YE OLDE PRINT PUBLISHING
For decades, writers have been limited to publishing hardback and paperback books via one of four basic methods (traditional, self, co-, and vanity).
Traditional = The supposedly preferred method to get a book published is through an agent and a legitimate publisher, waiting months or years for your work to be accepted, edited and produced, then watching it go out of print too soon because the sales are too low.
Self-Publishing = For complete author control you can take on all of the aspects of production yourself, from editing, cover art, printing, marketing, distribution, copyright, ISBNs , etc. You wind up with a hundred books stored in your basement and trying to peddle them from the trunk of your car. Some authors form their own one-man publishing company to gain access to distributors for their self-published books.
Co-publishing = One can hire a company like iUniverse or AuthorHouse or CreateSpace to do all of the self publishing tasks for you, and probably in a more professional manner. They use POD (print-on-demand) so you don’t have a bunch of books sitting in a warehouse. Each book ordered is instantly printed and distributed via Lighting Source as orders come in from Amazon and other booksellers worldwide. The author receives an author’s discount for his own purchases, plus a royalty on other sales that come in.
Vanity Presses = Most of them charge a hefty fee to produce your book, but have a bad reputation because they are little concerned with quality and will publish anything. They don’t bother to promote or distribute your book, relying mostly on author purchases for their profits.
THE RULES HAVE CHANGED
The good news is that sales on e-platforms are outselling print books. Authors have more power to be seen and heard in our digitalized, connected world than ever. With the empowerment of the internet, e-publishing has evolved into an easy DIY process, and it has opened the door for micro-niches that are too small for traditional publishers to be interested in. Ebooks present new opportunities for authors in the way of larger royalties, more control, and more exposure.
Anyone can publish a book at next to no cost and put it out on the web. Maybe this is a good thing as a portal to bringing unrecognized talent to the forefront. The flipside is simply transferring the slush pile from the editor’s or agent’s desk directly to the public, a situation maybe not so good.
Electronic publishing is rapidly changing before our very eyes, going through the same evolution as television did over the last 25 years. I remember when we had 3 channels in Pocatello, then we got cable and had 13 channels. Now we have over 200 channels and nothing on to watch. We came from black & white to high def on a giant screen.
Even Netflix, who used to mail out movie discs to our homes, is in full-mode of streaming digital videos over the internet. iTunes is doing the same. You no longer have to download your favorites or mail back a disc, as everything you like/want is stored for you out on a cloud somewhere. All they require is your credit card, and you are good to go.
Today millions of people own an e-reader like Nook, Kindle, or iPad, and as a result more and more people are reading on a regular basis. There is something to be said for curling up with a good printed book, just the sensory experience of touching and smelling a real book, yet the lure of accessing so many titles on an e-reader cannot be denied. Just imagine all those books available on that one little device. Now people with sight issues can simply increase the font size to make reading easier.
Perhaps the most glaring characteristic of ebooks is their lower price. An ebook on Kindle is $9.99 instead of $26 for a hardback or $18.95 for a trade paperback. Ebooks with no overhead are simply cheaper and easier to produce. So far, author incomes have not suffered, because ebook royalty percentages are much higher than print royalties. However, the reduced customer price has vastly increased competition, and not just for authors bypassing the traditional agent-publisher route. Just to stay in the game, traditional publishers are busy producing ebooks as well.
HOW CAN I GET IN ON THIS?
Just google “How to publish on the web”, and you will turn up a number of do-it-yourself options. Here are the biggies:
Amazon Kindle Store = If you google “How to publish on Kindle”, you will learn that it is free, fast, and easy to upload your manuscript. Books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing get a 70% royalty and are available for purchase on all Kindle devices. Amazon has ingeniously created an app that turns every iPad into a Kindle. Now apps are available for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and Android-based devices. You can publish your books in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian and specify pricing in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling, and Euros.
iBooks on Apple = Just google “How to publish an ibook to the Apple bookstore.” From what I can tell, the iBookstore is a little harder to get into without some special formatting program. But it can be done. Don’t get caught up on whether to go with Kindle or iPad … do both!
Barnes & Noble Nook = Google “How to publish on Nook” This summer Barnes and Noble set up their own publishers’ system for the Nook.
PLACES TO BE
As difficult as it is to attract casual sales from browsers in bookstores carrying 80,000 titles, digital takes that challenge to the Nth degree. Online our books are like a needle in a vast haystack. So it has become important for authors and groups of authors to build communities, clubs and affinity groups to survive. Your digital presence now determines your success or failure.
Website = All writers, whether published or not, should have an author’s website with plenty of links in and out. Your website is essentially your “calling card” to the publishing world and potential fans. There are several places you can get a cheap or free website.
Blogging = You can run a blog for free on WordPress.com or on various other sites. Interact with fans and connect with like-minded folk in your field or genre to market your writing.
LinkedIn = On LinkedIn you can find the resume of just about anyone you have ever worked with. This is where people participate in professional or business-to-business social networking. You can manage your professional identity and interact with contacts in your field, maybe access knowledge, insights and job opportunities.
Twitter = Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read text posts of up to 140 characters. Use it to follow your friends, experts, favorite celebrities, and breaking news. The power of tweeting has been demonstrated by the Arab Spring and the ubiquitous flash mobs. Basically, Twitter consists of the followers and the followed. Think of it as bait, and try to become the followed.
Facebook = Actively send out “friend” requests and links. Get as many people as you can to “like” your page or post. You can create groups of friends and fans dedicated to your genre or area of interest. You also can create a fan page or a cause page and link it to the rest of the internet.
Google + = This is Google’s new social network, similar to Facebook. It is still in the process of being rolled out, but looks very promising.
You Tube / Videos = Authors can create videos to promote their writing or a book or a cause, then publish the link for others to watch. But don’t try to wing it. It must look professional.
Scribd = (pronounced scribbed) This social reading and publishing company has democratized the web publishing process because anyone can instantly upload and transform any file into a web document stored on Scribd, discoverable through search engines, shared on social networks and read on billions of mobile devices. It is rather like a You-Tube for books, in that it is free content and you get all the good, bad and the ugly. You can create a microsite focused on anything. Millions of people come here every day to discuss business presentations, recipes, calendars, books, poems, genres, essays, resumes, manuals, agendas, or anything at all they want to share. You can put a chapter of your book out on Scribd then advertise the link on your Facebook or Twitter or in an email inviting your fans to come read it.
The key to using all the above tools effectively is to always ask your audience to act or interact. This is how things on the web magically “go viral.” So make it easy for them to:
– opt in
– sign up
– comment on your blog
– follow your tweets
– like your fan page
– friend you on facebook
All of this may prompt one to declare print media terminally ill and to think that libraries and bookstores are going the way of the five-and-dime. I don’t think so, but then I’m the type who haunts second-hand book stores and library sales. I don’t even own an e-reader. (I know, I know!)
The cold truth is that if ebook sales continue to increase like a nuclear chain reaction, it behooves us all to sit up and pay attention. Just take a look at the tablet sales projections in the attached Kindle Fire article.
The attached article said, “Research firm Gartner predicted that 63.6 million tablets will be sold this year, up 261 percent over last year. Annual sales are expected to reach 326.3 million units in 2015.
A last minute tip directed interested people to myecovermaker.com to find a site that will help you make good covers for your self-published ebooks.
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