Through e-books, virtually everyone can become a published author, but it can still be a daunting task. Here are 7 recommendations to help get the ball rolling.
The growing shift and take-up of electronic books (e-books) worldwide is transforming one of the most traditional ways in which we acquire information and learn. In the Caribbean, private individuals and organisations are no longer the sole purchasers of e-books; schools are also beginning to add this medium into their curricula, leading to the creation of a critical mass of “e-bibliophiles” across societies.
The increasing use of e-books on the region, which can be cheaper than printed texts, could begin to signal a rejuvenation of reading, and more importantly, the need for both amateur and professional writers in the Caribbean to publish more content. Although many of us, especially those who work in the ICT/tech industry, might shirk away from thoughts of becoming a published author, publishing is still one of the key ways of being recognised as an authority in your field(s) of expertise. More importantly, thanks to e-books, the traditional barriers to getting published – e.g. cost of printing and distribution, and getting your manuscript accepted by a publisher, etc. – have diminished considerably. Hence persons are more prepared to self-publish via e-book, and the document can range in size from less than 10, to several hundred pages.
Although preparing an e-book can be done at a minimal cost, in order to get the best experience and reward for your writing efforts as a self-publisher, it is important to be prepared and to have an action plan. Here are some tips before you begin.
Recognise that the buck stops with you
Unless you are an established author that can command the attention and resources of a publishing house, the odds are that you will have to make all decisions surrounding the preparation, distribution and promotion of your e-book. If instead you choose to get your e-book ready through a recognised publisher, these services can be expensive, and you may still need to arrange for its distribution and promotion.
Prepare a budget
From the outset, it is advisable to establish a budget for the exercise. Since the majority of us are unlikely to get a book advance, we may need to organise the financing of the project ourselves. Although the actual publishing of an e-book can be done for well under USD 50.00, the final output may reflect this modest amount. It is therefore important to consider the amount of effort, resources and expertise that you are prepared to apply to finalise the document and to marketing and promotion.
Have a good support team
Although an e-book can be prepared on the cheap, ensuring that the final product has a professional look and feel, can not only affect the price at which a publication is sold, but also the extent to which potential customers are attracted to your book. In that regard, it is recommended that you assemble a small team to help you to finalise the publications. Expertise that might be the most useful are:
- editorial/peer review – to fact check and edit the content
- graphics design – to design the cover and improve internal images as necessary.
Do note that you may most likely to have pay for this support, which ought to be included in your budget.
Prepare a marketing and promotion plan
From the outset, it is important to consider what actions or tasks might be necessary to promote your e-book. Hence it is essential to identify your audience and the best ways of reaching them. In preparing a marketing plan, you will not only begin to determine the best promotional channels that should be used, but also the cost; financial and time wise, that you might have to expend to facilitate the desired level of exposure.
Carefully consider price point
When setting the price for your e-book, it is important to recognise that outside of works by established authors, or those for which there is also a print publication, the majority of e-books are priced at USD 5.99 or less. Although, you are free to choose whatever price point you wish, a higher rate might result in your e-book only being purchased by a select clientele. Hence it is important to carefully consider pricing, and its possible impact on sales and income generation, should those be a priority.
Publish book in multiple formats
Although the Amazon Kindle and Apple iBook devices might appear to dominate the e-book market, several other e-book readers are available, which your customers might prefer. Hence in order to ensure wide take-up of your e-book, it is advisable to publish it in a variety of forms, some of which are highlighted in Table 1, and were discussed in our earlier post, Have a great idea for a book? Publish it!
Sell e-book in multiple e-book stores
Finally, consistent with the previous point, it is also recommended that you consider using multiple distribution channels, through which persons can access (and hopefully buy) your publication. However, it is important to highlight that you should ensure that you understand the terms and conditions associated with each e-book store, the revenue spilt that is being proposed, and that you read the fine print!
Image credits: adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net