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View Full Version : Ready to publish 1st ebook - Need Advice



NewPub
01-13-2015, 05:42 AM
Hello all, and thank you for taking the time to consider my questions.
I am both author of a series of non-fiction, how-to books, as well the the owner of the small publishing company putting these books out in the world.
The first book is currently ready in e-book format, finished and waiting in industry standard ePub as well as Mobi formats.

My first experience working with both Apple and Amazon was daunting to say the least. After three hours on the phone with both at least half my questions remained unanswered, which brings me here. Any help and advice is greatly appreciated.

1) I am frustrated at the thought of going through endless hassles with each ebook outlet (mainly Amazon, Apple, B&N), and as such I am considering using an aggregator. Has anyone worked with an aggregator known as "Ebookit"? They claim to have incredible distribution on all the major ebook outlets (as well as Ingram), and have good reviews from what I have see so far. Hard to know if the reviews are legit of course. I compared them and their terms to BookBaby, who seems to regularly get horrid reviews. Any other aggregator you really like?

2) My publishing situation is this:
I am both the current author of all materials I am presenting to the world, as well as the publishing company owner. Perhaps I should say "publishing house?" I am VERY new at this. After getting materials of my own in the form of eBooks, print books, DVDs, and Audiobooks out into the world I intend to start representing other authors and their works within the same genre. All must go out in the name of my "publishing company" and my own materials by my pen name.
To this end, I have taken the time to set up the publishing company as an American LLC, completely apart from my personal accounts. All funds coming in from sales must be routed to the business accounts, taxes on income are connected to the business EIN of the publishing company, etc.

Yet when I go to Apple myself, they will not take the credit card for their iTunes Connect that goes to my publishing accounts, only my personal card. The whole thing is very weird to me - why do they need a credit card from me at all??? In any event, when I use my personal card just to even get into iTunes Connect, ALL of my publishing company information (which is what I want customers / fans to see) converts to my personal information. Extremely frustrating.

Again, I am having nearly the same experience with Amazon as well, which is why I am considering an Aggregator like Ebookit.

Any / all advice greatly appreciated!

Equally, if there is anyone out there who would be willing to be a bit of a "Small Publishing Company" MENTOR, it would be absolutely Wonderful!
Say via Skype?

Thank you again for your time.

Dennis E. Taylor
01-13-2015, 06:11 AM
Hey, newpub. I've just been through the self-pub wringer, and here's what I did: published on Kindle Direct Publishing, published (physical) on CreateSpace, and published on Draft2Digital.

I already had a cover done.

KDP was pretty easy. CreateSpace was easy except for creating the jacket, because their instructions are not intuitive. Draft2Digital was actually easiest. They pub to B&N, Apple, Kobo, and a couple of others.

I ended up un-publishing on D2D for now, because I want to take advantage of KDP Select, which requires exclusive e-book sales.

If you want to publish directly to the likes of B&N, Apple, etc, there are people on this forum who have done it, but I'm not one of them.

JenniferLazaris
01-13-2015, 09:13 AM
I've never used ebookit, but I have used Draft2Digital to distribute to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Scribd, etc. It was VERY easy. They take a bit more of a percentage of royalties but to me it was worth it, as it was my first time uploading and the process was painless.

NewPub
01-13-2015, 09:24 AM
Thank you A_G.
So D2D covers all your bases and then you are separately signing up for KDP Select?
Is that correct?
What made you decide to go for KDP Select?

Thanks.

cornflake
01-13-2015, 09:32 AM
Hello all, and thank you for taking the time to consider my questions.
I am both author of a series of non-fiction, how-to books, as well the the owner of the small publishing company putting these books out in the world.
The first book is currently ready in e-book format, finished and waiting in industry standard ePub as well as Mobi formats.

My first experience working with both Apple and Amazon was daunting to say the least. After three hours on the phone with both at least half my questions remained unanswered, which brings me here. Any help and advice is greatly appreciated.

1) I am frustrated at the thought of going through endless hassles with each ebook outlet (mainly Amazon, Apple, B&N), and as such I am considering using an aggregator. Has anyone worked with an aggregator known as "Ebookit"? They claim to have incredible distribution on all the major ebook outlets (as well as Ingram), and have good reviews from what I have see so far. Hard to know if the reviews are legit of course. I compared them and their terms to BookBaby, who seems to regularly get horrid reviews. Any other aggregator you really like?

