Making Sense of E-Publishing

I know several authors who are trying to decide whether or not to e-pub their novels. I am also looking into the idea, but first I’m going to learn as much as I can about my options, trouble areas and how e-publishing works.
Writing Tip for Today: By now the whole writing world knows about Amanda Hocking and the others out there who’ve cashed in on their e-pubbed novels. What do the rest of us need to know?

  • What’s Your Genre? Many of the success stories I’ve heard are for genre novels. If you are a vampire/zombie/horror/romance/sci-fi etc.  reader, you may be hungry for new titles. If you’ve written a more mainstream novel, it may be more difficult to target your audience. Think about how you would get the word about your book to your readers. If they only read what Oprah recommended, for instance, you might have to spend a lot to get your book in front of the right noses.
  • Investigate Smashwords. If you decide to self-publish in e-book format, an easy free interface is Smashwords. But be careful: You must teach yourself to understand their conversion formats, so you can anticipate possible errors when your manuscript is put into the Kindle (.mobil) or other reader format (.epub). I think it would be worth it to get acquainted with Smashwords just so you understand the process. They have a specific style guide, and according to some of my writer friends, it’s easy. The catch is that horrible novels are up there with yours and the reader has to cull through a lot of dreck to find you.
  • Where’s the Sweet Spot? This is a crucial part of e-pubbing.  At Kindle Direct (Amazon’s version) you do have to charge $2.99, but if your book is between 2.99 and 9.99, Amazon pays the publisher (in self-pub, that’s you) a whopping 70% of the retail price. A lot of writers do an introductory free download and then start charging.
  • What’s the Catch? The catch is that in order to succeed in selling a lot of e-books (or any other books) you must be a great self-marketer. You must eat, breathe and live to promote your name and your books. ‘Nuff said. And if you market to those who read a lot in e-book format, you’ll be doing a lot of promotion online. Get educated on what it takes to promote and build a BIG network.
  • Is Self-e-pubbing a Good Idea? According to Randy Ingermanson (a great resource), self-e-pubbing might be a good idea if you are a good marketer AND 1)An “A” list writer who is not contractually bound (well that leaves out 99% of us) OR 2) You are a seasoned midlist author wanting to cash in on out-of-print or old titles of which you own the rights, OR 3) You are unpublished but your writing quality is very high.  

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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