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Thread: A Novice's Questions on E-Publishing

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    A Novice's Questions on E-Publishing

    Hallo there,

    I'm looking to finish a book and thought about getting into e-publishing as it seems to have some benefits to it that I like the sound of. Doing research into it though has gotten me some questions regarding the various publishing websites that I'd like some help on finding out some fact. Any help regarding these would be much apprieciated.

    1: Which site in particular has a good reputation for sales/editing?

    2: What costs are there for the author in regards to e-publishing?

    3: As a first time author selling an e-book that's going to be 60,000-65,000 words in length, I expect the price I'd be looking at is $2.99 sort of range?

    Thanks all for your help.

  2. #2
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Are you talking about e-publishing which means publishing a book in digital format, whether self-published or via a commercial publisher?

    Are you talking about submitting a ms. to a commercial e-publisher or print publisher with e-publishing as well, that will pay an advance, offer royalties on sales, edit, typeset/product the ebook, and distribute it to various e-retailers ?
    Are you talking about self-publishing a book using a vendor-retailer-service provider combination like Amazon's Kindle publishing program and/or Smashwords? They do not edit, proof, or design the ebook, nor do they pay advances.

    These are not the same; what's best for you depends on your book and what you want.

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  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Ah, my apologies, should have been more specific. I meant for publishing as in places like Lulu or Smashword. I'm not really fussed about advances or anything like that, I'd just like the book out there truth be told.

  4. #4
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    You're asking about self publishing, then.

    I'll move this to the right room, so you'll get more useful responses.

  5. #5
    Hobbit Botherer Eriador117's Avatar
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    I use smashwords for some of my self-published books and stories. $2.99 seems a little bit on the low side for a book of 60-65,000 words. 3 or 4.99 seems more reasonable for that.

    Smashwords have distribution with places like B&N, Kobo, Sony Store and Apple, some of which can be difficult to get into on your own. They pay quaterly and they've never missed a payment to me.

    Smashwords can offer you a free ISBN and if you can follow their styleguide, you can do the layout yourself for your book. It takes a while!

    Your initial expense would be editing and cover art. There are some places that offer premade cover art starting around the $25 mark, and it goes up from there to over $200 for some designs. So in effect, the cost of publishing is what you're willing to pay for the things you can't do yourself such as editing, cover art and layout.

    But the publishing itself on smashwords can be free. You can get an email list from there of various cover designers, editors etc., but smashwords does not edit your book. They publish it as is, spelling mistakes and all.

  6. #6
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    1: Which site in particular has a good reputation for sales/editing?
    Best is to get on all the sites. Amazon/kdp, Barnes & Noble/Pubit, Kobo/Writinglife. The Apple ibooks site is available only if you have a Mac and there are other pitfalls with the, but you can use Smashwords of Lulu to distribute there. You will occasionally sell a few books directly at Smashwords or through some of their other affiliates.

    For sales, it seems to average out at about 50% Amazon, 25% Barnes and Noble, 15% Apple, and 10% everyone else put together.

    None of the self-service sites offer editing. If you want it professionally edited, you should hire people to do that yourself. The places that include editing, covers, and all that stuff as a package are for the most part the latest version of vanity presses and basically out to rip you off.

    2: What costs are there for the author in regards to e-publishing?
    Zilch. There are no costs at all to actually posting the book on sites and anyone trying to charge you is out to rip you off.

    Preparing the book is another question. The three basics are cover, editing, and formatting. You may be able to do one or all of these yourself. Formatting ebooks is particularly easy if you have any experience with html. It's not terrible even without it as long as you follow the KISS principal and do some research. If you're good with Photoshop and keep it simple, covers aren't that awful either.

    3: As a first time author selling an e-book that's going to be 60,000-65,000 words in length, I expect the price I'd be looking at is $2.99 sort of range?
    $2.99 gets you a 70% royalty. Anything below that and you only get a 35% royalty. You definitely want to be at $2.99 or above. I can't imagine anyone would object to that price as too high for 60k words, whether or not it's wise to go higher in price I don't know. The people in your genre would probably be the best source as it can vary widely.

  7. #7
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katie Elle View Post
    None of the self-service sites offer editing. If you want it professionally edited, you should hire people to do that yourself. The places that include editing, covers, and all that stuff as a package are for the most part the latest version of vanity presses and basically out to rip you off.
    Agreed. And, having reviewed a lot of books which have been through the "editing" services provided by such companies, I have serious doubts about the quality of the editing provided by them.

    I recognise that the writers whose books I've seen might have simply rejected their editors' suggestions: but it's unlikely that all would have, so I think it's a safe bet to assume that you'll get better editing elsewhere.

  8. #8
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    DAv,

    First welcome to the world of writing. I wish you much luck and happiness in your journey.

    Please take some time to visit the many different forums here at AW. You will find a very big selection of helpful information and opinions.

    As to your writing, my biggest bit of advice is not to rush into the self publishing thingy. There are pitfalls for those who are not ready and you could damage your reputation.

    Readers are mostly a pretty forgiving bunch. But if you self publish without professional editing, well, readers also have good memory of authors who did not cut it. First impressions are always what lingers with a reader.

    My advice is to take your time. Develop your style. Learn all the nuisances of writing and how to communicate your story in a style that is enjoyable for the reader.

