Self Publishing for Beginners: Part 2

Publishing with a Retailer

So your book is done and ready to be published right? Wrong! You have a few more steps to consider. Before you do anything you need to make the choice of self publishing directly with the retailers or using a distributer. There are a lot of distributors as well as retailers, but for the sake of expediency I will only list the most well known.

Three of the top distributors are:

· Smashwords – If you’re accepted for their Premium Catalog for a small percentage of your sales (on average you receive 60% royalty for every book priced at 0.99 or above) they will distribute your e-book to a total of 10 different retailers. They also offer your book on their site {you receive 85% royalty for sales directly from their site) in all formats for your reader’s convenience.

· Bookbaby – For a fee (starting at $99) you supply the publishing-ready e-pub file and they’ll distribute your eBook to your selected digital retailers. You’ll also get full access to the accounting dashboard reports and weekly payments. According to their website they offer 11 retailers.

· Lulu – According to their website: “Lulu is a company committed to helping you sell more books and reach more readers. Whether you are out to make your fortune, or simply share an idea, Lulu empowers authors, publishers, educators, and businesses to bring knowledge and expertise to readers more easily than ever before. You can do-it-yourself at no cost using their publishing wizard or choose from a wide range of Lulu services for help. Through their Internet retail site, retail partners, and global print network Lulu has created a one-stop shop for the ultimate in publishing freedom. You pick the price, market, and medium. As a Lulu author, you have complete control over your price and content.” You earn 80% of the profit or more when your work sells.

Choosing a distributer makes it simpler to get on some of the retailer channels. Sony encourages self published authors to use a distributor. Then there is iTunes which requires iTunes Producer to direct publish with them.

Publishing direct with retailers means you get a slightly higher profit in most cases than you would with a distributor and a little more freedom to correct errors if they are made. I’ve picked three of the top favorites to discuss below.

Publish direct to retailers:

· Amazon – Amazon calls their program KDP, which stands for Kindle Direct Publishing. They offer two royalty options a 70% royalty option for books $2.99 – 9.99 and 35% for everything else. The 70% option sounds appealing, but there are a few catches.

1. Titles must be made available for sale in all geographies for which the author or publisher has rights.

2. The title will be included in a broad set of features in the Kindle Store, such as text-to-speech. This list of features will grow over time as Amazon continues to add more functionality to Kindle and the Kindle Store.

3. Set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book.

4. To be eligible to earn 70% royalty for sales to customers in Brazil, Japan, and India, titles must also be enrolled in KDP Select

KDP Select is an alternate program offered through Amazon’s KDP program. It offers some extra benefits with the promise of exclusivity for 90 days at which time you may opt out. In other words if you enroll in the KDP Select program you can NOT put your e-book on any other website, including your own, for sale during that 90 day period. This does not affect print books.

· Barnes & Nobles – Their program was called Pubit, but recently changed the name to Nook Press. Your e-books list price can be no greater than the e-book’s list price at any other retailer, website, or sales channel.

1. NOOK Books with a List Price at or between $2.99/£1.50 and $9.99/£7.99

  ~ 65% of the List Price

2. For NOOK Books with a List Price at or below $2.98 /£1.49, or at or greater than $10.00/£8.00 (but not more than $199.99/£120.00 and not less than $0.99/£0.75)

  ~ 40% of the List Price

An exclusive contract is NOT required for the above stated royalties.

· Kobo – Their publishing program is called Kobo Writing Life. They pay royalties twice yearly. In most countries a list price of $1.99 – 12.99 qualifies for 70% royalties. All other is 45% of SRP or Suggested Retail Price.

Your SRP for each eBook must adhere to the following pricing rules broken down per country;

A. less than or equal to $12.99USD and greater than or equal to $1.99USD in the US

B. less than or equal to £7.99GBP and greater than or equal to £1.99GBP in the UK

C. less than or equal to $12.99CAD and greater than or equal to $1.99CAD in Canada

D. less than or equal to $11.99 AUD and greater than or equal to $1.99 AUD in Australia

E. less than or equal to €12.99 EUD and greater than or equal to €1.99 EUD in the European Union

F. less than or equal to $12.99 NZD and greater than or equal to $1.99 NZD in New Zealand

G. less than or equal to $99.99 HKD and greater than or equal to $15.99 HKD in Hong Kong

H. less than or equal to ¥1,040 JPY and greater than or equal to ¥80JPY in Japan

Here is a basic break down of the rules for your e-book to qualify for Kobo’s 70% royalty program.

