Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to Post Your eBook to Multiple Distributors - Ease and Profit

Easy Profit can be made by self-publishing your ebooks to multiple distributors in an efficient sequence.
(photo: Blythe)

Sequence and Feeding of eBook Distributors - How to take it easy and make extra passive income meanwhile.

If you've been following this series of articles, you'll know that we are now up to about eight major distributors to use. As an Indie Publisher, it's key to ensure you make best use of your time, to be efficient and profitable. It's all investing time for money. Leveraging your time makes money. Simple.

With eight distributors, there are more than a few tricks on how to get the most bang for your buck. Unknown, you'll see these "Tips for Self-Publishing" where they tell you to just stick with Amazon, or only publish to Smashwords. That's where you're leaving money on the table. Until you get a routinely-good-selling book (or several) on Amazon, you'll need to get these other distributors stocked as well.

Note: You'll also note that distributing via Lulu or Smashwords isn't covered. Reason being that they don't allow public domain works to be published, plus you are paying them out of your royalties to distribute your books. If this is your current workflow, then adjust based on the below. 

Right now, the other 7 distributors give me about half of what I'm getting from Amazon with only one decent seller there. (And it's a 99-center.) When I started out, I was making four times as much from the other distributors as I did from Amazon, and that was enough to cover my monthly bills and quit working for anyone else.

Bottom line is that Amazon is a crap-shoot, and the regular sales you get from multiple other distributors will even things out for you. We're here to make enough profit to live on and then some. (Also known as "Financial Freedom.") Start by making money right off, and then build this up as you market your books and improve their discoverability.

The Lowest Common Denominator versus the Covers-All-Bases approach

As we build our ebook, and related versions, we want to work with the Lowest Common Denominator (LCD) which will be accepted everywhere. This is the epub format, once it's been properly "epubchecked" and verified.

In posting to distributors, in general you want to start with posting to the distributor which enables you to post the most meta-data possible - then record that meta-data so you have it for the rest. Meta-data is the details about your book which takes the longest to assemble - and is your key marketing steps to take as you publish.

By "covering all bases" with the distributors which allow the greatest possible meta-data included (better for search engine discovery), then you can gather all this material once and copy/paste to the remaining distributors - tweaking as you go. This leverages your time and makes the publishing cycle quicker.

(Caveat: My tests with Leanpub and OverDrive are still ongoing at this writing.)

A rough sequence would roll like this:
  1. Creation of your book on LibreOffice (since it will port to PDF and HTML directly.)
  2. Either create an epub with the Writer2Epub plug-in, or save as HTML and import to Leanpub for creation. On Leanpub, you'll simply publish it to get the epub file and then come back to fill in the meta-data.
  3. Start your publishing with Lulu in order to get the free ISBN. (While ISBN's aren't required by any ebook distributor I know of, they make it simpler to track.) You don't have to finish the Lulu publishing cycle as this point, just collect the ISBN.
  4. If you haven't already, open up Calibre and import your ebook. This is where you will input all your meta-data for later use. Note: create a custom meta-data input field for BISAC codes in Calibre. (Yes, I owe you a how-to article on this.) And I have created a spreadsheet for these you can access free.
  5. Open up Google Play ( upload your ebook, and fill out everything there. Record that data into Calibre.
  6. Then post your book to iTunes and Nook, which are the next most data intensive.
  7. Amazon follows, and Kobo. Both of these have their own versions of BISAC for categories.
  8. Wrap up posting to Lulu and filling out your Leanpub data fully at this point. These two have the least meta-data to fill in.
  9. Then post to OverDrive, which has different pricing points to consider.
  10. Finally, update your ebook website with all these buy links, as well as Leanpub binders and packages.

That gives you an efficient work-flow with the fewest sets of back-stepping.


  • Recording all your meta-data into Calibre makes copy/paste an actuality.
  • You'll start getting sales from Google and Kobo within days. Amazon probably won't rank you until you get some reviews. It may also take as long as a month or 6 weeks for your book to show up on iTunes and Nook. Almost all of these have a month delay from the time they make a sale until you can get paid for it. Nook has their statistics delayed by another month as well, so any attempt as a complete book sales analysis will always be tardy at best.
  • As it's best to do a print version as well, you might want to publish this first via Lulu and get your proof sent. Any meta-data you use here can go into Calibre and expanded on. That secondary ISBN will be useful on GooglePlay, iTunes, Nook, and Leanpub right off. Google, for one, will link to it for sales (they get a split of sales they send to the major booksellers.)
  • Affliliate links are available via Leanpub, so you can get your audience to sell these for you. 
  • One marketing strategy would be to set a publishing date farther in the future (once you are more certain it will be available on iTunes and Nook) so you can allow pre-orders on Amazon, Kobo, etc. Meanwhile, you can publish your book via Leanpub as you write it, which may finance your project, plus giving you vital audience feedback. You send out emails to your list so they can stay updated on your progress and will be able to post reviews on Amazon when it goes live. (The Amazon version is obviously discounted at first, just to get those paid reviews.) Note: Leanpub auto-publishes a .mobi version for Kindle ereaders. 
  • If you use Leanpub to compile your book and involve your audience, you can use Calibre to convert the resulting epub to an HTML or RTF file (importing to LibreOffice) to edit your print version PDF for Lulu.
  • Goodreads is anther way to get reviews ported to its owner Amazon 
  • If you are active on this platform, then post your pre-publication chapters there.
  • Always update your website when you generate anything with a new link. Search Engines love this.
  • Always get started on your next book once you've published your last one. Your audience will love you for that - send an email to your list when you do.
  • For serious publishers, this is best done in batches, especially for PLR or PD based books. Marketing for these is often based on what starts selling on its own - then you back this up with additional promotion which will goose the various sales algorithms a bit.
  • You can do all this on a MAC mini. Food for thought. 

Then what?

Now you can expand into the various online marketing campaigns. Video trailers, social media syndication, doc-sharing, all these online marketing approaches can be layered on this. Even buying traffic to your book's webpage via Stumbleupon.

The point of this is to enable you to get started with sales right off and not waste any time as you do. As you ramp up your marketing efforts, then your sales should respond as well. Eventually it takes off (or not.)

Your time marches on, regardless. Don't waste it - invest your time, leverage your time.
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