There is considerable wisdom in this maxim: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In this particular instance I’m referring to authors who only make their work available for Amazon.com’s Kindle e-reader. The reasons one SHOULD consider listing your self-pubbed/produced creative project are obvious: Amazon (and by extension, the Kindle) are the combined 800-pound gorilla of the publishing world. They have the greatest single reach of any retailer out there, so your book/recording/indie film will get it’s cover crossed by more eyes than it would anywhere else. However, why would you ONLY list with Amazon?
You shouldn’t. For one thing, there are people in the world who refuse to shop with Amazon.com. Maybe they feel they got burned in a transaction with an issue that wasn’t settled to their satisfaction. Maybe they just don’t like Amazon. Maybe they are understandably suspicious of Amazon’s business practices when it comes to the publishers that list with them – practices which have been controversial from time to time.
Amazon demands the right to unprecedented control over YOUR work. They reserve then right to put it on sale whenever they choose – at a discount rate of their choosing. It’s entirely possible that Amazon could put your book on sale at such a rate that you make no money from each sale. There are people out there who claim that just getting copies out there is a win, and that it builds an audience for that author – an audience who will buy books later. They might be right, but frankly, most authors aren’t in a financial position to give away their books; many need that income to pay their bills. Likewise, if what you publish is erotica, don’t expect Amazon — or Barnes & Noble, for that matter — to be too sympathetic to your problems, if they allow you to publish through them at all.
I would like to offer another potential vector for selling your independently published ebooks: Drive-Thru Fiction. Part of the One Bookshelf.com family of sites, DriveThruFiction is able to offer ebooks in many file formats, including mobi (Kindle) ePub, and PDF. Many books also have the option to purchase a print-on-demand copy, fulfilled through DriveThru’s printing partner, Lightning Source.
DriveThru got its start publishing ebook versions of tabletop RPGs. Surprisingly, the gaming world has been on the cutting edge of electronic publishing technology practically before anyone else. RPGS are still Drive Thru’s number one major category, but fiction is slowly catching up.
It’s important for me to point out that I do occasionally do work for OneBookShelf, and that one of my best friends works for them, so I am hardly unbiased. However, the fact that they are a viable option for publishing and distributing your self-published work is not diminished by any of these facts. I also would not suggest you ONLY use Drive-Thru/One BookShelf either; again, putting all of your eggs in one basket is foolish — if the basket breaks or you drop it, all of your eggs are lost.
To take a look at Drive-Thru’s terms of service, click here.
While I’m at it, I’d like to put in a plug for a charity bundle of ebooks offered on Drive Thru Fiction. Available only through October 20, this collection features many — if not all — books available in multiple file formats. The charity benefiting from this promotion is Feeding America: with the government currently shut down, it’s more important than ever that people in need continue to have access to food just to stay alive. Please consider purchasing one of these bundles before the sale expires on October 20.