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Brian J. W. Lee is a writer. When he's not writing, he's plotting to plunge the world in a deep chasm of terror, darkness and screams. Sorry, did I get carried away?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

I'm Always Blue: Distribution Platform Blues

So, now that I've implemented most of my proofreader's edits (at least those she managed to crank out in the past month), and am now awaiting for my front and back matter to come back from her, there remains but two or three simple steps left to publication.

Funny how, after wading through writing the 155,000 words long manuscript itself, editing it to the tune of 8 times including my proofreader's input and commissioning a cover for it, I'm freezing up inside from the prospect of needing to format the novel and get it through a distribution platform.

Formatting could be easy, and it could be difficult. I've been doing some research and working up some courage, stopping short of fuelling myself up with some liquid courage. The conclusion: If I go Amazon, it's going to be tedious but doable. Smashwords will kill me, eBook Partnership is off the beaten path, and I'd have to come up with my own epub and mobi files - It's going to maim me up real good. Draft2Digital appears to be the most author-friendly of the lot, and will treat me like a writer instead of a multi-tool.

So now it's not so much that Formatting is THE issue. It's now the platform, and the kind of formatting problems I get biting at my heels will come from my choices.

Here's what I narrowed it down to:

1) A Trek Deep into the Amazonian Jungle (1

Amazon being Amazon is huge, and if I go full in and drink their Kool-Aid with Kindle Select and their exclusivity requirement, I need only format my novel once for ebook and once for CreateSpace. From what I've seen, it's not that hard, doable but with a moderate learning curve that I think I can surmount - with a small investment in time.


  • Requires moderate effort in formatting.
  • Amazon is only one platform. Big as it may be, it can only cover so much territory.
  • The Amazonian tribe that rules there is selfish.
  • The United States will suck 30% of my royalty away.
  • My fellow Singaporeans will have to go on a Journey to the West to read my stuff.

2) Around the World in 80 Days (2

I use Amazon, but opt out of their Select program and make up for the loss in exposure with Draft2Digital. As D2D won't tax me with additional formatting burden, it seems like the obvious choice. It'd even be my solution to CreateSpace! So it'd mean even less effort than an expedition into Amazon country.


  • Still requires some effort in formatting.
  • Draft2Digital is new compared to the likes of Smashwords. Their reach is limited.
  • My Amazon expedition will be smaller.
  • The United States will still send its army of squirrels to squirrel away 30% of my royalty. But! This issue is mitigated with multiple distribution channels.
  • Draft2Digital demands a 10% tithe. It's on top of what fees that'll be cut from my royalty on all platforms. I'd gladly kiss the ring, but still...
  • Reduced control over books with D2D.
  • It's still tough for my fellow Singaporeans to take a gander at my books.
3) The Wild Card (3

Then there's eBook Partnership, which pretty much distributes to every single platform on the internet, including Amazon. Might even have a deal with aliens, their Library of the Old Ones or something, you never know. Amazon, Scribd, even weird places I've never heard of. And Bookmate! Oyster! There are some services on their list that has set up shop in Singapore! As well as all corners of the world!

  •  I'll need to come up with my own epub or mobi file, as well as 101 others. There are some services that I have no idea uses what file.
  • Does not have the same visibility as other distribution aggregators like Smashwords and D2D. I have trust issues.
  • Has a yearly fee. And it's paid per title. It'll stack up the more I write.
  • Further reduces control over my books - It's not the fastest service, data will be slow to come, and there's a price to relying on a single service for your worldwide distribution. This, however, is counterbalanced by the fact that it solves the US tribute issue, and it's a fixed amount.
4) A Trip to a Mental Asylum (4

I can always start pumping out all the formatting myself, and risk losing my sanity. Smashwords would make a good distribution platform for this, combined with the effort already required on Amazon and any other platforms I choose. Oh joy.

  • Beware, soulless man inside!
  • What I don't pay in cold, hard cash, I pay with my time. My schedule won't apply.
  • The US will still make off with 30% of my money because I'm a foreigner.
Choices, choices...

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