Posts Tagged With: Smashwords

Amazon Lowers Unlimited Payments

no moneyI don’t personally have anything enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (or Kindle Select, or anything else exclusive), so I can only share what I’ve read.

Apparently Amazon has expanded the Unlimited subscription service (which normally allows subscribed readers to read as many enrolled ebooks as they want for the $9.99 monthly fee) to India where they are only charging $3.00 a month to subscribers, meaning that authors will make less on an enrolled book read in India than if the same book was read in the United States or another country. (I don’t have Amazon’s numbers but I would guess since the fee is roughly 1/3 the cost of the normal subscription, reads would be worth 1/3 as well – again, this is only a guess on my part.)

If you don’t have many Indian readers, you may shrug and say “so?” But the worry of many indy authors enrolled in Unlimited is “What’s to stop them dropping the price to $3.00 everywhere?”  And then cutting the author’s paycheck. This is of especial concern when 1/3 of ALL authors already make LESS than $500 a year. 

The effects could be farther reaching than just author’s Amazon paychecks. As books are devalued – worth less to readers who are used to getting them for free – sales drop on all platforms. I’ve personally seen several reviews on Amazon that state something to the effect of “Wait until the book goes free” – as if the reviewer “knows” that ALL books will eventually be free. Mark Coker of Smashwords (who posted a very good blog about the Unlimited effect) quoted Randolph Lalonde who despite getting good reviews on his $2.99 to $3.99 books has gotten angry mail from people demanding that he make his books free. 

Am I advocating jumping ship from Amazon? No. I don’t advocate abandoning ANY platform.

Exclusivity is a personal decision for an author, and while I refuse to ever do it, someone else may be happy that way – and that’s great. What I think is sad, however, is how many authors I’ve spoken to who AREN’T happy but feel like they have no choice. “Amazon is the biggest.” That’s true, but Amazon is only the biggest because we make them the biggest – not just as readers (quick, and be honest, where do you buy books at?) but as authors. When we list our links most of us (myself included) list Amazon first. We submit books to email lists that cater exclusively to Amazon links.  When we post a link on our twitter profile (or our tweets) we use the Amazon link rather than a personal webpage that has links to all retailers. And I know, if I’m in a hurry in an email message or Facebook comment, I will ONLY give someone the Amazon link because I think “It’s the biggest. Everyone buys there”. Much like reading Twilight, we’re all doing it because “everyone else is” – and everyone else is because that’s where all the links point – that’s where the top link is, that’s where we’re told is the best place to go – either literally or subliminally.

If you’re happy reading Twilight (and some people are – there’s nothing wrong with that!), then you should keep doing it – stay exclusive and post Amazon links everywhere. But, if you’re only doing it because “you have no choice” or “everyone else is”, remind yourself that you DO have a choice. Either way, go check out Mark Coker’s great article. 

Categories: Amazon store, Book Pricing, Digital & ePublishing | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

For Cover designers and Formatters

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

I know this blog is primarily aimed at authors, but many of us moonlight as cover designers or formatters (such as myself and Stephannie Beman) so I wanted to share this from Smashwords:  (I copied it directly from their site updates page. If you have any questions please contact smashwords as I don’t have the answers. Sorry. )


**Mark’s List open for new applicants**  It’s been over a year since we added a new batch of cover designers and formatters to Mark’s List, our list of low-cost service providers.  For a limited period of time, I’m accepting a small number of applications for new freelancers.  If you’re considering applying, please carefully study the information below.  Incomplete or inappropriate applications will be disregarded.

