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Indie Book Publishing Options

Indie-publishing has never been easier. As for the stigma attached to doing-it-yourself, it is falling away faster with each new author to find success in the indie-publishing space.

Add to their ranks the "hybrid authors" -- those both traditionally and self-published -- who are going the independent route, and you have the manifestation of a new publishing paradigm. Not only are these authors modeling the way of the future, they are proving that the best way to make it in the authoring business is to be available in as many places and on as many formats as possible to ensure the greatest following. And they are making more money in the process.

The new publishing mantra, à mon humble avis, ought to be:

Give our readers what they want, where and how they want it.

Why? Because more and more readers, even the very young, are reading in a variety of formats, not just print; and they are developing format preferences linked to the time of day and where they are reading. That is to say, while a print book may be the preferred medium in bed at night, literacy habits are often better served these days on tablets and eReaders when in transit on the go.

However, getting your manuscript to the iPad, Nook, or Kindle (to name a few) remains a complex and mysterious process. I’ve been researching the possible avenues for my Time Traveler Tales for months now. And it's been a challenge to get a firm grip on all the options. To help me best make sense of the current state of indie-publishing, I decided to create a summary analysis.

I found the exercise so helpful, I decided to share it you.

The problem is, there is no single, universal way to transform your book to each and every available eReader. There may never be. So until the process of eBook publishing is “universalized”, we have no choice but to format our works for each distribution channel.

By distribution channel, I refer to the retailer ultimately handling your book, and your money. The biggest players in the eBook space today are Amazon (for the Kindle), Barnes & Noble (for the Nook), and Apple (for the iPad). In addition, Sony and Kobo both support their own eReaders as well as bookstores. And Google maintains an online store that can push to several types of eReaders through Google Play. In my summary analysis, called Indie Book Publishing Options, I focus primarily on The Big Three -- Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble (B&N) -- as they are my present priority.

Given that each distributor supports its own reading device, we authors must first decide whether our works are best suited to a single targeted retailer or to all. If we wish to paint with the broadest strokes, we must then decide if we are up for the technical challenge of formatting and publishing to each channel ourselves, or if we'd prefer to have an aggregator do the work for us instead.

An eBook aggregator is a company or service provider that will take your existing manuscript, typically in .doc, .docx, .pdf, or InDesign file formats, and convert it into the formats needed to publish to the various eBook retailers.

Some aggregators offer additional services, including help with cover design, ISBN acquisition, copyediting, copyrighting, and marketing. But no two aggregators provide the same services, so I delineate the offerings unique to each aggregator in my summary analysis as well.

In addition to handling distribution, aggregators will also manage your sales and payments. They provide you with an account dashboard so all you have to do is sit back and watch your royalty payments trickle in (or flood in, if you’re lucky). As the payment models of each aggregator are different, I also compare and contrast these in the document.  

And after identifying aggregator services and targeted distribution channels, accepted file formats, as well as their potential associated costs, I offer my own views on:

  • the pros and cons of DIY vs. aggregator-driven indie-publishing,

  • the conundrum of Digital Rights Management, and

  • the truth -- at least as I see it -- about purchasing ISBNs.

Click Here
to access a free .pdf copy of:

By Sarah Towle

I hope you find it helpful.  All best, Sarah

        PS Have you gone Indie? Please leave a comments and tell us all about it. Are you satisfied with the results?


        *Special thanks are owed to Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch, whose book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur -- How to Publish a Book, was an invaluable aid in this research and a must-read by anyone considering self-publication.