Aliens in the Barn

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Self-Publishing eBooks: Getting Down To It

This was already included in the previous post. However, there was a pretty large introduction as to how I came upon it all and I figured that there might be people not interested in the backstory of my research. So, this post gets right down to my findings.

This is what I've found out in my preliminary research to self-publishing ebooks. If you are interested in self-publishing your manuscript, this may help to jump start your own research.


Amazon with the Kindle e-reader is the big fish in the sea. Kindle Direct Publishing is a way to get your book out there for free. (Didn't mean to rhyme. *laughs at myself*) You can find their home page here:

They have a wonderful Kindle Publishing Guide that coaches you every step of the way:

They also offer pretty large royalties:

The sad news about Amazon is that they have introduced a program, KDP Select, that allows people to 'borrow' books for free. Many Indie Publishers were doing very well selling books between 0.99 and 2.99. At that price, it's like giving away books for free already and gobs of people hopped on those prices. Now, however, if someone can get a book for free by 'borrowing' it, then why pay? Even if it is only 99 cents.

This new program is concerning. Amazon says the author gets part of a pot of money when people borrow his/her book for free. This would conceivably work, if you are a top selling author. However, I'm not seeing the benefit for new, unknown, authors.

Even though this is scary, there are still a couple of upsides. First of all, in order for readers to borrow books for free through this program, they have to be members of Kindle Prime. Readers get a one month free trial, but after that they have to pay $80 a year and are only allowed to borrow one book a month.

If someone is using the Kindle to buy and read .99-2.99 books, and I'm sure there are people out there who do this, then Kindle Prime will not appeal to them at all.

Since the reader is only allowed to borrow 12 books in one year and has to pay 80 dollars for those 12 books, then the math is in our favor. Kindle Prime members would have to be borrowing books that cost way more than 99 cents in order for that to work out for them. Because of this, it may be that books selling for 0.99-2.99 are safe. I would assume that if someone is paying that much, then that person would be going for books that cost much more than 0.99-2.99 just so that they'd be getting their money's worth in the subscription.

The worst news about KDP Select is that if you choose to be a part of it, then you can't publish your book anywhere else for an allotted amount of time. Again, as a new and unknown author, I don't think this a good option for me. Thank goodness being a part of KDP Select isn't mandatory. You can still publish through KDP and not have to be a part of the Select program.

The second upside to all these new scary things that Amazing is doing is that, while Amazon may be the biggest fish in the sea, it isn't the only fish in the sea.

With that thought, I now introduce Barnes & Noble's publishing platform:


The PubIt! homepage can be found here:

Through PubIt!, you would be selling your book through the NOOK e-reader. They have similar royalty payments as Amazon. Information on their royalty can be found here:
Look under 'Pricing and Payment Terms.' This is also a pretty good support page. It's not as good as Amazon's and it took me awhile to find it, but there it is.

One thing I've noticed Indie authors doing is publishing on both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble platforms. Apple also has their own platform, as well as Kobo.

Apple is complicated and you need a Mac to work through their system. I do not have a Mac, so I didn't look into them any further.


The technical requirements for kobo are also a bit daunting, but if you want to give it a try:

Kobo is also working on the developement of a self-publishing portal and you can submit your email address for notification of when it will be available:
Hopefully when they get that finished, it won't seem as difficult to publish through their system.


Not all of the e-reader companies are working together. They each have their own thing and they, understandably, want to make money through their own products. The great thing about being an Indie author is that you can publish through all of them. The only thing they ask is that you not sell your book for less with another e-reader company. In other words, if you sell your book for $2.99 through, say, PubIt!, then you will have to sell your book for $2.99 through all the other e-reader platforms.

There are companies out there that will publish your book through several e-reader platforms at once. Amazon, however, likes to stand on its own, but there are some companies that will distribute to them too.

One suggestion would be to publish through Amazon and then publish through an aggregation service provider in order to get to all the other e-readers. Just remember, don't choose to put your book in KDP Select if you are doing this, because you can only sell through Amazon if you put your book in that program.

It looks like the easiest aggregate is:


Check out their website here:
They reach Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, and the Diesel eBook store.

Royalties are 60% and they only take 15% of the net each time they sell your book. They have a very good support page with a wealth of information on how to publish through them:
They even provide free ISBNs. For information on what an ISBN is, take a look at this page:

Just so you know, you don't have to have an ISBN to publish to the Kindle (Amazon provides its own number for your book, the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN)). So, if you publish through Amazon first, you don't need to worry about acquiring an ISBN before publication. The other systems require ISBNs, however, so going through Smashwords will get you one for free.

As with anything that seems fairly easy, there is a downside to KDP, PubIt!, and Smashwords: You have to format your ebook to fit their platforms. Depending on your skill level and patience, this can be a discouraging task. Each website for each publisher gives directions on how to format your ebook to fit each of their e-readers. It can be a long and arduous part of the self publishing ebook process.

There is a program that can help you in these conversions called Jutoh. This is an ebook editor for $39.00. You can find it here:

There are numerous individuals that you can hire to do these formats as well. I am not to this point with my own book, however, so I don't know any to recommend. I'm simply sharing what my limited research has turned up. Though, Smashwords does have a list of ebook formatters and cover artists. You can send an email to and request "Mark's List."

If you're not up to all that, never fear. There are aggregate providers that will do it for you for a fee, of course.


The homepage to eBookit can be found here:
This company charges $149 to convert your book for just about any and all e-readers, including the Kindle. They will even help you with your cover. They seem to have a pretty solid plan and will distribute your book to all the major e-reader platforms. For another fee, they'll even advertise your book for you. You get the most profit if you sell through their store, of course, but even with their take on what you sell through Amazon, B&N, Apple, etc., this might be a low stress way of getting your formatted book out there.

The only worry I have with this company is the fact that they say that updates to your book are billed at "only $49.00 per hour." That seems steep and the 'only' part made me laugh a little. I'm not sure if this means they periodically have to update your book or if all updates are only done if requested by the author. They have a pretty good support page, though, which can be found here:


This company seems to have a pretty solid plan as well. The home page to book baby can be found here:

Book Baby's motto is "Self Publishing Made Easy." They will publish your book for as low as $99, which includes all conversions, and will distribute it to Apple's iBookstore, Amazon, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie.

This company does not take any commissions at all, but they do have a $19 annual fee.

Here is their pricing list:

Book baby will help with your cover, with conversions, and will provide an ISBN for an additional $19. Here's how it works:

That concludes the extent of my research. I have not tested any of these options myself, but having it all in one place will be helpful for when I get to the publishing stage of my books, if I decide to go the indie route. Hopefully this was helpful for you as well.

I also found this blog post by Henry Baum. It has some helpful information about eBookit and Book Baby and the comments are very helpful too:

Happy writing!


  1. I'm putting up three out of contract books soon. I have a book on Amazon and Smashwords, will try B&N and the look into the ARe self pub program. Will eventually update on my blog about my experience self publishing.

    I'll continue to submit to publishers with new stuff. Am not that excited about self publishing, except it is nice if you have the rights to backlist!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Melisse! Looks like you have both worlds. That's a good way. I have a lot to learn, but it's nice to know there are options to do both at the same time.

    I'm curious...What is the ARe self pub program?

    Thanks again!