Monday, August 27, 2012

Tips for Self-Publishing – Second Step: Choosing a Publishing Platform

Hi all,

In the first article, Step One: Preparing Your Manuscript, we discussed the importance of having an editor or proofreader go over your manuscript before publishing. Today I'm sharing information on where you can self-publish your novel. Of course, there are many ways to self-publish other than the do-it-yourself sites. You can submit to small presses, vanity presses or even pay a publisher to publish and distribute your novel. But today I'm only talking about self-publishing your novel on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. So, here we go...

Tips for Self-Publishing - Second Step: Choosing a Publishing Platform
Your manuscript is edited or proofread, beta readers have given you the thumbs up and now you are ready to self-publish your novel. You have several choices for self-publishing and you should consider them all before jumping into the arena. In this article, I'm going to talk about self-publishing on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. There are plenty of other choices but these are the basic sites most indie authors start on. You can also chose to have a Print on Demand publisher, like Xlibris, that charges you for publishing services and they control the price of your book and eBook, but I wouldn't recommend that. (Been there, done that!) If you like to be in control of your books, like I do, then you will want to publish on sites where you have complete control over all aspects of your book.

Publishing on Amazon

Let's face it, Amazon is the top site for selling eBooks and paperback books. According to Amazon, they have 70-80 percent of the eBook buying market and about 80 percent of those buyers own Kindles. So, as an indie author just starting out, you will definitely want to be a part of the Amazon marketplace. In addition to that, Amazon makes it easy to publish your novel in eBook and paperback formats and it's FREE. Yes, it's free to publish on Amazon.

Publishing an eBook on Amazon: To publish an eBook on Amazon, you will need to open an account at Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. From there, they will walk you through the process of submitting your book. Be sure to read all the FAQs & Terms about publishing on Amazon before submitting a book.  It always amazes me when people publish on Amazon and then don't know how much they are being paid, if they can unpublish or what their rights are. Read everything! Amazon is not out to cheat you, but you can cheat yourself if you don't understand all the details of their program.

Some facts about Amazon:

  • You continue to own all rights to your book
  • You can set the price of your book
  • You have two royalty options (70/35)
  • You can change the price at any time
  • You can unpublish at any time
  • You can upload revised versions of your book any time you want (in case you didn't follow my advice on editing and you had to fix a few errors)
  • You can publish on other platforms as well, unless you join KDP Select (more in another post)
  • You don't have to buy an ISBN # to publish an eBook on Amazon (more in another post)
  • You can choose which countries your book is distributed to

Publishing a Paperback on Amazon: To publish your book in paperback format on Amazon, you have to set up an account at CreateSpace. Again, read all the FAQs and Terms. If you go step by step, the process is fairly simple, however the formatting is a little more complicated than formatting a manuscript for an eBook. But we'll talk more about formatting in another post.

Some facts about publishing on CreateSpace:

  • You continue to own all rights to your book
  • You can unpublish any time you want
  • It is FREE unless you decide to purchase a universal ISBN Number or you wish to distribute to bookstores other than Amazon (additional $25 charge).
  • They will give you a FREE ISBN number unless you choose a universal one.
  • You can buy author copies for a fraction of the cost.
  • You can set your own price on Amazon
  • You can change your book's price anytime you want
  • You can upload a new revised file of the book at any time
  • You can choose to publish on other platforms as well

Publishing on Barnes & Noble

Although Barnes & Noble doesn't hold the highest rating for eBook sales, it can be another market for self-published authors to explore. B&N claims to have 27% of the eBook market, however I think their estimate is a bit high. But I wouldn't write them off completely. You want to have your books available in as many markets as possible and B&N is one you should consider (after Amazon).

Publishing an eBook on B&N:  In order to publish an eBook on B&N, you have to create an account at Pubit. Only U.S. authors can publish on Pubit right now. And the sales market is very limited too.

Some facts about publishing on Pubit:

  • It's FREE to publish on Pubit
  • You don't need to buy an ISBN to publish an eBook on Pubit
  • You own all rights to your book
  • You set the price
  • You have two royalty options (65/30)
  • You can change the price at any time
  • You can upload a revised file at any time
  • You can unpublish at any time
  • You can publish on other platforms also

It is basically like Amazon's KDP program except for the facts that you earn a little less royalty on each option and your books aren't sold anywhere except in the U.S. – which means fewer sales oportunities.

Publishing on Smashwords

Smashwords is a good platform for the author who doesn't want to submit his books separately to places like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Apple and other sites (Amazon is not included in their list). You can upload one book file and Smashwords will create book files for any of the stores you choose to distribute to. Or, you can just upload to Smashwords and not distribute through their premium catalog. It all depends upon the amount of control you want.

Smashwords is a legitimate site and is wonderful to work with but I personally do not distribute through Smashwords because if you decide to make changes (like opt out of other markets), it can take weeks to get the sites to take down your book. I prefer to list my books myself into each market so that with a click of a button, I can publish or unpublish or change a price. This is just something you should consider before distributing through Smashwords.

Some facts about publishing on Smashwords:

  • You own all rights to your book
  • You can unpublish at any time
  • You can set your price and change it at any time
  • You can distribute to other markets through Smashwords
  • Royalties vary depending upon the market you are distributing to
  • A good choice for authors who don't want to format their books for each separate platform
  • **Smashwords has the absolute BEST style formatting guide of all of the sellers!

Deciding which platforms you want your books on is a personal choice. So be sure to check each one out, read their FAQs and Terms and choose which way is best for you. Don't rush when choosing – some can take a minute to leave and others can take weeks. So be sure you know what you are agreeing to before publishing.

In the next post: Step Three – Tips for Formatting Your e-Book

Hope this helps those of you who are new to self-publishing.

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