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American women are being brutally murdered across Southeast Asia. Why is no one finding the killer? THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE by Jake Needham

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Join eleven best-selling and award-winning authors under the mistletoe as they share bite-sized holiday romances: Christmas Actually

The perfect holiday gift for young readers: My Snowman, Paul by Yossi Lapid

Giveaway Alert for #CyberMonday! Enter to win and discover the best books around

Winner of the 1944 Newbery Medal, and one of the finest historical novels ever written… Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes

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A murdered tsarina… A lost musical masterpiece… A stolen Russian icon… The Lost Symphony: A historical mystery thriller (Jack Rogan Mysteries Book 6) by Gabriel Farago

Huge box set alert! Winter may be nipping at our heels but you can heat things up with All I Want for Christmas: A Limited Edition Collection of Winter & Holiday Romances

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Publetariat Dispatch: Jezebel Blogger Totally Misses The Point Of Bell Jar Cover Redesign

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Publetariat founder and Editor in Chief April L. Hamilton rebuts a Jezebel blogger’s criticism of the recent cover on Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar re-release.

Publetariat Editor’s Note: strong language

Over on Jezebel, blogger Tracie Egan Morrissey has got her knickers in a twist over the cover design for the 50th Anniversary re-issue of Syliva Plath’s The Bell Jar. Tracie rants:

If Sylvia Plath hadn’t already killed herself, she probably would’ve if she saw the new cover of her only novel The Bell Jar. For a book all about a woman’s clinical depression that’s exacerbated by the suffocating gender stereotypes of which she’s expected to adhere and the limited life choices she has as a woman, it’s pretty fucking stupid to feature a low-rent retro wannabe pinup applying makeup. (Also, it’s ugly and the colors suck.)

(Note that this cover has not been released in the United States, it’s a U.K. release)

Way to completely miss the subtlety of a very cleverly and thoughtfully -designed book cover, Tracie.

As we all know, book covers are supposed to convey something about the content of the book, whether in terms of plot, setting, tone or character. And they must evoke something about one or more of those things using the visual shorthand of imagery—typically, symbolic imagery. Still with me there, Tracie?

Let’s start with the publisher’s description of the book:

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath’s own life and has become a modern classic. The Bell Jar has been celebrated for its darkly funny and razor sharp portrait of 1950s society and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Now, looking back at that cover…is this really just a glam shot of a young, attractive woman tarting herself up, signifying nothing more than ‘girls just wanna have fun and look pretty doing it’? I don’t think so.

First, the background color is a dark red. Not only is it an iconic and representative color for the time period of the novel, but taken on its own, completely out of any context, it’s a symbolically negative color that evokes obstacles, conflict and high energy. Red means stop. “Seeing red” means anger. Red is the color used all over the world on warning signs. Red is also the color of blood, and therefore the color most associated with violence. So the background color should clue the viewer in right away on a gut level: this is not a happy book, you have been warned.

Next, look at the model’s pose and facial expression. She is not smiling, and if anything, the corners of her mouth are downturned. She’s touching up her make-up, but she doesn’t look too happy about that. Actually, her reflection in the mirror shows an expression with downturned mouth that looks more like disgust than anything else. And since the woman is looking at herself, wouldn’t this mean she’s disgusted with herself, and/or with this female obligation to be pretty at all times and at all costs?

And how about that compact? Notice how it completely dominates the image? How it’s front and center, shown in its entirety, while our heroine is only partially visible and off to the side? What message does this convey about the industrial beauty complex versus an individual woman? Also notice – the compact’s red color is being cast downward, partially enveloping the woman’s hand and arm. What does that say about this woman’s relationship with beauty standards and rituals? Could it be that she feels she’s being obscured or overshadowed by them?

Finally, how about the font? Notice how the lines are uneven and spidery, that none of the lines of text are level, and how the text very subtly angles increasingly downward with each line.

Now consider the pre-existing cover designs for this book, in paperback, hardcover and Kindle formats:

   

Do any of these covers say anything at all about the content of the book? The first one clues you in that it’s about a woman, but that’s it. The second (the 25th anniversary re-issue cover, BTW) looks more like the cover of a romance novel than a semi-autobiographical account of feminist rage and depression. I guess the rain on the third one symbolizes depression, but that’s all it says. Maybe if you saw all three of them together, you’d get some idea of the content. But as standalones, they don’t hold a birthday candle to the 50th anniversary redesign.

