Thursday, April 10, 2014

EBOOK Publishing in the 21st Century.

The thing about e-book publishing in today’s digital age is how incredibly easy it is to realise the dream of becoming a published e-book author.

With today’s technology ebooks are becoming more popular and much easier to produce. The cost can be minimal, if not free. But it takes a little research to find the right publisher for your book.


Everyone needs to do their research, to find the right home for their work. Today we will go through a few of the topics we need to consider.

Publishing with an ebook publisher v self publishing.

There are several reasons for either option. Control, cost, percentage of royalties etc weigh in favour of self publishing.

Marketing, exposure, creating various formats and distribution are easier through a publishing house. 

Whichever way you decide to go, always check out your choice with sites like Writers Beware. These sites will list any scam or unethical publishers.

Things to consider not in order, but each need thought.

Copyright.  You will need to have a covering statement at the start of your book, protecting you from people copying your work.

Also, beware of using trademarks and names of actual people, quotes, song lyrics and references from text without permission. Unless the quote is in the public domain, it is wise to get permission or create your own version. The large companies will sue. As an editor for a small ebook publisher who doesn't have vast resources, it is one of the house rules, to avoid any threat of copyright infringement. It doesn't matter how small the distribution, if it is out there, with your name attached, take care not to step on any sensitive toes. It can cost.

Images, photos for cover, or as part of the manuscript must have permission for use. It is important to check they are suitable formats for e-publication. Jpeg, grayscale, resolution etc all become important terms.

Introducing your E-Book Acknowledgements, dedication, tag line, blurb and author bios are needed as part of your e-book and sales page. 
A tag line is a twenty word hook to grab a reader's attention.
The blurb is a longer hook. This is where the reader is given a taste of your writing and ability to create interest and share some components of the manuscript.

ISBN.   Most ebook publishers will provide an ISBN  if you want one. If you are just publishing for yourself and are not planning to market or distribute your work, you may not need an ISBN.

If however you plan to sell, distribute and market your e-book, an ISBN is necessary. You can purchase one yourself. They are available and cheaper in lots of ten or so. Again, research will give you the best prices, cost and most ebook publishers will provide one in their publishing package.

Books in print (even self published) with an ISBN also need to have one copy sent off to the National and State Library as ‘Legal Deposits’. It could be worth checking the rules concerning e-books.

Cover.  If you have your own photos, design skills, and ideas, this need not be a challenge. Make sure you have permission to use the images though. Also, ensure you use the highest resolution possible to create your cover. Examples of great ebook covers (Pinterest board) at The Book Designer 

There are places where you can purchase ready made covers. For a price. Some ebook publishers will offer a range of covers. Example of a graphic designer who does ebook covers – includes pricing for covers, book trailers etc 
INDIE Bookcovers

Images are available for purchase from places like Fotolia, Dreamstime, Getty. There are free images available. I was lucky enough to have Rachel Lewis Photography Coffs Harbour  provide the cover images for my books. The cover model was a local Medieval re-enactment enthusiast from Lismore. My CA (cover artist) did the design work.

Remember the cover needs to be impressive even as a thumbnail image. Since that is how it will look on many of the marketing pages. A quick and useful blog post on good ebook cover design is Killer Ebook Covers

Editing.  Finding a crit group, words to avoid, general polishing. Before you decide to show your work to the world, and hope they will purchase it, take the time to make it the best you possibly can.

Find and join a critique group in your genre. It might take a while to find one you can work with. Giving and getting critique that suits your style of writing, your level of commitment and need, may take a few trial and errors working with groups, but it is time well spent when you find a niche.

I joined, found a Fantasy and science fiction group who gave critiques, worked with them through each novel, chapter by chapter. Giving feedback is as important as getting it. You can learn from others’ mistakes. A good critique group should offer advice and support, without being derogatory or inflammatory. Levels of critique need to fit your needs. Participating means you need to reciprocate. Be prepared to go the distance.

Get feedback from beta readers who know your genre or who have the qualifications to check your work.

Find an editor to double check your grammar, spelling and continuity.

Try for the strongest writing you can deliver. Avoid passive voice, POV changes within scenes, weak verbs/adverbs, telling not showing. Get yourself a list of words to avoid and learn how to reword sentences to give the reader a richer, more rewarding experience as they follow your story.

Remember to hook your reader in every chapter, page, paragraph. Make your opening as strong as possible. Remember with ebooks potential readers can often ‘look inside’. Make sure you have a perfect example for them to browse. Weak writing in the opening scene will have a reader closing your book.

Formatting. Then there are the formats. This link will explain nine of the common formats
You need a different format for different e-readers. Kindle, Nook, epub, html, pdfs etc. Formatting for each requires different set ups. MS WORD for example has hidden icons that will spoil transition to many of the ebook formats. Word files need to be changed before publication. Most ebook publishers offer conversion programs to ensure your ebook looks professional.

Remember to look at your work in terms of white space... does your writing look appealing, fit easily on the page, invite the reader to cruise through a read. A balance of spacing, indents, easily read fonts and aesthetic appeal is important to grabbing a reader's interest. It isn't only a great story and good grammar.

MS WORD will allow you to save your manuscript in PDF format. This enables you to check for spacing, and formatting problems. FIX them before you publish. (I recently was asked to read an ebook that had occasional words underlined throughout the text. It made the story unreadable. The words weren't hypertext, nor was the underlining relevant. It just led to head-shaking confusion.)

