By Mark Coker, Smashwords

Last month Smashwords celebrated our ten year anniversary. We were founded upon Mark Coker’s radical idea that all writers deserved the opportunity to publish ebooks at no cost. We’ve always believed that you deserve to control how your books are priced, marketed and sold. We think you’re the future of publishing.

The year after we launched, we began opening up distribution to retailers that previously were inaccessible to self-published authors. Once our authors achieved mainstream distribution, they began climbing the charts and turning heads. In ten years, the amazing authors and publishers of Smashwords have sold over $100 million of ebooks at retail.

Thanks to the success of you and your fellow indies, more and more authors are aspiring to go indie first.

Every day we’ve worked to continually innovate new tools that give you an advantage in the marketplace. Every day, we’re working to connect you with more readers.

View Mark’s blog post commemorating our ten year anniversary at the Smashwords blog.

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

Enrollment is now open for our exclusive Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale.

We’ve made enrollment easier than ever, especially for authors and publishers that manage dozens or even thousands of books. For the first time ever, we now allow you to enroll ALL your books at a single discount level with a couple clicks.

This is our biggest sale of the year.

For a full month, thousands of Smashwords authors and publishers will offer readers exclusive deep discounts on tens of thousands of ebooks. Discount levels are 25%-off, 50%-off, 75%-off and 100%-off (FREE).

We’ll promote the sale on the Smashwords home page and on the Smashwords blog. We’ll also promote the sale directly via email to over 1.5 million registered Smashwords customers. During the sale, a special section of will let readers browse participating books.

Of course, the most impactful promotion comes from you: the participating authors and publishers. At Smashwords, our sales are collaborative. By promoting your great deals to your readers, you’re also helping to promote your fellow indie authors and publishers. And their promotion of their books helps your books be discovered by their readers.

So please enroll your books today and then starting July 1 and throughout the month, promote your participation across all your social media channels and on your private mailing list. Be sure to provide direct hyperlinks to either your Smashwords profile page or to the individual book pages of the books you’re promoting. Discounts will auto-apply without the need for you or your readers to remember coupon codes.

Enroll now via the Manage site-wide promotions section of your Dashboard.

To utilize our new bulk enrollment option, click the “Enroll All” button you’ll find underneath each of the discount levels.

Have fun!

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

This past Sunday marked ten years since the public launch of Smashwords on May 6, 2008.

Wow, what a difference ten years makes.

Ten years ago, the book publishing industry looked quite a bit different than it does today:
Print books controlled 99.5% of the market; ebooks accounted for about ½ of 1%
If a writer wanted to get their book into bookstores where readers discover and purchase books, they needed a traditional publishing deal because publishers controlled access to retail distribution
Few writers wanted to self-publish; it was considered the option of last resort for failed writers

The writer community perpetuated and enforced the stigma of self-publishing by castigating those who self-published, branding them as “vanity” authors
The Roots of Smashwords

The story of Smashwords started back around 2002, when my wife and I completed a novel titled Boob Tube. We landed representation from an awesome agent at one of the most respected literary agencies in New York. They were known for repping NY Times bestsellers.

For two years and across two submission rounds, our agent pitched our novel to all the major publishers of commercial women’s fiction. Our novel, which explores the dark underbelly of Hollywood celebrity, targeted fans of daytime television soap operas. Despite our agent’s great work, he was unable to sell it.

Publishers were reluctant to take a chance on our novel because previous novels targeting soap opera fans had performed poorly.

It was our failure to find a publisher that opened my eyes to what I considered a huge problem facing millions of writers:
Publishers were unable and disinterested to take a chance on every author

Publishers acquired or rejected book based on perceived commercial merit; this meant that great books with limited commercial appeal might never see the light of day

The agent-publisher gatekeeping system meant that most writers were blocked from publication

Publishers could only guess what readers wanted to read, yet they were also rejecting books that might have gone on to become bestsellers or cultural classics if only these titles had been given the chance to be judged by readers

Thousands of unpublished writers were taking their manuscripts to the grave each year; I considered the loss of their stories, knowledge and life experiences a cultural travesty and an enormous loss to mankind

Publishers were deciding what readers could read!
The Internet as a Force for Democratization

If we rewind to the mid ’90s, the Internet was on the rise. Everything touched by the Internet was transformed and reconfigured.