    When ready, if you still want to go the self publishing route, make sure you hire a professional editor. That means you need to research independent editors, check out what books they have edited, what their specialities are and what companies they have edited for in the past.

    Any English Major can hang a shingle and claim to be an editor, but if they don't have professional editing experience in working with publishers, (large or small), then do they really understand what works for the readers. There is more to editing than spelling and grammar checks...

    Good luck with your journey, no matter what goals you set...
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  9. #9
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    2.99 sounds like a perfectly reasonable price. I would suggest you research editors as a separate issue. Ditto formatting and cover art. The providers advertised at the e-tailing site are not necessarily the best ones for you.
    Last edited by veinglory; 12-17-2012 at 07:43 PM.

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks everyone for your help and welcomes so far. Anything I can learn is a certain boost and I really do need a good grounding in this. Truth is, I have gotten close to the 60,000 mark on my book and realised that it won't last long enough to reach the 80,000 unless I really pad it out or use stuff which I have planned for the sequel (Ambitious sod, ain't I? :P ). It's a Low-Fantasy series with some plans to do more in the future based around the world, but not the characters that appear in this one.

    So from what I can gather, Amazon's a good place to publish the book while I need to research editors? Although from what I saw of places like Lulu, the uploading option seemed to automatically reformat the book or did I just misunderstand the function in general?

  11. #11
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Why would you publish a book before you edited it? That would be taking advantage of everyone who bought the unedited, substandard version.

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Oh, I wasn't going to publish it unedited. I really don't know much about this so if I'm sounding as if I'm a bit off in my questions, it'll be down to that.

  13. #13
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DAv View Post
    Oh, I wasn't going to publish it unedited. I really don't know much about this so if I'm sounding as if I'm a bit off in my questions, it'll be down to that.
    DAv, the reason I thought you were going to do that is because you wrote this:

    Quote Originally Posted by DAv View Post
    So from what I can gather, Amazon's a good place to publish the book while I need to research editors?
    That sounds like you were planning to self publish your book to Amazon before you researched editors. If that's not the case you might like to clarify.

  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Ah, quite right. What I meant was researching reliable editors as others have pointed out most might not be as good as needed. But of a fumble on my part.

  15. #15
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    Before researching editors I would highly recommend getting unbiased (strangers, not friends and family) feedback on your book.

    In general, self pubishers often have to make some compromises in regards to editing due to costs and it's really helpful to have some perspective on your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you're strong on craft, but weak on pacing and a developmental editor is the most effective way to spend your money, or maybe your storytelling is good but your craft is weak and a copyeditor makes more sense. Or maybe it's not close to publishable and you need to work on a second draft yourself because you don't want to invest in editing that would be a waste of money.

    Some good unbiased feedback is the best way to figure that out before taking the steps you're considering.
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  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by DAv View Post
    Ah, quite right. What I meant was researching reliable editors as others have pointed out most might not be as good as needed. But of a fumble on my part.
    Do you mean to say you need someone to format it correctly for an e-reader? I could understand how you might have assumed that a person who does that is an editor of sorts. And maybe at the Big Six, that person is. A formatting editor or something. I dunno. When it comes to self-publishing they aren't called editors. Not quite sure what the actual term is. My author pals and I call them our "formatting guys".


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  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Tanner View Post
    Before researching editors I would highly recommend getting unbiased (strangers, not friends and family) feedback on your book.

    In general, self pubishers often have to make some compromises in regards to editing due to costs and it's really helpful to have some perspective on your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you're strong on craft, but weak on pacing and a developmental editor is the most effective way to spend your money, or maybe your storytelling is good but your craft is weak and a copyeditor makes more sense. Or maybe it's not close to publishable and you need to work on a second draft yourself because you don't want to invest in editing that would be a waste of money.

    Some good unbiased feedback is the best way to figure that out before taking the steps you're considering.
    Oh yeah, goes without saying really. Like I said, haven't finished the book yet. Will be looking for feedback and have gotten some proof reading of a fair bit so far. This was largely something I wanted to use simply as a way to actually get information as I was really in the dark regarding self-publishing. Part of the reason I signed on here, to get feedback on my book when I get round to posting sections of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chiquita Banana View Post
    Do you mean to say you need someone to format it correctly for an e-reader? I could understand how you might have assumed that a person who does that is an editor of sorts. And maybe at the Big Six, that person is. A formatting editor or something. I dunno. When it comes to self-publishing they aren't called editors. Not quite sure what the actual term is. My author pals and I call them our "formatting guys".
    That was it yeah although I thought that was generally one part of the parts of editing.

  18. #18
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DAv View Post
    Oh yeah, goes without saying really. Like I said, haven't finished the book yet. Will be looking for feedback and have gotten some proof reading of a fair bit so far.
    To have your book proof read, it has to exist as a proof.

    Proofs are produced after all editing has finished. Proof reading is a final check for errors, not something that happens before the book is even finished.

    That was it yeah although I thought that was generally one part of the parts of editing.
    Formatting isn't a function of editing.

    Editing gets the words that make up the book into their most readable, compelling form.

    Formatting arranges those words into the clearest layout.

    The two have nothing to do with one another apart from the fact that they're both required if you want your book to be the best it can be.

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