Tag: Self ePublication

WWW: Back to Kindle

Well, if I’m pulling out the Kindle image, it must be once again time for me to talk about self e-publication.  This time the origins come from Saturday morning when I grabbed the Sunday Washington Post Arts section and was greeted by the headline: Novel rejected?  There’s an e-book gold rush.  I tucked into the article, expecting another story about how Amanda Hocking has made millions of dollars and so too could anyone else who put their book up on Kindle.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Yes, the media darling of Kindle self-publication was mentioned as part of the article, but not with the glowing amazement of the websites that picked up her stories around two months ago.  Rather, the article points out that she has since decided to sign with a traditional publisher saying, “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc.”  But the main focus of the story is Nyree Belleville.  She’s made a good amount of money through self publishing to Kindle.

But here’s the rub.  What is she publishing?  Well, she started with novels that had been traditionally published years ago, but the rights had long-since reverted to Mrs. Belleville.  Thus, what she started putting on Kindle were novels that had been through the traditional vetting process and been professionally edited.  She has since put original titles on Kindle, but she’s also a writer who thus has experience creating professional quality novels.

I’m not going to say that’s the only reason that she’s successful.  That’s selling her short.  But the story is very even handed with presenting the idea that, while some people are being insanely successful with self e-publication, it’s a huge outlier.  From the article, the founder of Smashwords is quoted saying, “We have less than 50 people who are making more than $50,000 per year. We have a lot who don’t sell a single book.”  I’m massively impressed by those 50 people, but the article also cites nearly 20,000 authors on the site, meaning only one quarter of one percent are making what could be considered a living wage on their writing.

Then again, what percentage of authors traditionally published can say the same?  I don’t have the numbers, but even mass market authors still have day jobs.

Anyway, I wanted to pass along the article as being one of the better presentations I’ve seen of the actual trials and tribulations of self e-publication presented from a major source.  It actually bothers to look at the work people put into it, where the success stories come from, and the reality that self e-publication isn’t some magic money making machine.  It also comes at a time when I’m considering ending my own experiments within self e-publication, but you’ll have to head over to my blog to read exactly why.  And go read the article linked above.  I gave some bullet points, but the whole has far more information than what I digested.

Wednesday Writerly Words

Not much time to talk today, so I’ll just say that PubIt has gone live.  This is the Barnes & Noble tool for self epublication that will put works into the Nook store (both directly for the Nook and for any device that has a Nook app).  PubIt will run off the ePub format, so this is as much a distribution source as anything else, though it does have a tool for turning your Word documents, or other word processor files, into ePub.

I haven’t had a chance to play with it, but you can bet I eventually will.  One thing I am noticing from just poking around the FAQ: PubIt is not requiring ISBNs to sell on the site.

DL Thurston’s blog at http://DLThurston.com/blog is currently broken and never got updated anyway. Instead, watch him try to make sense of the War of 1812 at http://200years.dlthurston.com. Rust is available now for Kindle, ePub readers, and iBooks, coming soon to Sony Reader. And probably the Nook in the near future as well.

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Wednesday Writerly Words


For years, decades, centuries people have been selling books, and all of those books have one thing in common: a cover.  Perhaps you’ve looked inside a paperback and seen a notice that it is not to be sold without its front cover, because that was step one in remaindering the book.  Book covers even entered into cliche, as we’ve all been told not to judge the book by them.  It’s just part of the mental image.  It’s a book.  It has a cover.

Electronic books have changed that, and I don’t understand why.

Alright, I get it, you’re not an artist.  Okay, you are, but your art is literary and not graphical.  And graphic designers cost money unless you’re smart and marry one.  But books need covers, even if they’re going to be sold entirely through online sites like Smashwords or the Kindle store.  That means, quite simply, if you’re going to self publish, you need a cover.

So where can you get one?

Well, thanks to Smashwords selling my information to anyone who wants it, I know there are companies out there that will design one for you.  Everyone is willing to take the money of the would-be self published author.  It’s not a bad business model for someone with a few minutes of spare time and the interest in making a few dollars, but if you’re considering anything that costs money you need to first weigh it against how much money you’re going to make off the eBook.  If you can’t cover the cover, then don’t pay for one.

