Smashwords, a self-publishing platform and indie e-book distributor, has launched a series of new features to aid authors and publishers in distribution and marketing of e-books. Over the last two months Smashwords has launched e-book preordering, an author “self-interview” service and a distribution deal with Flipkart, India’s biggest online e-book retailer.

In July, Smashword debuted preorders for e-book releases through Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple’s iBookstore. The new service allows e-book authors and publishers to offer advance orders of their books to consumers much the way print publishers do. Forthcoming e-book releases can be posted to retailers (alongside the author’s backlist titles) four to six weeks in advance of pub date. The practice allows e-books to accumulate orders that credit automatically on the e-books pub date. The feature also makes an author's e-books available at all retailers at the same time, a Smashwords spokesperson said, enhances the chances of an e-book making bestseller lists, and provides sales support to the backlist.

In late August, the company started Smashwords Interviews, a service that allows self-published or conventionally published authors to self-interview themselves. Overwhelmed by the manpower needed to interview all of its authors (the site has about 70,000 authors), Smashwords launched the self-service interview feature to get more author interviews on the site. Authors simply sign in to their account and follow the instructions on how to create the interview, which includes links to the author’s books and links to the author’s Smashwords page.

And in a move that increases the global distribution of Smashwords titles, the company announced a deal to distribute its e-books to Flipkart, called the Amazon of India, the largest online bookseller in India. According to Smashwords, has a million daily visitors, 10 million registered users and 17 different product categories.

In an interesting sidenote, Smashwords notes that the agency pricing model is banned in India and Smashwords has a traditional wholesale deal with Flipkart, which theoretically allows them to discount Smashwords e-books. While it’s likely that Flipkart will occasionally discount (mostly to match lower prices at Indian e-book retailers), in those cases Smashwords authors will still receive 60% of the discounted price rather than 60% of the Smashwords’s price.

India has about 125 million English speakers and English-language titles have great demand in the Indian book market. On the Smashwords blog, CEO Mark Coker writes that indie authors have an advantage in the Indian e-book market because of affordable pricing. “The e-book market today in India is nascent, accounting for less than one percent of the market,” Coker writes, “I expect the market to grow dramatically over the next five years as the primordial soup necessary to support a thriving ebook ecosystem comes into place.”