Guidance. The Business of Publishing.



Time to get it out there. Publish and Distribute your eBook, Paperback, Hardback and even an Audiobook to all the major retailers and syndicate its distribution worldwide.


Module Page


Choose your book and the relevant fields will populate from your production module.

Keep track of where you're selling, your account access details, your book's sale URL and your pre-order and launch dates. Whether it's direct to retailers or through Aggregators. List any book discount offers, periods and prices. Add and remove entries as you go.



KDP contact - https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/contact-us

KDP account - https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A1OYOT0ESBAU69



Direct to retail - https://www.amazon.com/ - https://www.apple.com/apple-books/ - https://www.kobo.com/ - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/ - https://www.overdrive.com/ - https://mytolino.com/ - https://www.perlego.com/ - https://brc.cnpereading.com/ - https://info.libreka.de/en/ - https://play.google.com/store/




Aggregators - https://ebookpartnership.com/ - https://www.bookbaby.com/ - https://www.publishdrive.com/ - https://www.xinxii.com/ - https://www.streetlib.com/ - https://www.smashwords.com/ - https://www.draft2digital.com/



Intro


Now you have your book all tied up like a Christmas ribbon and looking pretty, it’s time to press the button and get it out there. Get it on the shelves and websites that people buy from. You might like to scan though the marketing modules here before you press the button to make sure you have done enough pre-publication work, like getting reviews, organising any price promotions, scheduling a press release.


And Remember, you are free to publish your new book to the Publication Portal Library. Don’t do it if you’re planning to go exclusive with Amazon though. If not, just hit the ‘Publish’ button.


Print-on-Demand


Modern publishing, especially with self publishers, revolves around 'Print-on-Demand.'


If you're a large publishing house and you know a particular author's new book will sell a certain amount of copies, you can buy and warehouse thousands of pre-printed copies for a lot less than print-on-demand. A simple economy of scale.


However, that is out of reach to most authors so, when a customer buys a book, the wheels start turning and within a few short days the customer has their paperback or hardback on their doorstep. In fact 100 different customers can have their paperbacks or hardbacks on their doorsteps. It will cost you a lot more than volume but it is what it is. An ebook of course is instant.


The largest book Retailer, as we all know, is Amazon, and this is exactly how they work.


There are other direct retailers as well like Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBook and others and then there are the digital printers and distributors, many combined into a single business and some include making the ebook and print files they will distribute as well.


If you decide to go exclusive on Amazon, you wont be able to use distributors unless you want a hardback version. But if not, there are good distributors out there who can propagate your book to retailers worldwide.


Either way, the Printer will take a slice, the Distributor will take a slice and the Retailer will take a slice.


How Printing On Demand Works


The technology is similar to most desktop inkjet printers, only the ones at Apple or Ingram fill up a warehouse. These huge photocopier-like colour printers take a computer file—usually a PDF generated by the program you wrote your book in, and use it to print either a one off-copy or 1000 books just as easily, as you like.


The workflow is all software-oriented, so on a typical day these large book printers can reel off 100 different titles compared with maybe three on a traditional offset machine. Once the book is printed, the printer or publishing agency can send off five copies directly to Amazon, or 20 to your grandmother’s sewing group… again, as you like.


Amazon



1. Prepare your manuscript and cover as we’ve discussed previously.

2. Make sure your book meets KDP’s content and quality guidelines.

3. Use your Amazon account to sign in to KDP or create an account.

4. Make sure your browser is updated.

5. Go to your KDP Bookshelf. In the "Create a New Title" section, click + Kindle eBook.

6. Enter your information for each section:


- Kindle eBook details. Enter your title and description and then your keywords and categories. You get seven keywords so make sure they’re researched by seeing what other similar books use. And you get 2 Categories. It doesn’t sound like a lot and it isn’t really. But, after you’re published you can contact KDP and ask them for up to eight more categories. You will have to give them the exact string for each category (eg. Kindle eBook > Fiction > Science Fiction > Fantasy) and tell them which marketplaces you want them in. Marketplaces are tedious. Amazon Australia has different search strings to Amazon USA. You just need to plough through it. It is important though as it opens your book up to many more potential customers. You can have a total of 10 categories per marketplace.


Incidentally, using the same KDP contact facility, you can ensure that your different books are linked together as well, all under your Author Profile. And you can ask them any advice about the processes overall. They’re pretty good.

- Kindle eBook content. Upload your manuscript and cover. Preview your eBook. It’s usually here that either you or Amazon spot something not quite right, usually with the typesetting aspects. You must follow the KDP template and position your cover images exactly within those bounds. Either way, you will get to see how the text fits in the pages and whether your cover shows all it needs, nice and clearly.

