Ebook Publishing Checklist - California State Writers, Sacramento


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Learn how to prepare, publish and distribute an ebook to leading ebook retailers Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. This presentation outlines a simple ebook publishing checklist to help writers publish and distribute a book at little to no cost. Presented by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, at the July 21, 2012 meeting at the California State Writers, Sacramento branch.

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Ebook Publishing Checklist - California State Writers, Sacramento

  1. 2. My Backstory
  2. 3. Is Big Publishing Broken? <ul><li>Books judged on perceived commercial potential </li></ul><ul><li>Readers shut out </li></ul><ul><li>Publishers unable to take a risk on every author </li></ul>
  3. 4. My Answer: <ul><li>Ebook publishing and distribution platform </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Authors decide what’s published </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>FREE ebook publishing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution to major ebook retailers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authors earn 85% of profit </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. How Smashwords Works <ul><li>UPLOAD </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Upload a Microsoft Word file, formatted to our Style Guide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free conversion to 9 ebook formats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ready for immediate sale online </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DISTRIBUTE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution to major retailers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>GET PAID </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Author receives 85% of net = 60% list from major retailers </li></ul></ul>
  5. 6. Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 140 6,000 28,800 92,000 +
  7. 8. Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org
  8. 9. Why ebooks are hot <ul><li>Screens offer better reading experience than paper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Changeable font size A A A A </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Portable and compact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Screens will get better/faster/cheaper </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ebooks offer better consumer experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lower price than print </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Convenient sampling and purchasing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Huge selection </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. Ebooks Enable Democratized Publishing and Distribution <ul><li>Free publishing tools empower authors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free printing press in the cloud </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution to all major online bookstores </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Indies Can Out-Publish Big Publishers <ul><li>Asymmetric competition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>field tilted in indie’s favor </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Smaller indie authors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>democratized distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>instant access to global market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lower expenses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>never go out of print </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>earn more per book </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. Indie ebook economics favor indies <ul><li>Higher royalties than traditional </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Earn 60-80% list price for indie ebooks vs. 5-17% from traditional publishers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lower priced ebooks earn more per copy than traditionally pubbed print </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Earn more on a $.99 ebook ($.60) than a traditional author earns on an $8 mass market paperback ( <$.40 ) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lower price = reach more readers = more sales at higher profits per sale </li></ul></ul></ul>MMP=Mass market paperback, aka “pocket book” in some countries
  12. 13. Planning your move to ebooks
  13. 14. Checklist for Publishing an Ebook <ul><li>Finish the book </li></ul><ul><li>Format the book prior to conversion </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare cover image </li></ul><ul><li>Ebook conversion to multiple formats </li></ul><ul><li>Pricing </li></ul><ul><li>ISBNs </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright </li></ul><ul><li>Choose distribution methods, upload </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing * </li></ul>
  14. 15. Finish Your Book <ul><li>Ebook publishing tools make publishing fast, free, easy, but… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These tools don’t make it easy to write a great book </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You’re the publisher, act like one </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Edit, edit, edit, revise, revise, revise </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Involve beta readers (then revise again) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hire professional editor if necessary </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Ebook Formatting
  16. 17. Formatting is the process of preparing your book for conversion to an ebook
  17. 18. Formatting for Smashwords Over 140,000 Downloads!
  18. 19. Formatting Secrets <ul><li>Forget (some of) what you know </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t try to make e- look like p- </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ebooks consumed differently than print </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Less = more with ebooks </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Liberate text from complex formatting and layout </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Separate images from the text </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Design for reflowability , small screens </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 20. Ebook devices (and customers) shape shift text <ul><li>Example of Smashwords novel, All Good Things Die in L.A. by Anhoni Patel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>iPhone, using the Stanza reader. User-selected options: Font: Verdana; Background pattern: Stone carving; text color: Dark Violet; Font size: larger than normal </li></ul></ul>
  20. 21. Cover Image
