How to Prepare for Self-Publishing: Ebook Distribution

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

self-publishing, authors, indie publishing, writingThis is part four of a six-part series.

You’ve finished your book and you’re about to take the plunge and release it as an ebook. How can you make sure you’re fully prepared so that the process goes as smoothly as possible?

Of course, you’ve already read the first three posts in this series, so you’ve made sure your manuscript is formatted, you’ve had it copy-edited, and you’ve engaged a professional designer to create a stunning cover that will capture readers’ attention. What more do you need to do?

Choose your service

Decide how you’re going to get your book converted and distributed. There are a variety of services available, from pure DIY options to companies that will help you with each step. Maybe you’re happy to sell your ebook in one or two stores, or maybe you want it available as widely as possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about royalties, exclusivity and hidden costs. Will you need to earn a certain amount before getting paid? Can you control the price of your book in stores? Do your research on the service you’re thinking of using and check their social media accounts. They should be contactable and transparent. Can you pick up the phone and ask them questions? What’s their response like when you do? Do they respond promptly to emails?

Check the spec

Whether you’re doing it yourself or have someone to help you, there will be certain specifications for your file. Check these out beforehand and make sure your file meets them. It might be as simple as making sure it’s in Word or PDF format, or there might be specific formatting requirements.

Don’t forget your illustrations

If there are illustrations, graphs, charts, tables, diagrams or photos inside the book, have these files on hand. If you’re embedding them into the Word or PDF file, use as high a resolution as possible. If someone else is handling the conversion for you, she may want you to send the illustrations as separate files. Make sure you include a clear outline of whereabouts in the text they need to be placed, either by using low-res placeholder images or a system of reference.

Don’t leave anything to chance

If you’re using a service rather than delivering directly to stores yourself, make sure you’re clear about any stores or countries you don’t want to send to.

Take time over the metadata

Getting your metadata right is very important, as categories and keywords are vital for your book’s visibility. Don’t be tempted to choose a common category, though. For example, rather than the blanket “Romance” category, choose “Historical,” “Western,” etc. Be realistic with your keywords—think about what people would genuinely be searching for to stumble across your book. If you’ve got a website or blog, you might already have some ideas if you know what attracts readers to your site.

Pay attention to your blurb, as this is the next thing readers will look at after the cover, so it needs to capture their attention. Stores have different length requirements, so it’s a good idea to have a version with less than 50 words ready to go, as well as your full version.

Whatever you do, don’t rush your metadata or try to complete it on the fly. Take stock of the information you need to provide and take your time to make sure it’s accurate. This is the information that will go to stores and, ultimately, appear in front of the public, so you want to get it right first time. Metadata changes are possible after submission to stores, but any changes you want to make will either take time or money, both of which you want to save!


Before you hit “Go,” have you planned your marketing? If you wanted to send preview copies to any journalists, bloggers or other key movers and shakers, now is the time to go for it.

Bonus checklist

As a company that specializes in ebook conversion and distribution, here’s a checklist of what we ask authors for so that we can get on with the job. Some companies will have different requirements, but hopefully this will help you to have the relevant information to hand.

• Your manuscript in Word or PDF format.
• Cover artwork (only the front is needed for an ebook) as a jpg or tif, 1400 x 2240 pixels, 300 dpi resolution.
• Illustrations as separate jpg or tif files, 300 dpi resolution.
• Author’s name as displayed on the cover.
• Full name for the copyright.
• Name and address of the publishing company, and web address if it has one.
• Publishing company logo if it has one, 300 dpi resolution.
• Any dedications not included in the manuscript file.
• Metadata: we handle this via an online form, as do a number of stores.
• Your bank, PayPal or other payment details so that the important business of paying you your royalties can go ahead without a hitch once the sales start rolling in!

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