Sunday, April 17, 2011

Do It Yourself Publishing

Well, I now have two books out as ebooks. In case anyone is interested, I thought I would report on my experience with the self-publishing process.

So far, I can report several facts, as seen from my perspective (even facts can have perspective):

1) Amazon sells a lot more ebooks than anyone else; of course, I don't have much to go by yet, as almost the only people who have bought my books are people who know me, IRL or online. But I gave my family and friends three choices and 90% of them picked door #1, Amazon. This may not be typical as probably 2/3 of my friends and family don't have ereaders yet— hard to believe, I know -) — and ereaders determine a lot of folks' choices.

2) It pays to get a pro to convert your MS Word file. I used a company called 52 Novels. I think it's really one guy with his wife helping out, but he did an excellent job. I am very pleased with the appearance of the ebook. Plus, he took care of embedding the cover and creating a table of contents, so everything links as it should. The Kindle offers a nice feature that lets you jump chapter-to-chapter by pressing the right and left sides of the 5-way controller, but it only works if the chapters are coded as chapters. This works in my books, but not in a lot of traditionally published novels.

3) Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and Barnes and Noble's PubIt are all very easy to use, if you have your files in the right shape. This is where it really paid to have the pro bundle everything up for you. Smashwords was actually the fastest to get the book up, with PubIt next, and then KDP. A nice plus for Smashwords is they will push their books out to other platforms. I don't recommend using them to push to B&N or Amazon, since both vendors provide an easy-to-use interface that lets you have more control over how the book will look, but Smashwords is one way to get a self-published book into iBooks (although you need an ISBN and really good formatting to do that).

4) Covers matter! Even though the book is digital, it still needs a cover. For one thing, it's what ebookstore browsers see when shopping on the web, so it needs to be eye-catching in both thumbnail size and in book-size. I paid a graphic designed to create my covers.

5) There is writing the book (write, edit, proof, get feedback, rinse and repeat). There is creating the ebook (getting a pro to do both the cover and the conversion, in my case); you need to be sure you allow for a review step, to see the book as it will look and proof it one last time. There is loading the ebook (the easy part, if you have the right files, all ready to go). And finally there is marketing. That is the hard part. In order for strangers to buy your book, they have to know it's there, and have a sense that they want to read it. Writing the blurb is not the end of marketing! I'm working on getting reviewers, even while I'm still proofing my next book Tribes (not part of the Haven series).


  1. Thank you. Your article was very helpful. I just published two books on Amazon and I was debating if I should skip Barnes and Noble and just go directly to Smashwords since they distribute to B&N, Apple, etc. But now I will take your advice and publish on B&N separate from Smashwords.

    Also, I have come to realize that marketing e-books is a bigger chore than actually writing the book. You're right--how can anyone purchase it if they don't even know it exists.

    A. G. Desi - Author of The Line Between and The Next Cut

  2. You're welcome! Good luck with your book

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience!