Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Basics of eBook Publishing

Following on from my guide to writing a book proposal, for publishing a print (ie dead tree) book, here is a guide for those who want to publish their book via the electronic book route.

Thanks in the main to devices such as Kindle, Nook and the iPad eBooks (electronic books) have had massive growth in the past few years, growth that shows little evidence of abating... which is good news for prospective authors.

Still, this the whole eBook publishing area is a bit of a minefield as there is no standardization in terms of devices and formats. ePub, an open standard is the most common and most devices will read it. This is the format that smashwords sells.

In terms of the big book sites, in the US at least, Amazon has 60% of the market, Barnes and Noble has 30% of the market and Apple has the remaining 10% (with a few other smaller markets filling in the cracks).

Anyway, that is the basic background. Whatever else you do, you need to writer your book. I would recommend that you ALWAYS, always, write your book with a physical publisher in mind. After all, this ensures that your book is the highest quality and even if you publish an eBook first you can still publish your own print version with a print on demand service and you can also send your book as a proposal to agents and publishers (just be sure to retain the electronic publishing rights for yourself).

Do this properly, with an introduction, table of contents and an index at the back. These are always good signs of a well-written and thought out book

Once your book is written (and I would recommend using Word or a compatible word processor for this) you will need to format it for the various eBook readers. Smashwords ( has an excellent service for doing this from Word, which covers most formats (but not Amazon). Now, you can do this yourself, or you can search smashwords for people who will do this for you (prices range from $65 to $150 and times range from a few days to a few weeks). Just remember you are paying for a formating service and not an editing service. For eBooks you will need to edit the book and any images yourself (there are editing services available, but expect to pay something in the order of $1200).

You now have an eBook ready, formated and exported in a range of formats. Whilst you are doing this, don't forget to export a PDF of your book and also format the first 50 pages or so as an excerpt.

Don't forget to create a cover for your book. This is another good sign of a properly produced book. Again you can do this yourself if you have some skill with photoshop or other image-editing software or you can, once again, pay to have it done for you.

The first part of your eBook is done. In the next part, we will look at Amazon and getting your book published (rights, pricing and getting it in on-line stores).

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