2014 Smashwords Survey - How to Sell More Ebooks


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Mark Coker's third annual 2014 Smashwords Survey. Examines quantifiable characteristics of ebooks that give books an incremental advantage in discoverability and desirability. The 2014 survey attempts to answer such questions as: Do readers prefer longer or shorter ebooks?; Do ebooks that start out as preorders sell better?; How should I price my ebook?; Do series books sell better than standalone books?; do series with FREE series starters earn more money than other series; and many more.

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2014 Smashwords Survey - How to Sell More Ebooks

  1. 1. MONEY MONEY MONEY: Facts & Figures for Financial Payoff New 2014 Data Originally Presented May 14, 2014 at Slideshare Edition Published July 7, 2014 V1.1 Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
  2. 2. Introduction to Smashwords Survey 2014 For each of the last three years we released the Smashwords Survey at the RT Booklovers convention. This is the Slideshare edition of the data presented May 14, 2014 in New Orleans. The Slideshare edition adds additional slides and new written analysis, some of which was conveyed verbally during the live presentation. At the end I’ve added an appendix with indie author resources
  3. 3. My Backstory
  4. 4. The Smashwords Backstory • My background is tech marketing (UC Berkeley Haas business school) • About 10 years ago, along with my wife I co- wrote Boob Tube, a novel about daytime soap operas (wife is a former reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine).  Repped by top NY lit agency • Book rejected by all NY publishers (twice) • Previous soap opera-themed novels had performed poorly, so pubs were reluctant to take a chance  I realized publishers were unable, unwilling and disinterested to take a risk on every book  Decided to try to fix problem  mortgaged house  created Smashwords
  5. 5. Back in the dark ages of print-centric publishing (10 yrs ago), writers were unable to reach readers on mass scale without a publisher’s support Writers relied on publishers to provide three essential capabilities. I refer to these capabilities as the three legs to the stool. Remove any leg and the book fails.
  6. 6. Three Essential Legs of the Professional Publishing Stool - 1 - Printing Press - 2 - Retail Distribution - 3 - Knowledge: best practices expertise
  7. 7. There’s also a fourth leg that builds on a publisher’s ability to professionally produce and distribute a book #4 = DISCOVERY TOOLS The tools and processes that make books findable and desirable
  8. 8. The Fourth Leg: Discovery Tools Printing Press Retail Distribution Discovery Tools (marketing, merchandising, metadata)
  9. 9. My solution: Smashwords • FREE eBook Publishing Platform  Free ebook printing press  Distribution to major ebook retailers and libraries  Free educational resources – best practices knowledge to help writers publish like professionals  Free tools to assist Discovery (marketing, merchandising, metadata, preorders, etc)
  10. 10. Today, Smashwords is the world’s leading distributor of indie (self- published) ebooks Smashwords provides writers FREE self-serve tools to publish and distribute like a pro It all started with my belief that every writer has something special to share with the world, and every writer deserves the right to publish
  11. 11. Ebooks published at Smashwords 140 6,000 28,800 92,000 191,000 276,000
  12. 12. How Smashwords Works 1. UPLOAD • Upload a Microsoft Word file or epub file, formatted to our Smashwords Style Guide • Ready for immediate sale on Smashwords home page 2. DISTRIBUTE • Global ebook distribution to major retailers and library platforms such as iBooks, Barnes & Noble, OverDrive, Scribd, Oyster, Kobo and more 3. GET PAID • Author earns 60% of list for retail sales (retailer earns 30% list and SW earns 10% list)
  14. 14. Welcome to the Third Annual Smashwords Survey Presented first at RT Booklovers New Orleans as MONEY MONEY MONEY
  15. 15. Last year’s study has been viewed 100,000+ times • Access the prior study at Slideshare http://www.slideshare.net/Smashwords/new- smashwords-survey-helps-authors-sell-more- ebooks
  16. 16. The Study is Based upon Actual Ebook Sales Data Aggregated from across the Smashwords Distribution Network
  17. 17. Smashwords Distribution Network
  18. 18. We looked at 12 months of sales data (April 2013 – March 2014) for ~250,000 titles, aggregated across the Smashwords distribution network, totaling over $25 million in global customer purchases Knowledge discovery starts with simple questions ? ? ?
