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Amazon Alternatives - Ken Magee - 11 Nov 2015 02:53 PM

All my books are on KDP and I'm considering taking them out of the Select programme to try and widen their exposure. I've checked out various threads on this topic and get the feeling that the Amazon alternatives aren't really worth the effort.

From my limited research I concluded that Smashwords offered the easiest route to other platforms, although when I read their style guide I had my doubts.

Has anyone had significant success with Smashwords (or Draft2Digital or Lulu or anything else)? And does a Word document which works for KDP generally work for Smashwords etc?

RE: Amazon Alternatives - Campbell - 11 Nov 2015 03:31 PM

Smashwords have their own formatting guidelines (, and a 'meatgrinder' (conversion process) which may change some of your file formatting. They distribute to:
Barnes and Noble
Baker and Taylor Blio
Baker and Taylor Axis 360
Library Direct
Gardners Extended Retail
Gardners Library

They also sell direct, offer coupon capability (including 100% off codes - ideal for review copy distribution)

Draft2Digital is easier to use, has great file conversion, and they pay monthly rather than quarterly

They distribute to:
Barnes & Noble

There's a core overlap but each offers channels the other does not. My advice is to go direct everywhere you can, and use the aggregators (both Smashwords and D2D) for the places you can't get to on your own.

Or stick with Amazon and go all in for the borrows. KU is definitely grabbing market share, and wide authors are going to lose out in the short term (and we're all going to be under immense pricing pressure in the long run).

RE: Amazon Alternatives - Daphne - 11 Nov 2015 04:27 PM

(11 Nov 2015 02:53 PM)Ken Magee Wrote: Wrote:  All my books are on KDP and I'm considering taking them out of the Select programme to try and widen their exposure. I've checked out various threads on this topic and get the feeling that the Amazon alternatives aren't really worth the effort.

And does a Word document which works for KDP generally work for Smashwords etc?
I always have to format a special version for Smashwords, but D2D takes the same word doc I use on Amazon without any modification. You can use D2D for distribution and then download a nice EPUB version from there to put on Smashwords for their shopfront.
Generally I find Amazon is a rollercoaster whereas other outlets, such as Kobo, offer me steadier sales, although they can be slow to build up at the outset. 
Good luck!

RE: Amazon Alternatives - Rosen Trevithick - 11 Nov 2015 04:34 PM

I haven't found sales on other platforms to be worth the effort of setting them up, to be honest. I've sold 1,000 books on Amazon for ever 1 anywhere else. But then my business model is very Amazon-centric, what with, this forum etc.

Sometimes it can be frustrating getting a file approved by Smashwords but their customer service team are very helpful.

RE: Amazon Alternatives - davidwailing - 11 Nov 2015 04:43 PM

I recently took all my books out of D2D and made them Amazon-only. My sales on other platforms have always been negligible. To be fair I never promoted them much, but part of the problem is there are far fewer places to promote non-Amazon eBooks.

Ken, if you want to give other platforms a try then I can certainly recommend D2D for simplicity and helpfulness, and it's a useful one-stop shop to mass-publish. Hopefully you'll have better luck than I did!

RE: Amazon Alternatives - Mads Sorensen - 11 Nov 2015 04:58 PM

I've never had any real problems with the Smashwords 'meatgrinder', as long as I kept the formatting as simple as possible (using Word). One annoying aspect: Smashwords doesn't accept the Word TOC. I don't have experience with D2D.

About 8% of my sales have been through Smashwords and 80% of that is Apple. Most of the sales were in the beginning and, curiously, the last six months with little in between.
If your Amazon sales are flagging there can't be any harm giving D2D or Smashwords a go. And there are writers, who have had success on Apple but not Amazon.
Good luck.

RE: Amazon Alternatives - Ken Magee - 11 Nov 2015 07:09 PM

Thanks to everyone for their input.

No one seems to have made much headway outside Amazon, but I do like Daphne's tip about using her 'Amazon Word document' on D2D and then using the resultant ePub on Smashwords. That works for a lazy man like me.

RE: Amazon Alternatives - Alan G. Brown - 11 Nov 2015 07:24 PM

I started with Lulu many years ago when they were fresh and about all that was available outside the vanity world. They then placed books and ebooks on Amazon and Apple, but they never did much and needed much more publicity than I had time or resources for. Finding your own works on Apple can be extremely difficult, so it is probably no wonder little moved. When Amazon started their kindle and then Createspace, they stopped dealing with Lulu. Now that I use kdp, I find sales and loans much higher than elsewhere, but do wonder whether I am missing out on epub sales. However, the effort of changing formatting and uploading elsewhere seems too much like hard word, especially as this would mean losing the loans on Amazon Select. Swings and roundabouts, and it depends on the author and their content. Doesn't hurt to test with a book, then decide.

RE: Amazon Alternatives - Tim_A - 11 Nov 2015 08:44 PM

It took me over a year to sell enough books through D2D to make the minimum payment threshold (which is only $10!). I only really tick over on Amazon (apart from the disastrous 1st 3 months of this year when I didn't sell a single thing), but I still get more in borrows every month than I got in a year of sales everywhere else.

The interesting thing is, since I put my prices up, sales have increased everywhere except the UK, which has flatlined. Right now, Australia is my second biggest market, after the US!

RE: Amazon Alternatives - cecilia_writer - 12 Nov 2015 07:49 AM

I don't know if this will help but I have been selling 80 - 100 books a month on Kobo (via Smashwords) for a while now. Looking at my dashboard, most of the sales have been in Canada and the UK. By contrast, I have 2 books in Select or whatever it's called now, and so far they have had 1 page read between them in however many months it's been going! (they are quite different books so that's really what the issue is)
I usually do my Smashwords formatting first when publishing something new, because I know that will work for Kindle as well, more or less.