Self-Publishing 101

So, after a few months of diligence, I finally wrote my first book Blowing the Bridge. It was nothing extravagant; it’s just a humorous novella that’s mostly autobiographical. However, since I’m normally a lazy bastard, I’m proud of it. Of course, the next step was to actually publish it. Curious about all the platforms of which I should target, I wasn’t surprised when I found the following percentage estimates when it came to eBook market share:

60% Amazon (KDP)
25% Barnes & Noble (NookPress)
10% Apple (iBooks)
5% Other

Since those top 3 cover around 95% of the market, it made sense to only target those top 3. After playing around with all three platforms, I can try to describe each one here:

1.) Amazon (KDP) – Obviously, since it’s the dominant player, you’d be foolish to not consider publishing on this platform. In terms of technical obstacles, the publishing process is fairly straightforward, as long as your book follows a normal format. You do have options if you wish to deviate from the norm and create a funky layout for your book, but you’ll have to follow Amazon’s strict guidelines in order to make that happen. In addition, a great part of the platform is the responsiveness of the service; more than likely, your book will be approved and placed on the store within 12 hours. On the downside, Amazon doesn’t really assist in the creation of your book; it’s strictly going to publish whatever is uploaded in the document which contains your book. On a side note, I did find one thing particularly annoying. As you attempt to publish your book, they will constantly push their KDP Select program, which pays double the royalties of their default program…and which also requires you to publish only within the Kindle store. That part is mentioned only briefly, but they keep flashing those big royalty increases in your face. It’s a tad sneaky.

2.) Barnes & Noble (NookPress) – Since it’s #2, it’s still worth publishing on this platform. For nascent authors, though, NookPress might be the ideal choice. You can forego writing your own document, since the platform has provided an editor within their site. The editor helps you to write pages, organize chapters and material, upload multimedia, and join/collaborate with a community of other online authors (which supposedly assist each other). The option to upload your book from a document on your computer is also available. Formatting options are on the table, but they are more limited than the ones available on KDP. On the downside, the site’s support isn’t exactly quick when it comes to inquiries or troubleshooting. Plus, if you submit a book to be published, don’t expect your book to be put onto the store any sooner than several days. In some cases, it might be a week or more.

3.) Apple (iBooks) – At #3, you might ask yourself if you should even care. However, it’s still a chunk of the market, so it’s worth some attention. In any case, being Apple, they eschew Web applications. Just like everything else, their walled garden only embraces native applications and a specific procedure. In order to publish on their store, you won’t be able to use their web site alone (as with Amazon and Barnes & Noble). First, you will need to create an Apple ID. (Special note: if you already have an Apple ID but it’s used for creating apps, you’re going to need to create a second one for books. As if your life needed more confusion.) Second, you will need to download iTunes Producer, which is an application which enables you to make submissions. I’m midway through this process, but for being #3, you would think that Apple would make this process less cumbersome. In any case, even though I’m not yet finished, I can say that this process will definitely tax your patience. I would only recommend it for those who can’t live with themselves unless their book is 3 for 3 in availability.

Well, there’s a brief overview of the platforms for publishing online. Now, you’re more aware…and knowing is half the battle. Or so a cartoon solder told me one time while I was eating some Doritos.

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