  19. 19. Example Qs: “Do readers prefer longer or shorter books?” “What’s the best price for my book?” “Do preorders help sell more books?” “Do series books sell better than standalones?” “Does FREE work?” “Do series with FREE series starters earn more?” AND MUCH MORE
  20. 20. We’re in Search of Viral Catalysts
  21. 21. What’s a Viral Catalyst? • A viral catalyst is anything that makes your book more available, accessible, desirable and enjoyable to readers • Read the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (it’s FREE!) to learn how viral catalysts spur word-of-mouth
  22. 22. A Viral Catalyst Gives a Book an Incremental Advantage Take every incremental advantage you can get There is no single magic bullet for bookselling success. To maximize viral word of mouth, you must do many things right and avoid big mistakes
  23. 23. The Challenge Millions of books competing for limited eyeballs Glut of high quality books increases each month (immortal ebooks never go out of print) The secret to reaching more readers is to implement best practices (see The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success) and seize incremental advantages (Viral Catalysts) wherever you can find them. This survey seeks to identify opportunities for incremental advantage
  24. 24. Numbers are Dangerous
  25. 25. Numbers are Dangerous, But Useful • Averages are only averages • Not always the typical outcome; big variances in a sample can skew results • Median = midpoint of numbers in a range when arranged from lowest to highest. Often a more “typical” result. • Medians not always useful either • A million butterflies: Cause and effect is not always provable (forces are often multi-dimensional, synergistic, opaque or delayed) • Your book is unique. Consider the information I share as only one of many data points upon which you base your publishing decisions.
  26. 26. The Power Curve Book sales are characterized by the “Power Curve” principle. (next slide) Very few titles sell spectacularly well. As your book moves to the left of the curve (i.e. your sales rank improves), your sales grow exponentially. Your Objective: discover and implement the viral catalysts that give you incremental advantage and nudge your book up and to the left of the curve.
  27. 27. The Power Curve: incremental increase in sales rank causes exponential increase in sales Sales rank (Land O’ Bestsellers) (Land O’ few eyeballs) $ sales
  28. 28. The power curve reveals the key to getting the most out of the findings that follow. Ask yourself, “What are the characteristics of the bestselling books and the worst-selling books?” Anything that gives your book incremental advantage will move it to the left of the curve, and leftward movement reaps exponential benefit due to the nature of the curve Consider the Power Curve Principle as You Review the Survey Findings
  29. 29. The Long Tail of Authordom Author sales rank Author earnings
  30. 30. Length Matters
  31. 31. Q: Do readers prefer longer or shorter ebooks? A: For the third year in a row we found strong evidence that readers prefer longer ebooks. How to Interpret: Visualize the power curve overlaid on top of the chart that follows to understand how the incremental advantage of higher word count translates into an exponential increase in sales. Tip: Don’t write longer or shorter books based on this information. Write the length your book deserves. If your story takes you to epic lengths, go there, and understand that shorter books can put you at a disadvantage. If you split a 100,000 word novel into three novellas of 33,333 words each, the numbers indicate you’re likely to earn less overall.
  32. 32. Longer Books Sell Better! As word count drops, sales and sales rank drops. Visualize the power curve overlaid on this chart. Books ranked in the top 10, 50 or 100 will sell exponentially more units than books ranked 1,000 or worse
  33. 33. Interesting: We observed the same reader preference for longer book in our 2013 and 2012 surveys.
  34. 34. (2013) Readers Prefer Longer Books? When we look at various sales rank bands, the impact is clear
  35. 35. (2012) Do Readers Prefer Longer Books? The 2012 survey found similar behavior. Longer books increase sales rank, on average.
  36. 36. (2012) Do Readers Prefer Longer Books? This chart gave an aggregate average look at the top 1-10, top 1- 25, etc. We see how the sales rank is pulled down by lower average word counts
  37. 37. Q: What’s the average word count for the top 70 bestselling Smashwords romance books?
  38. 38. A: 96,197 words = average word count of top 70 Smashwords romance for 2014 Smashwords Survey
  39. 39. 2012 Survey A: 112,195 words = average word count of top 60 Smashwords romance
  40. 40. Romance Dominates
  41. 41. I’m constantly in awe of romance authors. For decades they got no respect. The rise of ebooks + democratized ebook distribution + unlimited virtual shelf space exposed the genius ability of romance writers to connect with readers Relationships are at the center of most great stories. Romance writers make relationships the central focus of their stories.
