While many first-time indie authors, and more seasoned ones who have been happy with their sales on Amazon, may opt for exclusive publication via CreateSpace for print and Kindle for ebooks, more and more authors are “going wide” i.e. seeking broader distribution through other channels.
“I want to create my books, and then fling them out to as much of the world as I can reach,” says US fantasy novelist Karen Myers. “That’s the first step. What good is it to make the world’s readers want to read them, if they can’t lay their hands on them? My goal is worldwide distribution, in English for now, in ebook, print, and audio, without going to extraordinary efforts.”
She kindly shares her handy action checklist with us today, to help you get your books in the hands of as many readers as possible.
“I believe in doing as much of the materials creation as I can,” says Karen, “but for what follows it doesn’t matter where the finished materials come from, as long as you’ve got them.”
1) Get your materials organised
- Before starting distribution, make all the sizes of cover required for the various distributors and for your websites
- Create .epub and .mobi files EPUB and MOBI files
- Assign ISBNs to each format
- Create print editions for both CreateSpace and Ingram (more on that below) with identical content files, but slightly different covers to accommodate different spine widths for different paper stocks, and an LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) for the copyright page
- Create or commission any audiobooks (Karen has one so far, narrated by herself, using a professional music studio to create both MP3 and CD files)
- Produce the book’s description in long, medium, and short forms
- Have author photos and bio ready to use
2) Print editions
- Create and proof the interior for two distribution services: CreateSpace is the best POD (Print on Demand) provider for Amazon and Ingram (either LSI or Spark) is the conventional POD choice for everywhere else
- Ditto re cover treatments – CMYK for Ingram, RGB for CreateSpace
- Allow for lead time to check printed proofs – just using the digital proofers is not enough, and until you approve the proofs, the books won’t be distributed.
- Monitor distribution: For CreateSpace, check all the top Amazon country sites to confirm that the print and ebook editions are merged after a few days by Amazon. Initial distribution only takes a day or two, but cleaning up the merged editions can sometimes take a while. With Ingram, look for your book to appear in downstream retailers or distributors. This can take several days.
3a) Ebook editions – Direct
- If selling direct from your own ecommerce site, upload there to ensure your web page for the new book is complete before it goes live elsewhere
- On the publication date, upload to Amazon (wide, not KDP Select or KU), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords or Draft2Digital. If you can, also upload directly to Apple iBooks and Google Play, but the former is is tricky without a Mac so go indirectly (see 3b below)
- Check all the sites to make sure the book appears with a properly formatted description, sorted into the appropriate series, and merged with print editions (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), etc.
3b) Ebook editions – Indirect
- Ebookpartnership.com – use them to solve the iBooks and Google Play issues and to reach libraries, though too expensive for short stories since they're paid by title listed not by unit royalty
- Smashwords – use them for the small number of sometimes experimental channels not covered by Ebookpartnership.com or PublishDrive
- Draft2Digital -a good alternative to Smashwords
- Ingram Spark – use for short stories
- PublishDrive – use for European retailers not covered by Ebookpartnership
- Monitoring: watch for the book to appear on Google Play and iBooks, and check channel delivery reports from the various distributors
4) Audio editions
- Upload to AuthorsRepublic, a relatively new distributor for audio produced outside ACX with several downstream partners, including Audible and Apple iBooks, and a decent setup on their site for monitoring their distribution
- Check Audible, Amazon, and Apple iBooks until the edition shows up on their sites
Karen Myers sums up the global reach achieved in this way.
The above plan covers a fair part of the world, especially considering that Amazon, Apple and Kobo have many countries each, and distributors like Ingram & PublishDrive & Ebookpartnership have a hundred or more partners. What’s the count?
- Print – 2 POD creators/distributors
- Ebook – 1 for direct ecommerce, 4 direct (5, if I had a Mac)
- Ebook – 3 for indirect distribution (Smashwords already counted above)
- Audio – 1 for indirect distribution
That’s 11 organizations that I need to touch when I distribute a new release, and whose sales and payments I need to track and monitor. Many of them are low volume, but it’s early days yet in the indie world.
Not bad, to give a one-author shop a global reach.
OVER TO YOU Karen Myers's recommendations are from the perspective of a US-based author. If you'd like to suggest additions to her list, please join the conversation via a comment.