Apparently Tracie would’ve preferred a more literal, hit-you-over-the-head cover, perhaps showing a hot mess of a woman slashing her wrists. But wouldn’t an image like that 1) be a spoiler 2) be a tough sell and 3) overpower the book’s feminist message?

 

2/7/13 Updated to add: Now THIS is a crime against lit – Anne of Green Gables made over into a blonde farm tart on the cover of a self-pub edition snagged from public domain content http://ht.ly/hvSam

 

This is a reprint from April L. Hamilton’s new site, The Digital Media Mom.

 

Publetariat Dispatch: Will Book Publishers Become Irrelevant?

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Smashwords founder Mark Coker shares his NPR interview about the current and possible future state of commercial publishing.

(updated) I was interviewed today on NPR’s All Things Considered by the amazing Audie Cornish.  We talked about how the rise of ebook self-publishing will transform publishing for the benefit of writers and readers.

I shared how when we launched Smashwords five years ago, self-publishing was seen as the option of last resort, and today it has becoming the option of first choice for many writers.

But what about publishers?  Where do they fit in the future landscape? I expressed my view that in publishers’ attempt to acquire books that they think have the greatest commercial potential, they are excluding many of the potential breakout bestsellers. These authors will find their way to market via ebook self-publishing platforms, and once they learn they can do it better, faster, more profitably and more enjoyably on their own, it’ll be tougher and more expensive for publishers to win them back.  For this reason, I said, “over the next few years, traditional publishers are going to become more and more irrelevant.”


At the end of the interview, they interview Michael Pietch, the current top Editor of Little Brown, and the incoming CEO of its parent company, big 6 publisher Hachette. He takes issue with my comment about the future relevancy of publishers.  He says:

I think Smashwords is an amazing opportunity for people who want to publish themselves.  I love the diversity of the publication that is possible now, but I object strenuously to the notion that publishers are irrelevant because publishers are doing things now that are extraordinarily complex [and] exciting.  The ways that publishers can work to connect readers with writers now are the kinds of things that publishers have dreamt of doing since Gutenberg first put down a line a type.

It’s a cool comment, and I don’t disagree with him.

It’s tough to capture my complex thoughts about publishers in a five minute interview.  I don’t want to see publishers suffer as the industry evolves over the next few years.  I think the world is a better place with publishers, especially if publishers can do for authors what they can’t do for themselves.

Will publishers become irrelevant?  No, I don’t think so, and I hope not.  In the future I see, indie authors and publishers will co-exist and co-mingle along the publishing spectrum.   Four years ago, here on the blog, I wrote a piece titled, Why Book Publishing is Like Venture Capital. It’s starts with a summary of how VCs aren’t as necessary for some Silicon Valley startups as they once were, and it ends with a word game you can play with your word processor.  If you’re writer, the game is fun.  If you’re a Big 6 publisher, not so much, because the transition will be difficult.

Publishers once controlled the printing press, the access to retail distribution, the knowledge of professional publishing, the access to professional editors, and the marketing capacity to give their books merchandising advantage in stores.  These advantages are dissolving.  The playing field is leveling, readers are propelling indie ebook authors to the top of the charts, and the field is tilting to the indie author’s advantage.

If you like interview above, please share it with your friends, embed it on your blog or on Facebook, and share your views about the future of publishing.

FEB 5 UPDATE: The next day on All Things Considered, Mr. Pietch shared his perspective on the future of publishing, and why he thinks publishers will remain relevant.  It’s a great interview.  I like that Hachette is putting a former editor in charge.  Editors are the heart and soul of good publishers.


This is a reprint from the Smashwords blog.

 

Publetariat Dispatch: The Future of Libraries (Infographic)

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, OpenSite shares an interesting infographic about libraries in the digital age.

We’re glad to be able to share this excellent infographic from Open Site, which has generously released it under Creative Commons licensing.

The graphic shows some very interesting statistics about library usage, demographics and how technology is being used in libraries. It should be of interest to authors and publishers everywhere.

If text in the image below is difficult to read, click here to view the infographic in a larger format on Open Site.

 

Publetariat Dispatch – “The Dude Abides:” Changing Definitions of Words and Historical Fiction

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, historical mystery writer M. Louisa Locke discusses evolving language.

