Simply Written was created with authors in mind. It’s a tool. It’s a creation aid that provides the author with clean, beautiful files that can be published as ebooks.
The publishing process, on the other hand, is complicated.
I’ve recently published my book, Hylsbrith Falls, using the Simply Written service. During this process I documented the experience and am writing a “how-to” for authors that want to self-publish through Amazon and the iBookstore. You can look forward to reading about the experience on this blog soon.
In the meantime I wanted talk a bit about the other options for a self-publishing author. There are a number of sites out there that will do some of the legwork for you, allowing you to submit a file to them for distribution to these two main sellers and a host of minor ones.
Smashwords is an ebook distributor founded in 2008 that focuses on making publishing relatively easy. They have a store online for their readers, as well as distribution lines to Apple, Nook, Kobo, OverDrive, Flipkart, Oyster, Scribd, Baker & Taylor’s, Blio, and Axis360, among others.
Authors can submit a word document to the service, and they convert the files for you. They also have started accepting epub files. When your book sells through a site that Smashwords sent it to, they take a small commission from the sale before you get your royalty payment. You get a much higher cut when it sells directly from the Smashwords site itself.
BookBaby is a site by the makers of CDBaby. They are a good fit for an author that wants a little more help through the process, but the author does pay a fee for that help. Their distribution is pretty solid, including Apple, Nook, Kobo, Amazon, Scribd, Gardners Books, Baker & Taylor’s, and more.
There are different levels of fees, and different services that are available. File conversion, cover creation, editing, and more can be purchased there. Their commission varies depending on the package you go with, and they have a yearly fee for the books held in their system, but overall it’s a worthwhile service to look into. They also have some options for print-on-demand runs.
Barnes & Noble PubIt
Barnes & Noble PubIt is very similar to Amazon’s Direct Publishing. The product is only offered on the Nook from this distributor, so you don’t get the breadth of coverage you would with the others. They do offer a free file conversion, or you can upload your own epub file. Their royalties are a tad less than Amazon offers, but still pretty competitive.
Lulu is primarily a print-on-demand publisher, but you have the option of publishing an ebook there. They only distribute to the three big ebook sellers (Apple, Amazon, and Nook) so your retailer coverage is not as great, and they do take a commission on your earnings from these. They offer services for a fee, such as cover creation, editing, and marketing.
There are many smaller distributors out there as well. Booktango, Scribd, and CreateSpace to name a few. Many print-on-demand companies will offer an ebook creation service of some sort, though their reach may be limited. Be wary of any site that wants you to pay them to distribute your book.
The pitfalls with some of these avenues of distribution is that the files they create can be poor quality and full of formatting errors. If you decide to go with one of these distributors, it’s a good idea to upload your own epub files so they’re exactly how you’d like them to look. Simply Written makes ebook files to printed book standards. If there’s ever any complaint about our files, please pass them along and we can look into the problem.
Remember, whether you decide to publish and distribute your work on your own to retailers, or go with a distribution service, there are plenty of options out there. Do your research and make sure you’re getting what you want out of a service.