Kindle Direct question

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Kyla Laufreyson

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Hi guys--

I recently decided to self-publish my NF book, because of a lot of people on AW pointing out to me that I have both the resources and the know-how to make it a success, being that I know exactly how to reach my intended audience and everything.

I'm planning to go via Kindle Direct, and I'm wondering how I can sell the book other places as well. I do know I can also go via Smashwords and I plan to go through that route alongside Kindle Direct.

But I know there are other stores online that sell eBooks, along with libraries who offer eBooks. How can I get my book to those other eBook stores? Is there actually a way? I was reading something about Kindle making their eBooks available to libraries, as well, and I'm not quite sure I understand how that part works (but don't worry about explaining it to me, I just found it 5 minutes ago and I'm still reading).

And if I publish through both Kindle and Smashwords, am I going to end up with two different ISBN numbers, one from each place? (I don't know if this is really a big deal or not, I'm just curious.)

If I sound like a total noob (not a word I ever thought I'd use on AW...) I'm sorry. I am sort of new to the e-publishing stuff though, and I tried to read through a lot of the threads in this part of the forum before posting this question.

Thanks,

Arianna S.
 
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AllisonK

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Hi Arianna,

I just went through this same dilemma myself when I published my first book last month. Here's what I learned:

It's possible to publish directly to Kindle and Nook (Nook's version is called PubIt), which I recommend doing because you then have complete control over how the end product looks. You also have instant feedback on sales through their dashboards, which is very nice if you're impatient like I am. :)

I thought that I could publish to other formats on my own as well, but over time learned it wasn't as easy. You can only publish to iBooks if you have a Mac, otherwise you have to go through an aggregator like Smashwords. Kobo has a new service that supposedly allows authors to publish directly, but my experience was not good. They were slow to answer emails and they require an ISBN (which would cost $125 to buy yourself). And other readers, like Sony, don't allow authors to publish direct at all. I tried Google Books, since they sell ebooks, and that was a disaster that I don't care to repeat.

So in the end, I used Smashwords, and I'm pretty happy with it. Their meatgrinder wasn't as hard to get through as I had feared (formatting a Word doc takes a little time to get right, but it was worth the trouble). My ebook through them is less "pretty" (no images - it was too much hassle), but the words are all there, and that's what's most important. I'm still waiting for them to send the book to Sony and Kobo, but it went up on iBooks almost right away, and has been sent to Diesel and another one (I forget the name now).

As for ISBNs, that was an issue that had me confused at first. This is what I learned: you need one for sites like Kobo and iBooks, but not for Amazon or Nook. Those sites supply their own numbers (Amazon's is an ASIN and B&N's is called a BN ID). If you use Smashwords, they give you an ISBN for free. You can't use the Amazon ASIN or B&N"s ID on other sites, and can't use the SW ISBN outside of their service. However, if you do choose to buy an ISBN for your ebook, you would then be able to use it for all the different sites, since you would own it outright. But it costs $125 to buy one from Bowker.

I don't know as much about libraries, but I don't think every ebook on Kindle is available to libraries. The recent news about Kindle is that OverDrive (the major provider of library ebooks) now supports the Kindle device. But to get a book in OverDrive's catalog is probably a different matter entirely, and I don't know how friendly they are to self-pubs.

I hope that wasn't too confusing. I tend to get wordy when I try to explain things. I've been told I would be a terrible teacher. ;)
 

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Let's see: Smashwords will, if your manuscript meets their formatting specs, put you in their premium catalog, which gets you listed in a few other ebook stores, including iTunes. You can also publish to Barnes & Noble direct through their PubIt system, similar to Kindle Direct. (You can publish to iTunes directly, but there's weird hoops I haven't bothered to figure out whether I want to jump through yet. —I will point out that iTunes for no reason I can discern raised the price on my book from $3.00 to $3.50; every other outlet charges $3.00. Go figure.)

Ebook sales to libraries, as far as I know, would depend on setting yourself up as a premium publisher at Kindle Direct: you pay a fee, you make more money per book sale, and they list you in more catalogs than just Amazon's. I'm not terribly familiar with that, though, since I haven't tried it myself.

