Posted by: Debrah Martin | March 23, 2016

Digital Dilemmas for Self-publishing Authors

Female sleuth

Hard on the trail of the best way to self-publish successfully, I’m applying a bit of brain power to my initial questions and am tackling the first one in this blog post:

Q: How can I cover the widest market available to a self-published author?

… Or perhaps to turn this on its head – what could my market comprise?

Once upon a time (there’s a story there …) publishing was all about the print book and getting it into a book shop. How times have changed with the rise of the eBook. The rise of Apple iBooks, followed by the Amazon Kindle Direct programme utilising the Amazon marketplace has probably prompted the majority of the revolution in the publishing industry where this is concerned. They heralded the rise of the self-published author via the KDP self-publishing platform and encouraging the popularity of digital books via Kindle, alongside a whole host of other digital reading devices and platforms, even including your phone now! Personally, I still love the feel of a book in my hands, but I’m also 100% in favour of reading any way you can and however you can – which leads me back to distribution.

D2D logoDigital books can be accessed via Amazon Kindle, but also as eBooks via Nook, Kobo, iTunes and a whole host of other online platforms. It’s a big world of digital reading out there, and a growing network of options to choose from. Some advantages and tricks of the trade I’m aware of in utilising the various platforms for best effect when self-publishing include these:

  1. Use D2D to put a book out there free – and then ask Amazon to price match if you are intending trying permafree strategy. (Don’t know what permafree strategy is? You need to read WRITE, PUBLISH, PROMOTE   Chapter 21).
  2. Smashwords will allow you to do the same thing but your book files will have to pass the dreaded autovetter, so beware… You can find all kinds of helpful services for authors, including formatting a book to pass the autovetter on Fiverr  – just search on the site (that was one of the little helpful extras I referred to in the first post in this series – Fiverr can be an absolute bonus to the self-publisher).
  3. eBook Partnership will distribute for you but let you retain all your royalties – there is an upfront cost though.
  4. Here are some useful reviews of who publishes what and how to check out:

Both contain extremely useful information.

  1. And don’t forget about digital books for library lending – to get into library lending of digital books you’ll need to use something like Overdrive, or maybe even EbooksareForever (see set up by self-publishing phenomenon Joe Konrath. Aggregators and distributors such as OverDrive, Axis 360 and Askews & Holts Library Services  license content from publishers and “sell” directly to libraries. They host the ebooks on their own platform rather than the publisher’s website because copyright law requires a separate licence agreement for eBooks. Libraries then have a license to lend specific eBooks.

To market your books as widely as possible digitally you have to opt out of Amazon’s KDP select and opt into another digital distribution platform as well. Ingram will distribute your ebook for you – for a small fee (for example, in the UK £15 set up +£7 for access to distribution partners) and they list over 70 online ebook distributers here: IngramSpark logo

They will also only pay you 60% of the sale proceeds.


Draft2Digital – one of the other main competitors alongside Smashwords – will distribute for no upfront fee free, as will Smashwords, with D2D giving you around 90% on sales and Smashwords 85%.  By comparison, Amazon KDP only gives you between 70 and 35% return, depending on pricing and participation or otherwise in KDP select, and it does corner the lion’s share of the market. It’s not that easy to weigh up coverage against % return and volume…

Where do I stand on Amazon KDP versus the rest if the world? A foot in either camp. Yes noThere is no doubt Amazon’s KDP programme can work extremely well, especially if you make good strategic use of their promotional tools such as Kindle Countdowns and free days (5 per 90 day period)  to increase your books ranking, visibility and readership. You are, however, required to be exclusive, which means knocking out all those potential readers using devices other than Kindle. You also won’t find your book featuring in libraries because obviously libraries won’t be stuck purely with digital books in Kindle format … The decision is yours. My personal strategy is to do a little of both – I currently have one permafree book, Webs, available in the Apple store et al via Draft2digital because it is the first in a series and encouraging readership following by offering the first book in the series free is always a good strategy on the no risk, no reluctance basis, but it’s also price-matched to free on Amazon. Patchwork Man will probably join it later on this year as it is the first in the Patchwork trilogy, although performing quite well as it is. My other, standalone books will probably remain with KDP select for a while longer whilst the library situation matures, but then…

Next up, the problems with print…



Interested in maximising your success as a self-publisher? Have a look at WRITE, PUBLISH, PROMOTE  and bag yourself some bonuses if you’re pre-ordering. Have a look HERE to find out how.


Find out more about me and my books on my website:

or follow me on Twitter and Facebook


And you can download the first in my Patchwork trilogy HERE.


All images courtesy of Creative Commons or the author.

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