“Don’t be your own roadblock to generating more sales.” That has become my new motto.
When I published my very first ebook—a dream dictionary called “On Dreams and Dream Symbols.” I couldn’t wait for the public to see it, so I put it out using KDP Select and CreateSpace (the biggest and most recognizable distributors, at least at that time). From another independent author, I heard of a distributor called, Smashwords, so I also put my book out through them, too.
However, the formatting and submitting process via Smashwords was such a dismal experience that once I finally got the book out there, I did little to follow through. I spent my time writing, editing, and getting subsequent books ready for publication. And when those books (“Escorting the Dead,” “More From the Masters,” “The Starstone,” and “The Globe of Souls”) were ready, I went right to Amazon and their simple-to-use formats and templates.
Now, several years later, I’ve taken a break to update some of my earlier books, including the dream dictionary and I was faced with a decision: What to do with the Smashwords version of the book? I could leave it as it was, but it would be out of sync with the Amazon version. I could update it and spend hours (or days) frustrated with their formatting demands; or I could just pull it from their site. To help decide, I did some research, and what I found shocked me.
The distribution through Smashwords accounted for 83% of the sales of that single book. I knew I was getting sales from places like Barnes and Noble, Overdrive, and Apple, but I hadn’t really paid much attention. I simply accepted the checks from Smashwords and continued with my writing. At least, until now. Now, I’m paying attention.
While Amazon is a big name and readily recognized as one of the top vendors, it isn’t the only vendor…and Kindle isn’t the only venue for viewing ebooks. By limiting myself to only Amazon with my other three books, I was creating my own roadblock to potential sales. In fact, there are several other sites that are worthy of your attention as an independent author and can help your books get the attention they deserve and need.
While Amazon is the largest name out there, and they do have relatively easy-to-use templates and formats, they do have a rather limited distribution. Smashwords distributes to a more varied audience (including users of Book Nook, Google Books, Baker and Taylor, Overdrive, Open Library, and iBooks)—and, incidentally, their formatting for fiction books has vastly improved and is probably as easy to use as the KDP for Kindle formats on Amazon. Also, like Amazon, Smashwords lets you offer samples of your books, which I have always found useful.
However, there are two other sites worth mentioning: Bookbaby and Booksmango, both of which do paperback and ebooks (Smashwords only does ebooks). All three of these other distributors cover channels outside of Amazon, and each of them have good and bad points.
- Smashwords is only for ebooks, but they do have a broad range of channels and they let you create samples.
- Bookbaby is for paperbacks and ebooks, but they charge extra for you to make changes to your already published books. (So, get it right the first time.)
- Booksmango is for paperbacks and ebooks, but if creating a non-fiction book with tables, graphics, or charts, you need to turn those items into images.
I’m sure there are other sites out there, but these are the top three that I noted. Just make sure that you check out one or more of them for yourself. Don’t block your sales by limiting yourself to just Amazon. Remember my 83%, and just think how many more sales you could be making.