How to Self-Publish on Apple Books for Authors
Choosing another avenue for your self-published book is always a good idea. After all, you don’t have to choose between platforms to publish on. You can easily get your ebook on as many platforms as possible to get the most reach.
How to Publish on iBook
If you’ve been through the amazing journey of outlining, writing, editing, then formatting, and designing your ebook, choosing a distribution shouldn’t be all that difficult.
Except that the options given for uploading, pricing, payouts, and overall presenting your book to readers can make a significant difference.
Does the platform allow you to choose your price?
Which formats and design options are supported?
Where can you market your book, and do you even have a choice?
Does the platform support all popular book formats, including ebooks, audiobooks, and print books?
All of these questions become very important when you’re about to present your book to the world.
In this article, we’ll review Apple Books' potential for indie authors to get more reads, sales, and exposure for their titles.
Apple Books Store Gives More Value Than You’d Think…
Before we dive into reviewing and comparing Apple Books with other major platforms, let’s take a look at features that immediately distinguish it from all others.
#1: Fully Integrated
Apple Books is one of the reader-favorite apps to get right after getting a brand-new iPhone or iPad.
One of the biggest reasons for this is that the app is fully integrated into the devices’ operating systems, meaning that your readers don’t have to “jump through hoops” to add new books to their library.
The road between finding a book that they like and accessing it across devices is much shorter.
#2: Nicely Designed
Apple Books attracts users with its design and practicality. While someone knowledgeable in app building may not be in awe of the app’s functionality—we as authors, first keep readers in mind.
Ease of access and a smooth reading experience keep many book lovers engaged, despite an app lacking many “bells and whistles.”
#3: Ebook-to-Audio Switch
If you don’t want a reader to drop your book because they need to put their device down, Apple Books is a masterfully practical choice. It allows users to quickly switch between digital print and audio, giving you additional space to market your audiobook.
#4: Protects Your eBook Sales
Apple Books users can’t easily access their purchased books on their laptops and PCs. This reduces the risk of having your book copied and distributed without your permission.
#5: No Web Browser Access
The browser ban might sound like a real inconvenience for readers, but it greatly benefits you as a self-published author. It reduces the chances of unauthorized access to your book, meaning that only paid users get access to it.
In simple words, Apple Books is yet another platform to access readers who don’t use Amazon KDP, Audible, and other platforms. Furthermore, the books are exclusive to paid users, with added protection for your intellectual property and revenue.
Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing on Apple Books
Pros: Why You Should Self-Publish on Apple Books
Charge Higher Prices in More Countries
Apple Books puts your book in front of readers from over 50 countries, while Amazon currently markets in only 13 countries. Furthermore, Apple Books readers are said to be higher spenders, more interested in indie authors, and younger on average compared to the users of other platforms.
Altogether, this creates an opportunity to reach readers who are more open-minded and accessible to fresh ideas.
Suggested Apple Books Price and Pricing Adjustment
If you upload your book to Apple Books, you can easily track sales and statistics via daily sales reports. That way, you can see how your book is performing and in which countries, or areas in which it sells better than others.
You can leverage this sales information to better target your book promotion efforts toward countries and cities where it has already gained traction.
Apple Books allows you to set your own book price. However, the platform first indicates price ranges by country to help make your book competitive.
These price suggestions are only estimates of which prices are most competitive in your category, so you don’t have to stick with them if you don’t want to. However, you benefit from a clear insight into how your pricing is likely to affect your sales.
High Royalties and Shorter Payout Times
Apple Books pays you 70% of the royalties, and you can expect your payment 45 days after each month’s cut-out. The sales percentage you receive is higher while the waiting period is shorter compared to other platforms, which makes Apple Books highly competitive.
Widely Accessible Affiliate Codes
If you wish to form affiliations with individuals and groups to sell your book, it’s effortless to do it with Apple. There are no restrictions set on distributing affiliate codes.
Do you want to boost your sales before officially publishing your book? Apple offers the option to sell books via pre-order. Pre-orders further boost your marketing and help create hype on your book launch day.
