More Publishing Options

With the competitive price war going on between ebook sellers, we authors are getting a rapidly growing avenue for free publishing of our writings. Since ebooks don’t use paper, new sites such as www.smashwords.com are offering publication for free. (Editorial disclosure: I published my current book in ebook format with smashwords.com.) Just Google “ebook publishers” to see how many publishers are now offering the e-book format.

There have always been self-publishing services available. What is different? In the past, self publishing has been an expensive alternative for writers. Printing books on paper costs money, and to get a good price, authors were often forced to fill up their spare bedroom with books. In addition, the author had to sell the book themselves, as few bookstores would even consider stocking a self-published book.

The advent of POD (Print On Demand) printing has freed up the spare bedroom, but there is still an upfront cost of getting your book out there. It is also helpful that booksellers are also opening their stores to self-published books, but the author is often left with the daunting task of getting their interest, making sales, arranging shipping, and handling returns.

With e-book publishing, we still have to get people’s attention, but the rest is handled by the publisher. And even better, the author often gets a larger share of the profits.

A few caveats:

Fees: Be careful of publishers requiring an upfront fee for ebook publishing. There are already too many sites offering free publishing.

Commissions: Your share of the profits will vary widely from one ebook publisher to the next, but don’t make the commission rate your only criteria. My publisher, Smashwords.com, offers a high commission, but provides very little promotional support. (A free e-book on marketing your ebook, and a listing in their premium catalog.) Others may include publicity support, editing, cover design, etc., much like the larger print publishing houses. Obviously, if they take on more of the workload, they deserve a bigger share of the take.

Services: Few self-publishers offer free editing, or marketing help. However, be cautious of any paid services being offered. Some are an outright waste of time and money. If they offer editing, ask to see a sample of some books they’ve worked on. (Many ebook publishers now offer free samples of books they sell, much like Amazon does for their Kindle offerings.) If they sell a marketing plan, make sure it isn’t just a mass e-mailing of one press release. There are web sites offering such a service for free, and their effectiveness is questionable. In addition, make sure, as best you can, that they know the market for your genre.

Premium listings: more and more self-publishers are realizing they need to establish a list of the best books they publish, and are offering premium listings that are distributed to book sellers and distributers. (Yes, more and more bookstores are offering e-books in their online stores.) See if your potential publisher has such a listing and what you need to do to get on it. Note: the criteria for getting on this list varies greatly from publisher to publisher. Some look at content, while others only consider formatting. (Ebooks require different formatting than printed books.)

Happy publishing!

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – the series
www.prison-earth.com

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