Self-Publishing Is Not Only Amazon KDP and Kindle

More Than Kindle

Self-publishing on Kindle with Amazon KDP is the only way to go. However, in my judgment, this is not always true.

The dominance of Amazon and Kindle in the ebook market is well known. So, it doesn’t need any elaboration.

However, there is a natural assumption that this is a worldwide phenomenon and that ebooks and self-publishing must always lead to the Kindle Store and Amazon authors.

But self-publishing is more than publishing book titles on Kindle.

How people read ebooks

The Kindle is a popular reading device, primarily in the United States and some other English-language markets.

I live in Europe and have heard the same from some of my UK friends.

They rarely see people reading a Kindle.

Not a single person I know among my friends and family, both in Switzerland and Australia, owns a Kindle.

While waiting in European airports, I have hardly ever seen anyone reading with a Kindle.

When I show my Kindle to my French-speaking friends, they usually have the same reaction.

No enthusiasm at all, bordering on total disinterest.

Their reasons are quite logical, though.

Firstly, there is still a preference for books in Europe, so ebooks are still struggling for acceptance.

Secondly, though, they think a Kindle, in any form, including the Kindle Fire, looks and feels cheap and doesn’t do much.


Kindle or an iPad?

But, if I started writing this piece all over again and talked about the iPad, it would be a totally different story.

All of my friends and family have an iPad, including all of my French-speaking friends, and they occasionally read ebooks with it.

I see many people using iPads while waiting at airports in Europe.

The rest almost always have an iPhone or Android. I see people on trains reading on iPads and iPhones—and, perhaps, reading ebooks in French, German, and English.

Because of this, I know why self-publishing and book sales are not simply all about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Sure, it’s a very important publishing platform, but it is basically limited to the US and possibly UK readership and, very often, Amazon Prime members.

The rest of the world is equipped and ready to read and buy ebooks, but not only or necessarily from Amazon.

Smart self-publishers know this and are already publishing on several platforms and online ebook retailers.

The next growth stage in ebook sales will likely come from markets other than the US and UK.

But dedicated ereading devices will not drive it.

It will be with fully functional tablets and smartphones that also serve as a multi-platform ebook reader and allow ebook-buying choices.

With a Kindle device, you can only buy protected Kindle version ebooks.

You can probably buy the same ebook from a range of retailers for a tablet, and perhaps even DRM-free.

You can then use a purchased DRM-free ebook on almost any device, safely back up and store your library, and even lend it to a friend.


Are there enough readers outside the US who read in English?

Here is the result of a marketing experiment I worked on a few years ago using BitTorrent.

The following graphic shows the geographical location of over 20,000 downloads of one of my free ebooks over a period of a few weeks.

The ebook was in .epub and .mobi format, so it could be used on almost any ereading device, from smartphones to laptops.

What this proved was that there were a lot of readers of English ebooks out there and that there was a rapidly developing market.

Note: I would not suggest using BitTorrent now, as P2P is blocked on most modern browsers, and it is a prime source of viruses and malware.

non US UK readers

Readers are all potential buyers, and there are millions upon millions of them outside the US.

As a self-published author, are your ebooks available for them, or are you only an Amazon KDP author?


What is the ebook market share of Amazon Kindle?

It is common knowledge that Amazon Kindle dominates ebook sales with Kindle owners.

But the truth for self-publishing authors is surprisingly not as you might think.

There is a big potential market for ebook buyers on retailers other than Amazon. The graph below is worth studying.


The graph above comes from the 2017 Author Earnings Report. The data is a bit old, but it’s probably still valid. It indicates that Apple, Kobo, and Nook readers buy a lot (around 20%) of self-published titles. Are you connecting with these buyers?


“But I don’t sell many books on Smashwords or Draft2Digital.”

I read this comment repeatedly from self-published authors.

It should read, “I don’t sell many ebooks on Apple, B&N, Kobo, or Google Play because I can’t be bothered promoting my books anywhere else other than Kindle.”

Well, self-publishing is not only about an ebook on Kindle.

Smashwords and Draft2Digital are distributors, or more correctly, aggregators of ebooks.

You can read my review of Smashwords and Draft2Digital.

However, after self-published authors publish their books to either of these aggregators, they seem to expect that their ebooks will instantly start selling, as if by magic.

Most indie authors fill social media feeds with links to their books on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. But many don’t know how to promote their ebooks on other retailers.


Do you know how to promote books wider?

Simple question. How many authors know how to create a link to their books on the Apple iBooks Store?

For those who don’t know, you can read our article on how to promote Apple iBooks.

Second question. What percentage of self-published authors’ book promotion links to Amazon? Nearly 100%?

I’ll answer this question from my experience.

I used to own a book promotion site for self-published authors, and each submission has four optional links available for each book.

Of the last 200 or so books that were published on the site, only two included a link to Barnes & Noble, and exactly zero included a link to Apple or Kobo. Of course, all 200 included a link to Amazon.

Third question. Thousands of free Kindle ebooks are available every day, most of them from Amazon KDP Select authors.

But do any authors who are not in KDP Select think about offering a free book through Smashwords or Draft2Digital?

It’s easy and comes with no strings attached, and more importantly, no necessity to grant exclusivity. Simply change the price to free for as long as you want.

Fourth question. What do self-published authors expect from Smashwords and Draft2Digital? Miracles?

Yes, I agree that a lot of self-published authors don’t sell many books on distribution channels. But it’s easy to understand why.



Yes, Amazon and Kindle are big. Very big. So logically, if you want to sell ebooks, you need to have your ebooks available on Amazon.

However, there is more to the ebook market – about 30% more, where a little ebook promotion can help add to your income. But it won’t happen if you don’t give it a little push.

An easy way to spread the word about your ebooks on Apple, B&N, Kobo, or any other retailer from which your ebook is available is by using universal book links to give book buyers a choice of retailers.

Think about what you can do. Perhaps make one of your ebooks free on Apple, Google Play, or Nook for a week or two to see if you can attract new readers.

Use links to your ebooks on Apple, Kobo, or Google Play, occasionally on Facebook or Twitter.

In other words, spread the news about your ebooks a little further than only on Amazon Kindle.

The result might pleasantly surprise you.


Related Reading: 7 Reasons A Self-Published Book Can Have Low Book Sales

9 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Is Not Only Amazon KDP and Kindle”

  1. Many people think that e-books can only be read on the hand-held Kindle reader. It’s a popular fallacy. You can also read them on your PC, Tablet or laptop. I prefer the latter. Why? Because its large screen sits on my lap making it virtually hands free!

  2. Thank you. I had no idea that a self publisher could have their books published on more than just one, ex: Nook, Kindle, Kobo, etc. I was under the impression they were all exclusive to even self publishers.
    Thank you very much for setting me straight.

  3. Thanks. I don’t wish to publish on kindle but was not aware of alternatives. I will investigate these now.

  4. Great advice, but as others have said, Kindle books can be read on various apps (I read mine through both PC and Android Phone).

    Furthermore, KDP Select has some benefits, and it would be worth to analyse those versus being on Smashwords.

  5. I don’t like Amazon – for the usual reasons – and in fact sell more books through Draft2digital. Hardly any, but still more than with Amazon.

  6. Avatar for Malia Ann Haberman
    Malia Ann Haberman

    Just because someone has an iPad or iPhone, doesn’t mean they can’t read Kindle books. I have the Kindle App on mine and read more ebooks with that than the iBooks App.

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