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This is your brain on eBooks

March 28, 2011

Remember that anti-drug public service announcement back in the 80’s (okay, dating myself here) with the fried eggs? We’re changing it up a little here today…

This is your brain.

This is your brain on eBooks.

Any questions?

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Writing, formatting, distributing and reading eBooks doesn’t have to rearrange your grey matter!

So let’s go over the most common questions (misperceptions?) people have regarding eBooks. And we should know:  we get asked at least five to ten times per day the following:

  • How do I purchase your book? Does it come in print? I don’t have a Kindle (or e-reader). *By far the number one question we receive and completely untrue.
  • Must I release my book in eBook format? I prefer print only.
  • How do I find out how to format my book for e-publishing? It’s just so hard.
  • How can an indie author afford to epublish on an indie budget?

Okay, this is just a smattering of the multitude I see every day on our @IndieBookIBCstream. This doesn’t count what we encounter on our sister streams (@Bestseller4aday, @ParaYourNormal, @ThrillersRockT, and @WritingNoDrama), our Facebook account, or even our cofounders’ ( @craftycmc, @RachelintheOC, and @AmberScottBooks ) Amazon pages themselves! Given that Amazon is selling more eBooks than either paperback or hardcover books at this point, clearly lots of people are jumping on the e-bandwagon. However, with new technology come lots of questions.

So it’s time for the IBC eBook PSA, baby.

Let’s do this thingy.

1)      YOU DON’T NEED A KINDLE (OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF E-READER) TO READ AN EBOOK! For folks unfamiliar with all the wonderful, cool stuff their smartphones can do, let’s discuss apps. Apps are your friends. Especially when they’re FREE! iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 and Blackberry all have a free Kindle app available for download. This means that you download the app from your respective app store (or for Android, right from Amazon now), then start downloading eBooks wirelessly.

Wait—there’s more! Even if you don’t have a smartphone, this doesn’t leave you out of the eBook game. Nope. Because guess what? You have a computer (Mac or Windows), right? Simply download the book right onto your computer in a PDF file. Soooo easy.

There are lots of reader apps—not all are free. We like the Kindle app because it’s the largest, most sophisticated (this is Amazon we’re talking about here, people) and even includes many free books. Most eBooks are quite reasonably priced (ranging from 99 cents to average $5.99). There ARE exceptions to this pricing structure of course – many traditionally published books can go as high as the $9.99 set limit (but hey, still less than a hardcover).

People debate long and hard about what percentage of the eBook market Amazon really has—numbers range from 45-85%. Bottom line is this: you want this app (more below).

*We’re not here to debate Nook vs. Kindle, etc. The point here is that you don’t need any type of eReader to read eBooks.

2) MUST I RELEASE MY BOOK IN EBOOK FORMAT? I PREFER PRINT FORMAT ONLY.

Nope, you don’t have to do anything. However, you will be LOSING MONEY, my friend. Why would you not want to e-publish your book? If Amazon (which has, for argument’s sake, 85% of all eBook sales in the U.S.—no matter your feelings on the subject, Amazon does have a monopoly on the market) is selling MORE eBooks than paperback (!) and three times more than hardcover, simple math tells you that you need to be selling eBooks. You keep 70% of every sale if you are indie published (as long as your price is no lower than $2.99 on Amazon). This allows you to a) make your books way more affordable for your readers and b) keep the bulk of the profit.

Um, why do you not want to do this again? What you are essentially saying is you don’t want to make money AND you don’t want to sell a lot of books. Sorry, does not compute.

I can price my humor, non-fiction eBook A Walk In The Snark at just $2.99 for several reasons: 1) no printing costs to recover 2) sure, I used professional editors and graphic artists. I’m not stupid. I wanted to put out a great product and I’d love to recoup those costs. I’m in the process of doing that now. I keep approximately $2.00 of every sale having published independently as opposed to going traditionally (not even taking into consideration the whole time and effort involved in querying, waiting, etc.) and 3) If I’d gone traditional, I would only receive 90 cents per copy, on top of any advance I may have received (which is paltry at best for new authors these days and has little to no promo budget behind it).

The reality is, I’d be out hoofing it exactly how I am now. Which I don’t mind—I have embraced social media. I teach it, have met wonderful supporting readers, reviewers, authors, editors, publishers and mentors – I couldn’t be happier with my choice (That is, if I did the whole happy thing, but that’s a whole other RachelintheOC post.)

