The process for self-publishing has finally become a cost-effective exercise where the reliance on traditional publishers is no longer the norm. With print on demand and e-publishing now readily available, writing a book is anyone’s game, but as with most things there are rules to winning. Contrary to popular prediction, the internet has not damaged the volume of book sales or diminished the idea of reading a book as a source of entertainment or information. It seems to have enhanced it. The cost of buying an e-book or e-reader may still look like a relatively expensive exercise for now, but competition is driving the prices down. Besides, readers can always access your book on their smart phone, e-reader or through Adobe PDF downloads on their PC. As for the cost of production, the cost is your time and possibly how much you spend marketing your work off and online. In many cases it’s completely free to get to a reasonable stage. What’s more, your e-book can act as a springboard to a lucrative paperback publishing deal if it’s any good to read and you’ve done your homework getting the word out on the available platforms. The big boys in the publishing world may come calling once your sales volumes rise to an encouraging level.
Choose Your Genre
To get your feet wet with online publishing, you can start with non-fiction, such as ‘how-to’ books, which are quite popular in the e-publishing business. These are also an excellent way to promote yourself, your website or online business. You can opt for a style of formal language or lace your writing with wit and humour. There are literally tons of guidelines on writing styles and delivery you can find online, such as inboundpro and bloggersdeck.
Print On Demand Option
We won’t go too far into the subject of designing your book, but the main thing to know is what formats are available to you. The e-book option is simply putting your text together complete with a well-designed cover in the form of a PDF and uploading it to your bookseller account. It’s that simple in theory. To get that great book cover design done is not the hardest thing to do. A graphic designer plying his/her trade on Gumtree or any of the freelance websites can be commissioned for as low as Â£40 for a great cover. Better still, you can recruit the services of student or recent graduate who’d be willing to tackle the work for free in order to help build up their portfolio. Publishing with print on demand is where the physical world meets the virtual. The big players are lulu.com and bookmasters.com. There are others, of course, but the user interface and account system for these two are very easy to get to grips with. All you do is use their templates to place your PDF files of finished content and cover on to the system and in a few clicks you have a professionally finished book complete with your set price. We tried this and it took an hour and a half and that’s only because we were a bit too fussy with font choices and general layout.
Lulu.com’s print on-demand service basically gets your book printed in a single or multiple unit. Unlike traditional book printing services, the minimum order does not come in the thousands. You can get one single copy printed at a slightly higher rate than your average book in the shop, but not that much more. Your potential reader can read the synopsis and review of your book from the online bookstore and pay for a print version there and then. Of course, you would need to set the price and earn from your set royalties. Lulu.com and others will process payments and deliver the print version within the week and hey presto! You’re a published author. You do have to be careful how your deal is set up as there are some unhappy authors who are getting very low royalty fees per unit or multiple purchase. It forces them to raise the retail price, which may become an unattractive prospect to the would-be reader. Some royalties are as low as 15% against a retail price of Â£8-9. It’s probably best to stick to one service that offers a decent royalty return in your favour. You also get an ISBN marking for free. This enables the book to be sold for you in multiple bookshops. The beauty of the scheme is that you pay zero set-up fees. Amazon and the big five online sellers can be selling your books as soon as you are ready to release it. With lulu.com, distribution to other bookshops is done on your behalf. Ours was extended to Barnes & Noble plus Amazon, though we limited it back to Lulu.com and took it to Amazon bookstore ourselves to reduce the amount of hungry middle men. We got a better rate for royalties on individual sales.
Format your book and get it up on as many e-book seller websites as possible. The popular ones such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, EPUB, Sony Reader, iTunes and Google books are where to be. The list is endless, they act as virtual bookshops and offer tools to showcase and market your books, much like competitive shelf space within your local bookshop. Try as much as possible to get your book featured, even if it means you have to pay for desirable shelf space. Yes, this happens online too. Like lulu.com, many of these online publishing services provide you with the tools to get your book in e-download format. You need your e-book to be in as many formats as possible. Start with Adobe PDF. Readers can download and read on all or most devices this way. Your book being assessable on Amazon Kindle is a must as that’s where books are sold the most, plus Amazon Kindle readers are the holy grail of reader sales. You can get this done by signing up with an Amazon account and following the upload and format process. If you don’t wish to bother yourself with the process, Amazon and Sony e-reader offer a service to do this for you, all you need do is email the PDF files of your finished product and they will arrange the page formats, size and connect your cover image, all for a small fee. Amazon and the Apple store have a great way to reward good books. There’s a chart system for popular downloads and a recommended titles list.
I’ve listed the cost-effective ways to get your e-book up and ready for trade. The rest is getting the word out and choosing from the various revenue streams. You’d be surprised how many non-traditional options there is to harvest your good work.