Distribution. The main reason for choosing to publish with even a small ebook publisher, is to ensure your story is available from the largest number of outlets, and readily available for all types or ereaders. There are far too many sites to name, but getting your book onto the most popular sites should be included in any publishing package. Amazon, of course is a favourite, Barnes and Noble, Omnilit, Smashwords… the list is endless.

Individual sites may have hoops to jump through before accepting your ebook. Check before you publish, if the publisher distributes to your favourite marketing pages, or if you are able to upload y our books yourself.  This is where the different formats become important. Amazon accept Kindle ready formats but you are able to create other formats for other sites. Amazon offers many outlets for your ebook with their affiliated sites. Smashwords takes all types and distributes them on multiple sites. Check where your ebook will be displayed and available for sale, before you sign up for any package.

Also, there are literally thousands of sites who will take your ebook to distribute. If you have the time and patience to approach them. Check out their requirements. Some will only take books they publish, others are more flexible. Be aware they may take a percentage of cost, to host your books.

Marketing. Website, blog, twitter, Pinterest, book trailers, Facebook.  Once you have sorted distribution… the marketing is up to you. A minimum for marketing is running a website. Amazon will offer an author’s page. This is a useful tool that incorporates blog updates. As an author you are able to update it yourself. Even if you are with a publisher marketing will be your responsibility.  There are a few basic tools you need to become familiar with.

Website…where people can find you, your books and links to your sales pages. Linking to your Facebook page or blog can help create interest in you as an author and your books. There are free sites, that are user friendly. Or you can pay for a more professional site, without advertising. Depending on your need.
A blog… a great way to spread the word about your book/s and your interests, a place to show off your work, talk about inspiration, share other authors’ books, find readers, and let them know about releases and interesting events. Blogger and Wordpress are both popular.
Ramblings from Lady Rosalie (you are here now)

Twitter… ditto above… in very small doses.
Facebook… marketing through Facebook via groups, pages, sharing posts… time consuming, but it is one way of getting your name and books known to many. It is also a way to keep people informed about launches, releases and awards etc.
And joining groups related to your genre/topic can help reach readers.
Signing book launch coupons, pricing. If you choose to self publish your ebook you can still do book launches and signings. There are several ‘ebook’ signing programs now. Also, at an ebook launch you can hand out postcards of the cover, brochures, and even coupons that enable the reader to download the ebook. If you are with a publisher these coupons should still be available on request.

Autography is one online site offering e-book signings.

Sales, royalties, paypal, credit card management. If you choose to publish your ebook and distribution and sales are NOT included in the package, you can still handle the sales yourself. You will need to implement a secure payment page on your website. There are different programs available. If you are not computer literate, get help!
If you feel confident to create your own online shopping page, this is one example of DIY Sales software I have seen used...E-JUNKIE

With an ebook publisher this side of things is taken care of. This is where you need to do your research. Talk to other authors who are with the publisher. There are so many dodgy publishers out there. Their sites look great but when it comes to payment of royalties, setting prices, specials and tracking sales etc and paying on time and remaining honest, their records are less than impressive.

Doing your own publishing, through a site like Amazon or Smashwords, you can set your own prices. You have control of costs and the large sites will have tracking records for you to follow. The smaller sites need to be assessed individually. It is the ability to set your own prices, claim the higher royalties and monitor sales that makes self publishing more attractive. It is imperative you do your research before signing on. What are you able to do, and costs are involved? 

Even FREE ebook publishing means the publisher will take their cut of sales.

An interesting example of hidden costs. An ebook sold through Amazon to a reader in the northern hemisphere will give a higher return to the author than one sold to Australia. Same digital download. Not sure how they figure that one out. How could it cost more to send digitally to Oz? 

Returns, complaints, reviews. Amazon has a two week return policy. If a reader doesn’t like their ebook they can return it. Then it becomes the author’s problem repaying costs. Most ebook publishers will cover their author’s returns. When self publishing… check the publisher’s return policy.

Complaints downloading the various files and formats is common. If you are working through your own website, this will be your problem. If you are with a larger ebook publisher, they will have policies in place. Check them before signing on.

Reviews. These help with marketing, promotion and sales. Blog tours, sharing galleys before release, beta readers are all great places to get a few reviews for your book. Once you have a few, they make good blog posts, Facebook posts etc. There are forums and online sites that offer reviews for different genres. Beware of sites that want payment for reviews.

Right, that’s enough to think about. Let’s explore the world of Ebook publishing…

Smashwords; Createspace; Lulu… Three popular sites. We now know what we are looking for… let’s see how these three sites stack up. What do they offer? How easy are they to navigate? Would they suit our needs?

User name: Coffs Writing Workshop

User Name: Writing Workshop
Account name: Coffs Writing Workshop

There is a PDF document you can down load which is a guide to LULU E-book PUBLISHING . Once you have logged in it should be available to download to an email address.

 Overview… a blog worth reading. "How To Self Publish an Ebook." 

If in doubt "Phone a Friend". Google has most of the answers. 

You are invited to join the inaugural 
Anzac weekend. Dorrigo High School $25 registration fee. Three days of workshops and mingling with other writers.
Click link for program details and registration form.
See  you there!!

Thank you for attending this workshop. I hope it has been of some help.

All images on this blog are used with permission of the author's featured, are images I have taken myself, or are from a photo shoot with Rachel Lewis Photography, or from Fotolia. have provided many useful images for promotion and marketing. 


Wendy said...

Wow! This is sensational. Everything any writer needs to know about writing and publishing. Well done Rosalie. Very impressive.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Thanks, Wendy.

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