Recently, KIngston University hosted an excellent talk by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords on ‘How to publish an ebook’. Smash words is a free publishing platform where self published authors can learn how to publish like the pros. It’s simple:
1 Upload your formatted file (Word doc or ePub).
2 Get instant free conversion.
3 Your book is instantly distributed to retailers and libraries.
There are lots of advantages: it’s faster, you have creative control, it’s cheaper to produce (therefore cheaper for readers, and you earn more per book), you have better distribution to global markets, and it’s never going to go out of print.
Mark gave lots of good advice, and I’m summarising his advice below (sometimes verbatim – thanks Mark!).
1 Finish your book! Be professional, and use a copy editor if you can afford it.
2 Format your file correctly. The Smashwords Style Guide tells you how, and is free. The text must be re-flowable, so say goodbye to the fixed layouts we know and love in print.
3 The cover image is very important. It must be engaging, professional, work well as a thumbnail, and look good in black and white as well as colour.
4 There is no ‘back cover blurb’ on ebooks, so the metadata must include all the salient points: title, description, author’s name, price, category, language, tags, ISBN, publication date.
5 The book must work on lots of devices (phone, tablet, pc, etc) when converted.
6 Think about pricing. Are you publishing your book to make sales or for publicity? If you publish several books, use multiple price points, as each price point reaches a different type of reader.
7 The ISBN. This is a 13 digit number which is a unique digital identifier. It helps supply chain communication and is required for most platforms. You can get them from Nielsen for about £164 for 10, or get them from Smashwords for free (but that means Smashwords will then be your publisher).
8 Maximise availability, don’t succumb to exclusivity. Your fans will want to find your book in their choice of online shop, not just in a single one.
If you are in business, a print book can be an excellent marketing tool, and gives you credibility. If you’d like to find out more about that, call me on 020 8943 2701. I work in Teddington, in the London Borough of Richmond, if you’d like a face-to-face consultation.