  21. 22. Create Your Ebook Cover <ul><li>Covers are important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First impression </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Covers are both marketing and content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing: Draw reader in </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content: Adds to enjoyment of book </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should look </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>engaging, matched to target audience </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>professional </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>good as thumbnail </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>good as B&W, greyscale </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 23. DIY Cover, or Hire Professional? <ul><li>Many high-quality free graphics programs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gimp </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Paint.net </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unless you’re an expert graphic designer or cover designer, it’s usually best to hire </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Email [email_address] for low cost cover designers and formatters </li></ul></ul>
  23. 24. Don’t be Lazy
  24. 25. Don’t be Dim Le Peuple de L’Etat de New York Contre Dominique Strauss-Khan
  25. 26. Most of us design poor covers
  26. 27. So I Hired a Pro for $45.00 Send email to: [email_address] for “Mark’s List”
  27. 28. Conversion
  28. 29. Conversion = Turning your manuscript into an ebook file readable on multiple ebook reading devices
  29. 30. E-reading Devices
  30. 31. Ebook Conversion Options <ul><li>Conversion Options </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Automated (Smashwords, Amazon) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct from book layout software (save as PDF, EPUB) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DIY conversion tools (Calibre, Sigil: Google ‘ebook conversion tools’) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hire ebook formatter/ designer/coder (Complex books) </li></ul></ul>
  31. 32. Pricing
  32. 33. Pricing <ul><li>Determine objective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Platform building, revenues, or both? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Think like a fisherman </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blended strategy of chum and hooks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Non-fiction supports higher prices than fiction </li></ul><ul><li>Price is not sole determining factor </li></ul>
  33. 34. Considerations Beyond Price
  34. 35. Considerations Beyond Price <ul><li>Length </li></ul><ul><li>Reader passion </li></ul><ul><li>Author platform </li></ul><ul><li>Earn reader trust at each step? </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing that builds urgency </li></ul><ul><li>Series or not </li></ul><ul><li>Perceived value </li></ul>More info, Google: Pricing Strategies for Ebooks (Interview with Mark Coker)
  35. 36. ISBN
  36. 37. What’s an ISBN? <ul><li>What it is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unique digital identifier </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A 13-digit number </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps supply chain communicate about book </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Required for distribution to Apple, Sony, Kobo </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What it is NOT: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does not connote ownership or copyright </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does not imply “professional” or “real” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not a common discovery method </li></ul></ul>
  37. 38. Where to Obtain an ISBN <ul><li>Go to Bowker.com </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expensive unless you purchase blocks of 10+ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lists you as “publisher” in Books in Print </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Go to Smashwords </li></ul><ul><ul><li>FREE ISBNs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>$9.95 (not recommended), lists you as “publisher” </li></ul></ul>
  38. 39. Copyright
  39. 40. Copyright Simplified <ul><li>By publishing something you created, you have copyright </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright entitles you to an exclusive bundle of rights </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The notation of © is optional </li></ul><ul><li>For best legal protection, go to Copyright.gov and register copyright online </li></ul><ul><li>Learn more at the Copyright Clearance Center at www.copyright.com </li></ul>
  40. 41. Distribution to Retailers
  41. 42. Ebook retailers want indie ebooks Mobile apps
  42. 43. Does Marketing Matter?
  43. 44. Focus on Discoverability (making your book findable) <ul><li>Availability (distribution) precursor to discovery </li></ul><ul><li>MobileRead survey </li></ul><ul><ul><li>See analysis at Smashwords Blog: How Ebook Buyers Discover Ebooks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple touch points </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>29% rely on recommendations from online communities/message boards </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>18% search for favorite authors </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nearly 50% use some method of “random” discovery </li></ul></ul></ul>
  44. 46. The Plan Forward
  45. 47. You are the future of publishing
  46. 48. You are your own gatekeeper
  47. 49. YOU decide when your manuscript graduates to PUBLISHED BOOK
  48. 50. Support ALL your retailers Diversify your exposure
  49. 51. Take risks, experiment
  50. 52. Think Globally
  51. 53. Within a Few Years, the Market for Your Books Outside the US will Dwarf the US Market Already, ~50% of Smashwords Apple iBookstore Sales are Outside the US
  52. 54. You Have the Tools to Reach a Worldwide Market Today
  53. 55. Final Thoughts <ul><li>Power of publishing is shifting to authors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You and your readers determine your success </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunity to reach readers with your words has never been greater </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Go serve your readers! </li></ul>
  54. 56. Ebook Publishing Resources <ul><li>Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook) </li></ul><ul><li>Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book) </li></ul><ul><li>Mark’s List – Low cost formatters, cover designers [email_address] </li></ul>
  55. 57. Thank you for listening! Q&A Connect with me: Web: www.smashwords.com Blog: blog.smashwords.com Twitter: @markcoker Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker HuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker Email: [email_address]