The Internet facilitated seamless peer-to-peer communications and efficient commerce. It enabled content creators to digitally publish directly to their audience, thereby bypassing traditional gatekeepers.

Jeff Bezos launched Amazon in 1994. At first, the publishing industry treated the company as a harmless curiosity.

By the early 2000s, blogging was coming on strong. Blogs helped democratize publishing by allowing anyone to self-publish stories and opinions online. Early bloggers were criticized. The general criticism leveled against bloggers went along the lines of, “How dare these amateurs fancy themselves as writers.” Yet great writers were emerging from the blogosphere.

In 2005, YouTube was launched. YouTube allowed anyone to self-publish their videos online. New video producers – ordinary people – began developing massive audiences on YouTube. It was a talent discovery machine.

Despite the early inspiring examples of bloggers and YouTube, by 2008 the traditional publishing industry was relatively untouched by the Internet and the rise of user-generated content.

As I pondered the publishing conundrum faced by my fellow writers, it struck me as odd that publishers weren’t leveraging new publishing approaches enabled by the Internet to say yes to more authors.

In fact, I found that publisher attitudes toward the general population of writers were downright hostile. They didn’t want to say yes to every writer, even if they could. Publishers had this holier-than-thou idea that most writers were unworthy of publication. They viewed – and continue to view – their curation and gatekeeping function as an important value-add to book culture and readers.

They had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. They decided which writers became published authors, and which books were published, marketed and sold. They were artificially constraining the publication of books.

Here’s the thing: I too appreciated their value-add, and I continue to appreciate their value-add to this day. Despite my evangelism of self-publishing over the last ten years, I’ve also taken a lot of arrows for my advocacy for traditional publishers as well. I think self-publishing and traditional publishing are both excellent, mutually synergistic options. The author chooses what’s right for them.

But one can appreciate the great work of publishers while also recognizing the gaping hole that remains in their publishing businesses, and the harm it caused to book culture through benign censorship. It’s a hole Smashwords and Amazon KDP fill.

There’s value in democratization and freedom of choice. There’s value in giving writers the freedom to publish and there’s value in giving readers the freedom to decide for themselves which books they want to read.

One of the great powers of the Internet is to make it possible to efficiently aggregate and reach micro-targeted audiences on a global scale. These niche audiences can’t be reached economically with print books, but digital books are a different story.

In my mind, a book with the potential to change the life of a single reader – even if that single reader is your child or grandchild – is just as important as a New York Times bestseller enjoyed by millions of readers. I believe it’s wrong to value books based on commercial performance alone. Some great books will never sell well.

From Problem to Solution

Against the backdrop of publishing’s culture of NO, I imagined it would be really cool if an enlightened publisher or publishing service could say yes to every writer in the world, and do it at no cost to the writer. And then I wondered, “What if that someone could be me? What if I could take a chance on every writer in the world?”

This was the genesis of Smashwords.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been drawn to “change the world” ventures that carry a higher purpose. I’ve long believed that a life without higher purpose is a life squandered. Every person with a pulse has an opportunity to take small but significant steps today that will leave the world better than we found it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, entrepreneur, home maker, school teacher, garbage collector, artist, doctor, mechanic, baker or retired. Pick your passion and make a difference.

Writers are some of the most passionate, inspiring world-changers I’ve met.

In late 2004 I set to work on the Smashwords business plan.

I wanted to turn the conventional publishing model upside down. I wanted to give authors full control over their rights, pricing and publishing decisions, and I wanted to flip the compensation model so that 85% of the net proceeds went directly to the author.

It was also important to me that Smashwords’ interests be aligned with the interests of writers. Rather than sell publishing packages or charge upfront for our services, we’d offer our service for free and we’d earn our income on commission. If the author made money, we made money.

Back in 2008, most self-publishing services made money by exploiting authors – they sold authors over-priced publishing services. They focused on selling books to authors rather than selling books to readers.

It’s fair to say that my business idea was unconventional for its time. And maybe a bit crazy too.

I wanted to start a business publishing writers no smart publisher wanted to publish; selling books in a format – ebooks – that readers didn’t want to buy; and I’d sell these books in store called that no reader had ever heard of. Oh, and I knew little of the publishing industry other than what it was like to write and edit a book, find an agent, and fail to sell it. I didn’t have venture capital backers or angel investors. I didn’t have a lot of money to invest. But I believed the world needed something like this that could give all writers a risk-free shot at achieving their dreams.

