Anyone know anything about Smash Words? The founder posted (spammed) it today and it was pulled. This is the address: http://www.smashwords.com/
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II 2016: 2017:
This is a great little way for indie authors to get their work out especially if they are looking to control all aspects of their book in different eformats. You can put it up for $0 or if you want donations you can set that too. I believe the author gets 85% of whatever price it's sold at (you can set your own price or your readers set it).
My fellow writer friend recently released her work this way and had a ton of downloads and is really enjoying it. As a reader, it was easy to read and excerpt and check out the book.
So in my opinion, yup. They seemed pretty legit to me.
Hope that helps!
I've seen the site; I didn't think it was a good fit for my goals.
Having said that, I don't think it in anyway resembles a scam. I just think it 's a bad idea for someone seeking commercial publication.
I just discovered this thread tonight and thought I'd drop you a personal note. I'm Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. Could you clarify... you said the founder posted (spammed) it today and it was pulled? I have no idea what you're referring to, and I certainly hope you're not referring to Smashwords. We don't spam, so I'm curious to hear what you're referring to. I do participate on several message boards, private mailing lists and blogs, and if I posted something anyone found inappropriate, I'd certainly like to know about it because I've never received a complaint, and I certainly never previously posted anything here because I think tonight is the first time I visited this forum (nice forum, BTW).
More on Smashwords - Yes, we are legit, and I'd challenge anyone who said otherwise. I'm an author myself, and I founded Smashwords to help fellow indie ebook authors publish, promote and sell their books. Here are some helpful links:
About Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/about
Smashwords press room - http://www.smashwords.com/press
Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (explains the free tools we offer authors, and provides advice on how indie authors can market their books) - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/305
You'll also find my bio on the site, as well as a ton of other information. Unlike many Internet services out there, we are completely transparent in everything we do.
If you or anyone else would like to contact me directly, you're welcome to email me at first and second initial at you know where dot com. I love to hear from authors, because it's our authors who provide us the suggestions that guide our daily development.
Best wishes all,
Allow me to clarify. At the time I started this thread I had seen the post you made at the NaNoWriMo forum that was subsequently pulled. It had been a first and only post from you, so yes you did spam. I'm not sure about others, but I don't consider one post on a board to be participation. It's spam, plain and simple. I'm sure it would have been a different story if you had gone on to interact more on the boards - NaNo is first and foremost a place for writers. Advertising is not discouraged in the least, but if that's all you've signed up to do the Powers That Be pull your post. We see dozens of such advertisements every year, someone signs up to advertise a service and that's all they do. And the mods simply don't have time to contact everyone as to why the post was pulled, though you'd have to log into the NaNo site to see if that was done or not. I hope that clears things up, as I didn't realize I had mentioned it was on the NaNo boards and not this one. I think it was a case of thinking it, but didn't type it.
Having said that, there are some things in your About section that worry me that I hope you can clarify:
"Smashwords offers multiple marketing tools to help authors and publishers connect with readers. We offer the industryís broadest range of sampling options; author pages with bios, headshots and lists of works; embedded YouTube videos for video book trailers and virtual author events; reviews from readers; ebook downloads in multiple ebook formats; a coupon code generator for custom promotions; integration with Stanza, and dozens of additional tools in the works."
-You advertise yourself as a publishing platform, so why would another publisher need your marketing tools?
"Smashwords pays authors 85% of the net proceeds from the sale of their works. Net proceeds to author = (sales price minus PayPal payment processing fees)*.85. This means if an author has a book they might otherwise publish as a $7.95 mass market paperback, they can price their ebook on Smashwords for two dollars and make triple the per unit amount of selling a print book through a traditional publisher."
-As I understand it, paying on the net proceeds is hardly industry standard. Can you explain why you pay on net proceeds and not gross like others do?
"All author contracts with Smashwords are non-exclusive. The author retains all ownership rights to their works, and is still free to publish their work elsewhere if they choose. Authors can remove their works from Smashwords at any time (although they cannot take back works that have already been purchased or sampled by readers)."
-This is misleading to a point. True they could shop their work around, but what you're NOT telling them is that by self-publishing through your service they've already used their First Publishing Rights. Commercial houses usually are not interested in a book that's already been published unless it has a solid reader base. A difficult thing to accomplish. Granted some writers may be content with that, but for someone like me who dreams of commercial publishing any book I published through you likely would not be picked up by a commercial house.
"This is really a personal call, and depends on the terms of book deal. For most authors, if a publisher offers you a six figure advance, you'd be foolish not to accept it. However, if they're only offering you a couple thousand dollars, and they don't allow you to retain digital publishing rights, then, well, it's a personal decision. And if you do sell the rights to your book, make sure rights revert back to you if the publisher takes your book out of print or fails to deliver agreed-upon sales, marketing and distribution support. A good literary agent can help you navigate these negotiations."
