Monday, December 10, 2012

Battling for Your Book: George Angus on Ebooks

Amazon and Smashwords Are Battling For Your Book

Did you ever think you would see the day that publishers would be wooing authors? Heh. Neither did I, but that is exactly what is happening. This is just another sign that in some ways, there has never been a better time to be a writer of books.

E-books and E-readers have turned the publishing industry on its head. This isn't news to anyone who has been paying attention the last few years. How it's all going to shake out is anyone's guess at this point but I'd be willing to bet that the dust will not settle for years to come.

It is now easier than ever to self publish in an electronic format. I have a client who writes short stories. Every few months he sends me a manuscript with a cover image and I format the thing and publish it for him on Amazon and Smashwords. I've done this so many times that it now takes me about two hours total to publish in both places. Many, many authors are doing the same thing every day.

So, what's all this hub-bub about Amazon and Smashwords? Well it's pretty simple, really. Up until last year, an author such as myself could be all fat, dumb and happy just publishing at both Smashwords and Amazon. By publishing at Smashwords, you make your e-book available to virtually all e-book formats and e-readers. Publishing at Amazon puts tools and potential viewership in your hands that could propel your book to unimagined heights. By publishing in both arenas you have the best chance of success.

Last year, Amazon changed the game. In a big way. They introduced KDP Select and it set off a firestorm. Here is how KDP Select works:

From the original email received in December, 2011

“When you make any of your titles exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those with US rights will automatically be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of a monthly fund. The monthly fund for December 2011 is $500,000 and will total at least $6 million in 2012. If you haven’t checked it out already, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is a collection of books that eligible US Amazon Prime members can borrow for free once a month with no due dates.”

Seems easy enough, right? And it would be if not for the very first sentence. See where it says “exclusive?”  That's the rub, friends and neighbors. That's where the heart of this war resides. In order to take advantage of KDP select, you have to unpublish at Smashwords (Or anywhere else you may have your book published.) 
As you can imagine, this was not received well by Smashwords and other e-publishing outfits and I can't say as I blame them. The fire was again recently kindled (sorry) when Amazon announced that they were adding another 1.5 million to the fund. I first got wind of this through a Smashwords posting on Facebook. A quick side note on the posting – whoever posted it for Smashwords asked authors to “way in” on the matter. After about a dozen comments were left blasting them out of the water for the major grammatical faux-paux they deleted the post and reposted in correct form. Heh-heh.

Smashwords points out that any author making their work exclusive to a single retailer is cutting their nose off to spite their face. I think the point is well taken. With that said, literally hundreds of authors have taken Amazon up on their offer.

In some ways, this battle over us authors is kind of cool, but it also makes things a bit tough. See, I love Smashwords. Been with them a long time and have extolled their virtues on my blog several times. I also love Amazon. I've reviewed dozens of books there and am in the top 5000 reviewers. I do my Christmas shopping there. And yes, I have books published there. Do I kick Smashwords to the curb and put all my eggs in the Amazon basket or do I hang tough? I honestly don't know what the right answer is.

How about you? Are you familiar with KDP Select? Have you jumped off the Amazon cliff or are you considering the jump? What are your thoughts?
Short bio: George lives in Palmer, Alaska with his wonderful daughter, Maddy. He loves to read and he is the owner of, a blog he's kept for over four years now. You can follow him on Twitter  @GeorgeAngus

Check out George's books on AMAZON.   
Check out George's books on SMASHWORDS.


1 comment:

  1. The way the Select program was initially structured favored the indie author and allowed them to compete even with bestsellers. Now that has changed as it has gotten much harder to climb the ranks with the free promotions and get meaningful sales.