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Is DIY Distribution Best For Self-Publishers?

Self Publish yourself or get somebody to distribute the books for you

Today, in the fourth part of our ‘Which Distributor’ series where Alliance members share the experiences, Elizabeth Lorraine, vampire lover, TwiMom, avid gardener, world traveler and author of the Royal Blood Chronicles explains why she prefers to go direct to retailers.

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For me, even though it takes a little time, I prefer to go to each site and upload my books myself, rather than use a middlman service. I have three main reasons for this:

  • I like being able to track daily sales.
  • It makes it easier for marketing, since I can tell if something is working right away and act accordingly.
  • I get paid monthly.

I started out on Create Space, Amazon’s self publishing engine for print, in the fall of 2009. Those first years they didn’t make it easy for you to get the formatting right. I had to enlist the help of my computer savvy sister and I was so busy writing, I hadn’t even discovered e-books.

It wasn’t until the fall of 2010 that I figured out how to do that through KDP. I didn’t get the pricing right for six months, convinced that I shouldn’t have to give the book away. Then I realised: if I wasn’t selling any at all what was the point? It was when I put the first ebook of my series at .99c that things started to change for me through KPD. I still had the other books priced too high for the market and soon had to drop those prices too.

I added Pubit (Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform, as yet only available in US) but avoided Smashwords and other intermediaries. I felt I lost too much control and it was too difficult to verify sales. I do use Smashwords, but only when I want to put something up for free for promotional reasons. I did that last July, with a short novella about a character from my series Royal Blood Chronicles. I made it free on Smashwords, who sent it to Barnes and Noble (PubIt), also to be made available for free — which is the only way you can do that, to my knowledge.

I had to ask Amazon to match the free price and when they did things skyrocketed. I had 11,000 free down loads in three days and 4000 book sales for the series in a few weeks.

Unfortunately with so many free books out there now, including with KDP Select, it’s not as easy anymore. Pubit have also changed the way they list your books, combining paid eBooks with the free ones, making it so much harder to find you. So I don’t believe Free is as useful a marketing tool as it used to be.

But Amazon is core for me, as for most indies. I don’t bother with Apple, becasue their search engine is so bad and most people use the kindle app on their phones and ipads, anyway.

So my advice about distribution now is simple: even though it’s (a little) more work, upload to Amazon (KPD & Createspace), Pubit and Kobo yourself.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. what about using Pronoun? Their service offers uploads to all locations from one convenient place. According to them, they make their money charging major companies for publishing services, but not authors.

    1. This article is over a year old, Michael, published in June 2012. The publishing industry changes so quickly that it is inevitable that many articles about self-publishing posted here (and indeed anywhere else) will become out of date in due course. That’s why the blog is an ongoing project: we are constantly adding the latest information, opinions and views. I suspect the need for constant change is the only thing that will never change!

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