Where to Sell Your E-book
By Su-Mia

A Guide to Online Publishing in SA

The 6 Best Places to Sell Your E-book

Now that we know the benefits of e-books, let’s look at the places where you can sell your e-book. The South African publishing environment looks different than the international market. Orders from overseas retailers sometimes take months to arrive in South Africa. As a result, it is not advisable to list your print book on international platforms or to list your book as print-on-demand when you are selling in South Africa. E-books, however, are immediate. And it is here where South Africans can compete on the international publishing stage!

E-book platforms are divided into retailers and aggregate platforms. When you use a retailer to sell your e-book, you upload directly onto their platform. On the other hand, an aggregate platform takes a percentage of book sales and uploads to multiple retailers for you.

Top e-Book Retailers for South Africans to sell their e-books

1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and books are no exception. This site reveals that 80% of all e-books are sold through Amazon Kindle. Millions of authors use this platform to sell their e-books and there is often fierce competition to get noticed.

What are the costs?

Publishing on Amazon KDP is free.

How much will I make?

Royalties are tiered based on the price of the book. You can earn either 35% or 70% royalty on sales. Read more about Amazon’s royalty options here.

What file types can I upload?

Recommended formats:

  • DOC/DOCX,
  • KPF and
  • EPUB.

Other file types supported:

  • HTML (ZIP, HTM, or HTML),
  • MOBI,
  • RTF,
  • TXT and
  • PDF.

2. Apple Books for Authors

Apple Books for Authors

The second-biggest e-book retailer, Apple Books for Authors lists your e-book for sale on Apple Books, a division of iTunes, using an iTunes Connect Account. Although Apple Books and the other retailers on this list account for fewer sales, it is still worth looking at alternative options to sell your e-book.

What are the costs?

Publishing on Apple Books for Authors is free.

How much will I make?

70% royalties on every book, regardless of the list price of the book. Apple Books offers several benefits that Amazon does not, in an effort to compete with the e-book giant.

What file types can I upload?

  • EPUB and
  • Apple-developed Apple Books Format (IBOOKS).

3. Kobo Writing Life

Kobo Writing Life

This Canadian retailer is available in 190 countries around the world and is particularly big in Asia. Similar to a Kindle, Kobo makes their own e-readers and they also have a user-friendly app for mobile that is available on Google Play and Apple App Store. Check out this article by Kobo Writing Life about the most common mistakes self-publishers make.

What are the costs?

Publishing on Kobo Writing Life is free.

How much will I make?

Royalties are dependent on retail price, similar to Amazon’s structure. Authors earn either 70% or 45% royalties. Read more here.

What file types can I upload?

  • DOC/DOCX,
  • ODT,
  • EPUB and
  • MOBI.

4. Barnes & Noble Press

Barnes & Noble Press

Barnes & Noble is the largest retail bookstore in the US, with over 600 physical stores throughout the country. They have been selling books online since the 1980s. They had their own e-reader, called a NOOK, which was discontinued in 2020. The NOOK app (PressReader) is, however, still available on app stores. Barnes & Noble Press (previously NOOK Press) loads your book onto BN.com.

What are the costs?

Publishing on Barnes & Noble Press is free.

How much will I make?

The author receives 70% royalties, regardless of the book’s retail price. Barnes & Noble says they offer “the most competitive author royalty rates and payment terms in the industry”.

What file types can I upload?

  • DOC/DOCX,
  • TXT,
  • HTML, and
  • EPUB.

5. Google Play Books

Google Play Books

Google Play Books is Android’s answer to Apple Books. With over 2 billion Android users in more than 70 countries, this platform is definitely something to consider.

What are the costs?

Publishing on Google Play Books is free.

How much will I make?

Between 52% and 70% royalties, depending on the country the books are sold in and other terms of service. Learn more here.

What file types can I upload?

For text:

  • PDF and
  • EPUB.

For covers:

  • JPEG,
  • TIFF,
  • PDF, and
  • PNG.

6. Takealot.com

Takealot.com

Takealot is the South African Amazon. From its launch in June 2011, Takealot now has over 1.8 million shoppers and sells over 4 million products. E-books sold through Takealot can only be accessed and read on the Takealot e-reader application, which is, at the time of writing this article, far inferior to the e-reader applications of the other retailers on this list.

What are the costs?

R300 per month, plus success fee, fulfilment fee and, where applicable, storage fees, as outlined here.

