I’ve sold my soul to the Devil

Last night, in the middle of the night, because I couldn’t sleep, I abandoned Smashwords and went over to the evil empire that is Amazon Kindle.

I’ve been on Kindle via Amazon KDP for about a year and I started on Smashwords about a month before that, so I have sales figures for the whole of 2012 to compare the two channels.

If anybody doesn’t know Smashwords is an eBook aggregator that converts your book into all the eBook formats and then funnels it out to all the online suppliers such as Apple, Sony, B&N, Kobo, Diesel, etc. Smashwords doesn’t go out to Amazon because Amazon prefer to do that through their own Kindle Direct Publishing service. Therefore, to reach all the world’s eBook readers you have to do the production twice.


Yesterday I was promoting The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil as a freebie to anybody who has a Kindle, iPad, Sony Reader, Nook, etc. Then I noticed that another author was doing the same on Amazon Kindle. On investigation it turned out I couldn’t do a promotional giveaway on Amazon unless I signed up to Amazon’s KDP Select service. To do that you have to agree to sell your book through Amazon exclusively, which sort of goes against the grain for a pinko leftie like me.

However, in the middle of the night I wondered what the real difference is between sales through Smashwords and Kindle. I know Smashwords sales had been sparse but their stats are quite hard to understand as a giveaway can be described as a sale as it goes through the sales channel with a 100% discount. I’ve done a few discounts through the year on Smashwords and I laid there in the dark wondering if I’d been doing myself a disservice by being so ethical and avoiding KDP Select.

So, in my dressing gown I sat at my PC at 3.45am and looked at the figures for both channels. Amazon had generated a steady stream of eBook sales through the whole year. Not many, but enough to show that they were worth the effort and each sale was paid for, no freebies as I hadn’t signed up to the KDP discount deal. However, Smashwords had a stream of downloads for free but had generated just two real sales over the year. Shocking!


At that point my ethics went out the window. To sign up to KDP Select I had to remove all references to other eBook suppliers, take it out of the back of the book, take it off the blog here, etc. I uploaded it again to Kindle and by the time I got up, at the crack of lunchtime, Amazon had approved it for the KDP Select service. I’ve unpublished the book from Smashwords and I’m having serious doubts if I’ll ever go back.

Have I sold my soul? Yes, probably, but KDP Select will set me up for short term lending so that people can download my book for free, thus increasing my readership and hopefully generating more reviews. Amazon already has the biggest collection of reviews for the book so far. All the free downloads on Smashwords generated just one review on the Smashwords site. All those free copies generated no result. Something for nothing, perhaps, has no value? How do I feel about selling my soul to the Devil? Well some people might imagine that’s what I write about, writing about the occult. I don’t actually write about the Devil, but now I’m in league with him.

Here’s the Kindle version on Amazon.com

Here’s the Kindle version on Amazon.co.uk

Just to maintain a shred of ethics I tried to link to it as a paperback on B&N, where it clearly was before, but I can’t see it now. You just can’t help these people.


  1. just like the tunes, the devil has all the best books too 🙂 and it is simple maths- writers must have readers… is it possible to simply rename the book and stick it back on smashwords too, or is that a no-no?

  2. Interesting idea but, to be honest, I don't think they're worth it.

    There may be something to do with having to register with Smashwords even to get a free download so they are limiting their audience whereas everybody who has a Kindle has an account by default. At the end of the day Amazon have a better business model, it's just unfortunate that they have a better business model than the independent bookshops. King Canute anyone?

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