  42. 42. Romance Dominates across the Smashwords network • Romance accounts for • 70% of top 10 Smashwords bestsellers • 70% of top 100 • Smartest authors in the business • Most professionally well-organized (RWA) fostering greater communication and information-sharing among writers • Embraced indie ebook publishing early • Most sophisticated • Most experimental • More likely to write series • More likely to publish more books • Serves ravenous power readers
  43. 43. Top Romance Subcategories for Top 100 Bestselling Romance
  44. 44. Looking @ Authors
  45. 45. Q: Are bestselling authors more or less likely to have a web site? A: Authors with websites generally sell better than those without. How to interpret: Caution. correlation doesn’t always mean causation (Keep this in mind throughout this presentation!). It could be that bestsellers are just more on the ball with all their marketing, and more serious about going the extra mile to connect and communicate with readers
  46. 46. Bestselling Authors More Likely to Have a Website
  47. 47. Q: Silly question: I wonder if bestsellers have longer or shorter pen names? A: Interesting. Shorter pen names appear to have a very small advantage. Warning: Don’t change your pen name based on this!!!
  48. 48. Do Shorter Pen Names Sell Better?
  49. 49. Random
  50. 50. Q: Do authors who change prices have an advantage over authors that rarely change prices? A: Minimal. How to Interpret: Strong sellers are slightly more likely to have changed the price of their book in the last 12 months, but we’re not seeing benefit of ADHD-style frequent price changes. Worst sellers are slightly less likely to have changed their price in the last year, which could indicate they’re slightly less attentive to their book marketing. The incremental price change benefit is probably related to the author running a promotion.
  51. 51. Do Frequent Prices Changes Impact Sales?
  52. 52. Q: Do bestsellers have higher or lower opt-out rates for new and innovative ebook distribution channels? A: Interesting! Opt out rates are extremely low, but a small segment (~3%) of bestselling authors appear more skeptical or fearful of non-traditional ebook-selling models and channels. Oyster and Scribd are ebook subscription services. My read: A small minority of bestsellers are undermining their success, and could do better by having greater faith in these new entrants.
  53. 53. Fear Factor? Distribution Opt-outs For Innovative New Channels
  54. 54. Working by the Word
  55. 55. Q: Fun: What are authors earning per published word? A: 14-18 cents per published word per year for the top 50 Smashwords authors. Most authors earn much less. How to Interpret: Note that this was computed by taking total dollar sales for each author divided by the number of words they had published as of the end of the survey period. It’s dangerous to read much into this data point, other than the fact that most authors don’t earn much.
  56. 56. What Do Authors Earn Per Word?
  57. 57. Q: Do better-selling authors publish more books? A: Yes. How to Interpret: The reason is probably representative of multiple factors. More books mean: 1. more chances to be discovered and read. 2. more options for promotion. 3. more opportunity to leverage reader loyalty when a reader discovers they love you. 4. Positive feedback: If your books are selling, you’re probably more likely to write more.
  58. 58. Bestselling Authors Publish More Books
  59. 59. Q: What’s the average published word count of authors in each bestselling tier? Do bestsellers publish more words or less? A: Like the previous chart, there’s strong correlation between the number of words published and author earnings. How to Interpret: Remember the power curve? Visualize the power curve overlaid on top of this word count curve, and you see why authors who publish more have a tremendous sales advantage. Tip: organize your time to spend more time producing (writing) and less time on everything else. Gratuitous plug: save time by consolidating your distribution, metadata management, sales reporting and payments via Smashwords!!!.
  60. 60. Bestselling Authors are Publishing More Words
  61. 61. Q: Do longer or shorter book descriptions sell more books A: Inconclusive. How to Interpret: Not much useful here. Slight indication that poorest sellers have slightly shorter book descriptions. On the other hand, there’s little evidence that longer descriptions help. Tip: Focus on the quality of your description, not the length.
  62. 62. Average Word Counts for Book Descriptions (is longer or shorter better?)
