As we’ve noted several times in these posts, there are lots of options, these days, when it comes to publishing a book. If you choose to self-publish an e-book (electronic book), here are some things to consider.
First of all, you have three options:
- You can be your own “general contractor” (as in building a home) — you outsource everything except the actual writing (although you could hire a ghostwriter). As the general manager, you may hire an editor and a designer, and you get to decide where and how to distribute your e-book.
- You can hire a publishing consultant, who then does much of the decision-making and most of the interfacing with the independent service providers listed above.
- You can work with a company that provides all the services between the writing and the publishing.
Your choice will depend on how much control you want over the process, how much effort you want to put in personally, how much patience you have, and/or how much money you have or want to spend.
Okay, once you’ve made up you mind how you want to go, here are some other ideas
- Content — There are thousands of e-books being published these days, and not all of them are worth the electrons they’re “printed” on. Just because you’ve written a book that your family and friends like, does not mean that it’s gonna be a best-seller. It has to be good. What are you offering that’s unique or special? What are you saying differently that would make someone want to buy your book, or recommend it to someone else?
- Cover — There’s an old saying that “You can’t tell a book by its cover”. However, think about the way e-books are sold (e.g., Amazon). When you look at the website, you see hundreds of books on one topic, with a small thumbnail picture of the cover. What makes you stop at one to learn more? Is it the title, or is it an eye-catching, professional-looking cover design? This is where one of the above services, a graphic designer, might be worth spending some money on.
- Price — This is a tough one. I know that you think your book is worth $19.99 or $29.99 or even $49.99. But that’s in the p-book (printed book) world. What Amazon and others have done is try make knowledge available to everyone as inexpensively as possible (even free). Various “studies” show pricing from $0.99 to $9.99, with varying sales volume and revenue (income) results. However, there are certainly e-books for sale that have a higher price tag. We can’t tell you what you should charge, but we can advise you to spend some time on as many e-book publishing sites as possible to see what books like yours are selling for. And note: YOU should be able to set your price, not anyone you hire or work with (even though they may “advise” you). Time will show you whether you’ve made an effective decision — how many books are you selling per month? Is your income stream what you hoped for?
- Advertising — Okay, so you’ve gotten your e-book published, but they’re not flying off the electronic shelf. Why? Well, in the “old days”, mainstream publishers would put a printed book into bookstores, put it in Books in Print, and advertise it in trade publications and various media. That still happens, but it’s getting rarer and rarer. In the case of a self-published e-book, it’s not likely to happen at all. That’s where you come in again. You are responsible for making potential buyers aware of your book — through your social media, blogs (yours and guesting on others), speaking engagements, your clients, and yes, even through family and friends. You can create flyers. You can put your book title and very brief information about it on the back of your business card. Hand these out whenever and wherever possible. Get anyone you know to write a positive review about your book. In short, create awareness.
Is it worth self-publishing your work as an e-book. The answer depends on what you want to do with it. What’s your purpose? We’ve had books published by mainstream publishers, through print-on-demand (POD), and as e-books. Each one, in its turn, was very satisfying.
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