Is Open Publishing On Other Retailers Better Than Amazon Exclusivity?

Open Publish or Exclusive Publish

Open publishing would be the obvious choice for self-publishers if it were that easy.

Unfortunately, it is not such an easy choice to make as there are benefits and drawbacks to both.

Open publishing via Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), Smashwords, or Draft2Digital, or directly through the various self-publishing platforms obviously opens retail avenues to a variety of ebook markets in many countries.

You would assume that it offers the opportunity to reach more potential readers.

Finding a retail balance for ebooks

In the current market, Amazon is so dominant in the retail ebook market that there are clear benefits to enrolling in KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing Select).

But it requires forfeiting the right to open publishing, as Amazon demands 100% exclusivity for all ebooks that you enroll.

For self-publishing authors with a number, or even a handful of ebooks already published, there is the possibility to have the best of both worlds.

You can leave some titles available through open publishing while having a couple, or perhaps a few exclusive to Amazon.

I would imagine that most self-publishing authors with more than, say, five or more titles do this.

Or they alternate their titles in and out of open publishing and Amazon exclusivity.


The advantages of Amazon KDP Select exclusivity

The advantages of Amazon KDP Select exclusivity include marketing tools and promotional opportunities.

While they are very useful and do help in gaining both ebook sales and borrows, the main advantage of KDPS is that Amazon algorithms often favor your ebooks over those not enrolled.

I will admit that I have no proof at all of this favoritism.

Except for the fact that every time I have enrolled (or re-enrolled) one of my ebooks in KDPS, sales improve immediately and often dramatically.

With open publishing, the results I have experienced must be described as steady.

But they have never been at a level where I could ever have imagined giving up my day job.

Sure, Apple and B&N, primarily, do provide regular ebook sales. But never at the same volume that Amazon provides.

For my ebooks that are open published, KDP always provides more sales than Apple and B&N combined.

But for my ebooks enrolled in KDP Select, sales always exceed the combined volume of KDP, Apple, and B&N I gain under open publishing. Often by a very large number too.

But regardless of sales numbers, I want my ebooks to be available to as many potential readers as possible. The only way to achieve this is to have a foot in both camps.

Therefore, I have some ebooks available via open publishing and some with KDPS.

Then from time to time, I rotate the titles in and out.


What if you have only one or two titles?

Open Publishing or Amazon exclusive?

It’s a very difficult decision and one that needs a lot of thought before making it.

The one saving grace is that it is not a hugely long-term decision. Amazon only asks for 90 days of exclusivity for each enrolment period.

So perhaps the answer lies in this for those authors with only one or two titles.

Try one, and then the other.

It’s going to take six months to discover what works best for you.

But books and ebooks are long-term investments in providing an income for you, so six months is not such a long time.

For those authors who are starting out on self-publishing, my advice, for what it’s worth, would be to try Amazon exclusivity at first.

Then, hopefully, armed with a new book after the three months of exclusivity, move your first ebook to open publishing.

Your new ebook could then be enrolled exclusively for three months and then later moved to open publishing.

Once you have a few titles published, the choices open up. It becomes easier to experiment and decide what works best for you.

There are many opinions about open publishing and Amazon exclusivity, which fill forums and blog comments on the Internet.

But at the end of the day, it is a decision each author must make themselves.

There is definitely no one size fits all regarding your choice.


Related reading: Read my review of Draft2Digital.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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