And no, despite the image, this is not a self-promo Buy My Book post!
When it comes to finding the path of least resistance we indies have it down to a fine art.
Even though all logic dictates that, unless we have a sweetheart deal with a retailer, being available as widely as possible is the best long-term career move we can make, it seems many indies will nonetheless convince ourselves it’s all soooo much effort that we’re better off just signing up to Select and crossing our fingers.
NB: This isn’t an anti-Select post. Select is a great tool and used wisely can bring its own rewards, but we should never chose an option simply because it’s quick and easy, or because we see big-name authors doing well in Select but who may well have special deals like White Glove, etc that are why they are doing so well when so many regular indies are not.
Especially when it’s so quick and easy to go from being just in Amazon’s dozen stores to being in 400-500 stores worldwide, and still be in those same dozen Amazon stores as well.
How quick and easy?
Well, overnight the cover came in for my English-German bilingual version of the Red-Headed League, the Conan Doyle classic re-told for children as part of my Classics For Kids global literacy project.
There’s not much point putting a global project in Select, because, despite that long list of countries in the KDP dashboard when you click world rights, Amazon actually blocks downloads to much of the world and imposes surcharges on ebook sales in other countries not in the Kindle Zone (ie outside the dozen or so Kindle store countries).
For example a $2.99 title sold in South Africa will cost the reader $4.99 but the author will see just 35% of the original $2.99 list price.
I picked the bilingual title to illustrate this post because, being bilingual, it has almost double the metadata, with bilingual title, bilingual series title, bilingual blurb, etc.
But it still took me only thirty minutes to put that title into all the distributors needed to reach 400-500 global retail and library outlets.
Okay, here’s how I set about it.
First, I have everything ready and lined up.
- The epub/mobi file is ready.
- The cover is ready to go.
- The finalised Word file is open at the title page.
- I have the blurb all-typed up and ready to go.
- I have a list of keywords ready to type in.
- I have my categories and price decided on.
All of which (epub aside) we need whether we are going as wide as possible or going into Select. If we have the mobi file it’s just a couple of minutes work to run it through Calibre and convert to epub.
Then I simultaneously open browser tabs for Amazon KDP, Kobo KWL, Pronoun, Smashwords, Draft2Digital and PublishDrive (I don’t have direct access to Apple and gave up on NookPress when Nook UK closed, so I use the aggregators to get into B&N).
From there, it’s a breeze.
- Copy title from Word doc and paste into title bar in KDP, then KWL, then Smashwords, then Pronoun, then StreetLib, then PublishDrive.
If moving from Select to go wide, then do the same and copy the metadata from KDP to the other stores.
- Repeat for series title. Repeat for blurb.
- Upload cover to KDP, then move along to KWL, then etc.
- Upload epub/mobi/Word doc to KDP, then KWL, then etc.
All of which has so far taken maybe ten-fifteen minutes of our valuable time if we’re on a steam-powered laptop and a Third World internet server as I am.
Then we have fifteen-twenty minutes remaining to tackle the more time-consuming tasks of selecting categories, keywords, price and outlets.
But here we simply refer to our categories and keywords list and input the data, one upload option after the other. Category options vary slightly from one upload option to the next, but it’s no big deal.
Prices again need a few minutes of thought to make sure we optimise our list-prices. For example, having chosen our KDP prices we can still play with lower prices for some locations with some outlets. If we have $3.99 AUD set for Australia in KDP (the lowest we can get 70% for) then obviously we need to match that in KWL, D2D, etc for Australia using the territorial pricing tool. But we can still list at 0.99 for example in New Zealand, which isn’t covered by Amazon’s MFN clause because there isn’t a Kindle NZ store.
Our final job is to choose the sales/library outlets for each uploader. Again, done one after the other it’s just a few minutes work to sort them all.
If using KDP then obviously we untick Amazon on StreetLib, Pronoun and PublishDrive (there are good reasons why we might want to upload to Amazon without using KDP, but that’s for another post).
Beyond that we need to choose whether to use Smashwords or StreetLib for OverDrive, and whether to use StreetLib or Pronoun or PublishDrive for Google Play, and D2D or Smashwords or PublishDrive or StreetLib for Tolino, and StreetLib or D2D for 24 Symbols, and etc, etc.
Yeah, decisions, decisions, but if we’re going straight from one to another it’s not rocket-science to keep track and make sure we get all the options available without any overlapping.
Finally, hit publish and, for Smashwords, pop back and check the channels and series managers because for some reason Smashwords make us do that after we publish, not before).
Then make ourselves a cup of coffee. We deserve it.
Many outlets will have our title live the same day, Others will take a few days or a week or even many weeks, but the thing is, all it’s taken us is half an hour of our lives to set it all in motion.
Maybe a few minutes longer if we are also doing NookPress and Apple direct, or maybe also using Bookbaby or XinXii or Ebook Partnership or…) but by any realistic measure this isn’t going to take us much over thirty minutes.
A half hour now that could be paying back at one level or another for years to come.
There are good reasons to restrict our reach with some titles and focus our energies on one retail outlet.
But saying we haven’t time isn’t one of them.
I’m wide. How about you?
♦ ♦ ♦
This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.