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Writing and Publishing > Smashwords or Amazon exclusive?

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message 1: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Heidtman (kylaurel) | 41 comments When I published my first book in 2014, I published with both Amazon and Smashwords, but as time went on, I went exclusive with Amazon to get the benefits of being in Kindle Select. I never sold many books on Smashwords or the retailers they distributed to, but having only one book--later two--didn't help.

Now I'm close to releasing my sixth book and the seventh won't be far behind, and I'm wondering if I should give the other platforms a try again. I'd love to hear if any of you have had similar experiences of being Amazon exclusive, then going to or back to Smashwords, and if you think it's worth it.


message 2: by Ross (last edited Oct 17, 2016 04:52AM) (new)

Ross Harrison (rossharrison) | 350 comments My first book started in Select, and it helped me get around 400 sales in the first 9 months or so and thousands of free downloads on my free days. When the sales started to fall away, I put it on Smashwords. Everything after that (one novel and two short stories) I put on both until my thriller. With that, I decided to try replicating the success of the first book and put it in Select. It was absolutely useless. I'm about to put it back on Smashwords (or maybe Draft2Digital), perhaps today even.

Of course, the algorithms have all changed. Whereas my free downloads once made a difference to my book's ranking even when it stopped being free, that's no longer the case - it immediately becomes invisible again.

I don't think free downloads are of any use, and I didn't even bother to use them for the last stint my thriller did in Select.

Of course, the downside is that Amazon gives priority to books that are in Select, so if a book isn't doing well IN select, how much worse will it be out of it? (Not much, for mine).

On a side note, I'm really disappointed I didn't get the same sales for the thriller that I did for the first book, because I'm really happy with how it turned out (I've never written a thriller before), and I'm yet to get see a bad review on it. :(


message 3: by Sharon (last edited Oct 17, 2016 06:48AM) (new)

Sharon (fiona64) | 260 comments My thoughts: When you go KDP select, you are delivering a slap in the face to every person who has chosen a Kobo (the post popular reader abroad) or a Nook. You are telling them that they are not important enough to be in your audience.

You are also making your book undiscoverable on other platforms. The key to sales is discoverability. If someone searches using the key words that would turn your book up on B&N or similar, they aren't going to find it -- which means you've potentially lost a sale.

I've been doing metrics since my first book was released in 2009 ... and 80 percent of my sales are in ePub. I'm not about to surrender four out of five sales on the off chance that KDP-S's few free days will bring in more readers -- especially when I can offer a coupon code any time I want on Smashwords.

Your mileage, as always, may vary ... but I would rather have my work available in more places than less.

Having said all of that, just about every author I know has opted *out* of KDP-S after their initial 90 days, as they didn't feel that it was worth it to have all of their proverbial eggs in one basket.


message 4: by Roger (new)

Roger Jackson I agree with Sharon. I tried KDP select with my first book and have seen little to no benefit from it. I opted out after the initial 90 days and have not tried it since.


message 5: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Zigler (toriz) | 1397 comments I agree with Sharon too.

I've never done KDP select, but most people I know who do use that option either did it once, and then opted out after the 90 days and didn't do it again, or use it for those 90 days, and then go non-exclusive afterwards.


message 6: by Thaddeus (new)

Thaddeus White | 31 comments I've not gone Amazon exclusive with my own stuff (some anthologies I've written for are, likewise a trad novel-length book). Although on balance I think it's better to use Smashwords too (because of broader distribution) some authors I know do make use of the KDP Select business and think that's worth the exclusivity.

Obviously with a series it's all or nothing, so you might prefer to make a stand-alone (if you have one) multi-platform first [that said, some readers want to know a writer's got several books as just one can make you look like a one hit wonder...].

And I do like the convenience of the Smashwords codes.


message 7: by Calantirniel (new)

Calantirniel | 2 comments Good point Ross - but I am thinking of something different ;-)

Started out on Smashwords, because the idea is to make it widely available on a variety of formats so no matter what you have, you get what you need.

Then, we plan to repackage the work, with a new title and place THAT on Kindle Exclusive. It will be different enough, and since the Smashwords ISBN is for the epub version, even if we make a .mobi (Kindle) version available, when this is done with Amazon, it will require a new ISBN and basically be another book. Our community already knows what we are doing, so they get the best choices this way, and the authors get paid too.


message 8: by Steph, Space Opera Diva (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 807 comments I'm struggling with this question too. As a reader, I'm seeing more and more sci-fi book series available on Kindle only; I'm guessing this may be because Select membership encourages reading habits geared towards devouring a series. It is annoying though when I buy book 1 from Kobo and then discover the rest of the series is Kindle-only.

As a writer, ebook sales of my Hollow Moon novels slumped when Select was launched and never recovered. So... I've been wondering whether to try Select. (This sounds like heresy from a Smashwords Group moderator, I'm sure.)

