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Mark Coker
Mark Coker is the founder of Smashwords, an ebook publishing and distribution platform. He’s also an author, entrepreneur, angel investor and advisor to technology startups.

Mark and his wife Lesleyann co-authored Boob Tube, a novel that explores the wacky world of daytime television soap operas. Their book was rejected by every major New York publisher of commercial women’s fiction, despite representation by a top NYC literary agency. The experience inspired him to start Smashwords, a free publishing platform that allows authors to instantly publish their work online.

Today, Smashwords is the world's largest distributor of self-published ebooks. The company has helped over 50,000 authors around the world publish and distribute over 200,000 ebooks to major retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo.

Mark has authored three ebooks about ebook self-publishing, including the Smashwords Style Guide (how to create and publish an ebook), The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book), and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (29 best practices of the most successful ebook authors). The books have been downloaded over 300,000 times.

Mark received his marketing degree from the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley. He tweets at and blogs at

Entries by Mark Coker

Amazon Solves Book Marketing Challenge (Satire)

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2016 | 1:28 PM

Amazon today announced Kindle Power Bucks, a powerful new ebook marketing program for indie authors.

2016-04-01-1459530570-9416770-KindlePowerBucksfinalSmashwords.pngKindle Power Bucks solves an age-old problem faced by indie authors - most book marketing doesn't work.

If you're an author and you're tired of wasting money...

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End the Cuban Book Embargo

(9) Comments | Posted March 11, 2016 | 2:06 PM

2016-03-11-1457720699-1229598-cubaembargographic.png Imagine you're a Cuban author or publisher, and you don't have affordable access to the basic raw materials of bookmaking, such as paper and ink.

Imagine you're a Cuban publisher or self-published ebook author and you can't sell...

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New Amazon Service Eliminates the Need for Authors (April Fools')

(5) Comments | Posted April 1, 2015 | 8:01 AM

2015-03-31-1427839678-9579802-kindleauthorlogo.jpgThe publishing industry is reeling today after news broke this morning about Kindle Author, Amazon's new service that automatically generates high-quality fiction using complex software algorithms.

It's like Build-A-Bear for ebooks. The reader tells Kindle Author what they want in a...

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Why Jamie McGuire Returned to Self Publishing

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 6:02 PM

Author Jamie McGuire first hit the New York Times bestseller lists as a self-published author with her breakout, new adult romance novel, Beautiful Disaster.

2015-03-02-JamieMcGuireSmashwordsInterview.jpegTraditional publishers came knocking with a two-book deal she couldn't refuse.

In July 2012, she...

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2015 Book Publishing Industry Predictions: Slow Growth Presents Challenges and Opportunities for Authors

(5) Comments | Posted January 5, 2015 | 1:51 PM

2015-01-02-2015crystal.pngWelcome to my annual publishing industry predictions for the year ahead. This year I share 12 predictions.

Before I speculate about what 2015 holds for authors, publishers and readers, let's reflect for a moment about how self publishing has transformed the...

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Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult From Here: How Indie Authors Can Survive and Thrive

(6) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 5:10 PM

First the good news.

For indie (self-published) authors, there's never been a better time to publish an ebook. Thanks to an ever-growing global market for ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers.

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The Amazon Hachette Dispute Comes to a Pyrrhic End

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 2:34 PM

Amazon and Hachette announced a settlement last week in their long festering contractual dispute. The publishing industry breathed a collective sigh of relief. But is it really over? The dispute signals a new chapter in Amazon's strategy to favor suppliers that bow to its desires.

At the heart of the...

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Is Kindle Unlimited Bad for Authors?

(2) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Amazon last week unveiled Kindle Unlimited, following in the footsteps of ebook subscription services Oyster and Scribd.

When I first heard of Kindle Unlimited, it sounded like a great opportunity for authors to reach readers. After reading the fine print, however, I've concluded it's a bad idea not just for...

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Apple's New iOS 8 a Game-Changer for eBook Retailing

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 6:29 PM

Imagine a bookstore in nearly one billion pockets and purses.

During the live demo event of Apple's unveiling of their new iOS 8 operating system on June 3, Apple made a passing reference to a slide of "iOS 8 features we didn't have time to talk about."

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The Indie Author Manifesto

(8) Comments | Posted April 25, 2014 | 6:14 PM

Over the last few years, book publishing has witnessed a dramatic change in attitudes regarding self publishing. Much credit goes to indie ebook authors and the readers that have embraced them.

Prior to the rise of ebooks, traditional publishers controlled the access to retail distribution. Without access to...

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10 Reasons Self Published Authors Will Capture 50 Percent of the Ebook Market by 2020

(21) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 10:27 AM

There's a debate raging about the impact self-published ebooks will have on the book publishing business.

By my estimates, self-published ebooks will account for 50 percent of ebook sales by 2020.

What do you think?

On one side of the debate, you have people such as myself who believe all...

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2014 Book Publishing Industry Predictions -- Increased Competition Between Traditional Publishers and Indie Authors

(15) Comments | Posted January 7, 2014 | 12:54 PM

What does 2014 hold in store for ebook authors, publishers and readers? Today I bring you 14 book publishing industry predictions.

Predictions stir our imagination of what's possible. By imagining what's possible, readers and authors can prepare for the future, or take steps to realize the future they desire.


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eBook Preorders Help Indie Authors Hit Bestseller Lists

(7) Comments | Posted August 20, 2013 | 8:39 AM

Self-published ebook authors now have a powerful new merchandising tool to make their books more discoverable and desirable to readers: Preorders at Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Cases in point: Last week on August 13, two new ebook releases from indie authors JD Nixon and...

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New Smashwords Research Helps Authors and Publishers Sell More Ebooks

(11) Comments | Posted May 16, 2013 | 5:54 PM

Last year at the 2012 RT Booklovers in Chicago, I released a first-of-its-kind study that analyzed sales data for self-published ebooks. Our goal was to identify potential factors that could help authors sell more ebooks.

Two weeks ago at the 2013 RT Booklovers convention in Kansas City, I...

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Libraries to Become Community Publishing Portals

(8) Comments | Posted March 28, 2013 | 2:54 PM

Public libraries provide an essential community service by promoting literacy and a culture of reading.

With the rise of ebooks, public libraries are at a crossroads. Some book publishers, fearful that library ebook lending will cannibalize retail sales of books, are reluctant to supply ebooks to libraries at the...

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5 Steps to Boost eBook Sales - Listening to Readers

(17) Comments | Posted March 5, 2013 | 3:36 PM

A few times each month, I'll receive a plaintive email from an author asking me why their book isn't selling better.

It's tough to read these, because I know behind the email is an author who's feeling disappointed their years of effort have borne no fruit. The impossibly of answering...

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Why eBook Retailers Are Embracing Self-Published Authors

(36) Comments | Posted February 12, 2013 | 7:21 PM

2013-02-11-BreakoutBooks.pngIf anyone doubts the speed at which the epicenter of book publishing is shifting from publishers to self-published authors, look no further than the Apple iBookstore.

Last week, Apple's iBookstore launched Breakout Books in the U.S., a new book merchandising feature that...

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21 Book Publishing Predictions for 2013: Indie Ebook Authors Take Charge

(63) Comments | Posted December 23, 2012 | 10:35 AM

2012-12-22-crystalball.jpgIt's that time of year when book people polish their crystal balls and make predictions for the year ahead. I bring you, my dear reader, my epic predictions for 2013.

I say "epic" tongue in cheek, because I went a bit overboard...

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Do E-book Customers Prefer Longer or Shorter Books?

(1) Comments | Posted April 26, 2012 | 6:43 PM

Back in the early days of ebooks, it was common to hear experts prognosticate that ebook customers would prefer shorter books.

After all, the theory went, ebook readers are on the go, more subject to the ADHD distractions of the Internet, are reading in shorter bursts on mobile devices,...

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Does Agency Pricing Lead to Higher eBook Prices?

(4) Comments | Posted March 29, 2012 | 4:20 PM

The U.S. Department of Justice is considering suing Apple and five large U.S. publishers for allegedly colluding to raise the price of ebooks.

At the heart of the issue, I suspect, is concern over the agency pricing model. Agency pricing allows the publisher to set the retail price...

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