This week I’m all about the practical! Yup. Fascinating though the minutiae of my daily life must be to you all, I’m going to share some hints and tips over the next few weeks for anyone considering self-publishing.
First of all – this is from a UK perspective, and that’s important. If you are outside of the US, it is harder. You might read a lot of advice but do check which country that advice relates to.
Today I’m going to explore distribution of ebooks for UK writers.
That’s the obvious one, isn’t it? And for many writers, they seem to think it’s the only option. It’s not! But it can be a large part of your market. You use KDP to upload your book, using your current Amazon account. You will be asked if you want to enrol that book in KDP Select – think very carefully about this! Amazon are attempting to destroy all other distribution. If you enrol a book in Select, you cannot sell it anywhere else for 90 days. The “advantages” of Select are that you can promote your book for free for a short time – hence boosting it up the charts – and in some countries you get 70% royalty rather than 35%. In my experience, about 1/3 of my sales come through other outlets and it is not worth using Select BUT I will, in the future, for careful promotional reasons. If I have a decent back catalogue under a particular name, then it is worth choosing your best book to go Select, pinging it up to the top of the charts for visibility, and then hopefully raising awareness of the rest of your work. This is why, whenever you make any book free, make sure it’s your BEST. I see some authors have a dud of a book, and they say “well, I’ll give it away” – NO! Don’t showcase your bad stuff, only the very best you have.
Kobo is a Canadian company that produces the Kobo ereader and ebooks. They sell worldwide but I see most of my sales in Canada. It doesn’t bring in very much, but it is enough to make it worth my while uploading there.
Aaaaaand….. that’s it, as far as direct distribution goes. UK authors now have to turn to aggregators to get their books into any other online bookstore. If you’re in the US, you can go to PubIt for Barnes and Noble. You can (if you have a Mac) upload direct to iTunes. But the rest of us? There are two main options – one established, and one new and exciting.
This is a brilliant website and a terrible one. It’s been around a while, and you can use it to get your books out to Apple, B&N, Sony and all sorts of tiny places too. You can use it for Kobo and Amazon, but you won’t. Seriously, don’t! Go direct, and keep the cash. Going direct gives you more control over quality. Smashwords are huge, and slow, and the communication can be patchy. You can’t control how your blurbs look when the books appear elsewhere. And it can take ages for the books to even appear, although recently they have got quicker. They pay quarterly, 30 days after the end of the quarter, by dollars into Paypal.
This is so new and shiny it’s still in Beta, though you can ask to go on the list for a key. I’m in, and have been using it for a few weeks. It’s brilliant, and I am very excited about it. It does what Smashwords does – but in a rather more polished style. It’s still developing, but I am now using it for my B&N and iTunes/Apple distribution, and I’m very happy with it.
There are other places, depending on your genre. All Romance Ebooks is a good bet for romance and erotic romance writers, for example.
I’m going to talk about payments, tax, ebook formats and so on in future posts. What I really want to impress on you at the moment is this: Amazon is not the only fruit.
To put it in perspective, here are some figures for you. For the last quarter of 2012 – October, November and December – I sold 263 ebooks on Amazon.com. I sold a further 67 on Amazon.co.uk (and a paltry handful on the other sites worldwide). I sold 36 on Kobo, and 150 on Barnes and Noble. If I’d stuck with Amazon, there’s a good chunk of sales I would have missed out on. Selling at $2.99 for a 70% royalty… well, you do the maths. Don’t fall for the Amazon-only trap!