We’ve now got five titles on Smashwords, with twenty to go, which will include the seven Summer of Love Serials and the three installments of The Garden of Abracadabra.

For anyone who reads on a device other than a Nook or a Kindle, now you can download Lisa Mason ebooks!

I’m excited to see how this experiment expands my readership. As I’ve blogged earlier, we resisted going this route due to security concerns.

In one of my chat groups on LinkedInI think it’s called Books and Writers—someone recently raised the question of how best to distribute ebooks. I haven’t had time to check in over there with my observations (busy, busy, busy!), but I’ll set out the question for you here.

The author wanted to know which works best: offering a book on Amazon Prime (used to be called Select) or opting for multiple site distribution.

Amazon Prime works like this: you offer your book to readers for free, and readers borrow it like borrowing a book from a library. Amazon has set aside a fund from which it pays you a fee for each book borrowed. In the past year or so, the remittance has hovered around $2.00 and is decided by Amazon at its sole discretion.

You must sign up for a three-month period (first catch) and either auto-renew at the end of the term or decide whether you want to continue and opt in again. I recommend against auto-renewal so you may assess how the program worked for your book. You may stage a promotional announcement that your book is free for five days during the three-month period. During your five days, you earn no fee for books borrowed on that day. So there’s the second catch. I’m not sure why Amazon has this policy; it kind flies in the face of the whole purpose of Prime.

The result is your readers can sample your work for free, and you still get paid a decent royalty. Best of both worlds, right?

Here’s the big, big catch, though, which the author’s question addresses.

During the three-month period, you cannot offer your book anywhere else at any price or for free. You must list exclusively with Amazon. And according to an author in one of my Facebook groups, they check! If you violate their policy, they will unpublish your book.

My publisher and I decided to offer my six short titles—novelettes and novellas previously published in respected magazines and anthologies worldwide—as Prime titles. We took the titles down from Barnes and Noble, as required. At the end of three months, we’d had virtually no free borrows.

In other words, free didn’t make a dent. (Which supports my theory that discerning readers are suspicious of free titles. How can the work be any good if it’s free? I can tell you, I myself never, ever acquire or borrow any book just because it’s free.)

As announced on WordPress with my Virtual Bookstore, my publisher restored everything to Barnes and Noble and offered those titles for sale again on Amazon. It was like opening a floodgate! Every title sold immediately on Barnes and Noble and sold on Amazon, too.

So there you have it, my friend. By all means, try Amazon Prime if you want to. Maybe it will work for you. You can always take the book off in three months. Do not check auto-renew or you’ll be stuck for another three months.

As for Smashwords, I’ll let you know how that goes. Stay tuned!

Here are our Smashwords links so far. All are included in the Smashwords Premier Catalog, which means they’ll ship to the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, and other stores.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and UK Kindle.

Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and UK Kindle.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and UK Kindle.

Shaken, an ebook adaptation of Deus Ex Machina published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords and UK Kindle.

Tomorrow’s Child, The Story That Sold To The Movies on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and UK Kindle.

If you enjoy a work, please “Like” it, add some stars, write a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords and spread the word to your friends. Your participation really matters.

Thank you for your readership!

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more, on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.