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On a lot of writers forums and in articles, it seems like Kindle is the main platform most self-publishing writers use just because that one is the one that is referenced all the time.

I was wondering if many writers ONLY publish on Kindle?

Or do they publish first on Kindle and then see if their book does well before publishing on other platforms?

I want my book to be available to as many people as possible, but in the experience of other self-published writers, is it best to just start with one platform and see how it goes rather than going to the trouble to publish elsewhere?

Thanks for any input!

  • 1
    This is really 2 questions (1) do most people start on Kindle? and (2) should they? The first is factual, the second is largely a matter of opinion. It seems to me, what you really want to ask, however, is (3) what are the advantages and disadvantages of publishing exclusively on Kindle? – Chris Sunami Feb 24 '16 at 20:40
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Τhis is a highly opinion seeking question and isn't suitable for an SE site. I'll try to respond with supporting facts. I am talking only about publishing e-books.

Facts:
Kindle is by far the easiest "commercial" platform to publish your book, with the least barriers to get your work out there. Kindle has reading devices and also apps for smartphones. This gives it the largest digital content consuming user base. No fee for publishing or showcasing your content. Easy payment gateway for both buyers and publishers. You can publish under multiple pseudo pen names (one for each genre).

My opinion :

  • Making it so easy to publish, it gets a lot of mediocre and bad content. A good piece of writing tends to get lost.
  • Unless you can market your book, it might never catch the right audience.
  • Fiction novels are most difficult to gain user base. People may or may not like your style, leading to bad reviews, if any.
  • Great place to put up non -fiction and self help books, provided you are an expert in that field. Buyers know what to expect from your title.
  • To get your name out there, it is a great platform. Add a bit of marketing and you can see some decent sales, provided that your book is good.
  • Kindle's KDP select program provides some aid in marketing your book. But for it you must make your book exclusive to Amazon Kindle, i.e you can't publish it elsewhere.

If you have put real effort and feel your book is good, you might try pitching it to publication houses/literary agents. If you can invest in marketing, Kindle is a really good platform.

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    Literary agents would probably be best in the US before publishing houses, but I like your commentary. – Stu W Feb 24 '16 at 20:33
  • Well, I guess "is it best to ..." makes the question opinion based, in a sense. But any good answer should say, not just "yes" or "no", but "here are some pros and cons". At which point we're dealing with facts. – Jay Feb 25 '16 at 18:57
  • @stu by any chance, have you seen californication, the tv series? There is a literary agent in it by the name "Stu"! – Akash Feb 26 '16 at 16:45
  • Cool! No, I've got kids; it's a banner night if we watch anything not animated. And as a full-time writer, I rarely (never) have less than 3 books in various stages of production or groveling. – Stu W Feb 26 '16 at 20:24
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If you can produce a quality ePub file, and you don't have any particular interest in Kindle Select (which requires exclusivity), I see little reason to limit yourself to Kindle.

Why limit yourself to only Kindle readers? There's a big world of readers out there. Get your book in front of as many of them as you can.

Of course, using multiple retailers does create more work for you. You will need an account for each. The biggest nuisance is setting up your payment and tax details--each retailer has their own peculiar ways of doing that. But you have to do this work only once per retailer. A nuisance, but a one-time nuisance.

And using multiple retailers multiplies the amount of work per book. Now have to describe the book and upload the cover and ePub files once per retailer. It also multiplies the amount of effort to make changes (e.g. new cover, update to fix typos, update front- and back-matter, and so on).

Aggregators like Smashwords and Draft2Digital can greatly reduce the amount of work you have to do. You upload your files to them, and they distribute to the retailers (including Kindle, iBooks, and many, many others). The tradeoff: They take a cut of each sale.

I currently go direct to KDP, and use Smashwords and Draft2Digital to distribute my books to other retailers. Some day soon I may go back to working directly with the major retailers (iBooks, Nook, Kobo, a few others). But for now I'm (reasonably) happy to have Smashwords and Draft2Digital do the nuisance distribution work for me.

  • Thanks so much Dale. I was also looking into Smashwords. Have they been easy to use? Once I publish in KDP (not Select - I am not going there!), I have to wait 3 months before publishing with another platform like Smashwords, right? Is doing the tax set-up thing with Kindle part of what I will go through when I first upload there? Will they prompt me to do it, I mean? – MoniqueH Feb 27 '16 at 6:51
  • Another advantage of using services like Smashwords or Draft2Digital is that they basically allow you to submit a Word document which they then convert for you to create the various e-book formats you'll need. The fact that they also handle the distribution to all the different retailers also helps to simplify things for writers. When you create an account with either of them, they will have you provide the information they will need to send you payments, as well as the IRS forms you will need at the end of each year. This is true of KDP as well. – Steven Drennon Mar 5 '16 at 5:04
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The obvious advantages to publishing on Kindle for a self-publishing author is that there's no up-front investment. You don't have to pay a vanity press to print thousands of copies of your book before you know if anyone besides your mother will buy a copy.

But their are print-on-demand publishers who offer the same or similar deals for print books. I believe the most notable examples are CreateSpace and Lulu, maybe Lightning Source.

I did my last two books as both paper POD and Kindle. I think producing a paper book is easier than producing a quality Kindle. (To make a good Kindle book you really should hand-work a lot of the HTML tagging, though you can get a quick-and-dirty Kindle out pretty easily.) It's no harder to distribute: you can get a paper book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble very easily.

If you do one, the extra effort to do the other is pretty small compared to the effort you presumably put into writing the book.

  • Thanks, Jay. In terms of the profitability, do you find the POD just as good as KDP? I think that Barnes and Noble also have an e-publishing platform, right? Do you have any experience of them? Thanks! – MoniqueH Feb 27 '16 at 6:53
  • I make more money from the print versions of my books than the Kindles, because (a) I sell more print copies, and (b) I make more per copy. People expect to pay more for a printed book than a Kindle, so even though the author gets a higher percentage on the Kindle, the final total is likely less than you get per copy on print. That of course depends on exactly how much you charge for each. – Jay Feb 28 '16 at 20:48
  • Yes, B&N has their "Nook" reader. I have never tried to publish in this format, so I can't say much about it. Years ago I read some statistics on sales of Kindle books versus Nook books, and the Kindle market was way bigger. Of course if fewer books are published in Nook format, then maybe it's a good area for a beginning author: less competition. Anybody out there have experience with this? – Jay Feb 28 '16 at 20:50
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Kindle is the most popular platform for ebooks. It's not so much a question of whether you should publish on Kindle as whether you should publish exclusively on Kindle (which gives you some bonuses, like a larger royalty, and distribution on Kindle Unlimited) or whether you should publish on a number of platforms. If you publish on Kindle Select (exclusive) you are not trapped there. If you want, you can add other platforms when the 3-month term has expired. (You will then lose the bonuses from Amazon, of course.)

You will probably find it's easier to start with one platform, get a feel for it, then expand to others afterwards. Each platform has its own way of working. Kindle is a good one to start with.

It used to be that self-publishing was a black mark against an author, and it made it difficult to sell a book elsewhere. These days, it seems to have swung the other way. Why should a publisher take a chance on an unknown author when they can buy a successful self-published book and take it to greater heights?

  • Hi Kai. Yes I agree, self-publishing is much more legitimate than before. – MoniqueH Feb 27 '16 at 6:48

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