Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Amazon and Smashwords

So while Mia and I are both working hard on our edits, I thought I would cover distribution a little bit. When I first looked into this, I was completely overwhelmed. There's Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, Ibook and so many others out there. What was I going to do? I want my book out to as many readers in as may formats as I can. At one of the conventions I went to I sat through a panel that kept mentioning Smashwords, and I had to wonder what on earth was this magical website where authors only had to formate one document and were able to distribute to all kinds of different places? Naturally, I went home and I googled it. Now, I plan (and have used under my non-penname) to use Smashwords and Amazon to publish the digital copy of In Black and White.

Amazon is fantastic for Kindle and it's rare that Smashwords will distribute straight to Amazon (I'm not sure what the trick is behind it.). Kindle is easy to format for and simple to upload. Amazon has their KDP Direct program, where you have certain benefits for only having your book on Kindle for a specified about of time. I've never used this program, nor have I talked to others who have, so I can't tell you if it's worth it or not. Personally, I won't participate in this because I feel like I'm isolating my readers who don't have a kindle.

My Pros for Amazon:
-Widely known and trusted site
-Easy for readers to purchase and leave reviews
-Easy to up load and sell

My Cons for Amazon:
-Kind of a pain in the butt to run sales
-Other authors cannot leave reviews
-Kindle only
-Cannot offer free book without hassle

Smashwords to me is magical. I know a lot of people who have problems with Smashwords because they are DRM free (Digital Rights Management, read Smashwords' comments on it here in the FAQs). I read through their thoughts, did some research and decided it wasn't a deal breaker for me. Smashwords has guidelines you must follow in order to make it into their premium catalog so you can be distributed to the different companies they work for. It's a super simple guideline and easy to follow. They also have many different formats on their website (including Kindle, even though it's rare they distribute a book to Amazon.). I love the idea of uploading one document and them converting it for me. It saves me a ton of time. The biggest downfall to this is some times it takes a while for the book to show up at Barnes and Noble and Ibook, because of the days that Smashwords 'ships' books out. (But I feel they make up for that by offering all the different formats from their website.)

Pros for Smashwords:
-Different formats and distributions options
-Easy to format
-Easy to change price and run sales (Also offers coupons, great for giving free copies to review blogs.)
-Easy for readers to review
-Easy to put up a free story

Cons for Smashwords:
-Not widely known to readers who are new to the indie game
-DRM free (though again, not a deal breaker for me)
-Lots of smut and crap (There seems to be more on Smashwords than Amazon...)

So there you go, some basics on the two of them, a small comparison. My advice to you, read into it, do some research and see if they are both right for you.

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