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Bards Lost in The Metaverse Episode 24 - Exclusive Vs Wide Self-Publishing

This week Sharn and Andy discussed exclusive versus wide publishing and distribution.

First though they had a quick chat about the state of their creative works. Andy had the following stats for his Bookuary efforts:

  • Days spent focused on writing: 25 (when i grabbed these stats)

  • Chapters reviewed: 11 (Versions 7,8,9,10)

  • Words Reviewed: 78,660 words (314,640 for the 4 reviews) (Plus an extra 9K since 25th)

Then it was time for News with Sharn:

  • Abu Dhabi's tech ecosystem, Hub71, has launched a $2 billion initiative to support startups in the Web3 and blockchain technology sectors. The initiative, known as the Hub71+ Digital Assets ecosystem, will offer startups access to various programs, as well as potential corporate, government, and investment partners. This move aims to encourage businesses to relocate to Abu Dhabi and promote startup growth in the Middle East and beyond.


  • Napster, the famous peer-to-peer music sharing platform from the early 2000s, has returned with a new acquisition in the Web3 space. The company announced its purchase of NFT music marketplace Mint Songs on Wednesday through its venture wing, Napster Ventures. Mint Songs offers artists the ability to turn their music into NFTs, and create unique artwork for their fans. This move demonstrates Napster's renewed focus on the music industry and its willingness to embrace new technologies.


  • In a groundbreaking development, unionized workers at publishing giant HarperCollins have successfully negotiated a new contract with the company, securing better pay and benefits. The workers had been on strike for three months before the agreement was reached on February 9. The ratified agreement includes minimum salary increases across levels, setting a new standard in the book publishing industry. This outcome has the potential to inspire other workers in the industry to organize and form unions. HarperCollins is currently the only one of the "Big Five" publishing giants with a dedicated union, and this agreement is expected to have a significant impact on the industry.


  • Renowned science fiction short story publisher Clarkesworld has stopped accepting pitches due to a flood of AI-generated submissions overwhelming its editorial team. The publisher, which is one of the few paying publishers to accept open submissions from new writers, has become a target of influencers promoting get-rich-quick schemes using AI. The magazine would typically receive 10 plagiarized submissions a month, but since the advent of AI language models, the rate of rejections has skyrocketed. The drastic move to close submissions will remain in place until a solution is found to identify legitimate authors, and the magazine has not set a date for when it will reopen for submissions.


To kick off the exclusive Vs wide discussion, Andy first clarified what book distribution is:

  • Book Distribution:

  • Book distribution is the process and logistics of making your book available to the customer. For print books, it means going from your printer to a retailer or directly to your reader. For Ebooks , it means getting it to an online retailer or making it available for download.

  • Self-publishing distribution really boils down to two options- Exclusive and Wide:

  • Exclusive refers to selling on one marketplace (Amazon/KDP - Kindle Direct Publishing)

  • Wide is: selling through multiple marketplaces

They then provided an overview of the various publishing options listed out below:

Amazon/Kindle Direct Publishing:

  • This is the big fish and is what people are referring to when discussing exclusive publishing in the self-publishing industry. This is because contracts enabling authors to publish through Amazon/KDP, and have their books available on Kindle Unlimited, will involve the author agreeing to only sell their book through Amazon for a set time frame (can be up to 7 years depending on the contract). It is the home to many successful indie authors and boasts the following stats:

  • Amazon sells over 487 million ebooks through Kindle every year.

  • The company’s market share in ebook sales stands at least 67%, climbing to 83% when Kindle Unlimited is included.

  • Amazon is estimated to control over 87.9% of yearly ebook sales in the UK.

  • Amazon releases over 1.4 million self-published books through its Kindle Direct Publishing every year.

  • Amazon pays over $520 million in royalties each year to over 1 million authors who decided to self-published through KDP.

  • Self-published books account for 31% of Amazon’s ebook sales

  • Self-publishing authors have the option to publish their work in 40 languages.

  • At the release of Kindle in 2007, 5.7% of all self-published books came from KDP.

