My novel is finished!!! Quickly, upload the Kindle and PDF versions to Amazon. The sooner it’s up there, the sooner the dollars will roll in and the critics line up to praise me. Next step order 50 author copies to sell at the Saturday market. Pick up the box from the post office and proudly open at Page 1…
Oops. I found a typo. Oh well, what’s one typo?
Oops, A friend read the copy I gave her and she found 50 more typos. Oh no, I have 49 more copies full of typos. Sad story.
All the eBook and print-on-demand services tell you IN CAPITAL LETTERS to proofread your book before pushing the PUBLISH button. Spellcheck is a wonderful invention, except it is not good at recognising the wrong word rather than the spelling mistake (their/there, all ready/already, assent/ascent, its/it’s) and as for apostrophe’s… If you’re like me, proofreading from a screen is a task fraught with pitfalls—I need to follow the text with my finger on real paper and mark it up with a pencil.
Moral: print your book out, damn the expense.
Amazon offers an author’s proof copy for this very purpose (the equivalent of galleys), except… not in Australia. In fact, during Covid-19, Amazon doesn’t even want to sell a book to Australia. Which is where I am. So I ordered my proof copy from Blurb in Melbourne and press-ganged my wife to proof-read it. This was the result!
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is the most straightforward path for making your book available. If you’ve used Scrivener to compile it as a .mobi and .pdf (see Part 1 of this topic), it’s as simple as drag and drop and then decide on a price for the eBook and Paperback. Within a few days your title is on sale in the Amazon Bookshop; within a few weeks it will be on sale in all the Amazon Bookshops (even Australia).
Amazon offers an expanded distribution option called KDP Select, which will make your title available in more on-line bookshops and give you access to the Kindle Lending Library. However, in order to join KDP Select, you have to give Amazon the exclusive rights to your title for a period, and lower your royalty percentage.
While Amazon is the world’s largest eBook publisher, it is not the only one. If you don’t mind being a little more “hands-on” you might like to include Smashwords in your sales arsenal.
As of writing, Smashwords is distributing 544,188 eBook titles. Its main format is .epub, which is the standard sold through Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and a dozen other outlets. Smashwords has good links with libraries and it offers time-based promotions. If you don’t take up Amazon’s KDP Select offer, it’s worth uploading a copy of your novel to Smashwords as well.
Remember, Scrivener will compile your book in both .mobi and .epub formats.
As for printed copies of your book, price control become more slippery. Unlike publisher distribution, where the bookseller orders in the number of copies she can sell and takes about 40% of the RRP, on-line outlets print your book on demand—one copy at a time, if necessary. As you can see above, I priced “Ben” through Amazon at US$15. The printing cost per copy is US$4.62 and my 60% Royalty (which appears very generous if you are being published by Penguin) of the nett price is US$4.38 per copy. The royalty drops to 40% if you choose KDP’s expanded distribution.
Strange to relate, Amazon Australia has priced the eBook at Aus$4.34 and paperback at Aus$28 (presumably because it includes Covid-19 postage from the USA).
I printed 20 copies of Ben through Blurb in Melbourne. The print cost was higher than Amazon (AU$7.40 per copy), but the delivery time is under a week. (currently Amazon quotes 6 weeks to Australia, but a friend in Canada got her copy in a week). Blurb’s main output appears to be high-quality photo books, cookbooks, etc, but they do an exceptionally good gob with “trade books” (ie. my novel). I listed “Ben” in the Blurb on-line bookshop and set the price at $16.
Blurb will also list your book in the Global Retail Network, which is a branch of Ingram Spark, the global book distributors. The GRN will make your paperback available through a wide variety of on-line booksellers such as Booktopia and A&R. However, the price of a copy will be set by the bookseller. I’ve seen my 320 page paperback listed at both Au$18 and $38.
So, if it all seems too hard, you can always buy yourself a box of books ($7.40 each through Blurb, plus postage), set yourself up at the local market with a sign:
Special deal, signed by the author. Just
Discounted today only $15!!!
Or you could beg local booksellers to stock it (some will).