Everything You Need to Know About Aggregators

Writing a book is no easy task. It requires a lot of hard work and perseverance. As authors pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, the least they can hope for is to get it out there and have readers appreciate it. But with self-publishing, in particular, it can be a difficult thing to accomplish and rather daunting, which is where aggregators come flying to the rescue.

aggregators

What are aggregators?

Aggregators bridge the gap between a writer and sales outlets. Having contracts with ebook retailers, they quickly and aptly distribute your ebook to the major retailers. Most aggregators provide authors with additional services relieving them of mundane tasks like converting formats or formidable tasks like designing a book cover.

Why should you consider aggregators?

Some authors prefer to sell their ebooks directly to ebook retailers. Others ask, “Why should you bother with an aggregator when they take a cut of your money?” The answer is many reasons, and in a minute I’ll break down some of the top ones for you. If by the end you still want to do it on your own, then there’s an article just for you: Direct Sales with Major Ebook Retailers.

Wide Reach

Aggregators boast contracts with all the major retailers and many small and international retailers. When you’re dealing with each retailer individually, you think twice about adding another retailer to the list. With no extra effort on your part, aggregators get your ebook out to where anyone can find it.

Apple Books

If you have an OS X 10.9 Mac or newer, you can upload an ebook and sell it on Apple Books. If you do not have access to a Mac, then you will need to go through an aggregator. Check out Apple’s list of approved aggregators.

Library Distribution

Public libraries only purchase books from distributors or aggregators. Unfortunately, it is the only way to get your books in libraries and make money off it.

Consolidated Sales

Communicating and coordinating with multiple retailers can be a full-time job. Fulfilling formatting requirements for each can be so time-consuming, that you don’t have time to start your next project.

Reporting and Analytics

Calculating your sales and hopping from one site to the other to see how your book is doing is an added stress factor, that you don’t want in your life. Most aggregators provide daily reports of your sales across all distribution venues, helping you keep tabs effortlessly.

Payment and Fee Processing

Aggregators simplify the payment and fee processes so that all your book sales money and profit can be easily found in one place at a consistent time of the month. Instead of you going onto different platforms yourself to check them out and nearly tearing your hair out trying to calculate everything, aggregators make payday a much more reliable and stress-free time.

Expertise

Aggregators have been distributing ebooks for years. They can quickly and easily tell you what you need to do next and point you in the right direction, or for a fee do it for you.

The Top Five Aggregators

Now that your attention has piqued, let’s go on to the aggregators that can help you out. While there are many aggregators out there, we decided to bring you the top five in the industry and give you the scoop so you know what to expect with each one. If you’re an avid reader yourself you must have crossed paths with one of them at least at some point or the other:

  • Smashwords
  • Draft2Digital
  • Ebookit
  • Publish Drive
  • Streetlib

Now we’ll break everything down and get into a detailed explanation for each one.

smashwords

One of the first to make a huge impact in the self-publishing scene just happens to be Smashwords. In fact, for the longest time, it all but monopolized the market. The reason behind that is, not only did Smashwords provide a platform for authors to sell their books on, it also connected them to some big-time retailers.

Smashwords will provide you with daily reports from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, and the Smashwords store. It will also help you promote your ebooks via special promotions such as Read an Ebook Week, the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, and the Smashwords End of Year Sale. Not to mention, Smashword’s partnership with Findaway Voices helps you turn your ebook into an audiobook easily.

You can also publish preorder books to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. We suggest that if you have a book with a strict publication date, you upload it at least two weeks in advance. If you give a future date, your book will be automatically set for pre-sale in the stores where this function is available. Since you can publish assetless preorders (“Metadata-only” preorders),  you get to establish your preorder listing up to 12 months in advance, even if the manuscript and cover aren’t available yet.

D2D

Draft2Digital is actually one of the aggregators making great headway in the ebook marketing scene, catching up, if not even surpassing, Smashwords. Draft2Digital has a much faster and easier process in getting your ebook both published and out there. Its formatting requirements are also much simpler and hassle-free, making for a better and more automated distribution experience.

Draft2Digital happens to have a partnership with Findaway Voices that will simplify the process of turning your ebook into an audiobook. It also provides you with daily reports of your book sales and allows you to set up pre-orders to nearly all Draft2Digtial store partners as far out as ninety days to a year in advance of your chosen release date. You aren’t even required to have a final manuscript or cover, as long as you upload those things no less than ten days before release.

ebookit.com

While EBookIt has an expensive epub conversion fee, it more or less holds its own against Smashwords. Yes, you get paid less in royalty when selling on their own stores, but you get more when it comes to selling with retailers. Not only that, it reportedly has better support, click tracking, and cool UI, though you need to be sure you’ve read the handbook carefully if you’re a non-US based author.

The number one reason authors pick eBookIt: their expertise and design services. Many authors don’t want to go through the learning curve necessary to get the design right.

With the help of EBookIt, you’ll be able to create an audiobook version of your book according to Audible standards, and later on, distribute it on audible.com. If you’re interested in paperbacks, EBookIt can do that, too. They also track your sales for you and accurately reports them back on a monthly basis.

publish drive

PublishDrive’s strong point is that it specializes in worldwide distribution and helps with niche markets. It has a few stores in Eastern Europe as its home of origin happens to be Hungary.

PublishDrive helps you promote your ebook through monthly book features and special marketing campaigns. They provide free review copies to help you market your ebook. PublishDrive also provides you with live sales reports to know how many books you’ve sold and where, as well as when to collect your royalties every month. They manage all reporting and invoices for you.