Background on the list:  I created the list in January, 2011 as a public service for our authors and publishers.  It’s currently available via autoresponder when someone emails  A newer version of the list will be made available on the Smashwords web site.  We don’t charge for listings, and we don’t take a commission.   Every individual is a freelancer.  Each freelancer provides excellent customer service, which is why they continue to be on the list.  We appreciate the great, low-cost services these freelancers provide to our authors and publishers.  We’re also pleased to know that for many of the Mark’s List freelancers, their inclusion on the list has provided them much-appreciated supplemental income.  Some have even made it their full time job.
How to apply:   First, email and study the email you receive so you can get an idea how other service providers are providing and pricing their services.   Apply to only one category, cover designers or formatters.  You must be the person who will provide the services.  We will not accept service provider firms, or individuals who farm out their work to others.  Note that I expect to receive many more applications that I can accept in this round, so please accept my apologies in advance if you don’t make the cut this time.  Maybe next time.
Okay, you’re ready to apply.  Compose an email to me at  Use the subject line, “Mark’s List.”  Answer each of the questions for the category for which you want to be considered (cut and paste these questions into your email and then provide your answers inline):
Cover designers:
  1. Provide me a complete hyperlink to your author/publisher profile page, which you’ll find by clicking “My Smashwords.”  Preference will be shown to Smashwords authors and publishers.  If you’re opted in to all our distribution channels (not counting Amazon), that’s a plus.
  2. Provide a link to your online portfolio.  I’m looking for designers with a track record of producing high-quality, professional covers.  It’s also very important that Smashwords authors and publishers can evaluate your portfolio before they hire you.
  3. Provide me hyperlinks to up to five covers you designed for Smashwords books.
  4. If selected, will you provide all your Smashwords clients a listing in your online portfolio, as well as a live hyperlink to their book’s listing at Smashwords?  Such portfolio listings are appreciated by our authors, and a plus for your application.
  5. What is your design fee, and how many revisions does that include?  Most Smashwords designers are in the range of $35-$100.  If you charge more, that’s fine as long as the price is justified by the quality.  We’re looking for great designers!
  6. Do you agree that you will not try to market or upsell other author services?
  7. Why do you think you’d be a great addition to Mark’s List?
  1. Provide me a complete hyperlink to your author/publisher profile page, which you’ll find by clicking “My Smashwords.”  Preference will be shown to Smashwords authors and publishers.  If you’re opted in to all our distribution channels (not counting Amazon), that’s a plus.
  2. Do you consider yourself an expert at the Smashwords Style Guide?
  3. How many books have you personally formatted that have been accepted into the Smashwords Premium Catalog?  The more the better.  Provide direct hyperlinks to up to 10 of them.  Preference will be shown to formatters who employ smart use of linked Table of Contents, intra-book links (endnotes and indexes), and who provide clean, professional formatting for novels.
  4. How many years have you been using Microsoft Word?
  5. Do you Nuke every project before you begin it?
  6. Do you know how to preserve italics and bolds post-Nuke using CTRL-H wildcards?
  7. Will you guarantee Premium Catalog inclusion for your clients?
  8. Will you perform all the work yourself?
  9. Do you agree that you will not upload client works to Smashwords?
  10. Do you agree that you will not attempt to upsell Smashwords authors to other formatting or ebook design or distribution services?
  11. What would be your approximate rates for a novela, a full-length novel, and a more complex non-fiction book with an extensive linked Table of Contents, or index and endnote links?
  12. Why do you think you’d be a great addition to Mark’s List?
Thanks, and good luck!
Categories: Book Covers, Book Formatting, Smashwords store | Tags: ,

How to Get a Cheap Book Cover… UPDATED!

I’ve recently updated my how to book How to Get a Cheap Book Cover by Joleene Naylor. Updates include:

  • A tutorial on how to use Create Space’s cover creator
  • A tutorial on how to make an ebook cover in Paint.Net
  • Fixed broken links
  • Added new links
  • Fixed a couple of typos
  • Updated information on acceptable file types

If you’ve already purchased the book through Smashwords, I believe you can download the updated version for free. I don’t know about the other sites, such as Barnes & Noble, though it will be a few days before the changes filter through the expanded market, anyway.

Here’s what people are saying about How to Get a Cheap Book Cover:

“VERY helpful! I was like a raft adrift on the adriatic and this book was the ocean liner that came to my salvation.” –  Robin Donaruma on March 07, 2012 (on

“I downloaded this book to help me design the cover for my novel, A Military Republic. The book has excellent advice about licensing photos, websites for buying photos and above all an invaluable guide to using gimp for designing the cover. I definitely recommend this to cover designing beginners.” – Haythem Bastawy on Feb. 25, 2012 (on

“This was a huge help when we were creating covers for my husband’s e-books. This is the first time we’ve done any sort of e-publishing, and we were pretty ignorant of even the basics. I especially liked the information on licensing and sources for images.” –  Marjorie Farmer on Nov. 10, 2011 (on

Categories: Book Covers, Smashwords store | Tags: , , , ,

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