2014 Indie E-book Survey

Mark Coker of Smashwords has released his 2014 survey of the indie ebook market. He always revels some great info on where the market is going and things we need to pay attention to. is one of the major distributors of indie e-books

Some key points from the 2014 survey
• The e-book sales power curve is extremely steep
• Readers prefer longer e-books
• Pricing, always a big questions, sweet spots seem to be hanging around $2.99-$3.99 with $3.99 a pretty good spot for fiction
• Free still works for now. Take a look at Amazon Select for this, also your own site
• Preorders yield sales advantage, also building anticipation for your book
• Series yield sales advantage, Amazon has recently realigned itself around this
• Best-performing series have longer books
• Free series starters pack a punch
• Non-fiction earns more a higher prices.

You can read a nice summation at, below is a copy of the presentation.

10 Reasons to Get Going with Your Book and Self-Publishing

By Bruce Jones

Mark Coker, the founder of, the e-book agitator, has written an excellent article on their blog about the future of self-publishing and indie authors. He talks about the continuing growth of the indie book market and what is happening to traditional publishing. It is an amazing time to be writing and publishing, there are just so many opportunities.

I basically agree with pretty much all of his 10 points. It mirrors everything that I see. As I just wrote in next weeks e-newsletter I have been in business for just about 30 years as a graphic designer. I can almost count on one hand how many questions I have gotten on graphic design over that period of time. A few years ago I starting writing and publishing my own books with great success. I now get asked questions almost everyday on how others can do the same.

Below I have summarized the key points, click on the link below to check out the entire article and get writing and publishing.

These are Mark Coker’s words, (hope that is ok)
1. Print will continue to decline
2. Brick and mortar bookstores will continue to close
3. The perceived value of publishers will decline
4. Indie authors have learned to publish like professionals
5. The number of self-published ebooks will explode
6. The most successful indie authors are mentoring the next generation of authors
7. The stigma once associated with self publishing is melting away
8. Writers are discovering the joy of self publishing
9. Readers don’t care about the publisher name
10. The growing rift, [dealing with publishers can be a pain]

Be sure to sign up on the right for a free pdf copy of my new book, How to Publish Your Book, A Beginners Guide and my weekly newsletter on Writing, Editing, Designing, Publishing and Marketing Your Books

Self Publishing Platforms Compared

We all know about the Kindle Publishing Platform but there are many other self-publishing platforms, in this article by Ben Macklin of we learn about some of the others.

The following article compares eight self-publishing platforms:

  • Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Smashwords
  • Lulu
  • Book Tango
  • eBookIT!
  • BookBaby
  • Vook
  • Press Books

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allows you to upload a Word (doc or docx),.mobi, epub, text, HTML (Zip), RTF and PDF file which they will convert into their own eBook format (.mobi). They accept files up to 50MB in size. The service is completely free, the interface is intuitive and simple and within 24 hours of a successful upload (manuscript and cover) your eBook will be published and available for sale.

The Kindle Previewer allows you to view your uploaded file to ensure it looks OK, and you can upload your file again if necessary. The author dashboard is also simple and easy to use for both editing your published eBook and viewing sales.

Amazon takes a 30% royalty cut on books priced between $2.99 – $9.99. For books priced out of that range or for buyers outside Amazon’s specified countries (like Australia) they take a 65% royalty cut on each book sale. Since Amazon is the biggest eBook player in town, you have to be on Amazon, either directly via KDP, or indirectly via the other services listed below.

KDP – Kindle Select: Kindle Direct Publishing offers authors the opportunity to enroll in their Kindle Select program. When your book is enrolled in the program it enables Amazon Prime subscribers to borrow your eBook. You receive a royalty on each borrow. The other nice feature of enrolling in the Select program is that within a three month period you are able to make your eBook free for up to five days. The advantage of this is that you can give your eBook a quick promotional boost. Each free download also raises your book’s ranking within its particular category, making it more visible as well as raising its ranking on Amazon’s search results. Furthermore, someone who picked up your eBook for free may review the book, which can then further promote the work.

The only disadvantage of the Select program is that you have to exclusively publish your book with Amazon within a three month period. So if your book is available elsewhere, you are required to unpublish it at that distribution point.

