Bookbaby

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Despite the prevalence of self-publishing opportunities and the greater acceptance of the publishing route among authors, readers, and the industry as a whole, the process of going it alone can be confusing and daunting. Self-publishing platform BookBaby has made the process all that much easier, first by creating a business model that works for authors instead of ripping them off, and now by offering a free download of Guy Kawasaki‘s ebook guide to self-publishing.

Kawasaki is the author of twelve books for businessmen and industry newbies, covering every aspect of the business in easy to understand but informative language. His co-writer on APE: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur, How to Publish an eBook was Shawn Welch, and together the duo is working to ensure that authors have every tool at their disposal to publish their work on their own.

One of the ways that BookBaby stands out from the self-publishing competition is in its business model. Whereas some self-publishing companies and “vanity presses” rip authors off by charging up front for service and then charging additional royalties as high as 55% of net profits, BookBaby is one of the few companies in the industry that does not take any additional fees; the author earns royalties from the different platforms that BookBaby distributes to, and retains all percentages after the retail platforms’ fee. In addition, BookBaby has made a name for itself in the free author tools that it provides its clients, especially in the areas of marketing and promotion.

Kawasaki and Welch’s book will be available from BookBaby as a free download through the end of July by visiting bookbaby.com/apebook.

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Self-published authors have a new sales and distribution opportunity, thanks to the pioneers in indie book promotion, IndieReader. The company, long known for its awareness-raising efforts for self-published and small press titles, has added a branded app and ebookstore to its list of services for authors.

The IR app has all of the features you would expect in a great e-reader,” explained president Amy Edelman in an announcement about the app, “including the ability to customize display settings, notes, highlights and bookmarks, and the ability to access all of your titles in a cloud-based library for synched reading on as many platforms and devises (including the aforementioned Apple and Android), in addition to all your tablets, smart phones and other mobile devises from a single account. The IR app also contains special content, stories and promos only available to IndieReader’s readers within the app.”

IndieReader’s plan is to include every book they review in the app, but that’s only feasible with titles that the authors choose to make available through platforms that feed directly into the app. Smashwords is one of the most streamlined–andfree–options authors can choose to work with, but IR’s ebookstore app will also pull content from a variety of other sources, including Ingram, Lulu, BookBaby, and more.

But with so many retail distribution opportunities available already, does an app like this one really have the ability to make an impact? According to Edelman, it does, but more importantly, it’s another way readers can find an author’s work, readers who already have a vested interest in promoting indie authors.”If you were a magazine, would you only want to be distributed from one newsstand in one city, even if it’s a big one? What about the people that don’t walk by that newsstand? What about the people who prefer to read their magazine over brunch at home, or who do their reading at the doctor’s office? There is a reason magazines want to be sold everywhere… it’s the same for books, even e-books.”

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There’s no shortage of companies willing to take an author’s manuscript and promise to produce a quality book, often for thousands of dollars. And sadly, there’s a great spectrum concerning both the experience of working with the company and the quality of the finished product. Additionally, many self-publishing companies charge outrageous amounts of money for tasks an author with a little know-how can do on his own, but yet still take an additional majority percentage of the royalties, even though the author paid for an expensive package.

One of the rare companies who does not operate that way is BookBaby, who charges a minimal fee for services and connects authors to qualified, vetted professionals for services they do not provide in-house. But what makes BookBaby even more exciting is the announcement today that is completely upending the publishing industry status quo where royalty payments are concerned.

When Amazon Publishing, the book giant’s retail arm, announced over a year ago that they would pay their traditionally published authors monthly instead of quarterly, a number of critics scoffed at the idea that this upstart company would change a four hundred-year-old system. But today, BookBaby announced that it will pay its authors for sales made in its new BookShop weekly…yes, every single Monday.

“We’ve been talking to our authors a lot,” explained Steven Spatz, Chief Marketing Officer for BookBaby, in an interview with Good e-Reader, “we’ve been listening to them. This whole industry has evolved. It’s not enough just to give distribution and conversion, they really want help in promoting and selling their books.”

BookBaby’s announcement today includes details of a new retail platform for authors’ works. In addition to the usual platforms that authors have come to expect for their books, the new BookShop will not only offer authors a new distribution outlet, but will also offer them the opportunity to receive payment weekly. While titles sold through major retailers will still fall under a monthly royalty system, authors who direct their readers to the BookShop can stand to benefit even faster.

“It used to be that writers were thrilled just to have their manuscripts turned into an eBook and listed for sale on Amazon,” said Spatz. “But for today’s independent author, literary success requires a lot more than just great file conversion and retail distribution.”

