Self-publishing: why use the Amazon publishing platform
I have been self-publishing for a while. Of course, there is part of me that wishes I could be everywhere, but I was messing with self-publishing before there were ebooks. I was doing Print on Demand publishing back in the late 90s and jumped on the idea of e-publishing even before there was a Kindle. For me, I always felt that ebooks were the future of reading and publishing, but there is still the thrill of holding a physical print copy of your book in your hands.
There are still a lot of ways to self-publish. I have friends who use a variety. For example, a friend who uses a printer to print a whole bunch of copies of his books and then he has to store them, transport them to events, and sell them at events, too. There are others who are firm believers in using an ebook aggregator and publish for all of the ebook platforms. Then there's me. I use the Amazon Kindle publishing platform and stick with Amazon. Here's why
The ebook world in the early 21st century
When ebooks became a thing there was actually a time when you weren't sure which ereader was going to be the winner. Amazon was there first with the Kindle, although there were some attempts before that. None of the pre-Kindle versions worked as well because they were hard to use and download the books and operate. Amazon had the huge platform and the way to download easily and they also made the Kindle very easy to use.
However, Barnes & Noble was still going strong and they followed with the Nook. Overseas, the Kobo ereader was the champ. For a while Sony had an ereader that seemed like it might take off. It was only a matter of time before Amazon did something to blast away the competition.
During those early days it was like the Wild West. There were ebooks all over the place and people were publishing everything and anything. A self-publisher could be crap or they might be good. I was getting good numbers at first, but it didn't last long. The market was quickly saturated and it was hard to compete.
The Kindle Direct Publishing platform emerged
Out of nowhere the KDP platform emerged. It was a special thing where people could pay a monthly fee and download ebooks. This presented a problem. How do you get royalties to self-published authors if people downloaded it for free. So, Amazon created a KDP pool where they took the fees, created a huge pool of money and, at first, depending on how many of your books got downloaded, you got a piece.
This soon created a problem. You see, the guys who wrote 300+ page novels and those who drafted 10-page short stories, got the same percentage. Authors soon switched to flooding the market with short stories to try and grab a bigger piece. To compensate, Amazon shifted it and it now depends on how many pages of your books got read. So, me, I get a slightly bigger slice than a guy who just has a short story out there.
The benefits of KDP
The hitch was that you had to sign up as a KDP author and you could ONLY publish with Amazon. If you used Smashwords or Draft2Digital, you would be removed from KDP. I fought against it at first. No one was going to tell me what to do and, as an author, I wanted my book to be in every store - including B&N, Kobo and others. Apple iTunes bookstore is also huge.
It soon became obvious there were problems. Amazon only promoted and pushed the books on their KDP platform. They would only make your book a suggestion when someone bought another author's book if you were on KDP. You could do giveaways and special countdown sale deals with KDP. You could do pre-sales.
As the world of the ereader advanced, the Kindle won out. Barnes&Noble still has the Nook and there are still Kobo diehards, but Amazon held its dominance. For me, it became obvious the advantages of doing giveaways, sales and Amazon's own promotion was better than trying to be in places where the sales were bad. The Amazon tablet and smartphone app is also easier to use than others and it was obvious, Amazon was the place to go.
Amazon then bought Createspace to help authors like me create print editions. Then they bought up ACX so a lot of guys like me could create audiobook versions. They now offer a full platforms for self-publishers that the other platforms just cannot match. Amazon also has a nice author page where all of your books are displayed like an online store.
The self-publishing choice is yours
So, if you are looking to get into self-publishing so you could have control over your content and publishing, you'll need to decide if you want to do print, ebooks, audiobooks or all of them. You will be enticed by Smashwords and their pitch that they fight against the big enemy known as Amazon. You'll be enticed by the idea of Barnes & Noble making you wealthy through the Nook and Apple will entice you as the second biggest ebook online distributor.
As far as my advice is - go with the leader. The tools available to you through Amazon are better than the others. You can have your book in print. You can get your audiobook and all of it done through the big-deal online bookstore.
That's my two cents.