Smashwords is one of the largest indie eBook publishers in the world and your eBook will be distributed both on their website and through their premium distribution partners including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Diesel, Baker & Taylor and others, for free.

Smashwords only accepts Word (doc) files for upload and your doc will have to get through their notorious ‘meatgrinder’ which converts your Word document into numerous eBook file formats. Smashwords has very strict style guidelines outlined in their Style Guide so first time users of Smashwords have been known to pull their hair out in frustration (been there done that) because of seemingly minor issues.

However, once you know the drill, the service is very good and if you combine premium distribution via Smashwords as well as publishing via Kindle Direct Publishing, your eBook will be available across most of the major retailers, and there is no up-front cost. Smashwords takes a 15% royalty cut on eBooks sold from its site and author royalties from its distribution partners are in the range of 40% – 60%.

One note of caution: Smashwords does not accept a Word file that is over 5MB in size. If your manuscript is image heavy then Smashwords is not for you.

Smashwords – Coupons & PayPal payments: A nice feature of the Smashwords service is the ability to create a coupon. A coupon allows an author to offer a promotional price for an eBook over a time specified by the author. So the coupon is a unique code which the author can distribute to people on their website, Facebook page, Twitter or directly via email. Those receiving the coupon just input the code when purchasing the eBook to receive the promotional price. This can be a useful way to get or ask for reviews and track where potential readers are coming from. An additional nice feature for non-US residents is that book royalties can be paid via PayPal. This is not the case with KDP which issues foreign cheques, which cost $10.50 to cash and take near 30 days to clear.

Like KDP and Smashwords, Lulu enables you to publish an eBook for free, while they take a percentage of the eBook royalties (10% in Lulu’s case). They will also distribute your eBook for free to the usual suspects – Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble. But unlike KDP or Smashwords, Lulu offers a variety of services in addition to eBook publishing including, print on demand, cover creation, promotional services and more. It is a full service eBook and print-on-demand conversion, publishing, distribution and promotion outfit.

Its paid services start from about $199 and rise from there. Lulu also has international sites including UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Lulu – Range and Google Drive – Apart from Lulu’s shear range of services including, conversion, cover design, distribution, publicity and promotional services, Lulu has also partnered with Google to offer a One-Click Publishing app. The Lulu One-Click Publishing app lets creators collaborate with anyone on Google Drive, then easily publish content as a PDF eBook that can be sold or converted to a print book. While still early days, the app marks another advance in combining the cloud, apps and easy eBook creation and distribution.

BookTango is the eBook publishing wing of Author Solutions (a Penguin company). It is a relatively new service and enables you to publish and distribute your eBook for free and it takes no royalty cut. You receive 100% of royalties on eBooks sold on the BookTango site and 100% of net sales from its distribution partners. Its distribution partners include Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Scribid, Google, Books on Board and Sony.

The upload formats accepted are Word but the nice feature of BookTango is that you can edit your document online. It provides basic online editing and error correction features to both ensure your eBook is formatted correctly but to enable you to enhance the look and feel. It is not as sophisticated as Vook in this regard, but the feature is free, so one can’t complain too much.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can pay $49 for BookTango to format your book and distribute it for you and there are additional book cover and promotion services you can purchase.

BookTango – Hollywood Book to Screen: BookTango offers a variety of paid publicity and promotional services including press releases, social networking assistance, video trailers and author websites. But if you have a spare $599 lying around and you think your book would translate well to TV or Film then BookTango offers a service which prepares your book so it is suitable for submission to a Hollywood database viewable by industry writers, agents, actors, directors and producers.

eBookit! provides the full suite of eBook and print on demand publishing services. I’ve not used the service before but examining the website closely suggests to me that the service has a more personal touch than the larger Lulu, with human formatters used and phone numbers available to call.

Paid services start at $149 to convert a Word doc to an ePub and distribution partners include Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google, Ingram, Apple and Sony reader. One of the unique features I saw were its audio book conversion service.

eBookIT! – Add an audio book with that: One terrific feature that eBookIT! offers is a conversion of your eBook into an audio book read by a computer generated voice. For $119 you can get your ePub file turned into an MP3 and distributed via Audible, Amazon and Apple iTunes. Now you might be thinking, computer generated voice, no way! But listen to the samples, they are not bad at all.

