The question I get asked the most about this writing thing I do is, “How do you publish an e-book?” I like to answer, “Upload your book. Then click the publish button.” Frankly, it is as simple as that. But before you upload and before you click the publish button, there are a couple of important decisions to be made.
The most important thing to decide is if you really want to publish this way. If you have an agent working tirelessly for you who is sure of getting you the deal that you have been waiting your whole life for, now is not the time to publish your book yourself. If your query is sitting in a stack on an agent or publisher’s desk and you would be disappointed in yourself for giving up on that dream, then now is not the time for you to publish your book yourself.
But if you want to publish a book through a traditional publisher and are dying to show them your mad skills as a self marketer and your established audience then this could be a perfect time to self publish. More than one contract has been written for authors who have proven their abilities through the sales of their indie books. And likewise, if you couldn’t care less about a contact, but are dying to get your book to market, now isdefinitely the time.
Next you need to decide where you will publish. The simplest, fastest way to get your book to market is through Smashwords.com. They have an easy-to-follow formatting guide and a machine to “smash” your book into all of the necessary formats. Then they distribute the book for you to all of the major e-book retailers except Kindle. Their services are free and the royalties they pay authors are competitive. In addition to all that publishing goodness, the founder of Smashwords, Mark Coker, is very approachable and answers his emails quickly.
Kindle, the e-book platform for Amazon.com, is easy to use as well and an important venue for indie authors. Their community boards are active, fun, and answer questions quickly. And Amazon.com is a great place to wile away the day as a writer. Searching for books and rankings and checking out the competition is one of my favorite ways to procrastinate writing the next book.
If you don’t want to leave distribution up to Smashwords, you can independently publish your novel through Barnesandnoble.com via their Pubit! pogram. The Pubit! program is simple to follow like Kindle and Smashwords. If you can navigate the internet you can publish at any of those three venues. Kobobooks.com also offers publishing to authors through their sites, but there are a few more hoops to jump through. If you want your books at the Sony store, ebookstore.sony.com or at Diesel-ebooks.com you will need to work with Smashwords.
Putting your e-books all in one basket is never a good idea, but there is one hazard with big distribution to know about as well. If one store decides to lower the price of your book then the other sites will as well. When your book is on discount, you don’t earn as much in royalties, but the problem with pricing is a column for another day.
One last decision in the e-book process is whether or not to offer a trade paperback print on demand version of the same book. From my experience it is a value add to the reader. There is time involved in reformatting the book, but the cost to the author to make that book available is as low as six dollars. There are as many print on demand publishers as there are for e-books so this brings a whole new set of decisions to be made. but as far as this column is concerned, a yes or no to print on demand will do.
After you have decided if now is the time and where you want to work and if you are doing a print book as well you, are ready to go! Time spend digging around Smashwords and Kindle a good investment for a novice indie writer. At the end of an afternoon you shouldn’t have any doubt about whether or not independent publishing is for you.
Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of the independently published Mitzy Neuahus Mystery series. In addition to writing mysteries, Traci is a die hard childrens ministry worker. Story telling is her favorite job in the ministry but she also rocks balloon animals and wild games. Traci has written grant proposals, blogs , essays on etymology , Bible studies, Sunday School curriculum, novels, short stories, history essays, and plays. She hopes to do many more of the above, God willing and the creek don’t rise. The Mitzy Neuhaus series is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com in paperback and ebook. More of Traci’s work can be found at http://www.tracihilton.com