So, you finished writing your book and you want to publish it. There are two routes you can go down: you can traditionally publish it or you can self-publish it. I’ll go over traditional publishing in a later blog post, but for now, I’m going to focus on self-publishing. Self-publishing was historically a vanity project for people who wanted to say that they were an author, but with the rise of e-books, self-publishing has become a legitimate and popular path for many authors to take. Not only do you have to relinquish creative control of your book, but you also have to deal with years of waiting while your book is being prepared. In comparison, self-publishing allows you to upload your book quickly and garners you much higher royalties by cutting out the middlemen (you typically get ~70% for self-published books vs royalties as low as ~10% for traditionally published books). If you want to be an author in this day and age, you’re probably going to have to self-publish, and that means finding a platform to sell your books on. There are many platforms you can sell your books on, but I’ll be looking at the three main platforms you should be looking at.
Platform 1: Amazon
Amazon is by far the biggest seller of self-published books. There are absolutely no reasons to not be publishing your books on Amazon. You’re just throwing away money otherwise. Amazon was the one who revolutionized the writing industry by turning self-publishing into a reasonable venture for authors in the first place, so it stands to reason that they have the biggest share of the self-published market. Amazon also offers authors the option of releasing a print-on-demand paperback book, allowing you to sell to consumers who don’t like e-books. In addition, Amazon also offers a special program for authors called KDP Select, which offers you the ability to run advertising campaigns and adds your book into the Kindle Lending Library, which pays you a small amount of money for every page someone who borrows your book reads. The downside to KDP Select is that it requires you to keep your book exclusively on Amazon for a three-month contract (which automatically renews).
Platform 2: Smashwords
At a distant second, Smashwords is one of the most popular platforms for self-published books. It offers a very convenient premium catalog that you can enroll your book in that automatically distributes your book to a wide number of third-party platforms, such as Barnes & Nobles and Kobo. It also offers an affiliate program, which can be used to promote your book by increasing the percentage of revenue affiliates get from linking to your book. The only real complaint that I have about Smashwords is that it is a pain to upload to. The formatting has to be very specific or else it won’t go to the third-party platforms. If you have an issue with the formatting, you’ll have to figure it out yourself or consult the Smashwords Style Guide, which is 28,300 words or about 107 pages, at least with the online reader.
Platform 3: Your own Website
This is probably the last thing people think of when they think about publishing platforms, but it does have some great benefits for the right authors. The biggest one that comes to mind is the fact that you can keep 100% of the profits, something that can’t be done on any other publishing platform. However, this also means that you have to pay to run your website, which can cause you to run at a loss depending on how much of your audience gets your books from your website if you weren’t already running some sort of profit off of your website to begin with. In addition, only a small percentage of your sales will come from your website anyways, so you will still need to use Amazon and possibly Smashwords to sell your books.
In the end, there are many platforms to publish your books on but only two feasible strategies to garner any sales: Publishing your books exclusively or publishing on as many platforms as you can. In the next blog post, I will be looking at the pros and cons of each of these two strategies.