You may have noticed last week I mentioned Smashwords several times. For those unfamiliar with the site, Smashwords is an ebook publishing platform that allows you to upload your book to one site and then distributes that book across a network of ebook retailers. BookBaby is another platform which offers the same service. The catch, of course, is they collect a commission on each sale (Smashwords) or on your net revenue (BookBaby) from those retailers.
Why would anyone do this? I mean, uploading a book is as simple as selecting a file and hitting send, right? Not necessarily.
As a photographer, I sold stock photography to several of the major micro-stock sites – Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstime, just to name a few. All told, I was submitting photographs to at least seven sites. With photos, there was the added headache of review – staff could kick back images that didn’t meet strict criteria.
At one point, I was spending about as much time tracking these submissions and updating the information as I was processing or even taking the photos. Every site had slightly different criteria (so images would be accepted one place then not at another leading to a headache of tracking what you uploaded where), the sites accepted keywords and other data in different ways (making a simple cut and paste impossible) and each also followed their own rules for distribution of payments and royalties.
Eventually, as I started focusing less on photography, I consolidated everything at one site just to save the headache. Being “exclusive” meant I earned a few bucks more on my photos at that site, but I was only getting my photos exposed to a sliver of the potential market (users of that one site).
Because of this experience, I’m already sold on the one-stop ebook distributor idea.
It’s true, uploading an ebook is pretty damn easy. (Too easy perhaps.) And with books, you aren’t sifting through dozens or hundreds of images a week and uploading, tagging, and keywording each one. You really -can- go to the trouble to upload your book to each site as your release day approaches. You can explore their publisher interface and collect the necessary specifications, do the data entry, etc. The processes usually aren’t difficult, but time consuming.
You have to decide how much your time is worth. Do you need to spend more of your time marketing? Writing? Maybe you have a whole series ready to go and are dreading uploading your trilogy to ten or more ebook publishers. Time is money in a self employed situation or any business endeavor. You need to budget that resource for maximum effect.
For me, I want to spend my time marketing and writing. As a new author, I don’t have a large catalog of books and I need to build that stock to attract and keep new readers. For marketing, well, as per my budget, I plan to do most of it myself. When I get rich and famous (ha!), I’ll be able to shell out the kind of money pro marketers want for book campaigns, but until then, my money is best spent on making sure the product (my first book) is top-notch.
Do you have any experience with these services or advice? Are there other eBook distributors that you recommend?