Basically, there are two dates available in the indie publishing world: Amazon and Smashwords. (Yeah, okay, there’s also Kobo, but everyone you know will say “Who?”)
Amazon is the guy with the nice car, which he keeps neat and fully gassed up, who likes to take you out to nice places. He’s reassuringly predictable. If he says he’ll pick you up at 7pm, then you can count on him to actually do it. You can make solid plans with Amazon.
You can expect Amazon to look presentable if you take him home to meet your parents. If you’re hoping for a sound, middle-class existence or even riches, he’s your best bet.
Unfortunately, he has a jealous streak. Also, you’ve noticed that he can be kind of ruthless. He’s not going to do you any favors unless you legally bind yourself only to him. And if he thinks you’re giving anyone else any more attention than him, he’ll cut you dead.
You can’t try to explain, either. Unless you’re already Someone Important, Amazon will probably give you the silent treatment.
Some folks even think he’s evil, and will judge you for hanging out with him. You’re not certain. You feel grateful to him for many things. However, you may still secretly wonder if he plans to take over the world and then laugh maniacally as he lays waste to anyone who might even dream of competing with him.
Then there’s Smashwords. Now this dude is the sweetest guy around. He happily shares everything with you and the whole rest of the world. He’ll give you tons of advice for free, and always returns your calls.
He loves libraries, and makes it easy to give them things. Who doesn’t love libraries?
Now he’ll let you take pre-orders, too. That’s enough to make a girl swoon.
But you never really know when he’ll show up. It could take days, even weeks. And his friends are extremely unreliable. Yeah, they’re all busy with their own lives. You could probably get their attention more easily if you went to them directly, but there are a lot of them and only one of you. So you never really know what’s going to happen when Smashwords hands you along. You could end up in some very weird situations.
Situations that Amazon is guaranteed to hear about.
And then you’re screwed.
This is what it’s like for indie authors right now. This is why The Awful Mess: A Love Story is only available on Amazon for now, while the PG-13 version (which nobody wants anyway) is available on both platforms. I can schedule and execute promotions in a predictable manner on Amazon, promotions that I need if I want to have any hope of selling books beyond my own small circle of friends and acquaintances.
If I tried to do this from Smashwords, God only knows what would happen. Life with him and his pals is unnervingly unpredictable.
But Smashwords, honey, I do feel bad about the choice I’ve made. You’ve got a great heart. I’d love to see you get a nice reliable car that never stalls out when I most need it to go. I’d love you to trim that scraggly beard and become someone I can take home to the folks.
And Amazon, dear, I really, really hope you’re just a little misunderstood, a good guy who’s just trying to get ahead, and not the grasping global dictator some people make you out to be.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just get along?