Thursday, November 1, 2012

KDP and PubIt and Smashwords, Oh My! by Lorca Damon

In case you haven't notice, I love Lorca Damon. Not only is she a wonderful writer, but she is also full of valuable information, which I manage to squeeze out of her quite regularly. Here's another great bit of advice/info for writers from the ever wonderful Lorca Damon:

I am a proud self-published author. I have three titles that have been listed across a variety of platforms, sometimes with mixed results. While I cannot honestly say that one ebook distribution platform is better than another, they certainly are different.

For example, Amazon is the big dog. Unless you have a moral compass that points you away from the largest ebook distributor on the planet (and some people actually have a vehement refusal to have anything to do with Amazon as a protest of its oversized corporate status), your book needs to be listed on Amazon because it’s currently where the most sales are happening.

As for the retailer’s often-criticized KDP Select platform, that’s again going to have to be your call. KDP Select makes your book eligible for Kindle Lending. I was shocked at how well this actually worked. I remember thinking, “Seriously? People are going to pay an annual membership to BORROW books?” The answer is yes, they do. As the program currently stands, the author forfeits the right to list his ebook anywhere else INCLUDING posting it for free on his own blog. The trade-off is that every time the book is borrowed, the royalty rate is sometimes six times that of a purchase (my 99cent ebook earns 35 cents each time it is bought, and it’s paid me well over $2 each time it’s borrowed). Some people take issue with the exclusivity of the KDP Select program, others see it as a means to get their book into as many hands as possible.

PubIt!, Barnes and Noble’s self-publishing ebook platform, is very simple to use and requires the slightly  more standard ePub file format. If you’re considering PubIt! or if you’re considering enrolling your book in KDP Select and keeping it out of all other platforms, think about the genre you write. NOOK devices are marketed primarily to middle-aged women. If you’re writing high fantasy or extreme sci fi with elaborate world building aimed at a mixed gender audience, missing out on the chance to list your book on PubIt! might not hurt you too much. But if you write romance, women’s fiction, chick lit, literary fiction, and the like, you may be one of the very successful self-published authors who finds more fans on Barnes and Noble’s platform than on Amazon’s.

Smashwords. The little distributor that could. People in the business like to criticize Smashwords for the insane amount of erotica and romance in the catalog, but the numbers show that romance and erotica digital authors are laughing all the way to the bank. Smashwords has a lot going for it. They will list your book in their Premium Catalog for free as long as it meets the standards of their Style Guide (and the Style Guide walks you through formatting your book, plus it’s free as a download on their website) and listing it in their catalog means they will distribute it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Apple, and more. Once you upload the file in the correct format, they convert it MOBI, ePUB, RTF, PDF, etc. Plus, each time you attempt the upload, if it still doesn’t meet the standards, their AutoVetter program emails you with a list of what is still wrong with it. After you successfully post the manuscript, a human being is still going to quick-read through it to make sure it looks right on a screen, that it isn’t pirated, etc. More importantly, Smashwords is a tireless supporter of self-publishing and has this week announced there are more than 5 BILLION words uploaded to their catalog. They’re just great people, so unless you have a compelling reason (like KDP Select) to not list your book there, you are only hurting yourself. 

All of the platforms out there have something to bring to the table. One of my books is enrolled in KDP Select because it is a highly-specific niche genre, not intended for general public consumption; plus, I wanted it listed in the lending catalog. Another title was enrolled in KDP Select and I took it out because there’s really no great reason to keep that one exclusive. It was an experiment, but once the terms of agreement are up on that title (you are required to list your book exclusively for ninety days if you enroll it), I plan to list it on PubIt! and Smashwords. My third title, which happens to be my only novel, is on Amazon and Smashwords. The first day I posted it to Smashwords, there were 80 page views of its sales page.

Figure out which marketing strategy makes the most sense for your book. Notice I didn’t say for you as a writer, but for each and every book you write. Decide on your audience and which platform will help you reach them the most.

 Lorca Damon is a teacher in a juvenile correctional facility and staff writer for Her first non-fiction title, Autism By Hand, is an Amazon bestseller and her first fiction title, The Earth is for Dancing, was recently published as well. She is also one of the funniest people I know.  You should stalk her at

Her website:
Twitter: @LorcaDamon
Good E-Reader


Suzanne Shumaker said...

Great insights. Thank you for giving us the lowdown. I always want to ask, but am afraid to do so, how much self-published authors earn. You probably won't answer it, and I do understand. I just wonder if it's possible to earn a living this way.

Lorca Damon said...

Actually, I'm happy to answer because it's a very valid consideration when choosing how to publish. The typical self-published book sells around four copies PER MONTH. There are a lot of factors, like the price point, the quality of the editing, a professional cover, and the work the author is willing to do in publicity. As for my four self-published titles, I sell enough 99cent ebooks each month to make the car payment on my new car. As for traditionally published books, my first one will come out in May but from what I've already learned in the industry, most traditionally published authors a) are still responsible for the leg work on promoting their books (social media, arranging their own book signings, etc.) and b) don't get to quit the day jobs until they have several books selling well. We'll see how it goes!

Cathy said...

This is all so helpful. I am only 10,000 words in to my first novel and I'll likely self-publish. Thank you for this. Cathy x