With half the world talking about eBooks and self-publishing these days, it behooves every writer — published or unpublished, seeking a traditional contract or planning to go indie — to understand all of the publishing options available and the pros and cons of each.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- 60-70% of eBooks are sold by Amazon (that number is probably already outdated) and Nook just announced they have 25% of the market.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:
- 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.
- Study the competition. Go to the Kindle store, Nook, Smashwords, Scribd, etc. and look for books/titles similar to yours.
- Decide on a format or formats for publication. Learn how to do the formatting/conversion yourself, or hire a formatter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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: Do Your ebook Right, e-publishing, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Kindle, Nook, Scribd, Self Publishing, Smashwords, There are No Rules, Webinar, Writer's Digest, Writing