Today while I was re-formatting the Marriage by Scandal Series to put on Google Play, I decided to take those cleaner updated versions and make a Smashwords version for them. That way they would also be distributed to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, and other channels Smashwords distributes to.
While I was doing this, I realized I hadn’t gone in to update anything in the Kobo dashboard in forever. I have been updating covers of older books and revamping some old interior files over the years. It’s easy to do it through Smashwords because Smashwords will send it out to the other retailers for me. I’ve been doing this on Amazon, too. But I couldn’t remember which books I had directly up on Kobo. Out of the 80 books I currently have on Smashwords, I had put 24 of those up directly through Kobo.
Before I cause any confusion, all of my books have been up on Kobo all of this time. But instead of going through Smashwords to get 24 of them on Kobo, I went directly to Kobo and published them there. What happened was that I kept forgetting which books I had put directly there and which I hadn’t.
I don’t know how familiar you are with distributors like Smashwords or the fact that retialers have their own platforms to upload books direclty to their store. But this has led to a common debate in the writer community. Is it better to use a distributor or to upload books directly to each retailer?
The main reason authors go direct is to make a little more money. Smashwords (and other distributors) take a small percentage out of the profits when a book is sold. I have no trouble with this. The distributors need to make money in order to keep operating. But some authors figure they could use the extra money. I don’t blame them. I have no trouble with an author who wants to keep a little extra in their pocket.
What I have learned, however, is that I am not the most organized person on the planet. It is way easier for someone like me to use Smashwords to distribute all of my books to other retailers for me. The only expections are Amazon and Google Play. Smashwords doesn’t offer distribution to Google Play. It’s easier to publish directly on Amazon since I would have to use a representative at Smashwords to distribute there for me, and I have a hard enough time remembering to keep my editing team updated on when they can expect my next book (thereby securing a slot in their busy calendars). So remembering to contact a representative whenever I had a book to publish or update on Amazon wouldn’t work well for me.
So anyway, I’m currently looking for ways to simply my life so that I can be more efficient. I had about ten or so books directly up on Barnes & Noble via their Nook Press site. A month or so ago, I had decided to remove those and use Smashwords to upload the books over there for me. I forgot to mention that on this blog when I did it, but I’m sure the books are all over there by now. Kobo was the next logical step.
I’m going in small steps so that I don’t get overwhelmed.
I wanted to give everyone a heads up on what is going on in case you are at Kobo and see some of my books not there. They will be there. If you notice something that isn’t there in two weeks, let me know and I’ll look into it.
The good news is that it’ll be easier for me to make updates to older books so you should be able to download the new versions. On Apple, I do this on my iPhone by going to the the “updates” thing in the top of the iBooks page where books I have purchased are listed. Kindle seems to do this automatically in about a month’s time. It’s been ages since I used a Nook, and I don’t yet own a Kobo device. I want to get a Kobo device after it connects up with Walmart. I’m not sure how updates are done on the Nook or Kobo devices.
I will say one good thing about uploading these books to Google Play. It’s given me a reason to reformat my older books so that they look a lot better. I don’t do anything fancy when I format. My motto is keep it simple, especially since I don’t know what other people’s reading devices look like when they open my books. As long as my books are clean and neat, that’s what counts.
I will continue to work on updating older books so that the formatting is better and the covers are better. I’m not going to touch the covers a wonderful reader had done for me back in the early days when I was just getting my feet wet in publishing. That person really blessed me by making those covers for me, and I’m keeping them because whenever I look at them, I think of her.
As a side note, I am keeping the pen name Barbara Joan Russell. I like to dabble in other genres from time to time since it keeps my creativity going. I don’t plan to do a lot of books under that name, but when I get an itch to write YA thriller/dark fantasy, that name will satisfy it. I use Draft 2 Digital for that one because it helps separate out what I do under Ruth and what I do under Barbara. I know it’s another frying pan in the fire, but it helps me keep the two different names organized. My first focus will always be on Ruth since I love writing romance the most.