I recently conducted a short survey of five self-published authors to find out where they chose to publish their books and what they experienced with each format. I hope you find their information helpful. I certainly did!
In which formats did you publish your e-book? (Amazon (Kindle) Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iPod, iPad), Kobo, etc)
Initially, in Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, through CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Lulu. Now, I’m Kindle only. I’ve found the income from Kindle Select borrows exceeds the others combined. – Wayne Stinnett
Amazon Kindle. – Carol Hedges
I published in every format I could! .mobi (Amazon/Kindle), .epub (B&N and Apple), .pdf, .html. However you want my book, it’s available. – Aria Glazki
Amazon (and also used CreateSpace for paperback). – Olga Montes and John Vamvas
I self-published for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Sony eReader (which is now part of Kobo I believe), and also in paperback which is available online at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. – Jessica Gollub
I used a doc. file to publish in Amazon. – Lorraine Koh
Amazon, because I wanted to use the free book facility as a promotion tool for Back to Creative Writing School, and you can only do that if you are only available on Amazon. I did a 24 hour giveaway about three weeks after it was launched and that resulted in about 1300 downloads, mainly in the UK and the US. I don’t know how that compares with other ebook campaigns but it exceeded my expectations as I didn’t have an ebook track record. As a British author, it would be very interesting to know if I could have accessed a wider market using other formats. – Bridget Whelan
I published my book, Read All About It, on Amazon (Kindle). This was mainly due to the fact that I was also publishing it as a paperback through Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and it seems to be logical to do the ebook through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), particularly given that CreateSpace offered the option to transfer the finished file to KDP. It seemed like they were doing the work for me! – Paul Cuddihy
Describe your experience with uploading/publishing your book. Were certain formats more difficult than others?
CreateSpace was a breeze. Easy step by step directions. Smashwords was troublesome, as was Lulu. – Wayne Stinnett
I did it jointly with the graphic designer who designed the cover. I am a total novice. We downloaded the advice package Amazon provides and followed that. It was still very complicated as the blog I wrote on it describes. – Carol Hedges
My favorite by far from a user perspective was Barnes & Noble, because after uploading the document, if there are any issues with spacing or the like, you can edit it right through their system, rather than changing the original file, re-uploading, and hoping it fixed the problem without introducing a new one. That being said, Smashwords has a very user-friendly guide for formatting that is free, and I used that, then used that file for Amazon as well. So Barnes & Noble was the easiest, but the others weren’t particularly difficult either. – Aria Glazki
It is VERY easy to upload your e-book on Amazon. We did not have to convert our Word file into anything, we only had to compress the author pics and other pics we included in the back. (This was a little difficult to figure out – the pictures just weren’t coming out. After some on-line research, we read that all we had to do was compress the pics. That’s it. The command is found in the Picture Tool menu.) HOWEVER, when we use the view tool, it seems the novel looks great in all devices expect in Kindle Fire(s). Strange…
(And if you’re curious about CreateSpace : It’s super easy too! If you’re designing your own front and back cover—like we did—, it may take a little longer to come up with something you’re happy with, but they have great templates you can choose from if you prefer. Moreover, their customer service is great and the finished product is gorgeous.) – Olga Montes and John Vamvas
I found most of the uploading services were fairly straightforward and easy to use, the trickiest thing was figuring out how to get the broadest exposure. The easiest ones were Kindle and Kobo, since both provided direct publishing straight from their sites, for all the other ones I needed to use an aggregator service (partially because I am in Canada and I think while Nook has the ability to publish directly, I wasn’t able to make use of it) – Jessica Gollub
[Amazon] is a good format to use when your manuscript is mostly text. I don’t think it will translate as well if you have images in your doc. file. Overall it was easy to format. Just be aware of placing page breaks after each chapter and also providing a linkable table of contents (TOC). You can do everything on Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. After you format your doc. file, you can just upload it on Amazon and preview it first before publishing. It may take a few hours for it to be live. – Lorraine Koh
As I explained, I chose only one format. Fellow ebook authors told me that the publishing process is simple but I didn’t feel ready to take it on – instead I engaged the services of a professional to format it for me and for a small additional fee he also uploaded it to Amazon and did a bit of virtual hand holding.- Bridget Whelan
In terms of KDP, what I found was that a pdf was uploaded from CreateSpace. This was fine for the cover, but I found it didn’t work so well for the text. For one thing, the pdf was formatted for a paperback, and it didn’t look great in a Kindle format. So what I did was to keep the uploaded cover but then create a completely new Word Document for the text, format that and then upload that file to KDP, which worked much better, and meant that I was able to ensure things such as page breaks, chapter breaks etc… were properly formatted. – Paul Cuddihy
Did you use an aggregator service, such as Smashwords or Lulu? If so, what was your experience like with the service?
