Note: All of my notes from the Saturday and Sunday sessions are forthcoming. Here’s what I’ve been able to put together so far. Also, since you’ll only be seeing summaries of the sessions I attended, the WDC staff said that there will be some sort of summary on all of the sessions posted on the conference site at http://www.writersdigestconference.com/ehome/27962/home/?&. I just checked, and they don’t have anything posted yet, so mine will have to do for the moment. 🙂 And I will get them up for you as quickly as I can.
Saturday, January 21–Session #1: E-Book Publishing 101–Jane Friedman, Media Professor and former editor of Writer’s Digest Magazine (This session was of huge interest to me because, even though there was a bit of agent interest in my nonfiction book during the Pitch Slam, I’m still leaning heavily toward the e-pub option for at least that next book. Not only am I excited about the potential of that option, but I really want to learn firsthand what’s involved and how it all works.)
E-pub vs Print on Demand (POD)–author has full control of pricing, cover, etc. with E-pub. Author control varies and can be very limited with POD.
What about author rights with e-pub?
- Copyright is secure
- Author has full rights re: publishing & distribution except for new Apple rules (covered below).
- Authors are not killing future chances with traditional publishers if they go e-pub. Might have been true in the past, but no longer.
- All rights are the writer’s to sell.
- Caution re: possible exception(s)–Authors previously published with traditional publisher need to check their contracts for rights on existing titles.
Major e-book retailers, devices & formats
- Kindle (mobi format)–50-70% of the market
- B&N Nook (epub)–20-30%
- Apple iPad & iPhone (epub & the newly announced iBookAuuthor, which is only readable on Apple devices–more later)–less than 20%
These three are the main devices and formats. The others on the market are:
- Sony (epub)
- Kobo (epub)
- Desktop/Laptop (PDFs)
Writers going the e-pub route are working with distribution channels and retailers rather than with publishers. Distrib/Retailer options:
Single Channel (Fomatted to work on only one device) versus Multiple Channels (Push books out to all single channels)
- Kindle BookBaby (This one looks really interesting, by the way.)
- B&N Smashwords
- iTunes PublishGreen
*The new iBooksAuthor will only work on Apple devices. More in a minute.
Most distribution services and retailers will accept Word documents.
- Smashwords: takes MS Word. Free to publish. Author keeps 85% of the net. No Kindle distribution, however. Would need to publish on Kindle separately.)
- BookBaby: Free conversion from Word, HTML, RTP, Apple Pages, plain text. $99 to publish plus $19 annual fee to sustain. Author keeps 100% of the net.) Also offers print service option plus add-on services for ISBN and cover design.
- PublishGreen: Converts from MS Word, PDF, InDesign. $399-$999 for “full service” package. Author keeps 90-100% of the net.
When is it better to prep your own e-book files? When you:
- have text-driven work.
- are not scared by HTML, CSS, and/or MS style sheets. (Guess this answers the question for me. 🙂 )
- plan on offering PDF versions of your book.
Formatting & Conversion Definitions
Conversion is an automated process and = exporting files from one format to another without any editing or styling.
Formatting is a manual process and = editing & styling to “look good” on e-reading devices. Process also corrects things that got messed up during the conversion process.
If you’re comfortable doing these things yourself, here are recommended programs: SIGIL for Formatting and CALIBRE for Conversion. (I am definitely not going to be worrying about this. I’m looking at BookBaby. They had an exhibition table at the conference, and once I get through the last of my treatments, I’ll be following up with them for more detail.)
DIY (Do It Yourself) Formatting Tools:
- PressBooks–free. WordPress based, exports e-pub files.
iBooksAuthor. Newly announced by Apple. Limited to iOS devices for both reading as well as sales (iBook format). Free but limited to Apple products and can only sell through Apple bookstores. Beautiful program, easy, drag-and-drop. But exclusive to Apple products and distribution. Industry had hoped that iBooksAuthor would also create e-pub format. Didn’t turn out that way. If you’ve already created a book for sale/distribution elsewhere and then decide to use iBookAuthor for your e-book, you can continue to sell that book everywhere. But if you use iBooksAuthor for your first effort to publish a given book, your Apple agreement will state that you cannot sell that book through any other channel that iBookstore.
- VookMaker–forthcoming. Not an Apple product but will be similar to iBooksAuthor in terms of being user friendly with drag-and-drop, etc. But this one is expected to support multiple sales channels.
Again, if you opt to do your e-book with a company like BookBaby, you don’t have to worry about any of these Conversion and Formatting tools and programs.
Three biggest factors affecting e-book readership base: (These all seem so obvious that I’m wondering if I missed something.)
- Readership Base
Kindle currently represents 60-70% of all ebooks.
An author’s Amazon Page may very likely be the first and only page a reader looks at. Reference: www.DigitalBookWorld.com — see article by Carolyn McKray on optimizing an author’s presence through their Amazon Page.
“Sweet-Spot” Pricing for Novels:
- 99 cents drives volume and Amazon rank, for which Amazon pays 30% royalty.
- Amazon pays 70% royalty on books prices from $2.99-$9.99.
- Authors who are getting the hang of things will switch off their pricing between 99 cents and $2.99.
- The lesser known the author, the less you should charge.
- If you have a series, consider starting with a loss leader (99 cents to start).
For nonfiction, study what your competition is charging. Go to the Kindle store and drill down to your category to start your analysis.
Cover: First and most important impression. Needs to look good in thumbnail.
- Not mandatory for Kindle.
- Required for distribution through iBookstore.
- If you’re going the full DIY e-pub route: ISBN.org to buy ISBNs–$125 (cheaper per unit the more you buy).
Online marketing is critical for e-pubs. Draft a marketing plan and include an in-depth online and social media presence.
Some resources to further pursue research on the e-pub option for your book(s):
- J.A. Konrath
- Amanda Hocking
- John Locke
- The BookDesigner Web site
Here’s a link for a copy of this entire presentation: http://bit.ly/2012wdc
Well, there you have it–one of the reasons I’m taking so long to get this stuff out to you. But since this particular topic is of such intense interest to me, I’m hoping that some of you will feel the same way, and I want to make sure I’m sharing as much detail as I captured. And because this one is so extensive, I’m going to publish this post separately, finishing up the other Day #2 sessions in another post. (They’re all shorter, by the way.)
P.S. I entered Separation of Faith again today in the latest Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) competition, which began accepting entries today. Last year the book made the first cut. We’ll see what happens this time around. If you’re interested, this is really a fun contest, and it’s free! Check out the details at: http://www.amazon.com/Breakthrough-Novel-Award-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=332264011.
Hope your week is off to a good start! See you again soon.