Successful self-published authors are tapping into larger markets, which include many other retailers beyond Amazon. “Less is more” is a cute phrase for minimalists, but don’t limit yourself when it comes to online retail options for worldwide book sales.

A lot of self-published authors are making a very costly mistake when it comes to eBook and printed book distribution: They ONLY sell their books through Amazon. In other words, they’re putting all their eggs in one basket.

Mind you, it’s a very BIG basket. Amazon is the biggest and most important online bookstore in the industry, with approximately 67% of the eBook and printed book market share in the United States. You must have your book in all the Amazon stores around the world.

But there are many other baskets – stores where millions of eBooks and printed books are sold in the US each year, including iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble and dozens more. What are the most successful self-published authors learning in 2017? Many opportunities for worldwide book sales lie outside of the USA. They do call it the worldwide web, after all.

Industry statistics collected from around the globe show a diverse and dynamic marketplace.

For example, while Amazon is the dominant player in the UK, it is just one of many outlets in the European Union, along with Tolino, Adlibris, and BOL. And while Amazon is a major player worldwide, its numbers are not the same in other countries as they are in the US: Amazon owns about 40% of the German eBook sector, while down under, Amazon has 34% of the Australian and New Zealand digital book market.

The trend continues around the globe. In Canada, Amazon has less than 40% of the market, with strong competition from retailers such as Indigo and Kobo. Kobo, which also owns Overdrive, a distributor specializing in libraries, has 26 million users and a library of 4.7 million e-books and magazines in 190 countries.

Need another reason to consider the global marketplace? Think of it another way: There are huge English-speaking reader bases across the planet. Yes, the USA is number one on the list, but here are the rest.

English speakers by country

India – 125,000,000
Pakistan – 94,000,000
Philippines – 89,000,000
Nigeria – 79,000,000
UK – 59,000,000
Germany – 46,000,000
Canada – 28,000,000
France –  23,000,000
Australia – 18,000,000
China – 15,000,000, with another 250,000,000 learning English in state schools.

Bottom line: Self-published authors need to think beyond the jungle (Amazon) and onto the world marketplace!

Here’s where your eBooks should be sold

Amazon. Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world, and the Kindle is by far the most popular eReader on the market. Your eBook should be available for sale and able to be enjoyed on the Kindle and many other readers through the Kindle reader app.

iBooks. Apple’s iBooks is the premier eBook destination for iPad, iPhone, and iTouch owners in over 50 countries around the globe. When your eBook is listed on iBooks, your readers can purchase it through the iBooks app, available for free through iTunes.

Barnes & Noble. Still one of the biggest eBook retailers in the US. Your eBook needs to be available on B& and easily purchased by millions of NOOK owners around the world.

Google Play. Google is the rising star in eBook sales. Give your eBook a greater reach with the world’s most renowned search engine and also sell your book on Google Play, Google’s very own digital distribution service.

Kobo. Kobo owns about 20% of the worldwide eBook market, behind only Amazon, and is the leading eBook retailer in many countries, including Canada and Japan.

Here’s where your printed books should be sold

These are the best online stores and distributors for your Print On Demand books.

Amazon. A must for any kind of book sales. Your hardcover or softcover book can be for sale on Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world, alongside literary classics and bestselling authors.

Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble is the largest retail bookseller in the United States, with over 650 bookstores throughout the country, plus 700 college bookstores.

Books A Million. Books-A-Million is the second largest book retailer in the nation and also sells on the Internet at The Company presently operates over 250 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia.

Powell’s. Based in Portland, Oregon, Powell’s Books is the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world.

Ingram. As the world’s largest distributor of books, Ingram can get your book into practically any store, making your book available for sale in over 39,000 online retailers.

Baker & Taylor. Baker & Taylor distributes books to more than 36,000 libraries, institutions, and retailers in more than 120 countries.

“Less is more” is a cute phrase for minimalists. But when it comes to book distribution, the words for self-published authors to live by are: “More is more!”




Related Posts
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Making The Most of Print On Demand. Part 1: Your Timeline To Maximize Book Sales
Making The Most Of Print On Demand, Part 2: All You Need To Know About Book Pre-Sales
Print On Demand: The biggest advance in publishing since Gutenberg
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Steven Spatz

About Steven Spatz

Steven Spatz has written 72 posts in this blog.

Steven Spatz is an author, marketer, and the President of BookBaby.

