Thursday, August 18, 2016

"Going Wide" - Gaining Traction on non-Amazon Vendors Part 1: The Upload Process

By Angela Quarles, @AngelaQuarles

Part of the Indie Author Series

I see a lot of indies frustrated when they try to "go wide" by distributing to non-Amazon vendors, but then panic when they don't see immediate results and pull their books back to being exclusive on Amazon. I wanted to tackle this topic because there are ways to get traction at these other vendors, but it does take time. But first, a primer on how to set up at the various vendors, because each can be confusing, and some extremely difficult (I'm looking at you Google).

Barnes and Noble

Like Amazon, B&N has its own name for the dashboard for uploading and managing your titles--NookPress. NookPress is relatively easy. On the first page there, you'll want to click "Learn More" under the eBook Publishing graphic and then "Start Your Book" on the next page. Next it will ask you to sign in or create a new account. Once you're inside and all set up, you'll click "Create New Project." It walks you through guided steps for setting up your project, as they call it. First, you give it a name, then you upload your manuscript (I upload an ePub), and then through pretty much the same questions as KDP. The only differences are:
1. It allows you up to five categories instead of KDP's two

2. It asks you if there's a print version and you fill in the page count

3. And the area for putting in editorial reviews is different, as you have to enter each one separately, and it requires a first and last name for each. (You also can't change the order, which is frustrating if you later get a better review and want it at the top)

I also only do US distribution with Nook, as their VAT requirements are different than how the other vendors handle it and it's too much of a pain to get it right. I don't think I ever sold anything overseas with them anyway.


Kobo's dashboard is called Kobo Writing Life. Here you'll want to Create a New Account. Whenever you come back to this page and you're not logged in, you'll need to click on the "Sign In To Writing Life" button. When you click on "Create an Account," it will bring you to a signin page where you have multiple options. If you don't want to use one of them, choose the "New? Sign up here" button right under the "Sign in with Kobo" header. Once you're all logged in, click on eBOOKS in the menu near the top. There, you'll see a green button called "Create new eBook." Click on this and you'll be presented with your first screen of questions. Just remember that each vendor has a different way of laying out the information it needs from you, but that information is generally the same. If you'd read my post called "The Organized Writer: Making a Production and Marketing Bible" and adopted my method of using OneNote to keep track of all this info, it's just a matter of cutting and pasting from there.

The thing to remember with Kobo's screens are that when you're done with that screen, click on the green button in the lower right called "Save and Continue." Each new screen will ask you different questions, and they're all nicely shown as steps with checkmarks on the right hand side.


You could skip the above two steps and just go straight to They are a distributor that will take your info and your book and distribute it to various vendors for you so that you don't have to keep track of your book all over the place. You could just upload it here and be done. They do take a percentage (about 10%) but for some writers this is totally worth it. They also have a stellar reputation for customer service and responsiveness. I prefer them over the other distributor that's been around longer, Smashwords. While I appreciate all that Mark Coker has done for indies, their interface is clunky, payments are quarterly, and their customer service is not as responsive. There are other issues, but this isn't a post about that. So, for my main distributor, I prefer Draft2Digital (D2D).

Even if you're going direct with Nook and Kobo, still come here for their other retailers you can distribute to. As of this posting, they distribute to: iBooks , Barnes & Noble , Kobo , Inktera (formally Page Foundry) , Scribd , 24Symbols , and Tolino. Like Smashwords, they will also let you set up assetless preorders for iBooks and Nook. I personally use them for iBooks and their other retailers, except for Nook and Kobo, which I do direct. Actually, that's not quite true. I setup my preorders for Nook through them, and then once it's live, I switch to direct. I don't own a Mac, so I can't go direct to iBooks (one of the biggest frustrations I have with them--talk about snobbery). I've also heard that it's a real pain to upload direct to iBooks so even if you have a Mac, you might find it worth D2D's small percentage to skip that hassle.

So here, you'll want to hit the red button labeled "Sign Up." You'll be asked to register first, and then you can start setting up your books. Once registered and logged in, you'll click on the red "Add New Book" button under My Books. This will bring you to a series of screens like Kobo, this time with the steps labeled across the top. The first screen will ask similar questions as the other vendors (I upload an ePub here instead of Word) and like Kobo, it has a Save and Continue button at the bottom to advance you along the process. If you're doing a preorder, you'd just need to set your preorder date under the Release Date box. That's it.

The next screen, Layout, might be a little confusing. I only upload my cover here, but you can opt to have D2D take care of your front and backmatter for you (which will automatically update with each new book you add). I format my own books, so this doesn't appeal to me, but if you don't, this could save you time and money with your formatter! It also has some other dynamic options that might be worth exploring for you. On the next screen, it allows you to download a preview of your book and asks you to check a box approving it. Check it and hit Next and you'll manage your retailer choices here, as well as your pricing. You could set your US price here and let D2D handle it, but I'd advise you to hit "Manage Territorial Pricing" and make sure you set the various countries to the same you have set on KDP. When you hit Next there, it will popup with a Rights question. Answer that, and it's submitted!