BookShop is just the latest tool that BookBaby provides for authors. Last year, the company debuted its free BookPromo platform that helps authors share the news about their titles, garner reviews, take advantage of press release distribution, and more. The company has a long history of connecting fans to content, as BookBaby grew out of the original indie music platform, CDBaby.

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Bookbaby has come a long way since it cut their teeth doing yet another self-publishing platform. The company has been ironing out their PR and Marketing campaigns for authors who ask the question “How do I get my book reviewed? Who are my local press contacts? Where do I begin with my promotional campaign? Most importantly: How do I let people know about my book?” One of the new components to this deal is book discovery by GoodsReads and NoiseTrade.

Bookbaby is a for profit self-publishing company that has a myriad of options to allow authors to publish and get distributed. They have various tiers of fees, dependant on an authors technical level to generate eBooks from documents or more advanced knowledge. One of the new programs the company has unveiled recently is Book Promo.

Book Promo is a set of tools that an author can employ to assist in marketing and PR. It is available with the FREE tier of publishing and also with any of the paid options, so it is worth checking out. A few of their key selling points are; Guaranteed book reviews with Readers’ Favorite and Story Cartel, Promotion through PR Newswire, Author Marketing Club, and WriterCube, and an Exclusive guide: Ultimate Social Media Marketing for Authors.

Bookbaby recognizes the power of GoodReads, the largest eBook social site in the world. “Goodreads is an essential site for all authors to use when promoting their books,” said Steven Spatz, BookBaby CMO. “Over 25 million readers use Goodreads, and all our BookBaby authors will automatically be listed on the site, where readers can link to bookstores to purchase, write reviews, and share with their friends on social media.”

Authors are normally faced with the situation of wanting to build their own marketing list or giveaway free eBook samples. Bookbaby kills two birds, with one stone with NoiseTrade, which allows authors to give away their content for free in exchange for readers’ email addresses.

“Online stores like Amazon and iBookstore are an important part of building your platform and earning an income,” said Spatz, “but they don’t provide you with direct customer connections. NoiseTrade gives authors a spreadsheet of email addresses and postal codes of everyone who downloads your eBook, which is an invaluable resource for independent authors.”

I have followed Bookbaby throughout the years when they were first known as CD Baby, and have tracked their company from when they started publishing, until now. They are a solid bunch of people who honestly love, what they do. Their service is good for first time authors or people that wrestle with the decision of publishing with Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Bookbaby basically is a better version of Smashwords, except they charge.

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Pressbooks is a solid ebook creation website that allows indie authors to submit their ebook and format it online. You can choose between different templates and export the book to EPUB, MOBI, and a number of other formats. The service is free and many authors found it confusing that they could create books, but not sell them. Selling ebooks can become a tedious process, with users having to create individual accounts on all of the networks they want. To solve this problem, Pressbooks has just signed a distribution service with Bookbaby.

Never heard of Pressbooks? Pressbooks is a unique set of tools that allows indie authors to create their own ebooks using the WordPress CMS. You can add cover art, a table of contents, and then create your book, chapter by chapter. This system for creating books is super intuitive, if you have ever used WordPress before. When your book is completed, you can convert it over to an EPUB, PDF, or MOBI file to have as your own, or just refer people to your personal version of the Pressbooks website.

The new relationship with BookBaby will get your books into 11 different ebook stores around the world, including Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks. The company will do it for $99 (PressBooks users get a 10% discount!), and you get 100% of royalties earned.. You can monitor your sales through one simple interface, which many authors will love.

Honestly, it is probably better to self-publish yourself and do the legwork that comes with it. Sometimes people like taking the easy way out and paying someone to do all of the distributing and creating. As an author, it is your duty to self-publish yourself and go through all of the trials and tribulations that accompany doing something new. Of course, you will absolutely need an editor, this is the most essential factor.

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BookBaby and Bound Book scanning have formed a new partnership that will convert tangible books to the digital form. Using the highest quality scanning technology available, Bound Book will convert hardcover and software books to searchable PDF and editable Word docs. From now on, Bound Books will be handling the physical conversion process and BookBaby will distribute them.

BookBaby is one of the largest distributors of books and caters to self-published and indie authors. Rather than allowing authors to upload their manuscripts for free then taking a percentage of each sale—which is after the percentage the actual retailer will also take—BookBaby charges a one-time upload fee and then the remaining royalties belong to the author, other than what the catalogs like Amazon or Barnes and Noble charge.

“We talk with so many authors who want to create an ebook, but they don’t have the necessary Word or PDF files to get started—all they have is their printed book,” says BookBaby president Brian Felsen. “We’ve found an easy solution to their problems: Bound Book Scanning, a mail-in book scan service.” He went on to elaborate that, “This partnership will greatly benefit writers and publishers who’ve been sitting on their back catalogs simply because the idea of digitizing the books themselves by hand was overwhelming,” says Felsen. “Now they can mail those books to the professionals at Bound Book Scanning who will handle it quickly, and for less money than it costs to buy a Friday night dinner.”

