By Mark Coker

In recent weeks, many Smashwords authors have noticed that our deliveries to iBooks have become remarkably faster, and iBooks is listing the books faster.

Some authors have seen their books appear for sale at iBooks the same day they upload to Smashwords.

Price changes and other metadata updates made in the Smashwords Dashboard for Premium Catalog-approved books are often reflected within hours at iBooks.

The new lightning-fast listings represent a welcome milestone in a multi-year initiative here at Smashwords to continually improve every aspect of our distribution systems.

We’re working to provide our authors and publishers faster retailer deliveries and faster metadata updates with the highest possible accuracy and reliability. We’re now shipping five times daily seven days per week to iBooks, and in the months ahead we’ll push that envelope further.

The faster listings at iBooks are also due in great part to iBooks recognizing the continuous improvements, both from an efficiency and accuracy perspective, of our vetting team here in Los Gatos.

Our vetting team manually inspects thousands of new titles and updates each week to ensure they meet the requirements of our retail partners and the expectations of readers.  We vet the titles so our retailer and library partners don’t have to.  We view our vetting as an important value-add that helps produce higher-quality books for the benefit of our authors, readers and retailers.  A key dividend for our authors is lightning-fast listings at iBooks (erotica titles go through additional manual review by Apple, so they won’t list as quickly).

iBooks has been an amazing partner to Smashwords authors over the last four years, ever since they selected us to serve among a small handful of authorized aggregators to supply ebooks to what was then known as the iBookstore.  On day one of the launch of the iPad, over 2,000 Smashwords titles graced their maiden iBooks catalog.

In the four years since, the iBooks team has encouraged us to push the envelope in all aspects of our business, from technology to operations to new feature development.  We readily embraced these challenges because Apple inspires us to do really cool projects that help our author reach more readers.

It’s thanks to iBooks that we made preorder distribution one of our biggest developmental priorities of the last 12 months, and our efforts have paid off by helping numerous Smashwords authors top the charts at iBooks and elsewhere.

We launched the Smashwords Series Manager tool last September with iBooks expressly in mind.  When I announced Series Manager here at the blog and urged our authors to adopt it with gusto, I speculated how the tool would give our retail partners greater flexibility to promote Smashwords titles.  I wrote,
“Let’s say, for example, a retailer wants to do a merchandising promotion of the top 50 bestselling Smashwords series that have a free series starter.  Without the series metadata, it would be nearly impossible for Smashwords or our retailer to accurately identify which books are in a series, and in which order.”

I’m sure a few healthy skeptics read my imaginings above as vaguely plausible, but 50 authors receiving feature promotion?  Really?  And then, as readers of this blog know, last month iBooks launched a massive FREE series starter promotion that featured 80 Smashwords authors.  Cool beans!

I think this only scratches the surface of how Series Manager can empower retailers to create new and innovative promotions that help readers discover and enjoy Smashwords authors.

These and other capabilities have reaped measurable rewards for Smashwords authors, and not just at iBooks but across our entire distribution network.

These tools empower indie authors with powerful capabilities and discoverability that heretofore weren’t possible in the days of print publishing.

Thanks in part to the assisting power of preorders and the enhanced series listings enabled by Series Manager, many Smashwords authors have built massive readership at iBooks over the last year.

Tools like preorders and Series Manager alone do not create bestsellers.  Everything starts with a super-awesome author producing a super-awesome book adorned by a super-awesome cover.  Authors supply their incredible books, and these tools provide incremental advantage.  In the game of publishing, everything is about incremental advantage.  One step at a time, building and building.

April 2014 marked a record month for Smashwords preorders at iBooks

Last month (April) was a record month for Smashwords preorders at iBooks, due in part to a number of amazing authors executing a steady stream of successful preorder-assisted book launches.

Let’s name names and celebrate a few of these talented authors, alpha-arranged by first name: Alexia Praks, Alyssa Rose Ivy, Amanda Heath, Ava Stone, C.J Duggan, Callie Hart, Chanda Hahn, Chase Walden, Cheryl McIntyre, Edie Claire, Elizabeth Hunter, Emma Hart, Erica Stevens, Frankie Rose, Gemma Halliday, GJ Walker-Smith, Jamie McGuire, Karina Halle, Kendall Ryan (Kendall’s release on Friday of When We Fall hit #1 at iBooks AU, NZ, CAN and UK, and #4 in the US), Kirsty Moseley, Kristen Ashley, Lacey Weatherford, Lauren Blakely, Lexi Ryan, Lili St. Germain, Lilliana Anderson, Lynda Chance, Melody Grace, Nashoda Rose, Natasha Preston, Nicky Charles, Quinn Loftis, R.E. Butler, Rachel van Dyken, Rebecca Ethington, Rita Hestand, Rucy Ban, Russell Blake, Sarah Tork, Steve Genis and Tillie Cole.  Keep an eye on these authors!

Our overriding objective here at Smashwords is to give our authors competitive advantage in the marketplace.  We realize you have a choice of partners.  We realize you have the option to upload direct to many retailers. We’re working to make distributing through Smashwords more advantageous for our authors than uploading direct.

Authors who distribute through Smashwords have more time to write because they’re spending less time managing multiple upload platforms.  We give our authors single-upload access to a broad and growing network of sales outlets, centralized metadata management and book updates, and access to exclusive sales and merchandising tools. If we can give you more time to write and empower you with professional-grade tools that give you incremental advantage, over the long run you’ll out-perform other authors.

Every new author at Smashwords benefits the entire worldwide community of Smashwords authors. I want every writer in the world to someday choose to publish and distribute their book with Smashwords.  That’s my dream at least, and I’m sticking to it!  To reach this goal, we’ll never stop innovating on your behalf.

Thank you, iBooks team, for helping us push the envelope so we can serve the common interests of iBooks customers and Smashwords authors. Thanks also and always to Smashwords authors and publishers who support us in every way.

More cool tools on the way!

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