thousands of them.

 network,. promote.  ... hand out freebies till you gotten thru enough toads to make a living.
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Indie authors:  If you live in the NY area, I'll be speaking at uPublishU which occurs at the tail end of BEA.  The one-day self-publishing conference is on May 30 at the Jacob Javits convention center.  More info at http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/BEA-Conferences/DIY-Authors-Conference/#page=uPublishU and you can register here - http://bit.ly/1CYZR6h.    My first presentation is on how to hit the bestseller lists with ebook preorders.  The second presentation covers how to reach more readers in today's competitive ebook environment.  The early bird registration fee is $121 and good until May 6.  After that, the price goes up to $226.  If you can make it, please stop by and say hello.  My favorite thing about attending these conferences is meeting with Smashwords authors!
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For indie authors:  The Ebook as Annuity

In this blog post, I examine how the earnings from an indie ebook are very much like a variable annuity.  Unlike traditionally published print books in which the author earns most of their income up front in the form of a lump sum advance, indie ebooks pay a variable income stream for years, allowing authors and their heirs to harvest value for many decades to come.  When indie authors view their books as long term income-producing assets, it completely changes how authors measure their book's financial performance and value.  The annuity analysis also helps authors better negotiate the sale of their rights to traditional publishers, and to know when to walk away from an offer.  More at the SW blog.
As a self-published author, your book is your asset.  It’s something of value you own and control. Like the orange tree pictured at left that bears fruit year round, your ebook promises to yield you, your family and your heir...
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Mark Coker

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For all authors and publishers, things get more difficult from here.  There's a glut of high-quality books.  The once-exponential growth of the ebook market is now slowing.  This is normal.   Yet for indie ebook authors, there's still never been a better time to publish.

Over at the Smashwords blog, I examine the three drivers for the slowdown and then provide tips on how every author can maximize their success in this new environment.
First the good news.  For indie authors, there’s never been a better time to self-publish an ebook.  Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential...
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+JM Davis, or perhaps has not learned a darn thing. The ability of people to only see what they want to see seems particularly prevalent in publishing at present. 
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