How do you get your eBook into the Apple bookstore if you are not a large publisher? Compared to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or the Barnes & Noble Publit system, adding a title or three it is downright challenging. (In fact one of our clients gave up after trying twice over the course of six weeks…but that’s another story.)
In this overview I’ll describe three different methods; each have pros and cons. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of vendors that distribute eBooks to the Apple iBookstore. (Click here for a list of approved aggregators). Instead I want to describe three of the more common ways that small or mid-sized publishers can put books into the store. Each one represents a different business model.
I’d love to hear any feedback you have on these or other methods. Drop them in the comment box below or give me a call: 760-942-4227.
Option 1 is “free” and involves setting up an account with Apple.
I put free in quotes because you have to use a Mac and you have to supply your own ISBN. You also have to apply for an iTunes Connect account. Once you have been approved you can agree to their contracts and submit books.
There are two programs. One for authors that plan to submit only free books, and one for those that plan to submit books for sale. Make this decision carefully.
Option 2 is also free but you pay a small commission on books sold.
This option involves the use of Smashwords. To upload your book using Smashwords you setup a free account and upload a well-formatted Word document. As of this writing you cannot upload an ePub file but I hear this capability is on the way. Unlike Apple you can use any kind of computer you like and Smashwords has several ISBN options including free.
The commission is currently 15% of net sale price. For example, if your book sells for $5 on Apple then your net sale price is $3.50 with Apple keeping their 30% commission, or $1.50. The Smashwords commission is 15% of $3.50, or 53 cents.
Option two is probably your lowest out-of-pocket option but your book must be in Word format. By the way, it must also be less than 5 megabytes in size.
Option 3 costs $99 and is commission free.
The pay-up-front option is for those with higher projected sales volumes. In this example I’ll point to BookBaby’s $99 plan. With this plan you submit your validated ePub file and either supply your own ISBN or, like Smashwords, choose a free one.
Using the same example I used for Smashwords, you need to sell 187 books the first year to breakeven. After the first year BookBaby charges $19 per year which means you need to sell 36 books a year, and every year thereafter, to breakeven.
There are two notable things about Bookbaby vs. Smashwords. BookBaby distributes eBooks to many more stores than Smashwords. However a downside is that you can make only one change per year to your metadata (description, title, etc) without being charged. After that it is $50 per change.
As you can see it comes down to more than dollars and cents. File formats, store distribution and file size are three other important factors to consider before selecting a distribution method. There are several distribution partner options but they use one of these business models, or a combination thereof.
One of our specialties is helping publishers select and implement a distribution strategy that best meets their needs. Contact us today to learn more.