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View Full Version : Self-publishing e-books - any advice?



Dusk
05-19-2007, 02:35 PM
There are a lot of threads here (and elsewhere on the Web) about self-publishing print books. I'm wondering whether anyone here has self-published e-books, and if so, whether you have any tips to pass along.

I've already selected Lulu as the company to do it through, have the editing/layout/cover arranged, and have a marketing plan, but I'm sure I've missed some ideas along the way.

huw
05-21-2007, 01:34 AM
There are a lot of threads here (and elsewhere on the Web) about self-publishing print books. I'm wondering whether anyone here has self-published e-books, and if so, whether you have any tips to pass along.

I've already selected Lulu as the company to do it through, have the editing/layout/cover arranged, and have a marketing plan, but I'm sure I've missed some ideas along the way.

If you're confident of your marketing plan, could you bypass lulu and do the fulfillment yourself? I mean, presumably you're hoping to drive traffic the lulu page, so why not drive it to your own website?

Have you submitted to an epublisher? You have a much better chance of acceptance with an epublisher than with a print publisher, and a good epublisher will hit ebook outlets (such as ebooks.com, fictionwise, mobipocket, amazon etc) where people who want to buy ebooks actually go. As far as I know, lulu ebooks are only available via lulu.

You could always sign up with retail outlets yourself, but not all of them will deal with authors--and even if they do the payout thresholds may mean you will wait a long time to get paid.

veinglory
05-21-2007, 02:01 AM
One advantage of using lulu is the shopfront, setting up secure checkout on an own-site can be quite complex. Also a self-publisher can use distributors according to the rules of each, e.g. you need 10 books before approaching fictionwise and must be able to produce their formats or be willing to pay for conversion.

huw
05-21-2007, 02:46 AM
True, but there are other ways of achieving that. Lulu is the obvious service for a self-pubbing ebook author to use because they ostensibly sell books, but in reality the marketing campaign is where any bookselling will happen. The service required is actually payment handing and download fulfillment.

The drawbacks of lulu are their 20% (I think) fee and the lack of multiple ebook formats. I don't think you could sell Palm ebooks or MS Reader ebooks there, for example. Personally I'd investigate other digital fulfillment services such as payloadz.

Whichever company I chose, I'd do some background research. In particular, I'd be sure to understand their policy on chargebacks/returns!

ALLWritety
05-30-2007, 08:24 PM
HI

I am too interested in this possiblity of self publishing ebooks (a little down the road though!!) I would like to do it my self and not through any one like Lulu or the other POD's. SO any extra info wuld be great!

Kev

Anita M Shaw
07-10-2007, 11:57 AM
After some sad experiences with traditional publishing, and then rejections from other ePublishers . . . gotta call it rejection even though I never actually got the official no, we don't want your stuff here email . . . I formed my own company to do my own stuff. Now, I'm trying to learn how to promote and market so I can get some experience and such for the time I feel I can do good for other authors. I've had people email me to find out my guidelines, but at the time I felt I didn't know enough to open to others.

However, after looking over other ePublishers guidelines and policies, this past weekend, I think I'm closer to the time I'll be ready to try adding other authors. I would like to be totally royalty paying, but requiring the author to get her/his own copyright certification as I notice some other ePublishers do. That was a significant thing keeping me from opening up.

I guess I need to have more faith in my ability to make this fly. But, as I say, if I could learn to sell my own stuff, then I could feel more confident in doing the same for others. Although, it's very possible I'd be better at promoting someone else than I am for myself.

I compile in HTML and PDF. I tried doing it in MS Reader and HieBook, but couldn't get it to look just right. With Palm, at the time it was expensive to get the program to publish with. Not sure how that works now. Haven't gone to find out. I wouldn't mind finding someplace to have it done, but I would want to be able to sell it wherever I wanted to. Would love to do audio and burn to CD. Down the road for that, too, I think.

Do my own covers now, but I do wish I could draw or knew how to do really cool drawings in graphics programs. Sigh . . . I don't. I must use images and a few programs to get a decent cover. I'm going to be re-releasing my titles with new covers and updated stories. One has had a title change again. I think I'm happy with this one--for now, anyway! :)

It's really not that hard to do yourself. The hardest part is learning to promote yourself and market the eBook. I've started a new eBook site which is so new, I hesitate to include a link yet--which I plan to devote to subjects like designing eBooks and covers, compiling, publishing, promoting and marketing the fiction eBook especially. Talk about software and how tos, and whatever is eBook related with that extra focus on fiction.

