Are you having trouble with the nuts and bolts of digital self publishing?
For those of you waiting for the phenomenon to go away, better pull up a chair. It’s going to be a while. Remember when digital rights were a throwaway in the traditional publishing contract? Not any more. We’re well on our way down the road to a world where deciding to offer a hard copy of a book seems almost quaint. The truth of the matter is that, like JK Rowling, you can have your ebook on sale to the world in a matter of hours via the auspices of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
Write a Darn Good Book
Before you devote an inkling of thought to things like marketing, cover design, fonts, file formats, and other digital publishing minutia, you better have a darn good book to sell. One of the tricks of the new era of publishing is that the tasks writers used to not have to worry about become a big deal when you’re publishing your own book. Everyone knows you need an outstanding cover to sell product, but where are you going to get it? Don’t let this sort of stuff distract you from the fact that your first and foremost job is to write. If you’re not writing regularly, there’s a good chance you won’t be publishing or selling many books regularly either. Before anything else, write!
Layout and Cover Design
As we already mentioned, the publishing company used to take care of design and layout details. With self publishing, these tasks fall to you, but don’t make the mistake of assuming you have to personally do it all. If you have the appropriate design skills and access to professional image editing software like Photoshop or the open source alternative GIMP, by all means get busy creating a work of art book cover. The problem is good design takes time and effort, two quantities that might be better spent elsewhere. The good news is that, along with the monumental increase in the number of writers who choose the digital self publishing route, there has been a similar swell in the ranks of talented and cost effective design and layout specialists. Don’t overlook them because it might be worth the dollars spent to not have the aggravation of creating a perfect cover to exacting specifications.
At the very least, you want to make your new book available for the following ebook readers: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Reader. The bad news is that arch competitors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble do their dead level best to make it impossible to read ebooks purchased through their store on rival devices. As readers, of course we don’t like it, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. What this means is that you must understand how to convert your manuscript, which is likely in Word format, to the required format for each reader. At the very least, you need to get your book available for sale for Kindle and Nook, since these two comprise about 90% of the ebook buying market. If it feels like you’re brain is about to rupture, consider publishing through Smashwords, which is a third party company specializing in file conversion for ALL readers that are out there. For the most exposure, you need to have the most options for people to find your book.
Get the Word Out
Unfortunately, too many people get confused and try to do this part first. They spend hours each day on blogs and other social media outlets, trumpeting the imminent arrival of their masterpiece. The only problem – they forgot to ever actually finish and publish the thing. Pretty soon even family and close friends stop paying attention. Don’t interpret this to mean we think marketing is irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marketing is critical! Just make sure you have a thoroughly edited and widely published book actually for sale before you start bragging about it. The best way to lose a potential reader for good is to incite them to a fever pitch about buying your book, then tell them you plan to have it finished in six months. Put this your brain and ponder it every time you’re tempted to jump the gun. Your mom not withstanding, nobody is going to wait around half a year to read your masterpiece.
While this advice isn’t everything you need to know about the brave new world of digital self publishing, at least now you’re facing in the right direction.
The Speaking of Wealth Team
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