Self-publishing Part 4


For the last couple of months I’ve been talking about self-publishing my first indie title. At the bottom of this post, I’ll put links to the other three parts in case you missed them and want to go back and have a look.

The Incubus Job released a little over a week ago and I want to talk about a couple of miscellaneous issues that I ran into in the process. Things I learned, as it were.

First, where to upload to and setting up accounts. The most major outlet is hands-down Amazon. If you aren’t selling there, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Typically you make 70% if you price above $2.99 and 30% if you price below. You can go into the KDP Select program, which potentially will pay more and pays according to how much of your work is read. To join that program, you cannot publish that book on any other platform, and have to commit to three months at a time. I know writers who use this program because they get more eyes on their work that way. Random readers will give their books a shot and they don’t have a big enough following to sell many books in the regular platform.

The other platforms that are important are iBooks, Nook, and Kobo. You can go through Smashwords, and they’ll post to all those sites for you and charge a percentage. But they only pay out quarterly, and the others, if you go through them directly, will pay monthly (if you hit a minimum earnings point). You can also go through Draft2Digital.¬† They charge 10% so long as you are distributing with them. There are benefits to having someone else handle it for you, and benefits to not. For instance, you need a Mac to upload to iBooks and the process can be tricky. It also can take weeks. Nook does not allow preorders for self-pub and Kobo is fairly easy to work with. I should mention that many independent bookstores will use Kobo to get your ebooks to sell. So it’s vital you get on there. Many people in other countries use iBooks more than any other platform.

Nook can take a good 48 hours to actually get your book on sale, so you’ll want to get it on sale that far in advance. The other will trigger at the right time, provided you load up the book in advance and tell the platform when to go on sale. If you put up for preorders, then Amazon wants the final document a good 10 days before the sale date. Plan to be ready.

You’ll notice that I don’t include GooglePlay. Here’s why. Their contract says they can reduce the price of the work whenever they feel like it. And if they do, then the others match price and you have little control over how much you’re making. Plus I’ve heard (though I have no specific evidence) that it can be very difficult to untangle your work from GooglePlay. They also tend to price lower than the other outlets, and then the other outlets drop to match, and then GooglePlay drops, and then it spirals from there.

All right, then you have to worry about pricing. You don’t want to price too low. Nowadays, a lot of readers translate $.99 to free as equaling unprofessional–poor writing, poor editing, poor proofing. You also don’t want to price too low so that it looks like you don’t value your work. Also, when it comes time to have sales, people are more likely to pick up works that have dropped noticeably–buyers want a bargain.

Do you set up a preorder or not? If you have a preorder button, then you can advertise in advance and you have a place to send people. The problem for Amazon, anyway, is that those preorders don’t count on the sale day in their voodoo algorithms that figure out your rankings. Rankings matter because they will advertise you the higher up you go and stay. So. It’s a trade-off.

When you post, you will be asked where you want to sell your books (each platform will ask). Obviously, the broader the distribution, the greater the sales. You have the option of changing your book price for each country, but I didn’t go there. Some people research prices to find out what is best. I don’t have the energy, so I just went with charging the same as in the US.

Something else to consider–successful writers of epubs recommend that you release every thirty days for at least three months in order to establish yourself. This helps you build and ride the algorithms. That will mean doing a lot of the writing and publishing preparation long before your release.

The question I want to discuss is this: should you self-pub at all? What are the pros and the cons? Would you be better off going with one of the big five or a smaller press?

And . . . by way of shameless self-promotion, have you read The Incubus Job yet?

You can win a copy! Just click here and enter.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


author pic francis

Diana Pharaoh Francis¬†writes books of a fantastical, adventurous, and often romantic nature. Her award-nominated books include The Path series, the Horngate Witches series, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and Diamond City Magic books, and the Mission:Magic series. She’s owned by two corgis, spends much of her time herding children, and likes rocks, geocaching, knotting up yarn, and has a thing for 1800s England, especially the Victorians. For more about her writing, visit She can also be found on twitter as @dianapfrancis.


3 comments to Self-publishing Part 4

  • Thank you for sharing your experience, and knowledge gained, from self publishing. You state “The question I want to discuss is this: should you self-pub at all? What are the pros and the cons? Would you be better off going with one of the big five or a smaller press?” These are great questions but the one thing they don’t address is the hybrid Kindle Scout program. My third book “The Consciousness Puzzle” is halfway through its Kindle Scout campaign ( and aside from my lack of social network it seems like a great fit for me. Did you consider the Kindle Scout program at all? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • I didn’t consider it because I have something of a readership and following, and it made better sense for me to go straight to publication. For someone breaking in, it’s got some good pros. It all comes down to what you want from publication, how long you’re willing to stick with Amazon-only, and if you can handle the terms of their agreement. The big question I’d have is how good is the discoverability? Will readers find you? Will you make money? The other big question is the quality of editing. That’s always a big one for me because I need a good editor. I’ll be curious how it works out for you and how things proceed if you get into the program. Keep me updated, will you?