Feb 9, 2022

The Ultimate Author & Publisher’s Guide To Understanding eBook Distribution Services

Feb 9, 2022 eBook Distribution Services

The Ultimate Author & Publisher’s Guide To Understanding eBook Distribution Services

Online publishing is an ever-changing landscape. It’s transforming, constantly buzzing with exciting new developments. As a publisher, how can you make the most of it? And, what role do eBook distribution services play here?

eBook distribution- the medium used to get a piece of digital content in the hands of its intended audience through an effective sales channel.

As a publisher, you want this process to go smoothly. You want to

  • target multiple channels, platforms, formats, and retailers at once
  • Maximize the reach while amplifying the sales potential
  • Connect to bigger and better revenue streams

How can you achieve these ‘publisher goals’ while saving money, time, and effort?

Through digital content distribution services!

Let’s discuss how that works.

eBook Distribution Services, Simplified!

The Role of eBook Distribution In Digital Publishing

The global eBook market is a trove of intense opportunities. And, it keeps growing by leaps and bounds.

  • Between 2010 & 2020, eBook sales in the USA rose from 69 million copies a year to 191 million copies per annum.
  • Less than 15% of readers bought eBooks from a publisher’s website.
  • Over 70% of eBook sales in the USA took place on Amazon.
  • The worldwide eBook market is worth US$ 30 billion at the very least.

Now, let’s be very clear- eBooks are nowhere near a position that will threaten the market for traditional, paper-based copies.

But, the growing eBook usage and revenue numbers imply the presence of a massive market out there. There are opportunities waiting to be realized across the globe. In between those margins and entry points lies the future of eBook publishing.

That is also where eBook conversion and distribution services enter the playfield.

What Does A Modern-Day Publisher Do?

That’s a fair question in times where millions of books are self-published and authors are making 40-60% royalties through this medium. In fact, that is the most obvious question that arises when we discuss online publishing.

Because, you see, if an author can write and publish their work, what do they need a publishing house for?

Well, here is what a publishing house does.

  • They provide expert editorial assistance
  • They build and nurture an author’s brand
  • They protect an author’s copyrights
  • They scour the widest possible audience for an eBook

Acquisition, production, distribution, and marketing- these are the central duties of a publisher when dealing with an eBook. Even if they use the same platforms as a self-publishing author (think Amazon, Apple, Kobo, or Smashwords,) they have the advantage of infrastructure, identified audience bands, and a powerful advertising capability.

Simply put, a publisher is better equipped to modulate an eBook launch with a higher likelihood of successful results.

What Is The Publishing Process For An eBook?

  • Secure a manuscript.
  • Proofread the copy for accuracy & consistency.
  • Prepare the graphics, i.e. cover design, illustrations, etc.
  • Choose target publishing formats.
  • Convert the eBook into all possible formats. Proofread for consistency.
  • Upload your eBook on the publishing platform.
  • Create a marketing plan.
  • Sort out the digital distribution rights and author copyrights.
  • Round up the production cost and accordingly, set up the book price.
  • Publish the eBook.
  • Commence the Post-launch marketing campaigns.
  • Monitor performance and track prices.

How Can eBook Distribution Services Help Publishers?

Distribution is one of the few core parts of online publishing. However, it is preceded and succeeded by two even more critical activities- production and marketing.

By handling the digital content distribution (and parts of production) to a trusted partner, publishers can save their time, expedite the process, and optimize the outcomes.

Here is what an eBook distribution service partner can do for a publisher.

  • Choose the appropriate distribution channels
  • Prepare the ebook for better response (formatting and conversion)
  • Filter through audience groups and ensure higher reach
  • Ensure accurate eBook conversion for intended target platforms in time
  • Analyze distribution patterns with user reception and modify distribution strategy

Remember, all these activities are happening simultaneously with marketing. Except, by delegating the distribution to a third party, you can make the process of publishing an eBook shorter, easier, and more effective.

