Before you start to publish a book, you should consider all the available options. For example, do you really know where you want to publish your book? What platforms do you want to sell your book through? Many authors choose KDP—but is it really the best way? Let’s ask a few questions before committing to a place of publishing.
Is the service exclusive or nonexclusive?
E-publishing services marketed directly to authors almost always operate on a nonexclusive basis. That means you can use their service to sell your e-book while also selling your e-book anywhere else you like (or using any other service).
Are there hidden fees or charges?
You can end up paying more than standard rates for conversion/formatting if your book runs very long, if you have an inconvenient file format that needs extra work, if you have a lot of chart/table/image formatting, and so on. If your work has any kind of “special needs,” expect a service to charge you more.
Do you control the price?
While some services may have reasonable pricing restrictions standard practice is to give the author complete control over pricing.
Who owns the e-book files after they are created?
It is ideal if you own the e-book files, and that is usually the case when you pay out of pocket for conversion and formatting services. In the case of some free services, such as Smashwords, you do not. Why so? When you upload your Word document to Smashwords—the only format accepted—it goes through their “meatgrinder” conversion process to create a variety of e-book files. You then have access to those e-book files, but you’re not supposed to turn around and sell them through other services.
Where is your e-book distributed?
If you’re using a service like Amazon KPD, or Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, the answer is pretty simple: Your e-book is distributed only through those specific retailers. When you use a multiple-channel e-book distribution service, then the mix of retailers they reach will vary. At minimum, you want to reach Kindle & Nook, since they currently make up about 70–80% of all e-book sales, followed by Apple iBookstore, Kobo, and Google Play.