A Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Your Book with Tablo
Welcome to Tablo.
We care deeply about offering the most author-friendly publishing experience in the world. Here's a low-down on everything you'll need to know.
Tablo is an online self-publishing platform where you can create a book and publish in eBook, paperback and hardcover to nearly 40,000 online and physical retailers. It’s the easiest, the most comprehensive, and the most enjoyable way to become a published author.
The purpose of Tablo is to make publishing a real book really simple, and really fun. Authors in 150 countries use Tablo to write, publish, and connect with their readers.
What does this website do exactly?
Tablo is a publishing platform for real books. You can create a new book – or upload a book that you’ve already started – format it and preview it, much like creating a website or a blog post.
When the book is ready, you can select a publishing plan and publish your book to stores. Your book can be published in eBook, paperback and hardcover to a worldwide network of 40,000 retailers, including Amazon. Tablo prepares all of your assets, assigns all required ISBNs, and distributes your book globally.
Any time a customer buys your book, a single copy is printed and shipped right away. So you have global availability for your books in print, in all countries. The only thing you need to do is write!
How does it work?
Anybody can write and publish a book on Tablo. Creating your book is free, and easy. The heart of Tablo is a beautiful writing environment that allows you to either upload a Word document or start writing a new book from scratch. Once you’ve created a book, there are a few ways to publish and share your writing.
When your book is ready, you can self-publish your book as an eBook, paperback and hardcover book to nearly every online and physical bookshop in the world, with one click. There are 40,000 retailers and 30,000 libraries in our distribution network, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and more, making it the most comprehensive distribution network available to independent authors.
Writing on Tablo is free. Publishing is a paid service. Our plans are $99/year to publish an eBook, $299/year to publish an eBook & paperback together, and $499/year to publish and eBook, paperback and hardcover book together on every store. Tablo assigns all ISBNs to your books, prepares your assets, and provides you with 100% of the sales proceeds after print costs and retailer commissions. You also keep all of your rights.
Can I upload a print-ready copy of my book to Tablo?
Yes, if you already have a fully laid out book we can publish it as provided. There's no way yet to upload a pre-designed PDF on Tablo. But you’re welcome to share a PDF directly over email, and we can set it up for you.
Do I pay to use Tablo?
Tablo is free for anyone to join, start a book, upload your book, and join in discussions with other authors. You pay when you decide to turn your writing into a real book, sold in bookstores, via one of our publishing plans.
Why does Tablo exist?
The traditional publishing industry is old, complicated and outdated. Traditional publishers reject most books, and take more than 90% of earnings on books that they decide to publish. Authors are constantly extorted on terms, royalties and their rights.
We've seen revolutions in the online publishing industry, where anyone can create a website or blog using Wordpress, or Squarespace. We've seen this in the video industry too, with platforms like YouTube empowering new generations of filmmakers, musicians and creatives.
Today, creators should have the best possible tools to distribute their work. Tablo exists to provide the most author-friendly experience to writers. This means that we work to provide the simplest and most enjoyable book publishing experience, the fairest prices, the best terms, the most detailed insights, and the best possible support for our authors.
Our vision is for a democratised publishing model, powered by technology and unburdened by gatekeepers, that allows any writer to publish their book and connect with readers.
Publishing with Tablo
Do I keep my rights when I publish with Tablo?
Yes. Emphatically, yes. You maintain all of your rights when you publish with Tablo. The only thing we seek is a permission to publish on your behalf. It is a non-exclusive relationship, meaning you can cancel at any time, and even publish with other services at the same time. We care deeply about your rights as an author.
What bookstores will my book be available on?
There are 40,000 bookstores and 30,000 libraries in Tablo's network. The primary retailers are Amazon worldwide (including Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com.au and other international stores), Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Booktopia, Scribd, Microsoft, Overdrive, Readings and many more.
The network includes physical bricks and mortar stores too. Tablo has direct relationships with a number of retailers, and publishes your book on a number of industry catalogues that bookstores will use to order books from major publishers. This means that, if you walk into a traditional physical bookstore and ask for your book, whilst it may not be on the shelf, the bookstore assistant will be able to order the book in for you using their normal suppliers.