How To Choose The Right Digital Content Distribution Services?

Deciding to hire a digital content distribution services provider is one thing; sorting one out is another!

As we discussed, this process is critical to your eBook & brand’s engagement, reach, and overall sales. The market will give you too many options, too many offerings. Therefore, it is necessary to make a careful analysis & wise choices.

For starters, any eBook distributor you consider should be able to offer the following (at the very least):

  • An effective process of eBook distribution
  • A broad network of distribution channels
  • Good reach across online content outlets
  • A decent time-to-market interval
  • An extremely stern quality analysis structure
  • DRM compliance and conversion

If a prospect qualifies these parameters, you should take the examination one notch higher and investigate their process, or rather the important elements of it. Ask these questions.

  • What is their distribution strategy?
  • How do they prepare an eBook for distribution?
  • How do they choose the distribution platform?

Let’s discuss each of them in detail.

1. A Good eBook Distribution Strategy

eBook distribution is a game of choosing the path that’s most likely to end in success.

This is important because your choices span a large and wide arena. You can disseminate the eBook via

  • Direct contact with retailers,
  • Aggregators, who choose and distribute the eBook to retailers for you, or
  • Smaller, highly niche platforms

Then, you have choices within these choices.

If you go with direct retailers, you have to choose between Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook, etc. If you choose Aggregators, you will need to launch a proper cost analysis, since the price factor is usually high with them. Or, if you go with small-scale platforms, you still need a very detailed understanding of your audience and target markets to zone in on the exact niche where distributing the eBook can churn returns.

When assessing eBook conversion service partners, you need to gauge the vendor’s capability to maneuver around these options.

For example, for any eBook, the distribution strategy can go one of three ways.

  • Publish on Amazon. Go exclusive. Register for Amazon KDP Select. Refrain from distributing via any other channel for 90 days.
  • Sort through retailers and pick the most beneficial ones. Launch a multi-channel yet direct distribution campaign. Save on the royalties.
  • Find a cost-effective aggregator and get them to do the work for you.

Now, an experienced eBook distribution vendor would ideally create a similar plan of action for you. They would lay down the cost and benefit, outline the phases, and give you a well-thought-out blueprint of every touchpoint in the distribution process.

Choose the one with the most realistic and practical eBook distribution strategy for your product.

Is An Amazon-exclusive Publishing Plan The Right One For You?

Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is a mammoth in the world of online publishing. It controls about 80% of the market. It offers decent royalties, about 70% in total. It is easy to set up, costs almost nothing in management, and provides a whole array of premium features for authors and publishers.

But, where does Amazon KDP falter?

  • It doesn’t have a dedicated audience base for eBooks of all genres.
  • The KDP Select program ties an author/publisher for 90 days. During that period, you can’t sell your eBook anywhere else. Not even on your website or blog.

So, should you distribute through Amazon?

We say Yes.

But, should you distribute through only Amazon and no other platforms?

NO!

To build a solid reader segment that is likely to respond to your content, you need a wider reach. That can be achieved by creating an eBook distribution strategy that includes Amazon but also gives you room to consider and utilize other popular digital publishing channels.

2. Preparing an eBook for Better Online Performance

Remember, our goal is to find a profitable partner. The more they can offer you, the better it would be.

That’s where eBook formatting services and eBook cover design services come in.

An eBook needs formatting according to the standards accepted by the distribution platform. Among other things, it has to be:

  • Proofread
  • Cleaned for code errors
  • Allotted a cover design
  • Converted into the anticipated format

I.e., the distributor should also offer to format your eBook, create a cover via graphic artists, and convert the eBook into the required format. The best-case scenario would be a vendor that offers eBook distribution and eBook creation and conversion services in a single package.

In case your shortlisted prospects do not offer that combination, ask them about the pre-publishing preparation. Understand their process in terms of isolated services.

Keep in mind that if the distributor won’t cover formatting, you will need to do that in-house or look for someone else. Therefore, it is wiser to choose someone who does!