Now, let’s review some of the things that make Apple Books less-than-great when it comes to marketing indie authors.
Small Market Share
Although Apple Books users are said to be higher spenders, they are only a fraction (10–30%) of all ebook users.
These statistics set an ambiguous tone for indie authors, who may find thousands of loyal readers if they “strike the chord” with their fanbase, or have little to no traction for their book if they fail to appeal to a certain type of easy-spending book lover.
Tricky Fan Base
An integrated platform like Apple Books stands out for its practicability of purchase but doesn’t guarantee loyal readers. After all, most book lovers choose other places for regular book shopping. It’s possible to face a struggle in building a loyal fanbase on Apple.
Bound to Apple
A significant downside to using Apple Books is that a reader must obtain an Apple ID to purchase your book, and access is made more difficult (although not impossible) for those readers who don’t have Apple devices.
Hard to Stand Out
Unlike Amazon, Apple doesn’t offer featured options for advertising your new release. You depend entirely on customer search and marketing to get your title out there.
You'll Need an iTunes Connect Account
You'll need an iTunes connect account to distribute your book on this platform. The majority of other platforms don't require a connect account at all, so having an additional barrier may cause inconvenience to some independent authors.
Apple Books Review: Can it Top Major Competitors?
So far, you've learned that Apple Books assists in reaching more readers who are (conveniently) higher spenders and more willing to invest in a good book. However, sales aren't the only relevant factor when deciding whether or not to post your book on a platform.
While it's good to know that the widely popular Amazon isn't your only option, it's also wise to look into how Apple Books compares to other platforms so that you can make an informed decision.
Apple Books vs. Amazon Kindle Unlimited
While most readers, prefer to have both platforms available to them, they seem to be more pleased with the user experience that they get on the Apple Books store.
On the other hand, Amazon remains the biggest market player and arguably features the widest choice of books compared to other platforms.
Your readers might also enjoy the option to easily highlight content within their books, which isn't accessible with Amazon Kindle.
Apple Books vs. Barnes & Noble
The race is tight between these two competitors, as Barnes & Noble is among the biggest players in the industry.
Although Barnes & Noble is still recommended to independent authors, Apple Books was built and tailored around self-publishing.
This is visible in software design, functionalities, and ease of access. On the other hand, Barnes & Noble still very much revolves around its retail stores. As such, it might be a better choice for you if you decide to pitch your book for traditional publishing after all.
Apple Books vs. Audible
Audible is the world's largest and most popular audiobook platform. However, there, you can only post audiobooks.
Although Audible is a great choice for audiobook-exclusive authors, Apple Books still gives you the option to upload both your ebook and audiobook, marketing both versions of your title to the same customer base.
Apple Books vs. Kobo
While Apple is said to exceed Kobo regarding the quality of user experience, Kobo is said to be much more affordable and accessible to indie authors with leaner budgets.
Additionally, Kobo seems to be preferred as a friendlier option for book formatting. If these factors play a major role in your decision, then you'll know what the right choice is.
How to Self-Publish Directly on Apple Books
Ultimately, the best way to decide whether or not to self-publish with Apple Books, is for you to check out what the journey of other self-published authors looks like. Now, let’s review the basic steps of publishing your work via Apple Books, from formatting to tracking sales.
The Basics of Apple Books Publishing
In general, the process of uploading your manuscript and getting your book published on Apple Books is similar to that of Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
You are to upload a formatted copy and provide the information about title, subtitle, genres/categories, the book description, and cover.
Yet, there are some unique features to this platform that you might recognize from the time it was called iBooks. If you ever worked with that platform, you may remember that you used two of their tools:
The first of the two tools is optional. You can use any software to create your book, and format the manuscript the way you like.
However, you’ll have to convert your file to the ePub format to upload it successfully to the website. You can use any conversion service (software) you want, as long as you have an ePub version of your book to upload.
As with other ebook platforms, you’ll need your book cover file in ‘.jpg’ format, and if you wish to upload the audio version of your book as well, you’ll need it in M4B or MP3. Audiobook production is entirely your responsibility, as is file conversion if needed.
