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

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

Today in Episode 13 of the Smart Author podcast, I present part four in my six-part series on book marketing.

In this episode, I share 25 book promotion tips.

The tips are presented in logical order to roughly correspond to the different stages of a book’s marketing – from pre-launch to launch to post-launch, but most can be implemented in any order at any stage of an author’s publishing journey.

Some of the topics covered include:

How you can use preorders to keep loyal readers on your train
How to find and engage in specialized communities where your prospective readers are hanging out
How to leverage blogs to build your author brand and collaborate with fellow indie authors, plus how to organize a blog tour
How to use Smashwords Coupons to build readership, engage with readers and incentivize list-building
… and much more.

If you haven’t yet listened to my series on book marketing, I recommend you start with Episode 10 of the Smart Author podcast, which was part one in this series.

Next week’s episode will explore social media strategies for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

The majority of your readership will come from readers who stumbled across your book.

Maybe the reader was looking for a book like it. Or maybe they weren’t even looking for a book but found your book on their path to somewhere else.

Now imagine your book as a stationary beacon, buried deep in a forest of millions of other books. How can you equip your book to continually transmit its location and attributes so that those who might enjoy it are drawn to it, even if they’re not looking for it?

And then how do you ensure that once you draw a reader to your book, they leave your book a converted evangelist, ready to proselytize their passion for it to their fellow readers on the book discovery trail.

This is the idea behind autopilot marketing. In today’s new episode 12 of the Smart Author podcast, I present 17 tips that will help you put some the most important aspects of your book marketing on autopilot.

You’ll learn learn how to leverage your book to sell more books, grow your platform faster, and spend less time on marketing and more time on writing.

It’s part three in my six-part audio serialization of the new 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.
Give it a listen at any of the find podcast sources below.

Happy New Year!

By Mark Coker, Smashwords

Every structure and every enterprise requires a strong foundation upon which to build, grow and thrive. The foundation contains the DNA that predetermines much of an enterprise’s destiny.

The same holds true for an author’s marketing strategy. Without a solid foundation, an author’s marketing program lacks purpose and direction. It can become rudderless, ineffectual an inefficient.

Most authors launch their first book without giving their marketing foundation adequate consideration.

The good news is that it’s never too late to reinforce your foundation so you can build a marketing program that’s more purposeful, more organic, more effective and more efficient.

Today on episode 11 of the Smart Author podcast, you’ll learn 17 tips to bolster your marketing foundation and the stage to achieve your full potential.

You’ll learn actionable ideas to for author brand-building, knowledge-building, platform-building and distribution:

Brand-building – The author is the brand. Consumers buy brands they admire and trust. Learn how to improve your brand awareness and brand perception.
Knowledge-building – In the search for marketing advantage, many authors find themselves on a treadmill, always chasing the next ephemeral shiny object. Learn how to focus on what matters most – the evergreen best practices that will work just as well 10 years from now as they work today.
Platform-building – Platform is your ability to reach your target audience. Learn new ideas to grow your brand and reach more readers.
Distribution – Much of book discovery is serendipitous. If your book isn’t in the store, the reader goes home with a different author’s book.
This is part two of my six-part audio serialization of the new 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. The ebook for 2018 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide will release in late January upon the conclusion of this six-part audio serialization.

Subscribe to Smart Author today so you don’t miss a single episode.

Visit the Smart Author hub page for links to full transcripts of each episode.