Distribution: Exclusivity vs. Going Wide, Part Two

Hey Folks,

I didn’t say anything in part one of this post about publishing to paper. Of course, publishing to paper as well as ebooks is a good idea. If you can manage it, publishing to audiobooks is also a good idea.

I advocate making your work available in every format. The larger number of formats that are available, the larger your prospective audience. This is a fact. It won’t go away just because someone chooses not to believe it.

So if you’re like the one seminar attendee who said to me (seriously), “I hate ebooks! I’ll never publish my work in any ebook format!” stop reading this. I’ve got nothing for you.

Although I have to say, that’s a lot like owning a flooring store and refusing to sell wood laminate because you personally would never use it in your own home. Sigh.

Likewise, if you’re a staunch defender of Amazon’s KDP Select program, you can stop reading now.

But if you DON’T want to limit your prospective readership to paper, and if you AREN’T willing to knuckle under to Amazon’s demands for exclusivity, read on.

This post is going to be all about how to “go wide” with distribution of ebooks.

If you want to go wide, and if you’re looking for ease of distribution, you can upload to a distributor. Today, I’ll talk about two of those distributors.

Just so you know, there are other distributors out there (for example, http://xinxii.com/). But the minuscule markets XinXii represents combined with the difficulty of their user interface keeps me from recommending them.

I plan to check out https://www.vearsa.com/ebook-distribution/ and https://www.bookbaby.com/ebook-distribution/ soon, but I haven’t yet. You can find others by typing “ebook distributors” into your search engine.


For the moment my favorite distributor is Draft2Digital (https://draft2digital.com), hereafter referred to as D2D.

At present, I upload all of my works, long and short, to both D2D and Amazon. That’s all of my novels, novellas, 5- and 10-story short story collections, and individual short stories.

D2D offers distribution to all the major e-tailers: Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Playster, Scribd, Tolino, 24Symbols and OverDrive.

I say they “offer distribution” because you may choose to have them distribute to any of those retailers, or not.

For example, I never allow distribution of my works to Scribd. Just my personal preference. They’ve had a lot of problems with copyright infringement and those problems continue.

I also don’t check the Amazon radio button on D2D, strictly because I prefer to upload to Amazon myself. Again, just my personal preference.

D2D’s user interface is slick. It takes me about 3 minutes to list a book with them. That and the fact that they offer distribution to all the major players makes them my favorite distributor.

Of course, I have a promo doc prepared for each publication. It lists the title, author, a short description and keywords. So when I get to D2D or other distributors, I can copy/paste a lot of what they require.


For my major works (novels, novellas and short story collections) in addition to D2D and Amazon, I also upload to Smashwords (https://smashwords.com).

Smashwords is another distributor. They distribute to most of the same major e-tailers on D2D’s distribution list, but they also distribute to 8 or 9 extra markets, mostly European, that D2D doesn’t reach.

Unfortunately, the Smashwords user interface is clunky at best, which is why I use them for only my major works. Even with the same promo doc to draw from, it takes me ten minutes or more to distribute a book to Smashwords.

The difference between ten minutes at Smashwords and 3 minutes at D2D probably doesn’t sound like a lot. But when you have over 250 publications, the extra minutes quickly add up.

Just to share the numbers, I could upload all 250 publications to D2D in 12.5 hours.

To upload the same 250 publications to Smashwords would take 41.66 hours.

So for my purposes, I distribute all of my works via D2D to the major e-tailers. Then via Smashwords, I also distribute my major works to Inktera (formerly Page Foundry), Baker & Taylor/Follett, Library Direct, Baker-Taylor Axis360, cloudLibrary, Gardners Extended Retail, Odilo, and Gardners Library.

Note: If you choose to distribute your work through more than one distributor, be sure to use only one distributor per venue. For example, because I use D2D for all the major e-tailers, over at Smashwords I check the “Do Not Distribute” button for those same e-tailers.

I should note that I haven’t made many sales in those extra Smashwords venues. However, if my books weren’t available there, I would negate the chance of EVER making a sale there.

What most attracts me to Smashwords is its in-house store. From the Smashwords store, readers can purchase any ebook and download it in any eformat: .epub, .mobi, .pdf, .lrf, .pdb, .txt or .html. In fact, once they pay for a work, they can download it in multiple formats.

And that brings me full circle back to Part One of this post.

I will never distribute exclusively to Amazon’s KDP Select precisely because I don’t want to automatically snub the millions of readers who prefer to read on some other format.

There are those who maintain that going exclusive with KDP Select is “good business.”

And granted, when you first launch a book, it might well be good business to go with KDP Select for the first 90 days. (Amazon requires exclusivity in 90-day bites.)

That way you can take advantage of the Amazon marketing perks that they offer only to works enrolled in their program.

I might be convinced that would be good business. But only if after the first 90 days the writer pulled the work out of KDP Select and went wide with it. (I personally would never use KDP Select even for the first 90 days.)

To me, “good business” is making your work available to the widest possible audience in every possible format.

If I owned that flooring store I talked about above, I would sell every type of floor covering anyone might want.

More importantly, I would sell it to anyone who walked through the door wanting to buy.

But maybe that’s just me.

‘Til next time, happy writing!


Note: This blog is funded only by your gracious contributions. For a one-time donation, click the Donate button at the top of the sidebar. To consider becoming a patron and reap extra rewards, click Become a Patron. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please consider sharing this post with your friends. Thanks!