Now that your book is nearly finished, you need to be thinking more about publishing. Do you go the traditional route and give your book over to an established publisher? Or do you take advantage of current technology and publish it yourself? I’ve gone both routes. Each has pros and cons. In this entry, I’ll talk about independent publishing. In my next entry, I’ll give my take on traditional publishing.
Independent Publishing While You Sleep
We are in a golden age of independent publishing. Digital technology is everywhere. It’s easy to learn. It’s inexpensive.
In the pre-digital age, you had to print 3,000 copies of your first edition in order to get a good unit cost. Today you can print out one book at a time and get comparable prices!
Softcover print on demands (PODs) and ebooks are available for purchase by readers everywhere in the world every day of the year, 24 hours a day, using any search device.
You make money while you sleep. What’s not to like?
Amazon: Make Peace with the Beast
You’ll naturally want to make your book available on Amazon. Whether you love or hate Amazon, it dominates all sales channels. More books sell on Amazon than anywhere else.
To create PODs and ebooks to sell on Amazon, you first create an account on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) subsidiary, and set up two pages: an author page for this and future books and a book page for this book.
Then you upload your cover and main text files for the POD and the ebook. (I’ll talk about creating files in a future entry).
Follow the simple directions from start to finish.
Smashwords: The Author-Friendly Option
I also sell ebooks through Smashwords. Smashwords was started by an author, Mark Coker, to be author-friendly.
One example: They pay monthly royalties as low as one cent.
To put that in perspective, in my over thirty years as a book contract adviser with the National Writers Union, I read countless boilerplate contracts that withheld all royalties until they reached minimum benchmark totals upwards of $100. If the author’s royalty failed to reach that benchmark, the money stayed in the publisher’s bank account.
There, it accumulated interest for the publisher, until the next royalty payment period. Mark could have done the same because no software existed. Instead, he created the software.
Mark wrote Smashwords Style Guide to help tech-savvy authors code their own files for ebook upload. For the rest of us, he created “Mark’s List,” a list of typesetters and cover designers who have successfully negotiated the coding structure of Smashwords and now offer their services to others at amazingly friendly prices. I found my current typesetter through Mark’s List.
IngramSpark: More Bookstores Prefer
A third platform you’ll want to consider is IngramSpark. IngramSpark is the platform bookstores prefer over Amazon, whose middleman status cuts into their profits.
Unlike KDP and Smashwords, which charge zero to upload files, IngramSpark charges to upload files. However, they regularly offer specials for free uploading. Pay attention for them. Of the three platforms, only IngramSpark can create hardcover books.
Pros and Cons of Independent Publishing
With independent publishing, you pay for editing, printing, typesetting, website, promotion, and all the other expenses of running a publishing business. But you reap all the rewards and have no limitations on how you may use your intellectual property. The success or failure of your book, however you define success, depends totally on you.
You never have reason to print out copies of your ebook. If you want POD copies for inventory, you can purchase author copies from KDP at low unit costs in quantities as low as one at a time.
Ebooks and PODs are available for purchase by readers everywhere in the world every day of the year, 24 hours a day, using any search device.
A Viable Option and a Bonus Tip
Today, more and more authors are setting themselves up as licensed independent publishing companies at their local city halls and publishing high-quality, well-designed, carefully edited books themselves.
You can do that, too. It’s a viable, respectable option, as long as your book receives expert editing and design, two expectations that novice independent publishers often overlook.
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This piece was adapted from Ken Wachsberger’s You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You. Ken’s other books may be found here and here. For book coaching and editing help, or to invite Ken to speak at your meeting, email Ken at [email protected]. Schedule your complimentary 30-minute coaching and editing session now