About me • Founder of Smashwords • Free ebook publishing and distribution platform for indie authors • We distribute ebooks to multiple major retailers (Apple, Sony, B&N, Kobo, etc.) • Author of…
Backstory on Smashwords • Co-wrote novel with wife, Lesleyann • Landed top NYC literary agent • Rejected by all NY publishers (twice) • Decided publishing was broken. Realized: • Acquisition decisions based on perceived commercial merit • Publishers unable to take risk on every author • Readers shut out of process • My solution: Smashwords • Ebook publishing and distribution platform allows any author to self-publish and distribute an ebook, for FREE
How Smashwords Works • UPLOAD • Author/publisher uploads a Microsoft Word file, formatted to our Style Guide • CONVERT • We automatically convert to 9 ebook formats • PUBLISH • Ready for immediate sale online • DISTRIBUTE • Distribute to major retailers • PAY • Authors/publishers receive 85% of net
Smashwords retailers (partial) (pending) Mobile apps
Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 21,000 6,000 140
… and then monastic scribes became the first mass production printing presses
… and then Gutenberg created the printing press with moveable type
… which allowed commercial publishers to develop large mass market businesses
LARGE PUBLISHERS WERE HAPPY BECAUSE THEY CONTROLLED THE PRINTING PRESSES AND DISTRIBUTION TO BOOKSTORES
Publishers were in control • Publishers decided: • Which authors got published • Which books could • get distributed to bookstores • receive heavy promotion • get read by readers
$ THIS CLUBBY, CLOSED SYSTEM WAS PROFITABLE FOR PUBLISHERS $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
Bookselling moves to the Web • Customer drivers: • Price • Convenience • Selection • Self-published books (P- & E-) displayed side by side with traditional books • Publishers lose control • If brick & mortar disappears, publishers lose key value proposition: exclusive access to distribution and readers
Percentage of book purchases made online vs B&M, P- and E- Web Brick & Mortar Today?
Authors become publishers • Self-publishing platforms allow authors to bypass publishers • Equal access to distribution • Favorable economics for indies • reap 40-100% of retail price, vs. 5-12% • More professional authors will go indie • Mass exodus imminent?
Number of books published indie vs. traditional Indie books New trad. books Today?
TREND THREE:As Reading Moves to Screens, Ebooks Will Overtake print
Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org
Ebooks to overtake print Ebooks Print books Today?
Why ebooks are hot • Screens can offer better reading experience than paper • Changeable font size AA AA • Portable and compact • Ebooks offer better purchasing experience • Huge selection • Convenient sampling and purchasing • Lower cost than print
Big NY Publishers Reacting Inappropriately to Change, Face Legacy Disadvantages ooh, pretty!
… they’re exposed to too much risk • Pay author advances • Can’t predict demand • many books fail and don’t earn out • Amazon is eating publishers for lunch • Vertically integrated from authors to readers • Broken supply chain • 30%+ of printed books returned to publisher unsold
Print book supply chain broken for traditional publishers PRINT BOOKS Print Publisher printer Shipper/w/d bookseller customer pass along remainder Used bookstores
… publishers try to mitigate risk • Adopt customer-unfriendly policies • Publish fewer books • Scarcity tactics to maintain higher prices • Limit worldwide distribution • DRM • Adopt author-unfriendly policies • Reluctance to acquire books from unproven authors • Require authors to assume more editing, marketing responsibility
When publishers act less like publishers, authors start questioning why they need a publisher
Summary of Indie Author/Publisher Advantages • Internet book buying levels playing field for indies • Both print and ebook • Smaller indie authors/publishers • instant access to global market • democratized distribution • closer to customers • lower expenses • never go out of print • earn more per book
Indie ebook authors earn more per book • Higher profits than traditional print • Price ebooks for less yet still make more per copy than traditionally pubbed print authors • $8 indie ebook earns $6.35 at SW, vs <$.40 trad MMP • $.99 indie ebook earns more than $8.00 trad MMP • Lower price = reach more readers = more sales at higher profits per sale • Trad. ebook authors earn 25% net • Indie authors/publishers earn 70-85% net MMP=Mass market paperback, aka “pocket book” in some countries
Planning your move to ebooks • Forget (some of) what you know • Don’t try to make e- look like p- • Ebooks consumed differently that print • Less = more with ebooks • Liberate text from complex formatting and layout • Ebooks are shape shifting creatures (see next slide)
Ebook devices (and customers) shape shift text • Example of Smashwords novel, All Good Things Die in L.A. by Anhoni Patel • iPhone, using the Stanza reader. User-selected options: Font: Verdana; Background pattern: Stone carving; text color: Dark Violet; Font size: larger than normal
Multi-format important • Multiple ebook formats • PDF does not = ebook anymore • Multi-format lets customer enjoy your book their way • Expands your selling & distribution options
How to Create an Ebook • Preparation • Most print books originate in Word, InDesign and Quark • Anticipate the shape shift • Simplify formatting and layout, see Smashwords Style Guide at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52 • Conversion Options • Automated (e.g. Amazon, Smashwords) • Direct from book layout software (e.g. save as PDF, EPUB) • Conversion tools (Google ‘ebook conversion tools’) • Complex books (hire ebook formatter/coder)
#1 Write a Great Book • With the power to publish comes the responsibility to be a great publisher • Honor your reader with a great book • Be fanatical about quality • Edit, revise, edit, revise, repeat • Leverage beta readers • Invest in a great cover image