Is Pronoun.com for you? They just made a big announcement.

Pronoun.com, a free publishing service provider, just announced that it has added a feature; providing a custom publisher name with the ISBN.

This is actually very good news. ISBN’s if bought individually are absurdly expensive at $125 a piece. Buying in bulk offers significant discounts: 10 for $295, or 100 for $575. Before Pronoun’s recent change, you could use your own, purchased separately ISBN, and you could have your publishing company’s name on the copyright page. Before, if you used one of Pronoun’s free ISBN’s, then Pronoun was listed as the publisher. It was a hard choice for independent publishers who didn’t want to spend the money on ISBN’s. Now though, you can use their free ISBN and input a custom publisher name to be used in place of Pronoun.

Free ISBN + Custom Publisher Name = Happy Indy Publisher on a Shoestring.

I’m publishing a series of novels this spring and summer, and I’m not going to publish them through Pronoun.com…. Why not? The best understand my answer, you should understand more about how Pronoun works. Before I go on though, let me say that I do plan on using pronoun to publish a box set, in the fall. Also, Pronoun has some great features that I’m not going to address, especially their ease of use and market research tools. They also provide access to paid professional services like editors and designers (on which I have no comment).

First, understand that Pronoun essentially acts as a ebook formatter, and as an ebook distributor. If you want, you can upload an .epub file and skip the formatting part, so I’m only going to talk about details related to ebook distribution.

Here are the basics of Pronoun ebook distribution, as best I understand them:

  1. You can have Pronoun give you a free ISBN!
  2. You can have Pronoun distribute to any or all of the biggest 5 retailers:
    1. Amazon
      1. Note that I don’t believe you can enroll in KDP Select through Pronoun.com
    2. Apple iBooks
    3. Barnes & Noble
    4. Kobo
    5. Google Play
  3. You manage all books through a Pronoun dashboard, including setting the price that Pronoun pushes to the retailers.
    1. Note: Pronoun allows you to instantly set a free price.
    2. Note: I do not believe that Pronoun allows specific pricing for international markets.
  4. Pronoun’s dashboard updates with sales from all retailers about 1-2 days after the retailer releases the data.
  5. Some of Pronoun’s rates, at least for the USA, are better than Amazon’s. Pronoun does not take a cut.
    1. Pronoun beats amazon (at least in the USA) for titles priced outside of the $2.99 – $9.99 range.
      1. Amazon grants these titles, 35% royalty, while Pronoun pays 70% for all titles $0.99 – $9.99, and 65% for those over $9.99.
  6. When you make sales, Pronoun holds the money for 60 days after the close of the month.
  7. When Pronoun pays you, they use Paypal, and Paypal takes a 3% cut of the monthly amount, up to $2 for US accounts.
    1. Paypal takes a maximum of $20 for international accounts.

Okay? For many a new publisher and writer, Pronoun might be a great choice. They make the process easy, and they send money to you. That’s a really big selling point for many people. Also, they can get your books into Google Play, which as of this writing in Feb ’17, a new publisher cannot.

But it’s not for me, at least not for individual books. Here’s why:

  1. I already have accounts at each of the main retailers. I made them way in advance, griped through a lot of bad user experience (not going to name names), and they’re ready for me. I’m on Google Play.
  2. I like being able to set different, international prices.
  3. I have to buy a ton of ISBNs anyway, so I don’t need the free ones.
  4. I want to be able to use in-retailer advertising, and I believe (I don’t know for sure), it’ll be easier if I have publishing accounts with them.
  5. My individual books will be priced in the $2.99 – $9.99 range.
  6. I want sales profits ASAP, because a good portion of that money (for a while anyway), will go into advertising.
  7. Whenever I can swing it, I prefer no one to take cuts of my profit but me (regardless of the size), and have a business checking account already linked to each retailer.

That’s why. The only benefit Pronoun offers to me now, is a dashboard where I can see a consolidated listing of my book’s performance. The drawbacks I’d experience, admittedly small, are enough for me to not use Pronoun for each of my book’s publishing.

However, I am inclined to use them in the fall to publish a box set–that I’ll be pricing above $9.99. As a simple simple example, say I publish a box set at $14.99. The Amazon royalty for that sale would be $5.24, while the Pronoun royalty would be somewhere around $9.44.

Although I’m not going to use it now, I probably will later. Note that if I was just starting out–without the platform I’ve literally spent years and thousands of dollars building–then I could easily see myself using Pronoun.com for each of my individual books. It might be a great option for you. 🙂

-M.