PublishDrive offers two types of plans: revenue share (10% of the revenues) and subscription (a flat monthly fee). PublishDrive’s subscription pricing option was released in late 2018, the first of it’s kind in the ebook self-publishing space. Designed for authors selling at least $1,000 monthly, it allows authors to keep 100% of their royalties (after the stores’ portion) by paying a flat monthly fee of $100 – no matter how high sales go. Subscribers also receive a $50 USD credit for advertising on Amazon. Read more here.

When it comes to publishing preorder books, we suggest that you upload it at least two weeks in advance. If you give a future date, your book will be automatically set for pre-sale in the stores where this function is available.

As with PublishDrive, StreetLib has more than 50 retailers all over the world and is predominantly large in Western Europe (Italy, France, Germany, and Spain), though they also have local offices in New York and India. They work on opening their sales to more markets in new countries all the time. Their global distribution is already way ahead of other aggregators working on expanding abroad.

StreetLib’s reporting and invoices will be available in your account live from both StreetLib’s Store and retail partners’. In fact, their analytics is one of the most appreciated features by their customers. As for promotions, they manage weekly campaigns. Their most active partners for promotions are Amazon and Kobo, globally, and a few other local partners, like IBS in Italy. 

Other services provided by StreetLib include print-on-demand, without any upfront costs and paperback distribution. Although they provide medium and small publishers with distribution and editorial services, individual authors still get their full attention and assistance.

Services Smashwords Draft2Digital EBookIt PublishDrive StreetLib
Fees $45-145 (fees per service) 2 Options:

Subscription: $100/monthly

Revenue Share:  10%

Earnings Retail Partners:

60%  

Smashwords Store: 85%

85% 85% Subscription Plan: 100% revenue after fee and store shares are paid.

Revenue Share Plan: 90%

Retail Partners: 90%

StreetLib Store: 75%

Reporting Daily Daily Monthly Live Live and Daily
Payment Monthly Monthly Monthly Monthly Monthly
Preorder books
Promotions
ISBNs
Audiobooks Findaway Voices Findaway Voices Audible.com
Library distribution Axis 360

Baker & Taylor

Bibliotheca’s CloudLibrary  

Gardners

Odilo

OverDrive

Bibliotheca

OverDrive

(and soon Baker & Taylor)

Baker & Taylor (USA)

Bibliotech,

Bibliotheca’s CloudLibrary

Bolinda

Borrowbox EBSCO Feedbooks

Follett K-12 Gardners

Odilo

OverDrive ProQuest

Vi-Da Global

Bibliotheca’s CloudLibrary

CNPeReading

Gardners,

Odilo

OverDrive

Baker & Taylor

BiDi

CNPIEC

Leamos

MLOL

OverDrive

Rete Indaco

Global retailers Apple/iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Baker & Taylor

Gardners

Inktera

Kobo

Scribd

Tolino

and more here

Amazon

Apple/iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Baker & Taylor

Bibliotheca

Kobo

Playster

Scribd

Tolino

24Symbols

Amazon

Apple/iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Baker & Taylor

Bibliotech

Gardners

Google Play

Kobo

Scribd

24Symbols

and more here

Amazon Apple/iBooks

Barnes & Noble

DangDang

Gardners

Google Play

Kobo

Playster

Scribd

Tolino

24Symbols

and more here

Amazon

Apple/iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Baker & Taylor

Google Play

IndieBound

Kobo

Scribd

Tolino

24Symbols

and more here

 

Now that you’ve gotten a chance to look into these big-time companies with all their advantages, which do you think suits you best?

If you want to look into aggregators other than the ones mentioned above, you can check out these.

 

aggregators

BookBaby offers a bunch of book services, including self-publishing, professional editing, book cover design, book marketing, printing, and distribution. With BookBaby you have to pay to get your ebook onto their platform as well as to make use of the services they offer, but once that fee is paid, you get to keep 100% of your net ebook sales from online retailers.

aggregators

IngramSpark is both a self-publishing and distribution platform that publishes your work in ebook and print form as well as distributes both formats for you. Its global reach allows you to sell your books in a wide range of markets. For a list of online ebook retailers click here.

aggregators lulu

Lulu is another name that was as popular as the previous five since it has been in the market for some time now. It offers authors support, publishing and marketing services, printing, global distribution, and eCommerce solutions to help authors make more sales.

aggregators

XinXii which is the lead ebook distributor in Germany, helping authors both publish and distribute their books. Their site is pretty easy to navigate and they have a wide reach in the international market right now, distributing to retailers such as Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, as well as Mandadori, Casa Del Libro and Rakuten.

Are aggregators right for you?

The decision to sign on with an aggregator or to go without is a big one to make. There are so many things to consider before you make your choice.

  • What suits your financial needs?
  • Are you willing to give up that cut?
  • Do you mind the hassle that will come with going straight to the retailers on your own?
  • Will you get lost in the sea of platforms and payment cycles?
  • And even if you do decide to go with an aggregator, which one will you choose?

This whole thing is solely dependant on you and what makes the most sense to your self-publishing journey. You’ll need to think it through and go back and refer to the points above to see which of those works best for you.

Conclusion

The best thing about aggregators is that they help make your self-publishing journey a little less complicated by taking a lot of the tasks off of your shoulders. In part, their existence is to not allow Amazon to monopolize the self-publishing market, but they’ve definitely played a big role in easing the burdens on self-published authors, which is why they’re rather popular despite the added fees and extra cuts they take from your sales.

 

Read these posts.

The Basic Guide to Self-Publishing Ebooks

How to Add a Feedback Form to Your Ebook

Writers Conferences 2019

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  • Word Refiner

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