A very important consideration for all self-publishing authors is which retailers to use. Whilst there are a myriad of choices you do not need to set up accounts with all of them. Many of the retailers are also aggregators who sell the book on their own website and also distribute it to other retailers.
The biggest retailer of them all is Amazon – love them or loathe them they cannot be ignored. The vast majority of your sales will be via Amazon. They led the way with self-publishing on the internet and helped turn what was a small and limited part of the publishing industry into something major which changed the publishing world and turned it upside down. Kindle Direct Publishing or Amazon KDP, as they are known, are one of the easiest retailers to set up accounts with and also one the easiest to upload to. They also have a Print On Demand company called Createspace so you can also have your book as a paperback.
Despite Amazon being a ‘closed’ system they do offer apps for the PC/MAC, iPad, iPhone and Android phones so your book can be brought from Amazon by readers who do not own a Kindle.
Apple are another big ebook retailer. Though like Amazon they are a ‘closed’ system, unlike Amazon a compatible device is needed to be able to read the book. So the reader has to have an Apple MAC, iPad, iPhone. Despite this Apple and its iBookstore are a major ebook retailer thanks to the ubiquitous presence of all the different Apple devices. Authors need to set up an account with iTunes Connect and to sell books on the iBookstore non-US citizens need an ITIN (International Tax Identification Number). To upload a book to Apple access to an Apple Mac is required. The book is uploaded using a program called iTunes Producer.
Barnes & Noble are one of the last major bricks and mortar retailers who also sell eBooks and, like Amazon and Apple, produce their own ereading device called the Nook. Despite being the largest physical US bookstore chain they lag behind Amazon with their internet presence. It is only recently that Barnes & Noble have made their Nook Press platform available to authors outside the US and then only to authors in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Kobo are a large ebook retailer based in Canada who produce their own eReading devices and also sell ebooks via their own website. Kobo are a useful choice for self-publishing authors as they also distribute to other retailers like WHSmith, Best Buy, Walmart, Indigo, Fnac, Mondadori, Livraria Cultura, Libris, and Gardners. Kobo announced back in 2012 that they intend to compete against Amazon and they are well on the way to doing it by aggressively expanding their distribution network with new retail partners being added all of the time. In many countries they are the only real competition to Amazon and their ereading devices are now said to be the third bestselling devices behind Amazon’s and Apple’s. Kobo’s author program is called Kobo Writing Life.
Google are another growing ebook retailer helped by the all-pervasive presence of Google on the web. Books can be bought on Google Play. Google can be quite complicated to upload to but they are worth persevering with as they are growing bigger all of the time.
One more retailer worth mentioning is Smashwords. They also distribute to other retailers including Amazon and Kobo. Smashwords will convert your book into several formats though we recommend uploading an ePub version of the book rather than allowing their automatic software to convert a word document.
These are just a very few of the ebook retailers out there but by uploading to just a few you can cover most of the ebook market.