  • However, as of 2018, Amazon published more than 91.5% of all self-published books in the U.S.

  • For the period of 2007-2018, self-published title numbers on KDP surged from 3,804 to 1,416,384.

  • Overall, Amazon’s store contains over 32.8 million published titles.

  • English language books make up 52.44% of all published titles, followed by French and German with 6.1% each.

  • Royalties:

  • For paperbacks, Amazon offers a 40% fixed royalty on the listed price after all costs are deducted.

  • For ebooks, Amazon offers 35% and 70% royalties, less the expenses, depending on the exclusivity level of the company.

  • For Audible, authors can expect 40% royalty for an exclusive deal and 25% for a non-exclusive.

  • It is free to publish a book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

  • Amazon holds the largest market share of readers by far, but they are not the only marketplaces available to indie authors, and this is where publishing wide comes in.

The "wide" market:

  • There are many wide publishers and distributors that authors can use to publish and distribute their books. These companies offer various services and benefits, such as distribution to multiple online retailers, print-on-demand options, marketing and promotional tools, and more. It's important to research and compare these options to determine which is the best fit for your specific needs and goals as an author.

  • Some of these publisher and distributors include:

  • Draft2Digital

  • Smashwords

  • IngramSpark

  • Kobo Writing Life

  • Barnes & Noble Press

  • Apple Books

  • Google Play Books

  • BookBaby

  • PublishDrive

  • StreetLib

They then went a little deeper on a few of the main wide publishers and dsitributors:

  • Apple Books:

  • Apple books own ~ 7% of the market

  • 30% Market share in Australia

  • Apple Books readers are said to be willing to pay higher prices than Amazon readers.

  • Must have an ISBN to publish on iBooks

  • Apple Books will give you high royalties (70 percent) and high visibility for ebook box sets sold exclusively on Apple Books

  • Barnes and Noble:

  • Barnes & Noble have the largest US market for books. They specialise in physical book sales so you’ll want to make sure there’s a physical copy of your book available. They also sell e-books through their NOOK brand marketplace.

  • Nook owns about 7-8% of the market

  • Rakuten Kobo

  • Kobo is an e-reader and digital book platform. It offers a wide selection of e-books, audiobooks, and e-readers. Kobo was founded in Toronto, Canada in 2009 and was later acquired by the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten in 2011. A great thing about working with Rakuten kobo is your royalties go straight into your bank account after a period of 45 days, provided you acquire the minimum of $50.

  • The Kobo platform is available in over 190 countries.

  • Offers access to over 6 million e-books and audiobooks.

  • They have their own app and devices

  • Control your own content. With Kobo Writing Life, you’re in charge. You own your rights, set your prices, and run your own promotions. We don’t require exclusivity, so you’re free to publish elsewhere, too.

  • Ingramspark

  • Ingramspark is a self-publishing platform that allows authors and publishers to create, publish, and distribute print-on-demand books and e-books. The platform is owned by Ingram Content Group, a company that provides wholesale distribution, print-on-demand, and digital distribution services to the publishing industry. IngramSpark offers a range of publishing services including design and formatting, book printing, e-book conversion, distribution, and marketing. Authors and publishers can use IngramSpark to make their books available for sale on popular online bookstores, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The platform also offers global distribution services, allowing books to be printed and distributed locally in multiple countries around the world.

  • There are a whole bunch of other publishers/distributors that require an Aggregate publisher to act as the middleman (which we will get to shortly). Many of these include online library services, eReader apps and services, and services that provide access to global markets including some of the below:

  • Tolino

  • Tolino provides access to the German marketplace.

  • Overdrive

  • Another part of the Kobo family, Overdrive provides access to libraries and schools. An excellent choice for anyone specialising in middle grade and YA fiction.

  • 24Symbols

  • 24symbols is a service similar to Kindle Unlimited. Readers are charged a monthly fee of $7.99 p/m and they can access as many titles as they like. Royalties are paid at 70% every quarter depending on page reads of your books.

