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Four self-published books on the NY Times eBook Bestseller List!

As Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, has said, “We knew this day was coming.”

An article in the Guardian on Thursday announced that four self-published authors had made it to the New York Times eBook Bestseller list.

The highest-ranking self-published author on the 5 August NYT chart is Colleen Hoover, whose ebook Slammed comes in in eighth place, ahead of by established bestsellers I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson (#11) and Criminal by Karin Slaughter (#21). Hoover, who self-published Slammed seven months ago and has just signed a traditional book deal with Simon & Schuster, also has her second novel, Point of Retreat, in 18th place on the NYT chart.

Bella Andre has three self-published romance novels in the chart: If You Were Mine in 22nd place, Can’t Help Falling in Love in 23rd, and I Only Have Eyes For You in 24th. The 25-title chart is dominated, as it has been for much of the summer, by EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy – itself originally published as fan fiction.

Smashwords has worked with all four authors to publish or distribute their eBooks, and its founder Mark Coker has outlined what all this success means:

It’s a big deal to see a single Smashwords author on the New York Times Bestseller list, let alone four in one week. A year ago, it was unheard of. A year from now, it’ll be more commonplace.
These worlds [of independent and traditional publishing] are complementary to each other.  Success in one world feeds success in the other.  Authors who participate in both worlds will become more valuable to publishers, but also more expensive to sign.  That’s good for authors.
If you think these successful romance authors are random flukes, or the beneficiaries of a passing fad, you’re underestimating them.  These authors are the future.  Learn from them.
The indie movement has gone mainstream with romance authors, and it’s transforming the lives of writers for the better. […] The future of book publishing is brighter than ever for those authors who place themselves on the right side of history.  Authors who delay their embrace of indie publishing will find themselves sidelined by those who have already seen the light.

It’s up and up for self-publishing!

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Independent Author makes Top Ten Bestsellers on Amazon UK


Smashwords author Nick Spalding is selling his novel Love…from Both Sides for £1.59 on Kindle, the description for which reads: “Based on real-life tales of dating disaster and relationship blunders, Love… From Both Sides is a warts-and-all romantic comedy for everyone who knows how tricky (and occasionally ridiculous) the quest for love can be. ”

The book is currently #22 in the Amazon UK Top 100 Bestsellers, where it has featured for four months. According to an article in the Bookseller, Spalding has sold over 245,000 units on Kindle.

On his website, one of Spalding’s fans asked, “Considering some of the rubbish that has made it onto the book shelves, I dont understand why an agent/publisher hasn’t snapped you up yet. It can only be a matter of time. Presumably, given your success, you would suggest this aspiring author takes the self-publish route to get started too?”

Spalding’s reply is revealing: “I’d honestly say do both: self publish and go for the traditional route as well. The two are no longer mutually exclusive, thanks to how the self-pubbing route is starting to mature and become more credible. I have had some interest from agencies, so the stigma is thankfully disappearing. Do everything you can to get your name and your work out there.”

This stigma is something that Smashwords founder Mark Coker has also spoken about — click here for more information.

Things are looking up for independent authors!


(If you’re interested, these are the links to Nick Spalding’s Twitter and Blog.)

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Good News and Bad News

Today in the literary world, there are bookshops closing down, publishers desperately trying to keep up with changing readerships, and 100-year-old manuscripts found. Enough to be getting on with in one blog post!

To start, Suw Charman-Anderson interviews Mark Coker, founder of the eBook publishers Smashwords, on Forbes this week (original article here).

In its first year, 2008, Smashwords published 140 books. Last year Smashwords helped authors publish more than 92,000 books, and in 2012 the running total is already at 130,000.

In his interview with Charman-Anderson, Coker discussed the changing attitudes to self-publishing: “The stigma associated with self-publishing is quickly disappearing as we see more and more indie authors becoming commercially successful on their own merits, and as some of the problems with traditional publishing become more apparent.”

“What we’re seeing is that most successful authors are those who are adopting many of the best practices of the best traditional publishers. These are the authors who honour their readers by producing high quality books that are as good or better than what the big New York or London publishers are putting out. They’re hiring professional editors and proofreaders to make sure that the books are high quality. They’re hiring professional cover designers, and their books are starting to become indistinguishable from what New York is putting out.”

As can be seen from Pearson (the parent of Penguin) buying out Author Solutions last week, the race now is for traditional publishing houses to find new ways of adapting to the increasingly self-publishing-friendly industry. In an article in the Guardian last Sunday, Vanessa Thorpe outlined the repurcussions of eBooks:

Further proof of the onward march of ebooks comes from BookStats, which has collected data from 2,000 publishers across America, including fiction titles, as well as higher education, professional and academic publishing products. It found ebook revenues for US publishers doubled to more than $2bn in 2011.


Of course, one of the greater disadvantages of all this change is that bookshops are suffering. The Willesden bookshop that inspired Zadie Smith is about to close.

Figures from the Booksellers Association showed there were 1,094 independent bookshops left in the UK by the end of 2011, down from 1,159 in 2010 and 1,289 in 2009.

As outlined in the Guardian article,

Helen Sensi, who has worked at the shop since it opened, called the latest closure “heartbreaking”. Sensi is also known as the mysterious “Helen” from Zadie Smith’s recent New York Review of Books article in which the novelist lamented the shop’s closure and praised her as the woman who “gives the people of Willesden what they didn’t know they wanted. Smart books, strange books, books about the country they came from, or the one that they’re in.” […] The bookshop is being forced to close by Brent council’s redevelopment plans for the area. The council believes the current centre, which also houses a museum and a library, is “not fit for purpose.”

Owner Steve Adams is trying to find alternative space which could be used. We can only wish him the best of luck.


However, it’s not all doom and gloom in the literary world. Last week, a PhD student, Chris Mourant, was rifling through the archives of the ADAM International Review (published from c.1903-1995) — a literary magazine published in English and French, its title an acronym for Arts, Drama, Architecture and Music — when he alighted upon four short stories written by Katherine Mansfield that have been lost in those archives for almost a hundred years. As outlined on the King’s College London website,

One short story, ‘A Little Episode’, written in 1909, is arguably the most poignant, as it sheds light on an important year of Mansfield’s life of which little was previously known. Chris explains: ‘The narrative conveys Mansfield’s bitterness and disillusion following her abandonment by the musician Garnet Trowell and her subsequent marriage of convenience to George Bowden.’ Having burned all records of her life during this period Mansfield hid these details from biographers and ‘A Little Episode’ now grants researchers access into her experience during this time.

The four stories will be included as appendices in The Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Fiction of Katherine Mansfield, due to be published in October by Edinburgh UP.

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