Hat-trick for Smashwords with series discovery tool, Oyster deal and 250,000 landmark

It’s been a busy time for another publishing pioneer, Smashwords, as it reached the milestone of its 250,000th ebook uploaded, added Series Manager to makes series books more discoverable and linked up with ebook subscription service Oyster.

Series Manager lets writers attach their books to series and manage their series metadata. It’s available in the Smashwords Dashboard under the Series Manager link.

Readers will be able to identify books in a series or across related series and series metadata will give retailers more flexibility to promote books in a series. A retailer would, for example, be able to run 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 to identify which books are in a series and the order of the books in the series.

Authors can attach books, including pre-order books, to a series by checking boxes by going to the Dashboard, clicking Series Manager, clicking Create New Series and attaching the books.

A variety of numbering methods can be used for series, such as Book 1, Book 2 or Book I, Book II or Part 1, Part 2 or no 1, no 2, or can give the series name, such as Fellowship of the Rings.

Series books can be members of multiple series and books that span more than one series can be connected.

Smashwords will provide the series metadata, as input by the author or publisher, to retailers who will each handle the metadata differently. Some will make use of all the data and others might cherrypick but the metadata will make it easier to enhance the discoverability of Smashwords books.

In the Smashwords store, each book’s listing, whether it’s on the book’s book page or in the search results, will display the series to which the book is connected.

Series names are clickable.  Readers can click on the series title and view a dedicated series page.  Authors can use the link in their marketing and provide a link to the series page.

Smashwords distribution deal with ebook subscription firm Oyster will be author-friendly

The Smashwords distribution deal with ebook subscription service Oyster offers unlimited access to over 100,000 ebooks for $9.95 a month.

Smashwords says the closest comparison with Oyster on the ebook market is Amazon’s Kindle Owners Lending Library, where subscribers to Amazon’s Prime subscribers can download and read one ebook for free per month.  The author or publisher has to enrol their book in Amazon’s KDP Select program and the ebook has to be exclusive to Kindle.

Smashwords is still finalising details of the deal with Oyster and says it will send an email alert to all Smashwords authors and publishers before the link-up goes into operation.

The email will contain complete financial details, including royalty rates and sampling thresholds, so authors and publishers can make an informed decision about participation. Smashwords says it will be an author-friendly deal.

Oyster does not require exclusivity and is open to all Smashwords authors. If, for example, an Oyster user read multiple books by the same Smashwords author in a single month, the author would be paid for each book.  Smashwords authors will earn their royalty whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than a sample of their book.

Smashwords believes the Oyster service will help authors connect with a segment of the reading audience they’re not reaching anywhere else.

To qualify for the Oyster deal, Smashwords authors only need to ensure their books are Premium Catalog-approved.

250,000 mark reached after five years

The 250,000th book on Smashwords was released recently, five years after the self-publishing site was set up.
In 2008, Smashwords released just 140 books in the first year but now the rate has rocketed to 9,000 a month.

The five years of Smashwords have seen self-publishing go from being the last resort for writers to first choice as indie authors have become professional publishers.

With self-publishing, writers get faster time to market, greater creative control and 4-5 times higher royalty percentages which means indie authors can price lower and still earn more per ebook sold.  This gives indies a significant advantage over traditionally published authors.

Smashwords says its survey data shows that a $3.99 ebook will sell over four times as many copies as a book priced over $10, giving indies a major advantage in building fan bases other at $12.99, the $3.99 title. The $3.99 indie earns about $2.50 for every book sold while the $12.99 author earns $1.60 to $2.25.

The company says indie authorship is a movement that believes every writer has a right to publish and that celebrates the value of the book.