Step Six: Publishing and Distributing Your eBook
Finally, the part you’ve been waiting for!
There are multiple avenues to do this, and you can format and submit your ePub for each provider individually if you like, but that means managing multiple dashboards and files across many websites (eg. Google Play Books, iBooks, Nook, B&N, Kobo etc.) which can be a massive headache.
What I would recommend that you do is, and what I have done for my last two books, is use only two distributors: Amazon and Smashwords.
Smashwords is a free service which will distribute your eBook across multiple platforms, and it can be managed all from one dashboard, which is nice. It also lets you create vouchers and do promotions plus a bunch of other handy tools at your disposal.
When you submit your ePub to Smashwords, it will also run it through a validator. All being well, it should pass, though Smashwords has some strict formatting guidelines it follows to make sure your book is as widely distributed as possible. If it flags up any errors, just repeat Step 4 again until it’s right.
Because we’re already using KDP, it makes sense to keep Kindle distribution directly through Amazon as you’ll keep more of the royalties. Smashwords makes their money by taking commission on your sales (as do all publishers). But this is totally up to you how you work this; you can, of course, publish your eBook completely through Smashwords and let them handle the Kindle distribution as well. I only kept my books separate because I was managing the paperback via KDP so it was easier to look after the Kindle version there as well and see combined sales reports for just Amazon in one place.
If you do distribute this way, make sure you opt-out of Amazon distribution in the Smashwords Channel Manager otherwise there will be a conflict.
One important point to watch out for: when adding your eBook to KDP, Amazon will ask you if you want to enroll in the KDP Select program. The benefits of it will sounds very appealing, but the kicker is that it is exclusive. If you opt-in for KDP Select, then you assign exclusive eBook distribution rights to Amazon and cannot distribute your eBook with anyone else (such as Smashwords).
Maybe this option will appeal to you and that’s fine, but it’s something to be aware of if you want the widest possible distribution of your book.
Now you just need to upload your ePub file to Smashwords and KDP. Amazon will convert your formatted ePub into a valid MOBI file, and you can then download this file and test it on your Kindle device or app to make sure it’s all working fine and looks right. You should do the same with your ePub in the relevant eReader apps (like iBooks, Play Books etc).
Once your testing is done and you are satisfied with your eBook, all that is left to do is click publish!