  • Scribd

  • Scribd is another monthly service, charging end-users charged $9.99 p/m. Once a reader reaches a pre-set milestone in your book, you are paid royalties as if the reader had purchased the book outright.

  • Barker & Taylor

  • Baker & Taylor are no longer in the retail market and instead focus solely on the library marketplace. They specialise in physical and digital media for libraries both in the US and internationally.

  • Bibliotheca

  • Like Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca focuses exclusively on library marketplaces. Get access to this marketplace through aggregate publishers.

  • Hoopla

  • Another library marketplace, Hoopla provides its services to North America and specialises in entertainment products/services including DVDs, CDs and audiobooks to public libraries.

On to Aggregate Publishers:

  • As you can see there are alot of individual marketplaces. So if you chose to go wide means you would be spending a lot of time managing all your different marketplaces. So that's where Aggregate publishers come into play.

  • One of the main players in the aggregate publishing arena is Draft2Digital:

  • From their website: Writing is your Dream. We make publishing your reality.

  • Your book is your priority. Our priority is you. We build tools and services that let you focus on writing while we take care of layout, publishing, distribution, print-on-demand paperbacks, and more. Keep writing. We’re here for the rest.

  • D2D distribute to the following marketplaces:

  • Amazon

  • Apple Books

  • Barnes & Noble

  • Kobo

  • Scribd

  • Smashwords

  • Tolino

  • OverDrive

  • bibliotheca

  • Baker & Taylor

  • BorrowBox

  • Hoopla

  • Vivlio

  • Palace Marketplace

  • Draft2Digital offers their services, including formatting, conversion, distribution, and sales tracking, without any upfront charges. Instead, they take a percentage of each book's sales, which means they only get paid when the author gets paid. The fee is approximately 10% of the list price set by the author. Most stores take about 30%, while Draft2Digital takes about 10%, leaving the author with about 60% of the list price for ebooks and 45% for print books, minus the base printing cost. The estimated royalties are displayed on a store-by-store basis based on the list price. The final amount of money the author receives may vary depending on the specific policies of each store and taxes applicable to their location. Generally, an author can expect to earn about $6 from a $10 book sale, but after taxes, the amount may be reduced to around $4 per sale.

  • Similar aggregate publishers/distributors:

  • There are several other digital publishing platforms similar to Draft2Digital that provide authors with the ability to distribute their ebooks to multiple retailers using a single platform. Some of these platforms include:

  • Smashwords

  • PublishDrive

  • StreetLib

  • BookBaby

  • Lulu

  • Like Draft2Digital, these platforms typically offer authors a range of services including ebook formatting, distribution, and marketing tools to help promote their work. Some of these platforms also offer print-on-demand services, audiobook distribution, and access to additional publishing resources and support.

Another wide option: your own Website/shopify store!

  • It would almost be silly of us not to mention selling your book/ebook through your own website. This is where you will gain the most profit, but would will need to organise your own publishing of print books and delivery which could be accomplished through plug-in to companies that provide these services.

Sharn and Andy then went through the Exclusive Vs Wide Pros and Cons:

Amazon/KDP Exclusive

Pros of going exclusive:

  • Self-publishing through KDP is accessible and affordable, enabling writers to enter the publishing world and realize their creative dreams.

  • Focus advertising in one place, which is less time consuming to manage and easier to budget for

  • Your book available for any exclusivity / special promotions

  • Huge readership/customer base

  • Don’t need to deal with multiple marketplaces

  • Only one set of competitors to monitor

  • Amazon offers print on demand

  • KDP is flexible, allowing authors to choose the medium for their work, including digital or paperback formats.

  • Amazon owns audible, and audible now owns ACX (one of the main self-publishing audiobook marketplaces)

  • Standard Payments:

  • KDP allows authors to set their book's price, but there are some restrictions on the maximum price for eBooks under the 70% royalty plan.

  • Authors can choose between two royalty plans: a 35% royalty plan and a 70% royalty plan. The latter requires paying for printing and delivery charges.