-You're setting authors up here, or at least that's how it reads. A six-figure advance is unrealistic for the average or new writer. Depending on the genre, a couple thousand dollar advance could be the norm. I know for my genre, the average advance is 4000, give or take a 1000 and if a publisher offered me that you bet I'd take it. This part isn't completely without merit, there's some good advice that new authors should know about and I commend you for putting it on your site. But I would eliminate the whole six-figure advance thing and try to be more realistic about the industry and what is commonplace. Otherwise don't mention it.
"Publishers donít promote most books: Most authors (especially first time authors) receive little to no publicity support from their publishers. Authors now recognize they have to do the promotion themselves. They have to do their own PR; call bookstores to arrange signings; and personally hand sell books to local bookstores."
-um...huh? How do publishers sell books by new authors if they don't promote them? This sends up all kind of red flags, and the only other places I've ever seen from such statements were from vanity publishers or scammers. It should be the publisher's job to get books to bookstores, not the author.
Hi MRJ, I appreciate the clarification.
I do remember that post, but to label it "spam" is really unfair. I identified myself, and it was in a forum entitled "Helpful web sites" or something like that, so it was certainly germane to the topic at hand, not off topic. And it was a single post - I didn't spread it across the 50 or so other forum topics they had on the site, and I was careful to review the other posts first so I could feel confident I posted in the most appropriate location. I recall i congratulated Nanowrimo participants on their great accomplishment, and I invited authors to publish with us after the completion of the contest. If somehow I posted in the wrong place, I apologize, but "spam" is hardly the case.
Here I'll also attempt to answer all your other questions...
1. Why would a publisher need our marketing tools? "Need" is a strong word, but I think we do offer tools that many publishers can benefit from. We make it easy for publishers to publish multi-format DRM-free ebooks, and we also represent a distribution outlet for their books. We have more tools planned in the months ahead that will make it easier for publishers to list their books with us.
2. Gross vs. Net. No matter how you look at it, the royalty rate we pay is quite high. We chose to do net because we want the author to know they're getting 85% of the available proceeds after the paypal fees. We're 100% transparent about how this is calculated, even during the "Publish" process where we show the author exactly how the proceeds are divided for each possible price the author chooses. Whether or not our approach is not standard doesn't concern me, because we're not trying to be like every other publisher. I think the traditional publishing model is broken, so we're building our business to do some things differently.
3. Would self-publishing an ebook remove the incentive for a commercial publisher to value "First publishing rights?" Possibly. I think if you look at the intent for first publishing rights, the idea is that by being able to grant someone (like a magazine or book club) exclusive rights to publish first excerpts or the entirety of a book, that that has some value. I agree, for some situations that would have value. But for the vast majority of commercially published authors, especially those authors who are getting the average $4,000 advance you cite, I seriously doubt if the publisher is placing much value on first rights. The flip side is that if a self-published author's work is truly great, and it's able to develop the word of mouth necessary to become a hit, then those solid sales won't be frowned upon by a prospective publisher - instead, those good sales will be seen as proof that there's a market for the book, or that the author has developed a sizable platform for their current and future works. My former agent told me the story of one of his authors who couldn't get a book deal, so she self published and in one year she sold 4,000 copies. He pitched her book to publishers again and sold it immediately. In other words, a successful self-published book reduces the perceived risk of signing the author. Christopher Paolini, for example, self published and hand sold his first book at book fairs and out of the trunk of his parents car (if I recall the story correctly). He proved the market for his first book, which led to his big book deal.
I can understand your desire to pursue commercial mainstream publication, but I also know that for many authors, the achievement of mainstream publication and the joy of seeing your book in bookstores is quickly replaced by the dissatisfaction of realizing that you've lost control of the book; that for most first time authors they receive little to no marketing support; that bookstores only give your book days or a couple weeks to start flying off the shelves before they return their entire stock for a full inventory; and few authors ever see any royalties beyond their initial advance. Yes, commercial publishing works great for a minority of authors, and if your works are of that caliber I certainly don't fault you for pursuing your dream.
I do suspect, however, that more and more talented authors will begin aspiring to remain independent. This change will be accelerated by the decline of mainstream publishing houses, which will be forced to publish fewer titles and take fewer risks with first time authors. In other words, it's going to become more difficult for aspiring authors to get a good book deal.
4. The (mostly) mythical 6 figure deal. I think most authors realize those big deals are few and far between, which is why I said if a publisher offers you a couple thousand dollars it's a personal call whether or not you take it. It's certainly not my place to say that $4,000 is a fair deal for someone, because it may or may not be fair given the quality of the work or the personal aspirations of the author. I just think the industry needs to realign itself to put the interests of the author first, not last. For too many years, the industry has been built on the backs of underpaid authors. Most authors are unable to earn a living by writing books alone, and those that do earn a living in my opinion are truly exceptional.
