I have now given quite a few talks about self-publishing, and I always say that it’s very straight-forward, good fun, and perfectly do-able as long as you’re organised. But sometimes I forget how much I had to learn the first time round – my husband remembers me tearing my hair out as I fought with several slightly different formats for “Fatal Forgery”. Of course, being one of those über-organised people, I made myself a checklist, and now publishing a new Plank is simply a matter of working my way through that. Until recently.
A friend in the Netherlands commented in an email that she was really enjoying “Worm in the Blossom” which she had downloaded from Kobo. My little ears pricked up: I check my sales channels at least once a week (sometimes once a day, well, OK, several times a day…) and I hadn’t seen a single Kobo sale of “Blossom”. I went onto my KWL [Kobo Writing Life – it’s their self-publishing arm] dashboard and no, not a one. I emailed Kobo: where’s my sale? How do we know you’ve had a sale, they asked in return. I sent them my friend’s confirmation email – “Thank you for buying your Kobo book, etc.”. Ah, said Kobo: this is a Smashwords Kobo sale, not a direct Kobo sale, so you need to check your Smashwords dashboard, not ours. Eh?
For the e-versions of my books, I produce a Kindle version which I publish through KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing], a Gumroad version (a plain PDF, uploaded direct to Gumroad), a Kobo version which I publish through KWL, and a Smashwords version. Smashwords is slightly different from the others in that it is an “e-book distribution platform”: you upload your e-book to them, and they translate it into various formats and ensure that it is listed in all sorts of places, such as Apple iStore, Barnes & Noble (big in America), Scribd – and Kobo. And when a book sells, they take their little cut before sending on the royalty to the author. When I upload my books to Smashwords, I tick all available distribution channels – which meant that I was inadvertently creating two listings for each book on Kobo: a direct one via KWL, and an indirect one via Smashwords. Of course, the books are identical, but – thanks to royalty calculations and currency exchange rates – the prices were slightly different. I have rectified it now, by removing the KWL listings (I chose Smashwords over Kobo because the former’s customer service as I tried to sort out my confusion was so much more helpful and prompt). But it just goes to show that – as with most things – you never stop learning in self-publishing.