If you’re an independent author who wants to get your book
into Apple’s iBookstore, there are a lot of different ways to
do it. This guide will help you make sense of the sea of
options out there, so you can conﬁdently decide which route
is right for you.
The physical act of getting your book into the iBookstore can
be done by submitting your eBook directly to Apple or by
having one of the ﬁve Appleaggregators who work with
independent authors do it for you. (There are eight
The complete list of options for the indie author (in
alphabetical order, so as not to show any favoritism) is:
Apple, BiblioCore, BookBaby, INGrooves, Lulu and
To help streamline the ﬂow of
eBooks into the iBookstore, Apple
designated eight companies to be
aggregators. Basically, authors
and publishers submit their
eBooks to the aggregator.
The aggregator, in turn, takes care
of getting the eBook into the
iBookstore. In its ﬁrst couple of
months, the iBookstore would only
accept eBooks from non-
published, indie authors through
one of its aggregators. In late May
2010, Apple started allowing
authors to submit their eBooks
directly through Apple.
With most aggregators, you don’t see what your eBook will
look like in the iPad’s eReader beforehand. When a recent
client came to Gravity Switch to design his personal
author website (ManInMazeWorks.com), he also asked us
to do the ePub conversion for his latest book. This gave
him the comfort level of being involved in the formatting of
the eBook, every step of the way.
your book all text? Illustrations? Tables? Special
formatting? Prepare to be underwhelmed by the level
of layout control you will have in the eBook format. But
don’t despair. It’s still possible to effectively convey
your ideas with eBooks.
free? (A free book is not as crazy as it sounds. A lot of
indie authors do this because they care more about
being read than making money)
consider a reasonable expectation for your eBook’s
sales. It’s hard to predict. Especially if this is your ﬁrst
foray into publishing.
ePub is the eBook ﬁle format that
Apple’s eReader uses. A number
of other eReaders use this ﬁle
format as well, though not all of
basically a .zip ﬁle that’s
named .epub instead of .zip.
Inside this .zip archive are a bunch
of XHTML and CSS ﬁles that
“deﬁne” the eBook.)
Apple doesn’t want books in its
store that are sloppy or that don’t
work well, since this would be a
poor reﬂection on Apple. So they
require ePub ﬁles to pass a
“test” (or validator) to ensure the
code is up to snuff.
I used to use Three Press’
validator for my eBooks… until
Three Press failed to catch an
error that Apple did catch (causing
Apple to reject my ePub back to
me to ﬁx).
Three Press wasn’t interested in
updating their validator to catch
that speciﬁc problem. So instead,
my company, Gravity Switch, is
working on a validator that does
catch it. It will be free to use. If
you want to be notiﬁed when it’s
ready, send an email to:
and the aggregators is all over the map. Apple doesn’t
charge you up front to list your book, but you have to get
your own ISBN number, which ends up being more
expensive than start-up costs with most aggregators.
Most aggregators will give you an ISBN number for free
or cheap, but they either charge an up-front fee, annual
means) The aggregators have different policies about
this. And ultimately, you’ll be subject to how Apple
handles it once you’re in the iBookstore.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to what is most valuable
to you now and down the line. And each person’s deﬁnition of
“value” is a different combination of factors such as: Time,
Money, Convenience, Reach, Resources and Control.
unique identifying number that’s
required for any book, worldwide,
that’s intended for sale in stores,
for sale online, or to be found on
the shelves of any library.
No two books have the same
ISBN. Some aggregators will
provide you with an ISBN if you
submit your eBook through them.
Some don’t. You can get your
ISBN number yourself too.
Later in this guide, I provide
more complete info about ISBN
numbers and what they mean for
DRM or Digital Rights
Management refers to software
embedded in a “digital
product” (such as a song you buy
on iTunes, or an eBook) to prevent
it from being used by anyone other
than the person who bought it.
There are lots of arguments both
for and against DRM. Establishing
and “letting go” of DRM is
something the music industry has
struggled through and it’s
something that publishing is just
starting to grapple with.
Apple announced that all eBooks
in the iBookstore will be subject to
Apple’s FairPlay DRM.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?