When going wide, your decision is whether to go direct with a retailer or go through a consolidator. There are numerous consolidators out there for ebooks (very few for audiobooks); and each have their own advantages/disadvantages.
A lot of time, the decision between direct or consolidator is between what you can earn in $ difference by going direct as conslidators either charge a fee or take a % (often 20%), the amount of work going direct costs you and if you can get direct promos from the retailer for going direct.
It’s worth keeping in mind since some retailers have promos you can’t access without going direct.
Draft2Digital – By far the most common consolidator to use. They have access to the majority of the major ebook retailers and libraries, you can choose who you send your files to and they even have a print option. There’s also access to a variety of other tools, like their auto formatting option, their BookstoRead retailer link consolidator (it gives options to all the retailers you are listed on and/or will push readers to their preferred retailer automatically while tracking clicks) and even will split your royalties if you are doing co-author projects.
Pretty much the standard. Takes 20% of your royalties as payment.
Offers regular promotional opportunities, especially for Overdrive and Apple.
IngramSpark – does have an ebook side that will let you send out to numerous retailers including Amazon. Do Not Use. Expensive, very slow in updating prices and just a horrible service. I repeat, do not use for ebooks.
Publishwide – has access to Google Play which Draft2Digital does not have. Charges a flat rate rather than taking a % off your royalties, which for bigger authors can make a significant difference. Has theoretical access to Chinese libraries and retailers (theoretical, because approval is VERY slow) and a few app sites and smaller retailers and library series that are not present on Draft2Digital.
Decent, but the flat rate charge isn’t great, and there are occassional hiccups in the software that can be annoying.
Smashwords – don’t use them. They’ve merged with Draft2Digital. They used to / do have their own store; but it’s now accessible via D2D so no reason to use them.
Streetlib – Old interface. Has access to a few libraries and retailers that are not accessible via D2D including some European library chains and Google Play. However, from our experience; those retailers don’t really do much in terms of sales.
Takes 20% just like D2D.
Does theoretically do audiobook distribution too, though our attempts have garnered very little sales as a secondary source (see below).
FindAway Voices – the main player in the market for audiobook distribution. Almost everyone I know uses it. Takes 20% of your royalties. Goes to all the major retailers including Spotify.
Streetlib – see above about my comments. Basically, it’s 0 cost, but also 0 revenue. So, not worth the time in my experience.
Feiyr – Another audiobook retailer. You have a $10 set-up charge for the account, another $4 charge for distribution of audiobook (or close enough, it’s in Euros) and they then take 20% of your royalties. Distirbutes to Spotify as well as major retailers but also includes some German retailers FindAway does not.
I have not used them myself.
Recommendations (Best Practice)
Here’s what people do/have done /is often recommended.
Google Play – go direct. There are a few promo tools that you can access direct that you could not otherwise.
Kobo – direct so you can access their promo tab. You have to ask for it though, once you set up the account – just e-mail asking for the promo tab. You can also directly upload audiobooks.
Also offers access to Overdrive and less royalty is taken this way.
B&N – has a promo tab, can be iffy if it’s worth it. Also B&N has specific categories of their own which can only be accessed by going direct. However, their sales have dropped significantly so… debatable if it’s worth it.
Apple – often the largest or 2nd largest retailer for those going wide. It has retailer specific promos but D2D is very good at offering you access to those promos, so there’s no need to do so if you don’t want the hassle.
Smashwords – used to be, you went direct to get onto their store. Now just go D2D.
And that’s about it. Anything else isn’t worth going direct or using others. D2D covers everything else. Also, be careful of library pricing. Make sure you increase it sufficiently to get sales. Rule of thumb is that you should be about 4 times your retail cost for the library price, I’ve heard 5 too.
That’s really the basics. There are smaller details to worry about as you go along (e.g. be careful about links in the backmatter going to other stores) and the specifics of the type of images you use (3D boxsets are liked by Amazon, not accepted by other retailers) and image size formats specific to each retailer, but that’s something you can deal with as you format.
After that, you’ll just have to learn the intricacies of each retailer, figuring out how to make use of their promo tabs, promotional pricing and the like to do well. Join groups like Wide for the Win for details.
Have fun and feel free to ask questions.
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