Amazon has created a new program called kdp select. The jist is that participating authors have a chance for extra money if their books are borrowed through the Amazon prime library lending program. To participate your books must be exclusive to Amazon. This means they can’t be for sale anywhere else and you can’t put excerpts on your own sites or blogs.
I will not be joining this.
To do so would be the same as telling nook owners “sorry but you don’t matter.” And I have too many readers who own nooks (this was a surprise to me too!) I most certainly would never tell any reader that they did not matter. That they are willing to churn through my drivel makes them amazing people that I’m so, so grateful for – no matter what format they read it on.
The second reason has to do with loyalty. Smashwords was my first ebook experience. I’ve watched as it has grown over the last three years under the guidance of Mark Coker who has worked hard at negotiating distribution deals, updating the site and dealing with a lot of frustrating and sometimes annoying authors (I’m sure he’s dealt with nice ones too). I have mailed smashwords at random times and always gotten a fast – and personal – response – even after midnight. I can’t say the same for Amazon. Smashwords has FAQs, free downloadable how to’s and will even send you a list of people who do formatting and cover work. Amazon has a crappy forum that I can never find answers on and offers covers for 200$ (most of which anyone on the smashwords list would do for 75$ or less.) Smashwords allows you the option to make your work free. Amazon will only make it free if you can show that it is free somewhere else or you join the kdp select group. Smashwords offers multiple formats right on their page (including kindle’s .mobi files) and distributes – free of charge – to several other retailers (B&N, kobo, diesel, apple etc.). Amazon offers kindle files only. (admittedly with an app you can read those on a phone or PC.)
That’s not to say smashwords is perfect, though their faults lie in their sudden expansion. Because of the ebook publishing boom, they’ve been flooded with books that have to be processed. This means what once took a week now takes a month. And while I am as impatient as everyone else, I understand. I used to make two covers a month. I was lightning fast. Now I handle twenty or more. I’m not so fast now. If I were to expand and hire someone else to take half or more I could be, just like if smashwords hired a few hundred(or more) people like Amazon has they could be faster. though, frankly, I’m not sure I want them to turn into Amazon junior.
Maybe I am naive and lack the proper business mind set, but smashwords has always felt like “real people” to me, while Amazon is just a corporation. I have no loyalty to Amazon. If someone insults it I don’t feel the desire to defend it. Amazon only wants profits. They use me to get a minuscule amount and I use them back. Childish or not, smashwords feels more like a partner. I want them to succeed because I believe in what they’re doing. I am an indy or self pubbed who proudly does it all myself – just like smashwords does it themselves. We’re on the same wavelength. I expect amazon to screw me over. I trust smadhwords not to. Maybe there’s no room loyalty in business, but frankly that’s not the kind of business I want to be in. That’s why I went Indy in the first place.