Q: If authors want to self-publish, how do they choose between the overwhelming array of self-publishing options for books and ebooks?
Excellent question – and one for which there is no answer. But there are some signposts to consider on this particular path.
Here are my notes by category on some of the options now available (and remember that this information is subject to change at a moment’s notice):
Amazon’s Kindle and CreateSpace:
Let’s say you want to try out Amazon’s Kindle Select option, which requires an exclusive 90-day period on Kindle with the ebook not available for sale anywhere else. You could use Amazon’s POD publisher CreateSpace to convert your book to the Kindle format. (You can read about Kindle Select at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect)
But this conversion service (starting at $69 and going up depending on the complexity of the conversion) is only for a physical book self-published through CreateSpace. (Yes, Kindle Direct Publishing has instructions to do the conversion yourself. Although I may end up doing this, I would prefer someone else whose specialty this is to do it for my ebooks.)
(Note: For CreateSpace you can upload a manuscript in pdf, doc, docx or rtf.)
BookBaby and Smashwords:
I used ebook publishing company BookBaby to convert HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE for ebook formatting because I wanted to try BookBaby’s distribution channels.
For BookBaby a manuscript can be uploaded in pdf, which is good as you do not have to worry about making sure all the formatting codes in the manuscript are correct.
Now let’s say you want to add your published ebook to a Smashwords ebook account. Smashwords does not take a pdf or rtf; it requires a correctly formatted Word doc. You must decide if you really want to spend the time to go through your entire manuscript and check all formatting codes before uploading to Smashwords.
(Note: I am assuming here that, before you self-publish, you hire a copyeditor/proofreader to go over your manuscript unless you are very good at spelling, grammar, etc. Computers usually do not know the difference, for example, between their and there and they’re.)
Book marketing services:
In a comment on a discussion thread in the LinkedIn Book Marketing group I founded and manage (www.LinkedInBookMarketing.com) someone recommend an online book marketing service because his friend had used this service to supposed good results (whatever that means).
Someone rightly asked what kind of book the friend had and the book’s title in order to better evaluate this comment of “good results.”
Then I added that, even if we knew what kind of book and the book’s title, we would not be able to evaluate the friend’s success for purposes of considering this particular book marketing service for ourselves.
Why? Because there are so many additional variables for a book’s success online and offline, including whether the author was active on social media before the book launch, how active was the author during the book launch, etc.
When I work with authors on book marketing, I make it very clear that there are no guarantees that online marketing will sell even one book. What online marketing can do – and do well with the investment of time and effort – is get your books in front of the target audiences you have identified.
Then all those other variables come into play, including how well-written a novel is, how relevant the information of a nonfiction book is, the price of an ebook, etc.
Speaking of the price of ebooks, as someone said the other day about the publishing world, it’s the wild frontier.
Just following the news about U.S. ebook price collusion and what this means for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. is enough to drive authors crazy.
My personal opinion at this time – and I have only my own observations and research on which to base this observation – is that $9.99 should be the highest ebook price, and this should only be for nonfiction titles.
My ebook HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE is currently priced at $9.99. But I would not recommend pricing a novel this high unless you are a famous author.
Physical book vs. ebook:
I had recently decided that ebooks are all that is needed for new books, especially as Smashwords allows each title to have many purchase options, including a downloadable pdf.
Then I read something that made me reconsider this opinion. Someone wrote that he believes there are readers that, after reading an ebook, would want the physical book.
Because it is very inexpensive to publish a POD book through CreateSpace, I have now decided to make my ebooks also available in a physical version. This, of course, becomes another “to do” item on a very long list.
One thing the undertaking of this task requires is the decision of what size to make the physical book, and I am studying this question now. I realize that the optimal (whatever this means) size may vary with each individual book.
In conclusion, there are not necessarily any right answers – and even right answers can change overnight thanks to the speed of change on the Internet.
What does remain as true is that we each have to evaluate these options based on our own goals, time frame, and openness to new opportunities. We are also privileged to have Joylene Butler’s wonderful blog on which to share what we learn.
© 2012 Miller Mosaic, LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and Pinterest) is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com, which is WBENC certified and also builds WordPress websites for clients. Information on her books and ebooks can be found at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com
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Thanks, Phyllis, for another informative post.
For those who entered my ice breakup contest, here’s an update on what’s happening on Cluculz Lake.
Those little white spots on the ice are gulls.