I expect I will stop feeling like the new kid on the block in this business roughly around the same time I die, no matter how many ebooks I self-publish.
But we have to write what we know (which is probably why I write so much smut), so I only have my own experiences as the basis for the following thoughts on your basic self-publishing website options:
Amazon – The Big Kahuna, the top dog; the king of the heap. This is where the most people are browsing, which means it’s also where I get the most sales. Unfortunately, I also find its uploading process the clunkiest, and the downtime for making even small updates means your books can potentially spend a lot of time not available if Amazon request changes. I’ve started budgeting at least 2-3 days from the time the manuscript is ready to go to the time I’ll expect to see it for sale on Amazon. Overall: a vital part of the portfolio, but I hate using it.
Smashwords – The first one I used and still the easiest. Their in-house sales site sees a respectable amount of traffic — nothing comprable to Amazon, but it’s worth having my books there. I also use them for distribution to a few sites that I know I wouldn’t bother with on my own (Diesel, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor, and Library Direct), but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any sales from those. Overall: slow but steady income, and painless to use.
NOOK Press – I have to say, I kind of like the revamped NOOK Press interface. It’s almost insultingly simple, which is perfect when I have to upload the same book to a half a dozen sites and want the process to go as quickly as possible. Barnes & Nobles has historically also been much more lenient regarding fetishes and “extreme” subject matter, meaning I can use it to get at least some income out of ebooks that Amazon won’t carry. Overall: a tertiary income source at best, but it’s so easy there’s no reason not to.
Draft2Digital – I’ve only recently given them a try, so the jury’s still out here. Kobo’s in-house system couldn’t handle my local credit union for payment processing, and D2D was the easiest way for me to get into their catalogs and still get paid. It’s got an obnoxious automated table of contents function that you can’t turn off, which I don’t love, as most of my stories don’t have titled chapters. Overall: functional, but imperfect, and really only useful as a middleman for sites you can’t get into directly.
Lulu – I tried the first book on Lulu and haven’t bothered since. It’s not really designed to sell short erotic fiction ebooks to a wide audience, and it has the same irritating table of contents automation as D2D. Overall: not worth my while, unless I ever decide I want to self-publish hardcopies, and there are other services even then.
It’s all been a learning process. Each book makes the whole process more streamlined, and as I go along I’ll no doubt do more switching of which services I use to get my work on which websites.
But, as I heard a man once say as he fell past my third-floor window, “so far so good!” And of course I’ll be sure to share anything useful that I pick up along the way with all you loyal readers.