I was asked recently by an aspiring South African author about the costs involved in converting his book to eBook friendly formats and publishing online. Depending on the software used and the time you are willing to spend in the process, the answer can be, very little.
The first decision affecting cost for an author to make is what eBook format will you want the eBook to be in?
This is largely a marketing decision and will depend on whether or not you want your eBook published through Amazon who will only accept the MOBI format.
Currently the three most-popular eBook formats are;
- EPUB2 or
How your eBook format can affect cost.
PDF eBooks are like the ugly sister of the two alternatives, although it will work on eReaders you would loose the technological benefits present in the other two formats for example, the eBook would not re-size itself over the various devices potentially giving readers a less than pleasurable experience. This format can be quickly made from most Word Editors such as Open Office and MS Word.
ePub/ Mobi These version are fairly similar to each other in that they both take full advantage of eBook smartness, the only difference is really that Amazon will only support the Mobi files on their eReaders and through their eBook store.
I would generally recommend that authors publishing smaller eBook or "Guides" publishing directly to PDF instead of the the alternatives. The great news is that you can create a PDF for free as MS Word can publish written work directly to PDF. Authors Publishing longer work, like a novel would do well to publish their work in either EPUB or MOBI.
These two formats will open more doors for you online than a normal PDF version of your manuscript would. For example if you are publishing your eBook through the eBook aggregator Smashwords.com which can also publish your eBook to other online portals automatically, it would need either the Word or ePub files and would not accept PDF formats as input.
The conversion itself, if handled by a professional, will cost you. (Always weigh up the cost against potential profits made by publishing online)
There are free options available for eBook conversions, both online and software based, for those who are comfortable with a computer and who have the time to learn the conversion process and convert their work themselves.
Here are some of the free eBook Conversion packages, if you have the time to learn:
- Online Portals such as Amazon's KDP and Smashwords have their own free conversion processes to take your manuscript from a Word file to the appropriate formats.
(The longer and more complex your book is, the more difficult and longer it will take to use these free options, non-fiction for example is harder than fiction. )
If using a professional eBook conversion company , feel free to ask them to create a free sample to see what your work would look like and approve their workmanship.
Ok, so you have your eBook in your chosen format, now what?
You could publish locally on one of numerous "co.za" online portals however you would be limiting your audience here to a mainly South African one. Publishing on an international portal will multiply your potential audience.
This is were things get interesting as the world considers South Africa as a mainly backward country we are limited in the options in interacting with the outside world online. Choosing Amazon.com for example as they have the widest customer base (at two thirds of world wide customer base) means that unless you are lucky enough to have a US/UK bank account they will be posting cheques to you for royalty payments.
Publishing through other major online portals (although not as big as Amazon) such as Lulu.com and Smashwords.com opens up the option of using Paypal to receive royalties.
I currently have my Paypal account linked to my FNB account, which is at the time of writing this the only way a South African can use Paypal. Paypal is basically a method of paying online operators/ collecting online payments quickly and easily. The cost involved here would be banking fees for your FNB account ( I pay R99 pm) and then when pulling funds out of your Paypal account and into your FNB account, will result in a percentage charge by FNB.
Once you have selected the online platforms, you will load your correctly formatted eBook online and so begins your journey to becoming a Best-selling self-published author!
Consider publishing some of your work for free, this is a great way to introduce the readers to your work and to create interest in your next eBook published.