Writing Ebooks and Publishing on KDP, Kobo, and other Platforms [EP 8]

In Episode 3 I talked a bit about self-publishing and what to watch for. In this episode I’m going to go a little deeper into self-publishing, and concentrate on ebooks and Kindle, Kobo, and other platforms.

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Below is the transcript for this episode from the beginning, including the podcast introduction. As in previous episodes, the transcript doubles as my blog post for the week.

You’re listening to Take On Life After 50, the podcast for people over 50 who want to supplement their retirement by doing what they love. I’m your host, Diane Ziomek, and this is where you’ll find practical how-to’s and inspiration to create the life you deserve. Whether you want to replace your current income or supplement it, I’m here to share my experiences, ideas, and even some of life’s lessons when it comes to side hustles.

A look at some platforms, pricing, and distributorship.

Welcome to Episode 8: Writing Ebooks and Publishing on KDP, Kobo, and other Platforms

Do you ever feel as if winter is never going to end?

That’s about where I am sitting at this point. I don’t think it’s so much that it’s winter, I’m just getting tired of the rain in January. In my part of the world, that generally isn’t supposed to be a thing.

In Episode 3 I talked a bit about self-publishing and what to watch for. In this episode I’m going to go a little deeper into self-publishing, and concentrate on ebooks and Kindle, Kobo, and other platforms.

To start with, it doesn’t matter what genre you choose. Ebooks can be formatted for pretty much any type of book, be it fiction or nonfiction. With the advances in technology and graphics, even graphic novels are readily available as ebooks.

As an independent author I have spent a fair amount of time at my computer searching for the best place to publish. As I have searched, I realized something: one platform isn’t necessarily better than any other. Yes, some pay more royalties than others, but do you want to be exclusive to only one platform?

First, let’s talk about book length.

When it comes to ebooks, there’s no set length. As a writer though, it’s your job to provide your reader with all of the necessary information they need to get from Point A to Point B. In the case of nonfiction, for example, if you’re writing a book on how to grow a container garden you’ll want to cover everything from suitable containers to soil to lighting. Plus you’ll want to provide a list of plants that are suitable for containers. 

With better graphics programs and faster internet speeds, ebooks include more pictures than even 5 years ago. That in itself opens up more options for writers. If including photos you won’t need a super high resolution, which will cut down on downloading time of your book on a reader’s device.

When it comes to fiction, you have more options. You can publish anywhere from a few thousand words to tens of thousands of words. Some fiction is in the hundreds of thousands of words, and the one that comes to mind there is the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. 

And just like a print book, it doesn’t necessarily have to be all one story. If you have a collection of short stories, an ebook is a good way to get your work out there. If you have a series, you can publish them individually, or offer them as a boxed set. I have done this with my Pipestone Creek Romance Series. Each novella is on Amazon and priced at $2.99 US (which currently works out to $3.93 CAD), but I have the entire set of 6 available for $10.00 CAD in my Etsy Shop. As with any boxed set, it’s offered at considerable savings.

Next, let’s talk pricing.

This is where things can get a little tricky, and something I struggle with till this day.

Nonfiction is generally priced higher than fiction in print books, so the same rule of thumb should apply with an ebook. I have seen some that are $10 less in ebook form than their print counterparts, and some that are half-price or less. I have also seen the two formats priced the same.

Fiction prices are a little closer to being the same for both formats, but as expected, the ebooks are generally a couple to a few dollars less, depending on author, genre, and platform.

As mentioned, the pricing is something I struggle with. My frugal mentality says a book that’s not printed and bound should be considerably less than a printed copy, but my author mentality has a different opinion. And as independent authors, we need to take ourselves seriously. Our time is worth something, so we should not be giving our books away. With that said, there will be times when you may choose to run a promotion; which can be good to boost sales.

Depending on genre, there’s the research, first draft, second draft, fifth draft…you get the picture. Then the final manuscript, which gets uploaded to the platform of choice. It all takes time, and for some, also money. And that’s just the writing part. 

There’s also the marketing, editing, cover design, time spent on book descriptions, and the actual uploading of manuscript and cover to the platform or platforms of choice. It all takes time, so you should naturally expect some degree of return.

Third is the platform of choice.

When people think of ebooks, chances are their first thought is Kindle. I initially used only KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing, but over the years I have broadened my horizons. No matter which platform you choose, make sure you follow the guidelines and the rules. 