Yesterday, as I was searching for descriptions of San Francisco Theaters in 1880 (I am hoping to have a scene in a theater in my next historical mystery, Bloody Lessons), I ran across the following paragraph and laughed out loud.

“Last evening, as I was hurriedly walking along Dupont street, near Post, in the gloaming, I saw before me a young dude, who, instead of minding his business of walking decently, was projecting his face and hat into the visage of his girl companion to the left, while with his dexter paw he twirled a light cane, which extended half way across the curbstone, and which I tried to escape, but which, notwithstanding, hit me square upon my nose, which is a long one.”  Etiquette on the Street, by Silver Pen in San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser Jan 9, 1886

You see, I am a fan of the movie the Big Lebowski, whose main character called himself “The Dude” and spoke of himself in the third person, and, as a result, the use of the word dude in this 19th century context cracked me up.

The next thing that occurred to me is that if I tried to use the word dude in my 19th century fiction, I would probably bring the reader right out of the moment because it would sound so modern. As I investigated the word and its meanings, I discovered that the term has undergone a profound transformation from its 19th century origins to its modern-day uses.

In 1883, when the above paragraph was written, the term dude was very new. A history of the word in Wikipedia says that the word first appeared in print in the 1870s in Putnam’s Magazine, making fun of how a woman dressed. However, a variety of sources, including the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, agree that by the 1880s it had become American slang for “a man extremely fastidious in dress and manner,” often suggesting that they were aping the style of the English upper

Oscar_Wilde_Aesthetic_CigarsIn other words, dude meant a dandy. While most sources agreed that the first printed use of the term with this meaning was 1883, obviously three years later the humorist complaining about modern mores felt comfortable that his readers would understand his use of dude when describing the rude young man who was strolling down a San Francisco street, twirling his cane. I am inserting a picture of Oscar Wilde, who was considered the personification of a dandy, from his 1882 tour.

At the exact same time, the word was taking on another, albeit related, meaning, as the term dude began to be used (for the first time in 1883 in the Home and Farm Manual) to describe men from the city (Easterners) who demonstrated their lack of knowledge about rural life (the West) by behaving and dressing inappropriately.

These two uses of the term were clearly related since to a working rancher or farmer there would be nothing more ridiculous than some dude (whether from an eastern or a european city), who came to the American West, dressed in fancy duds and pretending to be a cowboy.

By the early 20th century the term began to be applied to ranches that catered to these eastern “city slickers.” In fact, in the mid 1960s, my very suburban family spent a week on a “Dude Ranch” in upstate New York, where we rode horses, went on hay-rides and did square dances in a barn. If you had asked me the meaning of the word then, I would have clearly understood it to mean “city slicker.”

Yet, by the late sixties the term had also become a general form of slang used by men when addressing other men, and it seemed to have emerged within urban Black culture. As a young adult in the late sixties (who spent the summer of 1968 taking classes and living in a dorm at the traditionally all black college, Howard University, and then spent a good deal of time the next two years hanging out with my future husband who lived in the primarily African-American male dormitory at Oberlin College) I had become used to African-American men referring to each other as dude. Unlike its original meanings, this was a positive form of address, and it had nothing to do with city slickers.

Pretty quickly, whites who wanted to sound cool, expropriated the term (it shows up in the movie, Easy Rider) and by the mid-to-late 1970s, just about the time I arrived in Southern California, the term became associated with that region, specifically attributed to “stoners, surfers, and skateboarders.” See the Urban Slang Dictionary.

Robert Lane who has written a piece on the word, points out that int 1982 Sean Penn’s character, Jeff Spicoli, in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, personified the kind of young man who was called, and called others, dude.

While this new use of dude, as an informal form of address among young people, began to predominate, the older meanings didn’t fade away completely. My young daughter, for example, loved the TV show Hey Dude (1989-1991) that was about a dude ranch, not stoner skateboarders. Nevertheless, in my own mind, this earlier meaning of the word was wiped out completely after I watched Jeff Bridges in the Big Lebowski in 1998.

This movie about a grown up man, Jeff Lebowski, whose days are filled with bowling, smoking weed, and sliding through life, has become a cult favorite, and it has created an indelible image of what could happen to the Spicolis of the world if they never grew up.

