Once you’ve self-pubbed your book, making it widely available to readers can present an unexpectedly high hurdle. We spoke with Smashwords founder Mark Coker about the value of working with a good distributor and reaching the right e-book retailers. 

What do you think is the best strategy for streamlined distribution?

Mark Coker: I’m obviously a big believer in authors working with a professional distributor like Smashwords. Distributors help authors reach retailers and libraries that aren’t accessible any other way. But most importantly, distributors save authors a lot of time with consolidated metadata management, sales reporting, payments, and tax reporting. Distributors allow you to upload your book once and then make it easy for you to manage it across multiple sales channels from a single console.

How can an author navigate the many options for distribution?

MC: Every major e-book retailer wants to carry every self-published e-book. There are millions of readers out there that don’t shop at Amazon, so make sure your book is distributed to iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon, and others, and make sure it’s distributed to major library e-book providers such as OverDrive, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, and Odilo (a distributor like Smashwords can help here!). Only one major retailer tries to push authors to go exclusive, and it’s Amazon. Exclusivity is dangerous because it starves other retailers of your book, and it alienates readers who prefer shopping at other retailers or who prefer reading on other e-reading devices.

Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.