The Most Popular Book Formats for Indie Publishers

Indie Book Formats Full WidthBetween books, ebooks and audiobooks there are so many different formatting options.

Indie Book Formats

Infographic – Book Formats

This infographic is designed to provide a quick overview of the most common formats. You may click here to open it full size in a new window or click here to see it in my Google Album.

Printed Books

A book’s format refers to the shape and dimensions of the physical book. Here are some of the more popular book sizes.

Printed books often have the following dimensions:

Trade Paperbacks
Often in the range of 5 ½ x 8 ½ to 6 x 9 inches. Most self-published books are in this category.

General Nonfiction
Nonfiction books tend to be 6 x 9 inches, sometimes a little larger.

Photography & Art
Size varies widely.

Manuals & Workbooks
Often in the range of 8 x 10 to 8 ½ x 11 inches.

Book Sizes


An ebook is a book in digital or electronic format. While many ebook formats have been introduced over the years, the clear leaders today are the Epub format, Mobi and KF8 formats used by Amazon & Kindle, and PDFs.


Portable Document Format was first created by Adobe Systems in 1993 as a standard format for document exchange. Still a very popular format that can be viewed on most platforms. Popular for non-fiction books.


A free and open standard for formatting ebooks used by most ebook stores except Amazon. Epub ebooks can be read on most ebook readers incl. Nook, Kobo Reader, Sony Reader, Apple iOS and Android devices.


This 3rd version of ePub format offers enhanced features: CSS features and multimedia display aspects; complex layouts; rich media; global typography; interactivity.


The Mobipocket ebook format is the format most authors use to upload books to KDP for Amazon. Uses XHTML and based on the Open Ebook standard.


Kindle Format 8 enables rich formatting and design such as children’s picture books, comics & graphic novels, technical & engineering books and cookbooks. Introduced by Amazon in 2011.

More on ebook formats.


An audiobook is a recording of a book being read aloud. Such recordings have been available in schools and libraries since the 1930s but the medium only began to attract book retailers in the 1980s. While it’s still possible to distribute audiobooks on traditional mediums such as records, cassette tapes, and CDs, these are quickly giving way to the popular and downloadable digital formats listed below.

The most important formats are the Audible AA format, since Audible is the biggest retailer of audiobooks, and MP3. Your readers, or ‘listeners’, can purchase audiobooks via several major retailers including Audible, iTunes, and Google Play Store.


Audible’s own format that can be played in iTunes, Windows Media Player 11, and their apps for various devices. With this format you can easily return to the last playback position, select chapters, and change narration speed.


Audible’s enhanced format that includes support for images and links. Good for children’s books.


A format which compresses a recording into a very small file format, designed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG)


Advanced Audio Coding is the default audio format for YouTube and iOS devices.


Windows Media Audio format designed by Microsoft.

More on audiobook formats.

That’s a brief overview of book formats.

As indie authors we should remember there is not really any ‘best format’ for books. What matters is getting to know your readers and how they like to read. As an independent publisher you owe it to your fans to make your book available in the formats that they want to use.

Tweet: The Most Popular Book Formats for Indie Publishers [Infographic] via @GaryJMcLaren #indiepub
Twitter Takeaways

Click on any of the following to tweet…

The Most Popular Book Formats for Indie Publishers [Infographic]

Check out this Infographic of Book Formats for Indie Publishers

What is Important for Indie Authors in 2015?


It’s that season when people love to post resolutions and predictions for the year ahead. Along with others in the publishing industry I have been reviewing “where we’re at” and “where we’re heading” as an industry in 2015.

When considering where we’re at it’s helpful to remember just how far self-publishing has come in the past decade. It’s just over 7 years since Amazon launched the first Kindle eReader (in November 2007). It’s also more than 11 years since I launched my web site, Publish Your Own Ebooks.  What a journey it’s been and what amazing changes we’ve witnessed and been part of!