ISBN numbers: it is recommended that you have a separate ISBN for each "edition," which technically speaking would be each file format version the ebook's published in: one for the EPUB, one for the MOBI, one for the PDF, etc. But of course most of the people recommending that sell ISBNs. Kindle and B&N let you use your own ISBN, or purchase one through them; Smashwords, Lulu, and CreateSpace all assign you an ISBN with themselves as publisher for free, or charge you a fee to use your own. —I've ended up with four ISBNs for essentially one book: one for the ebook versions I sell myself, or through Amazon or B&N; one for the ebook versions sold through Smashwords (which can be any of the file formats they convert to); one for the ebook version sold through Lulu; and one for the paperback printed by CreateSpace.
 

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Also, if you sell through Smashwords and still want to go through B&N (PubIt) directly (the royalty's higher at some prices), replace all page breaks in the Smashwords file with "section break (next page)", change the edition notes—and it'll upload to PubIt just fine.

Er, but maybe not, if you have images in your file. I don't know if that'll still work if you have images in your file.

I've heard about self-publishers selling their work through OverDrive, which seems to be a preferred e-book vendor for libraries, but my understanding is that you have to be set up as a small publisher to sell through OverDrive.

Let's see… XinXii's another vendor. So is Book-something. I did a post listing a bunch of vendors on another forum, if I can just remember where. >_>

Oh, and I do not recommend going through Kobo directly.

Plenty of self-publishers don't bother with buying an ISBN and use the free one on Smashwords that's applied to the EPUB edition. If you want all formats to have an ISBN, you will want to buy a package of ISBNs and apply one per format, because that's part of the definition of ISBN.
 
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This is a really useful thread, everyone. Thank you.

ETA: in fact, it's so useful I'm going to sticky it and I might change the title in a few days as it contains much more than information about pubilshing for the Kindle.
 
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Kyla Laufreyson

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This was all really helpful! Thanks guys!

(And I feel strangely awesome that I started a thread which is being stickied...that's a new one for me. :D)
 

srjohannes

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HI Arianna,

Smashwords is your best bet. Go B&N and Amazon and Smashwords will take care of the rest. YOu want to be sure you r book is available in all ereaders.

I am talking about ebook marketing in a series on my blog if it helps - it goes into pricing, eformats, isbns, etc.

Hope that helps!
Shelli
blog
 

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I thought this snippet of information might be useful here.

Tabs cause some typesetting and conversion programs to choke. For example, Smashwords will often chew up and spit out your story if you submit it with a single tab. Other folks get away with it.

You can get rid of tabs using Find and Replace. Use the /format /paragraph function to add proper indents,line and paragraph spacing, etc.

If you want to respond to it best do so in the original thread, though, and not here.
 

FOTSGreg

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Not certain if anyone's specifically mentioned it above or not, but Smashwords will also frequently, in my experience, choke on OpenOffice files saved or converted to Word doc files. For some reason, OO sometimes, occasionally, and often as not, or maybe In the conversion to Word doc, inserts more space between lines than Smashwords likes. Fortunately, this is usually an easy fix, but on occasion I've had to hunt down individual offending paragraphs and fix the line spacing inside one particular one just because the Meatgrinder was choking on it.

Smashwords Meatgrinder hates tabs and getting rid of them in Word doc converted from Pages or OO can be a bear. I have literally had to step paragraph to paragraph through an entire work and eliminate tab marks by hand.

Even if you think you've got everything perfect, turn on formatting marks and scan through your document one last time. I can't tell you how many times I thought everything was perfect only to have a paragraph improperly indent and format because I'd missed it on the second, third, or tenth pass.

Surprisingly, I have never had a problem with work converted from OO to Word doc and then uploaded to Kindle. I've used the same files to refirmat for CreateSpace as well and never had a problem. Maybe Kindle just loves me, but Smashwords gives no Greg-love whatsoever these days and I've been uploading files there for almost a year now.
 
