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Calling all authors: How to sell your books in the iBook store

David Winograd

Have you got a novel or two in your bottom desk drawer? Did you participate in the National Novel Writing Month competition last November? Are you a budding author who needs that last nudge to actually get writing? If any of these describe you, Apple has just given you a way to get your masterpiece into the iBooks store for the iPad, and you can do it yourself. You don't need a publisher, distributor, agent or anything else for that matter. You can decide how much to charge and which countries (that have an iBook store) to sell into. You also get the same deal as the app publishers, meaning that Apple takes 30% and you keep 70% of the revenue.

There are some requirements though but help is available.You'll need to have:

  • ISBN numbers for the books you want to distribute
  • the ability to deliver the book in EPUB format
  • the book pass EpubCheck 1.0.5
  • a US Tax ID (sorry world, this is only open to the US at this point)
  • an iTunes account backed up by a credit card
  • a fairly good idea of where you'll sell and how much you'll sell
  • an Intel-based Mac running OS 10.5 or better (sorry PC users, their game, their rules) and meet some reasonable technical requirements

If you don't know how to get an ISBN number or potentially want to get paid faster, Apple suggests that you use an Apple-approved aggregator. These are firms that have a financial arrangement with Apple and can provide a number of services at what seems to be a reasonable cost. Each aggregator delivers a different set of services, but let's take Bookbaby as an example. They charge $49 per book the first year and then $19 per book each year the book is in the store. For an additional $19 they can snag you an ISBN number, and if your book isn't in the proper format, another $19 will get that done. Other services, such as Smashwords takes no upfront money but does take a cut of the profits. Many supply marketing assistance, collect payments and handle other details.

Who would have thought, just three years ago, that opening the App Store to submissions from just about anyone would wind up to be such a home-run? I have a feeling of déjà vu on this as well, and think that opening iBooks to the writing community will have wide-reaching effects over the next year. I'm also interested to see what sort of content Apple decides to let in. Books for sure, but what about novellas, scholarly articles, or even a collection of blog posts? I might see a market for a book of everything TUAW has written about the iPhone to date. Originality, function and expertise has fueled the App Store, bringing to it apps that no one would have ever thought of, and here we have another wide open market for almost anyone to jump in on. Who knows what the publishing world will be like a year from now?

So writers, get writing! Apple may have just cleared the brush from the yellow-brick road.

[via MacLife]

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