A self-published author's diary, Self publishing, Self-pub corner

A Self-Published Author’s Diary: Let’s take a look at the publishing platforms I use for ebooks (and what it means for royalties)

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Ideally, I would have posted this blog article on Friday morning.  My goal is to post my self-published Author’s Diary posts on Friday mornings. By mornings I mean by 9 am my time. And my time I mean in Maryland, where we’re waiting for the cicadas.

You know those millions of cicadas that are expected to rise from the ground mid to late May…where they’ll breed the next generation which will come to the surface en masse in 2038. Every 17 years. I wonder: has anyone read a story where this brood of cicadas comes out of the ground?

Talking about books. I just finished reading Wilde Child by Eloisa James…which I loved. If you enjoyed Bridgerton (the Netflix series or the books by Julia Quinn the series was based on): do read Eloisa James and Vanessa Riley and Tessa Dare and Sarah McLean and Courtney Milan and so many more. I’m currently reading CINDERELLA IS DEAD by Kaylynn Bayron . I’m only at the beginning but the first few pages are so so good. The first line? “Cinderella has been dead for 200 years.”

And here I don’t have a great transition to the next topic but…here we go.

So you’ve decided to self-publish for x or y reason. Maybe you’ve always been intrigued by the idea…or perhaps you have a publisher but would like to branch out or you just want to give it a go. Or you’ve been wondering what the heck I’ve been doing the past seven years. Or you started reading my self-published author’s diary posts, and you’re asking yourself: What on Earth is Draft2Digital? Or KDP? What is she talking about?

This post is a glimpse into the different self-publishing platforms (at least the ones I use) and what using those platforms means for royalties. Keep in mind that those are the self-publishing platforms I use. There are many, many more out there. And thanks to my friend Tonya for letting me she’d really like to know more about what I mean when I refer to “publishing on Draft2Digital”.

Yes, self-publishing is technically easy. You could just go on Kindle Direct Publishing, register for an account, fill out the details of the book you want to publish and then upload a word document and use their “cover design” tool and off you go. It’s published. It’s out there in the world.

And who knows? You might hit the lottery (the odds are not in your favor). Or if your purpose is to have a book available for sale and that’s your one goal and one goal only, then you may not need to go through all the different options and spend hours, weeks, months trying different strategies and readjusting your goals. This is why it’s essential to know ahead of time what your goal is with self-publishing.

Self-publishing platforms: which ones do I use for my ebooks?

If you start Googling “self-publishing platforms”, you will get more than 30000 results. I guess I’m adding one more with this post and episode. 😊 There’s a post on Redsy Blog, which is pretty good at going through the different ones currently available and their pros and cons.

When it comes to publishing platforms, some focus on publishing ebooks. Others on publishing paperback/hardback. Some are aggregators (meaning they distribute your book for you to e-retailers). Some distribute solely to the platform they’re linked with. For example, if you upload your ebook on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (their self-publishing platform), it will only be available on Amazon. I’m linking to a Q&A with Draft2Digital on aggregators (keep in mind the source for that one. Of course, they list the positive parts of using an aggregator such as themselves). There are platforms for audiobooks (again, either as an aggregator or linked to the e-retailer). And then there are the ones that do a mix of everything. Some platforms have fees that you do need to pay up-front (like IngramSpark), but there are usually coupons.

I use the following platforms for my ebooks:

Royalties: How much per book?

On Kindle Direct Publishing, if you price your book above 2.99, you receive 70% of the price minus the delivery fee. The delivery for example for my 295 pages book is about $0.08. However, on KDP, you will only receive 35% of the ebook’s set price in certain countries (such as Brazil or Mexico)—unless you enroll your book in KDP Select which makes your book available in Kindle Unlimited.