Self-publishing has experienced a metamorphosis, transforming from an ugly caterpillar that people shy away from, into a beautiful creature that really flies!

Over the past few weeks I’ve read many blog posts from experts summarizing their own thoughts on the state of our industry. A couple of good posts are ‘12 Publishing And Marketing Predictions‘ from Penny Sansevieri at The Future of Ink and Bob Mayer’s ‘16 Thoughts for Authors/Publishing for 2015‘. One of my favorite posts is Joanna Penn’s ‘Back to Basics‘, a post which is closely aligned with my own thinking.

During the years 2010 to 2013, as more people migrated to digital books, we saw very strong growth in digital publishing. With that growth came tremendous opportunities for indie authors, particularly through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) but also through Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Kobo Writing Life. It was a boom time. Some have referred to it as a gold rush.

This strong growth could not continue forever though and 2014 was a very different year. Many indie authors discovered that they were hitting a wall. High ranks became harder to achieve. Book giveaways no longer yielded results like they had before. Many authors reported their incomes were falling instead of rising. Some indie authors turned their backs on their new writing careers and walked off in dismay.

I think you can safely say that in 2014, for some people, indie publishing ‘lost its mojo’. The magic is gone. The gold rush is now over.

Where do we go from here?

Should we give up writing? Absolutely not! That’s what we do… we write! Should we give up indie publishing? I don’t think so and for a very good reason.

The gold isn’t all gone. Our readers are still out there, looking for good books. 

All businesses go through good times and bad times. We knew there would be a boom after the “tipping point was reached” and sales of ebooks passed sales of print books. There is no doubt that early adopters who jumped quickly into independent digital publishing have a good “head start”. There are now more authors and more books to compete with than ever before. It’s not as easy as three years ago but that doesn’t mean that you cannot have a viable writing business as an indie author. It does mean that you need to evaluate the market carefully and have a good business strategy in order to succeed.

Indie publishing is hard work. Many authors have been surprised at the amount of work involved in being an indie author. You are not only writing the book, which is a huge task, but you are also responsible publishing your books and managing the “business end” of promoting and selling them. It’s not too hard to see why some authors who have achieved a level of success have moved to a “hybrid” model using a combination of indie publishing for some books and traditional publishing for others. Their success with indie books is often a key factor in winning a traditional publishing deal.

So what do I think we need to do to succeed as indie authors in 2015? I’ll list a few things below but here’s a hint: like Joanna Penn’s post I’m recommending getting ‘back to basics’ and doing some old-fashioned hard work.

1. You need to work hard. There is still a bright future for indie authors. The easy takings may be gone but those who work hard can still find success in this transformed publishing industry. To those who say it’s harder in 2015 than 2012, I say you still have more chance than you did in 2005 and 1995!

2. Write the very best book you can. It should be a book which you are truly proud of and which ‘does honor’ to the craft of writing.

3. Discoverability will make or break you. The success of your next book depends upon whether your readers can find you or whether you are lost in obscurity.  You should already be building your audience and author platform. You should be engaging with your readers. Encourage your readers to sign up to your mailing list.  Invite them to follow you on your favorite social media network.

4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t rely on Amazon alone. Sell your ebooks in other ebook stores and at your own web site. Diversifying gives you additional sources of income but it also reduces the risk that one store could cripple your earnings by removing your account, your books, or your current rank.

5. Write more books. Don’t stop at one. Successful indie authors typically have multiple books or a series of books to offer their readers.

6. Collaborate with other authors.  One of the fastest ways to build your audience is to work with your fellow authors instead of competing against them. Use social media networks to identify and team up with other authors in your genre. By cross-promoting each other’s work, your audience can grow faster. Readers don’t typically choose one or the other. Chances are they will read books by both of you!

Are you with me? Let’s make 2015 our best writing year ever. More than ever before in this industry your destiny is in your own hands.

All the best for the year ahead,

Gary McLaren

P.S. If you enjoyed this article please take a moment to comment, ‘like’ it or share it with your friends through your favorite social media network. Thanks!

