The reason for the gap in my postings is that I went head down completing Journeymen II: Day of Reckoning and immediately afterwards found myself working on a book I'd started seven years ago. I'd stopped and started Assassin many times, but had shelved it in favour of other projects, however I just picked it up and ran with it this time and it looks like I'll be finishing it in the next month or so. expect to see it at all the usual locations before Christmas.
The imminent publication of Assassin is a timely nudge to mention some of the improvements I've seen on Smashwords lately. They will always be the poor relation to Amazon in terms of sales, but they provide the most useful publishing opportunity for authors because they give us access to the likes of Apple and Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo et al without having to work out an agreement with each one. Unlike Amazon they don't see you as meat to be traded and a resource to push their other sales interests. Sure they're there to make money, but somehow I always feel I've been treated fairly by Smashwords. I can't say I always feel the same about Amazon.
One welcome improvement they've introduced lately probably wasn't their doing at all, or maybe they asked the right questions. We'll never know, but they now provide full information about Apple sales, even for free books. I was irritated last year when promoting The Last Simple and Project: Evil as I could see hundreds of free copies being shifted on most platforms but no information regarding Apple. I asked Smashwords the question and they said that Apple didn't provide that information. I'm guessing that my enquiry wasn't the only one and Apple have now provided the data to Smashwords, who have made it available to authors retrospectively. If you have books listed on Samshwords, have listed them free in recent years, then nip over to your dashboard and look at previous years data. When you've done that, pop back here to hear the second improvement.
Smashwords have introduced a new promotional tool - a self service interview. Basically you answer a series of questions they've provided, or even ask yourself questions if you want to steer the discussion a particular way, and they publish it on your author page. You can link to it on your blog and your web page and you can edit it anytime you like. It's free, it's easy to use and it may help you promote your books a little bit more. I've done it, so it can't be that hard. If you want to see how it looks, click here.
Finally they've introduced the ability to set up pre-orders for your books. This isn't really for their store, that is a marginal sales area for authors. It's for the likes of Apple and B&N. You can upload your book in advance and list it in the various bookstores before it is released. This will allow you to promote the book through all your normal channels and the booksellers will take pre-orders for it. On the day of launch, all pre-order sales will count on that day and that can help your book to spike in the charts, attracting attention to it from readers who might not know of your work. I'll be trying it out on Assassin and will let you know how the process works.
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