Ebook Publishing in the Classroom

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During a five-week period in 2014, 116 freshman high school students collaborated to professionally write, produce, publish, promote and sell an anthology of original poetry. At the start of the …

During a five-week period in 2014, 116 freshman high school students collaborated to professionally write, produce, publish, promote and sell an anthology of original poetry. At the start of the project, Mark Coker, one of the originators of the project, presented a one-hour talk introducing students to the project and the process of professional ebook publishing. The following week, he presented a talk on ebook publishing best practices (how to publish like a pro). These two presentations have been combined here into a single Slideshare deck. Educators seeking to incorporate ebook publishing into their classroom are invited to download these presentations and modify them for their own purposes.

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  • 1. Introduction to Ebook Publishing How to Produce, Publish, Price, Distribute, Promote and Sell an Ebook March 28, 2014 Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords
  • 2. About this Presentation • During a five-week period in 2014, 116 high school students collaborated to professionally produce, publish, distribute and promote Windows to the Teenage Soul, an anthology of original poetry. • Purchase the ebook at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/431588 and at most major ebook retailers. The book includes a Teacher’s Guide in the appendix designed to help fellow educators bring ebook publishing to their classrooms. It includes project plans, timelines and other guidance. • To kick off the project, Mark Coker presented this introduction to ebook publishing to students. The week after, he presented a talk on ebook publishing best practices, integrated into this Slideshare deck as Part II. • Educators interested to incorporate an ebook publishing project into their classroom have Mark Coker’s permission to download these presentations from Slideshare and modify them for their own purposes. Or, contact Smashwords for more recent versions.
  • 3. My Backstory
  • 4. The Smashwords Backstory • Met wife-to-be • Wrote a novel  got great agent  got rejected by publishers  decided to try to fix the problem
  • 5. The Problem: Why Traditional Book Publishing is Broken • Publishers judge books based on perceived commercial merit • they can only guess what readers want to read • Publishers unable to take a risk on every author • millions of writers rejected • Print books are too expensive • limits affordability and accessibily
  • 6. Back in the Dark Ages (6 yrs ago), Publishers Controlled Everything • They controlled the … • printing press • distribution • knowledge to professionally publish
  • 7. My Answer: Smashwords • * FREE * eBook Publishing Platform  Free ebook printing press  Distribution to major ebook retailers and libraries  Free learning materials help writers become professional publishers
  • 8. Ebooks published at Smashwords 140 6,000 28,800 92,000 191,000 276,000
  • 9. How Smashwords Works • UPLOAD • Word .doc or .epub • Instant, free ebook conversion • Instantly for sale • DISTRIBUTE • Distribution to retailers and libraries • GET PAID • Author earns 60-80% list
  • 10. Quick Overview of The Ebook Market
  • 11. Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org. 2012-13 Smashwords estimate
  • 12. Publishers losing their monopoly • Writers no longer need publishers to publish, distribute and sell books • Writers asking two questions: 1. “What can a publisher do for me that I can’t do for myself?” 2. “Will a publisher actually harm my ability to reach readers?”
  • 13. Indies are hitting the bestseller lists • Self-published ebooks scaling all the bestseller lists • Self-published titles on the NYT list nearly every week • Prediction: Within three years, over ½ of ebook bestsellers on NYT list will be indie ebooks
  • 14. Advantages of Indie Authorship • Indie ebook author advantages • faster time to market • creative control • better distribution to global market • immortal ebooks never go out of print • lower expenses • lower prices to consumers • earn more per book
  • 15. QUADRUPLE +
  • 16. Indie Ebook Authors Earn Higher Percentage of List Price • Indies earn more at lower prices • At $2.99, indies earn ~$2.00. Traditional author would have to price over $10 to earn $2.00 • Lower price = reach more readers = more sales at higher profits per sale 60-80% 12-17% Indie Traditional
  • 17. Let’s learn how to publish, distribute and sell an ebook!