The World’s Greatest Storytellers

Publishing house Raconteur Media has surveyed around 500 authors, journalists, editors, students, and media and marketing professionals, asking them who is the world’s greatest storyteller? The Infographic below shows some of the results.

As Raconteur explains on their blog, “…we wanted to take a moment to celebrate storytelling as we know and love it – storytelling that comes from people, whether they are writers or actors or directors or poets or musicians.”


The respondents’ answers spanned continents and genres, and crossed mediums and disciplines. 53% chose living storytellers, while 47% chose storytellers who have passed away.

The top 5 storytellers in the survey were:

  1. William Shakespeare
  2. J.K. Rowling
  3. Roald Dahl
  4. Charles Dickens
  5. Stephen King

Click to read Raconteur’s post on this.

Click to see the full Infographic.

Beautiful Scenery in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

I was fortunate to be in Queenstown, New Zealand a few weeks ago for a conference and took this snapshot one evening with my Samsung phone.

This area of New Zealand has such beautiful scenery and it was nice to be back there. I worked around Queenstown and Wanaka in the late 80’s.

Where I’m Blogging in 2013

In case you hadn’t realised I have been using this blog for major announcements and updates, usually several each year. Here are the web sites and blogs where I anticipate being more active throughout this year.

  • Publish Your Own Ebooks – my blog for indie authors wanting to learn all about digital publishing and how to publish an ebook. I will be posting less this year as I want to put more of my posts on this topic at
  • Indie Publishing – This is my new blog which I see overtaking my efforts at Instead of focussing mainly on e-publishing I will be writing for a wider self-publishing audience including material related to print books and audio books.
  • Platform Pundit – This is my blog for those wanting to build their platform and brand – not only authors but writers and speakers and anyone else looking to reach a wider audience.

I welcome you to drop by these blogs, enjoy the posts, and interact via comments.

I’ve Reorganized My Social Media Accounts

As 2013 gets under way I have been refocusing my efforts and objectives for this year and this affects my social media accounts.

This year on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook I plan to engage on a (slightly) broader range of topics than ebook publishing.  If you follow me on these social media networks you can expect more information on self-publishing in general (books too, not only ebooks) book marketing, and how authors can leverage social media to build their platform. To reflect this:

  • My main Twitter ID has been renamed from @PYOEbooks to @GaryJMcLaren
    If you were already following me, don’t worry, the change is automatic and you don’t have to do anything.
  • I will now be publishing at Google Plus mainly through my personal Google+ profile rather than the dedicated G+ page for PYOEbooks.

I invite you to come and join me on these social networks!

Ebook Publishing Quick Reference Card

Ebook Publishing Quick Reference I have updated my Ebook Publishing Quick Reference Card (PDF) over at

This is an excellent resource for indie authors and ebook publishers who would like to be able to see at a glance:

  • The Main Ebook Formats
  • The Major Ebook Stores
  • Ebook Royalties Chart for Each Store
  • Ebook Aggregator Comparison Chart (including 6 major aggregators)
  • Ebook Revenue Chart (2002 – 2011)
  • Ebook Market Share of Major Ebook Stores (USA)
  • Book Awards for Indie Authors
  • Top Twitter Hashtags for Ebook Authors
  • A List of Free Software Applications for Ebook Authors & Publishers
  • A Glossary of 26 Ebook Publishing Terms
  • and more!

The data has been arranged into a compact 4-page PDF. You can print it out and laminate it if you want but it’s probably better to keep it on your computer desktop for quick access to all of the the online resources.

I’m running a giveaway until March 15th. Come and participate (it’ll only cost you a tweet or link etc.) to get a free copy of the this.


Welcome to my new blog. I’ve owned and managed web sites for many years but this is the first time I have put up an official “author’s blog”. I’ll do my best to keep you updated about my latest books and other projects. Thanks for stopping by!