The Journal, Monday, 9/14: Farewell, Smashwords, and Why

Up a little before 2 this morning. Email responses and playing catch up with a little reading filled the first half-hour of the day. I didn’t drop by Dean’s site a second time yesterday so I did that as part of my waking up ritual this morning.

By the way, if you haven’t heard of, check it out. I don’t buy every bundle that comes out, but every now and then they have one I can’t refuse. Basically, you pay what you want for a LOT of great reading.

The URL for the current bundle is Once you sign up, they’ll send you announcements of other bundles. And free stuff. Like right now, a free issue of Lightspeed Magazine. (grin)

Guess I’ll write the topic now. Then I’ll write fiction for awhile, and then a walk (finally, after a few days off).

Took longer to write the topic than I thought it would. Finally to writing.

I screwed up. I relented and let the little girl out this morning while it was still dark. Again, something scared the stuffing out of her. When I let her in she began racing through the house like she did two days ago.

This time I corraled her quickly, brought her into my office and shut the door. But then I had to spend some time alternately catching her, petting her, telling her everything’s all right. I shut the blinds on my two open windows so she couldn’t see outside and that helped a lot. (Sure wish we could adjust our vision so we could see like they do at times.)

Still it took a good half-hour to calm her enough so I could open my office door without fear of her climbing to the top of the cabinets and inadvertently harming herself again. Now she’s lying on a Navajo rug just outside my open office door so I can see her and she can see me. Three times she walked over here and rubbed against my legs while I’m typing. Just making sure I’m still here.

I understand. Fear is one of the very few universal emotions, something we all share on this little blue rock. And anyone who believes the other creatures on this planet are not “self-aware” is really stuck in the collective human ‘holier-than-everything’ attitude.

Back to my story for a bit before my walk.

Had a good walk of just over 5 miles, then back here to read Dean’s post where I found exciting news. It was so good I threw together a special post over on my main blog and sent it out earlier today. See News Flash below.

Now back to my writing.

News Flash
Turns out ebooks are NOT declining as reported by traditional publishing’s “big 5.” Turns out, INDIE published ebooks are taking a lot larger market share. Ebook sales actually are INCREASING. Great news in this wonderful new world of publishing.

See for yourself at Author Earnings Report. Seriously, if you’re a writer, you want to read and understand this.

I urge you also to visit the website of Dean Wesley Smith where he provides a brief discussion of this. Very interesting stuff.

Topic of the Post: Farewell, Smashwords, and Why
Yesterday I started the topic of the post with “Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you.” That’s true for today’s post as well.

Back in 2011, during the first year of the “gold rush” of electronic publishing, I signed up for a Smashwords account. Today, I have 143 books (nonfiction, novels, short stories and collections) published with them.

When I finished a work, whatever it was, first I published it to Smashwords. I allowed them to distribute it for me to 12 of 13 sales venues (all but Amazon). Then I published it to Amazon.

Enter Draft2Digital, a sleek new company that does what Smashwords does but MUCH more quickly and efficiently. They distribute to the same “big six” that Smashwords distributes to (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Inktera, Oyster, and Scribd) plus Tolino, a growing ebook store in Germany that was created specifically to rival Amazon.

Yesterday, I published a short story to D2D and Amazon, but for the first time, did NOT publish it to Smashwords. Why? Because then I’d have to clunk my way through the “opt out” radio buttons thirteen times so Smashwords would not distribute it (because D2D is distributing it).

Now admittedly, if I HAD done all that, the story would still be available in the Smashwords store, and I’m always advising writers to sell in as many markets as possible. But the thing is, having to spend a half-hour clunking around on Smashwords’ site just so a short story will be in their store… well, it simply isn’t worth the time.

Another thing, through the Smashwords online store I’ve sold mostly nonfiction. And most of that I’ve sold when I’ve created coupons for it, and then advertised the coupons. Again, it’s a lot of effort for very few sales.
I’m not lazy when it comes to expending necessary effort, but any time I spend uploading etc. is part of my investment in my writing. Since it’s part of the investment, I have to consider what return the effort will yield.

Here are a few stark numbers:

  • At it takes me about 15 minutes from clicking Create New Title to clicking Publish IF the process is uninterrupted by Amazon’s ridiculous page-loading times and jumping around. Probably the average time is 20 to 25 minutes. However, Amazon is currently my best venue, so the frustration, while annoying, is worthwhile.
  • At it takes me about 10 minutes to go from entering the title of my book to clicking Publish at the bottom of the form.
    • But then I have to go to their ISBN Manager to assign an ISBN for distribution to some of the big six as well as several tiny library venues (where I’ve never sold a book).
    • Then I have to go to their Channel Manager. There I have to find my book (there are three pages) and then click thirteen “opt out” radio buttons one at a time so Smashwords will not distribute to anyone except the online store.
    • Even after I’ve done all that, even though I’ve opted out of distribution to every place that requires an ISBN, I continue to see a message saying I need to assign an ISBN to my books. Very, very clunky system. I skip over the ISBN Manager since I no longer use them for distribution, but using the Channel Manager easily adds another 10 minutes and roughly half a ton of frustration to the process. Not worth it.
  • And D2D. Ahh, D2D. At it takes me about 3 minutes from Add New Book to Publish. On the final page I check the stores to which I want them to distribute my work (so seven checkmarks), verify that the work is either mine or that I have the rights to publish it, and I’m done. They assign an ISBN for the venues that require it, but I don’t have to do anything with that.

D2D does for me what Smashwords does but in a lot less time and with absolutely zero frustration. Score!

So for me, it’s bye-bye to Smashwords. I might put my major publications (novels, collections) up in their store, but frankly I doubt it. I really REALLY don’t like having to “opt out” 13 times per publication.

Now I’m a fair guy, so I will be addressing this issue with Mark Coker soon. Well, relatively soon. I probably won’t do so until I’ve moved my major nonfiction books over to D2D. Anyway, I’ll keep you updated, but I think he’s pretty entrenched in the way he does things.

So it’s like this. Five years ago, he and his company were on the cutting edge of ebook publishing and distribution. Today they’re eating dust from every other major player.

If you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to try to answer them for you. Please ask in the comments section below.

My Current Challenge and Goal
Before October 1, I will write at least 30 new short stories, one for each day in September. To satisfy the challenge, these have to be actual short stories, meaning they have to be over 2,000 words. If I write anything shorter than that, it will count on my numbers but not toward the challenge. Stay tuned.

Today’s Writing
Well enough, I guess, but I was on this particular story much longer than I wanted to be. A lot of cycling back on this one as it kept twisting and turning. A lot of fun though. I hoped to finish this one today and write another, but I’ll have to save that for another day.

Fiction Words: 2511

Writing of “The Day They Came” (short story)
Day 1…… 1437 words. Total words to date….. 1437 words
Day 2…… 2511 words. Total words to date….. 3948 words (done)

One thing about these stories — I just have to write them. I don’t have to rush to slap a cover on them and publish them. All of that’s going to come later, although I will pick one each week to be the story for that week. At the end of the month if I’m successful in my challenge I should have 40 publications: 30 individual stories, six 5-story collections, three 10-story collections, and maybe one book titled The Stories of September.

Total challenge stories for the month…… 6 (Goal is 30)
Total challenge words for the month…… 19338
Total fiction words for the month………… 20928 (1590 on Wes)
Total fiction words for the year…………… 485969