  • 18. Checklist for Publishing an Ebook  Finish a super-awesome book  Format the book prior to conversion  Prepare cover image  Prepare the metadata  Ebook conversion to multiple formats  Pricing  ISBNs  Copyright  Distribution to retailers, libraries  Piracy  Marketing
  • 19. Finish Your Super-Awesome Book • Ebook publishing tools make publishing fast, free and easy … • … but they don’t make it easy to write a great book • Your book must move the reader to an emotionally satisfying extreme • You are the author and the publisher • Edit, revise, edit, revise • Involve beta readers (then revise again)
  • 20. Ebook Formatting
  • 21. Formatting is the layout and design process to prepare your book for publication
  • 22. Formatting for Smashwords 350,000+ downloads! It’s FREE!
  • 23. Formatting Secrets • Forget (some of) what you know • Don’t try to make e- look like p- • Ebooks consumed differently than print • Design for reflowability, small screens • Less = more with ebooks
  • 24. Reflowability: Ebook devices (and customers) shape shift text • Example of Smashwords novel, Heller by JD Nixon as viewed in iBooks e- reading app • Users can select font style, font size and nightime mode, or view in portrait or landscape mode. Reflowability enables this!
  • 25. Cover Image
  • 26. Create Your Ebook Cover • Covers are important • First impression • Great covers make a promise • Make it:  engaging, matched to target audience  professional  good as thumbnail
  • 27. What’s this book about?
  • 28. Don’t be sloppy
  • 29. Don’t do this either
  • 30. Great covers make a promise
  • 31. Great covers make a promise
  • 32. Great covers make a promise
  • 33. Great covers make a promise
  • 34. Great covers make a promise
  • 35. Great covers make a promise
  • 36. Great covers make a promise
  • 37. Metadata
  • 38. Metadata is data that makes your book discoverable in a store Book title Book description Author name Book category Price Publication dateISBN Language Tags
  • 39. Ebook Conversion
  • 40. Conversion = Turning your formatted manuscript into an ebook file readable on multiple ebook reading devices
  • 41. E-reading Devices
  • 42. Automated Ebook Conversion Works at Smashwords
  • 43. Pricing
  • 44. How Price Impacts Units Sold
  • 45. What Price Yields the Greatest Author Earnings?
  • 46. ISBN
  • 47. What’s an ISBN? • What it is: • Unique digital identifier • A 13-digit number • Helps supply chain communicate about book • Required for Smashwords distribution to Apple, Kobo, others • Where to get an ISBN: • FREE at Smashwords
  • 48. Copyright
  • 49. Copyright Simplified • By publishing something you created, you have copyright • Copyright entitles you to an exclusive bundle of rights • The notation of © is optional • For best legal protection, go to Copyright.gov and register copyright online
  • 50. Distribution to retailers and libraries
  • 51. Smashwords Distribution Network
  • 52. Piracy
  • 53. Everything you need to know about piracy • Don’t worry about piracy • Obscurity is your biggest risk • Black hat pirates who steal your book wouldn’t have purchased it anyway • Most piracy is accidental – think of it as enthusiastic fans marketing your book for you • Combat piracy by making the ebook easier to buy than steal
  • 54. Marketing
  • 55. Marketing • Marketing is a catalyst, not fuel • Your book is your best marketing • Reader word of mouth determines your success • Focus on discoverability • Viral catalysts amplify word of mouth
  • 56. What’s a Viral Catalyst? • A viral catalyst is something that makes your book more available, accessible, desirable and enjoyable to readers • Read the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (it’s FREE!) to learn how viral catalysts spur word-of-mouth
  • 57. Viral Catalysts • Every thing you do right increases virality Great cover Great book Broad distribution Fair price Good categorization Professionally edited Great formatting Great title Great book description Great marketing Social media enabled Sampling enabled Multiple formats LUCK! • Fall short anywhere and you create unnecessary friction
  • 58. The Plan Forward
  • 59. YOU have a right to publish
  • 60. YOU are your own gatekeeper YOU decide when your writing graduates to published book
  • 61. Honor your readers Give them a great book (and do it faster with lower prices)
  • 62. Why this LGHS/LGPL/Smashwords Project is Important This Project will Inspire the Next Generation of Writers – Your Peers – to Write and Publish Great Books This project will likely be duplicated in thousands of other classrooms around the world
  • 63. Let’s Change the World
  • 64. Free Ebook Publishing Resources • NEW! Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors) • Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book) • Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook)
  • 65. Learn how to e-publish like a pro with Smashwords Tutorials at Youtube at youtube.com/user/Smashwords 65
  • 66. Thanks for Listening! Connect with Mark Coker and Smashwords: Web: www.smashwords.com Blog: blog.smashwords.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markcoker Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker HuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker Twitter: @markcoker
  • 67. About Part II • During a five-week period in 2014, 116 high school students collaborated to professionally produce, publish, distribute and promote an anthology of original poetry. • View the ebook at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/431588 • This is part II of the presentation, in which he discussed ebook publishing best practices (how to publish like a professional). • Educators interested to incorporate an ebook publishing project into their classroom are invited to download these presentations from Slideshare and modify them for their own purposes. Or, contact Smashwords for more recent versions.
  • 68. Let’s talk best practices
  • 69. Q: What’s a best practice? A: It’s the secret to accomplishing your goal
  • 70. Most Common Writer Goals: Reach readers Earn income
  • 71. Platforms like Smashwords make ePublishing and eDistribution Easy…
  • 72. Reaching Readers is Still Difficult * * but achievable if you emulate best practices
  • 73. Let’s review the best practices of the best-selling indie authors
  • 74. Secret One
  • 75. #1 Your best marketing is a great book • With the power to publish comes the responsibility to be a great publisher • Honor your reader with a great book • Move reader to a satisfying emotional extreme • Turns readers into evangelists • Be fanatical about quality • Edit, revise, edit, revise, repeat, proof • Leverage beta readers
  • 76. Secret Two
  • 77. #2 Create a Great Cover image • Invest in a quality cover image • Your first impression on path to discovery • Look professional • Resonate with target audience • Should arrest reader with thumb nail • Makes a promise to the reader
  • 78. What’s this book about?
  • 79. Don’t be sloppy
  • 80. Don’t do this either
  • 81. Would you buy this book?
  • 82. Or dimmer
  • 83. Great covers make a promise
  • 84. A case study… The evolution of one cover
  • 85. to this cover
  • 86. … to this cover…
  • 87. The cover sparked a breakout at Apple
  • 88. And landed her on the NY Times Bestseller List
  • 89. Secret Three
  • 90. #3 Publish Another Great Book • The best-selling authors on Smashwords offer deep backlists • Each new ebook offers opportunity to • cross-promote other titles • build trust with your reader • build your brand
  • 91. Secret Four
  • 92. #4 Give (some of) Your Books away for Free • If you have a deep backlist, offer at least one full-length book for free • Eliminates financial risk for first-time readers • ~91X more downloads • Turbocharges a series • Free works for standalone promos too • The highest grossing authors at Smashwords offer at least one free book
  • 93. Secret Five
  • 94. #5 Patience is a Virtue • Ebooks are immortal • Never go out of print • When your book lands at retailer, it’s a seedling, nourish it • Never remove • Ebooks develop differently • Traditional print books – big sell-in, then yanked from shelves, then sales go to zero • Ebooks – can start small and grow slowly before breakout • Let’s look at some examples…
  • 95. Slow boil, breakout, slow boil, bigger breakout
  • 96. Slow boil, breakout, slow boil, smaller breakouts
  • 97. Slow boil to breakout Ruth Ann Nordin’s An Inconvenient Marriage
  • 98. Secret Six
  • 99. #6 Maximize Distribution, Avoid Exclusivity • Ebook retailing is not like sports, politics or religion • If your book is not available at every retailer, it’s not discoverable or purchasable • Exclusivity • angers fans • limits audience • limits merchandising opportunities • increases your dependence upon a single sales outlet
  • 100. Smashwords Distribution Network
  • 101. Secret Seven
  • 102. #7 Build a Platform You Control • Platform is your ability to reach and cultivate fans • Platform gives you control, leverage • Let fans decide how to connect • Facebook • Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn • Blog and/or website • Mailing list subscription • Include “Connect with the author” links at the end of every book (more on this later!)
