“We knew this day was coming,” writes Smashwords founder Mark Coker, on his company’s blog.  “Self-published ebook authors are landing on the New York Times bestseller list in a big way.”

As for myself,  I cancelled my subscription to the Sunday Times ages ago (too expensive; impossible to read in one week), so I probably won’t get a chance to experience the irony of seeing this on newsprint. But in this Sunday’s edition of the Times‘ E-Book Fiction Best Sellers list, you’ll see a total of four titles written by Smashwords authors. That’s four, people. Four. Four! That’s not a typo. In fact, you can view the list for yourself, right here.

To me, at least, this is an astonishing bit of information, and not only because Smashwords is an exclusive publisher of e-books. Rather, it’s astonishing because, in theory, anyone can write a book and have it distributed through Smashwords. Or to put it another way: Anyone—in theory—can write a book, and without having so much as one single conversation with a literary agent or even a publisher, watch it eventually appear on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Obviously, that’s an experience that isn’t going to happen to a large number of would-be authors anytime soon. But the simple fact that the ability exists says quite a lot about how quickly the publishing landscape is morphing, right before our eyes.

Here’s Coker again, musing over his company’s latest publishing coup:

“It’s a big deal to see a single Smashwords author on the New York Times Bestseller list, let alone four in one week.  A year ago, it was unheard of.  A year from now, it’ll be more commonplace. Maybe the next bestseller will be the title uploaded to Smashwords two minutes from now, soon to be visible at the top of the Smashwords home page.  Or maybe it’ll be one or more of the nearly 9,000 new titles uploaded to Smashwords in the last 30 days.  Or uploaded three years ago.”

Here are the aforementioned authors, along with their respective rankings on the upcoming list:

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Also Worth Reading: Smashwords Publishes 5 Billion Words 


  1. Congratulations are due to Smashwords and the authors of the NYT Bestselling titles this week. I would note, though, that your story could have been written by their pr department. It seemed more cheer leading than reportorial.

  2. Many congratulations to the Smashwords authors.
    John, perhaps more in celebration of e-books and an alternative method of reading than cheer leading. It is the reading which is important. Smashwords have made the process user-friendly in converting to many formats. Documents are vetted for errors, manually vetted again before being shipped to e-retailer partners for download from their stores and, actually manually vetted again by Apple before they will allow them in their store.
    The report does not actually clarify though, if the books were e-books or print (published elsewhere).
    Congratulations to Mark Coker for his vision in reaching out to authors and publishers.

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