Last week, Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords made an unexpected post to the company blog, an update that stunned its readers:
“Smashwords has now had a stunning five billion words uploaded to the site.” A GoodeReader website reporter caught a moment with Coker and discussed about this staggering figure with the Smashwords CEO. “I wrote that blog post late Wednesday night,” said Coker in the interview. “We’ve added more than 17 million words to the catalogue since then.”
Indie authors are big fans of Smashwords and upload their self-published ebooks at a staggering speed to the catalogue. Smashwords grows with millions of words each day and the popularity of the ebook distribution platform still surprises Coker after this entire time they’ve been up and running.
“Staggering is a good word for it. I have to pinch myself. Every month my initial dream becomes more and more realized. When I launched Smashwords four years ago after starting the business planning seven years ago, I had this crazy idea that authors deserve this and that it’s in the best interest of authors to assume control and power over their publishing without gatekeepers. That kind of idea four years ago was kind of crazy.”
“When we launched, self-publishing was seen as the option of last resort for failed authors. I never viewed it that way. I think if you love books and believe in the culture of books, you have to believe in writers and that every writer has something special to share with the world. Some ivory tower gate keeper is not qualified to determine the value of the authors work.”
The truth is that to this day, critics see a large gap between indie authors and traditionally published ones, but websites such as Smashwords are constantly looking for ways to bridge that gap. A popular method is the one that helps traditionally published authors to release the ebook of their backlists and out-of–print titles.
“Publishers don’t care about your lovely writing, what they care about is can they sell it. I don’t fault publishers for that, but writers write for different reasons than publishers publish. We’ve addressed that with Smashwords. We let people publish for their own reasons. Many of these authors are going on to reach commercial successes that they never would have dreamed of. Many of these authors are now finding very respectable commercial success. But sometimes success is measured by the personal satisfaction from having the freedom to publish directly to their readers and have feedback from their readers. This is enabled by self-publishing in ways that the old system failed to support.”
As results from above, Coker is extremely excited with the number of authors that entrusted Smashwords with their works, and he should be. He created an amazing website based on an idea that supports creativity and imagination. The positive concept has grown into a highly popular website and Coker is still amazed by the sheer volume of creative thinking that his website spreads into the world.
“All of these words that were so lovingly created by their writers are now liberated for their readers. That’s what gets me excited. I think the attitudes about self-publishing are changing very quickly. Most people still underestimate the impact that it’s going to have.”