Let’s face it; getting your book into multiple retail outlets is time-consuming. While it’s simple enough to publish your ebook to Amazon and distribute your print title through Ingram, reaching all of the possible retail outlets requires setting up an monitoring many accounts. This is where aggregators can help.
In 8 Places to Self-publish Besides Amazon I list a number of options for publishing your book to retail outlets, in addition to Amazon. Aggregators are one option.
Whether you’re selling your book online or to physical stores, book aggregators offer you one-stop shopping, so to speak.
A book aggregator may offer a variety of services, but the undeniable advantage of a book aggregator is that it will distribute your book to a wide variety of retail outlets.
Instead of you setting up accounts and partnerships with all of the retail options available, you can have one account with an aggregator, which will then distribute your books to all of their retail partners.
But with the variety of services offered by book aggregators, it can be confusing. Let’s take a look at some of the issues you need to consider when deciding whether or not to choose an aggregator and which one to choose.
Aggregator, distributor, or publisher?
Ideally, if you should be the publisher of record. Most aggregator services will allow you to be the publisher, but there are some that become your publisher of record.
An aggregator can also be a distributor. Typically “distributor” is reserved for trade publishing of hardback and softcover books. A distributor will be your middleman to reach bookstores. But with the advent of digital publishing, many aggregators are indeed distributors for ebooks.
Ingram, for example, calls itself a distributor, not an aggregator. In the not-so-distant past, Ingram was indeed a distributor of only hardback and softcover books to bookstores around the world; but with it’s newer model and the creation of Ingram Spark, this distributor has also become an aggregator. They basically work in a similar fashion to traditional aggregators.
How do aggregators work?
There are a variety of models, but in general, an aggregator takes your book, converts it to the various digital formats needed for ebook distribution, and delivers your book to its retail outlets. Some aggregators also make your print books available to their retail outlets.
An aggregator will often have partnerships with retail outlets that may be difficult for you as a self-publisher to access. An aggregator will make your book available to its retail partners and handle accounting and payment of royalties to you. They will either charge a fee for such services or take a percentage of royalties.
Fee structures vary. While one aggregator will do your ebook conversion free as part of the distribution services, another will charge a fee for ebook conversion. Smashwords, for example, converts your files to epub for free and distributes to its partners for a cut of your royalties. Gatekeepers Press, on the other hand, charges a fee for conversion only, or a larger fee for conversion and distribution. You then keep your royalties.
This article posted on eBookdesigns discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using an aggregator in great detail: Should I use an ebook aggregator to publish my ebook or publish myself?
Print vs. ebook distribution aggregators
It’s important to note the difference in how print and ebooks are distributed. Ebooks are distributed to online retailers. When an aggregator says they will distribute your ebook to their partners, your ebook will appear in these online stores. The partner has no risk because they do not pay to purchase or stock your ebook.
An aggregator can only make your print book available to its physical bookstore partners. These partners can choose to purchase and stock your book or not. You have no guarantee that your book will be purchased by bookstores.
Download this FREE PDF “eBook Aggregators.” The PDF includes an explanation of what aggregators do, advantages and disadvantages, as well as a table of the major distributors they work with. I also included a link to my favorite aggregator. Secret: This one lets you keep 100% of your royalties!