18 May 2008

Smashwords.com v PanMacMillan.com – Nick Travers On Writing

In order for e-books to breakthrough into the mainstream one of the criteria I stated the other day was a well respected site where the best seller list offered better reads than traditional retailer’s lists. I don’t think that site exists at the moment, though, Amazon US deciding to only allow self-publishing through its subsidiaries is, I believe, a recognition of this fact. Any-road-up, I have found two sites that are worth a look:

First off: Smashwords.com. The beta for this print-on-demand site, launched on the 6 May 08, offers to translate the word file of your manuscript into all available e-book formats. This potentially makes it a one-stop-shop for anyone with an e-reader. All Smashwords.com needs now is decent e-readers (e-books) to take the market by storm. If they can successfully establish themselves with a reputation for having quality books and a respected best seller list they will be on their way.

I have already published Helium3 on the site (as a free download) so can I tell you that it is easy and straightforward to use. Not yet as sophisticated as Lulu.com, and with some obvious missing functions but I’m sure it will improve. The owners seem keen, professional, and business-like. One promising part of the set up is that the owners have their own PR company. The PR team have their work cut out, but if they can persuade big name publishers/authors to sell their e-books through their site I’m sure they will make their mark.
If anyone would like to leave a review of Helium3 on Smashwords, feel free to do so here.

Secondly, I was directed to the PanMacmillan.com/new writing site. This intriguing site promises to publish one submission per month as a Print On Demand hardcover book. You can buy the books via PanMacmillan.com. The aim is to publish material that PanMacMillan like but do not consider commercial enough to publish via their retail channels. If, however, the book proves popular with readers then MacMillan might well purchase if for their more traditional publishing routes. No advance is offered, authors receive 20% of net profits and their manuscripts are ‘lightly edited’ by a MacMillan editor. Is this a sign of things to come?

I can’t help thinking that right now Smashwords.com ought to be talking to PanMacMillan because this is exactly the sort of material they need to be offering.

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