  • 103. Secret Eight
  • 104. Secret #8 Use Viral Catalysts to Drive Word of Mouth • Books have always been a word of mouth business • Think about the first reader • Every reader represents a chance to reach more readers • How they react determines your success • Viral catalysts improve your odds of sparking word of mouth
  • 105. What’s a Viral Catalyst? • A viral catalyst is anything that makes your book more available, accessible, desirable and enjoyable to readers • Read the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (it’s FREE!) to learn how viral catalysts spur word-of-mouth
  • 106. Viral Catalysts • Every thing you do right increases virality Great cover Great book Broad distribution Fair price Good categorization Professionally edited Great formatting Great title Great book description Great marketing Sampling enabled Multiple formats Patience LUCK! • Fall short anywhere, and you undermine true potential
  • 107. The Viral Dream First reader More Readers
  • 108. Viral Decay, The Reality First reader Readers
  • 109. Negative Virality First reader This book sucks!!!! = Last reader Fun fact: 29 of 30 Apple bestsellers had rating of 4.5 stars
  • 110. Secret Nine
  • 111. Secret #9 Leverage Preorders! • A preorder allows you to collect orders before the book officially goes onsale • At Apple and Kobo, accumulated sales credit all at once on “onsale” date • Budget 4-6 week preorder “runway” • Execute multi-part advance marketing plan • Increases retailer merchandising opps • Smashwords delivers preorders to Apple, B&N and Kobo!
  • 112. A Smashwords Preorder at B&N
  • 113. A Smashwords Preorder at iBooks
  • 114. A Smashwords Preorder at Kobo
  • 115. Apple iBooks Merchandising (1) Your preorder is automatically merchandized alongside all your other titles, making it easy for fans to reserve a copy now, before they forget.
  • 116. Apple iBooks Australia Home Page Preorder Merchandising (2) Cool beans. Three Smashwords preorders featured on iBooks homepage. Huge! Thank you Apple iBooks Australia, and congrats to Smashwords authors Lili Saint Germain, Kirsty Moseley and Amy Miles!
  • 117. WHEN ENJOYING THE CHASE WENT ONSALE, IT HIT #1 IN MULTIPLE COUNTRIES
  • 118. Secret Ten
  • 119. Secret #10 Collaborate with Fellow Authors • Authors working together to reach more readers • Publish collaborations • Short story collections • Box sets of full-length • Joint promos • They have fans you don’t reach, you have fans they don’t reach • Everyone wins
  • 120. Secret Eleven
  • 121. Secret #11 Add three sections to backmatter 1. About Yourname Lastname • Short bio 1. Other books by Yourname Lastname • Title 1 • Title 2 1. Connect with Yourname Lastname • Facebook: • Twitter: • Web site: • Blog: • Smashwords author page:
  • 122. Secret Twelve
  • 123. Secret #12 Pinch Your Pennies • You’re running a business • Profit = Sales minus Expenses • Most books don’t sell well (!!!!) • NEVER borrow money to publish a book • NEVER spend or invest money you need for food and shelter • DIY then reinvest
  • 124. Secret Thirteen
  • 125. Secret #13 Think Globally
  • 126. Apple, B&N, Kobo, Amazon and others are going global You Have the Tools to Reach a Worldwide Market Today The tools are FREE
  • 127. The market for your English-language books outside the US will soon dwarf the US market Apple operates iBooks in 51 countries. We distribute to Apple. In 2013, over 40% of Smashwords Apple iBooks sales were outside the US
  • 128. NOW GO FINISH YOUR SUPER- AWESOME BOOK
  • 129. Q&A Connect with Mark Coker and Smashwords: Web: www.smashwords.com Blog: blog.smashwords.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markcoker Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker HuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker Twitter: @markcoker
  • 130. Free Ebook Publishing Resources • Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors) • Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book) • Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook)