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Lessons in self-publishing using iBooks Author

My initial iBook upload, ‘How To Mojo: A Guide to Mobile Journalism’, was published reasonably quickly on iTunes using iBooks Author – in about three days, I think. However, the update took almost three months. Here’s what happened.

Three weeks after uploading the updated files for the second edition, the iBooks Review process found I had used their trademarked word, iBook, once. Since Apple take 30% from the sale of each book, I thought, why shouldn’t I use the word? After all, it’s what iTunes is selling, my iBook. But that type of thinking goes no where with Apple. So we removed the offending word and re-submitted the files. This is where the rot, or more to the point, the stench of rotten Apple, really set in.  It took almost another 8 weeks of prodding at Apple’s core for the update to go live online.

To complicate matters, I didn’t have my own IRS number when I wrote the book. You need one of these before you can set up your own iTunes Connect account and self-publish. Therefore, after finishing the iBook, I arranged with a publisher (aggregator) to upload it – there goes another 10%. But the real problem with using an aggregator is that as the author you lose 100% of your ability to deal directly with iBooks. "Sorry you’re not the publisher", they told me.

This proved critical when the aggregator (publisher) finally got my iBook update online, only to find that a technical error in their upload process had caused some of my book to go missing, requiring me to go through the whole messy process again. At this stage I was ready to jump off the proverbial cliff.

‘Pity the publisher caught in this maelstrom’, I heard some say. I’m thinking, ‘pity the author, who becomes the squishy apple turnover, between a couple of crusty corporates.’ 

I’m sure there’s a thesis, or at least an iBook, on working with iTunes and Apple.  But then again, that iBook, would probably never be published 🙂

It’s important to perservere because publishing your own iBooks or eBooks, is about creating more diverse content at source. This is a first step to creating a less marginalised, less representative and more democratic society, which resonates with local voices heard on a global platform. 


1.  Ask yourself if you need to publish an iBook rather than an eBook. If you need to include videos then an iBook might still be a better option.

2. Go online and apply for an IRS number. If you call the IRS you can complete the form over the phone and will receive your number immediately.

3. Apply for an iTunes Connect account only once you have received your IRS number in the mail. It takes a couple of weeks for the IRS to process their own paperwork and iTunes Connect can’t verify your IRS details until this is done, usually by the time you receive your IRS paperwork.

4. iTunes will take 30% from the sale of each iBook.

5. An aggregator (publisher) will also take a fee for publishing your iBook. The advantage with using an aggregator is that you don’t need an IRS number or an iTunes Connect account. The disadvantage is that you lose the ability to deal with iBooks directly about your book.

6. Keep hounding the aggregator until your book is published. They will have many books on their list of which yours is only one.

7. If when logged into iTunes Connect to resolve a conflict, the choices like ‘Manage Your Books > Book Status > Checking Status’ go nowhere, look at the less obvious ‘Content Status Inquiries > Unknown Issue,’ where you might be able to submit a request to resolve a ‘Content Status error’. But be prepared, iTunes Connect’s definition of what constitutes a ‘Status error,’ might be different to yours.

8. Having a friend you trust proof your iBook is essential and will save you time and angst.




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