This is a response to a question asked on LinkedIn.
To the question, “Should I use CreateSpace or Lulu?” I would recommend CreateSpace, which is an Amazon company. I’d also like to provide some clarity in response to other people’s comments.
Michael responded that you should use Amazon Kindle so you won’t have to spend money for self-publishing. Just to be abundantly clear, a Kindle is a device. For your ebook to be available to owners of Kindles, you publish in Amazon’s “Kindle Direct Publishing.” This is KDP.
As Robin pointed out, when publishing with KDP, there is an option to enroll in a program called KDP Select. This is where you agree to make your book exclusive to KDP in exchange for your book being free to Amazon Prime members, and for it to be available in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, as well as the ability to either make your book free for five days out of every ninety days, or to have Countdown Promotions in which you schedule a discounted price that gradually returns to full price over the course of a few days.
You can publish your ebook with Amazon’s KDP, and your paperback with Amazon’s CreateSpace. It’s not an either/or situation. It’s best to do both. Neither one costs you anything, although there are services available for sale, if for example, you don’t have a cover, or you’d like to hire one of their editors, and so on. (If you purchase any of their publishing services, there is no contract.)
If you start with CreateSpace to publish your paperback, at the end of the process you’ll have the option to automatically have your files transferred over to KDP. This enables you to use your completed paperback as the source material for your ebook. If you don’t have your book in an ebook format and don’t know how to convert it, this is a great way to get your book on Amazon.com.
Jessica said that she used Nook Publishing. What that means is that she directly published her ebook to Barnes & Noble.
You can simulataneously have your ebook published on Amazon’s KDP as well as on B&N. Again, this is not an either/or proposition. You can also publish your ebook at the same time to Apple’s iBook store. You can publish to Kobo as well, and anywhere else you want or can think of.
The only exception is if you enroll your book in the KDP Select program. When you agree to be exclusive to KDP, then you are agreeing to not publish to B&N, Apple, Kobo, and so on, for the enrollment period, which is 90 days. (Enrollment automatically renews at the end of 90 days unless you uncheck a box, thus opting out of auto-reenrollment.)
Alyssa and Lora mentioned Smashwords. They are an aggregator. They take your manuscript and convert it into multiple formats, then distribute to the retailers that you choose.
This is a great option for those who do not wish to be exclusive to Amazon via the KDP Select program. You can start with a Microsoft Word copy of your manuscript, upload it to Smashwords, and within a few weeks, your ebook will appear on:
OverDrive (ebooks for libraries)
FlipKart (India’s online bookseller)
Baker & Taylor (library service)
Page Foundry (online retailer, including apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus)
For complete information on Smashword’s distribution, visit this page: http://www.smashwords.com/distribution
If you publish via Smashwords, you will still need to manually publish to KDP if you want your ebook on Amazon.com (unless you’ve sold more than $2,000 worth, in which case, you can ask Smashwords to upload to KDP for you) and you’ll still want to publish your paperback via CreateSpace.
To get your book in the greatest number of retailers with the least amount of effort and the least amount of study of various publishing systems, you can start with doing your ebook on Smashwords, then do your paperback on CreateSpace, and when finished at CreateSpace, choose the option to have your book included at KDP, and remember to not enroll in KDP Select. (If you enroll in KDP Select and Amazon finds your book at other retailers, which they will, then you will be removed from the Select program, and you may be denied the ability to use it with other titles that have never even been enrolled yet – basically losing your KDP Select privileges entirely.)
There are opposing opinions on whether one should go exclusive with Amazon, or whether they should have their books in every retail outlet possible. There are compelling reasons for each opinion.
My advice is to do both – over a period of time. As a new author, the first thing you need is exposure and recognition. You need to build a fanbase. Nothing compares to Amazon’s ability to get your book into the hands of readers via the KDP Select five free days.
With KDP Select you can choose a day or days on which your book is free to Kindle owners. The benefit of giving your book away is that potentially thousands of people who never heard of you will be reading your book. The greater the number of people who download your book, the greater the odds that you’ll also end up with some book reviews too. If you have more than one title, readers who love your free book may come back and buy another. If you have only one title, readers who love your book may tell their friends it’s a “must read” and they’ll go to get it and buy it, because the free period has ended.
After being in the Select program for at least 90 days, or perhaps a year – whatever you decide on to gain exposure, then you can stop re-enrolling in Select and publish to other retailers. Presumably, after having established yourself to some degree and generated some word-of-mouth advertising, people will begin to find your book at other retailers, having been advised by their friends that your book is worth reading.
The alternative is to publish everywhere in the beginning and try to promote your book on every platform simultaneously. Theoretically, this should work. If you’re advertising that your book is available on Amazon and iBooks, you should be able to get buyers in both places and build a global following on both Kindles and iPads, for example. The reality though, is that without Amazon’s help in making your book visible to readers, it’s very difficult to get the ball rolling.
You can however, have your book for sale at Amazon.com and have it free at iBooks. Free always gets attention. Changing your book from free to having a price on iBooks is not as instantaneous as it is at Amazon though, and once the price is back at iBooks, you may return to relative invisibility. This is why I recommend that you attempt to build your fan base by taking advantage of KDP Select first, then expand out to other retailers over time.
I obviously did not write this is a promotional piece, but now that it’s written, of course I’m going to tell you that if you liked the non-fiction you just read, you might enjoy my fiction even more. My apocalyptic novel, “In The End” is available at all major retailers, and my metaphysical-suspense-romance, “Reaching Kendra” (also published as “Kendra’s Spirit”) is available on Amazon.com