BookBaby has only been around a short while but now claims to be the world’s largest eBook distribution network of indie authors. Bookbaby has three main price points: $99 for distribution only (BYO ePub or Mobi file); $149 includes conversion plus distribution and $249 is its premium service.

It accepts Word, text, HTML, Quark, Pages, InDesign, RTF, PDF files for upload which it will then convert. They also offer book cover design services and author website and promotional services. While I’ve not used the service I’ve heard very good first hand reports. While they don’t offer a print on demand service, they do offer printing of books.

BookBaby – Accepts many file types, wide distribution:One nice feature I noted about BookBaby is that is accepts a wide variety of file types it can convert into an eBook, for example: Word (doc, docx), RTF, Text, HTML, PDF, InDesign, Pages and Quark. It also distributes is eBooks very widely: Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, Copia, Gardners Books, Baker & Taylor and eBookPie. Of the self publishing services reviewed, BookBaby accepts the widest variety of file types and has the widest distribution network.

Vook allows you to upload your Word file and then edit and style your eBook online. It has a variety of design and styling features which can take a boring looking eBook into something much more attractive and professional. While BookTango also allows you to edit and style your book online before final conversion, the feature set of Vook is far superior and more user friendly.

To distribute your title via Vook’s website is free but to distribute (or to just get unwatermarked eBook files) costs $99. Distribution partners include Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble.

Vook – Add Design and Styling to your eBook: No other self publishing service offers the range of design and styling features that Vook offers and you don’t need knowledge of HTML to implement them. You can do DropCaps for first letter styling, utilise a variety of different fonts, adjust letter and line spacing, add colours and highlight boxes and add video to your eBook. Manipulating images within your book is also very easy with a nice drag and drop feature.

PressBooks is unlike all the other services reviewed in this article. It is essentially a Web service built on the popular blogging platform WordPress. If you are familiar with WordPress you will feel comfortable with PressBooks. Pressbooks recently changed from being completely free to having both free and paid features.

At the moment, PressBooks, does not accept Word uploads. If you have created your manuscript in Word then the process of using Pressbooks would be to cut and paste each individual chapter into the Pressbooks site and you can then edit your document online. While this may sound a bit cumbersome, it is relatively painless and the WordPress platform provides significant flexibility in design, styling, referencing and using images and multimedia.

Pressbook basically turns your book into a website and you then have the ability to export that website into PDF, ePub and XML. If you are interested in print on demand as well as eBooks then the PDF file exports are suitable for you to use on print on demand sites like Createspace and Lightning Source, which can save you considerable time having to format for print as well.

One note of caution: at the time of writing this article Press Books was only offering one trim size 6″x9″ and one font size (10 pt) for its print-ready PDF exports. So if you want a smaller or larger book with larger font, then Press Books currently doesn’t offer this flexibility. This, I believe will be changing shortly.

The first five books on Pressbooks are free and then there is a sliding scale starting at $20/mnth to $200/mth depending on how may books are hosted on the site. Distribution to the usual suspects is an extra $100 per book plus $25 per year.

PressBooks – Format once, export Web, eBook & Print: The best feature of Pressbooks is that if you want to publish both an eBook and a print-on-demand title then you only have to format once and you can export files that will be ready to upload to Amazon’s KDP and print on demand services from Createspace or Lulu. Plus, your book will have a dedicated website raising the book’s online ranking across Google search. You can also make your Web book private or publicly available for people to read.


The decision of which service to use depends a little on how much or little formatting or converting you want to do yourself and how much you’d be happy to pay someone else to do. If you are confident in formatting your document appropriately (use my Step by Step guide to help) and want to pay as little as possible, then services such as Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, Lulu and BookTango are for you.

If you want the flexibility of adding additional design, multimedia and styling features to your eBook then services such as Vook, PressBooks and to a lesser extent BookTango may suit.

If you want to self-publish both eBook and print on demand yourself then PressBooks will enable you to export an ePub file (for eBook) and PDF file for print on demand services such as Createspace and Lulu.

But if you just want someone else to do the whole thing then you can of course use BWM Books, BookBaby, eBookIT! and Lulu.