The Insider Info on Royalties and Publishing Nuances
Apple Books charges 30% of your sales revenue, which is consistent regardless of the book price or the number of sales. You will receive your monthly revenue via your bank account that is set up with iTunes Connect.
To avoid any post-publication hurdles, give your User Agreement a good read. In particular, consider your choice between free, paid, and both free and paid offerings. If you change your mind, you’ll have to start the process all over again. It is recommended to check off both free and paid options just in case, since this will allow you to distribute free copies whenever you want.
Before you post your book, decide on the right publication type. Apple allows you to choose to publish only digitally or to label your books as "New Release" or any other format.
When it comes to setting your book price, you’re entirely free to price your book the way you want to. You can even post different prices on different platforms, as Apple doesn’t impose any price matching.
To access your payment setup, you’ll need to click on the “Agreements, Tax, and Banking” tab. To make your publishing journey smoother, keep your iTunes and iTunes Connect account information and passwords at the ready. You can use the website with your iTunes account login, but you will need a new username specifically for Apple Books.
Lastly, have all of your files ready, and in the correct formats to avoid having to re-adjust them amid publishing. Your publishing prerequisites include:
ePub files containing your manuscript
Book covers in '.jpg' format, each cover image being a minimum of 1400 pixels in width
Correct genre and one main subject category
Your title, subtitle, book description, publisher name, and other relevant book details
Your iTunes login information
How to Publish on iBooks: A Free Checklist
Are you confused about having to use yet another publishing portal to market your book? Fear not! We've got your back with this list of simple steps:
1: Start From iTunes Connect
Once you have everything you need in place, you can access your iTunes Connect account and choose the type of product that you wish to use. Select 'Books' and proceed. Fill out the required fields until you’ve completed all the steps.
2: Download iTunes Producer
This software is necessary to complete the upload, including your book file, price setup, and book cover.
4: Load Your Files
After you’ve loaded all the files into the software, click ‘Upload.’ Take a short break and grab a snack or a cup of coffee, since the upload can take a while. You’ll get a notification if changes to your files and setup are needed for the upload to proceed.
5: Wait for Review and Approval
Unlike Amazon, where you post your digital book directly on the website, Apple makes sure that everything is in order before they allow the book to be published.
Once all of your files are successfully uploaded, the Apple Books team first reviews the manuscript.
If all of your files are in line with the requirements of Apple's internal review team, your book will be visible on the website after a couple of days.
That's it! If you followed the right steps, your publishing process should now be complete.
Track Your Book Sales
Want to know how your new book is performing? You can track the performance of your Apple Books directly from the platform, via daily sales reports.
Apple Book Publishing FAQ
#1: Is Apple Books Publishing Expensive?
Apple doesn't charge any subscription fees for its services. However, you'll have to provide/obtain your book's ISBN or your own and submit it so that proper taxes are applied to your transactions.
#2: Can You Use Apple Books Self-Publishing to Promote Your Book?
While Apple Books doesn't offer any advertising, they do let you distribute as many free books as you want. You can easily promote your book by sending free samples to readers and reviewers.
#3: Is the iBooks Self-Publishing Process Complicated?
Although the basic steps of posting your book on the Apple platform are simple, authors have complained of common technical disruptions that can make the process more complicated.
Aside from having to include your iTunes connect and Apple ID into the mix, the book files assembly and the upload process are quite simple. However, there are a couple of pet peeves in this regard.
Some authors claim that image-heavy books take longer to load and that the cover image files sometimes can't load properly. In that case, you might have to load your book files several times before finally succeeding.
Authors who have experience with iBooks advise double-checking all of your files and setting enough time aside for the upload to avoid stress and frustration in case you have to repeat the steps several times.
Publishing your book on iBooks is simple and increase your exposure. Don't forget that your book's success depends mostly on what you do before publishing.
No matter which publishing portal you use, your book's success will depend on its quality of writing and design.
Need help? We can help you create books in fiction, non-fiction, and children's literature.