5. In response to my statement our "About us" page, "Publishers donít promote most books: Most authors (especially first time authors) receive little to no publicity support from their publishers. Authors now recognize they have to do the promotion themselves. They have to do their own PR; call bookstores to arrange signings; and personally hand sell books to local bookstores." you wrote, "How do publishers sell books by new authors if they don't promote them? This sends up all kind of red flags, and the only other places I've ever seen from such statements were from vanity publishers or scammers." I stand by my statement because it's the truth. Most authors don't get the publicity support they deserve. Sure, the established or "hot" authors get heavy publicity, but that's not the norm.
MRJ, I appreciate your questions and I hope I haven't come across as combative, argumentative or mean-spirited, because I don't intend to come across that way. I just think to label my Nanowrimo post as spam was unfair and untrue. If I posted in the wrong place, I apologize.
Smashwords: Thanks for coming and being ready to answer questions. And double thanks for your courteous manner. Hey, that may just be the way you do business, but we appreciate it.
To be fair, we'd all like the huge marketing push, the multi-city (expenses paid by the publisher, of course) signing tour and ads in major markets. It ain't gonna happen for most of us.Most authors (especially first time authors) receive little to no publicity support from their publishers. Authors now recognize they have to do the promotion themselves. They have to do their own PR; call bookstores to arrange signings; and personally hand sell books to local bookstores.
Yet, commercial publishers DO give even the D-list authors more support than they'd get from most of the POD publishers. Commercial publishers have distributors who work to get books in stores all across the country. They put together a basic promotional package for every book they publish. The distributor can talk to a buyer at a bookstore or chain and tell them about the book, the author, the demographic they're selling to, and the sales they hope to achieve. Most POD publishers (even the most reputable of the lot - and I don't mean to paint you as disreputable) aren't set up for that sort of thing. Even if I don't get the big marketing push, I stand to sell more copies through a commercial publisher simply because they do this basic marketing.
I've NEVER had to convince a bookstore to carry a book that I've written solo, or any anthology that I've been in. I just walk into a bookstore and see it on the shelves. That's because the publisher and distributor do all the marketing. Yep, I do some promotion, but that's different from marketing. All the promotion in the world doesn't do me any good if people can't easily get copies of the book.
We all - publishers and writers - want to make money; and for most books, the big market is still bookstore sales.
I wish you all the best, but please understand why some of us are a bit skeptical.
How ...credible of you.
Funny that wiki can't agree:
from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_PaoliniIn 2002, Eragon was published by Paolini International LLC, Paolini's parents' company.
from http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/n...-paolini_x.htmHe plotted out Eragon, the adventure fantasy of a boy and his dragon. He showed his parents the second draft ("they were extremely curious about it"), and they loved it. They put the family business, a self-publishing company, Paolini International LLC, behind it. The book was released in February 2002.
So, again, what was your point in using Paolini?
There are self-publishing success stories, commercial publishing success stories, professional skateboarding success stories all kinds of success stories.
In the marketplace it seems that all that would matter is the publisher's own success stories. Most self-publishing writers succeed by starting their own press rather than using a service provider. I can think of a few exceptions that used Lulu and even Authorhouse but they represent a very tiny minority.
However, post-publication promotion isn't the only kind of promotion--and it is arguably a good deal less important than the other kind, which happens long before the book is ever published. Pre-publication promotion includes, but is not limited to, trade advertising, the production of catalogs, book fair presence, promotion on the publisher's website, advance reading copies sent out for review (most professional review venues want to see books at least three months ahead of publication), and a sales force to sell the publisher's books into bookstores (it's not an author's job to get his or her books into stores--that's the publisher's job. Commercially published authors--and that includes authors published by commercial independent publishers--do not have to hand-sell their books to booksellers). The publisher also provides distribution so that stores can easily obtain the books, and so that books will arrive at stores that have ordered them on or before the publication date, ensuring wide simultaneous shelf presence.
These are the nuts and bolts of book marketing. Commercial publishers do these things for all their books, even the least significant, and even if they don't do much in the way of post-pub marketing.
MRJ, Clearly, I posted in the wrong place on Nanowrimo. My mistake.
Why a publisher would come to us: I'm not claiming every publisher will, but publishing is not monolithic. There are thousands of publishers of all sizes, and for many of them, we can help them make the transition to digital. I can't reveal all our plans now, but we do have some new developments planned for the next 3 to 6 months which may cause some publishers to want to work with us. It's not the focus of our business model, though. We're primarily focused on working with indie authors.
