Choosing Where to ePublish

by Autumn M. Birt

I’ve finished my first draft of Spirit of Life, the third book and final installment in my current epic fantasy series the Rise of the Fifth Order! And even though I have a long way to go until it is ready for publication (especially since I’m rewriting the ending… yeah?), I’m starting to think about where I should publish it.

With this going to be my fifth book released in the world, you think I’d have the where down by now. But sometimes following the same path isn’t the best option.

I’ve published in two places: Amazon as a direct seller and on a distributor website, Smashwords, that then sends my novels to thirteen other ebook sellers including Barnes and Nobles, Kobo, Apple, and Sony. Smashwords is a totally a slick system and I love it! So, what is the problem?

Well, I’m a NEW author (still) and getting noticed is all about making your book visible and discoverable.

With my first novel, Born of Water, I released solely on Amazon and enrolled in KDP, granting Amazon exclusive rights for 90 days in exchange for 5 free promo days. It got me noticed and over 10,000 free downloads. I loved it. But then I realized what I was losing in this deal: lots of other potential places to sell my books!

And I'm complaining epublishing is difficult?!

And I’m complaining epublishing is difficult?!

I researched distributors and went with Smashwords. To me, their author tools are flat out awesome. I can actually see how many people viewed my book in one day. Or how many downloaded the free sample! Oh if only Amazon showed me that so easily. I can actually tell when my marketing is working (or not) by watching my Smashwords page views. I can showcase my series in one spot (for even easier promotion opportunities) and create coupons at any time to give discounts or make my book free if I want. And just for more fun, Smashwords runs sitewide sales on occasion (that you can join or not) so you get everyone in the sale promoting it! Talk about some promo networking. All that with no exclusivity deal, no strings other than the small percentage of each sale that goes to Smashwords.

So when I published book 2 in the series, Rule of Fire, I used both Amazon and Smashwords ruling out the use of Amazon’s KDP select. I promoted like heck with deals on both sites. And sales were okay on both sites.

But now, I’m looking at the final book and wondering what will give me the best opportunity to make this release successful? Amazon has come up with some really neat options that I’ve never gotten to try out, like their Kindle Countdown. Would going with KDP for the requisite 90 days to access the free promotion days and Kindle Countdown be the best?

Amazon is one of the biggest ebook sellers out there. A Promo THERE gets noticed. And most of the websites to announce free promotions are pretty much exclusive to announcing Kindle promotions. So by not being able to say a book is free on Kindle, I also lose out on a lot of potential hype on other websites. And the only way to get the Kindle free promo days is to enroll in KDP.

But when I look at my book sales, I’ve definitely racked some up due to Smashwords and their distribution network. Barnes and Nobles, Kobo, Diesel, Apple, Smashwords itself – all have had sales. Do I leave those readers hanging while my novel is tied up in Amazon’s KDP exclusivity deal?


I’ve just about convinced myself to go with KDP for 90 days. I think. Shoot. I just don’t know?! Help? Please…

– Autumn is the author of the epic fantasy series on elemental magic, the Rise of the Fifth Order. She also has lots of other WIP, and she is sooo excited to think about getting back to them as soon as Spirit of Life is released! You can find her occasionally online on Twitter at @weifarer or on her Facebook page or on Goodreads. She is trying to do this marketing thing in a slightly more organized manner… online “office” hours??


7 comments on “Choosing Where to ePublish

  1. I don’t know if it helps but I’m just going with Smashwords next time – after all they can distribute to Amazon as well and they have their coupons for doing special offers. Mind you I’m pretty new to this and have yet to rack up many sales.

  2. I go through the same mental battle each time I release a book. I’ve done both: the KDP for 90 days and flat out all vendors upon release. I think it really depends on the book in question. With this being your third book of a series, where people have been buying it at all locations, it might be wise to publish it everywhere.

    But you are right about the KDP promotions and the ability to get it on certain websites.

    But I really haven’t found any great sales benefits to KDP. Yes, many may download for free, but that’s it. If you could do this with the first book in the series to get people wanting to buy the second and third book, that would be great. But the third book…it won’t work as well.

    If this was a stand alone book, I’d probably go KDP, but since it’s not, I’d probably choose all vendors because you really don’t want to disappoint the readers using other devices who have read books one and two.

    Note to the Uccello di Nebbia: Although Smashwords says they deliver to Amazon, I don’t believe they’ve worked out the details yet. I posted a book at Smashwords exclusively and opted in for Amazon delivery, just to see how long it took for it to happen. That was in early November 2013. I’m still waiting. If you are hoping your Smashwords books will be sent to Kindle, I’d think again.

    Has anyone else realised this? Smashwords and Amazon have yet to come to an agreement?

    • I think Smashwords only distributes to Amazon if you’ve had over a 1,000 sales. At least that is what I remember reading. That is she I go with both. Maybe someday I’ll get there!

      Very good points, Diane. I could always do KDP with my next book, which I’m sure will be the first in something. Lol. Then I can try Bruce’s brilliant tactic of linking sales by including announcements of non-KDP books in with the KDP promotion! He’s just too clever. 🙂

  3. Another option is to publish your third book on every platform you can find, unpublish the first on Smashwords and then enroll that first one into KDP for 90 days. Use the free days as an event ahead of the third book’s release date. I’ve been thinking of that strategy for my own third book.

    Just an idea.

    • OOOh, that IS an intriguing idea, Scott! I’d hate to pull book 1 down from Smashwords, wait for that trickle effect to remove it from the websites it distributes to (so I’d have to do this SOON!) just to enroll in KDP. But oooh. That is really, really tempting. It’ll most likely be a year before I have a new book in a new series up, so if I want to promote via KDP this suggestion may be the way.

  4. Pingback: Expanded purchasing options for my books! | Wendy Miller, Romantic Suspense Author

  5. Pingback: How to Build Your Audience in 90 Days After Publishing Your e-Book? | InstaScribe

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