All right now that we have Amazon out of the way, time to make this clear. I have been going wide on my distribution, meaning that I put my books out everywhere that I can get away with. Wide distribution is fantastic to reach audiences outside of Amazon’s US market1 and lets me do a lot of interesting things.
Financially, it makes the most fiscal sense to publish directly through the individual retailers. This way, you will make the most profit on each sale and you will not have anything skimmed off the top from other distributors.
One small problem.
This means I can directly distribute through far fewer places. Many of them2 will only allow you to even register if you have a US or other local bank account, and some aren’t open to indie publishers directly at all.3
There’s also the small issue of me being kind of not willing to make and maintain hundreds of accounts for smaller sales channels, as well as market individually to each of them, so the only direct distribution channel I use outside of Amazon is Kobo. Let’s get into them.
Kobo Writing Life
Kobo will allow you to upload and convert the same file you used for Amazon and, upon completion, it usually takes no more than 24 hours for them to actually list them in the store. You also have the ability to add your book to Kobo Plus, which is like Kindle Unlimited for folks who want that. I have seen exactly zero traction from the service so far, but I’ll let you know if it ever bears fruit.
The nice thing about this one is that my readers are from not the US. Most of my readers are Canadian or the Netherlands, oddly enough, and it feels like they are reaching a much larger audience. Though, let me be clear, sales are not fantastic through this channel. Most of the audience I reach do not use Kobo, so it’s a little hit or miss as a channel.
The statistics are pure garbage, though. They have counters for “All time”4 and “This month” without giving you what you currently have earned and is sitting in your account waiting to be paid out. If you want to just see numbers for a specific book, you have to know the eISBN or hope you type in the title correctly. They are largely useless except to tell you how many books you sold that month and a rough royalty estimate for each individual month.
Also, payment. So Kobo pays either monthly5 if you reach a total sales threshold of $50USD. If you do not, then you have to wait to get that payout every 6 months. It was a bit of a hassle to get my account hooked up and I do not make that much from the channel, so it’s not… fantastic. On the other hand, they do offer 45% royalty on books priced under $2.99, so that is nice at least. Just… not ideal.
Overall, it’s got a decent process to get the books out there and an interesting market, but it’s not one of the better ones in terms of the usability or statistics, and the payments are a bit of a pain.
Next week: Smashwords!