Book marketingCharlotte Collinsdistributione-books

E-book Tips for Indie Authors

iPad photo by Mewtu from Wikimedia Commons.

Turn on the dramatic music. Last night, I had a major e-book revelation.

As an indie author, I do not have access to the same kind of physical distribution as traditionally published writers. I could place my book locally in large chain bookstores, but the cost is prohibitive. I’d have to charge a great deal more per book, and that is something I do not want to do. I want Charlotte Collins to be affordable. I am, however, able to place it on consignment in independently owned stores. (Contact me if you are interested in taking Charlotte on consignment.)

But distribution is important. And thank God for the internet, which helps to level the playing field. Bookselling websites spend a lot of money attracting the reading public to them, so there is a built-in audience. It only makes sense that indie authors would avail themselves to that publicity, especially with the growing acceptance of e-books. But how?

I read this article by Carla King and this one from the Smashwords blog.

Here is a summary:

  • As an indie author you retain the rights to your e-book. (Read contracts carefully to be sure.)
  • You may also publish your e-book through multiple venues at one time.

I chose to publish Charlotte Collins through Amazon’s Kindle program because I also used Amazon’s printing service, and I wanted to pair the two versions together easily. The paperback can later be expanded to other distribution channels, which I will do after the holidays, but the e-book could not. As a Kindle book, it had to remain only on Amazon.

But because I retain the rights to Charlotte, I can make the e-book available on other platforms.

What other platforms?

  1. Scribd: Heretofore, I believed the Scribd was more of a document sharing site, which it is, but it is also an e-book distributor with its own platform that can send e-books to your devices, including Kindle, Nook, iPhone, Android and others. I am a huge fan of cross-platform sharing, but this site does more. It is a social site where authors and readers can interact. It gets 50 million unique visitors a month, and with Charlotte‘s prologue getting 500+ reads there, I wish I’d known about their e-book program sooner.
  2. Goodreads: Similar situation here. Goodreads is a social networking site for book lovers, and they provide links to online retailers that sell your book, but they also have their own e-book platform. This is another option I wish I’d used sooner. With 800+ entries in the giveaway there, it would have been nice to offer an inexpensive e-book right on the site.
  3. Smashwords: This is the big one as far as I can tell. Smashwords allows authors to sell their content on many other websites, including their own, with varying degrees of royalties. One file uploaded according to the Smashwords guidelines can be purchase from the iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and Diesel. (I’m not familiar with the last two.) This will get books online distribution in one fell swoop.

In my hurry to get Charlotte to press, I was looking for expediency. And frankly, I didn’t realize the importance of the e-book format. I thought everyone still read paperbacks, but according to Amazon sales, my e-book is out-performing my paperback. Now that I know what people want, I want to provide it at a good price and in many locations. Authors reading this post will certainly do this sooner in the publication process, but better late than never, right? I hope.

So that’s my next project: making Charlotte Collins available on e-book through Scribd, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Watch out!

12 thoughts on “E-book Tips for Indie Authors

  1. Jennifer, I can't thank you enough for this post! I read carefully and clicked where you directed. The info is awesome. I'd been wondering where I was headed, and, wow, you enter my life. When we lived in Africa, I wrote a couple of children's stories about our cat. A professional editor has read the stories and loved them (but hub and I moved overseas); an agent wanted to handle the stories (but hub and I were back in the States but moving again)… I didn't want to go the agent route, not really interested in writing the next great novel…just wanted to see something published for the joy of it all…I'm a bit confused, tho, does Kindle/Amazon feed into Smashwords? And, from the sidebar I see the Kindle with wifi is now $139.00 – yum! I'm at if you know about Kindle/Amazon. Many thanks! You're an angel!

  2. Kittie, I'm so glad I can help. That's the main reason I started this blog. I knew it would be a huge learning experience for me, and I wanted to make it easier for others.

    From what I can tell, Smashwords will one day soon distribute to Amazon, but apparently not yet. But the Smashwords format is similar to what you'd need to do for Amazon, so I *think* you can use the same file. I'm not sure that answered your question, so I'll email you too.

    The Kindle, I think, comes in two versions. The $139 version connects to your existing wifi or wifi hotspot. The $189 version has a 3G wireless connection, so it's like a cell phone.

  3. Great to meet you Jennifer,

    So do you write ebooks or are you a traditional author who publishes mainstream books in print? I've taken a quick look around your blog and wanted to introduce myself and say hi!

    Great to have you part of TSA,
    Gavin Mountford

  4. Hi Gavin,

    I am shooting to be both an independent e-book author and a traditionally published author. I think the best approach is the blend them. But currently, I am attempting to prove a market exists for my book by selling 1,000 copies. When this comes to pass, I'll get picked up by a well-known publisher.

    Thanks for visiting,

  5. Jennifer,
    Love your blog…and this post. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with would-be authors. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    To your success,
    Robin van der Merwe

  6. Thanks for your Great blog on E-Book

    i want to do my own E book and wow the internet just make it so eazy to day we do not need book stores any more.

    and all the best

  7. This is very interesting. I haven't met many authors who take the indie/epublish route, so I appreciate the info you've shared. Thanks. 🙂

  8. As an author myself, I am coming back to this post and exploring your links. I was really impressed with your youtube video. You surely are an amazing artist.
    Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.