Self Publishing Books – Good or Bad?

November 4, 2015 in Articles, eBook publishing

Best Publishing Routes For New Book Writers

Early in the writing process, new writers should think carefully about the likely publishing options open to them for their book. We all nurture dreams of becoming bestsellers and earning a fortune; our prudent friends smile, wish us all the best, and think to themselves, keep dreaming! To write and publish a book you need to be businesslike, from the word go.

eBook Publishing and IssuesWe are all entitled to be optimists, and if your book is aimed at a well-defined and large enough readership, then I think you owe it to yourself to offer it to real publishers and literary agents first before taking the publishing risk on your own shoulders. If the manuscript of your book offers fresh insights on a topic, has been professionally edited by a book editing service, and is submitted correctly to those who market such work, then at least you have a ticket in the lottery. And don’t try just one publisher; submit to at least half a dozen at the same time. It will take months, it may not produce a deal, but at least you will have given your book a decent chance of a commercial send-off. In the meantime there is always the eBook route, an option that can be used to kick-start the process and demonstrate the potential of your written work.

Ethical Book Publishers and Literary Agents

How to Avoid the Sharks Lurking in the Publishing Shallows

Real publishers and literary agents, the kind who pay you rather than the reverse, are elusive fish, hard to catch. On the other hand their dangerous relatives, the vanity bandits, dress up in the same clothes, but can be landed without even putting a hook on your line. Just dangle your fishing rod over the water and they’ll leap out, with mouths wide open. Never in their lives will they have been so moved by such tasty bait. Your book is a masterpiece; you are indeed a budding Shakespeare. You are also about to be taken on an expensive self-publishing ride that will empty your wallet, one stage at a time, until there’s nothing left.

Self publishing books, as a paperback or ebook, is nowadays possible for the technically-minded, and not expensive to achieve, but still demands that the book’s contents are ‘as good as it gets’. In other words, the writing itself remains the important task; then follows the editing. Only after the creative work has editorially been ‘put through the wringer’ should formatters be invited to work their magic.

Book editors can mark your card as you prepare your original manuscript, then take extracts of your writing and show you how to self-edit. At the submission stage they can tweak your submission material to potential publishers so that you avoid making the mistakes novices exhibit when attempting to sell their own work. And once you have offered traditional publishers ‘the chance of a lifetime’ to have you as an author, and if they somehow fail to recognise your brilliance, you can self-publish a professional book in weeks, at surprisingly reasonable prices. Don’t be fooled by publishing packages offered by vanity bandits. The majority of these are worthless, using seductive waffle, aimed at taking your money, leaving you with all the risk, and boxes of books to sell on your own. Professional editors help you bring your book to market efficiently and ensure it has the best chance of becoming the bestseller it no doubt deserves.

Where Indie Authors Can Publish Their Books

December 12, 2013 in Articles, eBook publishing

Independent PublishingEvery Indie author will either know or strongly suspect that the best place to publish their books is on Amazon. There is a lot of information on this site on how to go about doing that and plenty of other online resources have discussed and advised how to publish books via Amazon.

Using KDP for ebooks or Createspace for paperbacks are two very good options and should be a strong consideration for any indie author.

But are there other options?

The quick answer is of course ‘YES’…. there are bound to be other options besides Amazon for publishing books. But then you need to know what they are and why.

With ebook readers growing ever more popular, what many independent authors do is to publish their books on Amazon and or Createspace first and then to use a third party distributor like Smashwords to get their ebooks published with other online distributors.

There is a good reason for this and quite simply put…. it is down to administration. Smashwords, for example, has positioned itself in the ebook distribution market place as a provider of services to independent authors. What they have done is to provide comprehensive help and advice that will help most reasonably computer-competent authors format their books ready for publication and, if required, provide an ISBN for the book. Then they convert the books to multiple formats that can be used on virtually all the ereaders currently available in the market place. Also, if the book achieves premium status, they will distribute it to multiple online distributors.

Achieving premium status depends on the formatting of the book prior to submission.  In other words – all relevant formatting requirements detailed in their style guide must be met.

They collect all royalty payments from the various distributors and once they have taken their cut, which is quite modest actually, they reimburse the authors with their net royalties.

At the time of writing, Smashwords can arrange for the distribution of an ebook (that has achieved premium status) to the following list of online distributors:

  • Sony
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Page Foundry
  • Baker & Taylor Blio
  • Library Direct
  • Baker-Taylor Axis360
  • Flipkart
  • Oyster

There is an opt out function for any distributors you prefer not to distribute through, either because you have already distributed through them independently or perhaps you just prefer not to distribute through a particular channel. This list continues to grow as Smashwords make agreements with new distributors.

You can of course go to most of these sites independently to try and set up accounts so that you can publish your book with them. But there will be stringent requirements that have to be met in order to get your book accepted, particularly with respect to formatting and you will then of course have to deal with the administration yourself on a distributor by distributor basis.

For authors outside of the USA you may well find that the distributors are also forced to withhold up to 30% of your royalty payments for the tax department (IRS). The only way around this is to apply for an international tax identification number (ITIN) and send a letter to each distributor advising them that you are exempt from withholding tax (provided you are of course). If, on the other hand, you are only dealing with Amazon and Smashwords you should really only need to advise them. I should mention here that I am not a tax adviser, so please ensure you verify what you need to do with someone qualified to do so based on your own personal circumstances.

This thread on Goodreads may help for anyone trying to get an ITIN http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/756351-dealing-with-amazon-com-and-the-irs—authors

What Are the Disadvantages of Using Smashwords?

There are definitely some disadvantages to using Smashwords, here is a quick summary:

  • They take a cut of your royalties
  • Even with their comprehensive style guide, some people still struggle to get their books formatted to a standard that will get them into the premium status category. The consequence being your book will only then be distributed by Smashwords and will not go out to the other distributors listed
  • Smashwords only sell a small percentage of books directly, mostly I suspect because it is more complicated to download a file and transfer it onto an ereader (even with detailed instructions being available)
  • There are file size limitations (10MB) and graphics, where used, need to be relatively simple and straightforward in nature
  • They only publish eBooks
  • You cannot upload books with DRM (digital rights management ) protection

A Quick Summary of the Advantages of Using Smashwords

Just a quick list of what the advantages are for an independent author publishing through Smashwords:

  • The potential to get your books listed with multiple distributors and with only one account to administer
  • Your books can be converted to multiple formats to suit most ereaders using an automated process
  • You can get free ISBN’s for your book
  • Publishers and agents can also use Smashwords for their clients
  • Growing in popularity with established social media presence that can be used for book marketing
  • A range of different tools and options available for promotion campaigns
  • Free link to printed books
  • Video facility for book trailers
  • A range of author profile tools including, interviews, social media links and blog feed.
  • Books are free of DRM constraints (likely to be appreciated by potential customers)

Who else provides Similar Facilities to Smashwords?

Of course you may not like the look of Smashwords or decide their formatting style guide is just too complicated, so here are a few other successful distributors that independent authors can use:

And just in case you haven’t explored the Amazon route for publishing eBooks, then take a look here http://kdp.amazon.com/  The most popular publishing platform for independent authors and where you are most likely to make reasonable sales. You can ask Smashwords to list you with them if you want to, but to be honest this is one option you are probably better taking care of yourself.

If you need help with any aspect of getting your book published and promoted then you are free to leave a comment or get in touch via the contact-us page.

photo credit: Enokson via photopin cc

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