Kindle vs Smashwords Sales Report

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My publishing company, Strange Worlds Publishing, uses both Smashwords and Kindle to distribute my ebooks

sales reportI did an analysis on my ebook sales for 2014. These results may interest some authors, especially ones pondering whether or not to use KDP Select.

While my sales weren’t as large as I hoped they would be (they never are!), they were big enough to be able to make valid comparisons.

With Smashwords, I use all their distribution channels except Amazon. Thus, my books appear in B&N, IStore, Kobo, Overdrive and many other ebook sellers.

For Kindle, I use all of their global channels. These options allow me to maximize the number of distribution channels for the books. I made a graphic depicting my distribution channels.

ebook distributionResults
Unit Sales: The units sold during the year break down to 54% Kindle and 46% Smashwords. The numbers are close enough to say the unit sales were approximately 50-50.

Revenue: Here the split was slightly different. Kindle accounted for 57% of the sales revenue while the Smashwords number was 43%.

Average Book Revenue: for Kindle, the average book revenue was $2.51 per book and for Smashwords, $2.27. The difference is due to a different mix of fiction and non-fiction book sales on the sites.  My non-fiction books cost more than the fiction books.

Observations

  • Signing up my books for KDP Select would mean removing my books from the Smashwords distribution channels. This would result in the loss of a large revenue stream.
  • There is no logical reason to assume that using KDP Select would increase my Kindle sales.
  • If there are any increases in Kindle sales, they will never be enough to cover the revenue lost be disabling the Smashwords distribution channel.
  • Based on these results, I cannot see any possible use of KDP Select for my publishing imprint.

I hope this small sales report is beneficial to a few authors and others.

13 Comments
  1. zachary klein says

    Good post. Thanks.

  2. Hank Quense says

    You’re welcome Zachary. I hope it provides useful information

  3. bieryj says

    Hank, thank you so much for sharing. I have ten books up, all in KDP on Amazon. Want to make the move to at least put some up elsewhere. Love the way you’ve found to do it successfully. Heard such scary things about how difficult it is to put them on Smashwords, I’ve just not worked up the courage.

  4. Hank Quense says

    I think the Smashwords difficulty is vastly over-rated. Yes, it does demand attention to detail, unlike Kindle, but the objective is to produce a perfectly formatted Epub edition. Smashwords didn’t make up the formatting requirements, these requirements are from EPUB3 a document from a world-wide organization that develops Epub standards

  5. Ned Minkov says

    Another question I find important to ask: Would it be better to publish with Amazon DP and opt-out Kindle in my Smashwords dashboard, or I would get the same number of sales if I distribute my ebook in Kindle Store via Smashwords? It would be great to have some opinion shared on that matter. Thanks for the informative article!

  6. Hank Quense says

    Hi Ned. I don’t think your question will affect sales one way or another. However there is another concern and that has to do with how Amazon/Kindle treat competitors; badly. I don’t let Smashwords distribute to Amazon. Rather I take the file that made it thru the Meat Grinder and upload it to Kindle. The reason is this: Kindle will give you daily sales reports and monthly royalty checks if they sell the book. If the book is distributed to Kindle by Smashwords, the sales reports to Smashwords are only quarterly and the royalty checks to Smashwords are delayed even longer. Note, theses observations are several years old and may now longer be accurate.

  7. Hank Quense says

    Ned, I should also add that I believe if Smashwords distributes to Kindle, your book will only show up in Kindle USA. To get to the worldwide sites, the book must be uploaded to Kindle.

  8. Andy Bachman says

    Very useful pointers. Thank you, Hank, for informing us, struggling wannabe writers 🙂

  9. Hank Quense says

    You’re welcome, Andy. I’m happy to share the info

  10. Ned Minkov says

    I suspected that Smashwords would only distribute to Kindle USA, and that surely is inconvenient. Anyway, thank you for sharing with us, Hank! Regards!

  11. hankquense says

    Hi Ned
    A basic tenet of self-publishing is to maximize your distribution channels

  12. Patrick says

    Hi Hank,
    Thanks for sharing. I have 7 books on Kindle and looking to diversify into SW. I might come back to share my experience.

  13. Hank Quense says

    HI Patrick. I”m glad my article was helpful. I believe in maximum diversification for my books.

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