What is eBook Publishing, what steps are involved in the digital publishing process, how the process different from the normal hard-copy publishing route and is it the best choice for you? Let’s start by taking a look at where the digital revolution really started.
History of eBook Publishing
Up until 2007 all aspiring authors would have followed roughly the same process to publish their (hard-copy) books. The publishing process would have seen the author’s manuscript pass through many hands to be edited/ proofread, printed and then promoted, before the completed book eventually ended up in the shelves of the local bookstores. This process is a long one and can easily take up to a year before the book is available to customers.
Once a book is sold, each person in the publishing chain takes their cut from the sale of the book. The bookshop will take their share, and the publisher who owns the copyright will take theirs before the remaining amount is paid to the author as royalties. This is assuming the author doesn’t have to still share the remaining profit with a book agent as well. The result is that the author, in many cases, waits for months for this process to be concluded and royalties to be received.
Once the process begins, the author also does not have much control over the publishing and printing of the manuscript. The marketing process, arguably one of the most important steps, is also then largely left up to others, with the author playing more of a secondary role.
Following the technological improvements in the early part of the last decade, and the acceptance of the eBook as a vital component of the publishing cycle, the role the author can play in the process has changed, allowing the author more power than ever before.
Welcome in the Amazon Kindle.
Early in 2007 Amazon’s first eBook reading device, the Kindle, was released. It sold out in hours.
This device was a catalyst for the online publishing industry, introducing eBooks as a real alternative to traditional hard-copy printed books. Customers were impressed with the range of eBooks available on the Amazon platform, the cheaper pricing of eBooks and being able to choose the font type and size of the eBook you were busy reading.
Up until then there had been other devices capable of reading eBooks. For example, Sony released it’s first serious attempt at an eReader a year before Amazon. However it never received the same level of acceptance or interest as Amazon’s Kindle. Shortly after launching the Kindle eReader device, Amazon launched the KDP (Kindle Desktop Publishing) platform. This platform completely leveled the playing field between publishers and authors, allowing authors the same power to publish their eBooks in the Amazon store. The need for often unnecessary and complicated publishing contracts was removed and replaced by a short and simple signup process. Authors were able to reduce the publishing cycle to a matter of days rather than months.
Today the Amazon store is the biggest online retailer of eBooks with almost 67% of the world’s eBook market and almost 3 000 000 eBook titles now available. Due to its size and user-centric approach, every successful eBook publishing endeavour should include a plan to market directly through Amazon’s KDP platform.
What is eBook Publishing?
eBook Publishing, otherwise known as digital publishing, is the process that is followed to correctly convert an author’s manuscript into an acceptable eBook format, and then making the eBook available online in stores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the Apple iBookstore. (These are the three biggest eBook sales platforms world-wide, in order of size).
Benefits of publishing an eBook
The process of publishing your new eBook within Amazon is much shorter than the traditional publishing route and authors can have their eBook published online within 24 hours of uploading to Amazon. Authors are able to earn up to 70% in royalties and are fully in control the publishing process of their eBook, from having the cover designed, to actually clicking on the “publish” button on the Amazon KDP platform.
With the shift in power that eBook publishing helps make possible, what role do authors play after the manuscript has been completed?
Before publishing your eBook to Amazon (or any other online store) make sure that you have followed these steps which are vital to helping your work stand out amongst the competition online.
- Have an eye-catching eBook cover designed.
- Have your manuscript Proofread and edited by a professional.
- Have your final manuscript converted into the correct eBook format/s
- Have a well-written and engaging marketing blurb ready.
- Have patience and develop a will to learn, as much of the process now rests with you.
(All the above services in the eBook publishing process can be contracted out to professionals for a very reasonable fee.)
Note to Authors
eBook devices are still largely designed for eBooks that are mostly text based such as works of fiction. The more detailed books such as complex works of non-fiction, children’s books or cookbooks, can be converted to eBook format. However these more complex conversions might not work on older devices. Generally the rule of eBook conversion is the more complex your formatting the more it will cost and the longer it will take.
Be aware that the following items do not exist in eBooks and plans should be made to work around them.
- Page numbers
- Headers or footers
Which format of eBook?
Not all eBook reading devices read the same format of eBook, and not all online stores accept the same format. The two formats of eBook that are most popular and will ensure access to most eBook retailers, are Amazon’s MOBI format and the industry standard ePub format used almost everywhere else.
Always make sure that, as an author, you have both formats available.
Where should I sell my eBook?
I recommend either publishing directly through the Amazon KDP platform exclusively: www.kdp.amazon.com , or using an eBook aggregator such as www.Smashwords.com, whereby using one portal, you can reach many online eBook retailers. These two channels can be used together.
Both of these portals have advantages and disadvantages.
Amazon will give you the best exposure, whilst (unfortunately) they will want to pay your royalties via a posted cheque.
Smashwords does not have the same level of reach as Amazon, however they will get you into many smaller eBook retailers and also pay you royalties via Paypal.
I would recommend going direct with Amazon, and then, if needed, reaching the smaller online eBook stores using Smashwords.
Publishing via eBook is an essential step in ensuring maximum exposure for authors. Whether you are writing for profit, exposure or just need to share your message, the benefits of publishing to eBook are too many to be ignored as merely a passing “fad”. The eBook publishing industry empowers the author, giving a level of control which has not been seen before.
My advice to authors would be to learn as much as possible about the new platforms available and the processes involved in making the best eBook possible, and remember to keep abreast of this new and exciting industry.
Looking for further info on the eBook Publishing Industry? Look on LinkedIn group for South African Authors;