- Kindle eBook pricing. Choose the territories where you hold distribution rights. Choose a royalty plan and set your list price. This is where you can choose KDP select if you want greater royalties in exchange for exclusivity. See the section below.


7. Now take a breather. Hold off on pressing the button until you have digested this guidance and you are 100% sure how you want to handle this book launch.


8. When you, click Publish Your Kindle eBook.


9. Go through the same process for your paperback


For hardbacks, as we mentioned, you will need to go down the independent print-on-demand route.


Amazon will sell your book on Amazon. That’s it. If you’re happy with that, albeit the largest market on Earth, your work is done on this Module. If you prefer a bit more flexibility, you need to find who to use to print and distribute your book apart from Amazon.


First of all, you need to know a few things so you can decide to go with Amazon exclusively or include everything else. We'll call it salvo theory.


Amazon exclusivity vs salvo theory


If you want to maximise your sales, surely you should make your ebook available to as many retailers as possible. True, but the thing is, Amazon will offer you a lot of promotional advantages to entice you to publish your book exclusively on their stores. And depending on your book, genre, and marketing strategy, these benefits can outweigh the drawbacks of not selling on Apple Books or Kobo.


The case for Amazon exclusivity


Whether you choose to be exclusive or not, your first ebook distribution step will be to upload your book to Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing. We covered how to do that above and this is when you’ll be presented with an option to enrol in KDP Select.


KDP Select is the name of Amazon’s exclusivity program. In exchange for not listing your book anywhere else (that includes direct sales or giveaways through your website, by the way) for a minimum period of 90 days, you’ll get access to:


• Kindle Countdown Deals: for a period of 7 days every 90 days, you can discount your book. This “countdown deal” will be promoted to Amazon customers, and you’ll earn the 70% royalty — even on sales below $2.99.


• Kindle Free Promotions: for a period of 5 days every 90 days, you can set your book as free on the Kindle store. This free promotion will grant your book quite a bit of visibility on the free store.


• Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: KDP Select books are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL), two subscription services that are extremely popular among Amazon customers. KU/KOLL authors are paid a percentage of the KDP Select Global Fund based on the number of pages of their books read by KU/KOLL subscribers every month.


On top of these benefits, a KDP Select ebook will also earn you 70% royalty for sales to customers in Japan, India, Brazil and Mexico (35% otherwise).


The case for salvo theory


Amazon controls around 80% of the ebook market in the US and UK, but their market share is much lower in other countries. In Canada, for example, Kobo alone controls over 25% of the ebook market. In Germany, Tolino has the same market share as Amazon.


Not being exclusive to Amazon gives you a chance to reach these other readers. Also, building a meaningful presence on smaller retailers can sometimes be easier than competing on Amazon (even with KDP Select’s perks).


In certain genres, a vast majority of the Amazon readership has a KU subscription and is basically only reachable through KU. It’s also worth noting that KU “reads” contribute to overall rankings on the paid store. That means that (in KU-heavy genres) top category spots are trusted by KU books, making it really hard for non-exclusive books to get any visibility.


So if you’re hesitating about going exclusively to Amazon, ask yourself this question: “what percentage of the top 100 books in my target Amazon categories are in KU?” If that percentage is high, then you’re probably better off enrolling in KDP Select


Whatever your choice is, you need to stick to it. It takes a salvo theory author years to build a solid readership on a given retailer, so rolling your books in and out of KDP Select isn’t an option. If you go the salvo theory route, go all in and take a long-term approach.


Finally, be aware that "KU vs salvo theory" isn't just a distribution choice, it's a marketing one as well. Success on KU will require an entirely different marketing approach


If you choose salvo theory, go through the KDP process and don't choose KDP Select.


Now find who's going to distribute you everywhere else.



Independent print-on-demand and distribution


Once you have your files and have made up your mind on Amazon exclusivity or not, it’s time to… actually publish your book. In practical terms, this means uploading your ebook file to the major e-retailers.


Make sure, if you intend to induce a hardback version, that whoever you choose can add your hardback to Amazon and other retailers.


Going direct to the major retailers


• Amazon (Kindle) -  royalties depend on the book's pricing and territory. These figures are for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 on the US store.

• Apple (Apple Books)

• Kobo - they also distribute to a great number of local retailers. In this spreadsheet, I suppose authors are sending their ebook to Kobo, and am therefore not listing any of the retailers they distribute to. Royalties are for the Kobo store, not for Kobo's distribution network.

• Barnes & Noble -  royalties depend on the book's pricing and territory. These figures are for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 on the US store.

