This guide assumes you do not have a literary agent or publisher and are embarking on a self publishing journey.
It also describes the steps I went through in posting my own ebook, "Hurricane Sandy: The Diet" for sale (and of course, I would be remiss not to mention that it’s also available on iTunes and Barnes & Noble as well).
What you’ll need
- A specification-valid epub file (there are many different ways to create one, though I’m naturally biased towards eBookBurn.com)
- A cover image in jpeg format, ideally in a 1.6 ratio between the height versus the width (this post discusses using the golden ratio in book cover design in more depth)
- A brief description of your book
- One or more book classification categories which best defines your book
- Tax information: your Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you’re selling as a company
- Bank information:
- Your account number
- Your bank’s routing number
- Your bank name or branch name
- Optionally, an International Standard Book Number (ISBN)1
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is by far the largest marketplace and exercises the least editorial interference.
That’s both good and bad.
On the plus side you can write about almost anything, and it has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands or more readers (Amazon has never disclosed how many Kindles it has sold).
On the other hand, there is a ton of literary flotsam and jetsam that normally would never have seen the light of day otherwise, and your book will be competing for attention in that mix.
The KDP “Add Book” form is simple, and getting a book listed for sale is fairly quick, usually within a day or so.
While at Amazon, go ahead and create an affiliate account so that you can take an additional share of the sale if a buyer gets it by following a link from your web site, blog, twitter feed, etc.
Apple’s iBookstore, which is part of iTunes, makes your book available to iPad and iPhone users, as well as people using Mac desktop or laptop computers.
Apple has some prerequisites of its own:
- Get an Apple ID if you don’t already have one
- Download iTunes Producer (as of this writing, the latest version is here)
Unlike the other sites which let you upload your epub file from any web browser, you must use iTunes Producer to deliver your book to the iBookstore, and since there are no versions for Windows or Linux, you must have access to a Mac OSX computer.
Apple is notoriously slow and capricious in its review process, and has been known to reject books for no good reason.2
One the plus side, the content in the iBookstore tends to be of better quality, and you can charge more for it.
Barnes & Noble
PubIt is Barnes & Nobles’ answer to Amazon’s KDP.
It seems the smallest of the three marketplaces, though it’s difficult to be sure: like Amazon, B&N has declined to say how many Nooks have been sold.
Functionally it is similar to KDP, and they too have an affiliate program (though it’s invite only, and it’s not clear if it’s worth the trouble at this point).
They are a little more complicated, though, in that immediately after creating an account they may send an email asking you to call them and verify information you provided through the web form with one of their employees.
That verification takes a few days, but once you are cleared, adding and editing books through its web form is easy, and changes take effect within one or two days.
Other ebook marketplaces
There are several of them out there, but none merit any attention.
The typical iPad, Kindle or Nook user is not going to look outside the built-in store for content, and the few technically-savvy ebook nerds who do are going to want content for free.
1 I’ve never understood the value of an ISBN: it provides no intellectual property or legal protection, and with other, free or non-profit initiatives to classify books such as the Library of Congress and Open Library, there’s no good reason to spend money to get one. Fortunately, none of the three marketplaces require it (perhaps they tacitly agree with my sentiment, but are not in a position to say so out loud).
2 Apple’s over-zealous editorializing has opened them up to sarcastic protests, and occasionally they get stung.