EBook Publishing Inspiration With Mark Coker From Smashwords

Last week, I was honored to meet Mark Coker from Smashwords.com who is making it easy for indie authors to get their ebooks to the world through free upload and distribution to multiple ebook platforms. We discussed the opportunities available right now for authors who are embracing digital publishing as well as secrets of successful ebook authors, an upcoming bestseller list for ebooks and much more!

We are both passionate about helping people get their books into the world, and we had a great time discussing it so there are multiple ways you can get this information as I am keen to get it out!

Here is the short video version of our discussion [5 min 26], with the full length embedded below that. I have also added text highlights at the bottom of the post for anyone who just wants to read.

Here is the long version of our discussion [21:14]

In this podcast and videos , you will learn:

  • What is Smashwords anyway? An independent ebook publishing and distribution platform, available to any author globally with premium distribution to Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, Diesel and other platforms.
  • How Mark started Smashwords after his book ‘Boob Tube‘ wouldn’t sell to mainstream publishing. It was questioned that it wasn’t mainstream enough for publishers to make money. In solving his own problem for publishing, Mark designed Smashwords.com as an independent platform where authors could put books up, let readers read what they want and take the majority of the income. In Oct 2010, Smashwords is serving 21,000 books solving over 9000 authors around the world. Smashwords is a truly global platform and was really the first to allow international authors.
  • What is happening in the world of ebooks right now? The market is growing incredibly fast. 2 years ago ebooks were one half of 1% of the book market, in May 2010 8% of all book sales in the US, up from 3% in 2009. This is the growth curve of the hockey stick and no one knows where it will max out. Reading is moving to screens.
  • More and more book buying is moving to the web so the traditional publisher is less important as indie publishers can appear on the same virtual shelf as ‘traditionally’ published books. Distributors are eager to carry self-published books as it brings them more revenue, and enables them to offer customers a great selection of books. Online retailers have no physical space limitations.
  • On selling ebooks and the reality of having to market it. The benefits of patience once ebooks are actually available for sale. Why Smashwords can never compete with Amazon Kindle which holds 70% of ebook market, but it has benefits of multiple platform distribution. Your book online is a fragile seedling that you must protect and send readers to, earn positive reviews and word of mouth. Once it achieves sales rank, the sales will grow. Also read Mark’s marketing guide.
  • Ebook covers are important, as is formatting. Outsource this for a very good price! Also read Mark’s free formatting guide. It’s a very low cost of entry. It’s free to publish on Smashwords and they take 15% commission when the book sells, so there is no/little upfront cost.
  • On a Top 100 Ebook list – Smashwords are looking to put this together. I’m interested in best practices of ebook authors so we can emulate them.
  • Mark’s article on Huffington Post – 7 secrets of ebook publishing success. Write a great book and then another one….. I also cover this in “What do the most highly paid authors have in common?”
  • The future of ebooks. Doom and gloom in the publishing industry (but not around here!) We’re on the cusp of dramatic, wonderful change thanks to the internet and ebooks. The opportunities to reach readers has never been greater. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be an author!

Go and check out Smashwords here.

You can also find Mark Coker at the Smashwords blog, and on twitter @markcoker

What are your feelings about ebooks as an author or a reader? Are you excited about the future of digital publishing?
I now offer a multi-media online short course on how to publish your book on the Kindle, iPad, Nook and other e-readers as well as answers to all your ebook publishing questions. Featuring video, audio and PDF information for only $39.99.

Click here for all the details.

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  1. says

    Thank you for this wonderful resource! I’ve only just recently found Smashwords and am looking forward to exploring it further. Great job to both of you!

    Jackson Dunes
    Pug At The Beach ~ An innovative approach to the traditional New Thought writing of Ernest Holmes and Michael Beckwith, the mindfulness of Pema Chodron and the Dalai Lama, and the fun loving and playful ways of Jimmy Buffett.

  2. says

    As a writer and a book reviewer I think ebooks are wonderful. I am really am excited that the new technology is changing the face of the book and how it will be so much cheaper and easier to get. I am working on a project now and can’t wait to utilize Smashwords. Thanks Joanna.

  3. says

    I have to say that, as a writer and designer, it’s really disheartening to hear about cover designers charging $35-$50. That’s a ridiculously low price, and I have to wonder what the quality is for that price. I haven’t done a huge number of covers (except for myself), but I’ve never charged less than $150, and that was just photos and text with no manipulation.

    I’m a Smashwords user and fan, and I love the site, but I hate to see such a great site promoting such low-cost services. This is why self-publishing gets such a bad name. Would you value an editor who only charged you $100 for a full edit? Probably not. So why would you value a designer who only charges you $35? That’s not even equivalent to a single hour’s charge for most graphic designers. I’m guessing all they’re doing is grabbing a free stock photo and slapping some text on it, with little regard for how well that fits the book, or how it’s going to appeal to readers.

    If you don’t have design skills, spend a couple hundred dollars or more to have a designer or artist create a good cover that’s going to get you attention. Don’t skimp on the first thing readers see if you want to be successful.

    • says

      Hi Cameron, I agree with you on this but I think people realize they get what they pay for here.
      Also, it depends on what people want to be seen as – a challenge to any traditionally published book (i.e. you can’t tell the difference) vs. an indie book. Nothing wrong with the latter but I think we want to be seen on a par with the big houses, so now I’m inclined to spend more on book cover design as you say. Thanks, Joanna


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