Interestingly, when I thought more about it, I realized that the writers of the movie (the Coen Brothers) were clearly aware of the changes the term had undergone from its earlier origins. For example, the movie is narrated by a character (called The Stranger and played by Sam Elliott), who is a quintessential cowboy. A cowboy who wryly references the change in the meaning of the word dude from city slicker to stoner slacker in this opening monologue:

“Way out west there was this fella… fella I wanna tell ya about. Fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. Mr. Lebowski, he called himself “The Dude”. Now, “Dude” – that’s a name no one would self-apply where I come from. But then there was a lot about the Dude that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.” The Stranger, The Big Lebowski

What does this all mean for me as a writer of historical fiction set in the 1880s? First of all, I can’t prove that any of my characters would use the word dude, in either of the earlier meanings–of dandy or city slicker–in 1880, when my next book is set, since I can’t prove they would have heard of it that early. However, the fact that the writer of the 1886 quote used the word without feeling the need of any explanation does suggest that I would not be committing any major historical inaccuracy if I did have someone use the word in either of its original meanings.

Yet, when I read the word yesterday, all I could think of was Jeff Lebowski, in his ancient knitted cardigan, sloppy t-shirt, and baggy bermuda shorts, ambling down the street with his bowling bag in hand, and I was no longer in the 19th century, and I was certainly not thinking about a young man who was “extremely fastidious in dress and manner.” Here the modern meaning and use of the term was just too far from its origins to be an effective word to use in a work of historical fiction set in 1880. Consequently, it was with reluctance I gave up trying to figure out in what context one of my characters could call another Dude.

But I did have fun exploring the origins of the word, and I hope you had fun reading about it. Furthermore, I recommend that you click on this link and read the rest of Silver Pen’s 1886 diatribe on Etiquette on the Street because I think it will make you laugh, even if you aren’t a Big Lebowski fan.

And for the Lebowski fans among you, let me conclude by quoting from the end of the film:

The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides.

The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners.

 

This is a reprint from M. Louisa Locke‘s blog.

 

Publetariat Dispatch: New Year’s Resolutions Be Damned, These Things I Will Always Do

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, author Alan Baxter explains why he’s done with making New Year’s Resolutions. WARNING: Post contains strong language.

I don’t really believe in new year’s resolutions. I get the concept, and it’s an entirely admirable pursuit, but it’s often like crash dieting or NaNoWriMo – it’s fundamentally unsustainable. People make all these promises to themselves in the heat and excitement of a new year, and then sink in guilt and stress when those things may not come to pass.

After all, January 1st is only one day after December 31st and it’s entirely arbitrary that we choose to tack onto that day a new identifier for the year. The Chinese aren’t celebrating their new year until February 10th next year, for example. It’s all bollocks, as is all time. As Terry Pratchett said, we just invented time to stop everything happening at once. Which is funny, but also not true. Time is a purely human invention to help us make sense of things and organise when to meet at the pub.

My simple point is this – making specific resolutions for the new year is a fine sentiment, but it’s often very hard to follow through. For example, saying, “I will lose 20kg in 2013″ is potentially opening a person up to failure. But if you say, “I will be a healthier person in 2013: eat healthy, exercise and try to lose some weight”, then that’s more of an attitude than a particular goal and easier to hang onto for a longer period of time. It’s easy to look at that sentiment throughout the year and try to stick to it, as there’s no specific measurement involved that might slip away. And if you fall back from that attitude for a while, it’s pretty easy to look at it, remind yourself and get back on that horse to ride again. Giddy up, motherfucker, there’s no point in crying when you could be trying.

So instead of making new year’s resolutions, I’m going to list a bunch of things I intend to hang onto all year. Not resolutions, but attitudes to never forget. These are ways of being that I’ve always tried to maintain, and intend to maintain into the future.

So, in 2013 (and beyond):

I will continue to work hard at being the best writer I can be, because this shit isn’t easy, nor should it be.

I will finish all the things I start.

I will continue to pursue publication in all the places I’ve yet to crack and further publications in the places I’ve already been featured.

I will have more work published.

I will write novels, novellas and short fiction, because stories are great in all sizes.

I will grab every opportunity that comes my way, because I am a fucking professional and time is made, not found.

I will celebrate the successes of all other writers, because their success is proof I can succeed too. And they deserve it.