  63. 63. Pricing
  64. 64. Q: Are the highest-earning indie authors utilizing high price points on average or low price points? A: Low, but not ultra-low How to Interpret: Strong evidence here that highest earning indie authors are pricing their books lower on average, and lower-earning authors are pricing higher. Note that even poorest selling indie authors are still priced, on average, quite low compared to traditionally priced ebooks. Low prices make it easier for readers to take a chance on an unknown writer. Note that most authors, even traditionally published authors, are unknown to most readers. You can hit the NYT list with 50,000 sales, but there are still tens of millions of readers who don’t know you.
  65. 65. Highest Earning Smashwords Authors Utilize Low Price Points
  66. 66. Q: Rather than ranking authors by the average price for all their books (previous chart), let’s look specifically at individual books. Are the highest- earning titles utilizing high or low price? A: More evidence that lower prices help indie ebooks earn more. Cautionary tip: Note that this data is *on average* and aggregates titles across fiction and non-fiction (Smashwords sales are heavily skewed toward genre fiction).
  67. 67. Average Prices for Books in Each Bestselling Tier
  68. 68. Q: What price moves the most units?
  69. 69. A: FREE, of course!
  71. 71. FREE • FREE moves ebooks • 39X more downloads on average compared to priced titles (last 12 months) • Was 91X in our 2013 survey and 100X in 2012 • FREE has lost some mojo (authors who followed my go- free advice five years ago got the most tremendous benefit!), but it still remains one of the most powerful and effective tools for building readership. Given the downward trend, it may lose more effectiveness in the years ahead. Use it while you still can. • Powerful platform builder • Powerful sales catalyst for series or deep backlists • 35 million free downloads of Smashwords books at iBooks in last 12 months
  72. 72. Q: Other than FREE, which price points get the most downloads? A: $.99, $2.99 and $3.99 get 60-80% more unit sales, on average. Caution: This is based on averages. Your results may vary due to multiple factors: 1. Reader awareness of your author brand 2. Reader trust in you author brand (once you earn the reader’s trust, you can command higher prices). 3. Your book is unique 4. Does not factor length into equation
  73. 73. Which Price Points Get the Most Downloads (% over/under average)
  74. 74. Q: What are the most common price points (helpful to understand the level of competition your book may face in each price tier)? A: $2.99 is the most common price point for indie ebooks, accounting for about 25% of Smashwords titles Note: This aggregates both fiction and non-fiction, but is skewed toward fiction since fiction comprises majority of SW catalog.
  75. 75. Common Price Points (Aggregates all Fiction, NF, other)
  76. 76. Q: What are the most common price points for FICTION only for Smashwords books? A: $2.99, followed by $3.99
  77. 77. Most Common Fiction Price Points
  78. 78. Q: What are the most common price points for NON-FICTION only for Smashwords books? A: $2.99, followed by $3.99
  79. 79. Most Common Non-Fiction Price Points
  80. 80. Q: Other than FREE, which price points get the most downloads for FICTION? A: $.99, $2.99 and $3.99. How to Interpret: Note how, on average, $3.99 titles at Smashwords sold more units than $2.99 titles. We observed the same behavior last year when we looked at the combined numbers for fiction and nonfiction (we didn’t break out F and NF last year). Conclusion: Readers will pay more if the quality and author brand trust is there. I suspect many bestsellers have an opportunity to experiment with higher prices.
  81. 81. Which Price Points for Fiction Get Most Downloads (% over/under average)
  82. 82. Q: Other than FREE, which price points get the most downloads for NON-FICTION? A: $.99, $2.99 and $9.99. How to Interpret: Interesting! The non-fiction downloads charge is dramatically different than fiction. Although $.99 and $2.99 get the most downloads, note how there’s not dramatic variation in the curve, and note how $9.99 gets more downloads than every price point except $.99 and $2.99. This indicates that most NF authors are probably under-pricing their books. The NF earnings chart will tell us more in a few slides …
  83. 83. Which Price Points for Non- Fiction Get Most Downloads (% over/under average)
  84. 84. Q: Which price points earn authors the most money (quantity * earnings per book) A: $3.99, for second year running. How to Interpret: These results are based on averages and combine fiction and non-fiction (it’s 90% sales-weighted toward fiction, so it represents fiction behavior more than non-fiction). $3.99 remains a good price for full-length fiction. This could be an indication that authors with strongest brands realize they have pricing power. $1.99 and $.99, as in previous years, underperform on author earnings. See the separate charts for non-fiction only.
