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Publishing Author Challenging Marketing

Where can digital authors sell their books?

ON Nov 12, 2012
POSTED IN Publishing, Self Publishing
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As we’ve all learned the hard way, Craigslist isn’t exactly the perfect place to sell your latest written opus, but unless you find a way to share your talent with the rest world, your life, and especially your life’s work, will never be an open book.

Luckily there are a variety of self-publishing providers who are ready and willing to help with the task of sharing your hard work. The only question is which venue is right for you?


amazon logo

As one of the largest online markets for anything from books, to DVD’s, to, yes, even sealed plutonium, Amazon serves as a one-stop shop for customers around the globe. Amazon breaks down self-publishing into a three-tiered system with CreateSpace for the printed copies, Kindle Direct Publishing for ebooks, and Advantage as a self-service consignment program to promote and market your media. Essentially it is separated into print, digital, and business management.

Create Space allows you to upload the copy, upload or design your cover, and then receive a printed proof for your approval. Kindle Direct Publishing then makes matters easier by allowing the uploaded interior of your book and chosen cover to be approved and published in ebook form, with the price and potential earnings chosen by you.

Once sales start rolling in, Advantage allows you to keep your book in stock for further demand. Of course, Amazon takes a small chunk in fees from your profits and printing, but with pricing in your control the amount you get back is dependent on you.

Barnes & Noble

Hey, remember that place Borders? No? Well, it was a lot like Barnes and Noble, which is now the dominant book store and book provider on the internet. Currently, Barnes and Noble focuses primarily on ebook publishing, primarily geared towards the Nook.

Using the pubIt! program, your ebook will easily be available for sale through the Barnes and Noble eBookstore, on, Nook eBook, and the free Nook software for the Mac, iPad, iPhone, and anything else you can ithink of. This is a whole new market, and apart from a small percentage taken from the list price on each sale, it’s free to you.

Google Books and Google Play

Much in the way you would flip through the pages of a book in a store, Google Books allows readers to preview chosen segments or intros to novels, poetry, short stories, and more, in an effort to help readers choose the book that’s best for them. Much like many of the current ebook providers, Google Books accepts your own pdf or epub formatted book and allows it to be sold on Google Play and through retailer partner websites. With no exclusive rights asked, this option is just one of the many other ways to increase your audience and gain more sales.


It might not have the same sheen as other big-name websites, but Smashwords is a formidable self-publishing company that understands the importance of the writing community. In addition to providing self-publishing service to distribute ebooks to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, and more, Smashwords also helps to promote promising authors with front-page highlights and an easy-to-use navigation system for finding books according to genre, price, and length. Free to join, Smashwords also allows you to earn 60% of the list price from major ebook retailers, and a smashing 85% net back to books sold on the website.


Feeling tech savvy? Leanpub is particularly aimed to suit the needs of computer programming and technical manual books by allowing writers to publish their books while it is still in-progress. The benefit of this is that your book can change as technology itself also changes over time, ensuring your content never goes out of date.

In addition, Leanpub offers services to bloggers, who despite having a wealth of content, have yet to turn it into a published book. Simply by turning the RSS feed into a collection of Markdown files, blog writers can curate a complete manuscript in minutes. Who knew that all those stories about your cat could be the next big seller? Leanpub offers a nifty 90% royalty, minus a 50 cent flat fee per sale, allowing you to earn a hearty sum for your work that even rivals the most popular traditional publishers.


With a clean and easy-to-use design format, Lulu allows authors to publish ebooks and immediately begin selling them within it’s own marketplace. In addition to creating and selling your work in both ebook and hard-copy formats, Lulu offers a variety of services to ensure your work and creativity is presented in the utmost professional fashion. These services include cover design, editing, formatting, publicity, promotional materials, and even professional book reviews, however, each of these services comes at a price, one of the highest being ghost-writing services ($7,800 for an average of 40,000 words).

If none of those are a concern, Lulu still stands out with it’s easy to use interface and numerous options for book binding, paper quality, book size, photo books, and custom calendars. Lulu is easy, but it might not be cheap if you aren’t willing to put in the work yourself. At the very least, the average amount for received royalties from each sponsored sale is comparable to most major self-publishing companies available.


Available on the Mac App Store, iBooks is an easy user-friendly application that allows practically anyone to create interactive multi-touch books, textbooks, picture books, and just about another book you could imagine for the iPad. Such projects can be as a simple, or interactive, as you choose them to be.

Building with the idea of dragging and dropping mechanisms in mind, the program is essentially geared to make any text and images have a unique flair of immediate and easy professionalism, however, professionalism is not always unique, which leaves the matter of creativity entirely within the authors capabilities. Afterwards, the iBook Author walks the user through a step-by-step process to submit the book to the iBookstore to be purchased, or offer it as a free download.


The nice side of having so many epub options is that none of the above are mutually exclusive. The amount of time you invest in bringing your ebook to different markets improves your chances for success. However, it’s always a good idea to make the task of finding your work as easy for your followers and supporters as possible, so settle in with the epub market that suits the needs of your book best.

Zachary Newcott

Zachary Newcott is a novelist, humorist, and filmmaker currently writing and residing in Visalia, CA, with his wife Beth, their dog, and two cats. Apart from earning his screenwriting degree from Biola University in 2009, his credentials also include receiving the 2010 CCMA award for Best Personal Opinion Column, numerous awards for his short films and animations, and also a previous position as a Jungle Cruise Skipper at Disneyland. His latest novel Haven is soon to be released.

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