My Hastings novella is not doing badly though. Is it more a case that readers have short attention spans? The novels are quite lengthy! (City Of Deceit is almost 130,000 words.)


message 9: by Ross (new)

Ross Harrison (rossharrison) | 350 comments Steph wrote: "I'm struggling with this question too. As a reader, I'm seeing more and more sci-fi book series available on Kindle only; I'm guessing this may be because Select membership encourages reading habit..."

It's difficult to know what will happen, particularly when nothing is consistent. Sales could slump even more if you went to Select, or they could go through the roof. I suspect these days, the latter is unlikely, but things are always wildly different for each author.

For example, every time a post like this goes up, someone inevitably leaps in to say how great their Smashwords sales are and how crap KDP is. Personally, my Smashwords are absolutely abysmal and without Amazon I would never even have made back the money I spent on covers, let alone anything else. I did a 70% discount on Smashwords last week, and out of more than a thousand people seeing the posts, not a single one went and bought it.

So...wildly different for everyone.

So maybe with Hollow Moon, you need to work out whether you can afford to have sales slump even more. If sales had dropped to nothing, for example, then you wouldn't lose anything by trying Select. I don't know if it's anything to do with length, as my short stories (around 13k words) don't sell, but my first novel remains the best seller and is 129k words. But then, did I mention how things are wildly different for everyone?


message 10: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Heidtman (kylaurel) | 41 comments For a while I was a diehard Select fan thanks to them being in Unlimited and getting paid for pages read when someone checked them out. It wasn't so much the money as it was knowing people had actually READ the books. People so often buy a book, especially when it's on sale, and never get around to reading it (I'm guilty of that myself).

But lately, my pages read have dropped off. I'm not the only author complaining about the sudden slump, and there seems to be some speculation that it's due to something called page flip mode (causes it to appear that only one page has been read, when actually the whole book has). I don't know if that's true, or if Unlimited readers have lost interest in my books, but while I still get some pages read, the total has certainly dropped.

So...I think I'm going to have to give going wide a try. What the heck--if it doesn't work out, I can always go back to Select.


message 11: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Heidtman (kylaurel) | 41 comments Sharon wrote: "My thoughts: When you go KDP select, you are delivering a slap in the face to every person who has chosen a Kobo (the post popular reader abroad) or a Nook. You are telling them that they are not i..."

What you said, Sharon, about Kobo being the most popular reader abroad is another reason I think I'm going to give going wide another try. I occasionally get a Canadian sale or an Australian one through Amazon, but I'd love to get more and I don't think Amazon is the way to do it.


message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments And you can go direct to Kobo via KWL (Kobo Writing Life) - they keep opening in new countries, there's Kobo India now (not that Indians buy many e-books, but just saying that Kobo is spreading)! ;)


message 13: by Steph, Space Opera Diva (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 807 comments Barbara wrote: "And you can go direct to Kobo via KWL (Kobo Writing Life)..."

What do you gain by going direct rather than via Smashwords? To date I've not sold any Smashwords titles on Kobo, not even the free short stories (or do freebies go unrecorded?).

I've had limited success with B&N and direct from Smashwords, but only the freebies have gone on iBookstore. As for Google Play, setting that up was a lot of pain for no sales whatsoever.


message 14: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments I have sold 109 ebooks + 16 free downloads going direct to KWL since 2012... and you can participate in Kobo promos that you access only from your KWL dashboard. It's in beta, but might soon become available to all.
Originally they gave you 80% royalties, I think they now give 70% like Amazon (I think with Smashwords you get less).


message 15: by Pat (new)

Pat Powers | 42 comments Steph wrote: "Barbara wrote: "And you can go direct to Kobo via KWL (Kobo Writing Life)..."

What do you gain by going direct rather than via Smashwords? To date I've not sold any Smashwords titles on Kobo, not ..."


Steph wrote: "Barbara wrote: "And you can go direct to Kobo via KWL (Kobo Writing Life)..."

What do you gain by going direct rather than via Smashwords? To date I've not sold any Smashwords titles on Kobo, not ..."


Interesting. I, too, have found that B&N and Smashwords are the only premium outlets that sell. I set up all of my books for all of them and have made maybe eight bucks off them over a year. Doing WAY better on B&N and Smashwords.


message 16: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments it's always better to go direct where you can... I don't actually do it on B&N or Apple and go through another distributor I won't mention since this is a Smashwords authors group! ;)


message 17: by Pat (new)

Pat Powers | 42 comments Smahswords doesn't own this group, I think you can mention it if you like. Direct2Digital I bet! But don't feel compelled to mention it. We all have our secrets.


message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments Pat wrote: "Smahswords doesn't own this group, I think you can mention it if you like. Direct2Digital I bet! But don't feel compelled to mention it. We all have our secrets."

yep, that's it, LOL! :D And I think Kobo had the erotica problem with WHSmith, so you could also do your label 2hot4Amazon&Kobo! ;)


message 19: by Pat (new)

Pat Powers | 42 comments I understand that Apple ibooks can be censorious, too, so it could be 2Hot4Amazon, Kobo and Apple.


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