  85. 85. Which Price Points Yield Highest Earnings
  86. 86. Let’s Look at Prior Years’ Charts of Average Earnings for Each Price Band (aggregating fiction and non-fiction)
  87. 87. (2013 survey) What Price Yields the Greatest Author Earnings?
  88. 88. (2012) What Price Yields Highest Earnings?
  89. 89. Q: Which price point earns non-fiction authors the most money (quantity * earnings per book) A: $9.99 How to Interpret: Although prior caveats apply (this is based on averages and your book is not average, it’s unique), note how non- fiction performs dramatically different than fiction. The data indicates that as non-fiction authors increase prices, the earnings increase. The implication here is significant. It indicates that non- fiction’s demand curve is more inelastic (buyers are less price- sensitive, whereas fiction’s demand curve is more elastic (buyers are more price sensitive, demand goes down as prices go up). I’ve been advising authors for several years that non-fiction can generally support higher prices than fiction, but this is the first Smashwords Survey in which we’ve crunched the aggregated numbers to prove it. Why the difference: Most likely, non-fiction readers are buying books to acquire knowledge or solve a problem, and this knowledge or problem-solving has a high value attached to it. As long as the value of the knowledge exceeds the price of the book, it’s easy for a reader to justify paying a higher price. Conclusion: Many non-fiction authors are pricing their books too low and should experiment with higher prices.
  90. 90. Non-Fiction Only: Which Price Points Yield Highest Earnings
  91. 91. Traditionally Published Ebook Authors are Disadvantaged When you consider both the units sales advantage and earnings advantage of lower prices, you understand why indie ebook authors have such a strong competitive advantage over traditionally published ebook authors. Indie fiction ebooks (our combined fiction/NF list is ~90% sales-weighted toward fiction) at $2.99-$3.99 earn about the same as $7.99+ prices, but get about triple the readership which means they have platform-building incentive to price lower yet still earn more or the same. Non- fiction ebook authors can price higher while maintaining strong unit volume. Combine this with the fact that indies earn 60-80% list on ebook sales while traditionally published authors earn only 12-17% list and you understand the economic and fan-building advantage of indie ebook authorship. Traditionally published ebook authors are suffering from high prices and low royalties. As reading continues to transition to digital, the pull of indie authorship will increase.
  92. 92. Preorders
  93. 93. New Data on Ebook Preorders  In July 2013, Smashwords launched ebook preorder distribution to iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo  We predicted a sales advantage, and sales data now confirms
  94. 94. How Ebook Preorders Work  Preorders allow an ebook to be listed for sale in advance of its official onsale date  Customers place a reservation – their credit card is not charged until the book is released to them on the onsale date  Preorders enable more effective advance marketing  Authors can capture the order at the moment they have the reader’s greatest attention and interest  Preorders help books hit bestseller lists  All accumulated preorders credit as sales on day one of the book’s release, causing the book to spike in bestseller lists (bestseller lists are weighted to measure unit sales over recent 12-24 hr period)  Books in bestseller lists (ie higher sales rank) are more visible and more desirable to readers, leading to more sales  Learn more about Smashwords preorders at http://smashwords.com/preorder or Google “smashwords preorder strategy”
  95. 95. Q: Do preorders give a book launch a sales advantage? A: Yes. How to Interpret: The data indicates bestselling titles are more likely to have been birthed as a preorder. Poor sellers are less likely to be birthed as preorders. Strong evidence that ebook preorders help a book sell more units when we add up presales + post-sales. If you’re not launching your next new book as a preorder, you’re not taking advantage of this powerful new tool. Smashwords distributes ebook preorders to iBooks, B&N and Kobo. Check out my blog posts on ebook preorder strategy at www.smashwords.com/preorder
  96. 96. Ebook Preorders Give Sales Advantage
  97. 97. Q: In the previous question, we looked at individual titles. Now let look at top-performing authors. Are bestselling authors more likely to utilize preorders? A: Yes. How to Interpret: There might be a multiple cause and effect implications here: 1. The mere act of a preorder may help an author sell more copies, and therefore help an author become a bestseller. 2. Bestselling authors are more likely to have more books out, which makes it easier to market a preorder, which means bestsellers might be capturing more benefit from using preorders, which further increases their adoption of preorders. 3. Bestsellers might be more likely to use advanced tools such as preorder distribution. 4. Preorders increase odds of merchandising promotion by retailers which increases sales.