3) HOW DO I FIND OUT HOW TO FORMAT MY BOOK FOR EPUBLISHING? IT’S JUST SO HARD.

Yes. And No. Mostly no. You can Google it, look it up on Wikipedia, check each ePub site-specific guidelines, look for a seminar, or even read our many articles on the main page of the IBC website. Point is, it’s not rocket science, folks.

We at the Indie Book Collective have all experienced formatting our eBooks so we know your pain. But come on, it’s not that hard to do. All of the ePubs walk you through their process, give you specs, and if it were that hard, would there be hundreds of thousands (some argue millions) of eBooks on the market? #um #no

However, we understand this is a whole new medium, a new monster to tame. So, to make it easier, we are offering an affordable one-hour “How to format your eBook” webinar-based workshop in the next few weeks for a nominal fee – we’re talking $10. I’ve heard too many stories where people paid big bucks – hundreds of dollars—for “workshops” only to be told to go read some articles. Not good.

If you know us here at the IBC, we play nice and give you real, practical tips.

In fact, because our workshop is web-based, you will watch as IBC cofounder @AmberScottBooks actually formats her latest novel, Fierce Dawn. It doesn’t get much more real than that, Buckaroo.

Interested? Sign up at indiebookibc@gmail.com with your email and we’ll provide all the deets. Class size will be limited due to the nature of the subject so sign up early!

4) HOW CAN AN INDIE AUTHOR EPUBLISH ON A BUDGET? ISN’T IT SUPER EXPENSIVE? DOESN’T AN EXPERT NEED TO DO IT FOR ME?

Um, no.

So this ties in with the last question but it’s really different because no, you don’t need an expert to format or upload your eBook for you. In fact, you have to upload your own book since it’s under your own author account (i.e., on Amazon). This may sound complicated but trust me, it’s not. Amazon (and Smashwords) have made it very easy and walk you through the steps.

Learning Excel is harder than doing this. Trust me, I KNOW.

As for cost, it’s completely free to upload your eBook. That’s right. If anyone tells you it’s going to cost you money, run to the Land of Far, Far Away. Or better yet, come on over to the IBC. Our articles and tips are totally free.

Ok, so wait a minute. Big publisher dude (who shall remain nameless) says back the truck up. He and his team of ‘highly-skilled software consultants’ will argue that uploading eBooks is a technical science worthy of a four-year degree (believe me, I just read his article as such.) I will not be discussing the politics of that here today. I’m just a redhead in a sea of blondes…what could I possibly know about big-name publishing complicated eBook formatting?

Enough to know that what we here at the IBC can encourage you, dear indie writers, to do is write your book. We will help you get it out there, through free or very low-cost workshops, social media training, and promotions like Blog Tour de Force and Bestseller For A Day.

We did it. We ARE doing it. You can too.

Now go fry some eggs. Writers need to eat, too.

Find out more about @RachelintheOC on Twitter, Facebook, or purchase her book A Walk In The Snark here. Support Rachel on Bestseller For A Day: Buy her book for only 99 cents ONE DAY ONLY on Wednesday, 4/6/2011 when we help push her book to the top of the Amazon charts and get Bits of You & Pieces of Me by @KimberlyKinrade for FREE with rebate! Go to the Bestseller For A Day site and enter to win up to $50 in Amazon Gift Cards!

Be sure to visit our Indie Book Collective site and Join the Collective, sign up for our newsletter, follow our Twitter stream, our Facebook page, get listed (check our Twitter lists) listen to our blog talk radio show every Tuesday 4:30pm PST, and if YOU want to up your game, sign up for our next FREE social media for writers webinar workshop on April 12th (space is limited)via email: indiebookibc@gmail.com.

Comments welcome, retweets and mentions loved.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2011 8:18 pm

    It’s good to know that when I’m ready, uploading my book won’t be beyond my capabilities.

  2. April 1, 2011 8:29 pm

    Great info and definitely something freelancers need to hear — it is possible and will augment your business and authority. Thanks for this!

    Sam

  3. July 18, 2011 5:18 am

    I agree with all answers. Self publishing is actually more beneficial than continuing on the safe process of having your big time publisher. Being safe here means you get less worth in every mind cracking books you write. E-publishing as well as any kind of task is actually hard work. But as you continue to do it more, you will soon find it easier and smooth, especially if you have people willing to give a helping hand. This post definitely is an encouragement.

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