2) My publishing situation is this:
I am both the current author of all materials I am presenting to the world, as well as the publishing company owner. Perhaps I should say "publishing house?" I am VERY new at this. After getting materials of my own in the form of eBooks, print books, DVDs, and Audiobooks out into the world I intend to start representing other authors and their works within the same genre. All must go out in the name of my "publishing company" and my own materials by my pen name.
To this end, I have taken the time to set up the publishing company as an American LLC, completely apart from my personal accounts. All funds coming in from sales must be routed to the business accounts, taxes on income are connected to the business EIN of the publishing company, etc.

Yet when I go to Apple myself, they will not take the credit card for their iTunes Connect that goes to my publishing accounts, only my personal card. The whole thing is very weird to me - why do they need a credit card from me at all??? In any event, when I use my personal card just to even get into iTunes Connect, ALL of my publishing company information (which is what I want customers / fans to see) converts to my personal information. Extremely frustrating.

Again, I am having nearly the same experience with Amazon as well, which is why I am considering an Aggregator like Ebookit.

Any / all advice greatly appreciated!

Equally, if there is anyone out there who would be willing to be a bit of a "Small Publishing Company" MENTOR, it would be absolutely Wonderful!
Say via Skype?

Thank you again for your time.

You've no experience at all in publishing; you've never published a thing, are here asking basic how-to questions, and yet you're planning to open some kind of publishing house.

Excellent plan.

NewPub
01-13-2015, 09:41 AM
You've no experience at all in publishing; you've never published a thing, are here asking basic how-to questions, and yet you're planning to open some kind of publishing house.

Excellent plan.

Hi - can everyone please use "Cornflake"s example above as a reply that is above and beyond NOT USEFUL and kindly refrain from taking up thread-space with such garbage. I came here expecting intelligence, not mindless comments from people who have nothing to do but sit around and be useless (which apparently is cf's mode seeing as how they appear to have several thousand comments - i wonder how many have substance?).

Thanks all.

Polenth
01-13-2015, 11:16 AM
We see a lot of people on the forum who want to be a publisher. Most of them mean well, but know nothing about publishing. The result is they end up signing up other authors, do a terrible job publishing those books, and the whole thing goes down in flames. Often with missed payments, rights caught up, and a lot of nastiness. The background and bewares forum is the best place to see this in action, by looking over threads for dead publishers. It isn't being mean to you to tell you that. It's warning you that this is a very bad idea.

Which means the first bit of advice is to forget about publishing anyone else right now. Focus on your own books. That will remove most of the problems you seem to be having, as you can just follow the instructions on each website and that will work. Most people do KDP directly. If they use someone to combine the rest, either Smashwords or D2D.

I'd also recommend being active on Twitter, as that's a good place to meet people who run micropresses (which seems to be what you're aiming at doing). Don't ask them for mentoring... just get to know the area, the people in it, and how things run. You might be able to do some work for some of them (sometimes they need slush readers, people to help format books, and other similar tasks), which'll give you some experience of how they run and mean you'll be in a position where you can ask a few questions. But look on this as a long term strategy, rather than something that will come together by next week.

chompers
01-13-2015, 11:45 AM
It isn't being mean to you to tell you that. It's warning you that this is a very bad idea.

It's not mean to warn. But the sarcasm was unnecessary and rude.

Old Hack
01-13-2015, 11:49 AM
Hi - can everyone please use "Cornflake"s example above as a reply that is above and beyond NOT USEFUL and kindly refrain from taking up thread-space with such garbage. I came here expecting intelligence, not mindless comments from people who have nothing to do but sit around and be useless (which apparently is cf's mode seeing as how they appear to have several thousand comments - i wonder how many have substance?).

Thanks all.

NewPub, please don't do this.

If you take exception to a post, use the "report post" button--it looks like an exclamation mark inside a red triangle. That will bring the troublesome post to the attention of the mods without derailing the thread, and without your calling other members' posts "garbage" and "useless", which goes against AW's central rule, Respect Your Fellow Writer.

I suggest you read the Newbie Guide right now.

