6

Is publishing an ebook through Smashwords allowed if the ebook consists of nothing more than blog posts you've originally written? For example, a collection of "Best of" posts with no extra material.

Reading their Terms of Service, in the Author's Warranties section, some points which collecting and publishing a collection of still up and publicly accessible blog posts may run afoul of:

9b. You further warrant that the Work contains no materials which:

  • [...]
  • contains advertisements for products or services, or is intended to act as an advertising or upselling vehicle for products or services
  • [...]
  • is an incomplete book for the purpose of promoting the purchase of the complete book elsewhere or on Smashwords. Books priced at FREE are held to this same standard.
  • [...]

9c. You further warrant the book meets the following standards for originality:

  • [...]
  • your books do not and will not appear elsewhere on the Internet authored by people other than yourself or by pen names (pseudonyms) different from your pen name at Smashwords;

9d. You further warrant the book represents a complete work:

  • [...]
  • the uploaded file is not a partial sample or sample chapter, or is not a collection of sample chapters, or not simply a catalog advertising other books or products
  • the work is complete and self-contained, and does not try to upsell the user to purchase, or register for, access to information that should have been contained in the book
  • the uploaded book represents a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. Exception: Serials are allowed. Each serial cover image should be different, even if the only difference is a notation on the cover image about the serial's position or episode number in the series. To avoid customer confusion, we recommend it should be clearly identified as a serial in the book description and the serial episodes should be linked together using the Smashwords Series Manager tool.

Given that a collection of blog posts are:

  • only selected articles from a blog, thus incomplete of the total blog archives
  • still available to read as you please
  • in itself is some kind of advertising for the blog
  • non-fiction and has no narrative

would such an ebook be publishable on Smashwords?

6

I can't speak for Smashwords, and this isn't legal advice, but I will say that none of the terms that you quote above seem to prohibit what you are describing. I'm actually not sure what parts concern you.

They require a complete work; that doesn't mean you have to publish a complete copy of a blog's archives. They seem to be worried mostly about books that end with an upsell, like "Thanks for reading; to find out what happens to Joe and Susie, buy my other book for $99!"

None of the terms that you quoted prohibit publishing a book of material that you wrote that is available elsewhere.

If the purpose of the blog posts selected for inclusion is advertising for your site, then 9b above is a problem. But if the posts are substantive in their own right, 9b doesn't indicate to me that you can never publish anything if it might interest the reader in other stuff that you've written.

As for nonfiction, the Smashwords homepage has an entire category of nonfiction works. They clearly allow nonfiction as well as fiction.

If you are concerned about it, you can always just email them and ask. If you are really concerned about it, get a California lawyer to review the terms and give you their thoughts (the terms are subject to California law, under paragraph 15b).

2

Yes, this is okay, as of October 5, 2013. (I'm a developer at Smashwords.)

From the Site Updates page:

"Charles Dickens is smiling. We updated our Terms of Service yesterday to allow short serials. We had already relaxed the prior prohibition quite a bit over the last year, because we never felt comfortable making subjective judgements between what was a serial and what was a series.

The original policy was put in place based on reader feedback, and out of a desire to prevent specific types of abuses, such as a writer taking a full length novel and releasing it as 50 serialized ebooks one 2,000-word chapter at a time. Or writers releasing unedited works-in-progress that were never completed. Although rare, we have seen writers do both of these things, and it's clearly not a good customer experience. However, I do think serializations have their place in the hands of responsible writers, and I believe 99.9% of writers are responsible and do want to serve their readers with a high-value experience. So after much contemplation, it became clear that we were unfairly limiting the flexibility of the many to protect readers from the few. In in end, the decision was easy. Our motto is, "Your ebook your way."

I created Smashwords to open doors, not close doors. I created Smashwords to give writers the freedom to publish what they want, and give readers the freedom to read what they want. The Smashwords author is the publisher. The author is responsible for reader experience, and will be held accountable by their readers. If they serve their readers well with great, well-packaged writing - whether it's a serial, series, short story or full-length book - then we're all the better for it. This decision was also made easier by the launch last month of the Smashwords Series Manager, a great tool for authors that helps readers identify all the books in a serial or series.

If you write serials, each episode's cover should be different, even if the only difference is a numeric label such as, "Episode 5." Beyond that, recommended best practices include:

  1. Link your serials within the Smashwords Series Manager.
  2. Clearly identify in your description that it's a serial so you avoid disappointing customers who might think they're purchasing a full length book.
  3. In your book title, consider mentioning the episode or part number, such as "Episode 5," or "Part II," etc.
  4. Decide in advance how many episodes you'll be releasing. Make a schedule, communicate the schedule to your fans, and stick to it.
  5. Release multiple episodes at once to kick start your readership.
  6. Use our new Preorder feature so your fans can purchase upcoming episodes now, at the moment you have their attention and interest. If you want a great example of preorder serials, check out Ella Ardent's new Dangerous serial, three parts of which are now available on preorder at Apple and others."

You should note, however, that if this is PLR content (e.g., someone ELSE's blog, and you bought the rights), this is strictly not allowed.

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