Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Day with Mark Coker

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...                Image via CrunchBase
Attending a seminar about the future of books, eBooks , and publishing is a great way to spend a Monday. The drawcard for me when I received the invitation for this one from WritingWA was the main speaker: Mark Coker.

We all know who he is: the enterprising owner of SmashWords, the innovative eBook site where self-publishing authors and commercial publishers rub shoulders. I was ready to soak up every word: the fact he was in Western Australia to speak to authors and readers alike was an exciting opportunity.

What a very pleasant and informative day! The seminar - under the auspices of WritingWA - included an entertaining but very useful presentation by Kate Eltham, CEO at Queensland Writers Centre. Spanning from a nicely nostalgic tour of the early days of books and writing, to the possibilities and avenues of the future of the book, it was fascinating stuff for all in the packed auditorium.

Mark Coker regaled the fascinated audience with his generous advice and canny industry knowledge. He showed how truly global publishing is today, how authors can address anyone - from family and friends, to communities, to the whole world - and how they can form direct relationships with their readers. This is possible now, and is an enormous development from the traditional supply chain the publishing industry has been for decades.

There was a lot to take home, as the saying goes. Advice, informed opinion, and a ground-level view of what authors and readers are learning to expect will happen in the next decade. While both Kate and Mark expressed affection and regard for the paper book as we know and love it, they were both realistic about the future. I had to agree that there could be no doubt of the importance of the eBook, whether or not it out-does the paper book. Both said that we stand at the very commencement of enormous changes that are bound to overtake publishing. Both said they had no idea where we will be 15 or even 10 years hence.

Exciting stuff, which can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated, the wary and the technically-challenged. Acronyms peppered the talk, the future kept raising its head, the inevitability of e-everything was a palpable reality, and the consciousness of the ever-increasing numbers of authors filled the day.

I returned energized, filled with optimism, and excited about the potential, prospects and possibilities that lie ahead for me and my books. The dynamic sense I got of being on the threshold of momentous changes has still not gone away. I want to do something about what I felt today. Here it is:

I have shorn off the price-tags on my three SmashWords published eBooks. From today, my readers can enjoy Vision or Delusion, Two Short Stories: Rosaria's Dowry & Counting Churches, and Two Short Stories: Woman Peeling an Apple & Rainstorms  at no cost. That's right - download them free, gratis and for nothing, and enjoy them. This is my way of celebrating the future of publishing as I see it. Use them to try my writing out, if you still have not read anything from my pen.

Enjoy my stories, and come back for more soon.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Rosanne --Thanks for the offer of your eBooks. I see an eBook in my future as I'm collaborating with someone now on a series of posts that we may turn into an eBook, your email arrived about eBooks right after an email promoting an eBook Summit in NY. Something is in the wind for me! Good luck with yours!

  2. Jeannette - it's funny how similar things happen to writers all at once when something is trying to point them in a certain direction. Enjoy my eBooks - I enjoyed writing them.

  3. What were the two or three most interesting or surprising things you learned in the seminar?

    Judith Marshall

  4. Two things, Judith: something Kate said, about our work breaking out of the containers we have come to feel are part and parcel of what we mean by 'book'. And something Mark said, about allowing my work to find its own audience by not restricting the ways in which it can.

  5. Thanks for generously offering your eBooks gratis. I will take a look. Totally aside from your post I had fun getting the fish to "hook" on to my cursor! Fun game for your readers.

  6. Jeannette you are very welcome to my three free eBooks. They should give you a good idea of the things I love to write about.

  7. Roseanne, thanks for a good article about Mark Coker. I have two books on Smashwords, and I think it's a terrific idea. I wish him well. Did he say anything about pricing? I noticed you're now offering your books for free. I started out offering my first book for free, and it got hundreds of downloads. When I put a modest price on it the downloads slowed. I'm wondering if I should go back to offering it for free, as a way of getting myself more exposure. Did Mark say anything about that?

  8. Yes, John - Mark said that it was a good idea to offer something for free if you have other 'bigger' works coming up for sale. In this way, you entice a following; form a readership for your kind of writing.

    I have one novel out, and another to be released by BeWrite Books later on this year. Interest in them is mounting because people can 'try before they buy' with my three smaller eBooks.

    There are so many authors out there, it's good to be able to test the waters.

  9. Hi Rosanne,

    Thanks for sharing your interesting experience. I have only written shorter works and have a lot to learn before attempting a book. Smashwords sounds like a great idea.


  10. SmashWords is great, Chris. Just like everything else, it pays to research how it works, and figure out whether it will do it for you and your writing. eBooks are great for shorter works such as novellas, which can be read in one sitting: say in a waiting room or on a train.