A friend recently convinced me that I should try the KDP Select program, which involves listing my eBooks exclusively on Amazon for at least ninety days. For the last eighteen months, they have also been listed on Smashwords, including the Premium Catalogue. That means they were distributed to dozens of outlets around the world, including Kobo, iBooks and Barnes & Noble, and I was very grateful for their service and the opportunity to gain access to those markets.
I felt both reluctant and nervous about the thought of “unpublishing” from Smashwords after having invested so much time and energy in listing them there. But after a month of meagre sales from those outlets and much soul-searching, I decided that perhaps KDP Select was worth a try.
Before enrolling in that program, it was essential for me to ensure that no digital versions of my books were available elsewhere. Here are the steps that I followed to unpublish from Smashwords.
1. Unpublish on the Smashwords dashboard
I pressed the “unpublish” button beside each of my books in the dashboard of my Smashwords account. A dialog box appeared, asking me to confirm that.
My books were then listed as “unpublished” on the dashboard. As the account holder, I am still able to click on each book and access the book details and previous payment and sales data, and download a copy of my uploaded manuscript. I can also return and republish them at any time in the future.
My books were immediately removed from the Smashwords store. However, another dialog box informed me that it might take 7 days for them to be removed from all of the distribution sites.
2. Removing the buyer links
With my books removed from the Smashwords store, it then became important to remove all the buyer links that were on my social media sites. I spent several hours deleting the links to Smashwords and other related stores from my website, including all pages and blog posts, and on other social media accounts such as Facebook.
This was tedious but worthwhile, as it is not a good look for someone to press on a buyer link and open a page that says, “this item is no longer available.”
3. Checking the major bookstores
I checked my author’s name and book titles on the websites of the major retailers, such as Kobo, iBooks and B&N, and found that they had all disappeared within the first forty-eight hours.
4. Checking all the distribution sites
Smashwords has a website page with details about their full distribution network. Some of the major retailers distribute to a string of secondary retailers, so books are made available on dozens of sites. I worked systematically through all the companies, large and small, that were mentioned on this page. My books were still listed on many of these, but over the next few days they gradually disappeared.
At the end of one week, my books only remained in two bookstores – one in the Netherlands and one in Mexico.
4. Contacting Smashwords after 7 days
I emailed Smashwords support to ask for their help in having my books removed from those two remaining sites. I received a polite response and they endeavoured to contact the company distributing to those stores. I needed to contact them one further time, but was pleased to see my books removed after a few more days.
As far as I was able to ascertain, the unpublishing process took about twelve days in total, which is quite reasonable when you consider the number of retailers involved.
When publishing on Smashwords, you can limit the distribution to the retailers of your choice. I may do that in the future, as it would make the process of unpublication much faster, and allow me to maintain better quality control. In a couple of the smaller outlets, I found that the cover images were missing and one of my books had been omitted. I recommend that you check every outlet about two weeks after publication, to ensure that the listing is correct.
I would like to thank Smashwords for all their help.
Have you had a similar experience?