Ebook and Indie Book Self-Publishing Services, Confusing Choices

I’ve run across a handy chart comparing the leading Indie Ebook self-publishing services. It provides royalty rates for each service, but beware: Some services are free, but keep a percentage of the author’s gross sales. Others charge fees.

You might also want to start by reading the post, “Digital Book World Self-Publishing Guide,” which is very concise, but probably doesn’t include any new information. The accompanying chart, which I found most helpful, is here.  

I broke through the 50,000-word barrier on my WIP (that’s Work in Progress, for the uninitiated) a few days ago.   I’ve rarely had trouble with the proverbial “writer’s block,” but as I approach the end of the WIP, I’m encountering some unexpected psychological resistance. I may have broken the resistance yesterday.

As I try to finish up the book, I find I’m easily distracted. Most of all, I’ve been confusing myself by reading all the advice I can find about the details of publishing an Ebook, particularly the ongoing discussion about Amazon’s Select program, which threatens to suck the oxygen out of competing Ebook channels.

It’s easy to find information about the most well-known distribution channels, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Nobel’s PubIt!, and Smashwords. But I’ve also been running across advertising for a number of other services. They’re all in it to make money, one way or another. I can’t help but wonder about the value of the services available, and particularly if any of the services give an author’s book an edge in the marketplace.

The chart referenced above doesn’t resolve my questions regarding quality or professionalism of the services, but it offers some hints, and it helped me get a handle on the basic differences among the services. Most notably, the chart leaves out Apple’s e-publishing program.

The present consensus of author-bloggers, based on many posts I’ve read, is that Amazon is the clear leader in the growing Ebook market, whether an author chooses to opt in or out of the Select program. In fact, Amazon more or less single-handedly created the market! Most authors report far fewer sales from other channels. But cumulatively, sales from other channels could be significant.

I’d be very interested to know if anyone has experiences to report from any of the service providers, such as Book Baby, Lulu, FastPencil or Outskirts. You’re welcome to add your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.

— John Hayden

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Ebook and Indie Book Self-Publishing Services, Confusing Choices

  1. You’re right, there are so many services out there trying to take advantage of an author’s lack of marketing and technical knowledge. Usually you can hire freelancers to market your book and upload it for much cheaper than what these self-publishing/marketing packages cost.

    In regards to your question about Lulu:
    I have an author friend who complained about quality issues with Lulu. She said when they shipped her books, she opened a few of them, and the pages fell out. Accompanying them was a note apologizing for the poor quality. Of course this would not do. She had to get on the phone for several hours and find someone to rectify the problem.

    I would recommend doing some online research and type in the search engines, the name of the publisher and also the words “complaints” “scam” or “ripoff” Just to see what pops up.

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  2. Thanks Rachel! Excellent suggestions for online research.

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  3. Good rundown of information. Any ideas on how to market on Amazon or Google Ebooks? Both seem impervious to seller intervention in the sales process.

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    • Authors can directly impact the marketing of their books on amazon by 1) Writing a fantastic blurb when you upload your Ebook to Amazon; 2) Wisely choosing the best “categories” for your book on Amazon; and 3) Setting the right price.

      The marketing gimmick of the moment is Amazon’s “free days,” which you can use to hopefully increase your ratings, and therefore, your discoverability and sales on Amazon. Five “free days” are allowed per 90 days if you opt in to Amazon Select. The blogosphere has many differing opinions about whether Select itself is a breakthrough concept or an evil conspiracy.

      Outside Amazon, you have myriad options for advertising and promoting your book. To give you a good place to start, I’ve just reblogged a great post, “The Write It Forward Author Marketing Plan,” from Bob Mayer’s Blog. It’s at the very top of this page for a few days.

      Also, at the top of my sidebar, you’ll see a bloglist titled “Books & Publishing.” It lists a number of great blogs and Web sites, most of which provide information on marketing. I follow several of those blogs closely.

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      • Thanks for your thorough response. I didn’t know that about Amazon Select. I pretty much gloss over anything that costs money, but I might reconsider. D’you think the ‘free’ concept works?

        I’m familiar with Bob Mayers–that’s a fascinating book. I got some great ideas from it.

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  4. Hi, John. I just realized I’m on your blogroll. I wanted to thank you and wish you the best with your publishing endeavors. I’ve self-published three books at this point, so let me know if you have a question and I’ll do my best to answer it. Kudos! Aging Gal

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  5. Congrats Heather! Three books is exactly the number Jen Talty says you need to really make your marketing efforts pay off. (See “The Write It Forward Marketing Plan” above or at Bob Mayer’s blog.)

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  7. To Jaqui Murray: “Do you think the free concept works?”

    The consensus seems to be that it’s worked for many authors on Amazon Select, but not for many others. The free concept seems to be valid if used along with coordinated promotion for a limited time — like two days — for the purpose of raising a book’s ranking and discoverability to generate sales after the free promotion ends.

    My guess is tht any fresh marketing gimmick has a chance of success. But once everybody starts using the same gimmick, it quickly goes stale and the effectiveness diminishes

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