This week I wanted to talk to you about publishing platforms and help you determine which direction is going to be most suitable for you as a newly published author.
The majority of new authors now have no option but to self-publish, as opposed to being published with traditional publishers who take care of everything for the author including editing, design and publishing in print and ebook format. They might guide the author through the process of recording their book for an audiobook as well.
For the self-published author though, the options are not entirely clear.
If you’ve already started exploring your options, then you might have noticed that there doesn’t seem to be one clear path that a new author can take to become published, which makes the process quite daunting.
It might even appear that there are too many options, making it too difficult to know what is the best course to follow without having a degree in publishing.
It really can be overwhelming to the point that some authors might just put their project on the back burner indefinitely, or worse, give up on their dream of becoming a published author entirely.
What I want to do today is give you clarity around your choices so that you can move forward with confidence.
I want to help you formulate your own publishing plan.
It’s more than eight years since I published my first book, and while I’ve come a long way and gained a lot of inside knowledge since then, I still remember the feeling of overwhelm I experienced at the time.
A friend and I were putting together a compilation book called Domestic Detox and we’d managed to collect 14 amazing stories for the book.
It was only ever going to be an ebook – a pdf downloadable that my friend could use as a lead magnet for a coaching business they were considering launching.
I got it into my head though that it would be great to have it in print so I started researching what our options were and what I needed to do in order to achieve that.
I was quite driven, which was probably a good thing, because it kept me moving forward toward my goal, even though I really didn’t know for sure that I could do it.
Beyond the editing and design choices, which in and of themselves felt ominous, there was the challenge of determining which platform to use to print our book from that would see it available anywhere and everywhere, without us having to print it ourselves and take care of all the postage and handling.
There were three options as far as I could tell. They were what is known as print-on-demand platforms and each one had some benefits that would work for us, but not one of them met all of our requirements perfectly.
While some aspects of the services provided by those three print-on-demand platforms have changed with regard to printing and distribution, they remain, in my opinion, the three best options for self-publishing printed books, and one of those platforms is a clear stand out for ebooks and audiobooks as well, which gives it a significant edge.
Here are what I believed to be the top three options for us at the time of publishing our first book:
3. Createspace (now Amazon KDP)
Geography is a big factor when it comes to printing books. I’m talking about where you are and where your readers are in relation to where your book will be printed.
Costs, including set up and printing costs, are also a big factor.
Distribution is also a big factor.
We went with Lulu for our first book because set up was free, printing costs for the book were reasonable and got better the more you bought, and they had print partners in lots of different countries so that they could print locally to where orders were placed, including Australia, which is where we live.
IngramSpark printed here in Australia and the print costs were pretty good, but they had significant set up fees and it would have cost us a fortune to use them because we kept wanting to update and correct parts of the interior of the book and the set up fees would have applied each time we made a change. I also couldn’t get clarity around their distribution model so I decided not to use them.
And finally, there was Amazon KDP. Obviously, Amazon has good distribution and they print as local as possible to where orders are placed. Set up is free with them too, and print costs are very good.
But at the time that we were publishing, they didn’t have a print partner in Australia and our only option would have been to have wholesale author copies printed in the US and posted to us from there, which made wholesale copies as costly as retail copies. So that wasn’t going to work.
I continued to use Lulu for some time, until they had some difficulties with their Australian print partner and that caused considerable stress for us – and our authors – over a period of about six months.
It was during that time that I decided to set up an account with IngramSpark and have found them to be great on quality and on pricing, as long as I don’t want to make any changes to my books beyond the initial publishing.
And Amazon was the no-brainer for ebooks with the top 80% of all ebooks sold through the Amazon Kindle store.
Having published several books for more than 200 authors, I still see these three companies as the top choices for print-on-demand platforms.
Just over a year ago, however, Amazon KDP emailed me to say that they are now printing in Australia, which meant I then had a third, viable option for our printing requirements and this change has had a significant impact on the way I conduct my business.
Amazon is, in and of itself, a search engine, and while Google is still the most popular search engine, 54% of product searches take place on Amazon and not on Google. So Amazon, not Google, is the most popular ecommerce search engine in the world.
This makes it important to have your books on Amazon.
Yes, distribution via Lulu and IngramSpark will see your books on the Amazon platform but it is much harder to manage your Amazon sales from either platform, and there is also the middle-man fee to consider.
Further to that, if you are going to create an ebook, which you should, because you want to offer your target market as many ways as possible to consume your content, then you are going to have your ebook on Amazon anyway, and they make it so easy to move from creating your print book to creating your ebook.
And finally, it is the same account you will use to upload an audio version of your book once you get to that stage.
And finally, besides your print book, your ebook and your audiobook version of your book, I am a huge fan of Flipbooks which cost nothing to create, and you can sell them or give them away or use them as lead magnets.
When you share a flipbook, you are sharing a link rather than a file, which makes them a very convenient way to reach your target audience, including the small percentage of your market that don’t have Kindle.
If you’ve already written your book, or you are close to completing it, you can get started on your publishing journey today by downloading the Designrr app from my website and creating a Flipbook version of your book.
Your book doesn’t need to be huge and it’s much easier than you might think.
I hope this has been helpful to you and has re-ignited your excitement for publishing.
And when you finish your flipbooks make sure you let me know so I can take a look. I’d love to see what you create.
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That’s if from me for this week. Look after yourself.
Bye for now.