I will share the good shit and ignore the rubbish.

I will help my writer friends wherever I can, because I didn’t get where I am now without help.

I will strive to excel and improve, because where I am now is nowhere near where I want to be. I want the moon and the fucking stars, baby.

I will continue to read like a voracious word devourer, because a writer who doesn’t read is a crappy writer. And a bad person. A really, really bad person.

I will look after my health.

I WILL WRITE, because the only actual requirement to be a writer is that you write. Being published, being famous, being rich and successful, being happy with your creative endeavours, none of it comes unless you write. First and foremost before everything else: WRITE. You will not find the time to write – you MAKE the time to write. If you really want it, you will make it happen. Only got one hour, twice a week? Fine, start there. Write for two hours a week, every week. Guess what? You’re a writer now. Then make more time. Make. It. Happen. Then all that other stuff can follow.

These are only my writerly attitudes, of course. Similar philosophies apply to my life as a martial artist, instructor and personal trainer, and to my life in general as a human person of Earth. It’s good to focus on these things and remind ourselves of them regularly. New year is a fine time to take stock, but so is every other day of the year. These things are not resolutions. These things are constants.

May 2013 be everything you want it to be. I wish you all (and myself) happiness, health and success in all you do. Now get out there and make it happen, motherhumpers. I want to hear your names sung from the mountaintops, and mine sung along with them.

This is a reprint from Alan Baxter‘s Warrior Scribe.

 

Publetariat Dispatch: 50 Essential Science Fiction Books

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, we share the Abe Books blog list of the 50 most important and influential science fiction books of all time.

This post, by Richard Davies, originally appeared on the Abe Books blog on 1/16/13.

This was  a virtually impossible task. Put together a list of 50 must-read science fiction books  and don’t make anyone angry. Science fiction is the most discussed and argued  over genre in literature but it actually goes way beyond books and into film,  TV, video games and even toys.

Here are the criteria I used. One book per author, so that was hard on the big three of  science fiction – Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke, who each have  multiple classic titles to their name. Attempt to show as many sub-genres of  science fiction and plot themes as possible. Include early stories that  influenced the genre as a whole and launched popular themes, even if those  books appear a bit dated today.

I wanted  to show the unbelievable breadth of this galactic-sized genre and, of course, I  failed because this is just the tip of the spaceberg – there are probably 500  essential science fiction books, not 50.

The War of  the Worlds is on the list, a famous example of invasion literature, but I could  easily have used The Time Machine. For Ray Bradbury, there’s The Illustrated  Man but I could have used Fahrenheit 451 or The Martian Chronicles.

Many  people include alternate reality novels as science fiction but I didn’t feel  comfortable having them on the list as there’s not much science in that sort of  fiction.

The list  includes hard and soft science fiction. Hard science fiction features great  attention to detail in the quantitative sciences, while soft riffs on the  social sciences. You’ll also find space opera with its heroes and  heroines on distant planets; cyberpunk, loved by nerds in goggles everywhere; time  travel – a simple concept that’s been around since Mark Twain’s day; military  science fiction where soldiers drive the narrative; dystopian fiction  where society has usually gone awry; superhuman stories where humans develop  new or greater skills (and that usually means trouble) and the always cheery apocalyptic  fiction sub-genre (where we could be battling to avoid the end of Earth or  struggling to survive after a catastrophe). There are many recurrent powerful  themes such as machine and human relationships, aliens and human relationships,  biological and ecological matters, and paranormal activities.

 

Read the rest of the post, which lists Davies’ book picks, on the Abe Books blog.

 

Publetariat Dispatch: Smashwords Year In Review, 2012

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Smashwords founder Mark Coker takes a look back at some of the trends and developments witnessed in trade publishing and ebooks in 2012.

The Power In Publishing Is Shifting To Authors

Back in 2007, we designed our logo with this revolutionary ideal in mind.  The up-thrusting fist holding the book represented our desire to transfer the power of publishing to writers and readers.  Today, we still refer to it as our “Power to the people” logo.

The revolution is now in full swing.  Indie authors know ebook self-publishing is the future of publishing.  Ebook retailers know this as well.  Traditional publishers, however, have been slow to grasp the transformative impact the self-publishing revolution is having on the industry.

