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 enroll your ebook in Amazon KDP Select. There are benefits, including listing in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and extra promotional tools.
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 plan ahead because delisting an ebook from either aggregator can take a little while.
When you delist and unpublish an ebook, you will be removing it 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 indie authors, it is beneficial because it can help boost both sales and ranking during the 90 days of enrolment.
You can use Kindle Countdown Deals, free book promotion, and have your book listed in KU.
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.
To comply with the KDP Select terms, it means ALL distribution channels.
As many authors and publishers have discovered, when you delist an ebook, it does not necessarily mean that down the line book retailers, and 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. If you receive an email notice, 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.
Although I have usually had very few problems over the years, I recently had difficulty delisting my ebooks from Bibliotheca.
It took many emails to Draft2Digital and a frustrating wait of one month before my books were finally delisted.
How to check your ebook is delisted 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 enroll 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 enroll in KDP Select, I have had no problem at all with Smashwords’ three leading 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 on each published book.
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.
In my experience, libraries are often the slowest to delist books. Because they rarely add much to your income, it might be wise to remove your books from them well in advance. Better still, don’t publish with libraries when you publish a new title.
Then you can be confident that when it comes time to remove your title, your delisting will happen 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 enroll your ebook for one period of 90 days.
Of course, if you want to stay enrolled indefinitely, don’t select this option.
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 ebook 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 you have to chop and change from time to time by having titles going in and out of Amazon KDP Select.
If you change your distribution settings with your aggregator in advance, it will make this process faster and more reliable when the next time comes to enroll an ebook title in KDP Select.