It’s an exciting day when you’re finally finished enough with your book to list it for preorder. I know when the day came around for me, even though I was preoccupied with a million other things, I was still so excited to finally see my book on Amazon.
So how easy was the process? Let me give you a brief breakdown of each below. If you’ve had different experiences, feel free to share yours in the comments.
Most of the retailers were very simply to upload to. With each, you simply clicked on “Add New Title,” entered your book’s information, and uploaded your manuscript and cover. Some general observations before I jump into some of the more technical, unique issues with each retailer:
– DRM-free – I would recommend to list your book as DRM-free. Basically, DRM restricts pirated copies of your books being sold. Chances are, you’re not going to have that problem. And if you do, it means your book is in high demand, so you should be rejoicing. But, enabling DRM also restricts readers from transferring the files they legitimately paid for to another one of their devices.
– Have a cover that matches the retailer’s specs – If your cover designer is good at what they do, they’ll know that Amazon requires a different size from Kobo and so on. There’s a reason they sent you so many files of the same cover. Have the cover ready to go before you upload. Nobody is going to buy a book that has no cover.
– Have your book finished before you upload – Although Amazon only requires that you upload a draft for preorder, it’s probably a good idea to wait until you have the completed book 100% ready to go before you upload. What happens if you get hung up on something else and miss the 10-day deadline? You’re banned from preorder for a year just because you didn’t think ahead. So do yourself a favor and think ahead.
– Have your financial information set up before you expect to launch – The retailers won’t list your book until you have completed the tax interview and bank account information. You can do this when you first set up your account before you even list your book.
– Change prices to end in .99 – The retailers will do a true conversion of the price you set for your book. In the foreign countries, a lot of the last two digits will be something different than .99. This is confusing for natives of those countries because all the other books will be listed as .99. Make sure you change them to match everyone else. I rounded up too. So if the true conversion was 3.18, I set it at 3.99.
The quirk here is making sure your book is finished before you upload. Amazon allows you to submit a draft for preorder but requires you upload your final manuscript 10 days before publication date, otherwise you’re locked out of preorders for a year. You may also enroll your book in KDP Select, which will require you to be exclusive with Amazon. There are some advantages and disadvantages to consider. The upload stage is where you make the decision to enroll or not. But, your Select period won’t begin until your book is officially published.
If you’re planning on formatting your book yourself, make sure you have a .mobi file as Amazon needs to have its own file. This can be created a number of different ways using various programs.
Again, the only thing to keep in mind here is that Kobo requires either a .epub file or .pdf file, both of which are as easy to create as a .mobi file for Amazon. Kobo also requires specific specs for the cover, so discuss this with your designer if they didn’t provide appropriate files.
This is where people usually go through a distributor like Smashwords of Draft2Digital. To upload to iBooks you need an Apple computer. If you don’t have a Mac, you can borrow someone’s (who will allow you to install iTunes Producer on their computer) or use a few different options to run OS X on your Windows computer. Once you have the program installed, the actual upload process is very simple. Or at least it was for me. I have heard people complaining about it on KBoards, so there may be some issues. What I think people get confused about is the fact that you need to upload your book to iTunes Producer, but edit your book’s details with iTunes Connect, which is run through your browser. It has a bit of a learning curve to learn the terms, but it’s pretty easy once you learn.
Oh, Google Play. What a funny interface. First of all, I needed to Google for the link to upload to Google Play (make sure you bookmark it, because it’s not a simple URL). Then you want to make sure to take into account the price gouging they do. I followed a KBoarders advice and set the price of my book for $5.18 because I knew they would discount it to $3.99. It’s annoying, because the discounting seems random, but the good thing is that if your book sells at $3.99, you’ll earn royalties off the $5.18 price. Check out the breakdown below:
Set Price = Discounted Price
99c = no change
3.94 = 2.99
5.18 = 3.99
6.48 = 4.99
9.99 = 7.99
15.99 = 9.99
This was the last retailer I uploaded too because the formatting got all screwy when I uploaded. I had a hard time trying to figure it out. I formatted it on Scrivener like I did for all the other retailers, but the text size was all over the place when I viewed it on the online previewer. The headings were tiny, the body text enormous. Not the way I set it up in Scrivener. After consulting some help on KBoards (which, apparently nobody knew how to fix because I only got one response and he/she didn’t seem to confident) I decided to open my file on the Nook app on my iPad to see if the problem was on the online previewer. Turns out it was because the book looked perfect on the app. The only thing I needed to do was add in the chapter headings at the start of each chapter. They appeared perfectly in the table of contents, but the beginning of each chapter simply started with the text for the chapter. I was able to add that in with the manuscript editor online. Once I set the release date, I hit publish…only to discover that Nook doesn’t allow self-publishers to offer their book for preorder. There’s a way to do it, but you have to upload to Smashwords and then use the distributor (who takes a cut of your profit) to provide your book on Barnes and Noble. In the long run, waiting for the actual release date is more beneficial in my opinion. But if you want simplicity over monetary benefits, go through a distributor like Smashwords or Draft2Digital.
Simple. The only thing to pay attention to, if you’re going direct, is to uncheck the retailers that you’ve already uploaded to. No sense in having Smashwords upload to Amazon if you’ve already done it.