Since its launch in 2011, many indie authors recommended a run-don’t-walk-away policy when it came to self-publishing at Book Country, a subsidiary of Penguin Group (now Penguin Random House or Random Penguin for some). Even though the site offered a place to network with other writers, post books, critique and get critiques, perhaps get discovered–most agreed the negatives far outweighed all of that: expensive self-publishing and high cuts on sales at distribution partners like Amazon.
Now things may have changed, at least a bit. Book Country has created its own bookstore, which offers ebooks extending well beyond the Penguin-Random umbrella. Other updates include more categories (genres), a free publishing option for do-it-yourself types, direct messaging for members (over 8,300), and more bang-for-the-buck if you want a publishing package with bells and whistles. Selling an ebook directly through the bookstore will command an 85% royalty, which would be great IMO if they also made e-reading devices and had a loyal base of customers.
As with other ebook distributors like Smashwords and Draft2Digital, Book Country allows members to pick which retailers they want to distribute to and opt-out for the ones they don’t (e.g. Amazon because it’s wiser to upload directly there). One strategy might be to upload to Book Country for direct sales at the new store and only opt-in for distribution to venues like Scribd and Google, places where most authors don’t sell much anyway. Why? Because more exposure is usually a good thing. If sales happen, all the better. In the meantime I recommend uploading ebooks directly wherever possible (Amazon, Kobo, B&N) and using distribution partners (Smashwords, Draft2Digital) that take the least cut from sales at other places.
A human element during the whole process is one feature that separates Book Country from the others. Upon submitting my book for the site, I received a personal email from a real person saying she/he would be looking into my work and making sure everything was up to snuff. Within 48-72 hours I should hear back. “That’s different!” I thought. Different good or different not good, we’ll see in time, but for now different is interesting.
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