I joined several eBook groups to learn this stuff, but none of them seem to care to deal with anything but the business end of it or other issues that, to me, are talked about a lot everywhere else. Joined the HieBook group for the same reason only to be told that that wasn't what their group was for. It was for primarily talking about where to get books to read with the HieBook Reader and what eBook devices would support the HR. Since I couldn't find help in figuring out how to make a decent Hiebook edition, I gave it up for the while.

And, went ahead and started the new site. I'll be looking for articles and resources for it. I doubt I'll be able to write all the content myself!

Then, I'll be updating my writer's site so as to separate the writing part from the making it into an eBook part. I'm feeling a little daunted by it right now as the original writing/ebook site is over 80 pages. But, I need to get it done soon for several reasons. The main one being that the original site is with a different host provider and I want to get all the sites under one roof, so to speak. Saving me money for other things.

Like promotion. :) I have some ideas. Just no funds at the moment to try them.

I've sold a few copies, but not the thousands I dreamed of! I'll add my other links anyway, so some kind souls can give me some feedback if they so wish. Just remember the new ones will have some bugs. And my design and editing site needs to have a pricing overhaul. Lowering them some.

I'd be happy for any feedback at all. Don't feel you have to tip toe around my feelings. As long as it's tactful, I can deal! I'd like the new eBook site to be more interactive than the others have been. Ideas for that would be appreciated.

That all said, here're the links:

http://www.TheeBookConnectionatDWW.com (http://www.theebookconnectionatdww.com/)
http://www.DreamWindWhispers.com (http://www.dreamwindwhispers.com/)
http://www.DreamWindPublishing.com (http://www.dreamwindpublishing.com/)
http://www.DreamWind-Design-and-Editing.com (http://www.dreamwind-design-and-editing.com/)

I have another author site as well, but not a thing on it! I'll spare you that! Gotta go get some sleep now. Starting to type funny things . . .

Anita
:e2BIC:

James D. Macdonald
07-11-2007, 12:25 AM
For covers:

Go to websites where artists gather. Offer a flat-fee $100 for a license to use work as a cover for an ebook. See what you can get.

My suggestion for what you should do:

Put all of your stories on your website, one per page, with a paypal link, and an offer of all the stories collected in .rtf, .pdf, and .html on a single CD for a low cost.

Add other writers' stories on their own sub-pages, if others want to join with you, and share the profits (if any) on a pro-rata basis.

Continue, with the goal of building a brand name, and eventually breaking out into original ebooks for sale.

There's a lot to be said for the "It's all free, but you can get it in a fancier and more convenient form for a modest fee" model.

The ebook business is maturing. Breaking in is still possible, but more difficult than it was five years ago, or even one year ago.

Have a niche, know that niche, reach that niche.

Best of luck.

Anita M Shaw
07-11-2007, 08:12 PM
Thanks, James, for your suggestions. Appreciate them!

Yes, I agree with you about the modest fee thing. I myself don't mind paying a little bit for a better product. Too, I was a little bit blown away (and, yes, scared!) when only a month after setting up my publishing site for my stuff to have people request my guidelines. I wanted to say here they are! But, just felt I should wait until I figured it all out.

I guess when it's me asking for the modest fee, I choke up! Today, I'm going to be working on all of this. I did have one illustrator offer to work with me, which maybe I should go find him again. I was looking for someone to do lifelike drawings, but maybe cartoony types would be okay, too. Especially for the children's stories.

Off to find an illustrator!

Thanks so much!
Anita
:e2BIC:

Dusk
09-09-2007, 03:43 AM
I forgot to go back and check this thread. Bad me.

huw asked:

"If you're confident of your marketing plan, could you bypass lulu and do the fulfillment yourself?"

I considered that, but I really don't want to deal with the hassle of credit card payments. PayPal is the only realistic option for me, and PayPal comes down hard on people who use its service to sell erotic goods. Unfortunately, some of my fiction falls into the erotic category.

"Have you submitted to an epublisher?"