Bound Book Scanning is currently offering BookBaby clients a discount on their services. BookBaby authors should use coupon code “BOOKBABYD10” at checkout to save 10% on their book-scanning order.

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Bookbaby has just received perferred vendor status by the USA Goverment and soon will be providing a unique ebook service for them. Recently Bookbaby worked in conjuntion with the Government Services Administration (GSA) to modify its Terms of Service and discount schedule, clearing the way for US government agencies to utilize BookBaby eBook publishing products and services for its entire catalog of brochures, reports, and information.

Bookbaby will be providing a digital publishing solution for the USA Government to allow different departments to make ebooks out of their official documents. This will allow people to make notes, annotations, and employ other features which are currently impossible with most static Word Documents or HTML variants.

“We’re now open for business with the federal government,” said Steven Spatz, Chief Marketing Officer for BookBaby.com. “By purchasing our discounted publishing credits, all federal agencies can now use BookBaby to convert publications into eBooks, from simple brochures to huge reports. They can take advantage of our easy upload process and global distribution network, just like the thousands of authors we’re already working with.”

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Bookbaby is one of the leading self-publishing companies in the world that authors employ to distribute their books to many different platforms. It leads the charge in the sheer number of electronic book stores that you can opt into when you submit your books. Today the company is even more appealing because of new agreements with eBookPie, Baker & Taylor, and Gardners.

Currently Bookbaby submits published books to all of the mainstream stores, such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon, and Sony. The real benefit is the sheer number of indie and alternative stores that could account for an author’s overall sales. Let’s take a look at some of these new companies Bookbaby is dealing with and give you some introspective on what they’re all about.

Baker & Taylor has been in business for over 200 years and is a leading distributor of books, videos, and music products to more than 36,000 libraries, institutions, and retailers in over 120 countries. B&T currently has more than 1.5 million books in their database. One of the lesser known facts about this company is that it is responsible for the Bilo software suite, which is heralded as the world’s most advanced, flexible, and engaging e-reader software application. Built on state-of-the-art video gaming technology, Blio is a three-dimensional, interactive application that will bring your eBook to life.

Gardners Books is Britain’s leading book, DVD, Blu-ray, and music CD wholesaler, with over 4.5 million books and 150,000 ebooks available in their catalog. When you submit your book to the online database, your eBook will also be available in Gardners’ wholesale catalog for independent bookstores, online venders, and other 3rd party retailers. Gardners also provides an ebook lending model for a number of libraries, under which library members are restricted to one concurrent loan per purchased ebook. When your book is sold through this company, you will garner 60% of each sale you make.

eBookPie is the newest company that Bookbaby started to deal with and it has a respectable 300,000 books in its catalog. It has an innovative tool for publishers and content partners called eBookSlicer. This enables publishers to quickly and affordably split ebooks and other documents of any length into stand-alone, fully packaged content chunks, including eChapters, eSections and eArticles. Publishers can instantly extract valuable content from both frontlist and backlist titles to create new, fully formatted, and packaged stand-alone eContent. Like buying a slice of a CD from iTunes, consumers want the option of purchasing just a slice of a book, and the Chapterizer simplifies the process of creating that slice.

For example, with just a click the Chapterizer can instantly turn a 15-chapter ebook into 15 or more fully packaged eChapters. Each eChapter can include a cover, customized front and back matter, and a customized marketing page. This is great because you can sell content by the chapter instead of buying the whole book. This is especially interesting for science, math, and history books when you might be interested in a specific chapter for a report.

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GoodEReader has covered news and interviews with BookBabyin the past because they have shown themselves to be a company to watch in self- and digital publishing. With both print and ebook packages, as well as several other branches of the company that work in music distribution, website hosting, and more, they seem to be quietly seeking to be an all-encompassing provider for what authors need.

Now, BookBaby has added two new distribution platforms to its stream of retailers. Last week, BookBaby announced that authors who distribute via the site can have their ebooks listed through not only Amazon, Apple, Sony, and Barnes & Noble, but now Kobo and Copia as well.

BookBaby works on a rather different model than some of the other distributors out there. Rather than allowing authors to upload their manuscripts for free then taking a percentage of each sale—which is after the percentage the actual retailer will also take—BookBaby charges a one-time upload fee and then the remaining royalties belong to the author, other than what the catalogs like Amazon or Barnes and Noble charge.

