Making Simple eBooks and Making eBooks Simple


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This presentation explores how authors, publishers and literary agents Presented by Mark Coker at the Publisher's Launch eBooks for Everyone conference in San Francisco

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Making Simple eBooks and Making eBooks Simple

  1. 2. Our Simple Mission <ul><li>Make ebook publishing & distribution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple and… </li></ul></ul>
  2. 3. … and profitable for our authors, publishers, agents and retail partners
  3. 4. Simple is Good <ul><li>Simple is faster, smarter, cheaper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~80%* or more of ebook units sold are “simple” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple = well-formatted straight narrative, or narrative + images </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Complexity bad </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Added cost & risk for publisher </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Added cost to consumer </li></ul></ul>* BISG estimates 51% of ebook units sold are fiction. Fiction is narrative. My assumption: 60%+ of remaining 49% is narrative, or narrative + images
  4. 5. What Matters to Readers? “ Foo foo” is the frilly stuff most readers won’t miss if it’s not there, like drop caps. Kind of like lint in the belly button. Readers want well-formatted, accessible and quality books with great words. This is what I think. You’re welcome to think different.
  5. 6. How are simple books working for us?
  6. 7. 31,000+ Number of authors, publishers, agents served by Smashwords
  7. 8. 7,000+ ebooks released at Smashwords last 30 days
  8. 9. 82,000+ ebooks published at Smashwords
  9. 10. Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 140 6,000 28,800 82,000 (11/2/11)
  10. 11. How did we do it?
  11. 12. Bags of VC Money? No. We haven’t accepted a penny of venture capital money, nor do we want it. We’ve been profitable for 13 months.
  12. 13. Army of super-hero ninja squirrels ? No. We’re 11 people (up from 3 one year ago).
  13. 14. Did we shake down authors? It’s against our DNA to charge fees. We earn a commission if we sell something, and earn nothing if we don’t.
  14. 15. No bags of money, squirrels or shakedowns. We provide FREE publishing and distribution tools We never stop making our tools faster, simpler, better
  15. 16. Here’s how we make books
  16. 17. Step 1: BYO Word Processor & Manuscript Microsoft Word Open Office Writer
  17. 18. Step 2 – Implement our Formatting Tips (over 130,000 copies downloaded!)
  18. 19. Step 3 – Instant, FREE Conversion Smashwords Meatgrinder High-quality multi-format conversions for narrative & narrative + images, fast/free updating
  19. 20. Meatgrinder creates quality books that make readers happy … <ul><li>Reflowable </li></ul><ul><li>Custom styling </li></ul><ul><li>Hyperlinks </li></ul><ul><li>NCX navigation </li></ul><ul><li>Automated formatting error detection and correction </li></ul><ul><li>EPUBCHECK compliance </li></ul><ul><li>Instant updates/revisions </li></ul>
  20. 21. Meatgrinder limitations <ul><li>Although we think Meatgrinder is cool, it’s not without limitations, so here’s where we think we need improvement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Doesn’t support direct .epub/.mobi/.pdf/ etc uploads of pre-formatted files </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drop caps weak </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support for bullets and numbered lists needs improvement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hand-coded books (as opposed to automated conversions) will always provide more precise control (but do readers really care about foo foo for simple books??) </li></ul>
  21. 22. Step 4 - Distribution to Apple, B&N, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, others
  22. 23. Final Thoughts <ul><li>Simple works great for vast majority of books readers want to buy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>fiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>narrative non-fiction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Simple is good for books, good for authors/publishers/agents/retailers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>simple books can also = high-quality books </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cuts production costs/risks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>faster time to market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>enables lower prices for consumers </li></ul></ul>
  23. 24. Thanks for listening! Connect with Mark Coker: Web: Blog: Twitter: @markcoker