28 thoughts on “The #1 mistake of self-published authors for worldwide book sales

  1. Nice concept, but while your suggestion is the ideal, the HOW is missing. Also, how does Amazon punish you for leaving KDP? How do you get distribution into the retail bookstores you mention? Those are the two biggest questions that pop up in my mind. If you have links, etc. addressing these questions, would appreciate them.

    1. Steven Spatz says:

      Hello Larry. Lots of good questions there. HOW is the toughest one to answer. We’re about to publish results of a huge Self Publishing survey in a few weeks. I can share some early results: The most successful authors are the ones who hired professional services to prepare their books. They also kept working a variety of marketing channels – true effort seems to have been a proven ROI for the most successful authors. Watch this blog for much more on this survey. KDP is truly interested in gaining as much content as they can. Our authors don’t seem to be “punished” for leaving KDP except you would lose out on a lot of potential sales! BookBaby does distribute to all of the stores mentioned in my post through one account. Best of all – we pass along 100% of your eBook sales revenue from these stores.

  2. Manfred Reimann says:

    thank you for your excellent, well-researched article. I’ve published 2 cold-war thrillers (Patric Sanders: ‘Chasing the Sun’ and ‘Singed by the Sun’) on Amazon Kindle. After initial volume sales are now stagnant. I’m an ‘old guy’ and would love your advice on how to sell worldwide to other eBook outlets like iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo. What would be the best way? BookBaby?
    Thanks again.
    All the best
    Manfred / aka Patric Sanders

    1. Steven Spatz says:

      Hello Manfred – Well I do admit to being just a little biased but: Yes, BookBaby can get your book out to the maximum number of online retailers through one single account. We go to all of the folks you mentioned – iBooks, B&N, Google, Kogo – and a bunch more like Hoopla, Overdrive and many more. There are a lot of great articles on this blog that might help you spark your sales, too.

  3. Hi – Thanks for your spot-on insights! I ave been trying to upload to Google Play for a few months, and the message I receive is that they are not accepting new authors. Do you have any idea what this is about, or when they might begin accepting submissions once more? Thanks!

    1. Steven Spatz says:

      Hello Yvonne – I’m not sure when or even if Google Play will be accepting direct submissions from authors. You can get Google distribution through BookBaby – we just added this retailer in late 2016 and our authors are enjoying tremendous sales through them.

  4. Nick says:

    Hi, Steven. I have to agree. You should try to get them out everywhere. I plan to use Amazon first though, then branch out. I understand kdp can advertise for you. Then I’ll get it onto ibooks and other stores.

    1. Steven Spatz says:

      Hello Nick – You can advertise through the KDP service. It’s a ‘pay to play’ kind of thing where you design your own ad and set a daily budget for how often and when your ad will be served. I can share with you: BookBaby is about to launch a new service in mid 2017 that will take advantage of all the various Kindle programs through a BookBaby account. Stay tuned!

  5. sadie says:

    Your ideas are great, Steven. As the others have requested, do you know anyone who can teach us how to do these things? I have my book on Amazon and Createspace.

    1. Steven Spatz says:

      Hello sadie. Our blog has a lot of really good selling ideas and tips if you scroll back through it. There is no ‘magic bullet’ or any one tactic that’s guaranteed to produce sales. It often comes down to the amount of focused effort authors put forth in a variety of marketing channels.

  6. Your article title reads, “The #1 mistake of self-published authors for worldwide book sales.”

    It depends how you look at it. My Amazon sales for Kindle editions have now earned me around $137,000 whereas my iBook sales have earned me around $15,000 and my Kobo sales have earned me around $2,400. Yet the foreign rights sales of the print editions of my books have earned me around $150,000. (My books have now been published in 22 languages in 29 countries.) I achieved this by not utilizing a North American foreign rights agent and instead using my own creativity and critical thinking skills. So, the #1 mistake I would have made as a self-published author for worldwide book sales would have been not using my creative and critical skills for pursuing foreign rights sales of the print editions of my books. Incidentally, my books (mainly self-published) have now sold over 950,000 copies worldwide, mainly because I have come up with 75 to 100 unique marketing techniques that 99 percent of authors and so called “book marketing experts” are not smart enough or creative enough to come up with. In fact, in the last week I have generated another two new unique marketing techniques to add to my total.

    1. Hi Ernie,

      I would love to see your list of ideas. Any chance you will share them with us someday?

    2. Mary Sadler says:

      Are you sharing those ideas? Please?

    3. Sarah says:

      Hi Ernie,

      Would you kindly share. Hope this doesn’t come across as rude, but I don’t mind paying for the info…after all, time is money as they say, and you spent time developing these ideas. Please, do let me know.

