Self-publishing ebooks on Amazon and Smashwords or Draft2Digital is logical.
All offer different distribution channels, which is ideal for getting your ebook to as many ebook retailers as possible.
If you publish with Amazon KDP, there is no restriction at all on publishing elsewhere.
For many self-published authors, having ebooks available on both Amazon and Smashwords or Draft2Digital makes perfect sense. It is often referred to as open publishing and is one approach to find as many readers as possible.
Moving in and out of Amazon exclusivity
However, the fly in the ointment is when you would like to enrol your ebook in Amazon KDP Select to take advantage of the extra promotional tools that it offers.
To do so, you need to make the difficult decision to grant Amazon exclusivity.
It means that you cannot have your ebook available on both Amazon and Smashwords or Draft2Digital at the same time.
You will need to remove your ebook from either aggregator.
It means you will be removing your ebook from Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and all other distribution channels.
There are benefits to Amazon KDP Select
Most self-published authors have probably tried Amazon KDP Select.
For many, it is beneficial because it can help boost both sales and ranking during the 90 days of enrolment.
If you have more than a few ebook titles, a strategy of having one or two ebooks in KDP Select at any one time can be a good sales and book marketing move.
This strategy though involves making absolutely sure that when you enroll your book in KDP Select that your title has been removed from not only Smashwords or Draft2Digital but also anywhere else that your book is available for sale.
This means ALL of their distribution channels.
As many authors have discovered, un-publishing an ebook does not necessarily mean that down the line distributors react quickly.
This can result in receiving a nasty email from Amazon stating that your Kindle ebook is not available exclusively on Amazon.
It could result in your ebook being disqualified from KDP Select. You need to start working to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
Smashwords ended their ebook distribution agreement with Flipkart due to the inability of Flipkart to remove titles in a timely manner.
This tardiness by Flipkart resulted in many authors being notified by Amazon that their ebooks would be removed from KDP Select.
How to check your ebook is de-listed correctly
So how can you solve the problem?
You want to make sure that your ebooks will be removed promptly from Smashwords and Draft2Digital and their distributors when you wish to enrol in Amazon KDP Select.
Many authors like to use Amazon KDP Select from time to time to help increase sales to customers. But for some, this can cause problems.
The best way to make sure that an ebook will be exclusive Amazon is to make a small adjustment to the ebook’s distribution settings.
You can do this on Smashwords or Draft2Digital well in advance.
From my own experience, when I un-publish a title on Smashwords in readiness to enrol in KDP Select, I have had no problem at all with Smashwords’ three main retailers.
Apple removes a title within 24 hours. Kobo in less than 48 hours. Barnes and Noble are a little slower at 3 to 4 days.
The same goes for Draft2Digital. It is worth considering that these three retailers probably make up around 90% or more of ebook sales.
So my advice is to restrict your aggregator distribution to these three retailers if your marketing plan involves going ‘in and out’ of Amazon KDP Select.
From your Smashwords Dashboard, go to the ‘Channel Manager’, and change your distribution settings.
There is not enough room in the image above to show all of the distributors.
You can opt-out of all retailers except for Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.
Then you can be confident that when it comes time to remove your title, it will be done quickly and efficiently.
One other vital point to remember when enrolling in KDP Select is to deactivate automatic renewal.
Once you have enrolled, make sure you un-tick the auto-renewal option. Then click ‘Save’ if you only wish to enrol your ebook for one period of 90 days.
Open publishing would be the number one preference for most self-published authors.
But the reality of ebook sales is that Amazon and KDP Select with its Kindle Unlimited option, is leading the market in ebook sales and subscription royalties.
Whether you agree, disagree, like it or not, Amazon has the largest market share by a very long distance.
This means that self-published authors cannot ignore the real and potential income that Amazon can generate for them.
But it means balancing your ebook distribution between Amazon and Smashwords or Draft2Digital.
Then having to chop and change from time to time, by having titles going in and out of Amazon KDP Select.
By changing your distribution settings with your aggregator, it will make this process more reliable when the next time comes to enrol an ebook title in KDP Select.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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