Using multiple publishing platforms (part 1)

I taught a workshop this past weekend at a writer’s conference and I got more than a few questions about publishing on multiple platforms, which wasn’t even the topic of the workshop. It shows me that there is still a lot of curiosity out there about whether an author needs to publish on multiple platforms.

In discussing this, most authors are referring to e-publishing. However, there is a case to be made with publishing physical books with multiple printers.

I’ll tackle this in two different posts.

E-books are published in different formats sort of the difference between a .jpg image and a .tiff image. What type of e-book you need as a reader depends on the type of e-reader you use.

Amazon-Kindle-3-567x588KDP Select

As an author, you might publish your e-book only on Amazon’s Kindle platform. In fact, Kindle encourages you to solely use Kindle by offering special marketing tools that you can only use as a member of KDP Select.

By clicking the box for KDP Select, you agree that your book will only be available on Kindle for three months. The membership continues to renew every three months unless you uncheck the box.

The incentive to enroll is that Amazon increases the foreign markets where your e-book will be available. You can also use countdown deals and free book days, which are only available if you are part of KDP Select.

The biggest advantage I have found is that your book becomes part of the Kindle Unlimited program. This allows readers who enroll in this program to read select e-books without purchasing them. You, as the author, get paid per page read of your book.

swlogoGoing Wide

If you choose not to be a member of Kindle Select and instead want your e-book to appear at other retailers, such as Kobo and iBooks, then you need to go wide. This involves publishing your book in different formats and making it available on those retail platforms.

You can go crazy trying to prepare manuscripts for each retailer. It might be worth it if you realize that your books do particularly well with a retailer. Depending on the retailer, it might also offer special tools for authors who work directly with them.

For most authors, using an aggregator site is the easiest way to go. I use Smashwords. Another popular site is Draft2Digital. These sites allow you to upload your manuscript and have it converted to various formats. The book is then made available on dozens of e-book retailers.

My Experience

When I published e-books, I went with Smashwords. It’s a great platform and easy-to-use. It also offers a .mobi format, which Kindle e-readers can read. I figured I didn’t need to use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for a Kindle version. However, after months of having my e-book available, I was disappointed with sales, particularly my Kindle sales.

So, I signed up for KDP and put my book up in its Kindle version. My sales immediately jumped. I realized that it had other advantages besides the ones I mentioned. For one, it was easier to connect the e-book to my paperback version. Also, having my book available as a .mobi book did not mean that it was available on Amazon, which is the largest book retailer in the world.

I now sell about five times more e-books on KDP than I do on all of the other platforms combined.

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