We’re entering a golden age of publishing.  The ebook self-publishing revolution will lead to a more great books being published than ever before.  More books will touch the souls of more readers, because indie ebooks make books accessible, affordable and discoverable to more people.  These books, in all their diverse and controversial glory, are cultural treasures.

Our authors know that every writer – every one of us – is special, and those who doubt this truth will become the dinosaurs of tomorrow.  You can’t truly honor the culture of books without honoring the writers who create them.  You can’t truly honor the value of books if you measure their value by perceived commercial merit alone.  You either value the human potential of all writers, or none at all.

Every day, I’m thankful that so many writers, readers and retailers have supported the cause of self-published ebooks.  Every day, I’m tickled pink that so many authors, publishers and retailers have partnered with Smashwords, because without your trust and support, we wouldn’t be here.

Unlike self-publishing services that earn their income by selling over-priced services to authors, Smashwords doesn’t sell services.  The money flows to the author.  We earn our commission only if we help sell books.  We think our approach aligns our interests with the interests of our authors and publishers.

Since most books don’t sell well, and we rely entirely on commissions, it’s incredibly difficult to build a profitable business doing what we do.  We figured out how to do it.

Smashwords highlights for 2012 2012 was another incredible year for the Smashwords authors, publishers, literary agents, retailers, libraries, and customers we serve.

Here are some of our key milestones for 2012:

Catalog growth:  We’re ending the year with more 190,500 books at Smashwords.  98,000 new titles were added to the Smashwords catalog this year.  This is up from 92,500 at the end of 2011, and up from 28,800 at the end of 2010, 6,000 in 2009, and 140 our first year in 2008.

More authors/publishers/literary agents choosing Smashwords:  Smashwords today supports 58,000 authors and small publishers around the world, up from 34,000 at the end of 2011, 12,100 in 2010, 2,400 in 2009, and 90 in 2008.

Profitability: Smashwords has been profitable for 27 straight months, and our profitability is growing as our business grows.  We’ve done this without bringing in outside venture capital, which means we’re free to pursue our unconventional business model without the interference of outside investors.  Profitability is important, because it means we’re here for the long haul.  It means we have the resources to reinvest in our business for the benefit of the authors, publishers, retailers, libraries, and readers we serve.  Nowhere is this investment more apparent than in our staffing numbers (next item).

Employee Count:  We’re ending 2012 with 19 employees, up from 13 in 2011, and 3 in 2010. This year we continued to invest heavily in customer service and software development.

Faster-Faster-Faster:  Thanks to investments in technology and staffing, we’re providing faster conversions, faster Premium Catalog approvals, faster response times to support inquiries, faster distributions to Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble, and faster sales reporting.  We will improve further on all counts in 2013.

Libraries:  We signed new distribution deals with library aggregators such as Baker & Taylor Axis360, 3M Cloud Library and one other major aggregator not yet announced.  We added support for custom library pricing, and we introduced Library Direct to support libraries that operate their own ebook checkout systems under the Douglas County Model.

Ebook Distribution Systems:  We began a complete re-architecture of our ebook distribution systems to enable faster, more accurate ebook distributions and metadata updates.

Smashwords Profiled in Forbes Magazine:  This was a big deal for us.  For the first time ever, we revealed to the world our revenues (Forbes requires that startups they profile reveal numbers).  Later in the year, we received coverage in the New York Times and Time Magazine.  The indie ebook revolution is starting to go mainstream, though I think we’re all still flying below the radar.  That’ll change in 2013.

Improved categorization:  We completed adding support for thousands of BISAC categories to help our author’s books land on the correct virtual shelf.

Merchandising collaboration with retail partners:  We ramped up our merchandising collaboration with retailers, especially Apple, which has been incredibly proactive and creative in working with us to create new opportunities to connect Smashwords books with millions of their customers (See Apple’s Breakout Books promo).  We continued to build tools to help our retailers identify books worthy of promotional love, because these tools help Smashwords authors sell more books and help retailers satisfy more of their customers, which is their primary objective.

Retailers earning millions of dollars from the sale of Smashwords books:  Our retail partners have made incredible investments to help list, maintain, promote, merchandise, and sell our books to their customers.  I’m pleased to say their investments are paying off.  We want our retail partners to do well with our books, because the value they provide to our authors and publishers far exceeds the sales commission they earn.

 

Read the rest of the post on the Smashwords blog.