What a fun weekend I’ve had, trying to ‘Purge hidden corruption’ in my book files using the ‘Nuclear method’ to avoid any AutoVetter errors. If you have no idea what I’ve just said, then you’ve not had the pleasure of uploading your book to an aggregator. You haven’t lived.
Why am I doing this? I blame Joanna Penn, the queen of self-publishing, who made such a convincing argument for making your eBooks available on Google Play. After all, it’s the app that comes pre-loaded on most android phones these days, and, like it or not, more and more people are now reading on their phones, so it’s a market we’d be foolish to ignore. Moreover, I don’t know if you know this, but Google is like, a really big search engine, so having your books on their app is probably going to give you a bit of an edge in that regard. Having said that, this could go the same way as my Wattpad experiment, i.e. a complete anticlimax, but isn’t it better to have a ‘presence’ (or rather, an omnipresence!) than restricting yourself to Amazon? The biggest cost is my time and the thrill of finding out how much patience I have with with filling out forms and thinking up new passwords.
Up until now, I didn’t know how to get my books on Google Play. And this is where the aggregators come into it. Most indie authors are familiar with the most popular aggregator, Smashwords, which distributes your eBook to stores like Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Apple, to name a few. And anyone who has tried to upload their book file will be aware of how frustrating it is when the conversion results fall foul of the style guide and come back with a list of illegible offences, written in obscure computer speak. I made the mistake of updating a perfectly good book that I had for sale on Smashwords and I haven’t been able to pass the conversion tests since. Until today my friends, when I ‘went nuclear’ and cleared my files of all formatting, before re-formatting them and basically doing the equivalent of clearing out a tool shed and putting everything back in again. And it worked! But guess what? Smashwords don’t deal with Google. Would I have the patience to continue with this crazy dream?!
According to Joanna Penn, Publish Drive, a relatively new company based in Hungary, is the best option for reaching the most markets. Prounoun also deal with Google Play, but I decided to copy Joanna, because she’s probably done all the research and why inflict more pain on myself! However, I’ve recently come across quite a few articles claiming that Google Books is awash with pirated books. So, yep. But, the irony there is that people often claim piracy can be reduced by making your book available across more platforms and on various formats (Nook, Kobo etc.) Not all readers have Kindles, so it seems like common sense to make your book available as widely as possible. In my own case, I’ve kept my first novel exclusive with Amazon on KDP and so it’s available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited (Amazon’s subscription service). My second novel and my free short story are available everywhere (or at least they will be once Smashword’s affiliates get my shiney new version in the next few days).
As Joanna pointed out, there are huge markets globally like India and China, and with a little effort, your books can be available for download across the world, rather than just focusing on America and the UK. There are other aggregators too, like Draft2Digital, so it’s really up to you who you choose which one is right for you. Yet, as we all know, there’s a lot more to it than just hitting publish and waiting for the money to roll in. It’s not always easy or viable to promote in all of these markets, but I guess a good place to start is by setting up links on your website and varying your links on social media to include stores other than Amazon. Since producing paperback versions of my book with CreateSpace, I see how important it is to give your readers the opportunity to buy your books in whatever format suits them. Just make yourself a strong
cup bucket of coffee before trying any of this yourself at home.
My books are now available at the following stores: