Book Distribution

Easy eBook Formatting and Distribution

Can you imagine to upload your ebook manuscript as a Word document within 2-3 minutes (including the sign-up process) to an ebook distributor?  That you get your manuscript formatted for free, and find your book at Apple iBooks, B&N, Kobo, Tolino (in Europe), and several other online retailers within 24 hrs?

At a self-trial, I experienced just that.  After reading several positive articles during the last two years from a variety of authors, I wanted to see it myself.  Now I can second all of their praise!

Formatting a book and submitting it to all the different platforms (besides Amazon) can be tedious work.  Apple’s iBooks require even the use of a Mac computer.  And to “put all your eggs in one basket” is not an option for smart self-publishers.  So how do you get your books to Barnes&Noble, Kobo, iBooks or (in Europe) to Tolino users?  An aggregator (distributor) will help authors to achieve this.

All Sales Channels Open for this eBook:
I uploaded the manuscript .docx “Helping Refugees on a Greek Island” for this pro-bono ebook to raise funds – author Charmaine Craig – on January 17 and not even 24 hours later I got the message that the book is already available at B&N, Kobo and Tolino (a European Online Retailer)

Barnes & Noble – Published on Jan. 18, 2017, 5:17 p.m.

Kobo – Submitted to Distributor on Jan. 17, 2017, 8:32 p.m.

Tolino – Published on Jan. 18, 2017, 5 a.m.

eBooks in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland:
eBooks distributed by D2D are available for example at:

It has been said that Tolino controls 42% of the German-speaking (including Switzerland and Austria) e-Book market, which is the third largest English-language e-Book market in the world.

Why use conversion distributor/aggregator D2D:

  • No up-front fees – D2D is absolutely free: for conversions, and for upload to online retailers
  • Self-publishers get daily sales reporting
  • Draft2Digital pays monthly by EFT, cheque or Paypal
  • Commission, once the book is sold, is 10% from list price
  • Authors don’t have to wait until $100 are reached to get your cheque ($25 is the threshold)
  • Receive only one revenue check a month instead of a couple of checks from different platforms.
  • D2D offers FREE ebook conversion – which can save you a lot of time or money.  File output is in ePub, but you can also download a .mobi version.
  • Books can be uploaded and sold on Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Tolino, Inktera etc

However, I suggest to upload to Amazon directly, as it is easier to create and maintain your author page there – even if D2D one day might distribute to Amazon. This is true for all distributors or aggregators, as they are called.

Seriously Service-Oriented
D2D does not charge authors to update book files with corrections, be it the book’s content or the book project data, and that’s a big winner for self-published authors. Authors can also choose which channels to use for distribution.

You can call D2D and talk with a human person about any issues or questions you may have.  They pick up the phone right away, and a competent person answers your questions.  Unlike at Amazon, where a clueless call center rep gives you the impression they couldn’t care less – after you waited already twenty minutes or longer for the next available “customer service” person.  Or even worse: CreateSpace where I wait since over a week for an answer to my email.

Draft2Digital only requires your text in a Word document with chapter headings styled in Header 1 and body text in Normal.  Draft2Digital sends a confirmation email every time your title is successfully uploaded on an online retailer’s site, with a link to your book’s sales page.

NEVER place your book to only one online retailer!
Learn also how you can get a free single link to all online bookstores where your title is listed at D2D:  Thanks for this tip via an article by author Derek Haines.


IngramSpark for POD and Book Distribution?


There are some good reasons to choose IngramSpark for POD: They offer stunning colors, sharp graphics, and crisp text, such as for children’s books, travel guides, cookbooks, graphic novels – all at prices comparable to black-and-white.  And: they produce even hardcover books!

Book distribution is via LightningSource/Ingram which is connected to a global distribution network of 40,000+ booksellers around the world – in stores and online. Ingram has printing facilities in the UK, Australia, and partner agreements in other countries.  However, most brick-and-mortar stores will order it if a customer requests the title, but they won’t stock it automatically.

Another Benefit is that IngramSpark Bought
This acquisition is a great opportunity to sell on your own website and allow Ingram to do order fulfillment. The Bookseller wrote last month how Ingram’s concept works out:

  • For standard Web operations: “Embed a storefront on your site. Share and sell in social streams. Add Buy buttons to existing pages.”
  • For social media in-stream sales: “Share products on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. The cart and checkout are included.”
  • Even for brick-and-mortar stores: “Extend your product selection with an storefront. We’ll pick, pack, and ship to your customer’s door.”

Prices for POD at IngramSpark are slightly higher than at CreateSpace, as they charge a set-up fee, but customers say their print quality is pretty good, plus international distribution is really excellent!  There is another perk at IngramSpark: Once the book is approved for production, they will automatically send a pre-order information to their list of retailers, libraries, and more. Ingram will start scheduling the book to be printed ten days before the launch date to ensure that pre-orders are received by then.

Discount for Book Stores
At IngramSpark you can choose between 40% or 55% discount for distribution to bookstores – while CreateSpace takes 60% (and only for Amazon 40%).  If you don’t want to have your book stocked in every brick-and-mortar store, choose your 40% discount at Spark.  That means with every book sold, you will earn way more than with CreateSpace.

If you want to see your title in bookstores, you will need the 55% discount – as stores want to get a true industry-standard discount and also: the books are then returnable. Which might be a bit of a risk…  Another solution – which quite a few self-publishers use – is to have CreateSpace for Amazon sales, but IngramSpark for distribution to other stores.

Excerpt from Guidelines to Upload Your Book
Interior files:

  • Must be uploaded as a separate file from the cover PDFs created using the “save as” function from MS Word are not supported!
  • Use single-page format (1-up per page) Do not include crop, registration, or printer marks
  • All fonts must be embedded Make sure the final page is blank
  • Must include CMYK images at/72dpi or higher.
  • CMYK value should not exceed 240%. Elements should not be built in “Registration”.
  • All spot colors with/without transparencies must be converted to CMYK.

Cover Files:

  • Resolution 300 dpi
  • Color Space: CMYK

A very detailed instruction manual helps authors to navigate the uploading of their manuscripts.

One Important Advice
Buy your own ISBN!  Unless this will be your only book you ever publish or unless you don’t care if you are considered the publisher, and unless you don’t want it to list in the worldwide list of books available.

Read also:

Author G. Giammatteo’s comparison of IngramSpark and CreateSpace

Author Melinda Clayton: Moving Print Book Files from CreateSpace to IngramSpark



Another Trap: Agent-Curated Self-Publishing


Lobster Traps

The New York Times reported once: “A new Perseus unit, called Argo Navis Author Services will be available (only) to authors who are represented by an agency that has signed an agreement with Perseus.”  For me it was somewhat shocking to learn that Ingram acquired Perseus’ distribution elements – which includes Argo Navis at the end of March 2016.

Perseus emphasized that while Argo Navis provided distribution and marketing services, the author remained the publisher.  While authors get a higher share of the revenue under this arrangement, they’ll receive fewer (or almost none) of the services, and financial support, provided by publishers under more conventional contracts.  Argo Navis will provide basic marketing services, like placing product pages on retailer Web sites.  It will also make more extensive marketing services available for a fee.”

… Which is essentially just uploading the cover image and book details, a part of the distributing process, and has nothing to do with marketing.

The Passive Voice Did the Math:

What’s In It For Authors?  Participating authors get lower royalties, no sales reports, slower payments, and lose the ability to make quick changes to things like pricing – which is essential for marketing.

An author self-publishing directly with KDP will receive up to 70% of list price – an author who self-publishes via Argo Navis will receive 41.65% of list price.

Or in other words:
A self-publisher with a book priced $4.99 on Amazon nets $3.49 per sale.
Argo Navis clients with a book priced $4.99 on Amazon receive $2.08 per sale.
“Most Argo Navis books are selling 1 copy a month (or less!). Instead of getting a better deal for their authors, these literary agents are ensuring their authors get a much worse deal.”

Why Are Literary Agents Using Argo Navis?
Bestselling Author David Gaughran wrote about this money grab from them and the literary agents: “Argo Navis has been very clever with how they market their service.  It’s pitched as agent-curated self-publishing.  Argo Navis don’t (and won’t) deal with authors directly, and will only accept titles for distribution submitted by literary agents.  Given the abysmal rankings of books published via Argo Navis, it’s not a challenge that they are handling well.”

“But what’s in it for the agent?  For starters, royalty checks come to their offices first (after Argo Navis have taken their considerable bite).  This allows the agent to deduct their 15% before the author sees any money.  Of course, it allows unscrupulous agents to take a little more – something enabled by Argo Navis only providing sales reports to agents rather than directly to authors – but I digress.”

