Monday, September 6, 2010

Guest Post Q & A with Mark Coker Smashwords Founder

When did the light bulb go on for you that held the Smashwords idea?
I don't recall it as a single light bulb moment. More like one of those dimmer lights that slowly gets brighter and brighter. In my case, the light got brighter as I realized how broken the traditional book publishing industry had become from the perspective of authors who wanted to publish, and readers who wanted the freedom to read the greatest diversity of books.
Smashwords grew out of my own experience as a writer. My wife and I wrote a novel, Boob Tube, and we had representation from one of the top literary agencies in New York. Ever major NY publisher rejected the book. The experience was quite frustrating, and then I started to think of the hundreds of thousands of other authors who are rejected by these publishers each year, and then I had an epiphany. I thought, "This is crazy. I want to create an online publishing platform that will allow any author, anywhere in the world, to instantly publish an ebook, and let them do it for free."
Do you remember the place and the time?
There's wasn't a single place, though most of the business plan writing happened during vacations to Hawaii, Cabo San Lucas, and the Sierras.
What does it feel like to know on a daily basis you are giving other people and their hard work a chance to thrive and grow?
It feels more incredible than I can describe. We're helping to liberate the collective imaginations of thousands of authors around the world, and giving them a fair chance to reach readers.
My neighbor goes to San Francisco a lot on business. He claims that Ghirardelli chocolate is better than Hershey's, your opinion on this very important matter please.
Tough to say. Ghirardelli is in my back yard, though when my wife and I were researching Boob Tube, a novel about Hollywood soap operas, we actually visited Hershey, PA because our central character was from there. We interviewed a young man in a Hershey restaurant who told us, "I need to get out of Hershey. There's nothing to do in this town other than work at the factory, have kids, grow old and die." His comments helped inform the development of our character.
Please give us your top 5 reasons why Smashwords and the ebook revolution are going to make leaps and bounds within the next 6-8 months.
1. We publish nearly 8,000 indie authors today, all of whom deserve a chance to be discovered and appreciated by readers.
2. We're publishing over 2,000 new books each month, and within six months will surpass over 25,000 titles published.
3. We're signing ebook distribution agreements with the world's leading ebook retailers - we make it possible for authors to reach readers in every corner of the globe
4. In the next 6-8 months, it will become more clear to people that Smashwords is helping to launch the careers of talented authors who will go on to become the next decade's best-sellers
5. Book reading is moving to screens, and ebooks will allow more readers in more parts of the world to discover the joys of books!
Last but not least, I am a big Huey Lewis and The News and Mr. Monk fan. When I do get to make the pilgrimage to San Francisco were are the statues for these guys at.
You might have to build the statues yourself. Too bad you weren't here last week. Huey Lewis and the News played last week in Saratoga, California, the town next to Los Gatos, our headquarters.
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