Whilst it's impossible for us to guarantee that every bookshop will be able to access your book, we can confidently say that you and your readers can buy it from 'all good bookstores'.
Where possible, like on Amazon, both eBook and print buying options of your book will be listed alongside each other.
Do you actually print and send my book to every store for $299?
No, we don't print your book upfront and send it to all 40,000 stores. That would be a very good deal for authors! Technically, when your book is first published, zero copies will be printed upfront. Instead, your book is available to order at all of our retailers. At online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, you will see that the book is in stock and available to purchase right away, just like every other book. At physical bookshops, the book will be available to order, meaning it won't be on the shelf, but the store attendant can order it through their normal suppliers for you.
The benefit of this network is that you have worldwide availability with the click of a button, with no overheads. Authors have sold tens of thousands of books through Tablo's network, using the same publish button as you :)
How long does it take to publish my book?
After you click the publish button, it takes 2-3 business days for Tablo to prepare and approve your book for publishing. We do run a technical proof on the book, to check its content, and to check its overall quality. We make sure that the table of contents is accurate, the typesetting is professional and consistent, that the cover is a high enough quality, and that your readers will have a great experience when buying and reading your book.
After we approve it, you can expect to see it on bookstores in 1-2 days. Bookstores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble generally display a book first. We always advise that, whilst your book will be approved and start to appear quickly, we recommend allowing up to 2-4 weeks to see the full network settle. Our book distribution network is very large, and some stores update their listings on different schedules. You can expect to see primary bookstores quickly, and more stores over time.
Can I list my book for pre-order?
Yes, you can list your book for pre-order. We encourage this for authors who are planning a significant launch, or investing in marketing.
Pre-orders are a helpful tool for bookstores, as well as for authors. A pre-order period can help your readers receive their books on or around your launch date, and improve the likelihood that your book will remain in-stock after launch
For example, a bookstore like Amazon might see that 10 people have pre-ordered your book. Amazon will then decide to order 20 copies of your book approximately 1-2 weeks before your release date. Amazon will do this so that, on your release date, they will be able to send books directly from their warehouse to your customers, and they will have a few extra copies in-stock to send to new customers. It will help your readers get their books faster, since they won't need to be printed-on demand. The store will have printed books upfront.
Bookstores like Amazon will use a pre-order period to forecast demand, place an order early for your book, and better support the logistics of your launch. Because of this lead time, we require a pre-order period of at least 30 days from the approval of your final book.
Do you proof-read my book for me?
No, we don't proof-read your book. We do conduct a technical proof, to check the assets and make sure that your readers will have a great experience. But we don't read all of its contents and make a critical judgment of your work. We believe in everyone's right to publish and share their story. It also means that, if there are typos in your book, they will appear in print. So take care with your own proofing :)
We do offer proof-reading and editing as a separate paid service. Tablo does have professional editors on our team who can work with you to edit, proof and prepare your manuscript. If you'd like to engage one of our editors, please reach out.
Can I see how many books I've sold?
Yes. There is live, continually updated sales data available to all Tablo authors from their own personal sales dashboard.
This is what it looks like:
Data is by region, channel type, and format, among other insights. There is a running estimate of your royalties too.
What royalties will I receive from the sale price of my book?
You will receive all of your royalties. Tablo doesn't take any percentage. The actual amount depends on a few factors: your retail price and the print cost of your book. Here's an example...
Say your retail price for a paperback is $24.99 USD. Every bookstore receives a flat commission of 40% for selling your book. 40% is the industry standard for a printed book. So in this example, they'd receive $10 for selling your book.
Anytime you sell a book, a single copy is printed and shipped directly to the customer, or to the bookstore. The average book costs $5-7 to print and ship, depending on the length of the book. This print and shipping cost is fixed for your book – it will be the same every time you sell a copy, with any retailer, and in any region. The main variable is the number of pages, and whether your book is black & white or color.
