We all want to know WHICH is the best self-publishing platform and book distribution for our books or eBooks.  When you have a choice of Kindle Direct, Blurb and IngramSpark… you might get confused.

Please do not consider Austin Macauley, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford and Xlibris or Balboa Press as publishers. Some are self-publisher services of Author Solutions Inc, an American company with 200,000 past customers. If you find a Self-Publishing platform you would like reviewed before going ahead, please let me know.

Who earns more? Written Word Media surveyed authors in 2016 and asked “What makes a $100K author“?  Of the 100K earning (in a single year) authors surveyed, 72% were indie and 28% were hybrid. While just 11% of those surveyed said they were in this bracket, I think that’s a lot in comparison to what happens in Australian markets.

WWM say that publishing independently (under your ISBN) means higher royalty rates, which means it is easier to start generating revenue from a base.

It also means you have control and can save some costs by using freelancers.

Jennifer Lancaster is an editor who has had much experience in self publishing books of her own, and of others who were unable to manage the production.

IngramSpark is the self-publishing division of Lightning Source International.

Their Self-publishing calculators, templates and guides are important to use, particularly noting the royalty you are left with under varying options.

Pros are: excellent cover quality; printing of black & white books within Australia; fast ship times and a range of urgency pricing; and the backing of a huge company. Colour printing mainly has slower times as these are printed in the UK.

Colour printing mainly has slower times as these are printed in the UK.

IngramSpark offer a range of paper: standard white/creme, standard color, standard color 70 (105 gsm), and premium color. The price for premium colour is exorbitant and it’s not quite cookbook level, but it’s nice.

Order a ‘print sample’ from IngramSpark and from Blurb if your project is full colour, and compare the print + ship cost calculations. Blurb’s Trade books are from $5.60 B&W to $18 Econ. Color, for 188 pp, compared to $4, $7 or $11 with IngramSpark. Please re-check these prices as there have been price rises at IngramSpark.

Cons are the extra fees upon re-loading interiors or covers (US$25 each), slow to reach support (and they only answer one question per email), and the Royalty to retail is set at 55% unless you specify a lower amount.

Want to order 1 copy? POD (without a retailer) inside Australia attracts $8.50 postage/handling. However, you can order 50 to 100 copies cost-effectively and sell books privately all you like.  The prices are quite competitive at these low numbers. And some books fit in a document envelope and weigh under 500g, which saves a lot in postage.

Should I pay the $80 for IngramSpark Advance new book listing?  Well, it doesn’t have that wide a distribution, being 11,000 bookstores/librarians (US) and 3,000 international, so I probably wouldn’t do it.

Every author must choose the best marketing methods to reach their audience; sometimes word of mouth and library supplier messaging is better than a lone print ad. See what other experts say at KDP Community Forum

OK, so you want to deliver your ebook to the world’s biggest marketplace under Amazon Kindle Publishing. However, two things crop up:

  1. How is your ebook going to stand out?
  2. Are you going to distribute exclusive, with Kindle Select?

Firstly, standing out comes down to creating appealing imagery, title, subtitle, and an idea that appeals to your target market. The author of ‘Thin Thighs in 30 days’ did a lot of market research and listening to women to come up with niche appeal in a crowded diet book sector. The right keywords and category also makes your book more discoverable.

Use Kindle Select with caution, and remember that you have to monitor it and opt out of the program before distributing eBooks far and wide. If you’ve already got an ebook on there, perhaps try it for 90 days and plan a special promotion week or free offer.

Everything you want to know about Kindle publishing (if not getting help here) is at KDP Help, open to all.

Pros are:  KDP has the easiest wizard to pass the ebook conversion process. They allow publishing from an already created .ePub file or from a stripped Word .doc file, which you can preview and download as ePub.

An alternative to KDP is Draft2Digital.com, which has some useful add-ons for authors, like a special created page for other books.

Draft2Digital offers distribution and pretty formatting of ebooks, as an aggregator to retail stores. Using them means ‘going wide’ with distribution. (External link).

An eBook aggregator offers a publishing and sales platform, plus distributes ebooks to all main online retailers or libraries. Authors aren’t then trapped into formatting their book to each publisher’s guidelines and maintain multiple publisher accounts.

Aggregators can also get ebooks into channels that authors can’t access, e.g. Scribd, a digital library with a subscription service and more than 80 million users worldwide.

Main advantage here?  They distribute to Apple iBooks and it’s easy to set up your ebook, your (25% off withholding) tax status, and do book promotions all in the one place. You can encourage any new readers to anticipate more books from you, with the tick of a box.

Draft2Digital take 10% of the sale, on top of the usual retailer cut (differs according to site).

The Print on Demand platform, Lulu, I recommend for the DIY author who wants to go global, is on a low budget, and is OK with the slow shipping to Australia. Overall it’s quite expensive for shipping low quantities of relatively short books. The paper is trade paper only. Please read:

Lulu Distribution – mainly free, unless your eBook is not pre-formatted. Lulu pays via PayPal every month that you get a sale, so you don’t need a certain amount to be paid. Therefore, it’s great for the retiree writer.

What’s missing?  Google Play Books and Amazon Kindle is missing from LuLu. (This information may not be up-to-date as things change).

If your book is global, I strongly suggest you seek another eBook distributor – perhaps use IngramSpark if producing both print and electronic books.

Go to Amazon Kindle Direct for eBook publishing only.

To make your book available on Google Play, register separately on Google Play Books, for eBook or print book through their own interface. (They allow a uploaded preview and a cover image).

If you had a Google Book partner account, re-load your book content on the new account.

Also check the payment settings and input your Paypal account.