Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Self-Publishing Options Part One

I started self-publishing in 2008, back when KDP was Booksurge. A lot has changed since then. Self-publishing has become more acceptable and there are more venues to publish through. Let's take a look at some of the top self-publishing platforms.

Amazon's KDP offers print-on-demand and ebooks. There is a Kindle e-reader and app for other devices. They have begun an experimental episodic fiction service called Vella. They have Children's Book creator software.They partner with ACX for audiobooks.

Cost: It is free to upload your files and covers. You can change the files at any time at no cost. There are delivery fees for ebooks, print costs for paperback, sales taxes in some cases, and you cannot make your book free unless enrolled in Kindle Select. You decide the price but there are minimums. Amazon may price match, so if you offer your book for a lower price elsewhere, they may adjust your list price. They might match Amazon's price for a physical edition of the book.

Rights: You retain all rights. They provide a free ISBN (exclusive to their platform) or you can use your own. Whether they provide the number or you do, it needs to be unique to the KDP platform. You cannot use it on another publishing platform too. No ISBN is needed for ebooks. Ebooks are assigned an ID number.

Distribution: With expanded distribution your book is available through hundreds of online retailers, bookstores, and distributors like IngramSpark and international stores. They have the widest distribution by far.

 Services: You can set up an Author Central page on most of the foreign sites and there are marketing, promotion, and ad options. Your book is suggested by their algorithm online and in promotional emails. They have marketing and promotional opportunities including pre-order and sets. They have software to help you create your product called Kindle Create. They have added a series tool that generates all of the books in a series when there is a search. Amazon has many advertising and marketing opportunities with a huge database of articles to assist you in all aspects of book formatting and cover design. You can enroll your book in the KDP Select program, which allows readers to read your book for free and you earn a percentage of the KDP Select "pot." Results may vary. 

Payment: The royalties run from 35% to 70% depending on the distribution option. The royalty rate for expanded distribution is 40% of the book's list price for the distribution channel at the time of purchase, minus printing costs, applicable taxes, and withholding. You are paid royalties by direct deposit monthly. Sales data is updated daily.


Apple Books offers ebooks only. They have a reading app for Apple products.

Cost: It is free to upload your cover and files and you can make changes. No delivery fees. You can make your book free. No price matching.

Rights: You maintain all rights. They will provide a free ISBN exclusive to their book versions or you can use your own. No ISBN is required for ebooks.

Distribution: Distribution is only on Apple Books. You can sell on Apple Books from aggregators like Draft2Digital for wider reach.

Services: They offer tips on writing your book, design, publishing, audiobooks, and marketing. They partner with a list of EPUB file conversion service providers. They have videos on how to launch and market your book.

Payment: Apple pays 70% royalties 32 days after the end of the month in which you sold books using direct deposit into a bank account set up on iTunes Connect. If you sell directly through Apple, you can monitor the performance of your titles with daily sales reports.


Barnes & Noble Press offers print-on-demand, hardcover, and ebook options. They have the Nook ereader and the Nook Reading App for iPhone, iPad, Android devices, and Windows 8 tablets.

Cost: It is free to upload your cover and interiors. No charge for changes.

Rights: You retain all rights. They will provide a free ISBN exclusive to their paperback book versions or you can use your own. No ISBN is required for ebooks.

Distribution: Distribution is through their online store. You can submit your book for consideration to be displayed in physical stores. That is not guaranteed. Print on demand books can be ordered at any of their physical stores.

Services: They have promotional opportunities and offer select B&N Press books in emails, online sales & promotions, and other exclusive marketing programs. They have partnered with Reedsy  to offer editorial assistance, BookTrib for publicity assistance, Incubate  for marketing assistance, and 99designs for cover and interior formatting. They have expanded their array of merchandising options, including curated ads on BN.com, better email placement, and social media and blog exposure on Barnes & Noble Press and NOOK channels.

Payment: As of March 2021, following the purchase of B&N by a hedge fund, authors will receive a flat 70% royalty rate for eBook sales, up from a range of 40% to 65%. Print cost and delivery fees will be deducted from the list price. The self-publishing platform will also accelerate payments to 30 days after purchase instead of the prior 60 days. You are paid for book royalties over $10 by direct deposit or will receive bi-annual royalty payments, regardless of how much you’ve earned. You can view sales reports at any time.


Book Baby offers a mix of service packages along with marketing offers and resources. They handle ebooks, print-on-demand, and hard cover. They are geared more toward selling services for writers who need help with design, editing, etc. though they do have a digital storefront.  

