What You Need to Know Before You Self-Publish Your eBook
Before you publish your eBook you need to know about the services on offer and a little bit about the history of self-publishing.
The service below will publish and distribute your eBook files, but require you to do all of the preparation and uploading of your files.
Draft2Digital - Cost $0. Distribution to everyone else.
Amazon KDP - Cost $0. eBook distribution in Amazon.
IngramSpark - Cost $49. Distribution everywhere but Amazon.
CreateSpace - Cost $0. Print Distribution to Amazon.
BookBaby - Cost eBook conversion and distribution $199.
A Bit of History
In the old days of self-publishing a substantial amount of money was required to invest with a so-called "vanity" press.
By the late 90's this all changed with the arrival of POD (print-on-demand) allowing books to be printed one at a time. These companies offered low-cost self-publishing to all. Their costs were low because the only expense incurred was that of book creation. These companies (iUniverse, Xlibris and AuthorHouse) (were merged and became AuthorSolutions) authors would sell only a few dozen copies at best.
Developments Since 2007
With the rise of eBooks traditional publishing has been transformed. US book sales comprise of 30-35% of eBook sales. Online retailers sell 60% of US book sales (both print and digital), principally through Amazon. You can sell your eBook to the world without a third party helping you.
If you're publishing and selling your eBook yourself POD publishers are no longer relevant to your self-publishing success.
In today's online retail distribution you get the same retail distribution as you would with a traditional publishing house. Through the above mentioned services. Most of which is free. With every copy sold the retailer takes a cut, the same applies to a distributor, they take their.
Before You Begin Digital Publishing
Before you start publishing your eBook ask yourself these questions before you begin:
How will you reach your readers online?
Is your book illustrated? Is colour required? There may be significant challenges when you create and distribute through various channels.
What do your readers prefer, digital or print?
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit your half-way to succeeding online. If you already have a platform as an established blogger it will stand you in good stead in the long run. Don't expect immediate sales, instead sales snowballing gradually over time.
Understanding E-Publishing Services
The most important thing to understand about e-publishing retailers is that they're not publishers. They take no responsibility for your work quality, or any rights to your work. Here are three aspects of major services:
１ No technical expertise required - You're given free automated tools to convert and upload your files. Along with free tutorials and guides to make sure your files are formatted properly.
２ Non-exclusive and at-will - You have the option to edit or remove your files at any time. Allowing you to change the cover, price and description. You can use other services to sell through on your own website.
３ No upfront fee - It's rare to pay an upfront fee. With a distributor such a BookBaby you earn 100% net and pay $199 for conversion and retail distribution.
Again by using these services you don't forfeit any rights to your work.
Two Essential Groups of E-Publishing Services
Most e-publishing services fall into one of these categories:
Single Channel Distribution - These services which are also distributors will distribute your work through one channel or device. Offering no assistance in preparing your files, accepting a wide range of file types. Some examples: KDP and Nook Press.
Multiple Channel Distribution - These services act as a middleman and push your work out to multiple distributors and retailers. You deal with only one service, most well-known of these are Draft2Digital, Pronoun, BookBaby and Smaswords.
One of the best ways to start for new authors is through Amazon KDP.
Formatting and Converting Your eBook Document File
Different services require different formats, which can be a little awkward at times. Technology is changing almost daily these days, so you need to be on your toes and know what to expect when your self-publishing.
Below are the most used formats for eBooks:
PDF: Not easily displayed on grayscale devices and difficult to convert for standard eBook formats.
MOBI: Perfect for Amazon Kindle, even though EPUB works just as well.
EPUB: The global standard for eBooks, working smoothly on most devices. While you're not able to directly create an EPUB file on Word there is software you can use to convert your file.
Which ever file type is required for self-publishing your eBook they all require their own particular formatting. you'll need to do your homework when it comes to formatting your eBook though.
There are some service providers that are customer service oriented that would help take the pressure off such as Draft2Digital and BookBaby. If you're eBook contains a lot of illustrations and has a particular layout you could look into hiring an independent company such as eBookPartnership.
Below are some tools for formatting and converting your eBook:
Find out more with this highly rated course created by Karen Prince - Format in Microsoft Word and Convert to eBook in Calibre.
When it comes to eBook cover design, often a plain design will stand out more than a flashy cover. This is because your cover may be seen in black and white, grayscale, colour, high resolution, low resolution, thumbnail size or full size. It may be worth getting a professional to create your cover for you.
Increasing the Sales of Your eBook
If you're a fairly new author like me, pricing your eBook can be a challenge.
To be honest with you it's difficult to know what to charge, whether you should go cheaper or more expensive, there are many thoughts on both sides on pricing your eBook. Especially when you've spent all of that time and effort creating your eBook. So here are some important points to ponder when you price your eBook:
✤Most new eBook authors and independent novelists start their price point at $2.99. It's often argued as being really cheap and devaluing to the work put in. So your competition will most likely be around that price range or lower. So the more well-known and trusted you are the higher price you can charge.
✤Amazon Kindle book sales are huge these days, accounting for at least 60-70% of all eBook sales in the US. Having an Amazon author page is helpful for sales because this may be the only page your reader will look at before buying your book. If you have reviews they also help towards the sale of your eBook, watched closely by all those in the business for visibility and sales.
✤If you charge $2.99 or over Amazon offer you a 70% commission on all sales of your eBooks. Anything below that and the commission falls to a measly 35%. Which is why so many authors switch their price between 99 cents and $2.99. This helps maximise profit at the low price point. Pushing them onto bestsellers lists.