“These agencies are simply passing the manuscripts from the author to the distributor, Argo Navis, billing the author for any services they need, plus taking their 15% cut.  And what have they done for that cut?  Put them in the hands of a crappy distributor who is taking 30% of their revenues (on top of the 30% the retailers take and separate from the 15% agents are getting).  At this point you would be forgiven for thinking that no reputable literary agency would go for this.  Well, I wish that was the case…”

See a long list of well-known agencies that have signed up with Argo Navis – and who may not fulfill their legal obligation to seek the best deal for their authors, on David Gaughran’s blog.

Mick Rooney from the Independent Publishing Magazine wrote  already three years ago: “We’ve witnessed agents and publishers alike happily clamber into affiliation programs, partnerships and arrangements with solutions services offering anything but fair and transparent deals for authors.  It makes you wonder if agents and publishers know, bother or even care about the reputation and quality of a company they choose to do business with.”


How Smart Authors Get Their Books into Libraries

Library of Congress in Washington D.C. – Wikipedia

Do you want to get your books into libraries, but don’t know how to do it?  Get here the background info from librarians – and which library supplier and aggregator is the best for author-publishers!
I just read an article by Nate Hoffelder where he curated: “Why Librarians Don’t Want Your Self-Published Book”.  For sure a catchy title that gets author’s attention! It was first used by Librarian Molly Wetta on her “Wrapped up in Books
blog post from August 17.

Librarians are NOT Resisting Self-published Books.
They are just facing tight constraints on both, their time (to purchase books) and budget.  And they are bound by certain procedures.  Including a book, for example, requires to have existing records ready to add to the library’s catalog.

Librarian Molly Wetta Explains:
“Self-published books might not be available from the library’s main vendor, who has to do a number of tasks to make the book ready to be shelved in a library (a protective cover, property stamps, stickers to identify the proper location of the item, etc.).  This is as an extra step if it is purchased by a different vendor – and that’s only if the policies allow the library to do that in the first place (sometimes a library is restricted to specific vendors).”

“Even when librarians want to buy a self-published book, they are still constrained by a limited budget.  Books need to be in DEMAND and of great QUALITY.  This certainly applies to all books, and not just self-published, but the latter are often more difficult to quantify.
It’s not that librarians are completely unwilling to buy self-published books, it’s just that the systems aren’t in place yet (or aren’t yet robust enough) to make it easy to evaluate the quality and to efficiently bring them to patrons.”
Another Librarian and Book Purchaser Commented:
“I make a special note to go into the self-published section of the Overdrive marketplace and locate some gems.  It appears as if the full Smashwords catalog is not immediately available in the OverDrive Marketplace – as I find the faceted searching very basic and apt to yield similar results.  However, as a librarian, if there is a title you know of, but can’t find, you can place a request to have it added.  Make sure you have a great cover.  I will only purchase books whose covers can sit well next to ‘published’ titles.  Also the better the price, the more copies I will buy if the title is in demand.”

Who Supplies Books to Libraries?
OverDrive, eBooksAreForever, Quality Books Inc., UniqueBooks, eBookPartnership, etc. are suppliers for the libraries.  OverDrive, for example, initially isolated self-published books in a “ghetto”, separating books from Smashwords, from others.  As an author you might see your own book, uploaded from Smashwords on their library list, but librarians who have different pages to order books, don’t see them.  As a librarian explained in a comment:
“The e-books from Smashwords are still separated from other e-books and placed in a ghetto along with e-books from Author Solutions…  This happens in the backend site that librarians use to purchase material – not the site library users / readers or authors – have access to. Librarians looking to purchase ebooks from Smashwords have to know what they are looking for, because they are in a separate catalog and can’t be found through a regular search.

The Problem with OverDrive / Smashwords
“Both are not even remotely solving this first large hurdle to getting self-publishers into libraries.  It has little to do with tiers or the self-publishing ghetto, but much more to do with the fact that roughly 200,000 titles were dumped into Overdrive’s platform without any system in place to help librarians evaluate those titles.  It’s also worth noting that a large majority of the more successful indies bypass Smashwords altogether; why pay Smashwords 15% of net when you can just go direct – with  Also, Overdrive / Smashwords only net authors 45% of list price for library purchases.  It’s just not a solution to the problems librarians are dealing with.”

