I put together a little webpage today for republished backlist books, as part of my ongoing quest to help guide readers to truly quality material on Smashwords. These are books who were ‘traditionally’ published in mainstream print, and the author has regained the rights and is self-publishing the backlist in ebook. I appreciate that these books are professionally edited and vetted by other people. DRM-free, affordable Smashwords books that are professional? I am there!
I was a bit surprised though at how hard some authors made it for me to find them. My first step was my own Teleread post on the topic, with the author list I cribbed off Mobile Read. My second stop was Patricia Ryan’s excellent Facebook group on this topic. My third stop was a Google search for Smashwords.com “originally published” in which I hoped that author descriptions would guide me toward further books which were republications. I found almost 30 authors, but I am sure I missed a ton of them because of weak author descriptions.
Look at this one, for instance. The only reason I know she is a republishing author is her membership in the Facebook group. Her profile lists nothing but the book itself. No website, no Facebook page (not even the one where I found her), no email, no blurb about her history. How is a reader to know that this is a professionally edited book by an experienced author? This is a selling point! Why isn’t she selling it?
Compare to this one and this one. The blurbs mention the author’s respective publishing street creds (USA Today best-selling, two-time RITA Award finalist etc.) and the professional associations to which these authors belong. They mention by name the well-known publishers who have published their books. One of them even plugs an upcoming release! The authors also list emails, websites, Facebook and Twitter links.
When you go down to the book blurbs, each title offers a description of the book, and also where and when it was once published: orig pub: Penguin/2007, USA Today Bestselling Penguin/Onyx title, 2003 and so on. This is vital information! If I know a book has a professional pedigree, I definitely will bump it to the top of my to-read list, over a slushpile-esque self-edited work by a newbie. It baffles me that authors would hide this information. It takes five minutes to add a little book blurb and some links. Why not do it?
I hope that eventually Smashwords will add a filter to allow readers to find these books easily. A checkbox they can tick or a box they can fill in to indicate professional pedigree and let readers filter for this would probably be easy to implement. But failing that, it is up to authors to list this information themselves. I think many readers are increasingly looking for this type of ebook: DRM-free, affordable, but still professional. This is potentially a huge niche market. Why not make it easy for readers to identify you as part of it? Take ten minutes, authors who are reading this, and spruce up your author and book blurbs. You’ll be glad you did.