Thursday, February 2, 2017

Let's take a look at Pronoun

Pronoun is a new entrant into the Indie publishing market, a similar product to Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital, which formats ebooks and distributes them to retail sites. I've been very happy with D2D, but Pronoun can load books to Amazon, and what's more Pronoun doesn't charge authors a fee, AND offers a better return, especially on books priced at under $2.99. Amazon pays 35% - but Pronoun pays 70%. How can that work? Pronoun is owned by Macmillan, which obviously has a deal with Amazon.

Pronoun retails to Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and Google, and it pays to Paypal. I've not yet been asked for my EIN, but I expect that will happen when payments are due. This is their author agreement, written in English (not legalise).

D2D and Smashwords distribute to a number of additional sites, such as Tolino, and there is no reason why I can't still distribute to those sites via D2D or Smashwords. But (understandably) Pronoun doesn't want authors duplicating books from different distributors at one site. Which is, dumb, anyway.

Pronoun has an easy to use workflow for authors to follow when creating a book file.

Author details

First, you enter your name and contact information (website, Twitter, Facebook, mailing list). At the moment, you have to enter the data manually for each book. Perhaps at some stage the system will recognise a default, and fill it all in for you. Time will tell. Then you add any contributors such as cover designers, editors and the like.


You load your cover if you have one (jpg, pdf, tiff, png), or you can create a cover via Canva. Once your cover is loaded, you can elect to compare your masterpiece with those in a category you select (eg paranormal romance) This will give you a visual clue if what you're putting up is in the ballpark.

Book file

Your book file must be either an epub you already created, or a docx. Note: a docx. Not a doc, rtf, txt, pdf. It has to be a docx. The docx must adhere to the formatting guidelines. In summary, you must use Word's styles. You leave off the title page (which Pronoun will create for you) and you can elect (a little later) for the program to create your copyright page. For my Dryden Universe books the copyright isn't standard, so I used my own copyright page for those books.

I always use Word's styles anyway, so the formatting guidelines were no drama. For those not so confident, there are good instructions in the formatting guidelines. The only issue that I encountered was that while Word has no problem with me changing Heading 1 from numbered to not numbered here and there, Pronoun wasn't happy.

To explain further, I had chapters numbered from 1 to (say) 10, then I had 'About the author', which was given number 11. In Word I took the number off, which didn't affect the table of contents. But Pronoun ignored the chapters and only showed the non-numbered items. For me, the work-around was to remove the numbering and type in a manual header for each chapter. These days, with Amazon insisting on a TOC, I'm going to use chapter headings (eg. Whispers in the dark) rather than 'chapter 2'.

You'll need to add your 'about the author' section, and 'also by this author'. D2D does these things extremely well, even setting up links with a retailer's site for each title. Pronoun doesn't. But… it's early days.


Once the document has been saved, Pronoun can create a mobi and an epub. You're given a choice of six layouts to choose from – all very classy IMO.

When the conversion is complete, you're sent an email telling you the proof is ready for checking. If you're not happy, make your changes in your docx and try again.

If you load an epub it is checked for compliance. Mine was fine. If not, I expect you'll be told to go and fix it.


Next, you select two categories. Mine are obvious – romance > science fiction, and science fiction > space opera. But the system helps you to choose. Type in 'romance' and it will show you a list of options for you to choose from.

After that, you pick seven search terms. You can type in your own, but Pronoun will use what you type to find commonly used terms on Amazon, with an idea of how high on that list your book might appear. This is very, very nifty, and gives you a chance to get to a high ranking in a smaller category.
Now enter your blurb. I found I had to refresh the page before I could paste the pre-written blurb in another document.

From there you put in your price, which must end in .99. You're not given an option here. Pronoun will show you a graphic of how your price compares with other books in the same category – another very useful tool. You can set the price to FREE. Simple.

Pronoun will give you an ISBN, or you can enter your own.

Set your release date (so you can do pre-orders).

Sign the author agreement.

Select which of the five retailers you want to send your book to…

And you're good to go. Pronoun will produce final proofs for you to review. If you're happy – launch your new creation into the internet sea.


I've only been using Pronoun for a couple of weeks. When I put the first book up (Ella and the Admiral) within a couple of days I was informed I'd sold 13 copies in one day! That was huge for me. I put up the rest of my Dryden books, and I've loaded my latest book, The Stuff of Legend. But I'm not getting the hourly confirmation of success one gets from a direct input to KDP. I KNOW the book has sold, because I can see the ranking. I'm certain I've sold more than 1 on Amazon. But there is a delay in receiving the information on Pronoun. Mind you, it's probably not a bad thing. One can become obsessed with checking numbers on Amazon.

The system does inform you about rankings, and sales, in emails you can elect to turn off. The 'your books' page shows at a glance how many you sold where, and what you earned. And it will also suggest categories where your book might rank higher. Along with the help in selecting key words, comparisons with book covers, and the graph comparing sales price, there's a lot to like about Pronoun. 

That said, I haven't switched everything. You know the story about eggs and baskets.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info. Yes, I'm one who obsessively checks Amazon downloads. Not sure I'm ready to move over and risk losing my reviews, but for Google Play and my short stories I might consider it.


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