This article is part of our 5-series how to self-publish your book guide.
Your book is written, edited, and ready to go… but how exactly will you put it in the hands of your eager audience?
Before self-publishing a book, you’ll have to decide how and where you want to distribute it.
Your decision will depend on your goals: Do you want to promote your blog and build your email newsletter? Or maybe you’re trying to grow your reputation as an industry expert, get speaking gigs, or simply earn a more passive income. Think carefully as you make your decision, and your book will help you to accomplish all your goals.
Before deciding where to publish your book, it’s worth considering whether you want to give it away (yes, for free!), or charge for your words.
Giving away your book for free is a good option to help you promote your website or build your email list.
But be careful about giving away your book: you want to make sure that it’s actually achieving those goals.
If your goal is to build your email list, you must make sure the topic is highly relevant and useful for your ideal subscribers. Offer your book only to new email subscribers – don’t make it available anywhere else.
Or, you can decide to offer your book for free on a publishing platform such as Amazon KDP in order to reach a new audience and promote your blog.
In order for the content to be more closely linked to you and your blog, be sure to keep your branding intact by using cohesive graphics that match your blog, writing in your own unique style, placing a header/footer with your name and blog URL on every page, linking back to your blog within the book, etc.
If you do decide to make your book free on a publishing platform, you can promote it using the following tools:
But while giving away your book is an option, we’re focusing on selling books in this blog post.
After all, self publishing is kind of “level up” from your blogging career. It allows you to create a more passive income than your blog, and is more prestigious. As a book author, you’ll get more opportunities to stand out in front of the crowd with opportunities such as book promotion events and speaking gigs, and market yourself and your blog. (Need advice on pricing? Check out Lori's post on Are You Charging Enough for Your Products and Services?)
If you’re selling your book, there are plenty of ways to go about it! Below are just a few.
Selling your book on your own website is the easiest way, since you don’t have to worry about strict formatting requirements, low royalties, or learning how to use a whole new platform.
Usually, you can set a price for an e-book much higher on your own website. On Amazon, people tend to expect certain prices. Many readers will balk at having to fork out more than $5 for a Kindle book. But popular bloggers often charge anywhere from $20 to $100 for e-books on their own websites.
The downside to selling your book on your own site is the marketing and promotion. If no one reads your blog or visits your website, you’ll never sell a single book. So, you’ll have to make sure you already have an engaged audience who’s willing to pay for your book.
With Amazon publishing, you have two choices: Amazon KDP to publish an e-book for Kindle, or Amazon CreateSpace for publishing physical books.
CreateSpace by Amazon allows authors to independently publish their books. Here’s what you can expect when choosing to work with CreateSpace:
CreateSpace by Amazon is a good choice because it will help you to reach a broad audience.
With over 300 million active users, Amazon has a massive following compared to its competitors.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allows authors to publish their books in less than five minutes and have it available for purchase in as little as 24-48 hours. You will have full control of your book, setting a price that you decide on and the ability to make changes to your book whenever you feel fit. Lastly, authors earn up to 70% royalty on sales to customers in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, India, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and more.
With KDP, there’s another option you can choose called Kindle Select. If you choose to enroll your book in KDP Select, you commit to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP.
During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. Authors that enroll in KDP Select will earn higher royalties, reaching a new audience, and are able to run their own promotions.
Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks.
The Smashwords online bookstore has a built-in audience, and they’ll also distribute your book for you to Apple, Barnes & Noble US and UK, Scribd, Oyster, Kobo, and more. Here’s what you can expect when working with Smashwords:
But one downside to Smashwords is that they have very strict formatting requirements that many authors have trouble with, due to the vague error-reporting system.
For Smashwords, it may be worth looking into hiring an expert to edit it for you. This usually costs less than $100. It's free to publish on Smashwords. However, their commission is 10% of the retail price for sales through their retail distribution network (Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.) and library distribution network (Baker & Taylor Axis360, OverDrive, and others coming).
At the Smashwords Store, their commission is 15% of the net for regular sales and 18.5% for sales that are originated by affiliate marketers.
Lulu allows authors, educators, artists, and nonprofits a platform to create, publish, and sell their books to major retailers for free. What to expect when publishing with Lulu:
Royalties and pricing vary from book to book based on the size, whether it is hardcover or paperback, color or black and white, and whether it is print or ebook.
The retailers you choose to distribute to will also factor into royalties and pricing. For example, if you sell a 6×9, 200 page, black and white paperback on Lulu’s website, the list price will be $14.95, Lulu’s share will be $1.94, and your total profit will be $7.76 (just over 50% of the list price).
Kobo focuses primarily on eBook publications, versus its competitors who offer both print and eBook options. What to expect when working with Kobo:
Royalties/pricing: Kobo will pay authors in their particular currency and by direct deposit monthly once they have earned more than $50. If this payment threshold isn’t met, they issue payments biannually.
Self publish author can look for the alternative such as Author Solutions to sell or market a book. Author Solutions is the world's largest and lead supported self publish company. It is also the parent company of the self publishing companies/imprints AuthorHouse and Xlibris,
We have helped more than 225,000 authors bring to market nearly 300,000 books. We have our own self publishing imprint and we partner with leading publishers to run self publishing imprints for them. For example, we partner with Penguin Random House in Singapore to offer Partridge publishing. We offer the widest range of publishing and marketing services of any company in the world which gives authors more opportunities through our companies than with anyone else in the world.
Keith Ogorek, the marketing director for Author Solutions
Distribution is something to put careful thought into, especially if you have big goals for your book! It’s important to research various self publishing companies in order to find the perfect fit for your particular needs.
Next up in the self publishing series, “How to Self Publish Your Book #4: Designing and Formatting Your Book”.