In these days of having technology no more than an arm’s length away, more and more books are finding their way into people’s pockets, purses and briefcases. Entire anthologies and series are often hidden away and pulled from nowhere on public transportation and coffee shops, like novice magic tricks. The key to being read now lies in being published electronically. This means a whole new set of rules to follow as we move to the electronic page and away from paper. Here are some guidelines to help you stay on track as you find your way.
1) Write Well.
Know your audience and write within a genre. While this is true for any kind of publishing, it’s especially important for e-publishing because of the way writing is categorized and subcategorized. Think about key words your audience might use to look for your book online. Tags and key words can be an author’s best friends.
2) Keep the Cover Clean.
First impressions are everything. Make sure your cover is made to be appealing on an electronic device. Stick to clean lines, sharp images and an overall picture that people can see and understand at a glance. Complicated images and blurry lines along with colors that blend together likely will not translate well on e-book readers, tablets, and phones.
3) DIY Design or Hire a Pro?
Doing the layout for an e-book has a completely different set of limitations than a traditional book. Make sure you know if you are going to attempt to do it yourself or hire a company to do it for you. If you do it yourself, you’ll have to pay special attention to the output of whatever conversion program you use. You’ll likely be writing the copy in text software but will have to convert the file to something that is compatible with the e-publisher. In many cases it’s less of a headache to hire a company that specializes in coding e-books.
4) Employ Enhancements and Extras
Adding enhancements to e-books makes them more enticing. Things like embedded audio or video can really pique an audience’s interest. If you don’t want readers to have to download extraordinarily large files, you can provide links to items on your website where they can download extras separately. Inviting readers to your site also creates a sense of kinship and they are likely to explore the site to see what else is offered.
5) Find the Perfect Platform
Choose the right e-publishing platform for you – there are many things you need to consider. Each platform has its own pros and cons, which you will need to weigh and consider based on your own goals. It will behoove you to research your target audience and find out which reader they prefer. There are services that are available on all platforms, which is great if you’re aiming for worldwide exposure.
6) Secret Service?
Don’t let your contract or service agreement feel like a foreign policy document. Know what is required of you, what is required of the company, and what to expect eventually. Some examples of things you need to know are:
- terms of the contract
- file formats the company accepts
- whether or not you can edit your book after it goes on sale
7) Know Your Rights
The writing is yours so it’s important to know who keeps the copyrights after publication. Is it exclusive or nonexclusive? The exclusivity relates to whether or not you can sell your e-book through other services at the same time. If it is exclusive, make sure you understand the limitations.
8) Make the Most Money
Most services will simply provide a range or suggested guideline but allow you to price it however you like. Typically e-books range from 99 cents to $9.99. Make sure you consider the length of the book, the format options, and availability. Also look into the fees. Most services are free to use, but some that offer different packages do charge a fee up front for publication. Others will sometimes throw in hidden fees for file delivery. If you have your book in a format that will need to be converted, there may be a fee for that, as well. And what about royalties? Most of the time you can keep anywhere from 60-85% of the price, depending on the e-book retailer.
9) Announce, Market and Advertise
Typically this is all on you. There are a few platforms out there that will do some basic advertising for you, especially if you are able to make pre-orders available. A platform like Issuu allows you to publish and distribute any content, including e-books, for free. One of the best things to do is to make a personal website and link back to your e-book every chance you get, including in the actual book.
10) Help It See the World
Generally the platform you choose will distribute only to its own retailers. There are, however, multi-channel distribution services that send to a variety of retailers. Sometimes you have to use a little more elbow grease along the way with these services; it just depends on how much work you’re willing to put in and how many eyes you want on your e-book.
Haley Osborne is an indie writer. She writes a blog on education and essay writing at www.EssayTigers.com. Haley is always looking for the ways to exchange experience or ideas with writers. So don’t hesitate to contact her on Facebook or Twitter.