By Mark Coker
An indie author today released the 250,000th book on Smashwords.
In the last 30 days, over 9,000 books were released at Smashwords. In 2008, we released 140 books in the first year.
The 250,000 books comprise 8.5 billion words. Imagine the millions of hours of love that went into these books. Imagine the cultural treasures that are now available and discoverable to future generations.
Five years ago when we launched Smashwords, self-publishing was viewed as the option of last resort for writers. Today, it’s becoming the option of first choice. The stigma of self-publishing is melting away as the stigma of traditional publishing increases.
Indie authors are becoming professional publishers.
Writers have learned that with ebook self-publishing, they can enjoy faster time-to-market, greater creative control and 4-5 times higher royalty percentages. The higher royalty rate enables indie authors to price lower while still earning more per ebook sold. This gives indies a significant competitive advantage over traditionally published authors. When readers are given the choice between two books of equal quality, and one is $3.99 and the other is $12.99, the $3.99 title is more desirable. The $3.99 indie earns about $2.50 for every book sold, whereas the $12.99 author earns $1.60 to $2.25.
Based on our survey data, a $3.99 ebook will sell over four times as many copies as a book priced over $10.00. This pricing power gives indies a tremendous platform-building advantage. Authors who reach the most readers today will have the largest fan bases ten years from now.
The advantages indie authors enjoy in the marketplace are real, and these advantages will increase in the years ahead as reader eyeballs transition from paper to screens, and as brick and mortar bookstores continue their steady decline.
I wonder if the traditional publishing industry has yet come to terms with the ramifications of the rise of indie authorship.
Indie authorship isn’t a noun. It’s an attitude. A mindset. It’s about believing in yourself. It’s a movement. It’s a movement that believes every writer has a right to publish. It’s a movement that understands that every writer – regardless of commercial potential or metrics – has something special to share with the world. It’s a movement that celebrates the value of the book above the value of a dollar. Every writer is important. Indie authorship leaves no writer behind.
Five years and 250,000 books in, I still feel like we’re just getting started at Smashwords. Wait until we reach 500,000 books, or one million. Our amazing authors have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. Watch, you’ll see.