• Google Play

• Overdrive (Global): List prices on libraries are generally 1.5-2x above your eBook list price. You can go "direct" to Overdrive via Kobo Writing Life. Both companies are owned by Rakuten.

• Tolino (Germany): Like Kobo, Tolino has a big distribution network. I'm not listing any of the retailers covered by Tolino in this spreadsheet.

• Perlego (EMEA): a similar system to Kindle Unlimited

• CNPeReading (China): Ebook gets priced 4x higher on this library. Publisher receives 240% (60% × 4) of regular list price.

• Libreka (Germany): Similarly to Kobo and Tolino, I'm not listing any of the retailers covered by Libreka.



Each major store can be reached directly through its own proprietary ebook publishing platform.


LINKS HERE


While going direct to all these stores will grant you the highest royalties, it means you need to upload your book files and metadata (see below) individually, using each of their publishing platforms.


More importantly, it means that every change you want to make afterward (discounting your book, changing the blurb, etc.) needs to be made, again, through all platforms.


Finally, it means you’ll get sales reporting from different places, and at different times, making it hard to keep an eye on what’s going on.


That’s where aggregators come in.


Using an aggregator


Aggregators let you distribute your book to a large number of stores at once: they aggregate retailers and consolidate your metadata and sales reports across all retailers in one place.


In exchange, they’ll generally either:


• take a cut on your sales (around 10% of your list price) which means they only make money if you make money; or

• charge you an upfront fee for each book they’ll distribute for you.


Royalty-share aggregators


Draft2Digital is the main aggregator we recommend at Publication Portal. Favored by most successful indie authors (who aren’t exclusive to Amazon), they have been praised for their interface, stellar customer support, and additional free tools and resources.

Their “automated back matter” tool is particularly handy for series authors: every time you publish a new ebook through Draft2Digital, they automatically add it to the “Also by this author” section of your other books’ backmatter on every store, with the relevant store link.


Their "universal book links" are also a nice touch: they allow any author to generate a unique link to each of their books, which then redirects the reader automatically to their preferred retailer (and country store).

D2D distributes to all the major ebook stores and library distributors, except Google Play. Payments are sent monthly via Paypal, Payoneer, direct deposit or check.


Draft2Digital take a 15% cut on your royalties after the retailer (e.g. Apple) takes its cut.


Smashwords was the first aggregator, and market leader until Draft2Digital took over. While their distribution outlets and royalties are similar to Draft2Digital’s, their website design, interface and conversion tools offer a less enjoyable user experience. Read more about the difference between Smashwords and D2D here.


Smashwords take a 10% cut on your list price, i.e. before the retailer takes its cut.


Streetlib is another “international distributor” with a strong presence, particularly in Western and Southern Europe, and Latin America. They also distribute to all the major e-retailers (including Google Play), and have recently been focusing on some more "emerging" areas of the world like MENA and Africa.


Streetlib take a 10% cut on your list price, i.e. before the retailer takes its cut.


XinXii is a German distributor, despite what their Chinese name might suggest. While their user interface is far from optimal, they can open up new foreign distribution channels. That said, XinXii is known to be slow in updating and removing titles, as well as in their customer support.


XinXii take a 15% cut on your royalties after the retailer (e.g. Apple) takes its cut.


Flat fee aggregators


PublishDrive is the newest aggregator on the block. On top distribution to all the major stores (including Google Play, which you can’t reach through Draft2Digital), they specialise in international distribution and have many additional stores in Eastern Europe. They opened up new foreign markets that weren’t previously available to indie authors.


While previously operating under a royalty-share model similar to Draft2Digital, they switched in 2019 to a flat fee pay-per-month model (with a tier at $19.99 and another at $99.99), which could make them more attractive to high-selling authors, but a much more riskier option for authors starting out.


PublishDrive is the only aggregator who doesn’t offer free ISBNs as part of their distribution offer. Instead, they developed PUI (PublishDrive’s Unique Identifier) which is globally accepted in stores and libraries they distribute to.

PublishDrive take a 10% cut on your list price, i.e. before the retailer takes its cut.


A note on Google Play: even though PublishDrive can distribute to Google Play on your behalf, you’ll still need to register for your own account on the Google Books Partner Program and link it to your PublishDrive account.


BookBaby is a sort of all-in-one author services company. While we don’t recommend using them for editing, design, or marketing (you can work with freelancers directly for that), or purchasing their packages, they can be a great option for ebook distribution.

