Yesterday, I unpublished my books on Smashwords.
Why, you may ask, and even if you don't, I want to tell. I have no hard feelings toward Smashwords, on the contrary, I genuinely appreciate everything Mark Coker has done to make it easier for authors to self-publish. Thanks to him, we no longer have to suffer that "what, you're indie, doesn't that mean you're not good enough to get a contract with a publishing house"-look people used to give us.
Leaving Smashwords was a decision I struggled long and hard with, and having made it, I feel light. Free, so to speak.
Why did you choose Smashwords then?
Well, in the beginning of my literary career, options for self-publishing authors were limited. You could either go on Amazon, or you could on Smashwords. Back then, I was unsure of myself (still am, but I've decided to fake it), and Amazon seemed daunting. Smashwords was a nice, friendly incorporation, with the promise of grandness. I felt safe there, appreciated and welcome. I didn't really have to do anything, just publish my books, and have them shipped out to various marketplaces.
Sounds like a pretty good deal. Was there a catch?
No. No catch whatsoever. Smashwords cares for their authors, supports them, and offers all sorts of things to benefit their position. It's just that... well, for me, there was too much. I was completely overwhelmed by just figuring out how to market myself. I mean, should I direct potential readers to Barnes and Nobles, or the Smashwords store, or perhaps they'd like to shop at Apple. I couldn't decide what to do, so I did absolutely nothing.
That's not very good business, now is it?
I left mainly to regain complete control over marketing, promotions, and distributing channels. Naturally, Smashwords lets you decide all these things for yourself, but still, what they offer is so wide in range I felt trapped. Also, getting paid is a right pain. As a Finn, I don't have to pay taxes to America-land. Proving this to the IRS over at Smashwords was a crippling process, and I still haven't managed to complete it. So I said f**k that, you can have 30% in taxes, just LET ME OUT.
Trapped by too many options?
Well, you should know by now I'm a bit weird. I like to know what I have for sale, where it is, and how I can promote it. Also, I have quite a lot going on in my life right now, and I started to feel like I was spreading myself a little too thin. Eliminating stress is my number one priority right now, and having to master promoting multiple distribution channels was really getting to me.
So I decided to concentrate my efforts on just one channel, and its variants. Amazon.
Why not just go alone all the way?
I thought about making my books available only on my own webshop. I decided against this in order to make marketing a bit easier. Also, I wanted to have the choice of offering my work also in print. Amazon has that option, so Amazon it was. Working completely on one's own is just as stressful as having too many choices. Networking is pretty much mandatory when trying to make a name for oneself, and it's easier with a big corporation to offer aid. Passive aid, that is.
I like passive aid. It gives me freedom to be myself. It's funny, at Smashwords, I felt like I had to be someone else, to pretend to be a successful author, a perfect being with impeccable skills. Well, none of us is perfect, and since I felt inadequate, I just sort of quit.
I still feel inadequate, but it no longer matters. I have no-one to pretend to.
Conclusion is I probably should have done this earlier. I've learned to trust my heart, my intuition, and I don't really understand why I didn't trust either with this. I feel better now, and found the will to write again.
It's been a while since I've wanted to tell a story. Now the desire has returned.