Monday, 7 December 2015

E Publishing

You may have noticed there are more books than ever available to buy electronically. This is because e publishing has exploded over the last few years, enabling anyone who has finished a book to publish it. If you are interested in e publishing these are a few ideas to help you on your journey.

If you want to e publish you need to get your book on both Amazon KDP and Smashwords. Between them they pretty much cover the whole range of book sellers. (The Amazon KDP Select program I haven't heard of being worthwhile for anyone so I'd recommend skipping that as it means you can't sell elsewhere whilst your book is on it).

You need a really good cover, it is worth paying a professional. The cheapest way is to buy a premade but that means you can't be specific about what you want - just get the 'best fit'. Google ebook covers premade and a large selection will come up. If you do want a custom made, have a look at the others the creator has made - does their style fit with you? Are they flexible, working with you until you achieve what you want? Also, listen to their advice - they know what colours work for different genres and what sizes work for different e publishers. Make sure you tell them if you want a print version as well (this might cost you more but is worth it) as the specifics are different again.

You also need to be a really good self editor as readers hate typos. An editor can be expensive and risky (you need a recommendation) so editing is something I try to do myself (but there's always a typo that gets through). Editing is one thing that really separates the best e books from the glut of tripe that anyone can upload (I'm sure you know what I mean, we've all downloaded one of these books). If you can afford it and have a recommendation - get a professional. But tell them exactly what you want - do you want someone to go through grammar and spellings or do you want someone who will advise you on the story? Again, be warned not all editors will be able to do this as some of their experience will be very specific and may not relate to fiction so be very careful with this.

You need to read the formatting guidelines and follow them (what you do for Smashwords is then fine for Amazon though, so you don't need to do it twice). Get it wrong and your book won't be accepted. It's worth spending the time getting it right the first time.

Traditional Publishing:
E publishing doesn't mean you can't then seek traditional publishing, you just need to mention it on your submissions and say you retain all rights (make sure you tick this box when uploading to the e book sites). It may help in the end as traditional publishers do keep an eye out for anything causing a ripple in the water (Shades of Grey, anyone?).

There is no marketing or publicity with e publishing, so Facebook, Twitter etc will be your best friends. Create a Facebook page and link it to Twitter so you only have to post once (FB posts will then appear as Tweets). Update your page daily if you can, a couple of times a week at least. My page is here if you want to look at the kind of thing I post: 

Print copies:
If you want people to be able to buy print copies of your book there are ways that won't cost a fortune. Print on demand has become very accessible and keeps costs down. I use Lulu as it literally costs me a proof copy and postage (other print on demand publishers are available). You can set your own price and you can also select to have them available on Amazon with your kindle formatted book. This is where your print copy cover comes into it's own as your e book cover won't be good enough for print. You need to format the inside of the book differently (and page break will become your friend, remember that now to save yourself a lot of hassle) and read the guidelines specific to print books (I've always found CreateSpace's guidelines the easiest to follow).

Anything you legitimately spend on writing and publishing (covers, fees etc) is tax deductible but you do need to register as self employed (those couple of dollars a month from Amazon need accounting for). At entry level e publishing you won't make enough to pay tax, but you still need to do the right thing by HMRC, the IRS or your own country's tax office. You are going to become a bit of a tax expert I'm afraid and Google will be your friend. UK/US residents - our countries have an agreement whereby you only need to pay tax in one country. This does mean lots of form filling though and I did have to go to the IRS department at the US Embassy to get a form stamped (they were very helpful but being a Brit I was utterly confused by the lack of a queue - how do you people work without queues?). Once all done, however, it's done and you can just carry on writing until it's tax return time of year.

And good luck! You won't make much money from e publishing (but do remember those tax returns need filing!) but you will gain readers who will let you know what they think about your work. Nothing beats having a book out there that people enjoy reading. 

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