I’ve spent the past few days talking about traditional publishing things: agents, big publishing companies, and scammers like vanity presses. Today I want to share a few safe self-publishing companies. I’m not going into every step of the self-publishing process, because I think that’s more material than I can cover in one blog post, but at the very least I want to give you somewhere to start.
This is a bit more complicated than traditional publishing–at least to me–because the author is in charge of so much. There are a lot of options, so you need to do your research and figure out what’s going to work best for you.
I’m going to be up-front here and say that I’m not much of an Amazon fan. For better or for worse, though, their Kindle Direct Publishing service is probably the biggest ebook market that exists right now, so I can accept that I have to put my personal feelings aside. Amazon actually has three publishing options: KDP, KDP Select, and Amazon Publishing. Amazon Publishing operates more like a traditional publisher, so we’re not going to worry about that one today.
KDP is one of the most accessible platforms for self-publishing. Literally anybody can upload a book and sell it through Amazon, and set-up might take a few hours at the most. It doesn’t cost anything to upload your book, and you get a decent chunk of the royalties once it starts selling. Unfortunately, they can cut your royalty share in half if you don’t stick with their pricing scheme: Anything less than $2.99 or more than $9.99 receives a 35% royalty, while books priced between within that range will get you a 70% royalty. You can sell ebooks or print books, and Amazon offers marketing tools as well.
I don’t like KDP Select for one simple reason: If you choose to publish with them, the digital version of your book is exclusively theirs. You can sell physical copies through other outlets, but you can’t sell your ebook anywhere other than Amazon–not even on your own website. I would want more distribution options than that, so I’m not interested in KDP Select. However, there are a few perks like free promotions, countdown deals, and enrollment in Kindle Unlimited.
Barnes and Noble isn’t as big as Amazon, but their royalty rates are still competitive (40% for books under $2.99 and 65% for books between $2.99 and $9.99) and it’s apparently easy to upload a book onto their platform. It’s also free to upload a book, and they’re working on adding more marketing tools for authors. They don’t require exclusivity like KDP Select, either.
Once again, it’s free to upload books to Kobo. For royalties in the U.S., you’re looking at 45% for books under $2.99, and 70% for anything $2.99 and up. I don’t know if that’s different for international users. Kobo is Canadian, and they’re subsidized by a Japanese company, so they have a pretty big international reach.
There are some perks if you distribute through Kobo rather than through an aggregator, so look into that before you make any final decisions.
An aggregator is a service that helps you publish your book to multiple markets at a time. In exchange for their service, the aggregator takes a cut of your royalties.
It’s free to sign up with Draft 2 Digital, and they charge 10% of the royalty for every copy sold. They do the formatting for you, which is nice, and their user interface is apparently very easy to work. They also distribute to a lot of different markets, so your book will be widely available.
From what I’ve read, Smashwords isn’t quite as user-friendly as Draft 2 Digital, and you have to do your own formatting. They also don’t distribute to Amazon, so you’re losing out on a huge market there, or at least having to navigate that part of distribution yourself. The fee is 15% of the royalty from the Smashwords store, or 10% anywhere else.
The vanity press rule still applies
If a publisher wants you to pay them in advance, rather than through a cut of your sales, there’s a good chance they’re scammers. Do your research before you sign anything or spend anything. Look at reviews of that publisher and find out what authors are saying about them.
I feel like this is probably enough to get you started. I’d like to be able to offer more self-publishing help in the future, but it’s something I’m still trying to learn. What are your thoughts? I’d probably forego some royalties and use an aggregator service.
Tomorrow I’m getting back to more general information, and I have a silly post about the Dunning Kruger Effect. I hope you’ll be back too.