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Publishing Choices: Amazon KDP Select vs. Smashwords

Self-publishing is an excellent way to get your book in front of readers, especially when you don’t want to go through the tedious process of getting an agent, or the even more burdensome prospect of getting your manuscript approved by a publisher. The fact that you’re in control of everything can also give you the necessary skills you need to help further your development as both an author and an entrepreneur. Truth be told, it's an excellent way for authors to experience the ins and outs of publishing. 

However, it’s important to note that there are a number of different self-publishing platforms, among the most popular being Amazon and Smashwords. 

Amazon KDP Select 

Amazon offers an easy publishing opportunity that many authors have taken advantage of. From their large, international distribution abilities, to the various publishing imprints they’ve opened up, it’s clear that Amazon has a strong foothold in the literary world. When authors decide to publish their book on Amazon, they are assigned an ASIN number. But what makes Amazon really stand out is their KDP Select Program.

KDP Select is an online marketing program that allows authors to offer their books for free, discount their books, and potentially reach an audience of millions. The program also offers various ads you can use to help promote your book. However, one major drawback in the Amazon KDP Select program is that you have to publish your book only on Amazon. This is a major drawback for authors, since distribution can be an important asset when it comes to profit. 


Many authors have used Smashwords, often with good results and a little marketing. Like Amazon, it offers an easy platform for authors to publish with, and can give you the opportunity to showcase your book across millions of people. Smashwords also has a premium catalogue, in which you can add your book to help it gain further exposure. And though Smashwords has a smaller market than Amazon, Smashwords authors nevertheless have produced a lot of quality works readers enjoy. They will also assign authors their own ISBN. 

However, there are times when the manuscript submission engine can be frustrating to deal with. Even if you fix the cover image, there will still be nagging reminders that you didn’t fix it, even though you’ve changed the sizes about ten times. What’s more, Smashwords doesn’t have quite the same reach as Amazon’s, so more than likely you'll have to rely on other marketing techniques to get the word out for your book. 

Both Smashwords and Amazon have their strengths and weaknesses. And although both offer the opportunity to publish your book, it’s still your job to find out which publisher is best for you. What’s more, you still have to promote your book on your own, despite the support that these platforms give you. Even so, it’s a rather fun process to decide which publisher is best for you. Or at least, a necessary evil.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Robin Goodfellow