You can crowd-source.  Maybe you know a friend willing to do you a favor.  That’s how I got my cover for Rust, by posting that I wanted/needed a cover and offering a copy of the book for it.  And I’m very happy with the result, and have used it for all subsequent editions.  That works great if you’ve got artistic friends who are willing to help, but don’t go trying to guilt people into it.  If graphics is their job, don’t try to guilt them into donating their time and skills for you.  But if they’re willing, great.

You can make your own.  One of the criticisms that came forward when Wylie went to directly publishing eBooks through the Kindle store was the quality of the covers.  They were just words.  But you know what?  That’s still one step up from the blank cover that Amazon gives you, and it’s enough to cross the cover requirement threshold from Apple.  Open up paint, create the right size image, bucket fill the background so it isn’t just white, and put your title and name there.  Boom, you’ve got a cover.  If you feel a little more competent then get a copy of GIMP and go to town.  Just be careful about bringing in images, make sure you either own them or the copyright holder has released them for what you want to do (if you’re looking at Creative Commons you want to avoid anything tagged “Non Commercial” and “No Derivatives” and make sure to include attribution somewhere in the first few pages).

And you know what?  This applies to your novel, your novella, or the standalone short story you’re selling.

Books are naked without covers, and there are people out there who will skip right past a book with no cover on it in the electronic book shops.  Don’t give them that excuse for not reading you!

DL Thurston can be found at http://DLThurston.com/blog Rust is available now for Kindle, ePub readers, and iBooks, coming soon to Sony Reader.  And it has a cover.

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Wednesday Writerly Words

Remember Gizmodo?  They were one of the sites I linked to in my first writerly words a s a great resource for those looking to track with technology.  Today they’ve got a post up looking at the various avenues that a writer has for self publication in the new eBook world.

Now, before getting too in depth, I’m going to come down firmly on the side of traditional publication channels, working through an agent and a publisher.  Self publication still is what it always has been, a way to put stuff out there, but one that requires you to do all your own footwork in terms of advertising.  However, if you have made the decision to self publish then don’t just stick to a print on demand service.  It’s 2010.  Get your book out there for the various eReaders (especially the iPad/Phone/Touch and the Kindle, which combine to absolutely dominate the market).  And use a service.  Just as you don’t want to be on the hook for your own distribution of physical copies, you don’t want to handle distribution of soft copies of your books either, especially when it comes to the collection of money if you have any interest in charging for them.

So the Gizmodo article has three pieces of advice, all of which I readily agree with:

  • Use a distribution service.  I use smashwords, they suggest FastPencil.
  • Publish for every device you can
  • Advertise where you can

It’s still a new world in ePublication, and it may take off that self publication will do big things.  And it’s a new enough market that someone willing to challenge the paradigm may have a lot more success than someone trying to do so through traditional channels.  There are already markets existing within ePublication that don’t really exist in the hard copy word: individual short stories and novellas immediately come to mind.  Sure the former might be picked up by an anthology, but the latter has become an increasingly difficult market to get into as publishers aren’t interested in standalone novellas, and anthologies won’t touch them.

So if you’re willing to experiment, do it.  Just do it smartly.

DL Thurston can be found at http://DLThurston.com/blog Rust is available now for Kindle, ePub readers, and iBooks, coming soon to Sony Reader.

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Non-Wednesday Writerly Words:

Quick update, but it is now possible to directly submit to the iTunes store much in the same way as authors can submit directly to the Kindle store. It’s a slightly different process, as it will require uploading an ePub file, rather than a Word document, and it must pass through Apple’s EpubCheck software. I haven’t tried it yet, so all I can do right now is pass along the link:


These have been your non-Wednesday writing words.

DL Thurston can be found at http://DLThurston.com/blog Rust is available now for Kindle and ePub readers, coming soon to Sony Reader and iPad.

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