Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Smashwords Info from the San Francisco Writers Conference

Mark Coker of Smashwords has routinely been attending the San Francisco Writer's Conference, one of the most indie friendly conferences I've found. The only reason that I have attended is the cost. It is expensive, especially after you combine airfare and loding.

However, some of the presentations from it end up circulating. Mark Coker always posts his for sharing. So I am putting them out in a blog post to make sure everyone gets a chance to see them.

Most of the indie authors in our group work with Smashwords in some capacity. In the last year or so, there have been some ups and downs. Rapid growth in epublishing and at Smashwords has caused some growing pains. More and more I see indie authors moving away from using a distributor to uploading directly to every channel themselves. There are pluses and minuses to doing this. The biggest plus is receiving Net 60 payments instead of Quarterly ones from the distributor. Of course, compared to traditional practices of payment, quarterly isn't so bad. The biggest minus is that in uploading directly you no longer have a distributor minding your pubs while you write the next one. Those who move away end up hiring help or doing it all themselves.

For BEGINNERS, Smashwords makes things very easy and very inexpensive. The company keeps improving their processes all the time and they offer many tools to help you learn the epublishing process from scratch. I still use them as a distributor for some channels and I sell directly there in small quantites.  My favorite improvement this year is that Smashwords now accepts epub files that I make myself. Being a control freak who does her own formatting, I am very happy with this change.

The content in the slide presentations above is useful information. If you read the other articles on this blog, you will read about the many publishing mistakes we have made in our journeys, as well as what we did right that led to our success. Initially, I couldn't afford a professional editor, but I also waited a very long time to get one.  I wrote more poorly edited books and then finally found someone to help me make them better after 3 months of poor reviews and reader complaints. What I did right was pay for a professional cover artist from the beginning (cost was <$70), and I am convinced it was her covers that helped my popularity hang in there until the story was in good edited condition. Now those same titles sell in the thousands. It took two years for this to happen. Second month out with it, I sold 35. I started my journey with one published book and one free one. I put both up at the same time. FREE has definitely been my best marketing decision.

My point in sharing personal bits at the end of this article is to encourage you to look at Mark's presentations with a completely open mind to his suggestions. I dutifully followed his style guide and his marketing guide initially. Now in my third year of self-publishing, I do things a little differently, but I've made many mistakes and revised many things to find the process that worked best for me. If you simply don't know where to begin, the Smashwords documents are still the best way I have found get yourself started on your own self-publishing journey.

No comments:

Post a Comment