I think cornflake might have been able to phrase that comment more tactfully, but I see nothing wrong with it: I've seen so many people come up with the same idea you've had, and I can't think of any who have done well with it. I strongly advise you to not publish anyone else's work until you know a lot more about publishing than you do now: it's all very well experimenting on your own works, but it's ethically tricky to do that with anyone else's.

Thewitt
01-13-2015, 12:32 PM
Draft2Digital and SmashWords are both well known and widely used distributors/aggregators for eBooks. They make the process of submitting to a large number of eBook sellers including Apple very easy.

I used Draft2Digital for all of their distribution options except CreateSpace.

I used SmashWords for those that Draft2Digital did not cover, except I uploaded an ePub and not a DOC file to them as their formatting to ePub was not working well with my book.

I submitted manually to Amazon KDP and Google Play.

I submitted manually to CreateSpace and used their Word template to format my book, then exported it to PDF to keep the formatting the way that I wanted it. I found their built-in DOC converter just did not do what I needed, so the PDF was the way to go.

Things went very well.

I don't mind giving up a few percentage to the distributors here to save me the pain of uploading updates to each of these sites - including price changes. Both D2D and SW have VAT tools to allow you to control your prices in the EU now that the VAT rules have changed. This is a good thing.

SM has a new option called Reader Sets The Price which is an interesting marketing option.

Good luck.

There are some very acerbic members here. Don't let them bother you. You can actually put them on an Ignore List in your User CP if you wish (unless they are also a moderator), but I've found it easiest to just ignore them. There may be some good advice buried in their posts, but their presentation can often make it difficult to get the benefit at times. Don't fight with them on the forum, it doesn't help.

NewPub
01-13-2015, 01:34 PM
Thank you to many. This is some seriously great information and I strongly appreciate all of you who offer sound advice, even if it equates to "slow down."

Old Hack - got it. No worries there. I now understand - and appreciate - that the simple response is to report such.

TheWitt - fantastic advice - you really covered all bases.

Polenth & Others - yes, publishing all my own stuff is the plan, but I nonetheless genuinely appreciate your experience. My genre is niche enough and I want to be able to actually help friends in the same genre get their works out there some day. My game plan thus far has been to get all my legal ducks in a row, and lay a solid foundation for that plan that - agreed - is far away on the horizon after I learn the business of all of this, absolutely starting with my own materials. I am just happy that Self-Publishing exists.

QUESTION:
I have heard of and am starting to research D2D and Smashwords.
Seems those are by far the most popular 2 services, alongside people using KDP "as is."
Has any one heard of Ebookit? Anyone used them?

Thank you all again, and thank you for confirming that I am in the right place to get sound advice.

NewPub
01-13-2015, 01:35 PM
logging in on a bad connection - accidentally sent twice - no idea how to "un-post" so just this edit

NewPub
01-17-2015, 09:27 AM
I chose to go with Draft2Digital and KDP

What impressed me about D2D most was how incredibly friendly and helpful they were, how easy it was to get someone on the phone, and how they really seem like they are fighting on behalf of the authors. They also have no set up fee, no charge for changes, and their royalty of 10% is one of the lowest. But their excellent customer service is what swayed my decision.

I then addressed KDP directly.
I also found out that one of the issues uploading to KDP / Amazon was that they have a maximum allowed file size for pre-converted Mobi files of 50mb. My original file was 57mb, would not upload no matter what. When the file was professionally reduced to 44 mb it uploaded just fine the very first try.
Just fyi.

AnthonyJones
01-17-2015, 10:41 AM
Spend a little money. Or at least find somebody you know who will read yours ms, change those mispellings you'll miss, and give you honest feedback.

Start early. Get a website going and start connecting with people

Good luck! It's an exciting/stressful/happy/hate experience :)

WriterBN
01-17-2015, 11:17 PM
I then addressed KDP directly.
I also found out that one of the issues uploading to KDP / Amazon was that they have a maximum allowed file size for pre-converted Mobi files of 50mb. My original file was 57mb, would not upload no matter what. When the file was professionally reduced to 44 mb it uploaded just fine the very first try.
Just fyi.

44 MB seems huge for an e-book, even if it runs to a thousand pages. At that size, KDP's download charges are going to eat most of your royalties.

Does your book have a lot of embedded images?

