Self-publishing has revolutionized the world of fiction, empowering authors to share their stories with a global audience without the need for traditional publishing houses. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has long been a go-to platform for self-published authors, offering a straightforward way to release ebooks and print-on-demand books.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Amazon KDP is the biggest and one of the best self-publishing sites out there, with a major share of the ebooks and print books market, about 85%. The amount of sales done through Amazon dwarfs the competition. This comes from their widespread reach to customers and lucrative royalty offers. KDP pays out 35% or 70% of the book’s price, depending on the option you choose.
KDP also offers an exclusive program called KDP Select. This is where you give Amazon 90 days of exclusive rights, meaning you can’t list it anywhere else for that time. The advantage of it? You get discount promotions and countdown deals. But the disadvantage is that during those 90 days, you can’t make your book available to other big retailers, such as Barnes & Noble or Kobo.
Alternatives to Amazon Self-Publishing
If you’re looking to put your book in front of the most powerful market out there, KDP is right for you. However, the competition on Amazon can be rather fierce. Fortunately, there’s a whole world of alternative platforms and strategies available to fiction authors who want to self-publish their work. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best alternatives to Amazon self-publishing for authors seeking diverse avenues to share their stories. Even if you go with KDP Press, it’s better to have some alternatives to Amazon for your books because:
- It gives you better exposure worldwide.
- The competition on Amazon can be quite intense.
- Your sales chances increase once you distribute to various other channels.
Retailers vs. Aggregators
If you don’t want to limit yourself to Amazon publishing services, here’s a list of the best self-publishing companies that work as alternatives to KDP.
First, you need to know that you can distribute your book through retailers or aggregators,
With retailers, you distribute your book to their store, and people will buy it directly from there. It’s a straightforward approach: you pick retailers and then manually upload your book to each of them. It means that you manage all the accounts yourself and also receive all the profit that the retailers of your choice grant you.
Apple Books is Apple’s answer to Amazon KDP. Although it does not nearly have the retail power of KDP, it does have one major advantage: direct access to Apple users. Apple tends to create a full user experience through their products and Apple Books is no exception. Many Mac users start their eBook experience on Apple Books and are happy enough to not need to find anything else. When it comes to royalties, Apple offers a flat 70% rate.
While it’s true that only a very small percentage of books sold in the US come from Kobo, it can still be an awesome platform to utilize. Why’s that? Canada.
It’s estimated that Kobo accounts for 25% of all Canadian eBook sales. This alone can be a good enough reason to see it as a great alternative to KDP. But Kobo’s audience isn’t just Canadians. It actually has a global reach. Royalties you’ll earn from Kobo: 70% for all books listed for more than $2.99
- Check out: https://ebookfriendly.com/kobo-tips-tricks/
Google Play Books
Google Play is pre-installed on all Android devices, reaching billions of readers around the world in over 75 countries. With more than 5 million titles, Google Play Books is one great alternative to Kindle Direct Publishing. Royalties you’ll earn from Google Play Books: 70%. Unlike Amazon KDP, Google Play Books doesn’t restrict book pricing, either. Amazon KDP requires its users to limit their prices to $2.99 – $9.99 to receive 70% royalties, but there’s no such limit for ebooks on Google Play.
Barnes and Noble Press
Previously known as NOOK, Barnes and Noble Press is another exclusive eBook retailer. All books published here are only sold via Barnes and Noble’s online and physical bookstore locations. Barnes and Noble Press comes with the added benefit of Print-on-Demand services. The royalty payout rates for Barnes and Noble Press are definitely competitive as all books priced over $2.99 receiving a 65% royalty.
If you choose an aggregator, it will distribute your work across many channels (including many famous retailers), putting your work in front of a wider audience. It is an intermediary that distributes your book to as many online retailers as you decide. Different aggregators work with different retailers, and some have a wider reach than the others. In exchange, the aggregator charges you either a fee or a percentage of your book sales.
Draft2Digital (D2D) is the undisputed king of ebook aggregators. Ever since they acquired Smashwords in 2022, they’ve had little to no competition, instead becoming a potential rival of the big retailers themselves. It allows authors to upload their manuscripts and then converts them into various formats for distribution to major retailers. The platform provides extensive distribution options and a user-friendly interface, making it an ideal choice for authors looking to reach a wide audience without the complexities of direct publishing.
D2D has a lot of hidden features, in addition to being able to distribute to all major retailers and libraries. They also have universal book links for all of your books, print services, and a partnership with Findaway Voices to distribute audio.
Another advantage to D2D is that they provide formatting services free of charge. As far as commissions go, D2D takes a 10% piece no matter where your book is sold.
- Check out: Draft2Digital vs Publish Drive
For authors interested in distributing physical copies of their books, IngramSpark is a top choice. It offers print-on-demand services and global distribution, making it possible for authors to have their books available in physical bookstores. While it may not have the same user-friendly interface as KDP, it’s an excellent option for those seeking to expand beyond the digital realm.
IngramSpark is a well-established self-publishing platform. It has a global distribution to 195 countries and additional services, such as marketing assistance and design tools.
When it comes to pricing, you’ll pay per book, ebook, or both formats of the same title. One thing to note is that IngramSpark is not the cheapest Print on Demand service available, but their quality is worth the price.
For your ebooks, you can have one of two rates for royalties. You receive a 40% royalty when utilizing the full strength of IngramSpark. However, if you choose to opt out of Amazon, you will receive a 45% royalty of the list price.
- Check out: IngramSpark Print and Ship Calculator
The platform distributes to both the eBook and print markets with major retailers, including Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. A one-stop-shop for self-publishing, the platform has other services, such as formatting or social media promotion, to help your self-publishing journey. This self-publishing company has a calculator to ensure that you stay within your budget. You can calculate the price for a book, ebook, or both.
On top of all this, BookBaby also offers print on demand services and cover design services as well.
You can figure out pricing using their user-friendly calculator to ensure that you stay within your budget.
- Check out: Quote and Pricing Calculator for BookBaby
Publish Drive is a relative newcomer to the self-publishing world and is already one of the best self-publishing companies available.
Publish Drive works with all major online retailers including Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.
Perhaps, the most unique feature about Publish Drive is their pricing options. Whereas most companies offer royalty options, they offers another option: subscription pricing. With their subscription, you get to retain 100% of your royalties, while paying $100 per month to maintain this. This is an excellent option for well-established authors.
Online book publishing became a go-to for many authors since traditional publishers are more difficult to reach. While Amazon’s KDP remains a popular choice for self-publishing fiction authors, it’s essential to recognize that there are numerous alternatives available. Each of these alternatives offers unique features, distribution options, and opportunities for authors to connect with their readers. Ultimately, the choice of platform will depend on your specific goals, audience, and the format in which you want to publish your fiction. By exploring these alternatives, you can diversify your publishing strategy and increase your chances of success as a self-published author. Remember that success in self-publishing often requires a combination of writing skill, marketing savvy, and a deep understanding of your target audience.
If you have any questions, contact Stephanie at White Rabbit Editing for answers.