In my favor, I understood the Internet, and I already had a 20-year career in technology marketing and entrepreneurship to draw from. In my prior career running a technology PR firm between 1993 and 2007, I worked with dozens of pioneering startups such as McAfee Associates and Rightnow Technologies. I helped bring these companies to market, and I helped them exploit new approaches to software marketing, such as electronic software distribution, freemium, software-as-a-service and subscription business models.

Unbeknownst to me back in the mid 1990s, these new approaches to software marketing would later serve as the foundational building blocks to enable the rise of the Indie Author Movement, which itself was fueled by ebooks and democratized (and digital) production and distribution. Ebooks are software!

We launched Smashwords in 2008.

Our launch was met with equal parts enthusiasm and skepticism from the writing community. I expected enthusiasm from my fellow writers, but I didn’t expect the skepticism.

Back to 2008, my idea that every writer had a right to publish was seen as downright radical if not subversive to the way-things-should-be. It’s still not a universally accepted idea. But neither is free speech. As I discussed in my Smart Author podcast episode about The Indie Author Manifesto, ever since Gutenberg’s printing press there have always been those who seek to control free expression.

Books and authorship are the ultimate form of free expression.

For a historical deep dive into the prevailing views, attitudes, and concerns among writers we faced at the time of our launch, check out this thread at Absolute Write from 2008. It serves as a good example of the public reception we received from the skeptics.

The thread started off with someone falsely accusing Smashwords of spamming the Nanowrimo message boards, and then progressed from there with some heated discussion and attacks pointed my way. I joined the fray and did my best to explain our well-intentioned service.

In 2009, almost exactly one year after our launch, we expanded our publishing platform to support small independent presses. Although I didn’t anticipate this need in 2008, we soon discovered that small independent presses faced many of the same publishing hurdles faced by indie authors.

Also in 2009, we expanded our focus to become an ebook distributor. It was probably the most consequential decision in the evolution of our business. Our authors’ sales took off once we opened up sales channels that were previously inaccessible to them.

In the years since, we’ve continued to innovate a steady stream of new tools, new service enhancements and new distribution opportunities. Ten years in, I still feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.

Now, on this ten year anniversary of Smashwords, I’m tickled pink when I reflect on what our authors and publishers have accomplished. I’m so proud of them, of you. Indie authors are leading a renaissance in publishing, and we can expect that the power and influence of indies will only increase in the future.

Here’s where your world stands now:
Every writer now has access to the tools, knowledge and freedom to self-publish with pride, professionalism and success

Every major ebook retailer carries self-published ebooks
Most libraries now have the ability to purchase self-published ebooks, including the ebooks of local authors

The rise of ebooks, paired with democratized book production and distribution enabled by the work of Smashwords, Amazon KDP and others, made it possible for previously unpublished writers to reach millions of readers.

Many writers now aspire to self-publish as their option of first choice rather than the option of last resort
Many writers no longer bother pitching their books to agents and publishers; instead, they publish directly to their readers using self-publishing platforms
Hundreds of thousands of writers now enjoy the freedom to reach readers on their own terms.

By most estimates, indie ebook authors have captured between 20 and 30% ebook market share measured by unit volume (and much more in some genres), and this share will continue to grow in the years ahead because indie ebook authors enjoy numerous competitive advantages over traditional publishers

Many of our authors – once shunned by gatekeepers – have gone on to become USA Today and NY Times bestsellers
Many of our authors have gone on to secure lucrative traditional publishing deals yet they return to Smashwords for the indie publishing side of their business

Self-published authors now self-identify as indie authors, and they wear this badge with well-deserved pride

Indie authors have pioneered many of the new best practices for ebook publishing, marketing and promotion; traditional publishers now look to indies for ebook marketing insights and inspiration

I’m pleased Smashwords was able to play a small part in this revolution. It’s been my sincere privilege to join so many of you on your publishing journey.

Whatever we accomplished at Smashwords, we didn’t do it alone.

Credit goes to…
The 130,000+ amazing authors and publishers who work with us for ebook publishing and distribution

The retailers and library platforms that dedicate such enormous effort to supporting our indie authors and small presses; thank you Apple, Barnes & Noble, OverDrive, Kobo and more!

