Kindle and Nook and iPad, Oh My!

With half the world talking about eBooks and self-publishing these days, it behooves every writer — published or unpublished, seeking a traditional contract or planning to go indie — to understand all of the publishing options available and the pros and cons of each.  A few weeks ago, I attended a webinar entitled Do Your eBook Right by one of those experts – Jane Friedman.  This post highlights just a fraction of what she covered.  If you are at all interested in learning more about the business model behind eBooks and self-publishing, I HIGHLY encourage you to view the webinar, which is now available as an on-demand from Writer’s Digest.  I was blown away by how much I learned in such a short time.

Let me start by saying that I am still 100% committed to finding an agent and publishing my picture books traditionally.  So all you agents out there who were about to start beating down my door?  It’s open!  So why, do you ask, would I be so interested in the eBook business model?  Well, as I already said, every writer needs to be aware of what’s going on in the market because the tectonic shifts that are occurring now will impact all of us.  More specifically, however, I am traveling to Italy this summer with my family, and I am seriously considering self-publishing some writings after I return.  They may take the form of a travel memoir, a niche guide-book, a series of essays or some combination of these.

First, some statistics:

  • ebooks currently comprise about 10% of the total market.
  • 60-70% of eBooks are sold by Amazon (that number is probably already outdated) and Nook just announced they have 25% of the market.
  • Most ebooks are priced between .99 and $9.99, with author revenue percentage varying accordingly.
  • People are more willing to pay for information (nonfiction) than fiction or memoir that is self-published.

Jane spent a lot of time discussing the key formats for ebooks (Kindle/mobi, epub, PDF, etc.), where to get information on how to format them and the basic steps of formatting.  Right now there is not a universally accepted format, so if you want to publish to multiple devices, that means using multiple formats.  She suggested the Smashwords Style Guide as a great place for beginners to get more information.

So how do you do an ebook right?  Here are a few of her suggestions:

  1. Write an excellent book.  As Jane said at the end of the webinar, “With this power (to self-publish) comes great responsibility.”  Self-publishing should not be a way to bypass the revision, editing, and polishing process.
  2. Study the competition.  Go to the Kindle store, Nook, Smashwords, Scribd, etc. and look for books/titles similar to yours.
  3. Decide on a format or formats for publication.  Learn how to do the formatting/conversion yourself, or hire a formatter.
  4. CREATE A STELLAR BOOK COVER.  Jane said the book cover is the first and most important impression you give to potential readers.  The cover needs to look good in large format and as a thumbnail, in color and in greyscale.  If you can’t do it yourself, hire a designer.
  5. Set a strategy for the release of your book.  Will you publish only to Kindle in order to drive readers there (and likewise, increase your ranking)?  Will you start with Kindle and then add additional formats, publish to all formats all at once?  PDF only?  There are many options, so it is imperative to think them through in order to determine how to maximize your sales or meet your personal goals.
  6. MARKET YOUR BOOK.  Forget about “Publish it and they will come.”  They won’t.  You need a serious marketing plan.  Jane spent a great deal of time on this subject in the webinar, so if you want her detailed insight on marketing an ebook, I again suggest you check out the webinar.

Want more information?  In addition to the webinar, check out Jane’s blog, There Are No Rules.  Just be prepared to have your head spin from all the information there.  These two articles, in particular, are relevant.

4 Key Categories of Self Publishing

10 Tips for Effective Book Covers

Here are the websites of some of the key e-publishers. Newbies can get a wealth of information from the user forums:

Kindle Direct Publishing

Smashwords (format compatible with Nook, Sony, iBookstore, etc.)

Scribd (pdf only)

PubIt (Barnes & Noble Nook)

What about you? Have you or would you self-publish an ebook?

Categories: Books, ebooks, Publishing, Self Publishing, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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11 Comments

  1. I’ve been considering a print-on-demand method. Did she discuss this at all? It’s not really an e-book, though.

    • She touches on it briefly in the webinar, but if you look at the 4 types of self publishing article, there is more about it there.

  2. This information is a must in this changing environment. But, for now, I need to write and I’ll tuck this away for future use.

  3. Julie ~

    You might want to check out the numbers and links in this post:

    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/fun-with-numbers-e-books/

    Example:

    * If your $7.99 paperback sells 30,000 copies, at 8% royalty, you’ll earn $16,299, after paying your agent’s commission.

    * If your $2.99 e-book sells only 10,000 copies, at Kindle’s 70%, you’ll earn $20,930.

    Intrigued?

  4. Wow! Great post. What a lot of information to absorb. Thanks!

  5. Wow, what a load of information! I’m bookmarking this blog post. Thanks for the great summary.

  6. Wow, I didn’t know there was so much information. Thanks for this post and I might check out the webinar later.

  7. Susanna, Julie and Clarissa – glad you found the post helpful. Believe me when I tell you that there is so much more on the webinar. I was overwhelmed at the end of it, but I do think it’s important to start learning about this stuff, at least at a high level.

  8. Exceptional info and great breakdown. There really is a ton of information out there and sifting through it can be a bit ….brain melting. Great post linking all of the relevant info.

  9. This is great info to keep in mind in the constantly changing world of publishing. Thanks for posting it–I’m bookmarking it.

    ~Debbie

  10. Hey Julie, thanks for sharing the info about the webinar with us. Like you, I’m planning to go the agent route, but I’ll be bookmarking this, like many others, just in case 🙂

    Hugs,

    Rach

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