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Carradee

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Smashwords Meatgrinder hates tabs and getting rid of them in Word doc converted from Pages or OO can be a bear. I have literally had to step paragraph to paragraph through an entire work and eliminate tab marks by hand.

By hand? Does OO not have the Find & Replace function? :Wha:

In MS Word, you can easily replace all tabs with indents by searching for ^t and replacing with Format – Paragraph – Left: 0", First Line Indent: 0.5 (or whatever size you want).

You can even replace all page breaks with section breaks (which is how you put page breaks in the PubIt document) by copying a section break so it's on your clipboard, and searching for page breaks and replacing with clipboard contents. I think the codes are ^m for page breaks and ^c for clipboard contents, but I'm not completely certain.
 

FOTSGreg

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Carradee, yea, OO does have the find & replace function, just as Word does, but it sometimes does not capture all tab markers nor embedded paragraph returns which is why I've had to step through paragraph-by-paragaph. I'm using the old 2003 version of Word so maybe my files are just outdated (all the service packs should e up-to-date, however).

Sometimes it works as you suggest, sometimes it doesn't.

I've been using Word since it first came out so I know of which you speak. OO's kind've of new for me though. Only been using it for about 2-3 years.
 

Carradee

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Hmm. If Find & Replace didn't work, it's probably one of the specialized forms (usually created by holding Alt while typing the space bar, Tab, etc.).

That or the program is glitching. That can happen, too. :-/
 

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Kindle Direct vs. Smashwords vs BookBaby

So I did a bit of research (before finding this thread) and it seemed that most people selling ebooks/digital-download-books were recommending a service such as Smashwords that distributes to multiple websites.

Bookbaby.com is a new website that offers the same service as Smashwords with a slightly different business model -- they charge $99 up front and then take nothing from the sales income. Smashwords charges nothing up front, but keeps 15% of the sales income.

I noticed a couple people posted that they used Kindle Direct and Smashwords. Since Smashwords distributes to Kindle, can someone tell me the advantage of working with Kindle directly? Am I just increasing my workload or is there a real benefit and does Smashwords understand the concept of distribute to everyone except Kindle?

I did see the post about the Open Office user problems with Smashwords. While useful info, that wouldn't apply to my situation.

Thanks in advance!

P.S. It cracks me up that the first 2 posts in this thread both dis themselves (one for sounding like a noob and the second for being too wordy) and yet you both are adding real value to the forum. Hold your heads high and be as nice to yourself as I'm guessing you are to others. Thanks for posting!
 

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Bookmama, it's my understanding that Smashwords does NOT distribute to Amazon (yet). Negotiations are, supposedly, ongoing, but it's been over a year that Smashwords has been trying to get Amazon to let them distribute to/through them.

I opt out of Smashwords distributing to Kindle.

Actually, as of 03/2012, I no longer do this as it doesn't seem to make a difference.
 
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Ah, you are correct. Smashwords does not currently distribute to Kindle. I was under the assumption that it did, because it distributes to everyone else AND the sales info talks about downloading for the Kindle. I saw the word "Kindle" and figured they distributed to Amazon.

Bookbaby.com DOES also distribute to Kindle -- so for someone like myself who wants to keep my role as simple as possible and distribute on as many platforms as possible, then Bookbaby has the edge.

Thanks so much for the prompt response!
 

Wake Dream

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I hope this is the appropriate forum for my question...

A friend suggested I look into publishing on Amazon Kindle. I thought I could write a short story, publish it for the Kindle, then see how it goes. What advice can experienced writers and experienced authors provide?
 

J. Tanner

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A friend suggested I look into publishing on Amazon Kindle. I thought I could write a short story, publish it for the Kindle, then see how it goes. What advice can experienced writers and experienced authors provide?

You can do that. It's not too difficult if you are comfortable with a computer and can follow directions.

Don't expect to sell much, if anything, if you want to just put up one short story on Amazon and see how it goes. How it will likely go is you'll sell a few to people you know you direct to it. And that's about it. It's the online equivalent of printing out your short story on your home printer and selling copies to your friends.