The millions of readers around the world who’ve purchased over $100 million worth of Smashwords ebooks at retail over the last 10 years

The amazing team here at Smashwords: Our development team spends every day dreaming up and developing new tools to give our authors and publishers a competitive advantage; our service and vetting teams dedicate their days to supporting our authors, publishers and sales channels; our merchandising team works to promote our authors at major retailers and library platforms; our marketing team focuses almost 100% of its effort empowering indie authors with best practices knowledge they can use anywhere, even if they don’t publish with Smashwords; our finance team manages the inflow and outflow of money to ensure our authors and publishers are paid on time, every month; and my wife, advisor and confidant, Lesleyann, without whom I would have never co-written a novel about soap operas that started this grand adventure.

Thousands of forward-thinking publishing industry professionals and participants (journalists, bloggers, authors, publishers, literary agents, editors, formatters, cover designers, conference managers, book doctors, publishing consultants, retailers, librarians, educators, readers and more) who went out of their way to open doors for Smashwords and our authors and publishers

Thank you everyone for your trust, confidence and partnership. We’re looking forward to serving you in the years ahead.

What’s coming in the next ten years from Smashwords?

If you look back at our original launch press release, our mission has changed little over the years.

I founded Smashwords to help writers reach readers. Long term, we will always maintain our core focus on helping our indie authors and publishers connect with more readers. We’ll do this by continuing to develop industry-leading tools and relationships. We’ll continue to introduce new opportunities that put more control in the hands of authors and publishers. We’ll continue to fight for your right to publish, and we’ll continue to do our part to support a thriving and vibrant publishing and bookselling ecosystem for the mutual benefit of authors, publishers, retailers, libraries and of course READERS!

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

Does love of reading open doors for readers? The answer is yes! The knowledge, stories and deep-meaning found in books help readers exploit more of life’s great opportunities.
How can we encourage more people to become readers? I think one answer is to teach more people the joys of writing and publishing.

In episode 16 of the Smart Author Podcast, out today, I share the story of a publishing project I helped launch four years ago at Los Gatos High School in collaboration with the Los Gatos Public Library.

Each year, over 100 freshman honors poetry students write, produce and publish a poetry anthology. The project, led by visionary poetry teacher Tonya McQuade, has helped over 600 students become published authors.

When students are given the opportunity to publish and distribute their work to a global audience, it transforms their relationship with the written word. Publishing makes writing more meaningful, because publishing is how writers share their works with readers.

At the end of their book publishing project, the students hold a book launch to celebrate their accomplishment in front of parents, teachers and fellow students.

In addition to graduating from high school as published authors, these students will enter the first chapter of their lives with a new appreciation for the joy of writing and reading.

Learn How to Launch Similar Classroom Publishing Projects in Your Community

Over the course of the last 15 episodes, Smart Author podcast listeners have learned how to professionally produce, publish, distribute and promote an ebook.

In this new episode, I challenge listeners to use their newfound indie publishing superpowers to start similar classroom publishing projects at schools in their local community. Once indie authors mentor local teachers and help them get started, the teachers can run with the project.

These projects don’t cost the students or the schools anything.

In the first anthology published by Los Gatos High, Windows to the Teenage Soul, teacher Tonya McQuade included a Teacher’s Guide in the appendix of the book so other educators can replicate her project in their schools. I’ve included a link to the book in the show notes for this episode, and also included links to updated teaching resources you and your local educators can use to kickstart similar projects in your community.

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

Smashwords authors and publishers can now create and distribute audiobooks.

This opportunity is enabled by our new partnership with Findaway Voices, a leading independent producer and distributor of audiobooks.

Our partnership gives authors and publishers greater control over audiobook pricing, rights, and distribution, and all without exclusivity or lockups.

Visit to get started today.

Overview of the Audiobook Market
Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment of the book industry. Sales for 2017 were up about 20% over the prior year.

Audiobooks are exciting because they free up more hours in the day for consumers to enjoy books. Unlike printed words on paper or screens which require the reader’s undivided attention, audiobooks can be enjoyed while the listener performs other tasks, such as driving their car, cooking a meal or taking a walk.

How Audiobook Production Works
Starting today, you’ll notice audiobook creation prompts integrated into multiple stages of the Smashwords publishing workflow.

To turn your current ebooks into audiobooks, visit your Smashwords Dashboard and click “Create Audiobooks”.

Once you review and acknowledge the program details, you can instantly deliver your chosen ebook(s) and metadata into the Findaway Voices platform with a single click, at which point you’ll choose a password for your Findaway Voices account.

