The importance of Self-Publishing your eBook

by Brian on January 6, 2013

Dear author friends (& soon-to-be authors),

I want to share a less fortunate situation I see some authors getting themselves into.  If you let another company publish your eBook under their account, you are going to be at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to succeeding in the era of eBooks. If you let another company publish your eBook under their account, you are not actually self-publishing.  True self-publishing means you as the author are the publisher. You work directly with the marketplaces that sell your book, you buy directly from the printers who print your books. The beauty of self-publishing is that you retain 100% of your profits and purchase your books at the lowest possible price (no markup, no middle man).

Here’s WHY you should avoid letting anyone else publish your work under their accounts on the major eBook marketplaces:

  • If you ever want to setup the title under your own account (after it’s already been setup on another account), you will lose your ranking and reviews. This is because the marketplaces can’t simply transfer a title from one account to another. Instead, the title would have to be unpublished under the old account, and then setup as a new title on the new account. Amazon won’t transfer the reviews to your new listing and you have to start over working your way back up the sales rankings (which does take into account your cumulative sales).
  • If you want to participate in programs like KDP select – you need to be able to ‘unpublish’ your work on all the other marketplaces you might setup on (only for the duration you choose to participate in KDP Select). This is easy to do if you are the account holder, but impossible to do if you are not. This is one of the many reasons I’m not a fan of the shotgun approach of publishing your eBook in every marketplace under the sun.
  • One of the keys to being a successful eBook author is in being able to fine tune your listing. This entails updating your description, trying different keywords, changing categories, testing different price points, etc.. All which requires that you have direct access to make these tweaks whenever you want.

I’m not going to call out any of these companies by name, but the bottom line is that there are many different business models out there, and you need to be fully informed before you enter into an engagement. Some companies are charging an annual fee as well as fees anytime you want to update your listings. None of the marketplaces I recommend you publish to charge any fees whatsoever (they don’t have to because they get a % of every sale). Bottom line is that you should be self-publishing your eBook. Which means you as the author/publisher get paid directly by Amazon, BN, Apple, Google, Kobo, or any other reputable marketplace that sells your eBook.

What if your book has already been published in print with a traditional publisher?

If so, there’s a chance the contract you have with your publisher makes no mention of eBooks. If that’s the case, then it would be in your best interest to self-publish your eBook edition before the publisher does. If you wait, and the publisher will likely eventually publish it as an eBook on your behalf, and you will not have any easy time republishing it under your own account. Amazon won’t allow a title to be published as eBook more than once. If this as occurred, as I mentioned above – the only option is that you convince your publisher to unpublish the eBook so you can publish it under your own account. Your ability to do this will vary depending on the contract you have in place with your existing publisher. But many of the contracts were written long before eBooks existed, so there’s a good chance you own the rights to do this yourself. But if you hesitate too long, and the publisher does publish your eBook, you may be hard pressed to get the rights to self-publish it. Please note: Every contract and situation will be different, and by no means am I providing any legal advice whatsoever – you need to protect yourself and be sure you aren’t violating any terms with your existing publisher. You should try to get a letter from the publisher that they are rescinding any rights of the eBook edition. Amazon may ask you to provide written proof that you have the rights if they see the print edition was published under a different publisher. I’ve worked with many authors who had no problem getting the publisher to furnish this document. Sometimes all you have to do is ask!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linette Arthurton Bruno January 7, 2013 at 7:25 am

Thank you for providing such useful information which answers questions that needed answering.

Olivia Bersell December 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Hi Brian, handy advice here, I have not published a book yet but am close to it and have thought about using other options as well as the Amazon Kindle Platform. I think I will concentrate on the one place first (Amazon).

Olivia Bersell

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