Apple Books For Authors has launched and the all-new site now provides help with every stage in the self-publishing process. And here’s the biggest news of all: PC users can now publish direct with Apple Books. That’s right!
Before now, anyone using a PC device could not easily publish direct with Apple Books and many had to use a distributor to reach all of Apple’s customers. Now that has changed, and the new Apple Books publishing portal is accessible by web browser, and on a PC too.
That’s going to be the headline news for many people, so I just wanted to get that out of the way up top. But before we dig into that a little more, let’s take a look at some of the other aspects of Apple Books For Authors – which only threw open its doors to the public this very morning.
Hot off the presses, people.
You can check out the new Apple Books for Authors site here, and you’ll immediately see it has that very Apple look and branding, along with lots of advice from bestselling authors right there on the home page, and it’s all clearly designed to dovetail neatly with the new, revamped Apple Books.
If you switch your attention to the navigation bar up top, you’ll see all stages of the publishing process well represented: Write, Prepare, Publish, Market, Sales and Reporting, Audiobooks, and Resources.
Let’s take a closer look at this aspect, as I was pleasantly surprised with some of the resources here and see a lot of potential for the future.
Typically, a retailer has fairly bare bones information in this department, but Apple has taken the trouble to provide some actually useful information here—not just its own products and apps, as you would expect, but the full suite of tools a modern writer uses. Things like Microsoft Word and Scrivener appear alongside in-house apps like Pages and iBooks Author.
Naturally, the advice at this point in the process is more geared towards beginners, but if you skip ahead to the Market section, you’ll see more useful stuff for those with a little more experience—advice on how to use promo codes to build buzz, a run-down on Apple’s affiliate program for books and audiobooks (which I’m a member of and more authors really need to start using, and you can use this even if you aren’t direct with Apple, by the way), advice from bestselling authors Barbara Freethy on social media, and Jill Shalvis on book launches.
You can check out the other tabs yourself and see that there are customized resources for every stage—Audiobooks in particular are intriguing, and I know Apple wants to aggressively grow this aspect of its business. I’m particularly intrigued by mention of the ability to “suggest list price” for your audiobooks and I’ll be seeking more information on that little nugget myself.
Of course, Amazon’s Audible doesn’t let you set your price at all, and this is one of the reasons most of the innovation and chatter about audio right now surrounds the “wide” market: BookBub setting up its own audio retailer called Chirp, Kobo allowing authors to set their own prices—even to make audiobooks permafree—Findaway giving authors the tools to run discounts, BookBub Ads now allowing you to directly target audio readers. And most of those toys can only be played with by authors who are not exclusive to Amazon, and who thus have more control over their distribution and prices.
If you are not direct with Apple Books already, definitely take a look at the Sales and Reporting tab to see a video showing off the Reporting interface, which is just so much better than what we have been fobbed off with for years at KDP.
You might note that some of this stuff isn’t new—and that’s true, but a lot of the tools and resources Apple already had for authors were kind of scattered around the place and often hard to find too. Apple Books For Authors basically draws all this together under one roof, but there is some cool new stuff in there too and, overall, I got the sense that Apple plans to build that content out over time.
Apple is also keen to hear feedback on both the new Apple Books For Authors site, or the new publishing portal which PC users can now access, so please feel free to leave that in the comments and I’ll pass it along.
It’s that new publishing portal which I am most interested in personally as it means I finally get to test going direct with Apple!
I’m a PC user, and the idea of trying to publish a book with my iPhone or an emulator never appealed. Instead I used Smashwords to reach Apple, and then when Draft2Digital came along with what was, to me, a far superior service, I was happy to switch all my books across to Draft2Digital, and still use them today to reach Apple and Barnes & Noble, as well as a host of smaller stores and library services. I love Draft2Digital, and they always have authors’ backs, as they proved once again very recently.
But I’ve never actually published direct with Apple. And for the first time, I finally can. Intriguing!
(Minor correction: As pointed out by a couple of people Apple actually quietly rolled out a way to publish via PC back in September, but only through the Pages app. And it appears it was a soft launch and few knew about it. But what is 100% new today on that front is the publishing portal – which allows anyone, on PC or Mac, to provide Apple with a finished EPUB, whether that’s to update a published book or publish a new one.)
I’m sure a lot of you are in the same boat and are suddenly more curious about things like the terms for going direct.
- Apple Books pays 70% royalties for any price—even 99¢ books or $19.99 box sets, which is a marked improvement over the 35% which Amazon pays for any price outside Amazon’s preferred $2.99-$9.99 range, of course.
- Apple Books pays out within 45 days of the end of the respective month, which is a little quicker than most other retailers.
- There are no delivery fees with Apple Books, a particular bone of contention on KDP with children’s authors, graphic novelists, or anyone wanting to use pictures in their ebooks, especially with Amazon charging data transfer prices last seen when AOL was the new hotness.
You might be asking yourself whether you should switch to going direct, or continue using a distributor like Draft2Digital (or Smashwords) to reach Apple instead. Well, it depends. You will get paid a littler more, and a little quicker, if you go direct. But using someone like Draft2Digital to reach multiple stores at once with the same ebook file does simplify your life quite a bit. You’ll have to weigh up those pros and cons yourself.
I’ll certainly be testing the new publishing portal with one of my books and sharing my thoughts on it—pros and cons—as I go through it personally, so look out for that.
I will say this though: Apple made it clear that when picking authors for promo opportunities, it is completely agnostic as to the publishing path that author has taken. Whether you arrived in the Apple Books store via the likes of Draft2Digital, or went direct, you have the same shot of getting selected.
And this, I stress, is my personal opinion: I’m sure this news will be chewed over, but my own take is that this isn’t a power play by Apple looking to cut out distributors or anything like that. I personally think the real aim here is twofold: first and foremost, to provide a clean, crisp, newbie-friendly one-stop shop for publishing with Apple Books—a nice and easy alternative to going exclusive with Amazon.
Second, I also see this as counteracting a lot of the unscrupulous providers like vanity presses, who try and sell the lie that self-publishing is difficult or expensive—at least, an easy-to-use site like this is a huge boon to those of us who try and steer new writers away from predatory operations.
Again, personal opinion here, but just reading between the lines, the overall impression I got was that this isn’t just a site revamp, but perhaps also a refresh in Apple’s approach to ebooks and authors generally. The spirit driving all of this seemed to be positive and inclusive and open, and it was very welcome indeed. I’m interested to see how all this develops.
That’s it! I’ll have more hands-on impressions with that new, PC-accessible publishing portal as I go through the process personally of going direct. And I will also be interested to see what feedback you have, what resources you might like added, and what you think of this news! Let me know in the comments below.