ScribeLady
01-19-2015, 07:34 PM
Having virtually no publishing skills, I used E-Bookit to publish my novel, BAD DAD which is now posted on Amazon - goo.gl/Aelxc1, Goodreads goo.gl/m7KkuV, etc.

They have very good customer service and do a lot of handholding. However, once they post your book online, you lose all control. They charge at the rate of $49.00 an hour if you want to make changes in price, etc. I would like to "do" KDP, experiment with pricing, but feel constrained because of the costs, so I have to contact them about these issues.

Their proofreading charges are excessive, in my opinion, so make sure your manuscripts are thoroughly proofread and edited before you submit anything to them. Because of my inexperience, I did not thoroughly proof my novel, so once they formatted it, I had to proof it myself and then pay them to make changes to the PDF version which ultimately went online. It cost me an extra $150.00.

I now want to publish a print version of BAD DAD and am now evaluating how to do this without relying upon E-Bookit. Someone here mentioned Formatting Fairies for all of this. Apparently, you can get all of the services offered by E-Bookit without losing control. I haven't contacted them yet.

E-Bookit now has a new website which I cannot fathom. So give them a call or e-mail them about what you want done. They respond very quickly.

SCRIBELADY

WriterBN
01-19-2015, 07:44 PM
Scribelady, you are almost always better off hiring individual freelancers for each stage of the publishing process, as opposed to "publishing services" companies.

i prefer to do that myself, but I understand not everyone does. There are people listed in the Art & Design forum who may be able to help: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=234

aruna
03-06-2015, 08:21 PM
I'm thinking of using D2D and read this:

Our conversion process creates a high-quality epub for us to distribute to the sales channels you choose. But that's only the beginning of D2D's service.

Once you've uploaded your document, you'll be able to download it as a .mobi file for Kindle reading.

We're also working on .doc and .pdf output. If there's something you'd like to see sooner, let us know at feature-

I want to convert a ms into a Kindle file, as well as the sales channles listed by D2D. Can I do this through D2D? What I mean is, when they convert my Word doc, can I use the .mobi file for KDP? (Sorry, I really am a newbie at this, and last time I sped, Uncle Jim did it all for me!)

M. H. Lee
03-07-2015, 12:33 AM
I'm thinking of using D2D and read this:


I want to convert a ms into a Kindle file, as well as the sales channles listed by D2D. Can I do this through D2D? What I mean is, when they convert my Word doc, can I use the .mobi file for KDP? (Sorry, I really am a newbie at this, and last time I sped, Uncle Jim did it all for me!)

Yes. It should be in the D2D FAQs that you can use any of the files they generate for you on other platforms. (I, for example, use their file for my Google uploads.) When you get to the proof stage just be sure to generate the .mobi file as well as the .epub.

Laer Carroll
03-08-2015, 06:13 PM
Once you have an epub you can create a mobi file yourself very easily. Get a program called Calibre. It's easy to use and very fast. Each of my books took just a few seconds to convert & Amazon accepted them on the first try.

http://calibre-ebook.com/download

aruna
03-08-2015, 08:22 PM
Thanks to both of you... I'll report back in about a week's time, to let you know how I navigated this rocky bay!

Deb Kinnard
03-08-2015, 09:22 PM
For me, in my first direct-to-reader adventure, Amazon KDP was completely easy and transparent. I ran into NO glitches on the initial upload, and nor did I on the second book. I went with Select for the first few months with each title, and then KU kicked in and my sales went to pot. So I unlisted them with Select.

Since then I self-published a third title, also with Amazon, and did have some glitches but they took ownership of those, and sorted them in ten days or so. I did not elect to have this book in Select, for reasons as above.

I believe (those with more experience please weigh in if I'm mistaken) that you can publish yourself with KDP and then use D2D for the other outlets, if you've not enrolled the title in Select. From all I've heard about Smashwords recently, I'm aiming this spring's effort at D2D instead, and hoping for better exposure leading to healthier sales.

(PS, I write romance, so obviously your mileage may vary.)

aruna
03-08-2015, 10:32 PM
I won't go with Select. The same book has been published since 2012 (I'm revising it and publishing under my "real" pen name now) and to my surprise it has made $78 in sales since then, with Smashwords. I hadn't been expecting that. Just sent in my W-8BEN tax form to them so I can get paid!