When going wide (instead of remaining exclusive to Amazon), self-published authors typically do one of the following:
- Distribute directly to a few top retailers
- Use a self-publishing aggregator (like PublishDrive) to distribute to many retailers at once
- Distribute directly to a few top retailers, and use an aggregator to access stores that can’t be reached directly
Each option has pros and cons, and the right choice for you depends on how many titles you have, whether you prefer the convenience of aggregation, and more.
In this post, we’ll explore these factors in detail and go over common questions, such as:
-Should I use an ebook aggregator instead of distributing directly?
-How do I switch my titles from direct to an ebook aggregator?
-Will I lose my book reviews?
-What happens to my ISBNs?
Let’s dive in!
Using an Aggregator vs. Going Direct: Which is Best?
Are you thinking about making the switch to an aggregator? For many authors, using an aggregator can save a great deal of time. And with today’s options, using an aggregator doesn’t require you to give up a percentage of your royalties. Let’s take a look at the main factors you should consider:
One of the main reasons why indie authors distribute directly to retailers is because this option ensures the highest royalty rates possible. Why? Most self-publishing aggregators charge a 10% commission on sales in exchange for distribution services. But when you distribute directly to retailers, you’ll get the full store royalty rate, which is usually around 70%.
However, there’s an exception. PublishDrive recently introduced a first for the industry: tiered subscription pricing for aggregated ebook distribution. With subscription pricing, you don’t give up a percentage of your royalties. Instead, you pay a flat monthly fee while distributing to hundreds of online stores - and you get to earn full store royalty rates. PublishDrive even has a FREE option, which is perfect for authors who are just starting out.
And if you work with co-authors, you’ll love our Team Royalties service, which automatically distributes co-author royalties every month for hassle-free collaborations.
Ease of Distribution
The main appeal of self-publishing aggregators is convenience. If you only have a few books, you can distribute directly to stores and it probably won’t be that much of a hassle. But as your backlist grows, it becomes very time-consuming to upload books to every retailer whenever you have a new release. Plus, you should update your front matter and back matter on all previously released titles with each new release, which requires more administrative work.
Once your backlist grows to about 5 titles, using an aggregator can be a huge help. For example, PublishDrive’s wide distribution network includes 400+ online stores (like Amazon and major retailers) and thousands of other sales channels - all accessible within one streamlined platform.
For data-driven authors, there’s nothing better than being able to view analytics across global sales channels in one chart. But when distributing directly, you can only see your sales and income data for that particular retailer.
This is another area where using an aggregator can help. If you distribute through PublishDrive, you’ll have access to some of the most robust analytics in the industry. Many of the retailers we partner with provide real-time analytics, so you can view at-a-glance sales for global stores anytime. Our sales charts also indicate when you started an advertising campaign, making it easy to analyze the results as sales come in.
Reach Hard-to-Access Stores
Not all retailers that sell self-published ebooks allow indie authors to directly distribute through them. For example, Scribd, Odilo, Walmart, and many others do not have self-publishing platforms.
So how do so many authors get their titles listed there? Through aggregators. PublishDrive’s distribution network includes hard-to-access sales channels, like Scribd, Odilo, Google Play Books, Walmart, Dangdang in China, and niche international retailers.
Marketing is a challenge for most self-published authors. When your titles are enrolled in KDP Select/KU, Amazon does a lot of the marketing legwork for you. Their algorithm is great at getting your titles in front of readers’ eyes.
Once you go wide, you have to be prepared to handle this yourself. Aggregators can give you a helping hand when it comes to marketing. For wide authors, increasing discoverability is a must. PublishDrive’s built-in promotion tools can give your books that extra boost they need to thrive while wide.
We offer in-store featuring opportunities at top retailers, free review copy distribution, Amazon advertising, and the chance to be featured on PD’s social media. We also offer some of the same marketing options that you’d have access to when publishing directly, such as Kobo’s featured promotions.
How to Switch from Publishing Directly to Using an Aggregator
If you’ve made your decision and you’re ready to switch to PublishDrive, here’s your step-by-step guide:
Step One: Withdraw Your Books Directly from Retailers
First, you’ll need to remove your books from sale at all retailers where you’re currently distributing directly. Keep in mind that each retailer has different timeframes for withdrawing titles. This is what you can expect from the major retailers:
- Amazon: up to 48 hours
- Apple Books: up to 48 hours
- Google Play Books: up to 48 hours
- Kobo: 3-5 business days
Contact the store’s support team if your books haven’t been removed from sale after the above timeframes.
Step Two: Unpublish any Books Distributed through Other Aggregators
You’ll need to unpublish any titles that are currently distributed through other aggregators before uploading them to PublishDrive. To do so, log in to your account and remove the books from sale on your dashboard.
If the books are still live after about a week, contact the aggregator’s support team.
Step Three: Sign up for PublishDrive and Distribute Your Books!
Once you’ve confirmed that your books are no longer for sale through other retailers or aggregators, you’re good to go!
Sign up for an account at PublishDrive and complete the book upload process. If you have a large backlist, we have a bulk import option that allows you to upload many titles at once.
After you hit “Publish,” our team will quickly get to work so your books will be live as soon as possible.
What If I Currently Use PD for Some Stores and Publish Directly to Major Retailers? How Can I Distribute Everything through PD?
Just follow steps 1 - 2 above. Once you’ve confirmed that your books are no longer for sale through other retailers or aggregators, you can turn on distribution for all channels through PublishDrive.
To do so, navigate to "Stores and Imprints" in your PublishDrive dashboard, and activate all stores. It's that simple!
Can I Keep My Reviews When Switching to an Aggregator?
You worked hard to earn your reviews, and we believe you shouldn’t have to give them up. Our partnerships with certain retailers allow you to keep your reviews when you switch to PublishDrive. Here’s how it works:
You can keep your reviews for Amazon*, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Before you withdraw your books for sale, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know you’re in the process of moving your titles to PD, and that you’d like to keep your reviews and we’ll take care of it.
*NOTE: Be sure to save your original ASIN to keep Amazon reviews. Also, keep in mind that the buy links for your books will change when you switch to PD.
What Happens to my ISBNs When Switching to an Aggregator?
If you can’t use your ISBN, no worries. PublishDrive will assign your titles a unique ID that most stores accept.
Ready to Take Your Titles from Direct to an Aggregator?
If you’re ready to make the switch, we’d love to help! First, sign up for your FREE PublishDrive account to take the next step. We’re looking forward to distributing your ebooks worldwide!