Since I first began writing and publishing online (back in 2016/2017), I’ve published directly and exclusively with Amazon. They make it so easy you can have a book uploaded and published within a few minutes. They’ve also cornered the market in many ways with over 80% of eBooks in the USA and UK being sold by them. With KDP Select (including Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library) they also offer higher royalty rates, promotional pricing and a share of a pot of money for pages read, in return for exclusivity with them. All good right? Well maybe…it depends.
If you have a successful book that’s flying off the shelves (or flying down the wires to a device more likely), then exclusivity with Amazon could work very well for you. There are many authors who are exclusive and earn a large wedge of cash from the perks that this gives. In fact during the times that some of my books were the most successful, I earned as much in page reads as I did from the downloads themselves. It was like being paid twice, and double money is always good right? There can be no argument that Amazon dominates the market and this is why most of the best selling authors stick with them. But is this the whole story? What about all those people who download their content from other platforms? Not everyone buys their books from Amazon.
In my experience, when the going is good I have earned more when I stick with Amazon. There is a but here though, and a possible long term unseen cost. By being exclusive to one platform I’m limiting my reach somewhat and putting all my eggs in one basket. Amazon has the biggest share of the eBook market in countries like the USA and UK, but not in others such as Canada, where Kobo dominates. Kobo and Apple Books have a share of the market which grows or shrinks depending on the country you are in, and in some cases it’s bigger than Amazon. Barnes & Noble sell eBooks too, although their share of this market appears to be less than the previously mentioned three (in my experience, but it depends where you are).
One other thing that I believe is that no company will last for ever. Therefore if I don’t spread my reach wider, then I could lose everything if that single platform goes bust or even decides to drop me and delete all my books (it happens more often than you may think to authors). This came to light recently when reading the blog of Joanna Penn and reading a book by Adam Croft. Both are currently big advocates of going wide and I totally understand their approach. In fact, both are certain that they earn more wide so it’s a business decision as well as one to future proof their brand. Check out their websites and books on publishing, they really do know what they’re doing and have given me some invaluable advice.
I recently made accounts with Draft2Digital, Smashwords, Streetlib and Publishdrive to help push my books wide. For ease of use and for the sheer joy of the way it works, I ended up just using Draft2Digital, simply because it was easy and pain free. I like how they cover the stores I want to distribute to (with Google Play soon to be added), how I can preview my book before sending it off to those stores, and how they then let me download an EPUB (industry wide eBook format except for Amazon), and MOBI (Amazon eBook format) versions of those files for uploading elsewhere. In fact you can just use them to format your books and produce the file types you require and not publish with them, that’s quite a free service. They take 10% of any sale if you do use them, so I publish direct where I can.
So in conclusion, this is the strategy I’m adopting at the moment. I hope this will increase my reach and visibility and offer some protection if any one major player goes bust or removes my books :
Amazon = Direct.
Kobo = Direct.
Barnes & Noble = Direct.
Apple Books = Direct (accessed on a Windows PC using Macincloud)
Google Play (currently closed to new submissions from authors) = Draft2Digital.
Have a question or have your own experience? Please leave a reply.