"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Do You Want to Publish an eBook? -- Part One

Writing is hard for some. In addition, the choices about how to get published are complex.

If you have decided to write a book. The first rule of thumb is: Write the best book you can.

Next, comes choosing where and how to publish. There are some basic options: Traditional, Self-publishing, or Vanity Press.

Traditional -- as a writer, you solicit major and minor publishers either by tossing your manuscript over the transom, so to speak, meaning, you email your manuscript unsolicited to various publishing companies, or you can look for an agent to represent you.

It would be impossible to list all the sources and options available regarding finding an agent. A web search will turn up thousands of choices and advice. To start, my suggestion is to look for articles on self-publishing in well-known writers' publications like Writers Digest.

Important: join various online or terra firma writers' groups and find out what other authors do.

Now, if you have written the next great American novel and agents are knocking on your door soliciting your business, that's great, but most new authors do not have this experience.

Self-Publishing -- You have two options:

1) DIY (Do-it-Yourself) -- use a self-publishing house. After you have written your manuscript, you also edit it, format it, design a cover, and market it, and more. Self-publishing houses usually list the eBook on its website and may distribute it to online book retailers, check what distribution services the self-publishing house offers.

Note: DIY also means learning a lot of software packages, not just wordprocessing. You need to format your document for the self-publishing house's software. In addition, creating a book cover will require photo/image manipulation software. In addition, if you register your work with the Library of Congress, you will face the task of using their software as well.

A web search will find hundreds upon hundreds of self-publishing houses willing to "publish" your eBook. Do research to determine which self-publishing house offers the best services for the best "cost/return." The type of book you are publishing may affect your choice.

2) Purchase or Contract Services -- (a) use a self-publishing house and choose from a variety of packages which may include editing, book design and more.

Caution: in this industry be careful what you buy, not all packages are reliable for the quality of services provided.

(b) use a self-publishing house and contract privately with an editor, book cover designer, or marketing service, you choose which function you want to DIY and which you want to contract out.

Again, research is necessary. For example, to find an editor, look at their credentials, their experience in your genre, their fees, as well as, their customer service skills. Like self-publishing houses, there are plenty of editing agencies/editors out there willing to edit your work that are expensive and may not provide a quality service.

In the self-publishing world, there are many companies who want your money but do not provide services warranting the expense.

Vanity Press -- find a self-publisher and let them do all the work. Vanity Press has a notorious reputation for producing poorly formatted and edited, expensive products that don't sell. There are some full-service self-publishing houses that are reputable but are hard to find. Remember, marketing may still be up to you.

My Choice
For myself, I choose Option 2b to publish my first eBook, Gina's Dream (GD), for these reasons: I knew Gina's Dream was not as well-written as say a Dorothy Sayers novel, so I did not want to spend the time and money looking for an agent. I choose to use Gina's Dream as an experiment in self-publishing. I self-published Gina's Dream as an eBook on Smashwords.

Future Articles:

Choosing a Book Cover Designer
Choosing a Self-Publishing House

Choosing an Editor and Editing Services

Formatting your work

What Happens After Publication?

Marketing Your eBook

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