Thursday, July 21, 2011

How does e-book distribution work? - writing tip

Question: I know Write Words is the publisher, but you also say you "distribute" your books. How does that work, exactly? Just curious.

Answer: Technically, we "publish" the book when we prepare the files and put them up for sale on our web site for all the world to see. But if we only sold your books in our own store, we wouldn't sell very many of them for you.

"Publisher" is also a job title for the two partners who run the business under the corporate umbrella, Write Words, Inc. Write Words also lists your title for sale at various sites (on line book stores and their affiliates) run by the manufacturers of the different brands of reader. Each reader requires a different format of file, so that it can be read. So most customers buy from only ONE place. Therefore it's important to be in as many places as you can.

YES. Write Words is a publishing company and the company will publish the book, prepare the files, Invest about $350 in staff time to prepare a file that meets each individual distributor's requirements (yes MANY files, and they are all different!) and get your title to as many on line book stores as possible -- just like publishers of mass market books do with paper books.

(Everyone is paid this quarter. Hooray!)

We also track sales on all the venues, collect the money and send you your royalties. Amazon is a distributor. They have "affiliates" like that also list the book for sale. If someone goes to and wants to buy your book, they are linked back to and THEY collect the money, then pay US, and target, and we pay YOU.

We SELL in PDF format on our OWN site at but prepare files for other book distributors and stores in whatever format THEY require. Each brand of reader-device requires a different format. Kindle owners buy books in Kindle format, so to be listed at, our books have to be prepared for a Kindle reader and posted there. Nook requires Nook format. Etc.

Nook owners can't buy from though, as the Kindle files will not work in a Nook machine. Nook owners have to buy from the Barnes & Noble site. Each machine requires it's OWN format. This has not changed. The industry has been looking for a "universal format" since 1998 and the closed they have come is PDF. ( I know some folks disagree with that. This is America. You can disagree if you want.)

PDF, the format we sell on the web site will work in most of the machines, but it requires the owner of the device to jump through hoops. For my Kindle for instance, I'd have to download the file from the site into my computer, Then run the Kindle conversion files, find all the appropriate connecting wires and connect the Kindle to the computer (not easy in a house with cats who like to play with cables). Then I could move the file into my Kindle for reading.

If I buy from the Kindle web store, I can connect wherever I happen to be (works wherever a cell phone works), push the "buy" button and it downloads automatically into my device then and there. I can buy a book and start reading in the line at the super market, in the Dr's waiting room -- almost anywhere.

That's instant gratification, folks. No wires. No connecting. No reformatting. No transferring. It's all done for me in the blink of an eye. I push the button and I'm ready to read. Any wonder why I like it?

But if we only listed at the Kindle book store, we'd miss out on all those folks who have a Nook, or an Ebook-Wise, or a Franklin, or such. So it's important to hit as many formats as we can. That gives you, and us, the best chance at earnings.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I've often wondered about all that stuff. Thanks.