Lately, indie authors have been raving about Pronoun, and with good reason. You can publish your ebooks on their Macmillan platform, absolutely free, and get them aggregated to the major ebook retailers, including Amazon Kindle, Apple, Barnes and Noble Nook, Kobo, and Google Play. They have some slick features and their customer service is fantastic.

{Anytime I refer to books, I mean e-books, unless I specify audio or print, for purposes of this post.}

But what does that mean for you, strategy-wise? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  1. Pronoun does not charge for their service!
  2. Pronoun is owned by Big Five publisher Macmillan.
  3. Pronoun pays 70% for Amazon Kindle books $9.99 and under and 65% for over $9.99. This is double the Amazon Kindle direct royalty of 35% for books less than $2.99 and nearly double the 35% paid on books over $9.99.
  4. Administering all your retailers on one platform saves tons of time. Of course, you have this advantage on Draft2Digital and other aggregators as well, but you pay a percentage of your royalties.
  5. Pronoun suggests categories that can improve your ranking and performance.
  6. Pronoun gives keyword suggestions.
  7. Pronoun lets authors download MOBI and EPUB files for personal distribution.
  8. Their customer service is super-responsive, and far better than any other aggregator or retailer we’ve dealt with.
  9. After a few days, reviews will reattach to previously published books from all sites except Apple.

Cons:

The cons are not apparent on the surface but are significant—for multi-book authors, especially.

  1. You need a new ISBN on Pronoun, which means you start over at ground zero on rankings.
  2. If you use their free ISBN, it lists Pronoun as your publisher.
  3. You must pull your books down completely before you can publish on Pronoun, which means you lose sales days during a transition.
  4. If you need to pull down one retailer you’ve published to via Pronoun, you have to pull them all down, temporarily.

For instance, we needed to take one of Pamela’s novels back to direct publishing through Amazon Kindle, and to do that, we had to take them all down, then put them all back up.

  1. If you author a series, you have to pull all your novels over onto Pronoun to maintain the series linkage on Amazon, where likely 50%+ of your sales occur, because Amazon only links the series if all books are published from one “ID”.

You may not have wanted all your books moved to Pronoun, because there’s no royalty advantage except for books priced outside Amazon Kindle’s 70% range (2.99-9.99).

  1. If you sell audiobooks, the linkage between the audio companion add-on feature on Kindle and Kindle apps doesn’t seem to work/promote in the same way as it does when you direct publish on Amazon Kindle.

Usually when one of our authors promotes a free book via BookBub, they have significant (1000+) audio companion add-on sales at $1.99, which bring in a lot of revenue. This was the case for Heaven to Betsy in 2016, and was the case for Saving Grace in 2017, when both were published direct to Amazon Kindle. After moving Heaven to Betsy to Pronoun in 2017 and promoting it as free on BookBub, it had no “bump” in audio companion sales, even though on the Amazon Kindle sales page it showed the ebook and audiobook as linked.

  1. They pay only through Paypal.
  2. Pronoun does not make print-ready downloads available.
  3. Pronoun is owned by Big Five publisher Macmillan.

Strategy Tips:

  1. Publish directly through Amazon for Kindle, despite the royalty gap on books priced outside the $2.99-9.99 range. Your loss on series links, audio companions, and only-God-and-Jeff-Bezos knows what else in algorithms and Amazon-auto-promotion is too great.
  2. If you are going broad distribution:
    1. If it is your first or only book, use Pronoun for the rest of your retailers.
    2. If you are already broad distribution, weight these pros and cons carefully in deciding whether to unpublish and republish your books on Pronoun for your retailers other than Amazon Kindle. If you decide to do it, time it carefully so that your books remain available during peak buying periods or your own promotions.

Note: One issue that we have not tested yet and worry about with Pronoun is pricing on Google Play. In our experience, Google Play discounts heavily on a sliding scale based on the retail price you set. Their discounting can cause a cascade of price matching that causes your book to priced far differently than you intended, with a variety of consequences. Because of that, authors that publish on Google Play usually mark their books up to compensate for the discounting. Does Pronoun do this? We don’t know. If you do, let all of us know in the comments. Because it is a significant issue.