You know, I look forward to the day when the first thing a self-publisher isn't asked is, "Have you submitted to a publisher?" :)

I've been traditionally published in the past, thanks, and I know the advantages of traditional publishing (distribution, reputation, etc.). I've already gone through the process of deciding that I want to self-publish.

Mobipocket - which I can work with directly as a self-publisher - is an option I've considered, since it would get me onto Amazon, but when I enquired at another writers' forum about figures for sales of traditionally published e-books through Amazon, people were saying that publishers' sites usually generated many more sales than Amazon. Does anyone here who has been traditionally e-published have anything to add on that subject?

"I don't think you could sell Palm ebooks or MS Reader ebooks [at Lulu], for example."

Actually, you can - you just sell your e-book as a digital media download. (I didn't figure this out myself; a Lulu staff member mentioned it when I enquired at the forums. The Lulu FAQ are totally misleading on this point, because they imply that digital media downloads can't be e-books.) You have to upload each format separately, but it works. I've already sold an e-zine in HTML format that way.

Veinglory wrote:

"Also a self-publisher can use distributors according to the rules of each, e.g. you need 10 books before approaching fictionwise and must be able to produce their formats or be willing to pay for conversion."

Could you say more about this? I was under the impression that Fictionwise's requirements for authors (http://fictionwise.com/authorinfo.htm) precluded me from approaching them.

James D. Macdonald wrote:

"There's a lot to be said for the 'It's all free, but you can get it in a fancier and more convenient form for a modest fee' model."

That's the one I'm planning to use, actually (free online, but available for a fee in fancier formats), and I'll be interested to see whether it works.

Anita, thanks for the links - I'll definitely be checking out your sites.

Jeff Colburn
09-29-2007, 07:42 AM
If you do epub it's the same as traditional publishing. That is, you need to do a lot of promotion to get people to buy your books. You will need to do press releases, book signings, articles on topics that relate to your book, and much more. The book you must read is "1001 Ways to Market Your Books" by John Kremer. You can read a review on my site at http://www.creativecauldron.com/library.shtml

If you're writing genre, I would also suggest reading my article "Publishing Information For Genre Writers" here http://www.creativecauldron.com/arti...GenrePub.shtml

It's a lot of work to sell your won stuff, since you do promotion, website maintenance, and fulfillment, but once you have a good site up and install PayPal buttons you're well on your way.

A great way to promote your book is to write articles about the topic of your book, and put them on free article sites. Just be sure to have a good resource box.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Popeyesays
09-30-2007, 07:59 AM
Well, Kremer's book is a joke in my estimation. His list of great self-publishing success stories is a joke.

How do you do a book-signing for a downloaded e-book?

Regards,
Scott

kristin724
09-30-2007, 08:50 AM
Since the demise of Mardi Gras I've been selling The Vampire Family as a pdf download from my website. The technicalities were my worst fear, but that all appears to be taken care of. Despite my avid promotion, however, when the book was with MGP and now from my site, sales aren't quite what I expected.

I am going to a book festival here next week however, I'm hoping book on cd will be nice quick fixes for patrons. I have found another publisher that I will be working with in the future. As nice as it is to have everything be you, I'm running into a lot of trouble with people thinking I am not legitmately published. <sigh>

veinglory
09-30-2007, 09:22 PM
As with print book the quickest way to sell in bulk is to place a book with an reputable publisher. Other than that I would suggest having it out in all formats and available for pick up by distributors.

Popeyesays
09-30-2007, 09:42 PM
Jeff Colburn<

Your link to your article is on an invalid domain.

Regards,
Scott

Jeff Colburn
10-02-2007, 11:00 AM
Sorry, typo.

"Publishing Information For Genre Writers" is here http://www.creativecauldron.com/articlewriteGenrePub.shtml

Have Fun,
Jeff

Dusk
10-15-2007, 12:52 AM
Jeff Colburn, thanks for the links and advice.

Popeyesays wrote:

"How do you do a book-signing for a downloaded e-book?"

The usual method of signing e-books is by signing a CD. However, since I don't plan to do book signings, that's not an issue for me.

kristin74 wrote:

"I'm running into a lot of trouble with people thinking I am not legitmately published."

I'm afraid you'll run across snobbery, no matter what format you publish in. Some folks think you're not really published if you're published in trade paperback, because a real writer appears in hardback.