Despite what I said above, I do still use Smashwords, but I don't use their infamous "meat grinder". I upload an ePub and it always gets accepted for their Premium Catalog. I use them to distribute to vendors that D2D doesn't, namely various library distributors, and some overseas vendors like Gardners. You'll find their screen for uploading your book under "Publish" in their menu. It's all one big form, so grab a coffee or tea and some patience, and work your way through.

Google Play

Unfortunately, they had a horrible time with pirating and they shut down their service to new authors, so only ones who were already signed up can upload new books. You're not missing out on much, and are probably saving yourself from a headache down the road whenever you run a sale. Their interface is the most frustrating and non-intuitive, plus you have to put in a higher price than what you're selling it for elsewhere because they will always discount it. There's a formula, but it's a pain to have to look up what price you need to set it, plus you can forget when you're going around updating all the vendors after a sale and put it at its normal price and then they discount it, and Amazon price matches, and you're ready to tear out your hair.

Wrapping up

Sorry that I couldn't step through more in depth for each one, but then the post would have been waaay too long. Instead, I'll open it up to questions so if you're stuck on a particular aspect with a vendor, feel free to ask!

Angela Quarles is a USA Today bestselling author of time travel and steampunk romance. Her debut novel Must Love Breeches swept many unpublished romance contests, including the Grand Prize winner of Windy City's Four Seasons contest in 2012. Her steampunk, Steam Me Up, Rawley, was named Best Self-Published Romance of 2015 by Library Journal. Angela loves history, folklore, and family history. She decided to take this love of history and her active imagination and write stories of romance and adventure for others to enjoy. When not writing, she's either working at the local indie bookstore or enjoying the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls, and creating the occasional knitted scarf.

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About Must Love Kilts: A Time Travel Romance

Releasing July 6, 2016

The Jacobite Rebellion--not the best time to get drunk, hook up with a guy, and lose your sister.

A drunken bet...

When computer game designer Traci Campbell gets too close and personal with a bottle of Glenfiddich while vacationing in Scotland, she whisks her kilt-obsessed sister back to 1689 to prove hot guys in kilts are a myth. Hello, hundred bucks! But all bets are off when she meets Iain, the charming playboy in a to-die-for kilt.

Wrong place, wrong time, wrong name...

Iain MacCowan regularly falls in love at the drop of his kilt. The mysterious red-haired lass with the odd accent is no different. But when his new love is discovered to be a Campbell, the most distrusted name in the Highlands, his dalliance endangers his clan's rebellion against King William.

It’s all hijinks in the Highlands until your sister disappears...

Traci thinks men are only good for one thing--thank you, Iain!--but when she awakens once again in Ye Olde Scotland and her sister is gone, she must depend on the last person she wants to spend more time with. He wants to win a heart, she wants to keep hers, but can these two realize they're meant for each other before the Jacobite rebellion pulls them apart?


  1. Two comments on this informative post. Well, three. First, thanks! Second, If you do not go through the Meatgrinder at Smashwords (buy u/l'ing the epub only), you will not have any sample pages available, nor any format aside from epub. Just something to keep in mind. Third, I never went through the sign-up process for Google Play once they demanded my physical address rather than allowing my POB to serve. No where could I find a place to enter a mailing address--since I have no postal delivery besides the POB--so I said no thanks. In both these cases, my data is a couple years old and YMMV. Whatever you choose, best wishes for it.

  2. Great info, thank you!

  3. For those who want to be on Google Play but who weren't prior to them closing down to new authors, and some books, especially non-Fiction and certain genres of fiction like Sci-Fi do pretty well there, you can go through an aggregator much like D2D or Smashwords.

    I've personally used the Italian Company Steetlib. They now have a U.S. based operation as well. If you're in the U.S., you can be paid via PayPal quarterly like everyone every where else or you can submit bank info and be paid via direct deposit monthly. The direct deposit option is not available to non-US based customers/bank accounts.

    Streetlib uploads to all of the same sites as the other two plus Google Play and a few dozen more sites, mostly in Europe. Their site is a little different but you'll catch on pretty quick and customer service is fast and both Italian and English speaking. They take a very small percentage too.

    I've very recently been made aware of PublishDrive which also loads to Google Play and and 400 other stores internationally. They might be worth a look for anyone who has works with very broad based appeal.

  4. There is another option to go to Google Play now (on top of Streetlib): PublishDrive. Both Streetlib and PublishDrive are interesting because they also distribute the book to hundreds (literally!) of local ebook retailers in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. You can't expect many sales from these stores, but if you're wide, you might as well be in as many places as possible, and if you use an aggregator it doesn't really take you more time. I've done a bit of research on which aggregator reaches which retailers, and which royalties you can expect: