Self-Publish Small with Tools by the Online Booksellers

3 years ago
Book distribution options for self-publishers Carla King

Publishing small prevents author overwhelm and also avoids what I call “the embarrassment of premature distribution” because any mistakes you make – typos, keywords, design adjustments – can be corrected and re-uploaded quickly and easily. So before you distribute your book, think about going direct with just one online retailer first.

All the major retailers offer book creation tools that are free to use. Another bonus is that you earn 70% and above, because you don’t pay distribution fees. Who knows, you may even want to go direct and stay direct. Let’s take a brief look at each direct sales channel and their book publishing tools.

Amazon CreateSpace

Amazon is the world’s biggest bookstore and they make it very easy to publish your print book using their CreateSpace tool. Use it to get your book into (They offer expanded distribution, but don’t use it. Distribution via IngramSpark and BookBaby is far superior.) CreateSpace offers easy-to-use interior and book cover creators for beginners, or you can choose their advanced tool to upload your pre-formatted files. (I like Joel Friedlander’s book design templates in Word, which look a lot nicer than their templates, for the interior.) Once you publish your print book on Amazon, their Kindle Conversion tool will make a Kindle (MOBI format) book for $79.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is an Amazon-only publishing tool whose sole purpose is to get your book into MOBI format to sell in the Amazon Kindle store. Customers will read your book on their Kindle devices (Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire and others) and Kindle apps for non-Kindle devices. Follow their instructions on how to create a Word file or use a book design template. Note that though KDP is a great service, more and more self-publishing pros like me discourages the use of KDP exclusive Select program. More on that in another post.

Kobo Writing Life has some awesome perks for going exclusive with them for your ebook, one of which is that you can download the EPUB file you created using their tool to other retailers, too. Kobo’s strength lies in its international reach – you simply won’t get the same kind of global distribution with any other retailer. I recently talked with Christine Munro on the Kobo Writing Life podcast about self-publishing in general, and I learned a lot about their platform, too. Stay tuned for a link to the podcast.

B&N Nook Press

Nook Press from Barnes & Noble, the famous brick-and-mortar bookstore, is also a great option, and competes with Amazon in that they publish both print and ebooks.

Apple iBooks Author & Kindle Kids Book Creator

Got a complex, illustrated ebook? Apple iBooks Author or Kindle Kids Book Creator may be for you. Do a little market research to see if your readers are likely to own iPads or Kindle tablets. If you create a kids book with the Kindle creator, your book won’t be available for iPad owners and vice versa.


Alternately, you can use Blurb to create your graphically heavy book. The perk here is that their templates create both the print and the fixed-layout EPUB versions of your book at the same time. You can then sell it (or give it away) through their store. Once you’re ready to distribute, they’ll send it to Apple and the other retailers. Note that Blurb does not reach the Kindle tablet market.


Smashwords’ standard catalog – as opposed to their premium distribution catalog – can also be a great way to publish, get reviews, and test the waters before you spread your book too far and wide. Use their formatting guidelines or a book design template. I love Smashwords because they have so many great author tools, like the self-interview form, coupon codes, pre-orders, and library distribution.


Gumroad is an awesome online store that lets you sell or give away your print books, ebooks, and any other physical object or digital file. Use their store and embed a seamless checkout widget on your own website. You’ll need to create your own files and, in case you haven’t heard, I really like my friend Joel’s book design templates in Word and InDesign. Don’t forget audio files! You can upload any kind of digital file, including audio-excerpts of your book or an entire audio book, to sell or give away on your website. Use your imagination!


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