Below is a video Janet Syas Nitsick and I did on publishing, specifically self-publishing. The question came in, “What places can an author publish his book?” In this video, we answer this, but I’ll include the highlights below so you can read it instead if you wish.
There are two main options you have when you self-publish.
1. KDP Select (which means you can only publish through Amazon).
Amazon has a program called KDP Select which is exclusive. It means you can’t publish anywhere else. (You can, however, publish your paperback in several places.) This exclusivity applies to the ebook. And you must be exclusive with Amazon for three months. After that, you can upload your book to other sites.
When you enter Amazon Select, your book will be automatically put into Kindle Unlimited (KU), which is a subscription service that allows people who pay for it to borrow KU books. If someone reads 10% of the book, that counts as a borrow. Each borrow doesn’t earn the same as a sale. For example, if your book is $2.99, you will make 70% off that sale. When your book is borrowed, you get a portion of whatever Amazon has decided to put into the pot for the month. So if Amazon decided the pot is going to be $3 million, it will divide up that $3 million with all the borrows that were made on Amazon that month.
There are pros and cons to the Select approach.
Pros include: Amazon gives preference to these books. For example, the book will come up more easily in searches. Borrows count toward sales ranking, which can also help toward better exposure. It is only three months, so you don’t have to be locked in for a long time.
Cons: While some books do well in Select, not all of them do. It’s not a guaranteed ticket to instant sales/exposure. In my opinion, this is not a good long-term plan. The best strategy for a career as a self-published author is to be diversified.
You have to decide which is best for you.
2. You publish on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, D2D, etc…
You can upload directly to Amazon (via KDP), Barnes & Noble (via Nook Press), Kobo (via Writing Life), and iBooks. I believe you can publish directly to Scribd, too.
What I do is use Smashwords to publish my books onto the channels they offer. I don’t use them for Amazon, but I do use them for Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Baker & Taylor, Library Direct, Page Foundry, Overdrive, Flipkart, and Scribd. Now, I have published some books directly to Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
You can also use D2D (Draft 2 Digital) to publish to various sites, but I haven’t used them and have no experience with them. What I do know is that unlike Smashwords, you can’t sell on D2D. Smash words will allow you to sell books (and yes, it’s not a whole lot you’ll sell there). But D2D is pretty much a middleman to get your books from your computer to the other retailers.
No matter what option you choose, something to keep in mind is that the average author is not going to have instant success. I understand it’s easy to think there’s some magic formula you can use and make a living right away. But the truth is, for most writers it will take hard work and persistence to pay off. You will need to improve your storytelling ability while you’re also improving your promotional techniques.
The self-published author wears many hats. You’re not only writing a book, but you also have to take care of the cover, format it for ebook and/or paperback, publish it, and then promote it. If you need help with formatting or covers, here’s a link at Smashwords to help you find people who can help you with these things.
Are there any questions you have or experiences you want to share with publishing? The more input we have, the better we can all learn. There might be something I missed. :)