Some of your research is contradictory to my own. That's okay. I've been studying the industry for about seven years, and have been active in the media and technology industry for close to 20. I can't claim to have more experience than you or anyone else here (I learn from our authors, not the other way around), but I can claim to have an opinion on where I think ebooks and indie publishing are going, and more and more people are seeing things the same way. My views are still in the minority, and I could be wrong. Check in with me in a few years.
The decline of traditional publishing. Hundreds of articles have been written about the troubles facing book publishing. Here's a recent article that has gotten a lot of attention: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090105/engelhardt And this one is interesting too: http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2...23/publishing/
Don't get me wrong, though, I don't see ebooks and paper books at odds with one another. They're different consumption methods. Even though ebooks are growing 50-80% a year vs. a stagnant p-book industry, ebooks still only account for under 1% of book sales. ebooks are the knat on the rear of the elephant today. That will change in the years ahead. There's nothing wrong with aspiring to publish via a mainstream publisher - it's still the gold standard. I only suggest that all authors today will be well-served to start dipping their toes into the digital publishing side of things sooner rather than later, because it will become more and more important to the success of your career.
My own book: Yes, I have a book that was repped for a couple years by one of the top NYC literary firms, and they were unable to sell it because, rightly or wrongly, publishers didn't see a market for it. Publishers are notoriously lemming-like in their views of what's hot and what's not. I didn't like that a , so I came up with the idea for Smashwords. My book is published there. It was a similar experience that led me to start my last startup, BestCalls.com. I enjoy the David vs. Goliath style battles, especially when I think the little guy is getting the raw end of the deal.
Ebooks are growing more like 200% a year but I don't see what that has to do with assertions about the current dominant publishing model. In fact when it comes to even the top epublishers I am not sure what beneft any kind of intermediary would be as they are all very approachable, or by invitation only, and in any case not needing to seek out authors. And as with offset printing presses the publisher's ability to provide effective marketing and distribution (albeit online) is what typically separates an ebook selling thousands of copies from one selling dozens.
JulieB, thanks. Nothing wrong with skepticism.
Bahamatchild, the only point was that a self-published author, if they find success on their own, can also find later success with a traditional publisher.
Victoria, yes, those are all great pre-pub benefits provided by traditional publishers.
Mark, I will give you a fair warning. This will be an endless thread.
This site is a proud home of watchdogs. AW strives to present to aspiring writers the very unequaled best in assistance in finding agents, publication, even prepublishing, pre-agenting editorial assistance.
They've already marked you.
You have a sincere professional manner and an articulate writing presence that puts you far ahead of most of the scam artists like Publish America. It makes one thing very clear. You know something about writing and are, most likely, not a scam artist.
But, some scent in your site or your posts have put the watchdogs on their guard and they will Dog it.
The thing is your site may have all the best intentions in the world, but to those of us who hold out against the waiting for responses from agents and rewriting our queries and drafting and drafting and drafting, sites like yours tend to attract those who have given up.
That, in itself, goes against the AW code of "try it one more time."
I wish you the very best in your endeavors. I hope your site does well and you truly do have the best of intentions for your writers, but AW is that last bastion standing against the "sell-out" attitude.
Keep plugging away, but I'm telling ya. You're fighting a losing battle in this forum.
All of those authors have a few things in common: a) they came from a background of publishing or marketing or sales (or all three, in the Paolini parents' case); b) they invested significant amounts of time and money in producing and marketing their books; c) they are the exception, not the rule.
So, yes, someone might conceivably be as successful as Christopher Paolini or Brunonia Barry, if they're willing to invest tens of thousands of dollars and months or years of time in the matter.
But do note: all of the self-published authors who have attained that level of success have been true self-published authors (as in, they supervised the editing, design, production, and printing of their books themselves). None of the self-published authors who have attained mainstream commercial success have worked with a vanity or subsidy press. None.
Jerry, thanks, I'm beginning to get that impression.
I didn't indicate that you expected every publisher to. I was asking purely on the point of why would a publisher, as in any publisher, come to you for these services. Though if I may make a suggestion, being a new company and if these services aren't the focus of your business model I would put it aside for the moment. If your primary focus is on authors, focus on the authors until that part of your business gets running. If you poke around this section, you'll notice a lot of publishers that started much like you have here, and ended up floundering. It certainly doesn't look like an easy job, and maybe reading those threads might help you avoid their mistakes. Your site's not all bad, and I'm not the type of person to wish a new business sink - I just think you need to be clearer about the information you put forth, and more importantly how it would impact any author interested. Some sections make an honest attempt at helping new authors be well-informed about the industry, and that's a good thing. But if you're going to do that, go all the way. If something's your opinion, state that clearly. There's nothing wrong with having an opinion, so long as it's not being presented as hard fact. Stats are nothing without the sources to back them up.