  98. 98. Bestselling Authors Utilizing Preorders at Much Higher Rate than Low Sellers
  99. 99. Q: During the survey period, were bestselling authors more likely or less likely to have released a book as a preorder? A: More likely. This result, when viewed within the context of the other preorder findings, confirms that bestselling authors are making much more use of preorders than poorer-selling authors.
  100. 100. Preorder Utilization
  101. 101. Series!!!
  102. 102. New: Our 2014 Survey Now Includes Data on Series Books  Launched Smashwords Series Manager tool September 2013  Enhanced discovery at retailers gives Smashwords authors advantage  Over 8,000 series at Smashwords  We can now track sales performance by series (and will now share data with you)!
  103. 103. A Look at the Top 10 Bestselling Smashwords Series • 7 out of 10 are romance • 7 out of 10 have a free series starter • And 3 of the top 3 have a free series starter
  104. 104. Q: What does the sales distribution curve look like for our top 1,000 series? A: Like a power curve! How to Interpret: See the chart that follows to see the impact of the power curve in action. The 1,000th bestselling SW series earned about $900 during the period, whereas #500 earned about triple that. The #100th bestselling series earned almost 20X #1,000, and over 62X #2,000 (#2,000 not shown on chart, earned ~$262).
  105. 105. The Power Curve for Top 1,000 Bestselling Series Point of reference: #2,000 (not shown) earned ~$262
  106. 106. Power Curve Top 200 Series
  107. 107. Q: On average, do books in a series earn more than standalone books? A: Yes! How to Interpret: Strong evidence that books tied to a series have a competitive advantage over standalone books. Caveat: Keep in mind that romance is a top-performing genre at most retailers (and the #1 genre at Smashwords) and romance authors make greater use of series than most other genres. A self-fulfilling feedback loop? More series, more sales, more series adoption, more incentive to write more series?
  108. 108. Series Books Earn More than Standalone Books
  109. 109. Q: What’s the average and median number of books in a series for series in each sales rank tier? A: About 3-5. How to Interpret: Interesting observation: Note how the top 50 bestselling Smashwords series are comprised of three to four titles, and there’s not a tremendous variation as we go down the sales curve.
  110. 110. Average and Median Number of Titles in Series
  111. 111. Q: When we look at the average word count for books in a series, do series with longer books sell better? A: Yes. How to Interpret: Strong indication that bestselling series have longer books. As you look at this chart, overlay the power curve in your imagination, and you’ll understand how series with shorter books are disadvantaged. This means authors should probably avoid the temptation to chunk their books into shorter serials. Instead, write and publish full- length. Also remember that length alone is not the most crucial factor. Quality of writing is most important. But it’s clear that longer works have an incremental advantage, which can lead to an exponential sales advantage.
  112. 112. Series With Longer Books Sell Better
  113. 113. Q: Do series with FREE series starters outperform series without FREE series starters A: Yes. How to Interpret: Strong evidence FREE series starters turbocharge the overall earnings of a series. If you write series, and you haven’t experimented with either a perma- free series starter or a temporary FREE, give it a try. FREE has helped catapult the careers of many bestselling Smashwords authors.
  114. 114. FREE Series Starters Turbocharge a Series
  115. 115. Q: How does the average wordcount per series book impact the overall earnings for the series? A: Big impact How to Interpret: Note the steep drop-off after 50,000 words in the incidence of high-earning series. Indicates series authors face penalty from readers if series books are under 50,000 words
  116. 116. Series Ranked by Word Count. Length Matters. Highest Earning Series Have Longer Books Average word count per series title Sales rank
  117. 117. Series Length (Closeup of Previous Slide)
  118. 118. Q: Let’s look at the top 1,000 highest earning series, and then plot their word count against earnings tiers. A: What we see is what we’d expect from previous data groups: Lower word counts per title are associated with lower sales per title for series books.
