Publish your own ebooks to the iBookstore

Dan Moren
28 May, 2010
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A huge number of people think they might write a book some day. But what happens after you’ve managed to pen your 200,000 word epic on love and loss in feudal Europe — with vampires, naturally — but still can’t get a bite from a publisher? Well, now EuroVamp 3000 can line the virtual shelves of the iBookstore, right alongside the likes of Stephen King and Robert Parker, as Apple has opened up the ability to submit your own e-book directly to the iBookstore.

Previously, aspiring authors have been able to work with third-party aggregators with whom Apple has deals, such as Lulu and Smashwords. Those firms take care of a lot of the overhead, such as acquiring an ISBN for your book and making sure the ePub file checks out. However, there’s now nothing to stop you from doing it yourself, if you prefer, now that Apple has added e-books as an option to iTunes Connect. Apple does warn you, however, that you may get paid faster by using one of those aggregators, as it doesn’t pay out until the sales meet earning thresholds in various regions.

You’ll need to provide some information before your book hits the digital presses. Besides an Apple ID, you’ll need an ISBN for your book —which you can acquirehere — and you’ll also need a Tax ID from the IRS (also known as an Employer Identification Number).

Once your application has been approved, Apple says you can submit as many books as you want to the iBookstore. Of course, you’ll still need to create an ePub version of your title, then validate it, and finally submit it to the store for sale.

Self-publishing has long been a venue for those who have been unable to publish their books through other means, but the addition of self-published titles to the iBookstore removes even more of the barrier to entry for aspiring writers. For one thing, it legitimises their endeavours by putting their books on equal footing with titles from the major publishers.

Some might argue that publishers act as a filter, making sure that the under-par material doesn’t get through to our delicate eyes, but I’d disagree: plenty of poorly-written books make it onto bookshelves anyway (ever browsed the carousels at an airport newsstand?) and many good writers languish in obscurity. It’s unknown, however, whether Apple will act as a filter itself, vetting the titles as it does for software submitted to the App Store. I’d imagine the process is more akin to submitting your own music to the iTunes Store, but I was unable to find out for sure.

Speaking as someone who’s written an unpublished novel or two — and yes, yes, I know you’re all dying to read them — the ability to actually sell those works and perhaps even have people read them on the iPad, and soon the iPhone, is tremendously promising and liberating.

3 Comments

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  1. Roger Hallett says:

    As NON-USA resident, and a NON-USA citizen, why do I need a Tax ID from the IRS? Apple should know that the world does not end in California and surely has provisions for publications originating ‘off-shore’ and sold-to off-shore.

  2. Adrian says:

    As far as I can work out in order to get a US Tax ID I need to have a Social Security Number (SSN) and as an Australian that’s out of the question.

    Second option is to get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is described as:

    An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, an SSN.

    Obtaining an ITIN by non US citizen outside of US looks to be quite an old school offline snail mail process as explained here: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=96690,00.html

    Any other options?

    Adrian

  3. Anthony Nixon says:

    I have just had my application for a ITIN declined because I did not provide details as to the Australian article treaty number and supporting documentation in accordance with the exceptions tables.

    As a self publisher of ebooks [currently Blurb] and if I get the IRS ITIN number the iBookstore can some help me with the article treaty number and the exception to details that I should provide together with my application.

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