SFFMP 166: Best Price Points, Does Book Length Matter, and Tips for Selling More Books Wide with Mark Coker

One of our earliest guests on the podcast, almost 150 episodes ago, was Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords. We had him back on this week to talk about some of his predictions for the coming year and marketing tips derived from the 2017 annual survey of the Smashwords sales and distribution data.

Note: we had some technical issues so weren’t able to stream live, but we hope to be back at our usual time of Tuesday 6pm PT/9pm ET next week.

Here are some further details of what we discussed with Mark:

  • Changes in Smashwords over the last three years.
  • How much more successful authors are on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. when they make use of pre-orders.
  • Mark’s new podcast Smart Author (check out the episodes on analyzing best practices of bestselling authors and how to sell more books with pre-orders for starters).
  • Being careful about being too dependent on one retailer and helping to ensure other retailers stay relevant.
  • Data showing that, despite people forever talking about short attention spans, longer books sell better.
  • Some sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy that are doing well — but Mark advises that you should write what you love rather than following trends.
  • Which price points are most effective, and data showing that $4.99 has become more viable (if you’re charging $2.99 or $3.99, you might not lose sales by going to $4.99).
  • Pricing for boxed sets, whether by individual authors or as multi-author collaborations.
  • How many of the bestselling Smashwords authors are using free series starters.
  • What to do with a $500 launch budget.
  • Tips for selling in the Smashwords store itself.

If you want to hear more from Mark, check out the first episode he did with us: SFFMP 25: Marketing, Pre-Orders, and Distribution with Smashwords Founder Mark Coker.

Here’s his blog post from last year that includes his slides covering the 2017 Smashwords survey data.

You can visit Mark on Twitter or on the Smashwords blog. You can find more information on his Smart Author podcast here.


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  • Marion

    I just listened to the podcast. I appreciated Mark’s candor and honesty from his perspective on the Self-Publishing Industry as a whole. I know he is coming from the perspective as a distributor and could seem biased to many. But, he’s right about several things he mentioned during the podcast. I will keep those things in mind as I get ready to publish my third fantasy novel in the summer. Also, I did not realize that a permafree series starter is still an effective tool for IBooks, Kobo, and other retailers that are wide. Good to know. Thanks!

  • Catching up on all episodes after my end of the year vacation.
    Thanks so much for all the awesome advice.
    Enjoy a blessed, peaceful year.

  • Folks, I think that the last two episodes were the best yet. They’re all good, but the chemistry and candor between you and Bryan and you and Mark were awesome. Plus, more points for thought, reflection and action packed into an hour than one could every hope for. Time truly well-spent as an author.