Skip to Content

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 5

Help for writers

Ebooks: Distributing to Other Eretailers

Joanne PhillipsNow we've explored how to format your book for Kindle and upload to the Amazon KDP platform, it's time to look at the virtual shelves of other eretailers. There are two options here: upload to each eretailer direct, or use a distributor like Smashwords to do it for you.

Why Sell Across Other Platforms?

Amazon is not the only fruit! Although the Kindle ereader and Kindle apps do seem to be taking the lion's share of the market, many readers are using the Nook or Kobo devices instead, or are reading on their iPads and iPhones via the iBooks app on the Apple store. If you make your book available to Kindle users only, you are missing out on a section of the market.

A Note on KDP Select

Remember, if you have signed up with KDP Select you are not allowed to have your book for sale digitally anywhere else for the term of your Select contract with Amazon. This means you can have print editions for sale elsewhere, but not ebooks - not even on your own website. Research amongst indie authors shows varying results outside of Amazon: some authors sell a significant amount via other sites, while some report very few sales, making KDP Select's exclusivity (and promotional opportunities) a better option for them.

The Main Eretailers

At the time of writing, the main ebook sites outside of Amazon are the Sony Reader Store, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple iBookstore. Each of these stores sell epub versions of ebooks, so if you are intending to make your book as widely distributed as possible it's a good idea to get it converted into epub format at the same time as getting the mobi version for Kindle.

Direct or Distributed?
The main question you need to consider is whether to upload directly to each eretailer (and there are many others not listed above, such as the Google Ebook Store, Diesel, Waterstones, and the Book Depository), or whether to use a distributor, like Smashwords, to do it for you.

The current information from the Smashwords website is that it will: "distribute your books via multiple online channels, including but not limited to the website, major online retailers (Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Baker & Taylor (operates Blio, a popular e-reading app, and also operates Axis360 which distributes ebooks to public libraries), the Diesel eBook Store, mobile phone appvendors (Aldiko on Android; Kobo on all mobile platforms) and other online venues". The benefit of Smashwords is that you upload your epub file and cover once, set your price, add your other metadata, and click ‘publish', and in a few days your book is for sale across all the eretailers listed above. The downside is that Smashwords take a cut of the profit, but it isn't huge. Some authors report that changes made via Smashwords - for example, to the price or description of a book - take time to filter through to the stores, whereas if you upload directly you have more control.

If you are familiar with Amazon's KDP author platform, you might be surprised at how non-user friendly some of the stores are for authors wishing to upload direct. Problems have been reported with Kobo's Writing Life platform, and it's very difficult for authors to get into the iBook Store directly. But these problems will no doubt be ironed out in time, and it's always worth spending a bit of time trying things out for yourself to see which route is best for you.

WritersServices Self-publishing offers a well-established assisted self-publishing service, as well as its highly-regarded copy editing and proof-reading services.

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 1:

What is self-publishing? An explanation of self-publishing as it stands today, introducing the term ‘indie' and a brief overview of routes to market for indie authors.

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 2:

Choose Your Self-publishing Route

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 3

EbooksDigital bookstore selling wide range of ebooks in 50 categories from Hildegard of Bingen to How to Write a Dirty Story and showing how the range of ebooks available is growing. Formatting for Kindlle

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 4

Formatting your book for Kindle

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 6

Cover Design Know-how: Tips from a top designer on how to make your indie cover look professional and stand out from the crowd.

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 7

Print On Demand for Indies

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 8

Ebooks: Pricing Strategies for Indie Authors

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 9

Marketing and Promotion for Indie Authors: Online

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 10

Marketing and Promotion for Indie Authors:Offline


Joanne Phillips lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and young daughter. She divides her time between writing novels and freelance indexing. She's the author of commercial women's fiction Can't Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively Investigates series of cosy mysteries. Can't Live Without was an Amazon top 100 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Joanne blogs about writing and publishing at

Connect on:
Twitter: @joannegphillips

Other articles by Joanne Phillips on the WritersServices site:

The Business of Writing
The Ins and Outs of Indexing
How to Market Your Book Online