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What’s the Best Ebook Publishing Platform for You

Self-publishing is on the rise, especially in countries where English is a primary or major language. Authors can choose from many publishing services, but how do you know whom to trust? This a tricky question, and hopefully this article will help you decide between different ebook publishing platforms. What are the services they offer? When do they pay? Which stores do they distribute to?

Depending on your needs, there could be many good answers; you can choose a self-publishing platform at the beginning of your career and change later, or use multiple platforms simultaneously.

If you are not yet sure whether self-publishing is the right fit for you, why not check this article?

(Article was updated on July 16, 2018.)

Ebook Publishing Services

When speaking of ebook publishing services, there are several very different things in play. Firstly, there are companies pitching ‘author services’ or ‘publishing services’ for a price. These companies usually offer an extensive publishing service, starting from developmental editing to POD or e-distribution. While these companies can be similar at first glance, they are very different regarding their approach to the author and their books. There is a thin line between genuine publishing services and vanity publishing, as there are steps that can be expensive if done properly (like editing or cover design).

Generally speaking, if a company charges you for publishing your book and is fairly vague about what they are spending your money on, be alert. Once you sign your rights away, it is difficult to get them back. Other than vanity publishers, there are several companies that act as retailers and distributors and offer some publishing services (conversion or editing) as well. There are some things you’ll need to consider before signing up anywhere:

Ask for a second opinion

As it is impossible to vet every service beforehand, we recommend that you check the ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) watchdog reports. ALLi members regularly check different self-publishing service providers to make sure that you only work with trustworthy partners. Check the list here.

If you are considering a new service, you can also seek help in a Facebook group. The community of indie authors is always ready to help.

Consider the following when choosing the right publishing platform for your book:

Ebook publishing platforms

The following table contains some popular ebook publishing services. We only consider services with no upfront payment or setup fees required.

KDPSmashwordsKobo Writing LifePublishDriveDraft2DigitalStreetlib
Royalty35% – 70%up to 80%45%-70%10% cut10% cut10% cut
File FormatsePub, mobi, HTML, doc, docxePub, docdoc, docx, ePub, odt, mobiePub, doc, docx, mobiePub, doc, docx, RTFePub, doc, docx, RTF
Conversionyesyesyesyesyesyes
ExclusivityExclusive / Non-exclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusive
Paymentsmonthlymonthlymonthly (threshold: 50 CAD)monthlymonthlymonthly / quarterly
Reportsdailymonthlydaily for Kobodaily for some partnersdaily  for some partnersdaily  for some partners
Retail OutletsAmazonSmashwords, Amazon, iBooks, OverDrive, Barnes &Noble, KoboKobo and partnersAmazon, iBooks, B&N, Kobo, Google Play, OverDrive, CNPeReading, etc.Amazon, iBooks, OverDrive, B&N, Kobo, etc.Amazon, Google Play, iBooks, OverDrive, B&N, Kobo, etc.

How to publish your books effectively to more stores and gain global distribution?

There are certain platforms in the ebook market who identify themselves as ebook aggregators. An aggregator stands between the author and the retailer such as Amazon. As Brookes describes: “ebook aggregators are companies that take a file from the user, convert it into multiple formats and make it available through multiple distribution channels (platforms, stores, libraries).”

Most of the aggregators offer various services other than ebook distribution and aggregation such as ebook conversion, cover design, editing and some even have print-on-demand services. They can also provide help with ISBN acquisition, copyrighting and tracking user payments. However, their primary focus is on distributing content to more than just one store. An aggregator helps authors and publishers reach the stores globally with their ebooks. As an ebook aggregator, PublishDrive delivers ebooks to iBooks, GooglePlay, Amazon Kindle, Scribd, OverDrive and 400+ stores and 240k libraries in US, China, India, Europe and over 100 countries. To learn more about PublishDrive, click here.

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