Why The Ebook Route Is Attractive For New Writers
Getting published has seldom been cheaper. Or easier. And I’m not only talking about ebooks. Printed books can be produced to order, quickly, one at a time, but here set-up costs can be heavy and there are drawbacks for the unwary, with unscrupulous operators masquerading as real publishers after your business – the sort who instead of paying you, empty your pocket, and take no investment risk whatsoever.
However, with ebooks, aspiring writers with their wits about them can now bypass the submission marathon and become published authors in a matter of weeks . . . if they feel that impatient. Which I must admit most of us do!
Writing and Publishing Your eBook
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Offers Many Advantages
It’s the arrival of the ebook mass market that I’m really interested in, especially the one set up by Amazon with its Kindle ebook readers and Kindle Store. Publishers failed to appreciate what Amazon was doing to the market for their printed books, and indeed some are still protesting as their old-fashioned ways of operating are exposed for the rackets they were: ones that benefited neither reader or writer, or indeed the publishing houses themselves in many instances.
The Kindle Store offers new writers a free platform to display their books; it’s one where they can list them, describe their merits, offer a profile of the author, and adjust the price of the ebook from one day to the next. Amazon do take a commission on each sale, but at rates that compare well with the abysmally low net royalties offered by traditional publishers. There are also ways to promote your books which may just get their heads above the precipice and into the bestseller category: Listmania, wish-lists and using your buyer profile to like them and promote the search tags. These are tools that can be used on Amazon to give a promotional push that should not be underestimated.
But if something sounds almost too good to be true, as this does, then what are the dangers, the horrors that might plague you as a newly published writer once your book is available for readers worldwide?
When you put your name on an ebook, then its shortcomings will be down to you. Nobody else. And to prepare for and ward off these disadvantages it’s necessary to split the marketing aspect into three facets:
- . what does the ‘packaging’ proclaim, inform readers about treats to come
- . how are the ‘contents’ displayed
- . how instructive, well-written or entertaining is the book itself
Taking these in reverse order, if your writing is semi-literate, poorly punctuated, and rambles as you attempt and fail to take your reader on a literary journey, then your reputation is punctured both as a writer (probably for good) and as a person (what will your friends think of you when they read it?). The same care should be taken with the writing of an ebook as you would devote to its printed cousin. Your draft should be planned, edited, proofread, and targeted from inception at an identified readership, and then it should respect it. Provide what readers are looking for and they will respect you and look out for your work in the future.
If you have a brilliant manuscript, the next thing to ensure is that it is laid out so that the software employed by ebook online retailers will display it well on ebook readers. If you pay insufficient attention at this stage – Amazon offers page upon page of advice but it’s not always easy to follow – then your work may look dreadful when viewed on ebook readers. And if that’s true, your book will neither sell or do you justice. My advice: unless you are comfortable with the jargon employed by computer and print people, invest a small sum in acquiring expert help – at least for your first book.
And finally we come to the marketing and ‘packaging’. Here we are talking about what visitors first see when they visit the Kindle Store or other online ebook retailer. Your ebook will commence with two things: a unique listing page, and a place where it sits with all other similar books in your chosen category.
To deal with your unique listing first, you will be asked to describe your book, categorise it, give it a title, price it, and provide an image of ‘the cover’, a reminder that while no ebook will ever exist outside the screen you view it on, publishers still think of it as a tangible thing that can be picked up! Every one of these things, if incorrectly done, will ruin your chances of success.
For the listings, your competitors will all be visible alongside a summary of your book, and because you are new to the listings, you shouldn’t expect to be number one immediately. You won’t be. You’ll more likely be number forty or fifty. But if everything you’ve done works as it should, your sales should rise over the following weeks as readers find your work.
One last point. I would strongly advise new writers to seek a little support when tackling this brilliant market for the first time. Editorial advice should ensure the minor literary flaws are eradicated soon enough (if they don’t then perhaps you shouldn’t be publishing just yet), technical support will guarantee a well laid out book, and an informative listing will ensure your book has a reasonable chance of being a success.
Seize the opportunity, I say . . . but take as much care as you can to produce truly professional work you can be proud of.