GoodEReader interviewed BookBaby president Tony VanVeen and VP Steven Spatz at Digital Book World last month about their other new announcements, BookBaby’s print capabilities. The executives were on hand demonstrating the difference between a print-on-demand edition of a book from a mechanized source and having a low-run print edition. BookBaby operates on an updated version of an outdated model, namely, having authors pre-order and purchase up front a specific number of copies of their print editions, much like vanity presses. However, the two raised some interesting points in the interview about how they have taken that format and adapted it to today’s market with things like low order requirements (as little as fifty, compared to hundreds of copies through older vanity presses), the ability to return unsold titles for a refund, and more.

In many regards, BookBaby seems to have taken an alternate course from the mainstream indie publishing alternatives, and they’re making it work. After all, the reason authors went indie was to have a choice in how their books got to market, and BookBaby provides the self-publishing world with the ability to choose.


One of the main arguments in favor of indie publishing is the fact that today’s writers have an unheard amount of control and choice when it comes to publishing their works. GoodEReader.com was on location in New York this past weekend to attend the SelfPub BookExpo, and one of the highlights of the expo floor was the wide variety of self-publishing platforms that today’s authors have to choose from.

Tony van Veen, CEO of self-publishing platform BookBaby, spoke to us about what the site offers authors and how it differs from many other digital publishing sites. Van Veen also spoke about what’s in development from BookBaby, including the update on HostBaby, the big news released from BookBaby VP Steven Spatz at BookExpo America in May of this year.

Essentially, HostBaby is another level of service that BookBaby can offer to its author clients. In addition to the ability to distribute ebooks to all of the retail platforms while giving the authors 100% of the net royalties of the books, minus the built-in percentages that the retailers earn, HostBaby offers authors their own uniquely branded web space for the fans to find information, sample chapters, cover art, and more.

BookBaby is also branching out into print-on-demand self-publishing in an effort to bring indie authors’ works to as many readers as possible.


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Unfortunately for James Grea, who writes under the pseudonym Solomon Inkwell, the current market of young adult novels is saturated with vampires.  Overrun with vampires, even, which doesn’t bode well for an author who has written a vibrant and thrilling novel about…vampires.

“I actually had an agent tell me how incredible my writing was, and that he would have snapped up my manuscript if I had queried him with it about four years ago.  The publishing market is done with vampires, for now,” laments Grea, who is in the editing stage of the first book in a series for young adults that he will still publish traditionally, The Chronicles of Dead Anna: Haunting Thelma Thiblewhistle.

The publishing industry may have washed its hands of the undead, but as an author Grea knows that the teenaged audience is still eagerly sinking its teeth into all things bloodsuckers.  So he turned to Amazon.com’s self-publishing imprint, CreateSpace, to bring the vampire book to market.

“They really are an amazing model.  It really is very similar to the amount of effort it takes to publish a book traditionally.  Just like other authors, I still have editors to discuss and revise with, a designer to create the overall look and feel of the text, and deadlines to meet on proofs.”

While Grea is bringing his title, Vickie Van Helsing, to print through the self-publishing imprint at his own cost, he is also working through various sites on digitally publishing the manuscript on e-readers.

“I worked with Book Baby years ago when they first appeared as CD Baby to produce some music, so I knew they were consummate professionals.  For a very reasonable fee, they were able to convert Vickie to all of the necessary formats to sell it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iStore, and more.”

And how important is it to have a manuscript available in a wide variety of formats?  According to Grea, it is the only thing that matters to an author in terms of overall sales.

“You can’t be the writer who only publishes for Kindle or for Nook.  The readers won’t stand for that and you will lose your following while making a bad name for yourself.  Being able to meet all of your readers, whether they are Kindle or Nook or Sony or Kobo fans, that’s the way to ensure that when someone tells a friend about this great new book, anyone can have access.  Word of mouth is key and you lose that if you don’t reach all of the e-readers.”

According to Grea, self-publishing already has a stigma with most readers.  The days of getting by with a cheaply constructed book with run-of-the-mill cover art are over.  Readers want the overall experience of a book that they enjoy aesthetically, not just words on a page.  While Grea incorporated appealing graphics and fonts into his manuscript, when he tried to format the text for digital publishing those extra features didn’t come through.  He turned to the professionals to make the book, both printed and digital, a complete experience for the reader.

“The downside of all the availability of e-publishing means that anybody with a few words on a page in a document file can become a ‘published’ author, so those of us who have really made this our life’s work are fighting the label of ‘self-published author.’  The only way to maintain the respectability that will lead to devoted readers is to make sure I produce a book that is worthy of my readers’ time.”

Of self-publishing, Grea makes this recommendation.  “Your self-published book can ultimately be your livelihood, or it can be your calling card to the business.  If you know you want to publish a manuscript traditionally down the road, having the right self-published or e-published book and being able to produce those numbers of devoted readers for a potential agent can mean finding representation or not.”

This article is part of our Indy Author Initiative Program at Good e-Reader.