from Smashwords, by Mark Coker.
Smashwords today released its 5 billionth word.
The number is difficult to grasp. These words form 138,071 books.
If you typed at 25 words a minute without pause, it would take 200 million minutes to write 5 billion words. 3.3 million hours. If you typed 8 hours a day, it would take 416,600 days, or 1,141 years. Imagine the lifetimes of creative output now captured, packaged, immortalized and available for discovery at the click of a button or mouse.
Imagine a world without gatekeepers, where you the writer decide when you graduate to become a published author. Imagine a world where readers are the curators. Now imagine that day has arrived, because it’s here already.
I try to imagine the cacophony of clicking keyboards as our 46,931 authors around the globe clicked away, their minds occupying wonderous far-flung places both real and imaginary, birthing their glorious words and shaping them into these sentences, chapters and books. I imagine, and honor, the immense personal sacrifice required to write these books.
Your books are touching people. In the last four weeks at the Apple iBookstore and Barnes & Noble alone, Smashwords books were downloaded over 6 million times. The day may yet come when Smashwords authors reach more readers than the authors of all the Big 6 publishers combined.
Our books are selling, too. Smashwords retailers will sell $18 to $20 million worth of your ebooks this year. The majority of those sales dollars will flow into our authors’ and publishers’ pockets.
As I write this, five of the Apple’s iBookstore’s top 20 bestsellers are from Smashwords authors R.L. Mathewson (read our interview with R.L. Mathewson here), S.C. Stephens (we’ll publish an interview with S.C. very soon at the Smashwords blog) and Jamie McGuire (Jamie just sold rights to a traditional publisher). That’s one in four. 12 months ago, those five slots were occupied by the books from traditional publishers. 12 months from now, how many more slots will be occupied by an indie author? That’s up to you.
Indie authors such as you are now producing books that are as good or better than what’s released by New York publishers. The practice of self-publishing is becoming smarter and more professional each year. Indies are bypassing the slush pile to publish directly to readers. Indies are enjoying greater creative freedom, faster time to market, and higher royalty rates.
You, my dear Smashwords author, are the future of book publishing. The trend is obvious to anyone who cares to take note.
Thank you for allowing us to accompany you on this exciting journey as we remake book publishing for the benefit of authors, publishers and readers.