How much will I make?

Price of item minus Takealot’s success fee percentage and other fees.

What file types can I upload?

EPUB and PDF.

Bonus: Aggregate platforms that sell your e-book

Aggregate platforms make the process much easier by uploading your e-book to multiple platforms. The drawback of aggregate platforms is that you get considerably less royalties from book sales, since they take a percentage.  You are also disqualified from services like Kindle Select (which allows you to list your book on Kindle Unlimited), since you are no longer signing an exclusivity contract.

1. Draft2Digital

Draft 2 Digital

Draft2Digital (D2D) is one of the largest and most recommended aggregate e-book distribution platforms. They have a bunch of extra features to encourage authors to use their platform. D2D can upload your book to: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo (including Kobo Plus), Tolino, OverDrive, Bibliotheca, Scribd, Baker & Taylor, Hoopla and Vivlio. You choose which retailers you want to upload your book.

What are the costs?

Uploads are free, but D2D takes 15% of net royalties.

How much will I make?

Each platform’s royalty rate minus 15%.

What file types can I upload?

  • DOC/DOCX,
  • ODF,
  • RTF or
  • EPUB.

2. Smashwords

Smashwords

Smashwords is the original e-book aggregator and is still extremely popular today, with over 500 000 titles. Unlike D2D, they are also an e-book retailer themselves. According to their website, they are the “world’s largest e-book distributor for indie authors and small independent presses”. In addition to the Smashwords Store, your book will be uploaded onto: Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Walmart (via Kobo), OverDrive, Gardners, Scribd, Libri, Baker & Taylor and more.

What are the costs?

Uploads are free, but Smashwords takes up to 15% of the retail price per copy sold, depending on the platform.

How much will I make?

Up to 60% of the list price from e-book retailers and up to 80% of the list price on the Smashwords Store.

What file types can I upload?

  • DOC/DOCX,
  • EPUB and
  • MOBI.

Regarding the upload of Word Documents, Smashwords does warn that “there are some instances in which a custom-designed EPUB file is a good option. Most commonly, it’s because the book requires more sophisticated formatting – such as a fixed-layout or drop caps – which are above and beyond what Meatgrinder and Microsoft Word are capable of generating consistently in a variety of file formats.”

This is true of all the retailers and aggregators on this list that offer the option to upload a DOC/DOCX or text file.

3. IngramSpark

Ingram Spark

IngramSpark is the biggest book wholesaler in the world, specialising in print-on-demand in Europe, Oceania, the Americas and Asia. Most US bookstores require authors to be published through a service like IngramSpark. They have a massive distribution network, which includes Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. See the full list here. They have numerous publishing tools and resources for authors. Uploading to IngramSpark and making revisions to your work, however, can be difficult and costly.

What are the costs?

$25 for e-book upload only, plus $25 every time you make a revision. Their full pricing structure is available here.

How much will I make?

40% royalties on e-book sales.

What file types can I upload?

  • EPUB for the interior and
  • JPG for the cover.

How can Preflight Books assist me?

Preflight Books uses Adobe InDesign to export a properly coded EPUB or MOBI file that can be uploaded to any of the sites on this list. If you do your typesetting and e-book conversion through Preflight Books, we will upload your e-book to Amazon KDP or any of the other sites listed here for free!

You also have the option to format the e-book yourself. In that case, Preflight Books will professionally edit your manuscript and provide you with a stunning cover that is striking both on the page and on the screen.

Get a quote from Preflight Books now! Simply send your manuscript to info@preflightbooks.co.za or complete a quote request.

Sources and further reading:

https://blog.reedsy.com/best-self-publishing-companies/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/kobowritinglife.com/2019/08/12/five-most-common-self-publishing-mistakes/amp/

https://www.ghostebookwriters.com/5-awesome-sites-where-you-can-publish-your-ebook-for-free.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.magnet4blogging.net/where-to-sell-your-ebooks/amp/

https://www.shoutmeloud.com/popular-platforms-self-publish-ebook.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.makeuseof.com/tag/buy-ebooks-best-ebook-stores/amp/

https://selfpublishing.com/ingramspark/#6

https://mybookcave.com/authorpost/publishing-on-ebook-vendors-what-will-work-best-for-you/#:~:text=IngramSpark%20pays%2040%25%20royalties%20on,ebook%20through%20them%20(%2425).

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