So you generally need to do more if you want something most would classify as some level of success at it. It kind of depends on your personal drive and motivations. If it's just a lark and you don't mind selling nothing for months on end, you've got nothing to lose. If you want to make money, remember you're competing with major publishers and a lot of self-publishers who are willing to put in a LOT of work to get a share of the customer's money.
 

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J.Tanner, I agree. One realizes very quickly that productivity counts on Amazon (and "wideness" of topic imo). A single book or story, unless it "hits" and becomes wildly popular or you're already a Big Name (and sometimes not even then), isn't going to net you much interest or many sales usually. I think someone recently stated somewhere that it's not until you get a dozen products or more up that you start seeing decent sales.
 

Wake Dream

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Thank you, J. Tanner and FOTSGreg. I will keep your words in mind. What further advice can experienced writers and publishers offer, if not all the necessary had been stated?
 

Caitlin Black

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*headdesk*

I came in here to learn about self-pubbing, checked out a bunch of other threads, then checked this one out of curiosity - and it had more information than everything else I read. At least, more of the sort of information I was looking for...

So it seems that yes, I can self-e-pub, and there are a variety of options in that regard.

A couple more questions: dealing with Kindle directly, do you need to do it through a Kindle, or can you use your computer? Probably computer, but thought I'd ask. Also, is there software you can download to format for different e-pub file types, or do you have to do it online? I'm thinking something on my computer would feel easier than being online the whole time (especially if my internet crashes or lags while trying to institute some recent changes...).

That's all I've got for the time being, though I'm sure I'll have more questions.

Great thread!

(And I don't want to self-pub for a physical copy of the book... I'm assuming that would cost me significantly more than self-e-pubbing (assumption) and would mean more work with getting the physical copy out to readers. If I'm way off base in this regard, please, tell me. :))
 

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If you have Microsoft Word on your PC, that works great for formatting your manuscript. Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), Smashwords and PubIt! all have a little bit different formatting requirements, but Smashwords' Style Guide (free) is incredibly helpful.

Side note: Amazon KDP now has a new program called Select. If you choose to use that program, you can only have your e-book on Amazon's site. You give them exclusive rights for 90 days (then have the option of staying with the program or opting out).

If you are thinking about creating paperback copies, CreateSpace is an Amazon company and they will get your book listed at Amazon and CreateSpace at relatively no cost at all (except for a proof copy so you can see exactly how the book will look and hold it in your hands). They have an expanded distribution option for $25 that will get your book into Barnes and Noble's online store and other online sales channels. I think it's worth the $25, but that's only my opinion. Lulu.com is also an option.
 

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We use Open Office to format for Kindle and Nook because I'm too cheap to buy office. Works just fine, although each has its little quirks so we do a separate file for Kindle and Nook. Very, very easy to upload from your computer. I do my own cover art, too, usually using my own photos since most of my books are travel related, but I bought a photo for my romance. There are many excellent sources of cheap but nice photos, or you can just pay someone to do the cover.
 

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dealing with Kindle directly, do you need to do it through a Kindle, or can you use your computer?

I have another thread going that is in reference to publishing poetry on the Kindle that might be helpful. I've had decent success publishing public domain compilations (nothing of my own yet: still working on the practical experience), and recommend sticking with an HTML editor (HTML Kit is the one I use) instead of Word or other word processing program. Basically, the book is a file that you're going to upload to the KDP site, and what that site does is take your document and convert it into their version of HTML (with a some additional supported tags). If you've got graphics you just .zip them up with the .html file before you upload it. I find the bare-bones HTML is a lot easier to work with (and worth boning up on if you're not familiar with it), and my formatting suffers less during the KDP conversion process.
 

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It's marketing that's the bear

Publishing with Kindle is fairly easy (I see we already tackled the tab issue in previous posts) and it's very exciting to see your book "out there." I have been marketing on Facebook and through word of mouth, but as some previous posters mentioned, it is very difficult to widen the "out there" beyond that circle. If you choose to go the Kindle route, you can also choose to join Kindle Select. You get a much higher profit (70%) going this route, but you are also agreeing to sell through Kindle exclusively for 90 days. At that point, you can opt out and explore other avenues.
 

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