Deleted my accounts with Smashwords and only offer hardback through Lulu. I do everything through CreateSpace now. – Wayne Stinnett
No, I didn’t explore these. – Carol Hedges
I just gave this away, but I did use Smashwords, which was very straightforward and on the whole provides some good resources for writers just starting out, with their formatting guide and marketing guide. They also distribute to Kobo, Apple, etc. for you, putting managing all those sales in one place — but they leave the decision of which to include in your hands, which I think is lovely. The writer stays in control. – Aria Glazki
No. – Olga Montes and John Vamvas
I did use both Smashwords and Lulu. Lulu was the method I chose to get my book to Nook and iBooks, and I used Smashwords mainly to get to Sony eReader. They both also provided access to other areas like Scribd, Oyster and Ingram catalogues (plus many others). I found that they took a while to upload to the different sites, but overall my experience was relatively easy. – Jessica Gollub
No I didn’t because I work mainly with Amazon. I believe if I want to distribute my books to other websites like Kobo, Barnes & Noble, I will probably use Smashwords. – Lorraine Koh
I am familiar with Lulu and Smashwords, but I’m not entirely sure how they compare to Amazon and CreatSpace or, indeed, what aggregator services means. Your question flags up that I still have so much to learn and, while I may always buy in a number of services, I want to become familiar with the process so I can make informed choices. – Bridget Whelan
I didn’t use any of these services. Paul Cuddihy
Which format earned you the most book sales?
January, I had 1236 ebook sales and 31 borrows through Amazon/Kindle and a total of 6 sales through Nook and Kobo. – Wayne Stinnett
In the end, I only sold through Amazon Kindle, UK and US sites. – Carol Hedges
Amazon (I’m not calling it “kindle” as the .mobi format is also available through Smashwords). As far as I can tell, people are reluctant to create yet another user account / login, even though on Smashwords, you pay once and can get every format available, whereas on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you pay (usually) the same price for only one format. – Aria Glazki
Book sales on Amazon are steady but I think it’s thanks to all the tweeting and marketing we do. –Olga Montes and John Vamvas
My book is fairly new at this point, but so far I’ve sold the most on Kindle. – Jessica Gollub
At the moment, I am working mainly with Amazon, only because of the KDP Program. The KDP Program is where Amazon will provide a 5 days promotional time frame (within every 90 days) where your e-book will be made free or at a discounted price. During these 5 days, your book will be promoted quite extensively on the Amazon website. However in order to be eligible for the KDP Program, your e-book needs to be exclusive to Amazon. I think it’s quite a good program for new writers. – Lorraine Koh
Amazon – the only one I used. – Bridget Whelan
The sales have been slightly better for the Kindle version than the paperback version to date, but it was only at the beginning of February that I published the book, so I’ve got a few months of promotion ahead of me to try and increase sales. – Paul Cuddihy
What would you (or did you) do differently with a subsequent book? Would you use the same services?