  • Amazon pays authors reliably with monthly payments made after a 2-month grace period.

  • tracking sales

  • multimedia content (amazon)

  • Structured metadata

  • Amazon's self-publishing services through KDP simplify the process of self-publishing with proper documentation, tutorials, FAQs, discussion forums, and a help center.


  • You may be unable to reach to readers who don’t routinely use your chosen platform

  • Complete exclusivity for ebooks is required when publishing on Amazon

  • Your book won’t be available for library lending

  • Conditional to the marketplace you pick, brick and mortar stores won’t stock your book

  • exclusivity clauses

  • only paid reviews.

  • highly competitive market place

  • vulnerability to changes in terms

  • Restrictions on the amount of content you can distribute online

  • Prior listings for your book must be deleted before publishing on Amazon

  • Sales may be routed through Kindle Unlimited, which affects earnings and pricing methods.


Pros of going wide:

  • Going wide can be important for discoverability and long-term success as a self-published author

  • Distributing widely reduces risk and creates multiple revenue streams

  • Self-publishing can help establish a fan base and demonstrate author skills to potential publishersYour book is available for library lending

  • Wider reach to readers on many marketplaces

  • Sell your book in brick and mortar stores

  • Diversifying your risk. By having your books in multiple locations, you protect against suddenly losing all your revenue if something happened to your account.

  • Discovering which marketplaces work best.

  • Able to directly sell your book.

  • Self-publishing does not require payment for publication costs or repayment of an advance - so if sales are slow, that’s fine, just don’t need to be out of pocket because of it

Cons of going wide:

  • Having to deal with multiple marketplaces can be time intensive

  • Going wide may take more time to develop traction compared to Amazon's platform, but strategies such as providing free review copies can help promote awareness.

  • You’re unlikely to have access to exclusivity / special promotions

  • Wider marketing campaigns can be more complicated to manage and your marketing budget may end up being less focused

  • Success in going wide requires investment in marketing, advertising, and other author business expenses.

  • Reduced visibility: Amazon provides a larger author platform and resources for visibility, which can lead to critical acclaim, literary awards, and bestseller status.


  • Exclusive publishing on Amazon's KDP Select:

  • You must guarantee complete exclusivity for 90 days, meaning you cannot sell your title in conjunction with another published title or publish through another provider.

  • You can only distribute up to 10% of your book's content to others, and you must remove any content from your blog that's in the book.

  • Your book will only be available on Amazon, which means you may miss out on opportunities for discovery and sales channels.

  • You may have to delete any prior listings for your book, which can be time-consuming.

  • Your sales may be routed through Kindle Unlimited, and your earnings will be subject to Amazon's revenue-sharing formulas.

  • Wide publishing:

  • Going wide means making your book available on multiple platforms, which can increase discoverability and provide multiple revenue streams.

  • You're not bound by exclusivity, so you can offer free review copies to promote awareness.

  • Time and investment in marketing are necessary components of success when publishing wide, as you'll need to invest in advertising, covers, and other author business expenses.

  • Being linked with a prominent publication like Amazon can provide validation and status, but going wide can help establish a fan base and email list and demonstrate to potential publishers that you're an accomplished author.

Sharn and Andy’s final thoughts about exclusive Vs wide:

Authors must consider their genre and readership market before deciding on either route. Also make sure you understand your contracts and what they mean for you. Both Sharn and Andy agreed they are attracted to the wide model.

As always, we have a lot to do and a lot more to learn. Hope you all have fun following along as we improve our understanding and knowledge!

You can find this podcast episode (and all our other episodes) here: , or directly on your favourite streaming services.

NOTE: Everything discussed during the podcast is simply our own interpretation of information we come across as we research topics, or is commentary based on our own personal experiences. We highly encourage everyone to conduct their own research into topics of interest as information, especially in the technical space, changes regularly.

Music track featured this week was titled Reverie and can be viewed/listened to here:

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As always, we’re off to put our bums on seats and do some work, so until next time stay dangerous!



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