The first step in the audiobook production process is selecting a professional narrator.

You’ll answer a short questionnaire at Findaway Voices about your audiobook’s desired emotional tone; the accent, dialect or gender preference for the narrator; the voice style; the heat level of the book; and information about the book’s main characters.

The Findaway Voices casting team will then use this information to recommend a curated list of between six and ten professional voice actors for your consideration.

Recommendations will include audio samples and hourly rates for each narrator. From this list, authors can request audition samples where narrators submit sample readings of the author’s book.

There is no cost or obligation during the audition process.

Production begins after you select your narrator and sign off on the production contract. You will pay production fees directly to Findaway Voices.

To assist with your budgeting, here are some rough guidelines on cost: Each hour of recorded content comprises roughly 9,000 words, which means a 26,000-word novella might run about three hours and a 100,000-word book would run about 11 hours. Narrators typically charge between $150 and $400 per finished hour.

Global Audiobook Distribution
When production completes, you will control all rights to your audiobook. You’ll also have the option to distribute your audiobook to Findaway Voices’ global network of over 20 sales outlets including Apple iTunes, Audible, Scribd, Kobo, OverDrive and Google Play.

If you already have professionally produced audiobooks for some or all of your titles, you can still visit to transmit each title’s metadata to Findaway Voices, and then afterward you’ll upload the audiobook files to Findaway Voices for distribution.

No Exclusivity or Lockups
There’s no exclusivity or lockup period. You have full control over your choice of distribution outlets.

You can remove your book from Findaway Voices’ distribution network at any time, and you can sell your audiobook anywhere you please.

You set the price. The various outlets operate under different sales models (single-copy sales, subscription listens, pay-per-use, etc.), which means the calculation for royalty rates will differ from one channel to the next.

Visit to get started today!

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

The new 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide is now available.

Click to your favorite retailer to download it now for free:

Barnes & Noble

You’ll learn 65 book marketing ideas ideas to make your book more discoverable and desirable to readers. Even if you’ve already implemented some of these ideas, I provide fresh context to make your implementation of these ideas even more effective.

You’ll learn how to:
Spend more time writing and less time on marketing
Build your author brand
Drive greater reader word of mouth
Make your book market itself though autopilot marketing
Use preorders to improve marketing efficiency and reader lock-in so your new book is already marketing your next book
Leverage blogs to market your books
Market your ebooks to libraries
Run creative, reader-pleasing promotions with Smashwords Coupons
Earn mainstream media coverage
Partner with fellow authors on over 10 collaborative marketing opportunities
And there’s so much more.

The Guide features a new introduction, dozens of new and updated marketing tips, and a new “Deep Dives” section that covers social media strategy for authors, how to work with beta readers, and how to earn free press coverage.

This is my first update since 2013. The previous edition was 16,000 words. This new expanded edition is 40,000 words. I think the continued popularity of the older edition speaks to my unique approach to book marketing. I emphasize evergreen book marketing strategies that will work for many years to come.

As readers of this blog may know, before I published this new edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide I first serialized it in audio form on my SMART AUTHOR podcast. I completed that serialization on January 26 and released the ebook on January 31.

Here’s Episode 10 to give you a taste of what this new 2018 edition offers.

By Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

We are excited to announce that proof and author copies are now available for all publishers on KDP.

Proofs allow you to review a physical copy of your draft paperback prior to publication. Learn more here.

Author copies are copies of the live version of your paperback that you can order from Amazon. Learn more here.

When you order copies of your own book, you pay just the printing costs plus shipping and applicable taxes. With this new feature, KDP proof and author copies for the UK and the rest of Europe are printed and shipped from within Europe – an improvement for authors who previously used CreateSpace.

By publishing a paperback on KDP, you can reach more readers through Amazon websites in the US and Europe, as well as manage your print and eBook publishing from one website. In addition, you can use the KDP website in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese or Dutch. Learn more here.

2018 Tax Filing Season
Have questions about taxes? We’ve created several resources, including Help content and videos:

• Tax requirements
• Tax forms
• Tax interview
To see all our tax-related resources, visit our Help page.

KDP authors anchor Susan G. Komen/Kindle Unlimited Promotion
Amazon is partnering with Susan G. Komen to donate $5 for every eligible consumer who signs up for a 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited through the end of February. Susan G. Komen’s mission is to save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer.

The theme of the promotion is “Everybody has a story.” Komen will highlight videos via their website from three KDP authors whose lives were impacted by breast cancer and encourage consumers to sign up for a Kindle Unlimited trial to gain access to their books and all titles in Kindle Unlimited.

Learn more about the campaign and how you can support Komen and your fellow KDP authors here.

Pen to Publish Contest Winners
We have announced Sudha Nair and J. Alchem as the winners of the inaugural KDP Pen to Publish Contest in India. The winners will each receive a cash prize of $15,000 and a print publishing contract with Westland Publications. They also have the opportunity to be mentored by India’s best-selling authors like Chetan Bhagat. Watch their inspirational journeys for yourself by clicking on their names above.

Make your book look great with Kindle Create
Kindle Create is a tool designed to automatically transform a completed manuscript into a beautiful Kindle eBook by:

– Automatically finding chapter titles and creating a Kindle table of contents
– Giving you visual themes designed to suit the genre of your eBook
– Letting you preview your eBook so you can see what your readers will see—and make the changes you want
Kindle Create works with .doc and .docx files exported from any source, whether it be Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Google Docs or other applications. It also supports creation of interactive textbooks from PDFs.

Learn More

Looking for manuscript feedback? Submit to Kindle Scout!
Kindle Scout has decided to extend the offer of personalized editorial feedback for all shortlisted manuscripts until the end of February 2018.

Kindle Scout is a reader-powered publishing program where, in 45 days or less, your book may be considered for a publishing contract with Kindle Press.

You can also participate as a reader in Kindle Scout and support your fellow authors. As a Scout, you get to preview new, never-before-published books; nominate your favorites, and enjoy free eBooks when your nominated titles are published. The next great story is in your hands!

To learn more, visit the Kindle Scout website:

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

Have you ever read a news story or watched a TV interview and thought, “They should have interviewed me for this story!” ?

If so, you’re in for a treat with episode 15 of the Smart Author podcast. This is part six in my six-part audio serialization of the new forthcoming 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.

In this final installment of this marketing series, I teach authors how to earn free press coverage. Press coverage can dramatically elevate the stature of your author brand and drive more readers to your books. I also teach you how and when to write a press release, and how best to promote that press release to the media.

This episode draws heavily on my former life in public relations. I first fell into public relations back in the late ’80s while I was still in college (here’s the full story). Later, in 1992, I joined one of the largest Silicon Valley PR firms, and then in late 1993 I left it to found my own PR agency which I ran up until the launch of Smashwords in 2008.

I’ve always had enormous respect for the power of PR. PR practitioners use their skills to influence media coverage. The prospect of self-interested parties influencing the media to influence what people know, think and believe is at once exciting and terrifying.

It’s exciting when good PR helps elevate the stature of good people, good products and important stories. It’s terrifying when PR is used to misrepresent facts, as we see all too often nowadays in the business and political spheres. The dark side of PR touches our lives every day. Back when tobacco companies spent millions of dollars to convince consumers that smoking was safe, that was dark PR. Or in more modern times when large petrochemical companies like Koch Industries fund puppets to sow doubt about climate change, that’s an example of dark PR. Or when Russian-backed trolls create fake news to sow division in Democratic countries and mislead voters, that’s another example of dark PR.

In this episode, I teach you how to use PR as a force for good, and that good is to help elevate the stature of your author brand. You’ll learn tips for ethical PR based on facts and honesty. You’ll learn how to leverage your smarts and expertise to help journalists help their readers with your knowledge and news.

It was quite a challenge for me to condense three decades of PR experience into 49 minutes, but I trust this information-packed episode will give you actionable ideas you can incorporate into your book marketing.

Over in the show notes for this episode, you’ll find a full written transcript and a mockup of how a good press release should be structured.


By Mark Coker

Today in part five of my six-part marketing series, I take a look at social media strategies for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Social media is a mixed bag for many authors. We at once appreciate its power and potential while at the same time curse it for taking time away from writing.

We appreciate its potential to help authors forge closer relationships with readers yet at the same time we curse it for fostering tribalism, echo-chamber thinking, fake news and trolling.

In short, social media brings out the best in people but also the worst.

If you’ve been active on social media for the last decade, then much of what I share you’ll already know. But if you’re feeling alienated or unfulfilled by social media, or are starting to question how best to use it without sucking your soul dry, then I think the social media strategies I share will inspire you to forge a healthier relationship with the three most popular social media platforms.

Some of the topics I discuss include:
Seven tips for social media success
The four types of Twitter users, and how most of us are (and should be) a blend of multiple types
My personal Twitter strategy, and why no one strategy is right for every author
Not sure how to conduct yourself on Twitter? Hear my eight Twitter etiquette tips
Facebook: how the most powerful social media platform holds your followers hostage
How authentic should you be on Facebook?
The struggle to balance authenticity with the potential for alienation
How LinkedIn can work for non-fiction authors
How every author can use LinkedIn to further their professional development
Four tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn

If you’d like to connect with me on any of these platforms, here are my direct links:

LinkedIn: https://linkedin/in/markcoker

Coming up next on Smart Author, I wrap up my six-part audio serialization of the 2018 edition of the Smashword Book Marketing Guide with episode 15. You’ll learn how to earn free press coverage to build your author brand and generate more demand for your books.

If you’re just now discovering my six-part marketing series, I suggest you start with part one which was episode 10.

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

Two new episodes have been released of the Smart Author Podcast, all part of Mark Coker’s advance serialization of the forthcoming 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.

Here’s a quick summary:

Episode 13 – Book promotion Learn 25 ebook promotion tips. The tips are grouped in logical order to roughly correspond to the different stages of a book’s marketing, from pre-launch to launch to post-launch. These tips can be implemented in any order at any stage of an author’s publishing journey. This is part four of Mark Coker’s six-part serialization of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. (Read more at the Smashwords blog)
Episode 14 – Social media strategies for authors – Mark shares social media strategies for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to help you forge a healthier, more productive relationship with these popular social media platforms. This is part five in Mark’s six-part marketing series. (Read more at the Smashwords blog)
Listen and subscribe now at Apple Podcasts or visit the Smart Author home page for a complete list of multiple listening options, including the ability to listen now over your web browser.

On January 9 we alerted Smashwords authors and publishers via this Smashwords Author/Publisher Alert that the security team at Smashwords had detected multiple attempts by cybercriminals to log in to Smashwords author accounts using stolen email/password combinations.

We mentioned how two Smashwords authors were victimized, and how, working with PayPal we were able to recover one of the author’s lost earnings.

We’re pleased to report that the other affected author has also now been made whole. Thank you PayPal!

As we mentioned in the last email, Smashwords was not hacked. We shared this notification with authors out of an abundance of caution because we care about your security. We want you to know the simple steps you can take not only to protect your account access at Smashwords, but to protect yourself everywhere.

If you’re using the same password at Smashwords that you’ve been using elsewhere, you should update your Smashwords password today.

If you didn’t update your password following our last notification, here’s how to do it now:

Visit the Smashwords site, click “Sign Out” at the bottom of the page
Click “Sign In” at the top of the page
Rather than entering your email address and password, click the “Forgot Your Password?” link
Enter your email address ( into the form
We’ll send you an email with a link you can click to select a new, more secure password
We’ve also taken three additional steps to protect our authors, publishers, and other users:

On January 8, we added a new feature at Smashwords that will automatically notify you whenever your password is changed (either manually via your Account page, or by the password reset feature described above).
On January 16, we added a new feature at Smashwords that will automatically notify you whenever any changes are made to your payment settings page. We send you an email to your main email address, as well as to your your prior PayPal email address and your new PayPal email address (when applicable). In this way, you’ll be alerted to any unauthorized access to your payment settings!
On January 19, we updated the Smashwords Terms of Service to remind all current and future Smashwords authors and publishers about their responsibility to use a unique and secure password at Smashwords. It includes the same security best practices tips we shared with you in our January 9 alert.
We’ve posted another short note at Smashwords Site Updates about these changes.

How to publish and distribute ebooks with Smashwords
Frequently asked questions
Smashwords Site Updates
Smashwords blog (subscribe today via the email option!)
How to Publish ebooks (4-part presentation)
Smart Author Podcast
Smashwords Video Workshops
Create or update your Smashwords Interview (self-interviews)
Smashwords Series Manager (Manage series metadata)
Smashwords Coupon Manager (Create custom coupon codes)
Connect with fellow Smashwords readers and authors at Facebook
Mark’s List – Low cost cover designers and ebook formatters
Thank you for publishing and distributing with Smashwords.

Best wishes,

The Smashwords Team