Publishing an EBook

Today, I welcome a guest blogger on a subject the mechanics of which I am still trying to wrap my mind around – epublishing. Thank God my publisher deals with that (certainly in the case of Oh Gad! which is available as a trade paperback, mass market paperback, and ebook. I hope to get there with the earlier books at some point). But Kimolisa is practically an expert at it by this stage. I asked her to share some tips with the blog’s readers, and here it is (all bolds are mine). Welcome, Kim, and congratulations on the release of She Wanted a Love Poem.

by Kimolisa Mings

kim

I never really believed in myself or my work. To be honest, I never thought of my poetry as my work; it was something I did, I wrote poems. Although I have been writing poetry for over 20 years, it is within the last ten that I’ve shared my work. Be it through spoken word at local open mics or through my blog, Kim or Lisa.

kim

It was because I never believed in my work that I never thought about being published in Literary Journals or even having a book of my poetry published.

It was by chance that I was looking through a person’s website that I noticed that they had a book available for purchase. I clicked on the link and it brought me to their eBook page in Smashwords. Looking through the Smashwords website, I recognized the possibility of producing an eBook that could be sold through different online stores.

No, I didn’t believe in my work enough to go through the process of approaching publishing houses to have my book published, but I could put in the hours to produce an eBook and put it up for sale. Unfortunately, it took me another two years before I published my first eBook, Martine, and another two years before I published my second, She Wanted A Love Poem.

The truth is it doesn’t really take two years to publish an eBook. In fact, it is up to you on how quickly you take your book from manuscript to eBook. It all depends on the amount of time you dedicate to getting the following done,

  1. Write – Don’t worry about perfect grammar, spelling or even if the plot makes sense, just get the story out of your head and down on paper or on your computer.
  2. Edit – First go over your draft and clean up the obvious errors and trust me there will be errors. You have a choice of letting the draft sit a while before you look at it again or you send it off to an editor, proofreader or beta readers. It is advised to get an editor like Joanne because they are viewing the draft with new eyes and they will see errors and discrepancies that you would not have noticed. Be patient, take what they say on board, and remember that the first draft is like a block of marble and between you and your editor, you will create a David.
  3. Choose Distribution Channels – Depending on what platform you are publishing your eBook, you will have to format your eBook to their specifications. There are many platforms to choose, from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to Apple’s iBooks to Barnes & Nobles’ Nook to Smashwords. Personally, I chose Smashwords because it distributes to other online eBook sellers including Nook and iBooks and I chose Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) because Smashwords does not distribute to Amazon.
  4. Format – Depending on your platform of choice, you would format accordingly. Each channel will have its own formatting guide lines. For Smashwords, there is a free Style Guide found here, if you follow the guide to the letter, it will guarantee you distribution to the other online stores. When it comes to formatting for Amazon’s KDP, I have not found one specific style guide, but through Google, you can find websites, PDF’s and eBooks on how to format for Kindle.
  5. Cover Art – Once again follow the instructions of the Style guides, but keep in mind that the cover art should look attractive when viewed as a thumbnail. No matter how much we would like to deny it, we do judge a book by its cover. Your artwork should be clean and convey your story without giving it away. Your Title and your name should be clear and readable when viewed as a thumbnail, no fancy font. With eBooks, you will be submitting a Jpeg file, ensure it is the right size in accordance with the platform’s specifications.
  6. Upload – The websites will take you through the process of uploading your content and your cover art. It will take from a few hours to a couple of days before the eBook will be available for purchase as it will be vetted electronically and/or by a person. In some cases, you will have to make some changes to your content or your cover art.
  7. Review your eBook – With Smashwords, you will be able to download your eBook to see how it looks in the different formats. With Amazon’s KDP, you can view your eBook using the online Kindle reader and you can view it in the various versions of the Kindle. In both cases you can always go back and change the font size or change misspellings and the like and upload again.
  8. Price your eBook – This is one of the steps in the uploading process. In Smashwords, you can set the price to free. Unfortunately, the lowest price you can set in Amazon’s KDP is $0.99. This will eventually become free when Amazon sees the book is available elsewhere for free. You can visit either platform to see how much royalty you receive from the sale of the book, this can vary from 35% to 70%.
  9. Market your eBook – Let everyone and their mother know you have an eBook. There are many ways to let the world know about your masterpiece, be it through your social media network, sending out press releases, doing guest posts on other blogs. Google is your friend when it comes to searching for ways to promote your book. Keep in mind, it is a marathon, not a sprint and it may take years before people come across your book. Some say the best way to market your book is to write another book. The more books you have out there the more likely someone will come across one and be interested enough to read more of your work.

Now that you see how easy or how hard it is to publish an eBook, you should consider the pros and the cons of self publishing eBooks to see if it is the right fit for you.

The pros of self publishing an eBook include

– getting your book out there to readers;

– it is relatively easy to publish;

– you can build a readership;

– you choose what the final product looks like.

– you can make changes relatively quickly

The cons of self publishing an eBook include,

– you having to do most of the work, writing, editing or finding an editor, doing the cover art or finding some one do the the cover art, formatting or finding someone to format the book, publishing;

– because of the ease to entry, the marketplace is crowded and you have to work extra hard to be noticed;

– you might not see any or much money in the first year;

– you might get bad reviews

As eReaders and tablets with eReader capabilities become part of our day to day lives, I plan to keep publishing eBooks. This time around I won’t wait two years between publishing the ebooks. It’s my aim to publish three ebooks a year, some will be stories and some will be collections of poems. There is a lot of support and information online from KBoards, a forum for Kindle to podcasts like Rocking Self Publishing and The Creative Penn and as I mentioned Google is a friend when it comes to specific information.

Is self publishing for everyone? No, but if you are willing to put in the long hours and the hard work, if you are determined to share your work with the world and if you really want to make a living from your work, anything is possible. You just have to believe.

Kimolisa Mings with Brooklyn poet laureate Tina Chang.

Kimolisa Mings with Brooklyn poet laureate Tina Chang.

Thanks, Kim. Like she said, to each his path; choose what’s right for you. Likely you’ll discover even more pros and cons than those listed here, and quite a bit of overlap as well as technology continues to transform the publishing industry. Some other publishing articles of interest on the site can be found here. For what it’s worth, self-published or traditionally published that demon of not being good enough is one a lot of writers wrestle with. If you want to go for opportunities in publishing, feel the fear and do it anyway. It takes some kind of daring to put your work out there, by whatever means.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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