Publisher and Author Alert – Smashwords

Publisher and Author Alert – Smashwords

FYI! ! ! Attention All Authors/Publishers! ! !!

Smashwords Author/Publisher Alert – September 15, 2017


  1. Global Pricing – How to set custom prices by country
  2. Special Deals – New merchandising opportunity in the Smashwords Store
  3. Erotic fiction – New classification requirements
  4. Helpful Resources


At Smashwords, we’re committed to creating powerful tools that give you greater control over your books.

Smashwords this week announced an exciting new pricing tool you can use today to lock down custom prices for any of 246 different countries and 152 different currencies.

The new feature is a boon to Smashwords authors and publishers who run international BookBub ads, or who want to price their books for a local market, or who want to normalize their pricing amid currency fluctuations.

To lock down a custom price for any country, click the “Global pricing” button next to your book in your Dashboard, enter the price you want for a given country, and then click the lock icon to lock in the price. iBooks and Kobo usually reflect the new price in their international stores within about an hour of you making the change at Smashwords. It’s good practice to set your price a two or three business days in advance of any promotions to allow time for all retailers to update the prices.

For full details on our new Global Pricing Control feature, check out this post at the Smashwords Blog –

And as mentioned in a prior alert, if you schedule a BookBub ad, be sure to tell us about it as early as possible at so we can promote it to the merchandising managers at our major retailers.


One of the most enduringly popular marketing tools at Smashwords is our Coupon feature. Authors and publishers use Smashwords Coupons to run custom price promotions, to offer free or deep-discounted books to readers, and to offer free downloads to book reviewers and bloggers.

Last month we launched a new automated merchandising opportunity for the Smashwords Store called Special Deals.

Now, when you create a coupon and choose our public coupon option to make your coupon visible to shoppers of the Smashwords Store, your book is automatically enrolled in our ongoing Special Deals site-wide promotion. Readers love the new Special Deals feature because it makes it easy to discover great deals, most of which are exclusive to the Smashwords Store (a Smashwords Coupon does not change the price of your book at other retailers).

To enroll your book today, visit your Dashboard’s Coupon Manager page at

View the complete announcement at the Smashwords Blog, which also includes tips on how to promote your participation:

Have fun!


At Smashwords, we have a long history of fighting to protect the right for writers to publish legal erotic fiction and for readers to have the ability to read it.

Writers of erotic fiction have faced multiple headwinds over the last several years as an increasing number of retailers have clamped down on erotica.

Although all the major retailers want what’s generally considered as “mainstream erotica”, their policies on taboo erotica are more nuanced. Last month, Barnes & Noble, a retailer that has historically been the most permissive of the large retailers, joined iBooks and Kobo in prohibiting certain taboo erotic fiction, including books with themes of incest/pseudo-incest, bestiality, rape-for-titillation and sexual slavery.

Unfortunately, conventional book classification systems such as BISAC, upon which Smashwords, our retailers and (by association) our authors/publishers rely, have fallen short when it comes to the classification of taboo erotica. As a result, Smashwords authors and publishers of erotic taboo fiction have been forced to classify their books under mainstream erotica classification codes which inadequately describe their books. This causes taboo erotica to be mixed in with mainstream erotica. It makes it difficult for retailers and readers to reliably discern which books contain which themes.

The publishing industry is built on trust. If retailers can’t trust what’s in the books, they can’t accurately select the titles that conform to their listing requirements. It’s one reason several retailers put all erotica titles through special screening which can prevent or delay listings in their stores. Several mainstream erotica and romance authors have seen some or all of their books disappear from retailers after the retailer accidentally concluded one or more of their books contained prohibited themes.

Some of our sales outlets don’t want to touch any erotica with a ten foot pole, largely out of fear that certain taboo topics would appear on their platforms.

This week, we launched a solution to the problem. We want to restore the trust, and we’ll do it in collaboration with the erotica community. No one understands the erotic content of a specific title better than the author or publisher. Therefore, effective immediately, authors and publishers of new erotic fiction will be presented with a short checkbox questionnaire where they can certify which taboo themes, if any, apply to their book.

Authors and publishers with erotic titles already at Smashwords will be asked to certify each of their backlist titles as well. For authors and publishers with large back catalogues of erotic works, we’ve created a bulk certification tool that enables faster certification of up to 50 books at a time.

If you publish erotic fiction with Smashwords, please certify your content ASAP. After January 1 (or before, if a retailer requests it), uncertified erotic fiction may be removed from our retailers upon retailer request.

Smashwords will use this enhanced categorization information to control which taboo topics retailers and library partners receive, and which topics are proactively prevented from going to a particular partner. For example, none of our large retailers want to receive incest books, but nearly all of them accept erotica featuring the taboo theme of dubious consent.

We trust that erotic authors and publishers will accurately categorize their books out of respect for retailers, libraries, readers, and fellow authors. In this way, Smashwords and the entire erotic fiction community can work together to restore the trust. Authors or publishers who squander the trust by deliberately misclassifying their books will face account closure at Smashwords. We’d view such breaches of trust as a threat to the entire indie author community.

If you’re unsure of the definitions of these themes, I’ve summarized the definitions below. We developed these definitions in close consultation with our largest retailers to ensure maximum consistency.


  • Age play – One or more consenting adult characters role playing, pretending to be babies or children. Most retailers will take this, but iBooks will not.
  • Bestiality – Sexual relations between humans and real-world animals (sex with Big Foot, dinosaurs, shape shifters and other imaginary creatures is not bestiality). Few retailers will take this.
  • Dubious Consent (dubcon) – A common and popular theme in mainstream fiction. Dubcon explores the gray area between consent and non-consent. Not clear if the receiver of the sexual act was fully on board or not at the time of the act. Most retailers will take this.
  • Incest or pseudo-incest – Sexual relations between family members, whether biologically or non-biologically related. Includes stepbrother, stepsister and step-anyone. Few retailers will take this.
  • Nonconsensual sexual slavery – Erotic depiction of a person captured or held against their will, such as kidnapping, imprisonment or human trafficking. Not to be confused with BDSM, which is predicated upon informed consent and negotiation between both parties before the act, and which provides safe words so either partner can end the act if it goes too far. If the book adheres to BDSM best practices, do not classify it as Nonconsensual sexual slavery. Few retailers will take this.
  • Rape for titillation – The dominant theme of this book is rape — whether the rape is by one person or a character is raped by a group of people, i.e. a gang rape or nonconsensual “gang bang” — and it targets readers who are titillated by the fantasy of nonconsensual sexual relations. Few retailers will take this.

For the full story on this announcement, and a chart summarizing the erotica policies of all Smashwords sales channels, check out the Smashwords blog at


Thanks for choosing Smashwords for your ebook publishing and distribution.

On behalf of the entire Smashwords team, we appreciate your trust and partnership.

When you distribute with Smashwords, you’re directly supporting our ability to create exciting new tools and opportunities for you.

Please tell a friend!


Mark Coker


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