In this example, with a retail price of $24.99, $10 goes to the bookstore, $7 will be deducted for printing and shipping the book, and you'll receive a profit of $8.
Tablo doesn't seek any royalty, so all of this goes to you. Since all copies are printed and shipped on-demand, you never need to pay upfront for this printing, so you'd receive a profit on each sale.
When do I receive royalty payments?
Royalties are paid automatically approximately 60-90 days after the close of each calendar quarter. As an insight, whilst we can display your sales every day, Tablo actually only receives the income from bookstores some 90-120 days after the close of each month. So it will take a few months for you to receive your payments. We display your running total daily, and distribute your earnings once per quarter via PayPal.
The schedule for royalty payments is:
- For sales between January 1st and March 31st, the payment is sent by the end of June.
- For sales between April 1st and June 30th, the payment is sent by the end of September.
- For sales between July 1st and September 30th, the payment is sent by the end of December.
- And for sales in October 1st to December 31st, the payment is sent by the end of March.
Can you help me with Editing and Proof-reading?
Yes, we can. Tablo has professional editors on-staff who you can engage to work with on your manuscript. Editing is a paid service. It involves editing spelling, grammar, tone and tense for consistency with a style guide. You will receive a fully edited manuscript that's ready for publishing, and a letter from your editor discussing the changes.
Editing is priced at 1.4c per word, with a two week turnaround, and a minimum project price of $199. To learn more, tap the chat bubble and ask us about editing.
Can you help me design my book cover?
Yes, there are a number of cover options available for you, ranging from free to paid. You can opt to use a free Tablo Designed cover. This cover will overlay your book’s title, author name and blurb in the Tablo font on a wraparound spine. They look like this:
We do have paid cover design services for authors who want something more bespoke. These range from $499 to $1,499, depending on the level you want to go to. The lower cost one works with our freelance design partners. The more expensive option works with our professional partners, who design covers for traditional publishers.
Alternatively, you can upload your own cover image during the publishing process, and we'll use what you supply.
I want high book sales. Can you guarantee that?
We can’t guarantee high sales. And, honestly, you should be suspicious of a company that can! There is no silver bullet to publishing success. High sales are certainly possible, and multiple Tablo authors have become international bestsellers. What we’ve learned through our own authors' experience is that there’s no substitute for hard work and a great book.
Realistically, if you published your book today, and told nobody about it, you could sell just a handful of copies and feel disappointed. Publishing a book is unfortunately no guarantee of success. If however you take the time to think about marketing your book and communicating it with readers – whether it's sharing it with family and friends, hosting a launch event, engaging literary groups libraries and book festivals, or exploring paid promotion through social media – it's very possible that you can sell hundreds, to thousands, and even tens of thousands of books (just as Tablo authors have proven).
What we can guarantee is that your book will be readily available to order, whenever a customer wants to buy it.
In publishing, you always get out what you put in. Succeeding is possible, and it’s been done many times by Tablo authors who all use the same 'Publish' button :)
Is your reach truly global?
It truly is! There printers in every major world region, including the US, the UK, Europe and Australia. So everywhere a customer may be, in any country, there is generally a printer near them too. Even if we don't have a printer in your country, our network can still ship internationally to help you and your readers receive your books.
Am I bound exclusively to your platform?
Not at all! Tablo has no exclusivity. You maintain all of the rights to your book, and are able to publish anywhere alongside Tablo. Our network also covers 40,000 retailers in all major regions, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of smaller independent bookstores too.
So you have global coverage with Tablo, maintain all of your rights, and it's non-exclusive in every way :)
I understand books are printed on demand. But what if a bookstore wants to order my book?
With Tablo, your book is published through a 'wholesale' distribution network. This means that bookstores can order your book in volume using their existing industry catalogues, just like how they'd order inventory from a traditional publisher.
When a bookstore looks at their catalogue, they'll see that you book is available to order. After ordering, books are printed and shipped from the closest facility, either to the customer directly or to the store to place on shelves or in their warehouse.
Any bookstore wanting stock could place an order, and those books would be printed and sent. But even if there were no books held in the store, a customer is still able to ask for the book and the store may place a single order on the customer’s behalf.
Can I publish anonymously?
Yes, you can publish books under a pseudonym. That way your book won't be linked to your personal profile. We can help you set it up, and let you choose the name you want to use.
Do I sign a contract to publish?
No, we don't have a traditional style of publishing contract at Tablo. Instead, we have our Author Terms & Conditions, displayed publicly on our website and available at https://tablo.io/terms. Authors are asked to agree to this before publishing.
To summarise, you maintain all of your rights, publishing with Tablo is non-exclusive, you can un-publish at anytime, and all we seek is a permission to distribute your book on your behalf.
How do I copyright my book?
In most countries, like the United States and Australia, your copyright is automatic. We include the copyright statement at the front of your book, and you maintain the full rights to your work.
Copyright for your work lasts for your entire lifetime, plus 70 years. So it's with you forever.
Besides the statement inside the book, is there another way to prove that my work was copyrighted?
There is. When we assign the ISBN to your book, your name is tagged as the copyright owner. We also assign your name and the date in the metadata of the book as the copyright owner, and this info is distributed to all stores and retail partners
What does it cost to publish my book with Tablo?
We have three publishing plans available. Your Tablo plan includes everything: all layout and preparation work, all ISBNs, and global distribution to all major retailers. There are no hidden or additional fees to publish. It’s basically one flat plan to publish your book globally.
The plans are...
- eBook plan (USD $99/yr) to publish your book as an eBook on 35 major retailers, including Amazon.
- Paperback plan (USD $299/yr) to publish your book as an eBook and Paperback together on 40,000 retailers, including Amazon
- Hardcover plan (USD $499/yr) to publish, eBook, Paperback and Hardcover versions of your book together on all 40,000 retailers.
I pay every year? Why?
Part of why we have an annual plan is because the Tablo experience is ongoing. Tablo manages all printing/distribution on its on-demand network each time a copy is sold, handles all bookstore accounts, returns, royalties and provides live reporting on your Tablo dashboard. Authors can also update their book, and there's a really high quality of after-publishing support.
You'll also notice that our publishing plans, even though they're annual, are a lot more affordable than what other companies might charge you to publish a single book. Some publishing companies can charge you a flat fee of $5,000–10,000 to publish a single book (and it upsets us). It means that they have no incentive to support you after your book has been published. We've designed our publishing plans to be affordable, fair, and allow us to support you for the entire lifetime of your book.
Are there book printing costs?
No, there are no retail print costs outside of your publishing plan. Your book would be printed on-demand every time a copy is sold online, or ordered into bookstores. You receive a profit on every copy that you sell. Your profit is calculated by taking the retail price, subtracting the print and handling cost, and subtracting the bookstore's commission. You receive the remainder, which is 100% of your sales proceeds.
Can I print discounted copies of my own book?
You can order 'Author Copies' directly through Tablo. All authors can order special copies of their own book, at author prices. These prices are less than wholesale, and with discounts on volumes. The actual prices will depend on your finished, production book.
Most Tablo authors do print Author Copies for themselves, to share with friends and family, to sell directly, or to host events like a book launch and signing events.
Author copies can be printed and shipped to you in any quantity within around a week. For a faster turnaround, priority ordering is available. This is a 3-4 day delivery, for a 15% surcharge.
I need copies for an event I’m attending. Can you send my books to the event?
We can! We can organise to ship your books where you need – be it to you, or straight to the event. Just tell me the date you need and I can make it happen.
How many books can I publish in a plan?
Each publishing plan covers just one book, so you would need an additional plan to publish a new book. There's a lot of value in the publishing of each book, from ISBN assignment to typesetting, creating assets, enabling for on-demand distribution and then handling all accounts, royalties, returns etc for the title. So it's quite an involving publishing experience for each title.
If an author is looking to publish multiple books, we can offer discounts on each additional plan. Basically we take 10% off each new plan so they become progressively cheaper as you publish more titles.
In fact, the average Tablo author publishes two books :)
Can I move between publishing plans?
You can! You can move, say, from the Paperback plan to Hardcover at any time, and only pay the difference between plans. If you are already six months into a Paperback plan, the cost to upgrade is half the usual amount.
You can downgrade your plan at any time, too. This would take effect on your next renewal date. So, for example, if you are on the Hardcover plan now and choose to downgrade to the eBook plan, you would be charged for the eBook plan on your next renewal date, and Hardcover and Paperback distribution would end.
Can I update my book after it has been published?
Yes, you can update your book after it has been published, in both eBook and Print. Updates are currently a paid service – it is a flat US$49 to process an update of your book across our network (or US$29 if you only have an eBook plan).
We don't charge for updates to make money. Instead, this fee acts as an incentive for authors to triple check their work, publish only when they believe their book is final, and update them sparingly. Too many concurrent updates, or updates at bad times, can create complications in the network. It is likely for example that some previous versions of your book may still be in stock with bookstores leading new customer to receive an older book. Your book may also become temporarily unavailable during an update, and the update may disrupt your customer's buying experience.
A key benefit of Tablo is that, with on-demand printing and distribution, your book can never be out of date. Typos, new ideas, amendments and stories can be added to a book, and published in eBook and Print for all new customers. But, it's important to consider that a printed book does still have a supply chain, distributors and lead times. So we recommend only publishing updates occasionally, and working to make sure that your book is ready when you first click publish.
What happens if I cancel my annual subscription?
If you cancel a Tablo plan – which you can do at any time – the associated book would be removed from our distribution network.
Can you un-publish and remove my book from stores?
Yes, we can, and upon your request we will remove your book from our network. There are a few things to be aware of, since un-publishing a physical book can take some time.
If we do remove your eBook from stores, it will be removed instantly, and nobody will be able to download it.
If we do remove your print book from stores, it's possible and likely that it will stay on some bookstores for a little while. This is because some bookstores may already hold existing inventory of your book that they will want to sell before removing your listing.
For example, if readers like to buy your book on Amazon, Amazon will likely order a few extra copies to keep in-stock. They will buy these copies upfront, and you will receive a full royalty on the sale. It's just like a normal sale, but your customer is Amazon. If you did cancel your book, your book would be marked as 'Out of Print'. But, Amazon's existing stock would still exist, and they would still be allowed to sell it to their customers.
When Amazon sells their final copy and they go back to Tablo to purchase more, they will then see that the book is 'Out of Print', and then remove it from their store.
So in short, yes, you can un-publish at any time. Just be aware that it can take some time for a book's listing to be removed, and with a network so large, it's hard to make a book disappear with the flick of a switch :)
Who owns Tablo?
Tablo was started by a young Australian author, Ash Davies, back in 2013. He was writing his own book whilst studying at university and struggled to get it published. As a blogger, Ash was so used to the experience of being able to write something, click a publishing button, and connect with readers. Publishing his book was so complicated that, after months of dealing with eBook files, print assets, ISBNs, agents, bookstores and rejections, he almost gave up. Instead, he started Tablo with the goal of making publishing author-friendly and fun.
The core of the idea was that publishing a real book should be as easy as publishing a blog, Writing is supposed to be the hard part, and publishing should be exciting. Initially, Tablo focused on letting authors create and publish eBooks to online retailers. In 2018 the company introduced paperback and hardcover options, and expanded its distribution network to nearly all bookstores.
Today, Tablo is a small team of book-lovers spread throughout Australia, with offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. The company remains independently owned. We're working to create the most author-friendly publishing experience in the industry, and help the next generation of great authors build their careers.
Who is Tablo for?
All writers. The authors that use Tablo range from established bestsellers who are turning down traditional contracts, to new first-time writers and hobbyists who just want to hold their writing in print. There are young aspiring poets, generations of memoirs and established authors experimenting with future work, across all formats and genres.
There are a lot of options to publish online. Why Tablo?
Great question. The publishing landscape is complicated. We’ve worked hard to create the easiest way to publish, the most comprehensive way to distribute, and the best possible terms for authors.
We tend not to focus on our competition, but there are few comparisons that might help. Our biggest competitor is Amazon’s KDP. Using Tablo or KDP might be the hardest choice an author has to make. The key difference is that, when publishing with Amazon directly, you end up with a book that is only on Amazon. When publishing with Tablo, your book is published with Amazon and all of their competitors, like Barnes & Noble, Apple and nearly 40,000 others.
The creation experience is also very different. Platforms like Amazon require authors to join with publish-ready book assets – the kind of assets that can cost hundreds of dollars to produce. With Tablo, you can simply create your book and click a publish button. You don't need a degree in file preparation, or even any ISBNs, and your eBook, Paperback and Hardcover will be published with the click of a button.
There are self-publishing platforms like Smashwords that allow you to upload and distribute an eBook to dozens of retailers, in return for a commission. Tablo’s distribution network is thousands of times larger, includes paperback publishing, provides authors with 100% of their sales proceeds, and you’ll receive the author profile and social tools to help you establish an audience online. Uploading, writing and editing a book on Tablo is also more enjoyable than any other platform.
One of the main reasons authors choose Tablo though is because of our focus on support. We really care about providing great, consultative, high quality support to our writers.
How does Tablo make money? And how does this business model compare to other self-publishing companies?
Publishing with Tablo requires a flat subscription payment. So far as we can tell, we are one of the only self-publishing platforms that operates on a subscription model, and doesn't take your royalties.
Tablo is profitable, so you can be confident that we'll be here to support your book for a long, long time. We know that most authors won't care about our profitability, but we feel that it's important to share. We hear a lot of horror stories about writers who spend thousands upfront to publish with other companies, only for the company to go out of business. Tablo is profitable and growing.
Most self-publishing platforms like SmashWords and Amazon will take a 10-20% commission on your sales price in addition to the 40% commission taken by retailers. We don't take a commission for two reasons: Firstly, we want to offer the most author-friendly terms available in the industry. And secondly, as a business, it is more sustainable for us to measure our own income when we see a regular and consistent subscription from each book. It means we can invest fully in supporting your book, regardless of how many copies it sells. A sensible and strong business model like this is one of the main reasons Tablo has grown in this industry, when many other independent publishing companies have fallen.
This kind of model is uncommon in publishing, but very common in other industries. If you sign up for a blogging or a website service like SquareSpace or WordPress, you expect to pay a flat monthly or an annual fee for hosting your website, and the platforms won't have any ownership in your business. Tablo's business model is just like that of a blogging service, only rather than getting a website, you get a book in nearly every bookshop.
Are there any plans to offer an iPhone or Android app?
There sure are! As we're a small team, we know we can build a significantly better experience for writers and readers if we focus on one platform at a time. That's why the majority of our work has focused on the web. We do however have a lot of demand for an iOS and Android app (you should see the number of tweets and emails we get), and we are planning on introducing these new platforms soon.
Is there anything else I should know?
Yes. We have an office dog called Molly.
I have a question that hasn't been answered here!
We'd love to hear it! Send us an email at email@example.com, or click the chat bubble on the bottom right corner of the page. Thanks for reading this far :)
Is there a way for me to download my book as a pdf?
Your work is really hard. Thank you
I appreciate your hard work & commitment since your business model is based on creating synergy among your team and the authors whom you value their work
Fuzhou borni pharmaceutica main products are API and hygienic materials, medical equipment,eterinary medicine packaging materials and veterinary medicine packaging machines
friendly terms and conditions and easy read instructions
on how to become a part of you.
Natasha Barretts comment is concerning
and Eva Kalaudas question is also one I would like answered.
Seems like a good guy trying to let others get a break
Sounds like a company with integrity
I am sure I will like working with them
Good on you Ash Thanks