3. Finding the Best eBook Distribution Platform

Best eBook Publishing Platforms

Selecting an eBook distribution platform is an analytical decision.

The best way here is to go by the numbers. Review market sentiment about the platform. Understand what the platform provides and what it lacks.

For instance, asking the following questions is a must!

  • How does the platform calculate royalty?
  • Does it have a wide and developed reader base?
  • Which geographical regions does it cover?
  • Is there a per-unit charge or annual fee applied?
  • Is inventory management for eBooks easier or not?
  • How does the platform respond to books from different genres?
  • Is there a premium version to their services?
  • If yes, what additional advantages does it offer?

Overall, the trick lies in determining if the platform is worth the investment. Except, you will end up reviewing a lot of platforms and doing a lot of leg work to establish an understanding.

Or, you can outsource this part to an eBook distribution services provider.

So, make it a point to ask the vendors you have shortlisted about this part of their offerings.

Ask them about the research involved, what they do to determine the credibility of each platform, and how they use the results to create a good publishing and distribution strategy.

The Biggest Benefits Of Outsourcing eBook Distribution Services For Publishers

So far, we have discussed the activities and tasks that an eBook distribution services provider can offer to publishers. But, overall, you should get why such vendors can help save a lot of time and effort while expediting the entire publishing process.

But, when it comes to making a decision, it is always wise to recap.

So, here are the advantages of outsourcing eBook distribution, laid out for a quick run-through.

1. Cost-Effective

Why is hiring a third-party eBook creation and conversion services provider cost-effective?

Well!

  • You don’t need an in-house team of proofreaders, designers, or data experts-you save on recruitment here.
  • You can save on the infrastructure and tool costs needed to implement eBook distribution.
  • Your core team can stay focussed on growing the reach and marketing the eBook- that saves you the cost of wasted work hours.

In short, you are getting the results you want without compromising your team’s time or distracting them from other critical tasks.

It will eventually lead to a budget-friendly arrangement. That will help you monitor the eBook prices, therefore leading to user-friendly costs and hence, better sales performance.

2. Smart

The reputed and experienced digital content distribution services use tools to track a ton of stuff. Hiring them gives you access to those tools and hence, to information, like-

  • Distribution patterns
  • Audience segment penetration
  • Reach statistics
  • Region-wise sales figures
  • Return values
  • Issues with the eBook

This information will help you improve the eBook, adjust the distribution strategy, and attract more sales.

3. Simplified

Outsourcing is simple. You call the shots. That’s all! A diligent and capable partner handles all the behind-the-scenes action with the right tools and technology.

Having such a simplified way of distributing eBooks gives you the power to think in multiple directions.

For example, you can distribute your eBook in fixed-layout MOBI, KPF, ePUB, or WORD format. You can choose different standards and have the Book conversion and distribution services work on them.

4. Global

Sell in your country across multiple content publishing platforms. Or, sell across the globe via direct online retailers and distribution channels. Plus, get good reach and market penetration in all cases.

How?

By getting a top-notch eBook distribution service provider.

Such companies usually maintain and update their network and policies. Whatever the required format, platform, medium, or process be, publishing with the help of such vendors all but ensures a successful campaign.

5. Convenient

Even with an external partner, you have control. More often than not, you get the choice to reduce or increase the size of the outsourced team by requirement. Most eBook development, conversion, and distribution services providers also work in multiple time zones, ensuring timely outcomes.

Simply put, there are very few obstacles to getting your eBook across the internet with the right partner.

Looking For An eBook Distribution Services Partner? We Can Help

Ours is a 20+ years old IT outsourcing and support company. Be it eBook development services, eBook creation, and conversion, cover design, formatting, or eBook distribution services, we have your back.

Even if you just have more questions about outsourcing eBook distribution or need more guidance, we can help.

Drop your doubts, comments, or requests in the comment section, and we’ll get right to it.

Discover How SunTec India Can Help You With Your eBook Distribution.

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