Is Pronoun a Good eBook Distributor?

Is Pronoun a good eBook distributor? I have been taking Pronoun self publishing services on a test drive and I'm excited with my results.

Maybe I’m alone here, but Pronoun is not a company whose name I was familiar with until a month ago when it was announced that Macmillan purchased them. Since then, I’ve spent some quality time examining Pronoun to see if they would make a good eBook distributer.

After taking them for a test drive, I’m ready to reveal my findings.

Pronoun offers some very intriguing tools when you go through the setup of publishing your book.

  1. Pronoun offers a “Cover Comparison” tool that allows you to compare your cover with the covers of books found in your category. This tool has great value. As I was loading Wild Space: Onslaught, I discovered how lacking my covers were in comparison to the covers of other books in my category. I immediately went to work in correcting this issue and I’ve already seen an improvement in book sales.
  2. When you upload your book to Pronoun, they take your finished manuscript and format it into an ePub file and Mobi file and give you six options for a professional layout that looks sharp on eReaders. The only thing I had to do to format my book for this service is to highlight the chapter headings and insert page breaks. The rest was done flawlessly through Pronoun. They also developed the table of contents for me. Very nice.
  3. When selecting categories to place your book, Pronoun gives you the stats from Amazon’s site and shows you the rankings of how similar books published through them, performs on Amazon’s Kindle Store. This is valuable and leads into point four…
  4. When you begin picking your keywords, Pronoun gives you the top-ranking keywords from Amazon’s Kindle Store – based on your selected category. They share the penetration rate, and show you how popular that keyword is with customer search. This data is priceless… and free through Pronoun.
  5. If you wish to distribute your book to Amazon through Pronoun, Pronoun gives you the option to set your book at free and Amazon honors that request. This beats having to play the price match game with Amazon. While I’m not currently taking advantage of this feature, I will be doing it in the future.
  6. Pronoun distributes your book to Kindle (if you choose to publish through KDP yourself, Pronoun will promote your Kindle link on your Pronoun book page), Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and GooglePlay. You have the freedom to choose who you wish to have Pronoun distribute your book to with no penalty or pressure. For me, I currently use Pronoun to distribute to iBooks and GooglePlay. The rest I do myself through their respective sites.
  7. Pronoun provides a slick service to send your finished eBook out to prospective reviewers. They provide download links for the ePub file and Mobi file (Kindle) that are easy for reviewers to go to and download their format of choice. Again, this is a free service and you can send out unlimited emails to all your potential reviewers.
  8. When you price your book, Pronoun shows you how your list price stacks up with other similar titles in your category. Most companies are offering this now, but I just wanted to point out that Pronoun is doing this also.
  9. Pronoun provides every author with a slick landing page for their books and for themselves as an author. I don’t personally use mine, but I set it up as it is one more valuable way for people to discover me and my books on the web.
  10. Like all other publishing platforms, Pronoun allows you to keep all your rights and keep all control over your titles. You can pull your titles from Pronoun at any time. Another added bonus is when you adjust your prices or modify your files, the changes go live within 48 hours on all sites.
  11. Finally, Pronoun offers pre-orders for your books through all services. I’ve never had much success with pre-orders, but the option is there for authors who do like it.

Pronoun puts authors back in control of every aspect of their title. If you need help in getting your book published, they have many options to help you connect with people that can help you realize your vision and keep all your rights.

All in all, I’m impressed with Pronoun and I can’t think of anything negative at this point except that they are a middleman. But I find a middleman is great to have when working with iBooks (because they require a Mac to publish books on their site) and GooglePlay (because I have found them to be inconsistent when trying to publish an eBook through them directly). It also gives me a free pricing option that is in my control if I use them to publish to Kindle.

Their interface is well planned out and the uploading is a breeze. The bonus features that I highlighted above make publishing an eBook a simple process with added marketing value.

While I’m not planning on making any distribution changes with my books currently in print, I am planning on releasing my future eBooks through Pronoun exclusively so I will have complete pricing control over my books. Doing price matching through Amazon has been a pain lately as they randomly switch my first book back to full price at odd ball times and then I have to price match again. With Pronoun, I can control when I want my book to go free on Amazon and Amazon will honor it.

In my opinion, Pronoun puts authors back in control of their works – something I feel Amazon has been slowly taking away from their authors. As I mentioned in my last post, I have long been a fan of Kindle Direct Publishing, but I’m tired of being forced to do things their way. Kindle only lets you promote your book for free for 5 days in a 90-day period as long as you make your book exclusive to them. If you wish to work the permafree angle, you need to get their cooperation – and that has been hit or miss for many of us authors.

Is Pronoun a good eBook distribution option? I say yes. I’m on board with them and I invite you to visit their website and see what they have to offer.

PLEASE NOTE: I AM NOT receiving any compensation from Pronoun for my review. I AM NOT receiving any affiliate compensation if you visit their site. I am offering my own, honest opinion of Pronoun and its services based on my personal experiences.

Is it Time to Leave KDP Select and Diversify?

Is it time to move on from Kindle Direct Publishing and diversify by using services such as Pronoun, Smashwords, Kobo, and Nook Press?

Here’s a question that every self-published author needs to ask themselves in 2017: Is it time to leave Amazon KDP Select and diversify? As 2016 came to an end, I asked myself that very question, and here’s my discovery.

I started releasing my serial series Wild Space back in May of 2016. I decided to make them Kindle exclusive, so I signed up for KDP Select or Kindle Direct Publishing Select for those not familiar with the term. KDP Select forces your book to be only available on Amazon’s website for purchase or to be part of their Kindle Unlimited reader program for 90 days. After 90 days, you can choose to keep them in KDP Select or you can pull them out. But during this period of time, your books cannot be available for purchase anywhere else.

I had great success with the first 90 days of KDP Select, however, as I re-enrolled for another 90 days, I suddenly found my sales and page reads falling flat. I tried a few marketing techniques to get them fired up again, but I just couldn’t get the ball rolling again. So I asked myself, is it time to break free from KDP Select and try something new?

In October, I selected to not re-enroll my books in KDP Select. Immediately, any momentum in sales or page reads I had, disappeared completely – even though I had one month left in exclusivity. I’m not saying that Amazon stuck it to me, because I’m a small fish in a big pond – but I did notice an instant loss of sales and page reads when I chose not to renew my KDP Select contract.

Coincidence? Probably. But for the record, I’m not the only person to have noticed this.

As November rolled around, I started to set up my books on Smashwords (for distribution to libraries), on Pronoun (for distribution on iBooks and GooglePlay), on Kobo, and on Nook Press. The second the books came off exclusivity through Amazon KDP Select, I was ready to launch the books on the other platforms and start a new journey. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, but I was ready to go. I set the first book up as free and the rest at 99 cents and I was off to the races in December.

As the new voyage into diversifying my books began, I noticed that my Kindle sales were non-existent but immediately, my Nook sales took off. For every five free books that were acquired by Nook readers, three of those readers came back and purchased the rest of the series. I was shocked at this result. I have read all the reports that said that Nook is dead, yet my Nook sales were doing what Kindle hadn’t done. By the end of December, I had sold more books through Nook than I did through KDP Select.

Now, I’m not saying that this will ring true for all authors, but these are my results. Sales on iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo haven’t impressed me at all, but Nook sales blew my mind. I was getting solid results.

Another thing I saw was the return on investment.

I set up the first book in the Wild Space series to be permafree and the rest at 99 cents. For those not familiar with the term permafree – permafree is the act of setting your book up on a site that allows you to set your price at free and then asking Amazon to price match the book at free. On Nook, I found that for every 5 free books, 3 readers would return and purchase the rest of the series. On Kindle, for every 15 to 20 free books, only 1 reader would come back and trickle through the rest of the series.

So why is that?

I don’t have sales data to back up my theory, but I believe that Kindle readers are used to snagging free books and most of the time they sit on them – perhaps never even reading them. I’m a Kindle user and I can attest to that. My library is packed with free books I’ve never read.

Meanwhile, Nook hasn’t had the same amount of attention paid to it by independent authors. While Kindle Direct Publishing has soared, Nook and the others have been vastly ignored… which may make it an untapped potential. There are not nearly as many authors giving away their books for free on Nook as there are on Kindle, so the Nook readers find more value in those free books and may very well read them.

Another theory I have is that Kindle readers are converting to subscription based reading and are purchasing far fewer books. When I weigh the difference between sales on Kindle and sales on Nook, I am far better giving up my exclusivity and branching out to other platforms, because my sales on the other platforms are destroying the few sales and reads I was getting on Select.

I’m thrilled with the results I’ve found in diversifying. I don’t miss KDP. I’m finding a new audience that I would have never found had I not taken the chance and diversified.

Is this the right move for you?

I’m not sure. But maybe its time to experiment and find out. If you are exclusive on Amazon and haven’t been impressed with your sales, let your KDP Select expire and branch out for a few months and see what happens. If the results don’t impress you, go back to KDP Select and have the piece of mind in knowing that you are right where you need to be.

When I started my self publishing journey in 2009, I was sold on being exclusive through Amazon, but now I am convinced that every author needs to weigh their options and look at the possibility of branching out to other platforms.

You might just find – like me – that it’s time to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. I have found that it is.

Step by Step Self Publishing – Formating Your Manuscript for Amazon Kindle

Step by Step Self Publishing is a feature section of Jason M. Brooks' blog and website. Jason M. Brooks is the author of the Wild Space series.

I started self publishing back in 2008 when all of the self publishing options really started to take off. At the time, I was one of the few who did it. Now, I’m lost in a sea of many who self publish – and that’s a good thing. While almost every blog out there will tell you how to get rich off self publishing your books, I would rather take a different approach. I want to teach you easy, effective ways to get your book out of your mind and into someones hand.

We start with today’s blog: a step by step self publishing process for formatting your manuscript and making it ready for self publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing website.

Some people like to go in and code their manuscript by hand. I will tell you first hand, I do it, it’s not terribly difficult, but it’s time consuming and not an efficient use of your valuable time. If you’re like me, you want to write your book, edit it, and then get it on the market and move on to the next book. Coding takes time and can get tricky if you’re not familiar with the process or make a mistake and have to go back and find it. My process takes all of the coding out of it and leaves you with a very nice product that is ready for Amazon on day one. Rarely will you have to go back and do more work.

If you haven’t already done so, visit my last post on the tools I use to self publish. You will be needing some of those to do this project. The only thing we need for part one in today’s post, is a finished manuscript and a word processing program. I personally use Microsoft Office 365.

So let’s begin.

Identify Page Breaks

  1. The first thing we want to do is insert page breaks at the end of our title pages and chapters. To do this, we begin by scrolling to the bottom of our desired content. In the image below, I like to add a title page to my book with graphics and whatnot. I’ve already inserted the image. Now I’ll scroll down below the cursor and insert my cursor. Now I go up into the tool bar and select “Insert Page Break”.

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2. Now I’ll repeat that process on the copyright information page (also commonly called a title page). I’ll scroll just to the end of the title page information and insert my cursor. Then I’ll select “Insert a Page Break” and the computer will do its thing.

It’s important to note that you want to put that page break right at the very end of the content that you are trying to separate. If you put that cursor five, ten or more spaces down, it will create blank pages in your ebook. That is not a good thing. Blank pages leave people scratching their heads – wondering if something is wrong with their ebook file. You want the content to end and then when you turn the page, new content begins. So place that cursor right after the text you want to separate as I show in the next image.

3. Now we’ll repeat this process with the remainder of our book. We will add page breaks at the end of each chapter. Remember to place that cursor after the last sentence of the chapter. Don’t go down a bunch of spaces before inserting that page break or you get dead space. Insert your cursor under the last line of the chapter and select “Insert Page Break”.

Continue this process through the rest of the book. Do the same with your “About the Author” page, “Other Books By Author” and any other back matter content you might add. It looks professional to separate all of this back matter with clean page breaks.

Once you have completed inserting those page breaks, zip back up to the first chapter of your book and lets assign levels to your book.

Identify Chapter Headings for the Table of Contents

Now we need to identify the chapters themselves. We will be doing this by assigning “levels” to them. If you’re familiar with blogs, examples of levels are “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, “Heading 3” and so forth. These levels will help Calibre (the program that will convert our manuscript into a Kindle file), understand what is a chapter heading and what is not.

  1. Highlight the chapter heading. Then in the formatting toolbox at the top of the page, select “Heading 1” or “Heading 2”. In my example below, I selected “Heading 2” because I reformatted “Heading 1” into a preset format of “Centered”. There is no wrong way to do it as long as you are consistent with every chapter heading. Be sure to remember which heading format you chose because we will need to put that information into Calibre to build our Kindle file.

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A note about heading formats. By default, your word processing program will already have a preset style for your heading to appear in. You can edit these presets to reflect the style you desire. For me, I wanted the font to be Cambria, at a font size of 20, bolded and italicized, and justified to the right. I changed these settings myself so that every time I select “Heading 2” I get the same look.

2. Now go through and assign levels to every chapter heading. When we get to our back matter, we will follow the same process to identify our “About the Author” page, “Other Titles By” page and any other back matter you might have added. The process is the same as we did with the chapter headings. There’s one more screenshot below as I format my “About the Author” page.

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And that wraps up all of the formatting that we actually have to do ourselves. No more coding is needed. So save this formatted file in a safe place, because we are going to plug it into Calibre and allow that sweet program to do the rest of the work for us.

As I mentioned before, there are many ways in which to format your manuscript for uploading to Amazon KDP. You can learn how to code it – but this is very time intensive, easy to mess up, and if you’re not already familiar with coding, it isn’t always an easy thing to learn. Some people have a gift for it, but most don’t.

But why waste your valuable time coding when a free software program will do the work for you? All you really have to do is follow these two simple steps and the hard part is over. In my next post, we’ll plug your file into Calibre, adjust a couple of settings and then allow Calibre to do the rest of the work.

It won’t be long and we’ll be uploading your completed file to Amazon and sharing it with the world.

If you have found this article helpful, be sure to share it with others. Also, please consider liking my Facebook Page or Follow me on Twitter. I’ll keep you updated when new, helpful posts, become available.

Until next time!

 

 

The Four Tools You Need to Publish Your First eBook for Free!

In today's post, I'll share four valuable tools so you can self publish your first eBook for free !

Have you always dreamed of publishing that “Great American Novel” you’ve had brewing in your head for years? In today’s market, it couldn’t be easier to publish your story in eBook and print formats. Best of all, you can do it at no risk or cost to you but the time you put into it. I’m going to share with you the four tools I use to publish an ebook for free.

Years ago, when the market was just growing, I started publishing ebook’s for free using the same tools I use today. I am using variations on those tools now, such as I pay for my word processing program now, but the free tools are still available – and possibly, you already own them.

I used to blog on the self-publishing world quite a bit and so I had all these posts on my blog at one time. But at some point I revamped my blog and deleted all of those posts. I’m going to begin leading people through the self-publishing process again – and I’m starting with this post. If you want to keep up to date and not miss any of my self-publishing posts, be sure to subscribe to my eNewsletter. You can SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Now let’s get to work.

The Four Tools You Need to Publish An eBook for Free

Tools for Writing Your Novel

This is a gimme and you knew I was going to say it. You need a word processor to publish an ebook. Most people already own one, but there are only two I suggest you use. Forget about Google Docs, forget about whatever Apple’s version of a word processor… there are only two options here. One is free and the other one you pay for – and possibly you already own it or can get it from someone for free.

When I started out my self-publishing journey, I used OpenOffice. This is a free software that is available for Mac’s, Linux, and Window’s Operating Systems. It works just like Microsoft Word and is easy to pick up and use. If you don’t already own Microsoft Word and you don’t want to buy the program or subscribe to Office 365, I highly urge you to use OpenOffice. You can download the free, OpenOffice software, HERE!

About a year ago, I fell in love with Microsoft all over again. I was designing a number of brochures and promotional material for a local church and I started to use Microsoft Publisher. I decided that I needed Publisher for myself but I didn’t want to pay the hundreds of dollars it cost to buy Microsoft Office outright. Then Microsoft rolled out Office 365, which is a subscription based service. I pay $10.95 per month to have access to every Office program Microsoft offers and it is well worth the price. Plus, I don’t miss $10.95 per month. People might say, “But you’re paying more than it’s worth after a couple of years worth of monthly payments!” But that’s not true.

When Microsoft rolls out the newest version of its software, mine updates for free! I get the latest version of Office as soon as it comes out so I am always up to date. That’s well worth the price I pay. Plus, as I said before, I don’t miss $10.95 per month. But I sure would miss $399 if I paid for the software package outright. And then I’d have to shell out another $399 if I wanted the latest version.

So if you are like me and won’t miss $10.95 per month, just go with Microsoft Office 365. It’s worth the investment and plus, every step by step publishing video I produce to share with you all will be done using Office 365. It will be easier to follow along. If you already own a version of Microsoft Office, you’re already good to go.

You can download Office 365, HERE!

Again, there’s nothing wrong with OpenOffice. It’s a fantastic, free option. But I’ve fallen in love with Microsoft all over again.

Tools for Creating a Cover

The next tool you need to create and publish an ebook for free is a cover creator. I do all my covers myself using Adobe PhotoShop. One of my friends upgraded to the newest version of PhotoShop so he gave me his old copy of PhotoShop CS3.

PhotoShop isn’t one of the easiest programs to learn, but I self taught myself and I have great success with it. PhotoShop also has a hefty price tag on it, but not anymore. Like Office 365, PhotoShop offers a subscription service starting as low as $9.95 per month. If you want to use PhotoShop to design your covers, I suggest either finding a used copy or subscribing to it. You can subscribe to Adobe’s software packages, HERE!

I free alternative to PhotoShop is GIMP. This is just as powerful as Adobe’s product and the best part about it is that it’s free! I have to admit, I’ve never used GIMP. But I do have friends who use it and they love it. One of them actually prefers it over PhotoShop. If you want to build your covers from scratch, this might be a great option for you. You can download GIMP for free, HERE!

How about building an ebook cover for free but not having to do it from scratch? There are tons of options out there. You could try having someone make a cover for you on Fivver.com. I’ve seen some great work come from there. Or you might want to try Canva. I’ve heard a lot of great talk on what Canva has to offer.

Basically, this is just a drop and drag program that is completely online with nothing to download – except your final product. It can be free or you can buy add on’s to spruce things up. Again, I’ve heard a lot of authors speak highly of this service, so give it a shot if you don’t want to build your cover from scratch and you want to do it for free. You can find Canva, HERE!

Tools for Converting Your File Into an eBook

Next, we need to convert our Word file into an eBook format. Guess what? I have always produced my ebooks for free using this option – and it’s the only one I’m going to share because I can’t imagine the need for anything else.

I use Calibre to convert my Word files into Mobi format for Amazon Kindle books, and ePUB format for Nook, iBooks and Kobo. It works slick and offers a ton of features to trick out your eBook. I’ll be sharing how to use Calibre in future posts and videos.

It’s available for Windows, Mac’s, and Linux operating systems. You can download Calibre for free, HERE!

Tools for Distributing Your eBooks

Finally, we need to sell our books somewhere. There are tons of options but I only suggest four places and really, if you want to keep it simple and maximize your sales opportunity, there’s only one option.

My number one choice for publishing my books (and if you want to keep it simple) is to open an account with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP for short). The overwhelming majority of eBooks sold are sold through Amazon. For every $10 I make in eBook sales, $9.50 of that comes through sales on Amazon. Nobody else comes close.

I also publish on Barnes and Noble Nook Press site, Kobo’s Writer’s Space site and Smashwords. But again, all of those combined don’t come close to matching the sales I see on Amazon’s site. I can’t stress enough how much more valuable KDP is compared to all the rest.

However, I’m going to give you the links to all four of these sites so you can make your own decisions. Plus, there are people who have success at these other sites. I just haven’t seen it myself. Keep in mind, these links are just for publishing eBooks. We’ll discuss print books in a different post. As for eBook publishing, here are the links you’ll need:

Amazon KDP – CLICK HERE!

Nook – CLICK HERE!

Kobo – CLICK HERE!

Smashwords – CLICK HERE!

So those are the valuable tools that I use when I set out to publish an eBook for free. I hope you find this content helpful. I’ll be posting a ton more on self-publishing. To be sure you don’t miss a thing, subscribe to this blog and subscribe to my FREE, monthly eNewsletter to keep  up to date.

Until next time…