As opposed to the aggregators above, Bookbaby doesn’t take a cut on sales to distribute your ebooks. Instead, they charge you a one-time $249 fee (or $288) per title. Bookbaby reaches all the major stores except Google Play (plus some niche ones) and is also the only aggregator to offer the option to enroll your book in KDP Select through them (why you’d choose to do that, though, is another question).


eBookPartnership is a lesser-known UK aggregator that operates on the same model as BookBaby… except it’s significantly cheaper. It reaches all the major stores (plus some niche ones) for a flat fee of $99/£99 per title, and takes no cut on royalties. They’ll even throw in an ISBN for free.


While this makes them seem like a perfect option, it does raise some questions as to the long-term viability of their business model. If you use them, do so with caution.

Note: in addition to legitimate aggregators, there are a number of services which claim to offer authors complete distribution but are actually scams targeted at naive authors. To find out more about how to avoid these companies, check out this post.


So, which aggregator should you choose? The answer is: probably more than one. Which brings us to… our recommended distribution setup.


Recommended ebook distribution setup


If you’re going for salvo theory, you’ll want your book to be in as many stores as possible. You’ll also want to maximize your royalties on each store while keeping the setup manageable for when you need to update or apply discounts to the book.

By combining Draft2Digital, PublishDrive and Streetlib you can reach hundreds of ebook stores all over the world


LINKS HERE


Gearing up for your launch


Your primary goal when having your product in stores is to get it in front of as many customers as possible (and to get them to buy it). Online stores are basically search engines these days, with Amazon being the world’s third largest, after Google and YouTube.

As an author, you need to set your book up in such a way that readers can easily find it when searching for their next read. And to do that, you need to have a reasonable understanding of metadata, the pre-ordering process, and pricing strategy.


Metadata: Categories and Keywords


When uploading your ebook to any of the publishing platforms above, you’ll be asked to select “categories” and “keywords” for your book. These will basically tell the store where to feature your book, and which readers to show it to. On the Kindle Store, which is 100% algorithm-driven (i.e. there is no human curation), they are absolutely vital and we covered that above.


If you haven’t done your research on categories and keywords yet, or don’t know how Amazon’s algorithms work, we highly recommend you do or ask for help.


Keywords and categories aren’t just important on the Kindle Store, though. If you’re going wide, make sure you optimise your ebook’s presence on each of the major stores.


Setting up pre-orders


Pre-orders are a simple yet effective way to gain visibility in a store before you launch your book. You just need to have your title and metadata ready and you can make your book available for pre-order on Amazon (through KDP) and the other major retailers (through D2D). Usually, the pre-order term can be up to a year in advance of your publication date.

This allows you to get sales before you publish your book, and can be particularly helpful in non-Amazon stores.


Apple Books, for example, attributes all pre-orders as sales on launch day. So if you have a big audience that pre-ordered your book there, you’ll get a huge sales spike on publication day that'll propel your ebook up the ranks. On Amazon, pre-orders are counted as a sale on the day of the order (which is why some ebooks can show in the “bestseller lists,” even though they’re not even available)


Of course, pre-orders need to be promoted consistently to build a platform before launch. 

How to price your ebook


Ebook pricing on Amazon


While Amazon lets you control how much you sell your ebook for, it will offer different royalty rates depending on the price. In the US, ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99 earn you 70% of list price, while books between $0.99 and $2.99, or above $9.99, earn you 35% only.


These pricing ranges will vary depending on each Amazon store/country.


How to make your ebook free on Amazon


Amazon doesn’t let you price your book at $0.00 when uploaded through KDP (or through an aggregator for that matter). However, if you’re “wide,” you can use the “price matching trick,” which consists of setting your book free on other stores (via D2D for example) and then alerting Amazon through their “tell us about a lower price” feature on the book’s page.


If you’re in KDP Select, you won’t be able to use this trick — instead, you can use their “free promotion” feature to set your book free for 5 days every 90 days.


Discounts and price promotions


Running a “price promotion” (i.e. temporarily discounting your book) is one of the best ways to gain visibility on an ebook retailer. Depending on whether you’re in KDP Select, there are two ways to discount your book:


• KDP Select: run a Kindle Countdown deal;

• Wide: manually change your retail price on KDP and on all the aggregators you’re using.


Note that it can take some aggregators and retailers up to 48 hours to register your change in pricing



International pricing


Different countries have different reading habits, different currencies, and a different pricing sensitivity when it comes to buying ebooks. Australia, for example, is known for its high ebook prices. This is why you should always price your book differently for each country.


To do so, KDP lets you customize your price for each of their stores (.com, .co.uk, .fr, .es, .it, .in, etc.), while both Draft2Digital and PublishDrive offer a handy “territorial pricing” feature.


Now, setting these territorial prices will require you to do some research on what prices work best where.


So, once you done setting it all up and you have a firm idea of what you’re strategy is…


PRESS THAT BUTTON AND GOD SPEED






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