Options for publishing your own e-book

Published on 14 May 2012 in , , ,

As you may know, I’ve published some e-books. Well recently a friend asked me what options there were to do it. So I laid them out for them.

And then I thought I’d share it with you all. Because, well, why not?

So there’s various ways of publishing your own e-book. And here some of them. Everything here is very much focused on UK based authors.

Method 1: Amazon Kindle

In the UK the Kindle is by far the biggest e-reader going. And nicely Amazon have a self publishing platform called Kindle Direct Publishing. You just need to write the book and then format it in the right way. Once done you just upload it to their website.

You can upload it in various formats including HTML and Word. I always use HTML as I found it works more reliably. When I tried using Word format, it just kept breaking for me, although I was using OpenOffice which might have a factor.

Once uploaded you preview it, enter the title and description and decide your (pre-tax) price. You can decide which countries you want to sell it in, and much more.

All this is free and Amazon just take a cut off the sales price. You can choose between two royalty schemes – 70% or 35%. There’s

benefits and drawbacks to both, some of which involve restrictions on sales price. For a “normal” book of text, 70% works nicely. You can also take part in a scheme KDP Select. This is where readers can borrow your book, and you get some money per borrow. Only Kindle users in the USA can currently borrow.

Getting paid can be a bit faffy though. For sales in UK you get paid in pounds. France, Italy, Germany and Spain sales are done differently but you can still get paid in pounds. Sales everywhere else are done in dollars and the IRS cream 30% off you by default unless you fill in various forms and send off some ID (right now I’m waiting for the IRS to return my driving license… Those forms are seriously fun.)

For UK and European sales you can get your royalties paid straight into the bank although for dollars you get sent a cheque. This needs to be converted back in to pounds sterling – I used AuctionChex for this who are pretty fast and far cheaper than the bank.

Method 2: Sell it yourself

A second option is to set up your own website and flog your book from there. I sell PDFs this way – people pay through Paypal and I bought a PHP script to sell the download. I use a script called Linklok

It requires technical expertise but it’s a one off cost and you keep all the money besides Paypal fees. But you need to be able to drive people to your website and persuade them to buy and personally I haven’t generated many sales yet.

If you’re confident of sales and want a less techie solution, there are companies like eJunkie that will handle the sales side for about $5 a month (plus Paypal fees.)

Personally I haven’t found this route to be very successful – not even made enough cash to pay for the LinkLok script, but if you can get people through to your website and drive sales from there, then you may do better.

Method 3: Smashwords

Smashwords is a bit like Amazon KDP but they sell through almost all of the ebook reader stores like Sony, Kobo, iBooks and even Amazon.

Again they take a cut of your royalties but the royalties you get depend on who sell it – Apple (for example) take a 30% cut straight away, and then Smashwords will take a bit more. But it’s probably the easiest way to get on to non-Kindle readers.

Royalties get paid straight to your PayPal account, whatever you make. You do need to make a small minimum spend via their website before you will end up in the e-reader stores.

I’ve yet to try it so I don’t know about sales, but it is totally non-techie though – you submit the book in a Word doc and they do all the hard work.

A similar company exists called Lulu however they are very US focussed.

There are, of course, other options. For example Apple have a self-publishing system called iBooks Author but in a moment of genius it seems they decided that you should only be able to self-publish on to an iPhone or iPad if you have a Mac. And no, I’m not buying a Mac just to publish a book that way.

For my money, if you’re only going to publish one way, do it by Kindle. The market is the biggest, and despite the annoyances of getting paid, people can find your book on the website of the world’s largest retailer.

Just one thing to make sure though – if you’re going to publish, write something worth publishing!