For most of you embarking on indie publishing, the biggest return on investment for you in ebook sales will be to upload your book onto Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. While their market share is shrinking, they still hold over 60% of it. And be sure you do the uploading yourself, not through a “service.” It’s super easy, and you’ll earn the highest possible royalty that way. KDP requires .mobi files, but you can upload different file types for conversion. You may recall that I use PressBooks to create my ebooks (they are also styling themselves into a sales outlet, and their services are a’changing, as are their prices — currently, you can create five books there for free for conversion and publication elsewhere), and their epub uploads and converts through KDP beautifully.
Kindle is not the end-all, be-all, however. There are other important sales outlets for ebooks and the ranks swell daily. Here’s a few more to add to your list, in priority-ranked order:
1. Pubit: Barnes & Noble’s service is equally as easy to use as KDP. Indie authors simply access Pubit to upload their books. Again, royalties are highest if you do this yourself instead of through a service. Pubit requires epub files.
2. Smashwords: My sales are not high through Smashwords, but I still believe in them, and here’s why. First, I can give “100% off” coupons on Smashwords to selected readers. This allows me to give away ebooks without having to make them free to the general public. I can do this for reviewers, for instance. Secondly, I can utilize their ever-growing expanded or “premium” distribution network, and I can select one-by-one the outlets for Smashwords to distribute my work to (Apple/iTunes, Baker-Taylor and their Blio, Paige Foundry, Kobo, Diesel, and Library Direct). This is critical, because I get higher royalties by distributing/uploading to Pubit and KDP myself, so I don’t want Smashwords to do that for me. However, I do want Smashwords to send it to every other place it possibly can. Don’t forget, though, that royalties lag about six months for expanded distribution through Smashwords. I know I am selling through some of these outlets, because my sales rankings are good. But I have no idea how much or of what or when. Also, I can’t ignore these outlets completely. I go to them and make sure that comments are feeding through through properly from Goodreads if applicable, or that I direct readers to also post their comments on those outlets, when possible. The downside to Smashwords, and it is significant, is that I have to format a Word Doc in Smashwords-specific style to upload there. They publish instructions, but it’s not easy. You can hire help for cheap.
3. There are a slew of others to consider: Lulu.com, ebooks.com, biblio.com, omnilit.com, and many more.Of these, I’ve found omnilit to be worth the extra effort, but none of the others yet. I’ll keep you posted. Here’s someone else’s opinion on this issue. A quick google search will yield more opinions, if you need them.
4. Both KDP and Pubit allow you to direct buyers from your webpages to their sites to purchase, and pay you small fees for the referrals. It’s worth it, if you are tech-savvy enough. KDP uses Amazon’s Associates Program and Pubit uses a slightly more complex system with Barnes and Noble called Rakuten Link Share.
5. Don’t overlook analyzing whether to sell ebooks from your own site. If you can establish buyer confidence, and if you can direct sufficient traffic to your site, you can sell ebooks directly. Your buyers have to be tech-savvy enough to load them to their devices, thogh, and I have found that uploading a non-KDP .mobi doc to a Kindle can be daunting for some folks. It’s super easy to replicate once you figure it out, but you could end up provding a lot of hand holding and TLC if you take this route. You can find the instuctions if you go to your Amazon account, then go to Manage Your Kindle, and look at your Personal Document Settings under Your Kindle Account. I don’t sellf ebooks from my site at this time. I see some folks do it quite successfully, however.
There you have it. My choices, and why.
I hope it helps you with yours.