  119. 119. Closer Look, Word Count Per Book for Top 1,000 Highest Per- Title-Yielding Series
  120. 120. Closer Look, Word Count Per Book for Top 500 Highest Per- Title-Yielding Series
  121. 121. Another Look at Average Word Count per Title for Series Books, Adjusted for Yield per Book
  122. 122. That’s it for the 2014 Smashwords Survey Until next year…
  123. 123. Summary • Incremental advantages lead to big advantages on the power curve (always do things that move you to the left of the curve) • Most important findings include the advantage of: longer books, series books, series with free series starters, preorders, free as a marketing tool • Numbers provide hints at reader preferences • Dangerous to make decisions on a single metric alone • Data-driven publishing decisions are irrelevant without a great book • Every book is unique. Your book may respond differently • If your story demands 200,000 words, go for it! • Sometimes it’s dangerous to draw cause and effect conclusions because multiple related or extraneous factors may be at play.
  124. 124. Appendix: Learn more about indie authorship in the slides that follow …
  125. 125. Learn to Publish Like a Pro with These FREE Best Practice Guides • Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors) • Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book at no cost) • Smashwords Style Guide (how to format and publish an ebook)
  126. 126. Checklist for Publishing and Distributing with Smashwords  View an overview of the free Smashwords platform at https://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on _smashwords  Sign up for a free account at www.smashwords.com • The confirmation email will walk you through the next steps  Download the Smashwords Style Guide to learn how to format your own ebook for free - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52  Read the Smashwords FAQ to learn how to get the most out of the Smashwords platform - https://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq  Watch my YouTube best practices tutorials (It’s like a free e-publishing seminar) More on next slide…
  127. 127. Smashwords YouTube Tutorials • View nearly 10 hours of Smashwords video workshops at http://youtube.com/user/Smashwords • Smashwords video series: • #1: Introduction to ebook publishing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khM4czIJUVM • #2: Ebook publishing best practices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnd7jYcjqm8 • #3: 2013 Smashwords Survey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rrl4NExo3Y • #4: 10 Trends Driving the Future of Authorship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbT7r-DUa6M • #5: How to reach readers at iBooks, the #2 global ebook seller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKwwcL_FS_c • #6: How to add navigation to Smashwords ebooks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpB9hmlgeU4 • Check back for new videos in the future!
  128. 128. What does is mean to be an “indie author”? • Indie means self-published • You are your own publisher • Indie authorship is a worldwide cultural movement • In April, 2014, I published the Indie Author Manifesto at http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/04/indie-author- manifesto.html which is my attempt to describe and distill the ethos behind the indie author movement. • The manifesto explores the mindset, attitudes and aspirations of indie authors • Contrary to some reactions, the manifesto is not “Anti-publisher” • Instead, it provides a roadmap by which indie authors and publishers can work toward mutually aligned interests • Infographic on next slide…
  129. 129. The Indie Author Manifesto • Read the story behind the manifesto (and download a high-res poster) at http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/04/indie-author- manifesto.html or Google “indie author manifesto”
  130. 130. 10 Reasons Indie Ebook Authors will Capture 50% of the Ebook Market by 2020 • In March 2014, I predicted indie ebook authors would capture 50% of the US ebook market by 2020 • Some have said my forecast is too conservative (they’re probably right) • Read the post at http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/03/sizing-self- publishing-market-10.html or Google “ebook market by 2020” • Includes a downloadable spreadsheet so you can create and publish your own forecast
  131. 131. View other Smashwords Presentations on Slideshare • View more Smashwords presentations on Slideshare at http://slideshare.net/presentations/smashwords • Here are some notable presentations • Ebook Publishing in the Classroom (Includes a primer of ebook self- publishing and also best practices): http://www.slideshare.net/Smashwords/ebook-publishing-in-the-classroom • How public libraries can launch community publishing initiatives: http://www.slideshare.net/Smashwords/how-libraries-can-launch- community-publishing-initiatives-with-selfpublished-ebooks-33409020 • 2013 Smashwords Survey - http://www.slideshare.net/Smashwords/new- smashwords-survey-helps-authors-sell-more-ebooks • 2012 Smashwords Survey - http://www.slideshare.net/Smashwords/how- data-driven-decisionhow-datadriven-decisions-might-help-authors-reach- more-readers
  132. 132. Connect with Mark Coker Twitter: @markcoker Blog: blog.smashwords.com (subscribe via email and never miss another post) LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markcoker Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker Web: www.smashwords.com HuffPost: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker