How to Publish Your Own eBook By Alicia MorgaCaveat: The information I provide here applies mainly to those who want to write text dominant ebooks(illustrated books have other issues). This quick guide also doesn’t apply to people who want to publishbooks via the traditional route.The first step, of course, is writing the book. After that, it’s a pretty quick process to publishing it as anebook.The ebook market is evolving rapidly and today it’s easier than ever. There are three basic things toconsider when setting out to publish an ebook: 1. Getting your ebook formatted correctly in epub and mobi file formats; 2. Distributing your ebook for sale; and 3. Marketing your ebook.Formatting Your eBookThere are several options for formatting your book. You can use free and paid services that will converta Microsoft Word doc or PDF into epub and/or mobi file formats. The epub format is required forpublishing on iTunes, PubIt (Barnes & Noble’s ebookstore for reading on the Nook) and Google eBooks.The mobi format is required for publishing on Amazon for reading on the Kindle (also called DTP – digitaltext platform or KDP – Kindle Digital Publishing). Further, you can use paid conversion services that willnot only convert your original document into epub or mobi file formats, but also distribute your ebook.Do-It-Yourself Conversion OptionsDo-it-yourself options include:eBookBurn.com: costs $19 to generate both file formatsSigil: free, but definitely a bit more complicated to useCalibre: it’s for larger publishers and doesn’t make individual epub files that wellMobipocket: free, but you do have to download it; it only creates mobi filesPaid Conversion ServicesWith these services you’re paying a person or team to do the formatting work for you.Individuals that do this include Rob Siders and Ray Fowler. I have no experience with either, but theyare mentioned often.Firms that do this include Telemachus Press. They are the publisher for John Locke who is notable forselling over a million ebooks on Amazon. Telemachus will take what you’ve written, help you with the
cover art and put your ebook on Amazon and Smashwords. They charge a one-time fee of $995 (thatdoesn’t include cover art work) for ebook publishing.There are many firms like Telemachus that charge a one-time fee, but the amount charged depends onthe complexity of converting your file into the ebook formats, how much you want to preserve fonts,art-work, etc.Distributing your eBookTelemachus, as part of their one-time fee, will also place your ebook in the Amazon store and onSmashwords. Other service providers, however, do the conversion and distribution of your book forfree, but do take a cut of your royalties (the amount your ebook sells for minus what Amazon, forexample, charges you for selling through them).Royalty Split Conversion ServicesThis is what companies like Smashwords, Lulu, and newcomer Bookhatchery do.Other newer entrants, still in beta, threatening to change the space are Vook and Hyperink (formerlyHyperink Press). It’s unclear as of yet if they will be taking a royalty split.The advantage of services that take a royalty split is they can place your book in multiple ebook storeswithout you having to manage them all. The disadvantage is that they take a royalty split. While mostdon’t take a large portion, any portion of an already small portion is something.What follows is a matrix of your options.
