While some authors choose to put all their eggs in one basket with KDP, many others find more success by “going wide,” or making their books available on Barnes and Noble, iBooks, etc. One option is to create accounts on each of these sites and upload directly (but yikes, who has the time). Another option is to use a distributer like Smashwords or Draft2Digital.
For our business, we’ve been a Smashwords user since the beginning. If we could do it all over again, we might actually break things up just to capture a bit more money per sale. Since we’re invested, we’re sticking with it.
Why Go Wide?
In the first place, why should you nix KDP and go wide? This is a question only you, as the business owner, can answer. Some people find great success in sticking with KDP-Select, which means their books are exclusive to Amazon. Others, like us, find that the exclusivity brings little to no benefit. Our book Empath received exactly 28 downloads over a one-year period (then saw a bump in sales once it was taken out of KDP-S).
As we discussed previously, there’s a benefit to not keeping your eggs in one basket. When you rely solely on Amazon, you are at the mercy of their adjustments to algorithms for discoverability. There’s also the great big world outside the US who read books on devices other than Kindles.
Our advice, as always, is to test and measure, then devise the best option for each book.
Why Use a Distributor?
If you decide to “go wide,” then you’ll have to pick a distributor. The obvious benefit to using one versus going onesie-twosie to each storefront is that you won’t have to worry about multiple tax forms come tax time (oh yeah, you have to worry about that stuff). The other benefit is distributors like Smashwords have agreements with unique storefronts, like libraries. With the YA crowd, having eBooks available in libraries is a huge profit opportunity.
But when you go with a distributor, you have to pay a percentage to them. It’s normally 10%, which isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things. Again, that’s your decision.
We prefer Smashwords because that’s where our books are, and we don’t have many complaints about them (although we’ll talk about formatting next week). Smashwords provides us a clear accounting of what books were sold when, what’s our cut, and a daily summary of sales and downloads. Surprisingly, we think it’s a bit superior to Amazon’s KDP dashboard because it provides more granularity.
Smashwords also offers a direct-sale option, which doesn’t get used that much, but offers a full 74% of the price, which you can’t get from Amazon (70%) or even here on the website via PayPal (although we get the funds MUCH faster). You can also use coupons to help drive direct ad-to-sale traffic. And Smashwords tracks the biggest selling books through Publisher’s Weekly (though it’s mostly romance).
Next week, we’ll talk a little bit more about our tips and tricks for wrestling down the Smashwords Meat Grinder (or their formatting program).
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