Before I get into the platforms, there’s the matter of an eISBN. The platform you choose will provide one, but you can also provide your own. Each country has its own process of obtaining them, so your best bet is to do an online search by simply asking “How do I get an ISBN for my book?” Some platforms do not require an ISBN for an ebook, but you can include it if you so choose.

With KDP you have a couple of options. You can publish exclusively with them and receive a higher royalty, plus enroll in KDP Select, which entitles you to a portion of the earnings based on number of pages read. This is good in the respect it gives you more ways to earn, but bad in that it only caters to the readers who read via the Kindle app.

Another option is to publish to each platform individually. When publishing to more than one, be sure you haven’t given any of them exclusive rights. If you do and are caught, publishing privileges can and will be revoked from certain platforms. 

Also keep in mind your prices should be the same across the board. Don’t have your ebook listed at, for example, $5 on one site and $10 on another. Sooner or later the pricing will be changed to the lowest one, no matter where you’re listed. So in the end, it’s best to start out consistently to avoid the hassles that will inevitably come with various prices.

Platforms such as Kindle, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Lulu, etc have their own policies and distribution territories. For maximum exposure it’s best to select all distribution channels for each platform.

A third option is to go through a distributor that takes care of listing everywhere on your behalf. One such distributor is Draft2Digital. They’ll list your book with Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple, plus give you the option of library distribution as well. It’s basically a one-stop-shop so to speak.

Whichever route you take, be sure you understand how their royalty percentages work, and how you will be paid for copies sold. When going through a distributor such as Draft2Digital, you may not see any royalties for up to 90 days from the date your book was sold. Plus, there may be a payment threshold as well, so you won’t get your payment until the minimum threshold is reached.

Option 4 is to sell your books on your own site. The pricing should be consistent with listings on other platforms, if you have also taken that route. I suggest selling on your own site as an addition to the previously named platforms, simply for the fact they have a much wider reach. 

The benefit to selling on your own website is you won’t have to wait for 2 or 3 months to get your payment. You can set up a payment processor such as PayPal or Stripe, and the money will be deposited into your account within days, not weeks. If you’re selling on your site you can provide your readers with a PDF or ePub file, depending on which software you use to publish. I use Scrivener for the majority of my fiction so am able to create an ePub file as well as a PDF.

If you’re a writer or creator of workbooks you should sell on your own site. The PDF files are provided as immediate downloads to your customer, and they can print or use an app such as Goodnotes so they can write on the pages using an iPad or tablet. You can command higher prices as well.

I have my Creating and Selling Nonfiction Course Workbook on my site for $19, and it can be printed so the buyer can work through each module. I have sold a few copies since I published it, and foresee more sales in the future. When writing and selling workbooks you’re giving your customer the opportunity to learn from you, plus they can print as many copies as they wish for their own use. 

This is especially helpful for life coaches or business coaches, as the same pages can be used for different ideas. And if you’re a planner designer you can utilize this strategy as well.

Conclusion

As a writer and independent author you have the freedom to choose where you want to publish your ebooks. You also have more control over pricing and can receive much higher royalties than traditionally published authors.

Don’t let fear get in your way of putting your work out there. The real beauty of ebooks is if you mess up it’s a lot easier to fix. All you need to do is upload the corrected file to the platform and the changes will be made. I have made a few changes to mine over the years, with most of the changes being typos. If you’re going to make a lot of changes, I suggest creating it as another edition.)

Join me next week when I’m going to get into spring mode and talk about some ways to make your green thumb work for you. I’ll see you then.

Thanks for listening to this episode and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from it. If you want to learn more about me, visit my website takeonlifeafter50.com. If you like what you heard, you can support my podcast and blog at buymeacoffee.com/takeonlife50

Afterthoughts:

Now why do I think of these things after I finish recording?

If there’s anything you would like to know in terms of platforms, royalties, or general questions about self-publishing ebooks, please comment below. I will answer as best I can as a reply, or in an extra blog post.


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Author: Diane Ziomek

I am a mom, independent author, freelance writer, fibre artist, and podcaster. I like to share what I have learned with others over the years, in hopes of making their lives easier and more lucrative. My published works can be found on most ebook platforms, as well as on my website. I also have a just-for-fun website about gardening where I share information about plants, how-to's, and gardening in a cold climate.

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