Using a Service Company Conversion Fee for Helps Company Royalty to Distribution Note Service Conversion with Cut Author Partners Cover ArtSmashwords Upload Free No Takes 60% of iBookstore, PubIt, Conversion formatted 10% of retail price Kobo (Borders is tricky word doc sale price on Apple; eBookstore), and may 42.5% of Kindle take retail on several PubIt; 46.7 tries; % of retail getting on Kobo placed in distribution channels is taking a very long time currentlyLulu Upload $99.99 to No Takes 56% of iBookstore, formatted $299 14% of retail price Lulu.com pdf sales on Apple priceFast Pencil Cut and $149 No takes 56% for a Nook,iBookstore, paste word 14% of $2.99 Kindle, Sony into a wizard sales ebook or readers, and or upload price $1.68 Ingram digital formatted network PDFPublish Submit $299 basic No 90% Pay $199Green Word, PDF mobi file upfront to or InDesign $399 for get full file and get ePub and royalty mobi/Kindle Mobi file up file to $897 for othersBookBaby Submit $99 for Yes; No 100% of iBookstore, $99 sign up Word doc, Word, $99 $149 royalty net (after Kindle, Nook, fee plus PDF plus $59 for to cut commission Sony Reader $19 annual st PDF to epub $279 to retailers fee after 1 and mobi; like year more if Amazon) graphic heavy
That being said, it’s actually quite easy (and in some cases even easier) for an author to place her ebookin a retailer directly. Below are your options.Going Direct Company File Required Conversion Royalty to Note Service AuthorAmazon (Kindle) mobi Yes and free. ebook price Pretty fast and easy $2.99 or > author gets 70% of the sale price; 35% < $2.99PubIt epub Yes and free. ebook price Customer support is next Word files into $2.99 or > to nil epub or can author gets 65 % directly upload of the sale price; epub files 40% < $2.99; floor price is $0.99 and ceiling is $199.99Kobo epub Yes, but there is You have to email a fee. $29 for firstname.lastname@example.org most basic to ask to sign up for an conversion. accountiBookstore epub None Apple takes 30% Usually don’t work with of all sales individual authors, only aggregatorsGoogle epub Yes and free. Unclear Takes forever to processeBookstore an ebookEarnings are typically paid out in 60 to 90 days. Amazon pays out every 60 days.What’s the audience for ebooks? Well you can start with the number of ereaders on the market. Thereare approximately 15 million ereaders in the market. Amazon’s Kindle makes up 41.5% of that number.Next is Sony’s E-Reader Pandigital Novel eReader with 16.1% of the market and Barnes & Noble Nookwith 15.4%.The real question, though, is which channels are responsible for the most ebook sales? Industrynumbers say Amazon has 61%, followed by 20% for Barnes & Noble’s Nook, but anecdotally from otherauthors I’ve heard 90% of sales they receive are from Amazon. So this makes using a service that takes aroyalty split on top of what an ebook retailer (e.g. Amazon) charges seem highly unnecessary.
So should you use a conversion service that also does distribution? Many authors are opting out of thispublishing route. More and more ebook authors convert their works themselves and sell throughAmazon and Barnes & Noble directly. Many have abandoned Kobo given the issues Borders has beenexperiencing and many don’t even bother with iBookstore because of the difficulty and very limitedsales now that there’s Kindle for the iPhone/iPad.Finally, I and others have also given up on Google’s eBookstore. They take forever to process an epubfile and it’s completely confusing to set up actually selling your ebook.In my humble opinion, I think it makes the most sense to simply start where the most market traction is– Amazon and Barnes & Noble.If you start there, publishing your own ebook is relatively straight-forward and inexpensive. Your twobiggest expenses will be purchasing an ISBN (required by Amazon and iBookstore to sell on theirplatforms) and having cover art made.Marketing Your eBookThe real challenge, as ever, is marketing your ebook. I’ve found that many use the traditional onlinemethods: 1. Promote via email and social networks (Facebook/Twitter) 2. Write a blog post about it 3. Get someone to review your ebook 4. Do a promotion – give out a free copy 5. Play with the pricing of the ebookIt is interesting that so many companies exist to convert and distribute ebooks when the real need lieselsewhere. Authors need help marketing their books. One company, BookHunch, is trying out a methodto help authors build buzz about their ebooks. Some people use sites like Scribd to do the same thing.You can also publish a pdf easily on Scribd itself and even sell through them. They take a 20% cut oryour ebook’s price if you do choose to sell through their site.We’ll see who else takes up the marketing tools for authors challenge.What’s Coming Soon in eBooksLastly, the next frontier is making it easier to produce more dynamic, media rich ebooks. The nextversion of Kindle, Kindle Format 8, seems promising in that allows for different fonts, etc. It doesn’tinclude video but it’s making more possible in terms of design. So stay tuned for that.To check out my first ebook publishing endeavor, seeCreate iPhone Apps That Rock: A Guide for Non-Technical Folks.