How I Created My First E-Book
Guest Blogger: Mary DeMuth
I never thought I’d self publish anything. Truly. I’m a traditionally published girl with eleven books under my author belt. I love my publishers, love what they’ve done. But there came a time when one of my book ideas didn’t fit within their needs.
The kernel of the idea to e-publish started when I pioneered my nonfiction and fiction proposal tutorials to help authors with the difficult process of writing a book proposal. Sure, they were simple e-documents I sold from my site (and they’re available here on Rachelle’s blog by clicking on “Resources for Writers” above) but they weren’t made of paper, and they’ve proven to be a financial blessing. I don’t make a lot, but the amount helps me pay my taxes (and everyone knows the taxmonster needs fed.) (Side note: I use e-junkie in conjunction with PayPal to administrate my e-purchases. E-junkie isn’t expensive, and PayPal is free, except for the processing fees.)
After this, I started to entertain the idea of publishing (via e-book readers) The 11 Secrets of Getting Published. I learned a lot along the journey. I’d like to save you the learning curve, so read on to discover the seven simple steps for publishing your e-book.
- Develop an idea, then write it. This is probably the hardest thing in the process. Some of you have short stories you’d like to compile. Some have novels in a drawer. Others have tons of blogs you could pull together to create a book. That’s what I chose to do. I had this idea to compile the most instructive posts from my former blog, Wannabepublished. What surprised me: when I added all the posts into a document, I had over 60,000 words! (Side note: a typical nonfiction book is 50-60,000 words. A typical novel is 80-100,000 words.) Of course, with an e-book, the rules have changed, but these numbers give you a ballpark to shoot for.
- Edit the document. I spent the the next few months editing the piece. I also hired Leslie Wilson, a mentor at the Writing Spa, to fine tune and organize it for me. If you’re not a writer (or even if you are), I highly recommend you hire an outside editor. You want to produce the best possible book, right? Keep in mind there are two types of edits, a substantive edit where the editor checks the big idea, flow, holes, etc. The second is a line or copy edit, where the editor checks for grammar and usage problems. Both are important. If you have an incredible critique group with big picture writers (substantive) and English teacher types (copy), you may be able to get away with not paying for an edit. But it’s always best to err on the side of professionalism.
- Transform the document into the correct e-format. You can’t just upload a word document and be done with it. You need specific files to upload to the Kindle (known as a .prc file), which are different than the Nook or iPad (known as the .epub file) format. Many people have successfully used SmashWords for this. I’ve been to the site, and it seems very user friendly. The only thing they ask is that you make sure your document is correctly formatted in Word before you upload it. They have a SmashWords Style Guide you can upload for free that helps you through the process. Since I work with Believers Press, I decided to pay to have them convert the files for me. They did an amazing job and quoted an affordable price.
- Although it’s not entirely necessary for ebooks, it is a good idea to buy an ISBN for your title. You can purchase these at Bowker. It’s cheaper if you buy more than one. 1 is $125.00. 10 ISBNs are $250, and 100 are $575. I bought ten. The process is fairly simple, and all the ebook uploaders have a box where you can place your ISBN.
- Pay a designer to create an amazing cover. Don’t scrimp on this. I happen to adore my friend George at Tekeme Studios. He is incredibly gifted at creating covers.
- Upload your document.
- Find the appropriate site and register an account. They’ll ask you for your SSN or EIN, your address, and your banking information. You can opt to have them send you a physical check or direct deposit the money into your account. I chose the latter option. If you’d like to upload to Kindle, click here. For Barnes & Noble’s nook, click here. For the Ipad, click here to start your account with itunesconnect. Here’s a FAQ for the iPad uploading. It’s a bit complicated (oddly). (The latter two were not easy for me to find initially, so I’m saving you time by giving you the direct link.) Happy note: IT DOES NOT COST YOU TO HAVE AN ACCOUNT OR UPLOAD YOUR BOOK. IT IS FREE! Yay!
- Give your title, a book description, and the language you wrote the piece (presumably English).
- Create a bio.
- Identify yourself as the author. If there are contributing authors, you can add more authors in drop down menus.
- Verify Your Publishing Rights. You’ll have two options: “This is a public domain work” or “This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights.” You will typically choose the second option since you are the author of the piece and hold all rights. (If you are publishing one of your old books that’s been traditionally published, be sure you have ALL RIGHTS reverted back to you before you publish your book. Have a physical document from the publisher granting you all rights.)
- Decide about DRM (Digital Rights Management). You want to select Enable Digital Rights Management so people can’t send your file everywhere. This protects you from piracy.
- Provide your ISBN (if you have one).
- Supply keywords (words that relate to your book that will help them position your title).
- Click through categories and decide which ones best fit your book. For instance, my category had to do with publishing and authorship.
- Upload your book cover image. They usually have a file maximum size like 5 MB. A typical cover will be about 1.5 MB. Your graphic artist will already know this and will create the file in appropriate dimensions with web friendly colors.
- Upload your digital file of the text (in the proper format, though Kindle will do the transformation for you.)
- Set the price. Of all the research out there, $2.99 seems to be the magic number. It’s the least you can price something and still make a high percentage on royalties (for Amazon, that’s 70%).
- Decide on rights. Typically people choose worldwide.
- When you finish all this (It took me less than an hour), wait about 24 hours for the book to go live.
- Market your book!
- Message your Facebook and Twitter followers.
- Give books away for free for a short period of time to generate buzz, and ask that folks review and chatter about it.
- Send a note to your email distribution list.
- Give copies away to influential friends who would offer endorsement and/or tweet/facebook/blog about your book.
- Take out targeted Facebook ads.
- Pay to be a sponsor on Kindle Nation Daily. Here are their prices. Author James Scott Bell said he did this and more than paid back what he paid to advertise his books.
So there you go! I’ll admit that when I first thought of doing this, I felt completely inadequate and ignorant. The learning curve seemed too high. But as I chipped away at the process, I realized this was something I could do. It makes me happy, too, to know that I can simplify the process for you.
So get writing! Start publishing! Venture forward! Keep this post and share it with others who need the process demystified.
If you’ve done this before: What words of wisdom can you offer authors who want to publish an ebook?
If you haven’t done this before, what is holding you back? What part of this seven step process intimidates you?
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Mary DeMuth is an author and speaker who blogs at http://www.marydemuth.com/.