FREELANCE FRIDAY #6: PUBLISHING PLATFORMS PROS & CONS

Wednesday, June 5, 2024



I can’t share an exhaustive list from every platform possible, nor do I have personal experience with every platform. But below are a few of the most popular publishing platforms, complete with basic pros and cons to help you choose or consider a new path! 

 

KDP:
60% royalty rate across the board; with a 40% royalty rate for expanded distribution options. For ebook, you can choose between a 35% or 70% royalty rate depending on what price you’d like to set your ebook at. Uploads and changes are completely free for life. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is very user-friendly and straightforward from start to finish.  KDP offers platforms for paperback, hardcover, and Kindle.


CONS: No expanded distribution for hardcovers (yet); no option to create dust jackets or clothbound options (yet). You must select expanded distribution to allow your book to be discoverable by other markets including libraries. You cannot open up paperback or hardcover preorders.

HOWEVER: While your paperback book will not be made available for preorder, you can now order author copies and set your paperback to be published on release day automatically. It’s a step in the right direction. 


 

IngramSpark:
There is a 70% royalty rate across the board.
Although IngramSpark claims to have a wider distribution options, you may be surprised to find out that they use the exact same distribution system that KDP offers. The difference is that some businesses would rather buy directly from IngramSpark than to buy from Amazon. 

You can do ebook, paperback, and hardcover, including dust jackets.


QUALITY CONTROL: I will say that I have heard a lot of good things about product quality from IngramSpark, but when I tried IngramSpark for myself, I had more problems with three orders from Ingram (covers misaligned, printing errors, colors just didn’t look good) than I had printing upwards of 30 books through KDP. It may have been a one-off, but I do know a few other folks who have had similar problems.  

 

CONS:
Recently, there have been a rash of problems with IngramSpark regarding unexplained charges, royalty rate changes, and more. Amazon and IngramSpark do not play well together, which can actually limit your availability. It costs significantly more to order author copies and print books through IngramSpark; they charge handling fees, higher shipping costs, and higher print costs as well. They have absolutely terrible customer service (very well-renowned at this point) and IngramSpark is one company where you will need technical support at one point or another. I personally had to contact them repeatedly regarding the setup of one book, until I delisted it from IngramSpark. The user interface is not very friendly for beginners. I will add that it took three months to receive royalties from an October 2023 release, and that was even dispersed over an additional three months. A stroll through Reddit confirmed that this is typical for new releases.


HOWEVER: Quite a few people skip IngramSpark for paperback/hardcover, but upload their ebooks to allow for broader distribution. This eliminates quite a few of the issues that folks typically experience with IngramSpark, and may be something for you to consider as well. 

 

LuLu:
80% royalty rate; free uploads for paperback and hardcover; global fulfillment is available, including through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others. They offer free ISBNs if you plan on only publishing through Lulu. Authors can publish black and white, full color, or even graphic novels, but these may be at an additional cost.

CONS: Some concerns about copyright infringement and other issues have plagued the company’s name in the past. Lulu has fluctuating fees so authors may not make as much as expected with their sale price.


Barnes & Noble:
70% royalties for ebooks and 65% for print books; free uploads; paperback, hardcover, and ebook options available, as well as many different options such as dust jackets, case laminate, etc. There is NO exclusivity for B&N, so you can publish anywhere you want.

CONS: Limited reach, as B&N does not offer distribution to Amazon or other websites, and limited formatting options which may be a concern.

 

What should you choose? I think that’s ultimately up to each individual. There are practical things to consider, such as royalty rates and your personal publishing goals, which you’ll need to evaluate and possibly re-evaluate as you continue on this professional journey. However, just because you choose one platform for a project does not mean you must stay exclusively with them forever. Don’t be afraid to expand! 

What should you NEVER choose? If a press requires you to pay for consideration, for “publishing packages,” or promise to get you mass exposure, run as fast as you can. Those are vanity presses, and no matter how good the deal seems, they are dangerous territory to tread into. 

 

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