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Ask HN: Alternatives to Kindle Publishing
16 points by ystad 34 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments
I am looking to self publish an e-book. It's a fiction book. I dislike Amazon's fee structure for Kindle publishing. I wonder if there are any good alternatives.

I've heard Lulu (https://lulu.com) mentioned the most as a direct competitor of sorts to Amazon's KDP (with a much wider reach than just KDP) if you still want something of a "real retail" type reach.

Also, I've seen a surprising number of DRM free novels turn to itch.io if you are looking for a "non-traditional" approach, but someone to handle a lot of the "storefront basics" for you. This seems to be an extension of itch.io becoming a major hub for indie TTRPGs, because a indie designer can just throw a simple PDF (and maybe a DOCX or an EPUB) on itch.io as opposed to the effort that DriveThruRPG/RPGNow want in PDF formatting. Then a few TTRPG related novels started using the platform, and like I've said I've seen a surprising set of novels that aren't even directly game related at this point. itch.io's flexibility in what they will publish/host is an interesting strength (though makes it a bit more caveat emptor than a traditional retailer from a consumer side searching for interesting books).

The following is the eBook publishing pipework I use.

1. Smashwords[1]. They've been around for a long while now, and the publishing system isn't as snazzy as KDP. You input a Word file (.doc, not .docx) and - assuming their "meatgrinder" accepts your document's formatting[2] - the site outputs epub, mobi, pdf, rtf and various other minor format versions. The book then gets published on the Smashwords site.

2. More importantly, Smashwords has a number of partnerships in place - key ones being Apple Books, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. This ability to ship directly into Apple Books is the MAJOR reason why I continue to use Smashwords as that's where the majority of my 'sales'[3] happen.

3. You can then download the epub and mobi files and upload them to the other two mainstream channels as followup actions: KDP for all Amazon/Kindle distribution; and Google Play Books for the all-important distribution across Android devices.

4. For the cherry on top, I sometimes also offer books in hardcopy. KDP has (I think) processes in place to convert an eBook into a hardcopy book. But mostly I use Lulu[4] because they've been around for a long time, I like their publishing flow, and <insert-vitriolic-anti-kdp-rant-here />!

[1] https://www.smashwords.com/ - Smashwords landing page

[2] https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52 - the Smashwords Style Guide - I guarantee that you come to love-and-hate this book in extreme-yet-equal measures.

[3] https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11163 - I have never knowingly turned down an opportunity to spam the link to one of my books. It's free. Enjoy!

[4] https://www.lulu.com/ - Lulu.com landing page

I don't know how do you get into them but some stores actually sell ebooks directly, guessing by your nick here's one from Sweden:


Not sure if it will work for fiction books, but I have seen people self publish e-books hidden behind a simple Stripe payment. Should be relatively easy to set up as well.

I believe ddevault published his Wayland book this way.

https://Gumroad.com is a great way to get something like that up and running quickly, too.

I am looking at https://gumroad.com/features/pricing -> how is this different from setting up my own shopify website for eBook. I am doing this today with $0.30 + 3% per transaction. Does Gumroad have any exclusivity? I am sure they have a bigger reach than my website and love their business model -- this is very fair. btw, my website is www.thenextinnings.com and the eBook is on sale at $2.99 I have enough details about the book and you can buy if you like the storyline. thanks for the tips!

I use leanpub and gumroad for my technical books. Both of them are non-exclusive, you retain the rights and ability to sell anywhere else you like. Leanpub has 20% cut, but that's probably because they allow you to generate the ebook in pdf/epub/mobi formats from their website.

An important feature I like is the ability to update the books (due to s/w versions, typos, adding new content, etc) and notify the users regarding the new version.

Another feature for both sites is that customer can pay more than the price of the product. And that does happen often enough to make it a highlight of using their site. But this may probably apply more for technical books than fiction.

Who is running Gumroad today?


I hate Amazon kindle’s business model options and ethics - can share how they nudge a creator to choose the 35% royalty (using detailed docs instead of being explicitly) at every screen when you have explicitly indicated your would like 70%. Happy to create a Post if there is interest. Don’t see a viable player who gives the same reach though. I am interested in the responses

Please do share your post. Any experience good or bad is welcome.

hi @ystad, looks like u have researched this topic quite a bit, can you please look at www.thenextinnings.com and suggest if there are alternatives to sell it? I have priced it at $2.99 for 53K words to ensure it has a broader reach. I also used paid contractors (artists, copyline editor, marketing etc) from all around the world. Any suggestions are appreciated!

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