A final point:

No matter which option, or options you chose, it is worthwhile preparing your Word (or equivalent) manuscript so it is ‘upload’ ready. This will ensure the conversion process goes as smoothly as possible. My step by step guide is designed to assist you with this. This is available from the BWM Books website

Further information on self publishing can be found here or follow me on twitter @bwmbooks

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Where Do I Sell My Book?

By Bruce Jones
With the advent of e-books, pdf, print on demand and non-exclusive rights we now have many many places and ways to sell our books. Once you have your book complete I recommend that you look at selling your book on several sites.

The top places to sell your book are:
Start with Amazon and then branch out. Amazon is the largest online retailer and it is a very fair company to work with.
• Kindle e-books
• CreateSpace for print-on-demand physical books, enhanced distribution books will sell on many web based stores
• Audio book
• Be sure to select the enhanced distribution.

Apple’s iBookstore
• e-books, epub format
• Use iBookAuthor to create an interactive book for sale on iPads and Mac computer

Barns & Noble
• Nook e-books, ePub format
• If you select enhanced distribution on Amazon for your print books they will appear here also

Kobo, e-Readers
• e-Books, epub format, has an online book authoring tool which is pretty cool.

Google Books
• ePub and pdf format
• connections to other online retailers
• Lulu is a print-on-demand site like CreateSpace but they also have a lot of different binding options. Most of the online sites also have some kind of publishing tool, lots of templates to work with and everyone gets a sales page.
• Aggregates ePub books across many different e-readers and companies, something like 80 players

Your Own Site
• pdf or ePub, using a services like, or for handling the money and hosting the files.
• Set up your own sales pages and direct traffic to the sites above like Amazon. I highly recommend doing this.

To learn more sign up over on the right and pick up a free pdf copy of my new book How to Publish Your Book, A Beginners Guide for Print, Digital and e-Books.

Where Do I Sell My Book?

With the advent of e-books, pdf, print on demand and non-exclusive rights we now have many many places and ways to sell our books. Things are moving fast in the self-publishing world in both where and how to make your book and where to sell it. In this post I am laying out some of the main sites that you can sell your book on.

How to Publish Your Book

Sign Up and download a free copy

What about selling in stores? What is not on this list below are actual physical stores. You can also sell there also but many of the chains and independent stores want to be able to return your book if it doesn’t sell. With print-on-demand you usually can’t. And e-books don’t really work there. Books from the traditional publishers can usually be returned to the distributor. What I have done when I sold to a brick and mortar store is to offer a bigger discount and free shipping with the understanding that these are final sales and the books won’t be returned. Again a lot of this kind of stuff is changing every day.

The top places to sell your book are:
• Kindle e-books, mobi format
• CreateSpace for print-on-demand physical books. CreateSpace enhanced distribution will sell on many other web based stores
• Audio books
• I do both Kindle and CreateSpace

Apple’s iBookstore
• e-books, epub format
• Use iBookAuthor to create an interactive book for sale on iPads and Mac computer

Barns & Noble
• Nook e-books, ePub format
• If you select enhanced distribution on Amazon for your print books they will appear here also

Kobo, e-Readers
• e-Books, have started doing this

Google Books
• ePub and pdf format
• connections to other online retailers
• Aggregates ePub books across many different e-readers and companies. The format needs to be pretty simple.

Your Own Site
• PDF or ePub, using a services like, or for handling the money and distribution. I do some of this
• Set up your own sales pages and direct traffic to the sites above like Amazon. I highly recommend doing this, this is what I do.
• Sell physical books from your own site. Package them together or with some other product like a workbook or DVD. Make it really special, offer someone one on one consulting using Google Hangout or Skype. You could charge $200-$500/hr or more for a series of sessions. The book is the teaser to sell the service.

Because you control all the rights you could put your books on most of these platforms at the same time. Though I would check on iBookStore, they have quite a few requirements. You also need to purchase an ISBN number for iBooks, I like free.

To learn more sign up over on the right and pick up a free pdf copy of my new book How to Publish Your Book, A Beginners Guide for Print, Digital and e-Books.

How to Publish Your Book Coaching Program
Starting with the new year I am offering a new coaching program to help authors publish their books. I am offering a package of 4 Individual Coaching Sessions on getting your book out of your computer and published on Amazon. The cost is $1,000 for 4 (1.5 hour each) sessions held over either Google Hangout or Skype. Contact me if you are interested.