Good luck with your new publisher.

klnappier
10-15-2007, 07:57 PM
Do my own covers now, but I do wish I could draw or knew how to do really cool drawings in graphics programs. Sigh . . . I don't. I must use images and a few programs to get a decent cover. I'm going to be re-releasing my titles with new covers and updated stories. One has had a title change again. I think I'm happy with this one--for now, anyway! :)


Anita
:e2BIC:

For you and anyone else who would like great cover art at a reasonable price, query the folks at www.storyflicks.com (http://www.storyflicks.com).

Disclaimer: I'm not on thier staff or their payroll but I am a satisfied client. They're new to the author service industry, but not to the graphic art, music & tech media. Storyflicks is a man/woman team: he from the high tech market branding industry, she from the music industry. Working with authors is a new venture for them; so new that, at the time of this writing, I'm their only writer client. But I am one very happy client and am very enthisiastic about what they put out, so I want to see them succeed.

They create cover art and very cool movie-style video promotional book trailers. Their trailers are priced to compete with the slideshow-style book trailers and their cover art is reasonable. And once you see their work, you'll be blown away that you can get something of that quality for that price.

Without qualification I endorse them. I've only just commissioned my first cover art from them (prior to this, my publisher designed the covers to my books), so I don't have a sample available yet. But you can view the two video trailers they've done for me at their website if you have QuckTime. If not, their test video for my novel "Voyagers" can be viewed at DailyMotion, MySpace and YouTube. I'll be posting the second video -an even better production for "Bitten"- on those venues later today. Rather than bog you down here with several links, I'll post my website and, from the home page, you can find the links for viewing:

www.klnappier.com (http://www.klnappier.com)

jawar
11-06-2007, 04:21 AM
There exist some really good advice in these threads. I've written and published several paperback and ebooks. My first books were about the music business, called the Music Industry Connection Book (http://gomusicconnection.com) Series.

Publishing your own ebook is a great idea. A few factors to remember is no matter how or who publishes your ebook, your going to have to brand, market and promote like crazy. Find your niche and become well respected. Build your own site, collect email addresses your list is worth diamonds. Be prepared to put in the time, it will eventually pay off for you, especially if you have a great book. Often, during the initial stages you may not see a sell for sometime and then WHAM a sell will come in and then another and then another and so on and so forth.

Give free seminars at the public library or local college, etc. This is great for getting press and exposing yourself to a group of readers.

For more info my music industry connection (http://gomusicconnection.com) ebooks and the make money self publishing professional pack (http://www.makemoneyselfpublishing.com) visit the links above.

Dustry Joe
12-26-2007, 04:32 AM
So much depends on what the book is. Something like jawar mentioned (where presumably serarchability is a big plus) is better suited to ebooks than print. A cozy detective probably won't do that well.

I know a guy (on the web, that is) who makes pretty good money with self-pub. His books are about accounting for geeks, essentially and he has found that the ebooks outsell the "real" books.

So it that's where you are coming from...why bother to go to lulu? Their "storefront" is of no advantage, really. You can "author" the pdf document or ebook yourself for nothing and sell it off your own site. If you don't want to fool with shopping cars and such, use ebay (click on the logo under this post to see a way to work that). People who don't do ebay have sent me checks.

The hitch is, you have to promote your site so people will know where you are. This is a job skill in itself. Getting domain and host, then registering it with search engines (which take months before you start coming up) and all the geeky little search engine optimization things you do.

Then you go around getting links from places in your niche. All all the other backlink, network, webring stuff.

At some point you are "there". Might take a year. I have found that I get about 150 hits a day just from people searching engines for "mexican slang" or something similar. I come up in the top ten for almost all such searches.

If I run around and pimp out on Mexico and Spanish forums and Yahoo groups and such, it increases visits by about 40 a day. Hardly worth doing. I could just coast.

If you have something of wider appeal (or a bigger niche) you can establish that "baseline" of visits. If it's a decent income, or a useful amount of money for your need/effort ratio, you've got it made.

If not, you might want to improve your site. How important are covers? Well, if you have an attractive site does it really matter how the little thumbnail of your cover looks?

A non-fiction book cover is generally something you can do yourself. In paint. Nobody really cares on a functional ebook.

So yeah, the answer to your original question is a definite, "could be".