“When librarians are purchasing ebooks from OverDrive, they are on a special website that is only available to libraries who subscribe to OverDrive.  On that site, ebooks from Smashwords are separated from the main ebook catalog in a special section that can’t be searched or browsed without going to it specifically.  This means that librarians purchasing ebooks, have to make a special effort to go there, and it isn’t intuitive to find it or use it.  There is a public version of the OverDrive catalog, and the self-published titles are integrated there, but librarians doing the purchasing aren’t using this.”

“Self-published ebooks are available in the main purchasing catalog through eBookPartnership,  but the ones from Smashwords aren’t and never were.  This issue was never resolved because OverDrive refuses to consider it as a problem that needs resolution.“

The Solution for Authors: eBook-Partnership
eBookpartnership works with more than 65,000 libraries! and additionally places your book in North America also to Apple, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Ingram. In Europe, they upload / deliver to Askew & Holts, Blackwell’s, BlioBook, Depository,, Waterstones, Whitcoulls, and WH Smith for example.
You certainly can make yourself more flexible in terms of organizing KDP sales promotions – place your book by yourself to all Amazon’s Kindle Stores: US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, Brazil, Japan, India etc.  However, eBookpartnership can upload it for you to Amazon as well.  There are no fees for updates to your metadata from them – which is very rare among aggregators – but you can do it faster on Amazon by yourself.

The Benefit of eBookpartnership
eBookpartnership’s annual fee – no hidden costs – is for 1 to 9 titles just $50 (£35) per title. Authors can save at least several dozen hours for uploading their books, and even more hours (and headache) for accounting with these retailers.  If you work on Windows, you would need to use a Mac computer for the upload to Apple. It’s easier to let them do it.
Best of all, eBookpartnership does not take commissions. You will keep 100% of the revenue from online retailers and “brick & mortar stores”.
However, you should always buy your own ISBN’s, preferably a block of ten before publishing and don’t forget to register – for free – your book worldwide with Bowker’s database, which goes to all bookstores and libraries in the world.

Promote Your Books to Libraries
Many libraries accept purchase requests from their patrons (which can be online on their websites or in person in the library).  Once a book is in their shelves and receives a couple dozen hold / lending requests, they will order more copies!
Minimum requirement for selling to libraries or their suppliers is certainly that you are the owner of the books ISBN (NOT from Smashwords, CreateSpace etc.) and that you listed your book into the worldwide database of books in print titles at Bowkers.
And don’t forget: ALWAYS have your contact, social media sites, your book sales pages and a request for a review in your last pages of every one of your books, no matter if print or e-book! See also The Secret of Professional Author Publishing.

How to Demonstrate the Quality of Your Books
Aside from proofing high sales numbers, authors could put their e-books into Biblioboard’s Self-e platform, which means visibility which could lead to sales.  Maybe even paid book reviews from a legacy source (PW, Kirkus Book Reviews etc) would help?

Books for library use in the USA need to be registered with the Library of Congress Catalog “Books in Publication”.  A note printed on the upperleft back cover should indicate the type of book and the topic: reference/book publishing, writing/reference, history, autobiography, parenting, and so forth. Get detailed information about registering your books (before and after publication date) from the Library of Congress website and information about Bowker’s worldwide book listings at our blog

A note, printed on the upper left back cover of the book layout should indicate the type of book, and the topic, such as history, autobiography, writing/reference, parenting etc.

Local Authors Collection at Libraries
“The Greater Victoria Public Library in Victoria, BC, Canada – GVPL – started an Emerging Local Authors Collection this year, intended for (mostly) self-published books.  They report: “Clear guidelines were posted on the library’s website, including the geographic area where the authors live, the durability of books and the fact that one copy of each book would be donated by the author.  The books were fully cataloged and the collection was launched with an evening reception for the authors and their guests.  The books are prominently displayed at our Central Branch and have been circulating briskly.  At the end of one year, books that have proven themselves by high circulations may be added to the permanent collection.”
Writer Audrey Driscoll: “ Next spring another collection will be made available, possibly including e-books.  I am one of the authors with a book in the collection.  I sent in my application like any other local author.  I think this is a good way to showcase local authors. But it did take considerable time for two librarians (a collections librarian and a cataloger) to make it happen.”

Have an excellent book who’s genre is in demand, which has been professionally edited, with a fantastic cover, lots of positive and professional reviews and proven sales, many people that request your book at libraries, your own ISBN, listed at the Library of Congress, listed in Bowker’s worldwide database of books, and distributed to libraries via eBookPartnership, and be included in the Library Journal’s curated collections, SELF-e Select.

