Victoria Zigler is a prolific author, mostly of books for children and poetry. She has an impressive catalogue. She is also blind – and has visited the Library Of Erana in the past to discuss the accessibility (or otherwise) of publishing, reading and enjoying books. I’m pleased to welcome Tori back, where she discusses the issues of self-publishing on Amazon vs Smashwords.
Tori – over to you
“Which platform is best for self-publishing?”
It’s a question you’ve likely heard many, many times – one especially popular with people comparing Smashwords to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – and one that will have a different answer, depending on who you ask, and what experiences they’ve had using one platform or the other.
Here’s another question for you though:
“Which platform is more accessible for visually impaired authors who rely on screen readers?”
This one may also come with different answers, depending on who you ask, and their personal experiences. The screen reader and browser you use may make a difference too. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does.
I’ve only ever used JAWS (Java Access With Speach) so can’t compare screen readers for you. But I’m going to give you my opinion on which platform is more accessible if you use JAWS and Firefox, which is what I use.
Although, I can only answer it using a comparison of Smashwords and KDP, because I actually haven’t dealt directly with the other platforms. My books may be on other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Kobo, but it’s because of distribution. Something I’m very grateful exists, since it makes my life easier. Actually, it makes things easier for a lot of people, and not just screen reader users. But this post isn’t about distribution. This post is about which publishing platform is more accessible for screen reader users using JAWS and Firefox.
So, what’s the answer?
The short answer is Smashwords. They’re easier to navigate, having a less cluttered page.
Although, in all fairness to them, KDP do appear to have improved their accessibility a little. So at least they aren’t as much of a headache to use as they were when I first started publishing, which was almost seven years ago now. Navigation is still a little more difficult on KDP than it is on Smashwords though. Still, any improvement helps.
Of course, there’s room for improvement on both. There’s always room for improvement, no matter what we’re talking about. Especially since whoever invented drop-down menus obviously hasn’t had to use a screen reader. Then there’s how graphics happy everyone is these days…
You know, I think we should make it essential for every company’s technical department to have a team of visually impaired people whose jobs are just to check the accessibility of websites using different screen readers and browsers. It would create more jobs, and improve accessibility for screen reader users at the same time. It’s a win- win situation!
But, in the meantime, if I had to recommend either Smashwords or Amazon to someone, based on accessibility alone, I’d recommend Smashwords.
Unfortunately, a lot of people still prefer to go directly to Amazon for their eBooks, and you have to sell a lot of books to have your Smashwords books distributed to Amazon. Something very few authors actually achieve. That means your best chance of having your books listed on Amazon is to put them on there yourself. So, as I’ve recently realized and accepted, you’re going to want to deal with both platforms. At least, you are if you want all those people with Kindles to buy copies of your books.
About the author:
Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids. Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world. She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.
To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future. She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717
Find Tori’s books on…
…Along with a variety of other online retailers.