Never hesitated with my third book. CreateSpace exclusively and Kindle Select exclusively. – Wayne Stinnett
If I ever uploaded an ebook again, I’d definitely use Smashwords and explore other available formats.I’d also get some advice on ‘tagging’. I have now had a book published by an Independent publisher, and their expertise in dealing with all aspects of e-publishing are waaay ahead of mine. I think that, for the ‘ordinary writer’ e-publishing is not something to be entered into lightly. To do it professionally – and what’s the point of doing it any other way, you need the services of people who know what they are doing! – Carol Hedges
If I self-publish again, I will definitely publish on all three of these sites, as the more the book is out there, the higher the chances of people seeing it. I may add other distributors, like Kobo, directly instead of relying on Smashwords, to see how each one works. I may also publish with Amazon first, to see how the Kindle Select program works. It’s all about a learning curve, and unfortunately even if you do your research, you can’t know quite how it’ll go until you try it. So I’m interested in testing out the various options to see which will work best. – Aria Glazki
We were part of KDP Select – that’s why we only sold our book on Amazon. Money earned has not been significant enough to stay with the program. Now that we are done with them, we will be uploading our book elsewhere too. – Olga Montes and John Vamvas
I think I would use the same services, I found that I could get my book onto every platform available and broad exposure = more sales. It would likely be a bit easier the second time around, since I’d be able to plan it out a bit better, but overall I was pleased with how it worked out. – Jessica Gollub
I guess in the end, you need to do a lot of your own marketing (social media, garnering book reviews…etc). That may be more important than what format you choose to use. I will still be housing my future books in Amazon for maybe one more year. Once I manage to build a more stable readership base, I may end up publishing my books on all available platforms. – Lorraine Koh
On the whole it has been a very positive experience. Financially it’s been worthwhile and I think one of the things I did right was to hire a talented ebook designer. The cover looks good and it does what it is supposed to do – attract attention for the right reasons. I haven’t done the sums but I would guest that sales in the first 20 days paid the designer’s fee, not bad when you think that I was launching from a standing start. – Bridget Whelan
I would definitely use the same Amazon services again, particularly since they make it so easy to publish. However, I might be tempted to look into publishing a future ebook across a wider range of platforms This has been my first foray into self-publishing and I have to admit that I have found the whole experience an exhilarating one.I had previously written a trilogy of historical novels, which had all been released through traditional publishers in Scotland. There was, of course, the thrill of publication, which, as every writer will tell you, can never be under-estimated. However, it was also a frustrating experience at times – the absence (real or perceived) of any promotion, marketing or advertising of the books, the lack of control throughout the process.On one occasion I couldn’t agree with the publisher over the cover of the book, the debate eventually brought to a conclusion when I was told ‘Well, I’m paying for the design, so we’re going with the one I like!’ (I still hate the cover chosen, incidentally). With Read All About It, I have had none of these frustrations. The cover, for example, was designed by a friend and so was done in a spirit of co-operation and partnership. The end result was, in my humble opinion, superb. It’s been an easy and enjoyable process, and a self-confessed lover of the physical book, I have to confess that the finished product from CreateSpace is very impressive, although I know that, ultimately, readers will judge the book by the content. – Paul Cuddihy
Author of the Jesse McDermitt series
Twitter – @WayneStinnett_
Book: Life Under Examination
Barnes & Noble:
Olga Montes and John Vamvas
Authors of WHEREWOLVES
Link to book trailer, author bios, book excerpt (first two chapters), synopsis, and reviews: www.wherewolvestheblog.com
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/WHEREWOLVES-ebook/dp/B00BHIPYQY
Twitter: @WHEREWOLVESfilm https://twitter.com/WHEREWOLVESfilm
My latest book Pop Rock Love is out in both Ebook and Print. Here’s the kindle link,
It’s a Young Adult romance novel. Here’s a synopsis:
Before she had a whirlwind affair with a mysterious Japanese breakdancer named Yuki, Mimi was contented with belting out rock tunes at a pub on the island city of Singapore. When Yuki suddenly disappears, Mimi goes to Tokyo in search of him and discovers that he actually belongs to a sugary-pop, manufactured boy band called the Fire Boys. Mimi and Yuki belong to different worlds. Is their love strong enough to triumph over all?
Read All About It: My Year of Falling In Love With Literature Again by Paul Cuddihy
(Available as a paperback and ebook on Amazon)
Join my WRITERS email list for Writing Tips and Book Recommendations!
Join my READERS email list to receive just the Book Recommendations!