Talk to the programming or events coordinator at your library and offer a free reading from your books or a free class for local writers where you explain the writing / publishing process – and maybe even find a couple of new readers or book buyers for your own work.
Once you have “your foot in the door” your next books will be much easier to get into libraries.
More about the first of Library Journal’s curated collections, SELF-e Select in a future blog post.  Stay tuned.



If you would like to get a mentor and our support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer for three months all this and more for only $179 – or less than $2 per day!  Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting / Book Marketing for your success:

To learn more about professional book marketing and publishing, please read also
“Book Marketing on a Shoestring”

Our email newsletters with free insider tips are sent out once a month. To sign up, just go to the form on the right site of each blog post.

Archaic Procedures: Book Returns


As a publisher of an aviation magazine in the 90’s I learned about a criminal way of “ print distribution”: A pilot friend showed me one of our magazines that he bought at an airport store in Amsterdam / Netherlands.  I was a bit surprised as our distributor had Amsterdam not on the list of retailers.  One could opt for having unsold magazines returned (at an outrageous hundreds of dollars) or to have them send to the garbage (free).  I was curious how our magazines could end up in a different country, sold by a retailer that was not on my list of paying customers.  It took me months of investigation, but I finally found out that there are gangs who have connections to warehouse employees who do not “dispose” these unsold magazines – but sell them to other “distributors” and then those sell them to retailers… Maybe this happens only in the magazine business, but who knows what happens with book returns?

Book Returns are an Ancient Distribution Method
Somewhere once upon a time, the notion that a book could or should be returnable might have been a great idea to stand out against the publishing competition.  One of publishers came up with this idea — and eventually it became industry standard.  The book publishing world has changed, but the old model is still the same stagnant one that gives massive cuts to bookstore retailers and allows them to return whatever they can’t sell – an archaic practice of book distribution.  Bookstores rarely host signings by self-published authors — maybe if the author is local and offers books in consignment.  “Why not?” I asked a bookseller. “We can’t return them was his answer.“

Solution for Authors
He showed me examples on his computer of self-published authors who use Lightning Source and offer both “Regular discount” (i.e 40%) and return-ability. He orders these books through Ingram/ LightningSource , just like books from traditionally published authors. So it’s possible with Lightning Source, at least.  The easier authors make it for independent booksellers and the big book chains, the more likely they will be treated like mainstream authors – if their books are well edited and have an attractive cover.  Authors certainly don’t make as much as through an e-book on Amazon – but for sure more than they would get as royalties from trade publishers.
Bestseller Author Stephanie Chandler wrote a great article how to sell to bookstores and also offers a free Consignment Agreement form for you to download and modify if you want to make an arrangement with a bookstore to carry your books as a consignment.  Her statement: “It certainly can’t hurt to place your books at a few stores, but it probably won’t lead to fame and fortune!”

Booksellers Don’t Stock POD
Most booksellers will generally not stock POD books because they can’t return the book if it doesn’t sell and the percentage they get is lower.  Printing one book at a time is more expensive per book (usually twice as expensive) than publishing a few thousand.
Many self-published authors can’t get their books into the large chains, due to this non-returnability.  Book retailer chains only order blockbuster titles they know they can sell. Books-a-Million, one of the book store chains, for example states it does not allow POD books into it’s stores at all.

Being a returns-based business is bad from every angle, and also very bad for the environment.  There is more printed than it will be sold. While books sit in warehouses not moving, inventory must be available to fulfill actual orders that are moving. This forces publishers to overprint.  Concerned publishers, authors, and readers can and should band together over this issue.  Small bookstores might be upset by this shift, but their returns are already (generally) relatively low, and they can do their part and order accordingly too.

Stating for an author or publisher to not accept returns, or marking your self-published book as “non-returnable” is the kiss of death for your book, and no bookstore will touch your book.  It is frustrating to see the volume of books coming back from accounts that never needed to have ordered so many books in the first place.  Book publishing is changing, and authors and new publishers need to continue to fight against book returns.  We need to stop putting up with this.  And if it would be just helpful for the environment!


Read More:



If you would like to get a mentor and our support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer for three months all this and more for only $179 – or less than $2 per day!  Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting / Book Marketing for your success:

To learn more about professional book marketing and publishing, please read also
“Book Marketing on a Shoestring”

Our email newsletters with free insider tips are sent out once a month. To sign up, just go to the form on the right site of each blog post.



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