The royalties format in Kindle Unlimited is different as you can make money in 3 different ways. In a nutshell:

In the past, there has been a lot of talk about scams on Kindle Unlimited. For example: authors stuffing their books,  people being hired to “read” or rather click through the book’s pages, people using pen names and publishing plagiarized content to publish, and publish, and publish more. Here I am linking a The Guardian article entitled: “Plagiarism, book-stuffing, clickfarms…the rotten farm of self-publishing”. This article dates from 2019 and I don’t recall my books in the recent past being automatically in KU so that has changed since.

But some authors (who definitely are not scammers and do not plagiarize) do make quite a bit of money by enrolling their books into KU, even if it’s just for one 90 days.

By enrolling your book in Kindle Unlimited, that ebook should be exclusive to Amazon. One KU period is 90 days. And yes, Amazon does check. I have received emails about this in the past when one of my books was still available at the French retailer Fnac even though I had take it down from D2D. That process is smoother now in my experience. Kindle Unlimited is a bit like the Netflix of books for readers. Readers pay a monthly price and they can borrow up to 10 books at once.

So, how much money would you get for a $2.99 book?

Let’s take my Gavert City series.

Book 1: Fear Me, Fear Me Not (Dimitri and Erin’s story. Think the movie Scream meets Friday Night Lights mixed with Criminal Minds) I am selling this book right now for $2.99

If you’re buying a copy of FEAR ME, FEAR ME NOT on Apple or Kobo for example: my projected royalties through Draft2Digital are: $1.78

If you’re buying a copy of FEAR ME, FEAR ME NOT on Amazon.com, my projected royalties through KDP are: $2.04

But let’s say you’re buying it on Amazon.com.br because you’re in Brazil, then my projected royalties at the time of this post with the current exchange rate are: $1.05

But if had it in Kindle Unlimited, then my projected royalties in all countries would be about $2.04 for each sale and if a KU member borrowed my book and read the entire book, I would get paid per page, I would earn $2.14. Here’s a link to a calculator to know how much your book or any book would earn based on their pages (KU calculates the pages slightly differently I think).

If you’re buying a copy of FEAR ME, FEAR ME NOT on Google Play, my projected royalties are: $2.09

How much money would I get if I sold one copy of a $0.99 book?

Book 2: SEE ME, SEE ME NOT (Tessa & Luke’s story. Her sister was kidnapped years ago. He just escaped a doomsday cult. Their terrifying pasts won’t let them go. Will they be able to save the people they love before it’s too late?) is currently available for only $0.99.

If you’re buying a copy on Apple, my projected royalties through Draft2Digital are: $0.59

If you’re buying a copy on Amazon.com, my projected royalties through KDP are: $0.35

If you’re buying a copy on Google Play, my projected royalties are: $0.69

Am I happy with the platforms I use?

The answer to that question is on the podcast (choose your favorite streaming platform here or click here for Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts) and in my emails to subscribers. 🙂 You can sign up for my weekly email here.

What about other platforms to sell ebooks?

There are of course many other platforms you could use for your e-book (Smashwords, Lulu come to mind but there are more, again check that Redsy article I had linked up). And you can also decide to sell your ebooks directly on your website or using BookFunnel for example. Those set-ups would require a fee (either a one-time fee or a monthly fee).

Circling back to the beginning, choosing a platform really depends on your goals and strategies.

Several websites look into the ebooks market…which platform sells the most ebooks? Trying to find the actual market share of Amazon’s ebooks sale in the overall ebooks market is pretty difficult. The numbers I found ranged from 67% to 83% – and it wasn’t evident: how does KU factor in those numbers?

I’ll discuss the different strategies and my own experience with those at some point soon. Because both have pros and cons. Having your books enrolled in KU does offer you promotional tools but so does having your book selected for promos on other e-retailers. KU does let you discount your book for limited periods of times…Did I mention I will talk about this in more detail soon?

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Thank you for reading!

If you have any questions about my adventures in self-publishing or anything I shared with you today, don’t hesitate to reach out and leave a comment and I’ll make sure to reply in my email next week.

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