1. The SRP for your eBooks provided to Kobo must be less than or equal to the lowest price provided by you to any third party.

2. Your Works cannot be works in the public domain, being works published before 1923 in the United States, “author’s lifetime + 50 years” in Canada and New Zealand, “author’s lifetime + 70 years” in Australia, the EU, and the United Kingdom.

3. Your eBooks must be made available to Kobo for sale in every geographic location within which Publisher has intellectual property rights.

4. Must be at least twenty (20%) percent below the SRP of the physical edition of the book, if one is available.

To sum this up Amazon and Kobo both offer 70% royalties compared to B&N’s 65% on books priced within a designated range. All three offer free publishing, they get paid only when you sell a book. Unlike Kobo and B&N, Amazon requires you to place your e-book price 20% lower than all other retailers to receive this 70% royalty. With both Kobo and B&N the list price must be less than or equal to the lowest price at any other retailer, website, or sales channel.

Whether you publish directly or through a distributor you will need to gather some important information for the submission process:

Book Title – Try to pick a title that grabs the reader’s attention.

Book Description – You want something that will grab the reader’s attention, make them want to read more.

E-book Cover – Although cover images aren’t necessary in most online stores to publish, if you want to sell successfully they are required.

Price – Decide your pricing beforehand, remembering that the pricing sometimes results in different royalty percentages. Also keep in mind a new author just is not going to sell a book for $9.99 no matter how good it is. Readers have to trust an authors abilities before they are willing in most cases to spend that kind of money. Take your time and choose carefully.

Territories – Which geographical territories you hold the rights for your e-book? This is a question every retailer or distributor asks. If your e-book is an unpublished work then most likely you still hold rights for all territories.

ISBN – An International Standard Book Number or ISBN is a number that uniquely identifies books and e-books published.

All print books require an ISBN, but not all e-book stores deem it necessary. Amazon provides an ASIN in place of the ISBN for any e-book on their platform for free. Smashwords and several other companies offer you an option for a free ISBN. Remember these free numbers are not transferable outside their offered platforms. In other words, if you opt for a free ISBN from Smashwords you can’t use it to direct publish on another retailers website.

Format: Each retailer usually has their own formatting preferences. Although they may be similar they are not the same. Some authors find the requirements confusing and end up paying a company or individual to take care of this, while others prefer doing it themselves.

Some helpful free guides are:

· Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide

· Amazon’s Building Your Book for Kindle

· Lulu’s eBook Creator Guide

· Kobo’s Learning Centre

While B&N doesn’t exactly have a free guide like the others they do provide a guideline .

Mark Coker has provided a list of independent formatters and cover artists here .

Hopefully this guide has helped clear up some of the basic confusion. The idea is to provide you with enough knowledge to make an informed decision. There are a lot of choices to make. You can choose one or two options, all, or a combination of several. It all depends on your preference. The consensus from authors is the more retailers you have your e-book available in, the better your chances are of selling your books.

This author has only used KDP and Smashwords until recently. My reasoning is quite simple, Smashwords distributes to the major retailers, I only had to upload my original .doc file and they transformed it into other formats for me. I also direct publish with Amazon because of this statement on Smashwords: “Although we have a distribution agreement with Amazon via their Kindle Direct Platform, they’re unable to receive our entire catalog until they create of a bulk upload facility.” (There I corrected their statement for them…) “In the meantime, we’re only distributing a few hundred titles to Amazon out of our catalog of over 150,000.”

It just made better sense to direct publish instead of waiting for a possible date in the future. With the release of my latest book I decided to try KDP Select out, in 90 days I may have an opinion on this program other than the obvious exclusive clause.

Join me next Tuesday when I finish off my three part segment with Self Publishing for Beginners: Our Two Best Marketing Tools.