Cost: Prices for service packages currently run from $1000 to $2500. There are additional charges for any type of change even to fix a typo and that adds up. Any time you wish to update or change anything, it has to be done through them. They do not earn a percent of your royalties.

Rights: You retain all rights. They sell ISBN numbers for $39 or you can provide your own. 

Distribution: They upload your book to other services such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, as well as other third party sellers. They provide titles to wholesale bookstore catalogs like Ingram and Baker & Taylor.

Services: Book Baby offers everything from editing to cover and interior design to marketing package options. If you need help with those things and think your book has high earning potential, then Book Baby might be for you.

Payment: Payments are delayed since Book Baby distributes through other venues, usually 90 days. They will post your BookShop earnings in your account in the week following all invoiced transactions. Depending on the retail price of your title and the specs of the book, most titles will generate between 10% -30% royalties. Sometimes, sales will fall outside of these royalty targets depending on international currency conversion rates, the manufacturing costs associated with production of your titles, and the fluctuation in retailer distribution charges.


BookLocker is a different type of publishing platform. You must submit your book for their approval. Your book may not be approved. They have a non-exclusive publishing contract with the author. They offer print on demand paperbacks, hardcover, children's books, and ebooks.

Cost: They have a list of services you purchase from $150 to $1200 and up. There is a further fee for inclusion in the Ingram catalogue. Ebooks are listed at no additional charge. For authors submitting a second book to BookLocker, the set-up fee is reduced. There is an annual fee to keep your book listed on their POD service and through Ingram. There are fees to change and re-upload files. A 25% cancellation fee applies to all fees that were paid. However, if any file transmissions have occurred, or work has begun on your book or cover art, no refunds are permitted. The expedited plan cost is $1199 (that includes original paperback cover design) to get a book to market within 2 weeks of the author submitting their final file to them. You can request the hardcover add-on at a discount with the program but black-and-white-interior paperback is the only format eligible for the Expedited program.

Rights: BookLocker does not include copyright and library registration. They provide an ISBN and bar code or you can use your own in your print book(s). You retain all rights. However, authors using the Payment Plan Program agree to only sell their book through BookLocker until their balance is repaid. Those authors can, of course, purchase print copies at their author discount(s), and re-sell those. You can terminate your contract same-day by contacting them through your author account. Payment Plan authors need to reimburse their balance to the company before their book can be terminated.

Distribution: BookLocker's home page directs traffic to 30+ advertised titles. If you pay the fee, the book is submitted to Ingram. Print books are currently listed on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, booksamillion.com, Indigo, and many other smaller, online bookstores across the globe. Ebooks are on Amazon (for the Kindle), BarnesandNoble.com (for the Nook), Apple (for iPads, iPods and iPhones), Kobo (Canada’s popular ebook retailer), Overdrive (which sells ebooks to more than 40K libraries and schools in 70 countries), and BookLocker.com.

Services: BookLocker offers a distribution database listing, custom cover, ISBN, set-up, and internal/external layout. They offer interior formatting and cover design. Authors are responsible for promoting their own books. All authors are provided with a free copy of their how-to-market booklet. BookLocker does not offer promotional and marketing add-on services but they will happily advise authors on a one-to-one basis in these areas.

Payment: Only available to USA clients. Print Royalties are 35% of the list price for public sales of print books sold through BookLocker.com and15% of the list price for print books sold through other distributors/retailers/etc. Ebooks earn 70% of the list price for ebooks priced $8.95 or higher and 50% of the list price for ebooks priced under $8.95. Third-party Ebook Royalties (Amazon, BN.com, Apple and Kobo) are 65% OF THE NET AMOUNT BookLocker.com is paid for each ebook priced $10 or higher and 55% OF THE NET AMOUNT BookLocker.com is paid for each ebook priced under $10.They pay royalties on the fifth business day of the month to authors with an unpaid royalty balance of $40 or more on the last day of the previous month. You can access your account at any time. Sales dashboard includes all sales for which they have been paid, BookLocker.com-direct sales are credited instantly, and a list of all payments made to the author within the last 24 months.



On to Part Two...

Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. This is a great post, Diana. Lots of very helpful information. Thanks for doing the research and laying it all out here.

  2. Excellent information, Diana. Newbies to independent publishing will benefit greatly, but those of us who have gone this route before will also find it very helpful. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  3. I decided to research the other platforms. I have only used KDP and Nook Press. I didn't know there were so many!

  4. I'm late on this, but I'm going through all your information. I just made a big change in my publishing platform, which I will write about later.


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