Penguin’s Book Country plans store where self-published authors can sell their ebooks

Book Country, Penguin’s online community for self-published authors, plans to launch a bookstore where authors can sell their ebooks directly. The site, which allows authors to post their writing and give each other feedback, also recently expanded the number of genres that it covers to 60, including literary fiction and nonfiction.

Book Country, which first launched in April 2011, says that it now has 8,300 active members worldwide, with the community growing by 34 percent in 2013. Sixty-three percent of them are located in the U.S., and 37 percent are international. The company also noted that eight of its members have sold books to traditional publishers and that over twenty members have found literary agents.

Authors who sell their ebooks through the Book Country bookstore will get an 85 percent royalty — higher than the 70 percent they  get in the Amazon (s AMZN) Kindle Store and the 65 percent they get at Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press (s BKS), though of course many fewer customers are likely to visit Book Country’s store. They can make their work available in a variety of formats, including EPUB and MOBI.

Book Country also offers packages for self-published authors, ranging from free to $399. Book Country faced intense criticism when it originally launched its self-publishing program in 2011, with authors complaining that the packages — originally priced between $99 and $549 — were too expensive and duplicated functions that authors could easily do themselves for free. The site responded by lowering its prices and increasing royalties.

Penguin also acquired self-publishing services site Author Solutions for $116 million last year. Book Country operates separately from Author Solutions.