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Mark Coker
Founder of Smashwords, an ebook distributor. Also angel investor, gardener, hiker, battler of squirrels, dreamer, doer, co-author of Boob Tube
Founder of Smashwords, an ebook distributor. Also angel investor, gardener, hiker, battler of squirrels, dreamer, doer, co-author of Boob Tube

Mark's posts

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BookExpo America is coming to Chicago May 11-13.  This year, they're stepping up their commitment to self published authors.  I'll be there to present three sessions.  Learn more at the Smashwords blog.  Early bird registration ends April 26.

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The Smashwords Survey for 2016 is out!  Learn fresh insights into the self publishing market with new data on top genres, series, box sets, preorder adoption and preorder sales.  The full survey is at the Smashwords blog.

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Be careful what you read today. 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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