Why is it so difficult to decide something as simple as who will distribute your ebook? Okay, maybe that’s a rhetorical question. Distributing your ebook is never simple.
I have been looking at several different methods for ebook distribution outside of Amazon. The main choices seem to be either to upload the book directly to each retail outlet (Barns & Nobel, Kobo, iBooks, Scribd, Oyster, OverDrive, etc), or to go through an aggregate that takes an additional 10% of any money made in order to simplify the process of uploading your digital book to so many retailers.
The two big ones that everyone talks about is Smashwords or Draft 2 Digital.
Disclaimer: I have never used either of these services, yet. I’m just trying to do some research on the best route to take and am ranting or thinking out loud through my blog, because I can do that.
And of course the decision can’t be as simple as “which service is better.” That would make life too easy, now, wouldn’t it?
Smashwords has a greater array of distribution channels, and has a lot of useful features such as pre-sales, offering coupons for your books that you can give away, and did I mention it distributes to more retailers? But from all of the countless blogs out there talking about Smashwords they say the same thing. Updating and distributing changes can be incredibly slow, sometimes taking weeks to apply something as simple as a price change.
Draft2Digital apparently has a better interface, almost instant (or within 24-48 hours) updates, and more up-to-date sales charts. But they have fewer distribution channels, no coupon codes, and as the new kid on the block it is tough to know if the service will run into the same delays that Smashwords has when it gets more users.
Why can’t they just take the best of both services to make the ultimate distribution service? Call it Draft Smash 2 Digital Words, or something…
Or I could keep my extra 10%, and take the time to upload to all of the channels myself. Some are fairly easy, but others, such as iBooks, would require using special Mac Only software (which I have) and your own ISBN number (which costs $125 or more). Or I can mix and match… or… I don’t know.
Now that my 90 days is up with Amazon’s KDP Select it’s time to figure this stuff out.
What are your experiences with these services?
Update 5/11/2015 I have given this a lot of serious thought, and searched many more blogs, and I think I finally came up with my answer. Ideally it sounds like the best thing to do would be to go through each publisher individually so you get the greatest return in royalties, however, from what almost everyone has said using anything that isn’t Amazon results in very few sales. So it may not be worth the time just for a small handful of sales equating to less than $10.
So my plan is to use Smashwords for now so it takes less time to distribute my work to all of the retailers out there. If, for some miracle, one of the retailers starts to make several sales it may be worth creating an account to individually distribute through that retailer, but continue to use Smashwords for everything else. So that’s my plan.
tl;dr Using smashwords to simplify publishing to many retailers unless one retailer starts to shine, then I’ll upload directly to them but continue to use Smashwords for everyone else.