Different self publishing platforms

Once I decided to self publish one of the first minefields I had to navigate was which platform to use.

Terms used:

  • Print on Demand – The market only buys what they need as they need it.
  • Aggregator – Distributes electronic or physical products to market on your behalf.
  • Format – eBook, paperback, hardback, etc
  • Free ISBN – There is no initial fee for the ISBN, however, but the ‘printer’ becomes your publisher and can set restrictions.
  • Own ISBN – You provide your own ISBN. In the UK you buy these from Neilsen.
  • Wide: This is when the book is made available to many sellers, for example bookshops and libraries.

Here is a little summary on the most popular choices. Research their current terms thoroughly as they may have changed or I may have misunderstood what I found out. 😅

Here are some of the more popular choices in more detail:

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

At first, I didn’t go with KDP as I thought it meant I would be exclusive to Amazon and I wanted to go wide. , Turns out I thinking of their other service Amazon KDP Select. The name is very similar.

KDP allows you to self publish an ebook and/or a paperback (hardback is coming soon).

You can publish KDP wide. Amazon is a giant in the book selling market place, so it makes sense you’d want your book on their site. However, many bookstores won’t stock Amazon books because they are their biggest competitor. If you want to be in bookshops and libraries it’s best to not to go wide with KDP and choose an aggregator like Ingram. You can publish with KDP & not select the wide option.

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Amazon KDP Select

Select is when you agree your book is exclusive to Amazon. This does grant you certain benefits. Your book is on kindle unlimited, you get extra promotions, and can offer your book for free.

If you choose this route, you cannot publish your book anywhere else.

Ingram Sparks

This is who I went with. Ingram Sparks are a print on demand service and aggregator. You can do print, ebook, and hardbacks. In fact Ingram has a huge choice of print options.

You publish your book through Ingram and they distribute it to stores like Amazon, high street bookshops, B&N, Kobo, etc. This is often called publishing wide because your book can be sold nearly anywhere. A benefit of Ingram is it can be stocked in libraries like a traditionally published book.

Libraries and bookstores must order your book to stock it. Customers will either request it or you’ll need to approach them to get it stocked. It’s unlikely it will get stocked without any demand. However many online shops will list your book so customers can order it (POD).

Draft2Digital

They started out as an eBook aggregator for self publishers, but now also do physical print books.

You can use their ISBN for free and they take a cut from your royalties. You cannot use this ISBN on other sites as it belongs to D2D making them the publisher. Or, you can provide your own ISBN and keep all your royalties.

D2D will publish your book wide. A benefit of D2D is you can select or unselect which sellers you want your book to be available to.

Smashwords

They are an eBook Aggregator and store. You can upload your book to Smashwords for them to distribute, but they also enable readers to buy directly from their site too and reward you with 80% royalty. That’s an impressive royalty!

Smashwords allow exclusive deals for eBooks and hold events to promote their authors books like reading challenges.

You can use your own ISBN or they can provide one for free.

Lulu

They are an eBook & print Aggregator. They have lots of options for paperback, hardback, comics, magazines, etc.

Lulu will distribute your book wide, sell your book from their own shop, and have an app that allows you to sell from your own website. That last option makes me wish I went with Lulu!

You can use your own ISBN or they can provide one for free.

Barnes & Noble

You can publish directly with B&N. I’ve not tried it but I’ve heard authors talk very positively about the quality of their hardback books.

B&N can make your book available in their store and on Kobo. Unlike Amazon Select, they won’t restrict you from publishing your book elsewhere.

Aggregators like Ingram, D2D, and Lulu, can make books available to B&N. I think authors go direct with B&N for their hardback option.

You can use your own ISBN or they can provide one for free.

Apple Books

This is the ebook store for Apple users. Ingram, Smashwords, Lulu and D2D can publish here for you too.

If you have a Mac, you can upload your book directly using their personal book publishing site. They now have a webpage to enable PC users to upload too.

I tried to publish to Apple via Ingram. Unfortunately Apple said my eBook file was too big and rejected my novel.

To fix this, I have attempted to publish directly with them. But, I’m having issues with their webpages. There tech & developer team have been very responsible, it might be just some bugs with the new PC publishing portal – I don’t have a Mac.

A benefit of being on Apple Books is that they are a very popular choice for eBooks by iPhone/iPad readers.

You can use your own ISBN or they can provide one for free.

Google Play

This is the Android store and allows users to buy and download eBooks. Ingram, Smashwords, Lulu and D2D can publish here for you too.

A benefit of Google Play is that most people without an iPhone have an Android phone, making it another popular choice for eBook downloads.

The benefit of being on Google Play is that Google is one of the largest search engines and by having your book listed in their store (even as just a preview), can boost your discoverability.

I have recently added Ocean Heart and the only issue I’ve had is confirming my bank account. They pay a small amount into your bank to check it’s you. You confirm the amount received, except Google is saying they paid a different amount to the amount I got.

Private Printer

You could find a private printer to produce your book for you. You’d likely need to buy a bulk of books to distribute yourself.

Vanity Press

This isn’t self publishing. It often gets confused because the author has paid to publish like an indie author. The difference is the publisher bills the author for the services needed, and the services are provided by the publisher. The author cannot use services by another provider.

The positives is all the services are in one place and your publisher guides you on what service you need and when. Sometimes services are quicker or at a reduced rate as its all in-house.

The cons are that a lot of scammers have used this model to over charge authors or to take money and never deliver on their promises. As you are locked into paying for the services they dictate and the choices the want for your book, you do lose some of your creative freedom.

It’s important to check how long they have been operating and who they have worked with before. See if they are black listed on Writers Beware.

What I did…

I published my ebook & paperback through Ingram. The quality has been good and I like having everything in one place.

Amazon had long delivery dates for my book, telling preorder customers it’d take 6 weeks to deliver. It didn’t but it was off putting. I don’t know if this was to exceed expectations or what. Other authors told me to get my book on KDP, which I finally have done. I was hesitant as I didn’t want to be restricted to only Amazon or use another ISBN, but you can use the ISBN already in use for your paperback.

My books did get listed for a number of ebook sellers but not GPlay or Apple. I’ve had to go to through them direct. I’d say Google has been the easiest to use, except the verification of my bank.

For my next book I think I’ll use Ingram Sparks to publish my paperback wide, KDP to reduce Amazon deliver delays, and someone else to publish my eBook wide. I’ll also take a closer look at LuLu as that app sounds awesome!

[kofi]

If you found this post useful, you will like:

How to publish a book (collection)

What is a UBL & why your book needs one!

How to fund your creativity

About Ocean Heart