    4. Robert Donator says:

      I have published my eBook The Counter Terrorist through BookBaby/Amazon on 8/11/2017. Till date there is no information on any sales if at all of my book. What should I do now so that my book sales take off?

  7. rodney burke says:

    all these markets are great. Now what is the method to tell these others I have a book in and Exactly how do I reach them? I don’t expect an answer but…

  8. Mindy Silva says:

    Hi Ernie, perhaps your success can be shared with other writers who are without the critical thinking skills you have developed by you writing a book about how you achieved this. How did you do it so we can do it also. I have three books out there in amazon that are not moving…they are Christian books. The alternate route would be to align the sales through the “Christian” sales media but that would defeat the purpose of my writings. Why? Because my writing is not slanted toward any particular “branch” of Christianity, nor New Age, etc. If you write the book, put me down as your first customer to buy it!

  9. rodney burke says:

    Let’s get down the the gritty nitty shall we? Of course you say NOTHING about how to contact these other great sources. I am published with a small press and they put my book on and Now, how do I tell these other sources my book it there? Give me some very specifics. do I have to send them my completed manuscript separately? Do they have to approve the story for publication on their site/medium? Or in this case am I considered a traditionally published writer from say McMillan, etc.

    Only reason I’ve asked is I have had this story OUT for 9 months and zero sales. I need to know what my options are and how to exercise them or am I just screwed? Thanks

  10. Laurie says:

    Love this article. When I self published I went with Amazon and Createspace (for POD) and then Smashwords for many others distributors. Smashwords is doing zip. I wanted to go with Ingram but struggled to get my book formatted correctly. My book formatter never had a problem with them before, but I kept getting errors on the printing color, so the print would come out grey and not black, so I gave up. Can I add Ingram Sparks to cover the gaps in distribution, or should I withdraw my book from Smashwords and start fresh with Ingram? Can BookBaby help with getting my book on Ingram?

  11. Rick Hoover says:

    I’d like my book made available to more retailers.

  12. These pieces of information are awesome and practicable!

  13. helen martin says:

    Hi Steven,
    You are amazing – one more time –
    Do you have advice on which book I should launch first? BOOK OF ESSAYS: “High Fashion-High Adventure” I was a leading runway and print model and outdoorswomen; currently a published magazine writer. OR my second project, A MEMOIR: “My Grandmother, My Mother, Myself” The Other Side of Love – What makes more sense for a debut book, please?

    Thank you, Helen

  14. Leslie Anne Veinot says:

    I am now having my story(called The Secret Place, for children from 8-12) edited for the last time but I would love to know how to self-publish my story and then what to do from there. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Leslie Anne

  15. I have self-published three memoirs about my growing up years to age twenty. I’m now 84 and enjoyed writing them. I tried many things and have gotten next to nowhere. Book reviews were great, especially for my first book. The first nine reviewers each gave my book five stars. Lack of exposure is my main problem. A leading person in the book business suggested a person to go to. She was a PR. She, the purchase of my books and postage reached $5,000. Books sold: None. I was on TV, podcasts, mentioned in magazines and local newspapers. For an ordinary guy, I had an extraordinary life.

    My books are loved by all who read them. They tend to read all of them three times each. If I can learn more about joining BookBaby would there be a problem regarding my books having publishing dates of 2012, 2013 and 2016? I’m also looking to simplify my life. Marketing has taken up most of my time and it’s as if time is running out. I’m in good shape, but who knows what’s coming up next. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks,

  16. Great article! I have published 16 books through Createspace, and would like to expand. If a book has already been published by Createspace, can I still work with BookBaby?

  17. I’ve written a memoir, published and printed by iUniverse. I used their program but it is stagnant because of lack of funds. It is very informative and spiritual. They have approached me to release it for either a movie or documentary, which I refused, doing some research on who would groom it to be used. It’s completely true, no fantasy. Written as experienced. Good reviews on Amazon etc. Title: My God Makes House Callsl. Author: Nalley T. Osland Nalley’s Is an iBook also supposedly in all the places iUniverse agreed upon in their program. Many say when they begin reading can’t put it down. Gives information Christians aren’t taught. Brings reality to their theology. I’m 81, saved when 25. In situation which needed help in witchcraft situation. Help nowhere to be found in churches. Answers in book. Not taught in seminaries. America needs to know. How can I move this book out to them? Widow in waiting.

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